Author Topic: "...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"  (Read 4632 times)

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #30 on: June 02, 2006, 01:06:55 PM »
I'm going to see Billy Bragg tomorrow actually, this is one of his favourite topics. On whether there is such a thing as "just a flag", well what would that mean? In what way would it be a flag, if it wasn't supposed to represent something. It'd be like waving your shirt about your head. (Actually, some people do do that...) What is more important, I think is what the flag represents.

As we all know, the Union Jack has certain connotations - of empire and power, of the far-right, of Monarchy and so on. The St George's Flag doesn't really have that. It represents England. And that's quite different. Although I'm sure there are Scottish people who will disagree with that.

The Irish flag can have dodgy connotations too, as any flag can, but there is some value in flags. In spain, the autonomous communities used their flags as part of their drive for autonomy. That seems fair enough to me. I mean it's a bit like asking "is nationalism a bad thing?" It kind of depends on what is being championed, is the nation or flag in question oppressive and cruel or does it represent something which has been repressed? I'd say Englishness has been represseed, and I wouldn't take offence to the English flag being bandied about.

Football does seem to provide a good opportunity for people to come together, so long as the minorities in England are not excluded and can join in with this sense of Englishness, then it's a good thing, so fly the flag if you like. But it's important if one is a nationalist to also be an internationalist.

Admittedly, when The Sun get involved the flag can be lent another nasty connotation - when we have "The Sun flying the flag", that has another meaning I think. The Sun are attempting to forge a link between patriotism and the paper itself (nothing new), and I don't believe that the Sun have the acceptance of ethnic groups or other minmorities in mind, so I'm cynical of that but you know. You shouldn't let the Sun influence you too much. you're not letting The Sun get their way or promoting The Sun by wearing the England shirt or carrying the flag. It's high time people took hold of the flag and used it positively. I sound like Gordon bloody Brown now...

Edit: I see Bragg was mentioned above...

I'm intrigued by this notion of being proud of Robbie Burns, does it matter that he is Scottish or must he be considered British? I love Robbie Burns too, find him very inspiring, and I could say that as a member of the British Isles and a celt, he is part of my heritage. But why bother to claim him in this way? That's a bit dodgy isn't it? I'm inspired by French and German writers too, and Spanish painters and American poets and African music. It's all part of my heritage anyway.

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"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #31 on: June 02, 2006, 01:12:24 PM »
I feel ashamed saying this, but it's not the flag that bothers me but the kind of people who more often than not use or adopt it.  We've actually discovered in East London that whether or not a pub is flying the St George's cross or not is almost always a good benchmark as to whether it's a bit of a dodgy hole.  The last time I thought "sod it, I'll nip in here for a pint" I walked straight past a bunch of intimidating and lairy skinheads on the way to the bar, who seemed incredibly keen to glare me down and yell something about the fact I was "wearing glasses" (a radical move in their world, clearly).  And this almost always seems to be the case in East London at least.  England flag = horrible shithole where fights break out.

The American flag - ditto.  The people who wave it are almost always narrow-minded, right wing arseholes.  

It's a deep shame, because the flags of other nations don't tend to carry those negative associations - they haven't been hijacked.  Canadian flags are seen as being innocent (despite that country's dubious treatment of their Inuit population), as well as Scottish flags, Welsh flags, Irish flags, etc.  Obviously I'm at least a bit of a patriot otherwise I wouldn't choose to continue living in this country on a low standard of living where other options were available, but you still wouldn't convince me to get a St George's Cross stitched to my backpack for love or money.  I just wouldn't want to be seen as a potential racist or idiot, which is definitely what people at home or abroad would take me as (although one Canadian man actually asked me what the St Georges Cross was recently - he thought it was for a country in Scandinavia).  And in some ways, that's actually a shame.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #32 on: June 02, 2006, 01:17:01 PM »
Quote from: "23 Daves"
It's a deep shame, because the flags of other nations don't tend to carry those negative associations - they haven't been hijacked.


The Irish flag is rather tied to the Republican movement of course, so it's not immune at all. The Spanish flag is a very dodgy thing to be flying in Spain too. But so is the Basque one, depending on where you happen to be.

Shoulders?-Stomach!

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"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #33 on: June 02, 2006, 01:19:33 PM »
Quote
I've been dreaming of a time when
To be English is not to be baneful
To be standing by the flag not feeling
Shameful, racist or partial


I dislike all tribal elements and partisanship in whatever shape or form because they just drag us down to the level of animals- so unsurprisingly I'm not particularly fond of flags. Anyone who's witnessed football hooliganism is no doubt a strong believer in the evolutionary chain.

