Olympic Hope and British Patriotism

Surprise: National patriotism isn't dead in England after all!

Like most of the world, we spent a portion of the last two weeks watching the Olympics on TV.  And what a remarkable show it was!

When they began, we generally agreed with Mitt Romney that something was bound to badly break and the Olympics would grind to a gridlocked halt.  Didn't happen.

Yes, the raw socialist propaganda of the opening ceremony was, as Carl Sargent of the British Left-wing Labour Party boasted, “the best Labour party political broadcast I have seen in a while.”  Viewers of the closing ceremony would be excused for thinking that England hasn't done anything noteworthy in the last half-century that didn't involve underaged quasi-musicians.  What?  Have they not heard of the Dyson?  At least a parade of maids and janitors wielding vacuums would have celebrated the fruits of British industry and manufacturing!

Beyond the unaccountable adulation of a public health system that leaves old people starving in hospital beds, though, the London Olympics was suffused from start to finish with something we haven't seen in public in, oh, about forever:

Patriotism - that is, British patriotism, as the British people gloried in the joy of being British.

Patriotism Is Healthy

There was a time, a long long time ago, when the British wrote songs about how important their nationality was:

He is an Englishman!

For he himself has said it,

And it's greatly to his credit,

That he is an Englishman!

For he might have been a Roosian,

A French, or Turk, or Proosian,

Or perhaps Itali-an!

But in spite of all temptations

To belong to other nations,

He remains an Englishman!

That sentiment hasn't been much in evidence for a while; "Londonistan" is more noted for people who look and act as if they belong in the darkest, most barbaric hellholes of the Middle East, or perhaps the most corrupt bastions of Moscow, than in the home of cricket on the village green.

The Passion of Patriotism

Nationalism and patriotism have been out of style in Europe ever since the world wars which the Left blamed on nationalism and patriotism.  It's true that fascism used and abused national fervor to evil ends, but that doesn't mean that loyalty to your nation is bad.  In fact, it's essential, the more so as Western nations cease to have any ethnic core at all.

When a nation is composed mostly of people related to each other who share pretty much the same culture, it's relatively easy to get along.  When you've intentionally imported foreigners for the express purpose of totally changing your culture, social strife is going to explode if you don't provide something else to unify around.

America has never been a mono-ethnic society; anyone can become American by subscribing to the belief in fundamental freedoms expressed in our founding documents.  England hasn't looked on things that way, but most American liberties evolved from English common law and traditions; there's no obvious reason why "Britishness" cannot be just as powerful a unifying factor even in the absense of ethnic unity.

As in the United States, the glories of Western culture have been under determined attack by leftist elites who dominate the cultural conversation.  The process is further along in England; we thought that culture pretty much dead.

The British are Back

The Olympics have shown us otherwise.  If news reports and stories from friends on the ground are to be believed, it might just be that the joy of Britishness has come roaring back.  Maybe it's OK to be proud to be British, to fly the Union Jack, to sing "God Save the Queen" with a tear in your eye - even while you're checking out her bloomers as her doppelganger descends into the stadium by parachute in a ridiculous James Bond sketch.

Yes, making fun of your betters is just as much a British tradition as it is an American one, and in a way, humor is the foundation of freedom.  The first people "disappeared" in dictatorships are those who make people laugh at the dictator.

The British are laughing at themselves, which is good, but then they never really stopped.  There's a difference between laughing in derision and laughing in fond pride; for too many years it's been all the former.

Not anymore, and now that it's abruptly acceptable to be proud to be British, the Brits are making up for lost time:

A particular joy has been the rekindling of Britishness itself — which, we are so often told, is in danger of dying out...

For decades it has been fashionable in liberal circles to run down British identity, to dismiss the Union Jack as the flag of racist imperialism, and to smear ordinary patriotism as tantamount to xenophobia.

The UK, we were often told, would soon be heading for the dustbin of history. Soon we would all be European, then national allegiances would count for nothing.

So strong has patriotic fervor resurged, that the British Olympic team even provided a sterling example of the melting pot at work - the only hope for social harmony in a multiethnic land:

...The most heartening moment of the Games came at Mo Farah’s post-race press conference, when an African journalist asked him whether he would rather have competed for Somalia, where he was born.

‘Look, mate,’ Farah said firmly. ‘This is my country. When I put on the Great Britain vest, I feel proud. Very proud.’

Farah — whose victory in the 10,000 metres was, for me, the defining and most emotional moment of the Games — came to this country from Somalia at the age of eight. He did not speak a word of English. But here he was, a proud Londoner and a proud Briton, suffused with joy after winning in front of his home crowd.

America was once like that and needs desperately to be again.  England never needed to be, but it desperately does now - and apparently it can be.  In full view of everyone in Britain, it actually is:

These two weeks have been a watershed of true significance. There has been a visceral reaction among black and Asian Britons to what we have seen. For some, it has been perhaps the first time they have really felt a part of this country. For others, the promise of tolerance and integration has come true.

Seeing the mixed-race and black competitors fighting fiercely for their personal bests and for their country has been the moment when history turned a page.

And the evidence is not just up there on the medal podiums.

Ten days back, on a London Underground train, I met a Somali family festooned in Union Jack kit. The mum had a red-white-and-blue band across her forehead under a black Muslim head scarf; her sons had on Team GB T-shirts and caps and held Union flags, and on her daughter’s leggings were pictures of crowns, Big Ben and St Paul’s.

Overall, allowing Muslim immigration to England was just as bad an idea there as everywhere else it's been tried.  Too bad; too late; can't be fixed now.  But at least there's hope that they're making the best of it, and just possibly, there may always be an England after all.

Now we just need to follow in their footsteps, and crack down on "American" Olympians who have the arrogance to think they can wave two flags.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
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