On the eve of the European elections, patriotism – or at least politicians' appropriation of that condition – is much in the air. I shall refrain from any temptation to refer to scoundrelly tendencies and consider instead, the gentler, and what I believe to be the more fruitful concept of a 'sense of place.'
It is an instantly recognised and powerful image which has endured for over a century. The foreshortened pointing finger, extravagant moustaches and braided military cap of Lord Kitchener have been utilised across a wide range of advertising since they were first employed to tell young men that their country needed them.
Writing in the Observer on 14 October, the paper's chief political correspondent Andrew Rawnsley presented readers with a composite of the speeches given by the leaders of the three main parties at their recent conferences. It is an amusing swipe at the banalities and dog-whistles of political rhetoric, which you can read here: http://bit.ly/UVtj78 but it is also a reminder of something ugly and delusional which underlies that rhetoric.
Almost thirty years ago, I went to the Yorkshire Dales with a group of friends to undertake an ascent of the Three Peaks. Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough make for a stiff day's walking. But we were very young and the challenge of quantity was more significant to us than the quality of more leisured ascent.
That senior US politician Newt Gingrich tried to be forgiven for his infidelities while using “patriotism” and “overworking” excuses is what leads many to see a usually serious act turning out to have been rather comic, says Martin Marty, reporting on the media response in North America.
A leading Mennonite college in the USA has started to play a version of the national anthem. Student David Jost is one of the objectors. He argues that loyalty to the God of Jesus Christ precludes endorsing nationalism and state violence.
To consider the possibility that whatever we cherish in our own environment, legends and customs, could have a parallel in the hearts of others, is to begin to mix the mortar that may bind us in solidarity, says Jill Segger. It is this solidarity which rests at the heart of a patriotism worthy of the name.
Lord Goldsmith, speaking for the government citizenship review, walked into a backlash today over proposals that school-leavers should be encouraged to swear an oath of allegiance to Queen and country.