Being British: What's Wrong With It?
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The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics look set to make 2012 as successful as the royal weddings of 2011 when it comes to creating a surge of patriotism across our once self-assured land. But despite the latest wave of nostalgic British pride, Britain is in the midst of an identity crisis, with British values and identity the butt of scorn and sneers. Motivated by the sense that the notion of Britishness has been hijacked, and intrigued by the ever-vexed question of British identity and what it really means, Peter Whittle has set out to examine what's actually wrong with being British. With his trademark wit and insight, Whittle explores how, despite being chipped away at from all sides for the past five decades, pride in being British has shown an amazing ability to survive.
Implication, we should all still be ashamed; the idea that we should take pride in having brought it to an end, as a result of enlightened thinking and the goodness and courage of figures such as William Wilberforce, was on the whole neglected. In the introduction to his book Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, the historian Niall Ferguson quotes from a BBC website which was aimed at school children. This was how it summed up Britain’s imperial past: The Empire came to greatness by.
Undergraduate I can attest to this: sometimes I felt like I had been parachuted behind enemy lines) but thankfully, Britain has one of the most thriving markets in popular history, and the greatest public interest in the subject, of any country in the world. Not knowing about history is one thing; not wanting to know about it is quite another, and all the signs are that despite it being endlessly revised, reviled and even junked by those institutions whose whole point is actually to ‘pass it.
Clichéd reasons often trotted out to explain extremism. He was, as we would have been informed firmly by any multiculturalist before the bombing took place, as British as you or me. However, what was most depressing about the long-term reaction to this attack – and indeed to the thwarted attempts at similar outrages which came later, again from British Islamist extremists – was the way in which initial anger was quite quickly converted into concern over possible so-called ‘Islamophobia’.
We discussed earlier, it appeared to them far less inclusive. And if one could talk as historians did of the ‘tribes’ of Britain, then the English were by far the biggest. They symbolised the political mainland from which others wanted to break away. They had also taken the overwhelming brunt of large-scale immigration, so their sense of themselves was, like Britishness, fair game for the deconstructionists. The comedian Eddie Izzard, for example, made one such attempt with his TV series Mongrel.
Centre of social life up and down the country. PC meant police constable, not political correctness. People laughed at the same jokes told by the same comedians, and they would have assumed that reality television meant documentaries. Devolution was just a twinkle in Alex Salmond’s eye. Suicide bombing was quite literally alien, something that happened in the far-off Middle East. When England played an international game, crowds waved the Union flag. People were not called upon to state their.