I've been to America too and boy do they let you know you're there- the flag is hardly ever out of sight. Handy really, as I was forgetting what country I was in every 2 seconds.

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"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #34 on: June 02, 2006, 01:23:28 PM »
It's always made me a bit wary when, during various conflicts, protesters against said conflicts start flying "the enemy"'s flag when their "own" side's come out. The way that anti-Vietnam war protesters carried the Vietnamese flag, or anti-Falklands campaigners started flying the Argentinian flag. Especially given that Galtieri was a fascist bastard (I was anti-Falklands war, just for the record) and that Vietnam's apparent idea of a good leader after the war concluded was Pol Pot.

To expand a little on what I said near the start of this thread, I reckon that a patriot (whatever their nation) doesn't need to fly a flag. Their love of their country is sufficient. It tends to be nationalists who love to string the colours up, shading into jingoists. And that's when I frequently start getting a bit worried and/or a bit angry.

There's a not-bad Steve Bell If... strip from about the time of Reagan's real shit-stirring in Afghanistan, where a slightly more astute redneck has a sudden epiphany, and says of Old Glory something to the effect of "now I know what this flag is - a way to cover up bad smells". It doesn't sum up all of the subtleties and subtexts of flag-waving, but it struck me as pretty accurate at the time, and to a degree still does.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #35 on: June 02, 2006, 01:25:31 PM »
Wasn't Pol Pot Cambodian leader?  I thought the Vietnamese leader was Ho Chi Minh

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #36 on: June 02, 2006, 01:35:48 PM »
Quote from: "Catalogue Trousers"
I reckon that a patriot (whatever their nation) doesn't need to fly a flag. Their love of their country is sufficient.


I think this tends to be a nonsense, actually, going from personal experience. Do I love my country? Do I see signs of people around me loving theirs? I wouldn't know what signs to look for. I mean, what is my country? That's want I find I ask myself, when a debate comes up. I'm thinking of the taoiseach, the man that this country has chosen to represent then on an international scale. I don't think much of him, I don't think much of my countrymen's choice of governement, or their stance on issues of immigration, economics, religion. So what is there to love? I love my group of riends, I'm steeped in Irish literature, but i love it in the context of other nations. Ireland's colonial past is important to its literature, and its experince of colonialism is different to that of Spain or the UK. Do I love Ireland's colonial past, or its history? I think the matter of "loving" such notions is a bit daft.

i think it's a fairly meaningless when people say they love their country. If you'd taken a baby from Kansas, and one from St Petersburg, and swapped them at birth, they'd grow up "loving" the countries they go on to grow up in. The baby bron in the USSR would probably come to despise Stalinism, the other baby would come to hate the US. So whenever one says "I love my country" either they are giving themselves over to an idea of their nation state and its principles, or they're trotting out the speak of any football supporter. If I love Ireland, its only in the sense that I love any country I've visited, it has its good points and its bad points. I love things about England, or at least of my experience of it.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #37 on: June 02, 2006, 02:53:07 PM »
In the run-up to the World Cup, a friend of mine is refusing to get into any taxi with (English) flags / stickers in the window. I wouldn't act on my dislike of them to that extent but it's still a point of principle that I rather admire. The principle of "don't be proud of anything you can't help" is a good one and applies to my relationship with Englishness - there are plenty of historical / geographical factors that are unique to creating a sense of "England" - and, much as I generally dislike him, Paxman hits the nail with most of his book "The English." Having said that, the need to bind yourself to the country  in which you were born, strikes me as basically insane. I don't think you can publicly display a flag (in an unofficial context) without it being an aggressive act of some sort, including wearing football colours on non-match days.

People have mentioned the ubiquity of the stars and stripes - where do you stand on the idea of desecrating flags? Virtually every left-leaning critique of American values - including a lot of anti-establishment cinema - has used the flag in some way, not necessarily reappropriated but featured or lingered on. Have any of you spoken to Americans about their attitude to its ubiquity? And is it still the case that every American child has to be sworn in at school in front of  the flag?

