Sunday, 14 February 2010
I'm sorry - Nationalism is Not Acceptable
Nationalism - especially in its celtic varieties exudes a certain panache that chimes in with a lot of people. Moody landscapes, knitted Aran jumpers, hauntingly romantic songs, and maybe the odd rugged-looking native. What's not to like?
Since I've been living in Scotland, I was able to observe it at close quarters - and have totally changed my mind. Nationalism is based on the belief of the supremacy of one's own nation above all others. In its day to day appearance, it is ugly, spiteful, and hurts anybody who is not of that nation.
"Everybody here is nationalist, in one way or another", a journalist friend told me recently, "and everybody dislikes the English". Oh right. So that is acceptable to say things like that, is it? No way.
Whilst support for the actual Nationalist Party in Scotland has waned, this is just a reflection on the fact that most voters now know that secession from Britain is no longer economically possible. Nationalism as such, however, is on the rise. And there is nothing to curb it, as "everybody thinks that way".
So "everybody" here thinks nothing of it when obese thugs (nationalism is much stronger in poor, uneducated strata of the population) glower at people who, say, speak on the mobile in a foreign language. Bus drivers habitually profess not to understand you when you speak with an English accent. Any criticism, if only of the weather, is met with utter hostility, and a threatening glare. When two English people talk to each other in a shop, the other shoppers fall silent, and everybody stares at the offenders. Officially, the line about Eastern European workers is that they are very welcome. They don't feel welcome, I've spoken to many of them.
The hatred is sharp, visceral and ubiquitous. You don't have to go football matches or obscure pubs to feel frightened by it.
I understand that nationalism and chauvinism come about through feeling marginalised, economically disadvantaged and bitter. But bigotry, xenophobia and hatred of people who aren't like you cannot be an acceptable form of voicing your frustration.
For me, the ugly face of nationalism is definitely a big problem when it comes to living in Scotland.