Patriots and Nationalists

Trigger Warnings – Strong language in some places.

I remember when I first heard the word ‘patriot’, it was in school, I must have been about ten years old and my teacher said it meant someone who was proud of their home nation, to put it simply. I thought this was true of most people and indeed it is but it was a word that I rarely heard being used, even in a country like Britain, for most of my life I never heard people refer to themselves as patriotic because it was just a given but now? Patriot is one of those words you just can’t escape any more and the problem with a common place word is that it is open to being used in the wrong context, this is the fate the word irony suffers at the hands of hipsters, or the word random suffers at the hands of those sorts of girls who shout out their love of dinosaurs and cheese and pink hair. I think we need to define the difference between a patriot and a nationalist, they are similar but not the same and so many people I encounter claiming they are ‘British Patriots’ are in fact, nationalists – nationalism being an irresponsible and selfish viewpoint whereas patriotism being perfectly fine and commendable.

Here’s some food for thought to start the discussion:

Patriotism is proud of a country’s virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country’s virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, “the greatest,” but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is – Sydney J. Harris

That’s a good quote but that was just the appetiser, here’s something to really sink your teeth into:

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war – Sydney J. Harris

Now, do you notice a recurring theme here with his quotes? Granted, same guy said both quotes but this man was no fool, he was a widely respected columnist and author, as well as an advocate for women’s rights, pro-choice stances and bringing an end to the death penalty, which might land him in the eyes of a lefty-tosser to some of you but this man held honorary doctorates, awards from the National Conference of Christians and the Chicago Newspaper Guild, I think that earns him some merit. Even without it, he makes a good point about patriotism and nationalism, one that reminds me of something a friend of mine once said in that patriotism is rooting for the home team and turning up at their matches, nationalism is believing the team to be infallible and destroying the stadium at away games. A patriot feels a sense of responsibility to their country and even love has the ability to step back and tell someone they have failed or done wrong, you do not truly love someone if you blindly agree with everything that comes out of their mouth. You have to take pride in their achievements and feel the shame of their shortcomings, encouraging them to do their absolute best.

I hear some people speak of a foreign threat, this was what UKIP appealed to and it’s what Republicans appeal to in America, making people cautious and wary of those that are different in colour or religion or way of life, accusing them of stealing from your country’s resources or trying to bring their culture into your home and ruin your old traditions for you with their strange new ways. Ok, straight away, no white person alive has the right to say “You come over here with your foreign ways and try to make us change? Fuck off!”, that’s what our ancestors did to three quarters of the globe, I think we can overlook building a mosque when we had them baptised and decapitated once upon a time. If you are proud of your country and it’s traditions, you needn’t feel threatened when these changes come, the traditions will live on through you and all traditions need to adapt anyway, that is how we advance as a society from traditions of sacrificing lambs to idols into gathering in churches on a Sunday, someone has to say “Actually, how about we don’t do that any more? It seems a bit primitive/cruel/unfair/silly”. As for patriotism, well, you should be proud that your country is growing and attracting more people and encourage everyone to work together, but it becomes nationalism when you expect them to become like you to be allowed to live amongst you. I remember my stepmother taking her citizenship test to live here, the stuff she had to know was more than nine out of ten Brits actually did know about the country but even so, just because someone has moved to a new country, they haven’t left their heritage for dirt, what they must adhere to in order to live somewhere is the law, they don’t have to adopt the national stereotype to prove themselves worthy.

I’m mostly speaking to Britain here, I was inspired by a UKIP MP actually tearing down his own party for their racist views and that they need to avoid thinking about isolationist views because Britain became ‘Great’ through its allies and neighbours, we didn’t get given the prefix by God as if to say “Yep, you guys are really on the ball with that society you’ve got there, top job, God is British too, keep it up lads”. After all, that term in its most basic form was coined almost two thousand years ago and literally just meant “The bigger bit of the British Isles”, with Ireland being called “The smaller bit of the British Isles”. Don’t get it twisted, I love Britain, I really do, but it is because I’m proud of these isles that I don’t want it become a hive for hateful ignorants telling people to go away and never bother trying to change anything. I know some may strive for the traditions of old but as I said yesterday, that includes bear baiting, where do you want to draw the line? Britain, before it gained friends overseas, was a struggling little island with an infant mortality problem and an 80 hour work week in some instances, is that what we want to bring back?