Re: "...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #38 on: June 02, 2006, 02:56:01 PM »
Quote from: "TJ"

Woah woah woah hang on, a combined flag forced on two other nations by the English,  


No, possibly by some people a long time ago who happened to be English, not
'the English', as in everyone born in England before and since as 'the English' implies.  This is the sort of generalisation that pisses me off more than anyone waving a fucking flag.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #39 on: June 02, 2006, 02:56:11 PM »
Oh, and the Sun's list of people who oppose the flying of St George ends like this:

Tesco
Over-sensitive religious leaders
Hampshire Police
Scots

TJ

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Re: "...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #40 on: June 02, 2006, 03:02:46 PM »
Quote from: "ColaCoca"
Quote from: "TJ"

Woah woah woah hang on, a combined flag forced on two other nations by the English,  


No, possibly by some people a long time ago who happened to be English, not
'the English', as in everyone born in England before and since as 'the English' implies.  This is the sort of generalisation that pisses me off more than anyone waving a fucking flag.


It's not a generalisation - 'The English' is acceptable terminology for a representation of acts perpetrated in the 'name' of the nation, much as 'The French' and any other nation-centric collective noun is, and the context is plainly obvious. Unless you're suggesting that I genuinely was attributing the creation and perpetuation of the Union Jack to anyone ever born in England. Which I wasn't.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #41 on: June 02, 2006, 03:16:54 PM »
The fact that I was born on this particular lump of rock in the north Atlantic is merely a happy co-incidence for me, for I like it here. But I ain't gonna die for it or nothing. Patriotism is a folly and waste of time. I'm a citizen of the world. I support England in the World Cup because it's the obvious thing to do, but other than that, pah.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #42 on: June 02, 2006, 03:18:47 PM »
I'm suggesting that terms like this can easily be used to imply the culpability of a large group of people, in this case anyone born in England, whether that was your intention or not.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #43 on: June 02, 2006, 03:22:08 PM »
Quote from: "hoverdonkey"
The fact that I was born on this particular lump of rock in the north Atlantic is merely a happy co-incidence for me, for I like it here. But I ain't gonna die for it or nothing.


As unlikely as it is to happen, in the world of NATO and nuclear deterrent, if Britain's shores or culture were under direct threat, would you defend them? I'd like to think I would, not because of the concept of 'Britain', but because I'd like it here, and I'd hate to see it forced to change.

I think some people see patriotism as being AGAINST others rather than FOR one's country. Of course a great deal of people who call themselves 'patriots' are against other countries, but it's perfectly possible to be proud of one's country, and enjoy the pleasures and differences that other countries offer.
I'm not against Brazil winning the World Cup (as long as they play well), and I can be for England winning at the same time.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #44 on: June 02, 2006, 03:27:54 PM »
Quote from: "Purple Tentacle"

As unlikely as it is to happen, in the world of NATO and nuclear deterrent, if Britain's shores or culture were under direct threat, would you defend them?


Yes I would, whatever that's worth. I suspect I would be of limited use in war. But it would be about defending values, rather than 'England', whatever the overlap between the two.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #45 on: June 02, 2006, 03:28:30 PM »
That's always struck me as an odd one, though. "I'm proud to be...(insert nationality here)". i was talking to someone once about this who was saying they were proud of the Irish football team, and said they'd be delighted if Ireland won the World Cup. Well, I'd be delighted too, but I wouldn't go so far as to say I was "proud" of them. The idea that the English team can do the country proud, I find strange. By turn, should anyone feels ashamed if England do badly? Of course not.

I don't support the Irish rugby team at all, and when I watch them I feel like a neutral. I think it's because I've never felt an affinity with rugby, I don't feel the rugby team represents me, I won't be especially happy if they win something or sad if they lose. So it's odd that I do care more about the football team. Why would I be proud of Ireland because it produced great writers? I don't feel that had much to do with me. I'm in awe of that writing talent, though of course. But "pride" doesn't enter into it for me, because if you allow "pride" you implicitly allow for "shame".

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #46 on: June 02, 2006, 04:21:32 PM »
I'm sick of the sight of American flags here (yes, you're an American living in America, why do you feel the need to be covered in your flag?), but when I tell people here that the Union Jack [sic] is considered offensive by some they are utterly gobsmacked, and rightly so. It's because only a small minority of fascists have been so brazen about waving it about that it has all the racist/xenophobic connotations.
Here the union jack is incredibly popular to wear on t-shirts, bags, etc. I probably see it displayed more here than in England in fact...

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"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #47 on: June 02, 2006, 04:23:14 PM »
Edited to add, re Ciaran's post just above:

Ah, but to play Devil's Advocate, if you are a patriot, aren't both part and parcel of the whole thing? I can feel "proud" of a beautiful stretch of rolling countryside maintained by loving hands, but also feel "ashamed" of a bunch of beered-up yahoos almost aggressively yelling a poor rendition of "Three Lions" in the face of everyone they meet, whether the recipients want it or not.

And, of course, there are much more important things to feel both proud and ashamed about in any given country. But anyone who genuinely loves their country has to be able to register both, surely?

Edited again to add:

Although specifically about America in the mid-80s, the overall tenor of this Dead Kennedys song still rather neatly sums up my feelings about patriotism, nationalism, jingoism, and the whole shooting match...

THE STARS AND STRIPES OF CORRUPTION


Quote
Finally got to Washington in the middle of the night
I couldn't wait, I headed straight for the Capitol Mall
My heart began to pound - Yahoo! It really exists
The American International Pictures logo

I looked up at that Capitol Building
Couldn't help but wonder why
I felt like saying "Hello, old friend"

Walked up the hill to touch it
Then I unzipped my pants
And pissed on it when nobody was looking

Like a great eternal Klansman
With his two flashing red eyes
Turn around he's always watching
The Washington monument pricks the sky
With flags like pubic hair ringed 'round the bottom

The symbols of our heritage
Lit up proudly in the night
Somehow fits to see the homeless people
Passed out on the lawn

So this is where it happens
The power games and bribes
All lobbying for a piece of ass

Of the stars and stripes of corruption

Makes me feel so ashamed to be an American
When we're too stuck up to learn from our mistakes
Trying to start another Viet Nam - we're fiddling while Rome burns at home
The Boss says, "You're laid off. Blame the Japanese"
Oh, "America's back," alright, at the game it plays the worst
Strip mining the world like a slave plantation

No wonder others hate us
And the Hitlers we handpick
To bleed their people dry
For our evil empire

The drug we're fed
To make us like it
Is God and country with a bang

People we know who should know better
Howl, "America rules. Let's go to war!"
Business scams are what's worth dying for

Are the Soviets our worst enemy?
We're destroying ourselves instead
Who cares about our civil rights
As long as I get paid?

The blind Me-Generation
Doesn't care if life's a lie

so easily used, so proud to enforce

The stars and stripes of corruption

Let's bring it all down!

Tell me who's the real patriots  - the Archie Bunker slobs waving flags?
Or the people with the guts to work for some real change
Rednecks and bombs don't make us strong
We loot the world, yet we can't even feed ourselves
Our real test of strength is caring, not the toys of war we sell the world
Just carry on, thankful to be farmed like worms
Old Glory for a blanket as you suck on your thumbs

Real freedom scares you
'Cos it means responsibility

So you chicken out and threaten me

Saying, "Love it or leave it" - I'll get beat up if I criticize it
You say you'll fight to the death to save your worthless flag

If you want a banana republic that bad, why don't you go move to one?

But what can just one of us do?
Against all that money and power
Trying to crush us into roaches?

We don't destroy society in a day
Until we change ourselves first
From the inside out

We can start by not lying so much
And treating other people like dirt
It's easy not to base our lives
On how much we can scam

And you know
It feels good to lift that monkey off our backs

I'm thankful I live in a place where I can say the things I do
Without being taken out and shot
So I'm on guard against the goons trying to take my rights away
We've got to rise above the need for cops and laws

Let kids learn communication
Instead of schools pushing competition
How about more art and theater instead of sports?

People will always do drugs
Let's legalize them
Crime drops when the mob can't price them
Budget's in the red?
Let's tax religion

No one will do it for us
We'll just have to fix ourselves
Honesty ain't all that hard
Just put Rambo back inside your pants
Causing trouble for the system is much more fun

Thank you for the toilet paper
But your flag is meaningless to me
Look around, we're all people
Who needs countries anyway?

Our land, I love it too
I think I love it more than you
I care enough to fight

The stars and stripes of corruption

Let's bring it all down!
If we don't try
If we just lie
If we can't find
A way to do it better than this
Who will?

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #48 on: June 02, 2006, 04:30:43 PM »
Trousers makes an excellent point there, I feel.

Shame being as much a part of patriotism as pride, that is.

Does anyone but me dislike the idea of being a 'citizen of the world'. I quite like being British. Being British is ace. And when I go to Japan I quite like the people there to be Japanese, and the French French. I'm not too keen on the Germans, mind. Or the Belgians. But that's not my point.

