Worse than Brown’s pledge of allegiance
We in Britain are getting a little tired of new ‘proposals’ (none have yet to make legislation, AFAIK) for how we should all be forced to be patriotic. If they’re to be believed, we will soon be saluting the flag, pledging allegience, and shutting down town for military parades at least once a year. But not one of these proposals has quite gone so far as the announcement by Beijing Olympic organisers yesterday.
I’ll try and keep this diatribe brief, but I’m sorry: WTF? Not only will these Olympics be remembered for their intense Human Rights abuses, and for the world’s most cynical post-disaster clean up operation ever (you think they’d have done it in any year when the media weren’t watching so closely?), and of course, not to mention how the Chinese are being told to avoid France just because free speech is used in that obviously hostile country.
But now we are being told that the Chinese are to be taught, including 800,000 school children, exactly how to celebrate. This kind of manicuring of enthusiasm from crowds of spectators sounds highly off-putting: isn’t the Olympics also meant to be about personal acheivement? Or does that not matter in China? Is it all about worshipping the state?
Whatever the intensions, this kind of behaviour is what makes nationalism so grotesque. It doesn’t allow people to express themselves, and their complexities, in a way that suits them. It doesn’t provide room for fluidity or self-introspection or external challenge. This really is a case where identity is about the negative, the not-being, the separation, and about supremacy, the two great cancers of identity without which society can so easily make do.