Charlie Brooker made a good joke about this a while ago about how he liked Britain before the Romanians and the Poles and the Irish and the French and the Normans and the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons and the Romans, that was proper Britain, clearly exaggerating nationalism to the most radical extreme but perfectly valid. Nationalism is a related philosophy to tribalism when you think about it, it is not a love of the British public as a whole, it is a love of their allies. I mean think about it, really think, could you imagine Nigel Farage calling the left-wing political parties his brethren and respected allies, or even addressing them as good people? Boris Johnson called the left-wing party ‘tossers’, and admittedly I refer to my fellow Brits of wealth and status as entitled pricks, which is a tribal view point, a sort of “If you’re not one of us, you’re against us” mentality more befitting the Great Khans of Fallout than a political party. If you dare speak against the tribe, you’re disloyal, you’re disrespecting your great homeland, you’re a sympathiser with an imagined foe and should be shunned and loathed. Nationalism is essentially thinking your tribe or country deserves the status of the best, which is silly, we’re not in competition, not really, we all share a planet and at the end of the day, countries are invented concepts and if God exists, he won’t gather us all together in a thousand years and say “So it turns out the USA did the best at being a good country, all Americans shall get to go to VIP Heaven and hang out with Jesus, the rest of you get to go to Commoner’s Heaven and polish halos for a living!”

I know there’s an air of ridicule in this post but we need to be clear, you are not a patriot if you support a nationalistic party or believe you live in the best country ever or that your current society is what people should aim for, there is no set guideline as to what a country is supposed to be, a lot of people say we all want to be America really but that’s because it’s a rich nation and everyone wants to be rich. Support your nation, by all means, love it and wear the colours, but respect that people aren’t obliged to take part, even if they’re your next door neighbour, and if you ever start dismissing people for having a different cultural background to you or a desire to practice their own religion or language despite living in a place not reflecting that background, take a step back and imagine it the opposite way round. White people fear a white minority because they’re worried we’d be treated the way we treat them – racism, intolerance and ignorance bordering on being abused simply for existing. In time, maybe we can live in a world where no minority need ever live in constant fear, where every man and woman is a valid peer as should be true of democracy, and lord knows we all love a good democracy.

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Anonymous and Azalea

Trigger Warnings – None.

Today in the news, Anonymous have threatened to leak proof of Iggy Azalea’s appearance in a pornographic video if she does not apologise for her twitter comments with regards to misappropriating black culture, insulting Azealia Banks and making light of Eric Garner’s death. The media has been calling this more of a bullying campaign carried out by the faceless organisation and just the mention of the group is enough to make many people panic, perhaps even fear mentioning them in case they become targets but we should discuss this, discuss who is at fault and how this situation seems to be playing out.

Ok, so it began with Banks making comments in a radio interview about how black culture, particularly rap and hip-hop music, has become part of the white mainstream media and how white artists such as Iggy Azalea and Macklemore get more attention for their contributions to the genre than equally talented young black performers. A difficult subject but I understand the rage, to have a part of their culture whitewashed and taken from them to be turned into another cash cow when the history of rap was never about making money, it was about the poetry of the streets, raging against the system with a beat and harsh lyrics and telling a story of real life struggles. In my opinion, rap and hip-hop have caught on, they are catchy genres of music – more so than say Welsh choir music or Maori folk songs, and it’s already caught up in the machine but like I said, I understand where she is coming from, an identity is being exploited by pop idols. Anyway, moving on, Iggy Azalea didn’t much like being called out like this and said that Azelia Banks was just bitter that she isn’t popular and this sparked a back and forth of insults and invalidating comments right up until Anonymous stepped in and then everyone was a little bit awe-struck.

Now, let’s talk about Anonymous, they say anyone can be a member but this isn’t strictly true, anyone can don the mask, wreak havoc and say they represent Anonymous but Anonymous has no representatives and whilst they can seem to have differing opinions within their own ranks, they generally have some rules that they do their best to stick to:

  • Anonymous believe in the right of free speech and expression
  • Anonymous believe in net neutrality and the freedom of information
  • Anonymous do not act for fame or wealth and any individual publicly declaring they are a member is cast out
  • Anonymous do not attack those that they feel do not deserve it

Anonymous gave Iggy Azalea 48 hours to apologise for her comments and for making light of the death of Eric Garner, a black man who resisted arrest and was caught in a chokehold by a police officer and died, his last words reportedly being “I can’t breathe”, which is apparently the joke Iggy made but lacking a Twitter account, I can’t find the tweet myself. Anonymous say they have a risqué tape of Iggy and although they won’t leak the video because they say they’re not in the business of porn, they will leak screenshots of her face to prove it is indeed Iggy Azalea in the video.

