Sign of the times

Share
Related Topics

St George's Day has come late this year. The distinctive red crosses of England's patron saint flutter from a thousand car windows and have provoked a debate about whether they are a good thing or not. Of course, the proliferation of these flags is due to England's participation in the European Championships, which begin in Portugal today. But is something deeper, and possibly more sinister, than football going on here?

St George's Day has come late this year. The distinctive red crosses of England's patron saint flutter from a thousand car windows and have provoked a debate about whether they are a good thing or not. Of course, the proliferation of these flags is due to England's participation in the European Championships, which begin in Portugal today. But is something deeper, and possibly more sinister, than football going on here?

Some believe this mass embracing of the flag is a sign that people are beginning to reclaim the St George cross from its association with the far-right. Scotland and Wales are proud of their nations and never slow to wave their national flags, goes the reasoning, so why shouldn't the English be the same?

But others think that all those red crosses reflect an upsurge of ugly nationalism. By flying the St George cross people are proclaiming themselves to be xenophobic little Englanders.

There is an element of truth in both these views. Idiotic football hooligans and the British National Party do not hold a monopoly on English flags and we should try to erode their spurious claims to patriotism. But we must also recognise that racists will inevitably try to capitalise on the flag phenomenon, seeing it as a vindication of their own twisted views. Patriotism must not tip over into bigoted nationalism.

America, with its ubiquitous star-spangled banner, has demonstrated how a flag can be a genuine source of pride, but in the southern states the Confederate flag is inextricably associated with racism and reactionary politics.

National emblems are powerful things. If this new-found fondness for flags means that the England football team will be well supported when its plays the mighty French tomorrow, we can welcome them - but we must always be wary of the darker forces that can be awoken by such symbols too.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices