Monday, December 31, 2007

On Patriotism

Patriotism is a funny thing. Actually, its not, its a slightly scary, powerful thing which is cynically manipulated by every government with 2 brain cells to its name in order to push whichever agenda it pleases with minimal resistance.

Contrite phrases are easy, no fun in that.

There seem to be 2 kinds of patriotism in both of 'my' countries, and they both have one of them in common. When English people begin to think how stupid Americans are, please replace the yokel with the shotgun with a football hooligan with a few racist chants up his sleeve and there you have it! Common ground. (Though admittedly the skinhead is less likely to shoot someone they are just as likely to kill. Knife crime anyone?)

Its the second kind that interests me.

Americans are inundated with pro-USA propaganda from the moment they pop out of the womb and into the incredibly expensive hotel the American's call a 'hospital'. Unless you're poor. Regardless, the government's style assures you this is a new country. Video's for school children, a pledge of allegiance, handy catchphrases like: 'In God we trust' and the flags. Oh the flags! If you can go 10 minutes in a populated area in the US of A without seeing the red-white and blue you are obviously looking at your shoes. It's much like the guy who hangs around saying: I'm such a hard-ass. My hard-assness is large enough to rival all other hard-asses in the world. You just know if you socked him one he'd cry and run away.

And this is a little frightening. I have a hard time stomaching anti-American propaganda and I had Propaganda Lite (C). My siblings are actually going through the American school system and I can't see that ending well the next time the 'Commander in Cheif' (c) commits a monumental fuck-up. Heaven forbid anyone mention it to us yanks!

To be a patriotic American therefore you must continue to repeat the lies told to you as a child. You must completely ignore all other countries and their wishes. This isn't done in a mean way, as other countries seem to think. This is about America. Why on earth would you need to know about anywhere else? Or travel there even! Generally, just being an isolationist with an inferiority complex surrounding your nation.

Britain on the other hand has history behind it. And they were smarter with their genocides. They chose people who (to quote something utterly abhorrent I was recently told) weren't really people. Kill a few thousand defenseless Zulu's? They're black! Screw em. America didn't have this priviledge as no one had enslaved the Indians and thus they couldn't rationalize it away with eugenics. Nope, their rational was something along the lines of: I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT! And like a child throwing a tantrum....almost succeeded in destroying an entire 'race' of people? Ok, not a good metaphor but I'm sure you can get the gist.

As Britain has a history it never talks about it gets to retain a certain level of smugness. To be a British patriot you must, at all times, remain British. It sounds like an outdated slogan of its own but 'Stiff Upper Lip' still very much applies. Not just to repressing your emotions mind you! It also involves looking down on everyone who isn't British. Being cynical and sarcastic with a razor sharp wit no matter what the situation. Generally, being an ass who thinks they're better than everyone else.

Isn't it fun to compare notes?

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