Anonymous may seem like rogues but they have ideals, in fact, ideals are the core of the group, it’s what they use to distinguish themselves from the standard hacker and even have it out for other hackers, such as the GOP for threats against Sony, to which Anonymous responded with the promise that one way or another, that film is going public. Anonymous are doing this to make a statement, perhaps to teach the idols of the modern world that you are accountable for what you say and if you want to offend swathes of people by essentially telling them to just suck it up and let the white man win, then your reputation is forfeit in more ways than one. I’m not here to say well done to Anonymous, threats are not exactly diplomatic reasoning and Iggy Azalea is just one idiot, she just happens to be the idiot that will be made example of in the name of social justice by these internet vigilantes. Frankly though, can you put requests in to Anonymous? If so, Katie Hopkins, please, just… after her last comment? That basically every terror plot is a failed attempt to assassinate her? I don’t approve of killing another human being but I’m pretty close to thinking that callous bitch is actually the daughter of Satan himself and needs to be exorcised so I either want help from Anonymous on that one, or Sam and Dean.

Erhem, anyway, I hope this blows over and the two artists reconcile their differences. Azalea would be wise to comply, people in her line of work make such a big deal out of reputations and a good image and whilst Banks perhaps didn’t respond with the right level of tact and her interview was a barrage of needless cussing, she’s angry, she had a podium and she unleashed the rage of people like her, I’d be a hypocrite if I called her an idiot to do that because the moment I got my own podium, I unloaded that anger in a blaze. Racism still exists, bottom line of that discussion, it shouldn’t but it does and the death of people like Eric Garner and the incident in Ferguson remind us it exists. Beyond that, let us see what Anonymous decides to do…

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Infectious Panic

Trigger Warnings – Death, Infection, Illness

Ebola. The dreaded word surfaces here on my blog as it does across the news, with screening for this virus commencing in airports across the western world as people fear infection in both the UK and the USA. At this point, only a hermit hasn’t heard of the virus and it has become a topic for discussion in all corners of the media, even the obscure blog of a nerd from Shrewsbury but I digress, this is too big of an issue to pass up and the truth needs to be heard, as well as pulled apart from the hysteria

Shepard Smith of Fox News managed to summarise the situation with a cold calm logic and whilst I might never again suggest you watch Fox News coverage, this man detaches himself from his political and professional affiliations to state the facts in a well-presented manner so by all means search him on YouTube as “Shepard Smith Ebola” and watch what he has to say if you feel worried by what you hear in the news, especially if you are from the USA

The facts are as follows – A man contracted Ebola overseas and was dying of the illness in a hospital in Texas, the illness being at its most contagious when someone is dying of the symptoms. A health care worker caught the virus from this man and is now in isolation but she appears to be doing well. The CDC expected more people to become infected and this was true, another health worker has caught the virus and she will transferred to isolation. However, it is true that before she showed symptoms she boarded a plane but as we know, Ebola is only contagious when the symptoms are showing and so the passengers of that plane should be fine but just in case, each passenger is being contacted and monitored through health checks. The chance of infection on the plane is slim to none. Screening operations are now in place across the USA and the UK

Now I know you’re worried, you’ve seen the headlines marking the coming of a plague but you must remember that headlines such as “EBOLA TERROR!” or “WIDESPREAD PANIC!” sell, headlines like “A FEW PEOPLE ARE ILL” or “SLIGHT OVERSIGHT ON A PLANE” or not shocking. You may also note that David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK, called Ebola the single biggest threat to the health and safety of the British people but this is simply untrue – leaders need to appear strong, David Cameron is trying to look like a man protecting the nation from a horrid threat but in truth, here in the west, we are blessed with doctors, hospitals and exhaustive counter-measures against epidemics. Elections are coming, in the UK and the USA, the leaders need to seem strong, the opponents need to undermine them, so whilst the parties in power play the hero, their opponents call them out as inefficient imbeciles and so a cycle of fear is created as the people don’t know who to trust but the truth is this – Ebola is a deadly disease, it has killed thousands, but the thousands it has killed have been those without access to medical facilities, clean water or professional support. If you have a computer to read this on, you will not be at risk unless your doctor has contacted you specifically with their own concerns