I don't fancy a Star Trek style planet where everybody is just an 'Earthtryllian' and speaks the same language.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #49 on: June 02, 2006, 04:33:58 PM »
I agree! I love going to Italy, for example, because the Italians are fucking crazy. The parking, the shouting, the arguing, I love it. A world where everyone is the same (and dressed in tight spandex) would be bloody boring, why leave your house?

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #50 on: June 02, 2006, 04:37:18 PM »
I agree too. Don't get me wrong. I'm not after some homogenous planet where everyone thinks the same.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #51 on: June 02, 2006, 04:42:21 PM »
Me too, I like being British in a foreign place, especially in the US. People say "oh, you're British, that's soooo cool" or "I love your accent!" whereas in England I'm just another average bloke.

Plus everyone knows we're the best. Our passports reek of sophistication, wit and charm

I like the Jack Dee bit: "What nationality am I? British, that's all you need to know Johnny Foreigner!!" *hits them across the head with massive old fashioned black passport*

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #52 on: June 02, 2006, 04:42:54 PM »
So what is it about flags that irks people so much?

I'm proud to be British (for all the stupid quirks that entails - only being semi-decimalised, driving on the wrong side of the road, eating godawful muck like fish and chips that no other civilized country would ever have invented etc), fiercely proud of the English language (and very defensive of it when I hear improper use - and I include Americanisation as part of that), quite proud even of silly songs like the anthem and 'Jerusalem' and will happily belt them out when occasion demands. It's the same kind of feeling you get about your family. They annoy you, but really you love them for all their faults. And you're proud to bear the same name as them. Unless, as noted earlier, you're called Mr. Hitler. Or Drew Peacock or something.

But I would never in a billion years hang a flag (union or St. George equally) out of the side of my car, as I would feel like a dreadful racist.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #53 on: June 02, 2006, 04:51:47 PM »
You know what would put the sun's theory as to the innocence of proudly displaying a flag to the test? Have someone pop a couple of argentinian flags off the side of their car instead and have them drive around town for a while - see what pleasant, playful and innocent reactions they get from passersby.

Jemble Fred

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"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #54 on: June 02, 2006, 04:52:39 PM »
What on earth could possibly be wrong with fish & chips? If you'd said... I dunno... black pudding, I could understand.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #55 on: June 02, 2006, 04:54:50 PM »
It's not exactly subtle, is it? Johnny Foreigner does wonderful, subtle things with fish, bringing out its natural flavour and texture, we just throw it in boiling fat and eat it with the fat still attached. With cut potatoes thrown in fat. Covered in sauce.


Don't get me wrong, I really like fish and chips, but it's not exactly cooking, and hooray for that!

Jemble Fred

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"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #56 on: June 02, 2006, 04:58:54 PM »
Actually, food is probably the only subject on which I'm simply xenophobic. 'Johnny Foreigner does wonderful, subtle things with fish' my arse. Cover it in breadcrumbs and fry it, anything else is perversion.

I think we've had the 'The French can't fucking cook to save their offal-ridden lives' debate on here before, though. And as I said at the time, I hate francophobia, but Jesus...

EDIT: I've run through all the major world cuisines in my mind, and come up with only two that I love, apart from British: Chinese (the blander chinese stuff anyway) and Italian (minus any traces of cheese, as I'm allergic). I don't even like Indian food, and as for America's efforts on the world cuisine front... cornflakes are good, but that's it for me.

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #57 on: June 02, 2006, 05:00:25 PM »
Fish n Chips are lush. Deep fried mars bar with ketchup, now that's the dregs of British "cuisine"

Edit to add: and there's no better breakfast in the world than a full English, after a night of drinking, at least

"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #58 on: June 02, 2006, 05:05:02 PM »
Quote from: "Munday's Chylde"
You know what would put the sun's theory as to the innocence of proudly displaying a flag to the test? Have someone pop a couple of argentinian flags off the side of their car instead and have them drive around town for a while - see what pleasant, playful and innocent reactions they get from passersby.


Do many people actually know what the Argentine flag looks like? I have no idea, I suspect most other people wouldn't either.

Catalogue Trousers

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"...And We'll Fly-y The Fla-a-a-ag?"
« Reply #59 on: June 02, 2006, 05:07:12 PM »
Two horizontal light blue stripes, with a white stripe in the middle - in the centre of the white stripe, a stylised golden-yellow sun.

I think that it is pretty widely-known - although, where football's concerned,  in this country you'd probably get more abuse for flying a German flag...