In England today you can't miss the ubiqutous Red Cross. St. Georges Flag is everywhere; in pubs, fluttering on cars, hanging from windows. The World Cup is on and England is fully English. It's almost enough to make a Catholic Scot light a match. But just hold on a minute. There is more to this than meets the eye.
Something is missing. It is a rare sight to see a Union Jack; that flag that has been pushed in the faces of Scots, The Irish, The Welsh, as well as Canadians, Indians, Australians, Kenyans and people in countries all over the world. People that hated and despised the British had reasons for their hate. They were crushed under the weight of the cruelty of British imperalism. They are insulted by that busy mess of crosses and are reminded of the slaughter and domination over their own ancestors. It is understandable and even forgivable if they react with venom over the sight of John Bull's pompus shirt.
There is something more to this than a preference over one flag over another. This isn't just a matter of aesthetics. The English have had it. They don't want to be reminded of their past. The English people have no fundamental complaint with their neighbours.
There are two aspects to nationalism. One is a sense of unifying communities and a celebration of culture. The other a sense of xenophobia and forcing others to submit to their culture. A willingness to dominate others to favour the upper strata.
In England today there is an unmistakable Englishness and it isn't what you might imagine. Strangely enough, this is a unifying and accepting sentiment. It is not racist or exclusionary. It is not imperialist. It brings people together in common union whether they are from Newcastle, Liverpool, London or Yorkshire. It brings together English people with Angle, Saxon, and Norse roots. It also brings inhabitants of England that are Jamacian, Iraqi, Canadian, Irish, or even Scots into the fold. All are welcome to fly the Red Cross and to cheer on the English team.
There is also another sentiment; an unmistakble Britishness. This sentiment is one of White Anglo Saxon and royal domination. This sentiment only unifies as long as those that are oppressed surrendur and pledge alliegence to British Royalty and the upper classes. It is the sentiment of Ian Paisley and it is the sentiment of racism and imperialism. In history it has brought together quislings in Scotland, Ireland, America, and quislings all over the world. These quislings sold out their own people and turned on them to gain favour of a power that would ruthlessly dominate and crush all defiance and opposition.
Through centuries of domination and oppression all over the world it might be expected that the English people take pride in global conquest. The history of what they modestly term 'Great Britain'. Some do, no doubt. But most don't. Most English people are decent and have no desire to force Scotland or any other country to be part of them. They are different than the Scots, the Welsh, and the Irish, as any Scot, Irish person or Welsh man or woman would be quick to point out. The English have quite different roots. The sight of Prince Charles wearing a kilt, a once outlawed fabric that was outlawed by his own great grandparents, is just a confusing curiosity to most. To the Scots that have been cleared and victims of genocide, it is a horrific affront to their culture and history.
English football fans do not wear kilts. The English do not wear kilts, full stop.
A trip to Scotland or Wales or Ireland will inform you that the natives in these lands have no desire to be thrown into some imperialistic soup called Britain. A trip to England will feed you exactly the same information. England is properly England and it has it's own ever evolving culture. Yesterday it was Germanic tribes and Roman settlers mixing with the natives that created what we now call English. Settlers from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales later arrived to fight off famine and British oppression. Nowadays arrivals from Pakistan, Africa, mainland Europe, and all over the world arrive every day to continue to shape and mould the ever evolving soul of the English. You will see black faces, brown faces, and white faces all across the country cheering on the English team. For better or worse, these foriegners are here and they are here to stay.
St. Georges Flag may stir up a fear of English nationalism. It isn't much wonder. The English have the national karma of their own past. But that past is a past under the Union Jack. A symbol of war and conquest. The Red Cross that flutters, flutters from the ground up. It flutters from the people of England. No matter what it may have been in the past, today it is a working class source of English pride and it has no intent to exclude anybody. It comes from a sentiment that is inherently English. It comes from a sentimant of openness and acceptance. The English are breaking with their imperialist past and we that are not English should accept it as a symbol of peace. We can put the past behind us. The working class in the cities and towns and the working classes in towns and cities all over the world must remember that our histrory is filled with opprssion and hate. The English people are making a peace offering with this red cross on a white background. The people of England are not hooligans. They are no different than the Irish or Spainards or anybody else.
It is time for us, the decendants of those that were hurt by English imperialism to bury the proverbial hatchet. You don't have to cheer for England in the World Cup. But now, like never before, we got to respect them. They are us.