Frankly, I think we’re being insulting to the thousands affected by this disease in Central and Western Africa by making a lot of fuss when there has yet to be an outbreak. Thousands are dying, numbers so difficult to track that even the UN admitted to fucking up, and here we are buying ourselves face masks and hand wipes and screaming bloody mercy when it has yet to kill even ten of us.I admit, as I write this, I am lumping in those deaths in Africa as a number, I am not exploring the depth of the damage, I don’t know the families, I don’t know the communities and I don’t know just how many have died but we westerners have a way of seeing deaths in places like Sudan and the Congo Republic as just a sad reality we like to ignore except when we feel generous. You are safe, you live in a world of hygiene and safety procedures, the dead are buried correctly and you can access clean water. The people affected in Africa can not, they are dying because they do not have the sophisticated medical systems we have available to them, they have to simply make do, unlike us

The virus is not easily caught, it is not like the cold or the flu, you are only at risk if you handle the bodily fluids or dead body of someone infected, thus why the health care workers were affected, they were treating a dying man, some part of them was inevitably going to contact some fluid. The virus is fragile, it can survive in a pool of blood or sweat but can be destroyed by cleaning products or hot soapy water. Experimental vaccines are being tested and if caught early, the symptoms can be treated and support will be put in place. You are not going to die, calm down. If you are scared, consider where you read the information – a newspaper, an online article, on the TV? The media profits from your panic, businesses will sell you protection you don’t need (Such as the snake oil scam) and the leaders of the world will tell you it is a difficult challenge they face to eradicate a fearsome curse when in truth, Ebola is only a real concern if you are living in squalor. I have no profit to be made in telling you anything, I am not paid to blog, I am simply a man with an opinion, some facts and a computer, it is entirely your trust whether or not you trust my words but a thorough search will support me, from a logical standpoint

If you are scared about your health, make sure you get your flu jab, the flu kills tens of thousands every year because people underestimate it. Heck, the plague, the flippin’ plague, kills a thousand American people a year, you’re more likely to catch that than Ebola. Scared of the plague? Of the flu? Of Malaria? No, well then Ebola is nothing to you, Ebola is far from reaching the death count of those diseases and that’s not because of time, Ebola has existed as long as Star Wars has and has yet to reach ten thousand deaths, the flu tops that in a year. Stay calm, ignore the hysteria and do what you would normally do to stay healthy – wash your hands, bin your tissues, see a doctor if you are unsure of anything. If we continue to shout like madmen over anything slightly wrong and scrabble around for safety, how will we ever band together in a real crisis? Don’t cry wolf over this because if it does become an actual worldwide epidemic, we need to be calm, we need to be united and we need to take action, not cower in fear crying

I hope that has brought you peace of mind readers and if Ebola still concerns you, donate to a charity working to fight the spread of the virus. Thank you

The Debate About Debates (Originally Published – 7th November 2012)

Well folks, it seems that in the end of it all, Barack Obama managed to hold onto his position for four more years and personally, I’m looking at the fella and thinking ‘You got lucky this time round, now you’ve really got to pull your finger out your ass and fix America or they may well take up lynching again’ However, I suppose Obama worked hard to get re-elected and Romney presented him a real challenge in the early stages of the debate (Not so much of a challenge after the 47% statement and the Republican’s response to Hurricane Sandy) So now America is looking towards Mr Obama and hoping, with what they have left, and in all honesty, I’m really not sure what’s gonna happen at this stage. To be honest, this win for Barack Obama will either mark a new age of hope and happiness, or reconfirm the fact we’re all up shit creek without a paddle.

The democratic systems of the western world have forever been flawed concepts, having been based on flawed predecessors and though perhaps a better alternative to a single dictatorship that some countries have or had, we essentially see the same thing each time round in every country. America falls into a two horse race between Republicans and Democrats then get to choose the shiniest of two turds to make decisions for them for four years. I have no right to judge, being a Brit commenting on the entire thing, but America essentially got to choose between the world’s greatest optimist who lacked substance or a religious tycoon with an ego bigger than the United States themselves, whoop de fucking do. I mean, Barack Obama essentially bleated on about ‘Gimme another chance, I can make a change’ like he was desperately clawing back his ex-girlfriend, the USA, and eventually the USA gave in with rosy red cheeks and open arms, whereas Romney just based everything on being rich and powerful and whilst he probably had the ability to dig the country out of debt, he’s more messed in the head than Charlie Sheen’s nightmares. I don’t even know where to start with the earlier candidates, like motherfucking Vermin Supreme and Sarah Palin… yeah, less said about them, the better… Though running for president on the basis of giving away ponies and dressing like Gandalf survived an explosion in his garden shed is impressively bizarre.

