It’s time once again for the FIFA World Cup, and yet again the streets of
Manchester are awash with crosses – and once more the only reaction I can muster is a feeling of intense befuddlement. St. George’s
Your regular garden variety patriotism I can just about grasp – while I disagree with the idea I can almost, (but not quite) understand it. If the people with the cheap flags bolted to their cars also had full sized flagpoles in their yards which they attended to every morning and evening with chocked throats and tears welling, then I could understand a vast outpouring of pride every four years. I’d still think it was utterly ridiculous, but I'd at least note their consistency.
That’s not the case though – the people who’ve picked up cheap flags from the local supermarket for the duration of the world cup stay away from this more “American” style of patriotism – if they’re at all patriotic for the rest of the time, then it’s a crafty new form of patriotism – a ‘stealth patriotism’.
I’m going to take a slight step back here, and spell out my views on patriotism in this post;
I like the
. It’s a decent place to live, and I’m lucky to have been born in a reasonably civilised country. There are some good people here, and as a country we’ve produced some fantastic works and artists – William Shakespeare, George Orwell, Steven Moffat – they’re all giants. UK
However I fail to see how they link to me, they just happen to have been born within a few hundred miles of my own birth place. Their great achievements and similar achievements of other great figures from this country say nothing about me as a person. I had no say over my birthplace, and nor did anyone else - I fail to see any significance.
Using the magic of Google I tracked down some arguments for patriotism, but they did nothing to help me. I present them here anonymously;
“Being Patriotic is more than a piece of land. You have been brainwashed by the liberal way of thinking. Patriotism is being proud of the beliefs and values of the people who happen to inhabit the piece of land you refer to.”
“Being patriotic to your country is not stupid, it shows you are proud to be an American. Patriotism is more than being proud of the country you was born in, but also being proud of the rights and freedoms your country provides and the values it represent.”
The reasoning behind nearly all the responses was this: ‘Patriotism is not pride in the land you live in, but pride in the culture, traditions and people’. This strikes me as odd. Countries can and sometimes still do have terrible traditions; slavery, female circumcision, torture – the list goes on. Presumably this pride you feel for your countries traditions should also extend to these, assuming you were unfortunate enough to be born in a culture with these traditions.
I cannot see a good, rational reason to be excessively patriotic in my country, and I would be interested in what fellow skeptics think on the matter. Do I have a point, or am I simply ignorant and selfish?
- Gavin Schofield