In England last week, I found St. George's Cross, the English flag, everywhere– flying from car windows, hanging in front of homes– even on biscuits in the supermarket. By comparison, I spotted just one British flag. I gather that in the past, back in the day when Mod kids wore the Union Jack as a jacket liner or used them as blankets, St. George's Cross carried a connotation of white supremacy. In the age of multi-racial Britain, however, when the English football team actually looks like the rest of England, the flag of St. George appears to be embraced by all. It reminds me of Chicago in the Jordan era, when Bulls stickers and flags were everywhere.
But I guess not everyone in England agrees. Egland's Rose points out the English mainstays like Tesco, Heathrow and cabbies are all wrestiling with the question. English tabloid the Sun carried this story last week:
…ex-minister Gisela Stuart claimed the rise of Englishness is a threat to democracy. German-born Ms Stuart said she is concerned people claim to be English rather than British.
Mr White, who is 65 and near retirement, wrote back: “England, as opposed to Britain, has an unfortunate history around the world and within the British Isles and please do not say that it is all past.
“It is a fact that the right and extreme right in Britain cloak themselves in the English flag, the cross of St George and claim to be the true representatives of the English.
“Wherever there is hooligan behaviour, usually linked to extreme right-wing political groups eg, at football matches here and abroad, it is the flag of St George that is displayed.”
Rejoice! Thanks to the national obsession with football, the cross of St George has finally been reclaimed from the racists. Nowadays, when you see an England flag on a car, sprawled across a T-shirt, or flapping from a novelty hat, you no longer assume the owner is a dot-brained xenophobe. Instead you assume he's just an idiot. And you're right. He is.
Little Man in a Toque explores the same theme:
We need to glory again in the name of Scotsmen or Welshmen or Englishmen and in the name of Britons, but in a multi-racial society we can only do this through fostering a sense of civic nationalism and pride in our collective and separate identities.
There's an interesting sent of comments cross posted at Albion's Seedlings.
Meanwhile,Glasgow's Sunday Mail tried an experiment with the flag:
…we took our St George's cross attached to the bonnet of a parked car round four cities – and in two it was stolen and binned within an hour.