So you’re probably wondering what I am actually ranting about? I can’t really be specific this time round; I’d say politics but that’s too vague and a true rant about politics would take me forever to write. I guess I’m just being my usual cynical self and looking at the world of politics as steadily getting more and more shit. At least America has some interesting characters over there they can vote for, the beloved soul-singing, hoop-shooting cool guy or the unashamedly brass mega man of money and Mormonism. Americans amongst you, let me tell you what Britain has to show for their political leaders.

Firstly, there is current Prime Minister David Cameron, a rich and posh imbecile who reckons he’s a man’s man, but doesn’t even sniff a common sausage roll without travelling across the country to find one to prove he’s just like everyone else, only he has money and we don’t.  Apart from the fact he loosely resembles a featherless penguin’s abortion, David Cameron is a man so monumentally out of touch with the real world, he thinks that £65 a week (In the region of $50) is enough to buy a house, pay the bills, have all the latest technological gadgetry available and have a HDTV with satellite. Excuse me but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. £6500 a week, maybe, but £65? Really? Scarily enough, this fantasy land fucktard runs the nation and thinks he’s made it all better. If he has, anyone living in a house and not a mansion has yet to notice.

Second to David Cameron is his trusted sidekick Nick Clegg. Nick Clegg was supposed to ushering in an age of liberty, freedom and happiness but in the end, Cameron beat him but not by enough to be the sole party in charge and so Clegg joined with him to form a Coalition. The combination of these two is paramount to seeing Lucas and Spielberg work together on a film, the world is gonna suffer through a contorted mess that might have been great once upon a time, but never again. During the debate prior to our last election, Nick Clegg was the only candidate not focused on slagging off his competition and actually sounded promising but I suppose a bright future is too much to ask for this grey country. Nick Clegg is now only known by the reputation he has as David’s lapdog and the most charismatic thing he’s done in ages is become an auto-tuned parody on YouTube, courtesy of disappointed university students (Who are probably bankrupt and in massive debt thanks to his inability to keep a simple promise. You had one job Clegg, ONE JOB)

And the third horse in the race actually resembles a horse, Ed Milliband. You know it’s a shame his teeth can’t just bite through the heads of his opponents or he’d be the Emperor of the Universe. Gordon Brown finally melted, having looked like dripping wax during his time as PM, and they replaced him with one of the Inbetweeners. Ed is the photo perfect image of a nerdy stereotype but with none of the Star Wars trivia and an addiction to repeating his previous sentence at least twelve times in slightly different ways. For a long period of time, this man faced a career in which none of the general public quite remembered his name or knew that he was leader of the Labour party but now, he’s fairly easy to point out to anyone, bar the odd hermit and floating voter. Ed Milliband completes Britain’s terrible triumvirate of gormless faces that will be trying to run the country, each one an expressionless, mindless drone that wasn’t born from their mother’s womb but rather, assembled by suicidal elves.

I worry about the future of modern society all the time but the most worrying thing about the world is the people who run it. To me, the entire planet is controlled by people who know fuck all about the places they live in and the people they represent. I suppose politics is such a complex business you can’t have the people represent themselves, they wouldn’t understand how to do such a thing. By the same token, I don’t promote anarchy because we do need a government, sadly. However, I feel like the higher-ups need a reality check, a reminder that the people of the world are relying on them to serve the greater good. A radical move here would be to do away with the lot of them and start over fresh, including the economy, but that would take forever to do and is most likely impossible. I won’t pretend to know shit about economics, other than; I’m poor but probably better off than a Greek housewife. I hope to God that one day, there is a politician who genuinely stands up for the common man, isn’t in it for money or power, and says ‘Look, this is a fucked up system. Too much money for too little people, how about I even that out and make some changes’ I won’t be that man in my lifetime, haven’t got the ability, and no doubt if ever there was a man who would genuinely make life fair, he’d be shot in the head by a man with more bullets than brain cells. I’m surprised Obama wasn’t shot in 2008 to be honest, thought his dreams of change would be his death warrant. I think it says a lot about this world that we want things to improve but without too much change or by despising those who can make our lives genuinely better.