The UK government’s response to the pandemic has, amongst many, many other things, exposed the nation’s problem with patriotism – rewarding blind incompetence with equally as blind allegiance and fanaticism. Alex Mace gives his own light on the seemingly undying ideology…
Patriotism is a concept that, particularly in the case of the UK, makes me laugh. It’s simply drenched in irony. There’s something so subtly amusing about the self-righteous Brexiteer, supposedly protecting our borders from the very cultures that provided us with our national cuisine, or the world cup hooligan warcry lauding a monarch who, like many other British institutions like Rolls Royce or Bentley, is a lot more German than most would care to remember.
It’s an ideology that latches itself to that childish part of the self that longs to be part of something greater and provides the ignorance needed to dismiss the atrocities one had to commit in order to become so “great”; a more distinguished way of sticking your fingers in your ears and going “La la la la la”.
You may be reading this and thinking why I’m not turning my scorn to our friends across the pond – the very epitome of patriotism – but I feel that dead horse has beaten itself enough for the last four years to warrant much more torment.
The bottom line is, we all live on the same godforsaken rock and your Union Jack-clad being happened to be spat out on a smaller bit of rock that happened to have taller buildings and shinier cars than a lot of the others; congratulations.
At this level it’s all relatively harmless; just a spot of misinformed arrogance. Bringing it into the here and now, however, as the UK breaches the woeful 100,000 Covid-19 deaths – something that could have been demonstrably and categorically avoided, is where it becomes an issue.
What before may have only made the odd football match a bit more ludicrously theatrical, has now awarded incompetence, dishonesty and avarice with a sickening legion of tory-glory fanatics that see no trouble in moving past the cabinet’s shortcomings.
It’s easy for those like myself to surround ourselves in the echo chamber of Boris abuse, to not see the apologists and the sympathisers as they valiantly cry “He’s doing his best” whilst the world’s actual “best” enjoy music festivals, dining out and the simple joys of a hug.
But why Boris? Surely even the flag-wavers can think of someone better? Boris is a relatable, down-to-earth figure, with charisma that the crusted sock of Rees-Mogg could only dream of. Boris protects those “British values” (which apparently means harbouring racist and Islamaphobic views) that the patriots enjoy harking on about, or at least is the closest thing to them considering the only other option is “communism” and, therefore, must be something to be proud of.
“We can be proud of Captain Tom Moore though, can’t we? He was the spirit of the British, a figure of homeland hope!” No. Captain Tom Moore was, indeed, an extraordinary man, but why must his virtues of selflessness and resilience have anything to do with Britain? Tom Moore was a great man, he only happened to be British – this is not about you, your country or your own sense of self-worth.
Humanity, in the case of Captain Tom Moore, has its flickers of brilliance. The United Kingdom, however – if its leaders are anything to go by – has very little to be proud of.