Friday, July 8, 2016

Bombs Bursting In Air

8th July 2016

Independence Day. The fourth of July. Parades and barbeques and fireworks! Americans know how to throw a celebration. All very splendid and enjoyable. And the celebration of a nation freeing itself from colonial suppression is, of course, close to my heart. But let's bear in mind that not all nationalisms are created equal. Pride in a nascent country is not the same as the will to go out, as Britain did, and make colonies of other peoples. I stand behind countries getting themselves back on their feet, but I do not approve of rabid nationalism.
I never, for instance, stand for any national anthem, because I think it is just so much beating of the chest and calling "Cock-a-doodle-do!"

In the British anthem, we have God Save The Queen/King: O Lord our God arise, Scatter her/his enemies. (Especially if her/his enemies are trying to undo her/his empire!)  Britain has another national song called Jerusalem with a whole lot of nonsense about Jesus Christ, a peasant from the middle east, walking about England's green and pleasant land. (Methinks he would have looked less holy under an umbrella!)
When it comes to nationalistic hogwash, America, of course, has its fair share. O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave oe'r the land of the free and the home of the brave. To swallow that, you have to engage in some serious redefining of terms. By "free" is meant white European male, and by "brave" is certainly not intended the real braves, those few natives who managed to escape extermination.

This kind of nationalism will always try to conflate its expansionism with religion. It's been doing it from the moment the Roman Empire took on Christianity as its standard bearer. If you're going to go out into the world and claim other lands, you'd better have god on your side. The much later Christian Doctrine of Discovery issued by some Roman pope in the fifteenth century carried the tradition on.  It's how the west was won. How the Middle East is still being won. Or so thought Tony Blair and George Bush when they were brewing their felonious little plans. Eventually, but not in our lifetime, the Middle Eastern countries will celebrate their own independence from colonialism, with fireworks instead of bombs. Now, that's a thought! I wish I could be around to see it.

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