A BRITAIN DAY?
However, if we look at this issue more closely, we shall find an even stranger background to this idea of a ‘Britain Day’.
First of all, does ‘Britain’ exist? The very word ‘Britain’ was first coined some 2,000 years ago by foreign (Roman) invaders of these islands, then re-used by foreign (Norman) invaders in the eleventh century and finally by a new foreign (Dutch) imperialistic government in London in the eighteenth century, following the 1707 union of England and Wales with Scotland. (That was a hotly contested union, which led to a lot of bloodshed as well as the invasion of England by a Scottish Army. This in turn was followed by the invasion of Scotland by German troops, employed as mercenaries by the German King of England, and their many atrocities, which nowadays would be called ‘ethnic cleansing’). Today, in the twenty-first century, the term ‘Britain’ is being used in England by yet more foreigners (Scotsmen).
Thus, the word ‘Britain’ has a very chequered, indeed downright inglorious, history. Although, true, we speak of a ‘British’ government, a ‘British’ embassy and a ‘British’ passport, how many of us would actually call ourselves ‘British’? As UK subjects (the UK itself was invented only in 1921), we are in fact English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish. These are countries which do have identities, histories and languages. Unlike State-imposed inventions, whether multinational or regional, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are realities.
Since there is no such thing as ‘British’ as a language, how can there be a ‘British’ nationality? As for the Irish (the real Irish, not the Scottish who in the seventeenth century settled in the north-east corner if Ireland), for them the word ‘Britain’ is an abstraction, if not actually a word which calls to mind certain memories. For them, just as for many in other parts of the world which once formed the ‘British’ Empire, those memories are negative.
It seems a curious thing that Mr Brown, a man in a position of great political authority, wishes to impose on the peoples of this country a day to celebrate something which most of us either do not recognize or else do not sympathize with. By all means, let us have national days for England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, St George’s Day, St Andrew’s Day, St David’s Day and St Patrick’s Day, so that we can celebrate these national identities, but why ever have a day to celebrate something that does not exist, except in the minds of government bureaucrats?
Let us beware of politicians who wish to impose some form of ‘patriotism’ on us. Patriotism is about love of one’s country. Love cannot be imposed. If politicians want us to love our country, then the best thing that they can do is to cultivate freedom and national realities to be proud of. Coming from the representative of a government elected by less than 23% of the electorate and yet with a massive majority in Parliament (which is ‘whipped’ into not voting freely), the suggestion of a ‘Britain’ Day with its undertones of a controversial Empire, seems very strange.
If this whole idea is a result of last July’s bomb attacks in London (in which some fifty British subjects were murdered by four other British subjects), perhaps government ministers should be asking themselves how, through their actions of illegally invading another country, they managed to create such murderous fanaticism in our midst. It is difficult to support one's own armed forces, when they have been ordered to commit injustice, as millions of demonstrators expressed before the government launched its war. No amount of ‘Britain Days’ will heal the wounds caused by those who have done wrong, until they have apologized for them. But to ask politicians to apologize is no doubt to ask too much of them.
Brown wishes us to celebrate a national day. Our national days happen
to be saints' days. The Calvinist in him already seems less keen. He wishes
us to fly the flag. But which flag? I would willingly fly the English
flag, but perhaps that is not what he means. For the English flag bears
a red cross on a white background. I have the impression that he wishes
me rather to fly a white flag of surrender. That, after all, is all that
is left, once the cross has been removed.