British patriotism alive and kicking on Facebook

While at work the other day, I stumbled upon a Facebook application called simply “I am British“. Emblazoned with a Union Jack, the app’s homepage shows that it has over 90,000 ‘fans’. So I had to install it and see what all the fuss is about.

The “I am British” app was produced by i2we, a San Francisco based app developer that has come up with dozens of similarly named apps like “I am soccer / futbol”, “I am lesbian” and “I am childbirth professional”. What these apps seem to allow you to do is (a) define yourself by your nation, sport or profession; (b) earn points by saying you’re doing stuff connected with your chosen app (like “I am toast and marmite” or “I am binge drinking”; and (c) socialise with like-minded people. So far, so stultifyingly dull.

But what really interested me about this app is what users of “I am British” say about the app and themselves. The app reviews are enlightening. They range from slightly confused but determined calls to preserve Britishness:

Must keep up our heritage remember the little things fish n chips on a friday,bacon butties fof breakfast.Support the local harvest festival.Donate to your local church.Most of all dont tarmac or blockpave over you gardens,people who do this are killing our green pastures our HERITAGE.

…to barely literate threats:

Born n bred british
i die 4 this fuckin country
so if u dont like it here fuck off i aint dying 4 u

…and there are even some opposing views:

You should be proud of what you achieve, not what you are. Saying you’re proud of your heritage is as stupid as being proud of your eye colour.

When one young guy says that he was “Givin shit to pakis :)” – he receives a high five. Someone else comments that he’s “Sick to death of the vile infection of freeloading scum washing up on our shores for a free handout!!!!:(” – which leads to a “Hear hear” and a further clarification from the original poster that:

At Present I find myself unemployed,All I
need to help fix this problem is a Gun and
an ammunition supplier that can keep up
with the demand for bullet’s. 🙂

I like how a vague threat of terrible violence is rendered fluffy by the inclusion of a smiley.

The problem with “I am British” is that racist opinions aren’t in the minority. Most reviews and many wall posts seem to espouse pure BNP ideology, though not couched in that party’s flowery language.

see if u look above there no black in the flag so is our country overrun with blacks

i work for livin an pay ma taxis unlike these fukin imagrantes thats what makes u british.this country is gettin raped

I no that many people class them selves British even the ones who was born in this country but i kida disagree because if you was born in England then you are English. Government wants us to call our self’s British even when we are totally the opposite. If the foreigners get to choose if they are Asian or any other race but we cant call our selves English. Personally i think it is terrible the why the foreigners get everything and we get nothing when we are the true citizens. I think there is going to be a big riot if the government dont do nothing because we are getting sick of all of it. Soon the white race will be gone if we dont do nothing. We aint racist we are realists. Bring back England

ME COME TO ENGLAND POOR AND BROKE. GO DOWN DOLE SEE SOCIAL BLOKE, FILL IN FORM STAND AROUND KIND MY GIVE ME PLENTY POUND,ALL IS NICLEY SETTLED DOWN NICE BIG HOUSE IN ROTHERHAM TOWN ,ME THINK ENGLAND DAMN FINE PLACE MUCH TO NICE FOR WHITE MAN RACE AND IF YOU DONT LIKE COLOURED MAN THERS PLENTY ROOM IN PAKISTAN! [This post comes from a chap who appears to be a British soldier]

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this sort of thing. But with Modbury suddenly flying multiple England flags and Union Jacks, I’m concerned that Britain is seeing an increase in a type of patriotism that seems to be predominantly based on race hate. Maybe I should “leave the country” (that won’t be difficult)? Or maybe I’m just over reacting and nothing has really changed.

6 thoughts on “British patriotism alive and kicking on Facebook

  1. My imprerssion is that nothing has really changed. Have you read SOMETHING TO TELL YOU by Hanif Kureishi? Britain, and London in particular, can be a lovely place where many different races and cultures mingle but it is also a place where immigrants mostly live in suburban guetthos and don’t really mix up with WASPs, only on a superficial level … It is my view, after having lived in the UK for 20 years. Then again, don’t think is that different to any other country, for that matter…

  2. Well, Neil, it’s interesting. It would be easy to say that all flags and all versions of patriotism are exactly the same thing, and that therefore any display of these things should cause concern.

    Personally, I see that as a pretty simplistic and misleading approach. Firstly, except on Fair day and probably royal coronations, Modbury isn’t a town that I’m used to seeing festooned with Union Jacks or England flags. (N.b. I say ‘England’ flag because it wasn’t a simple St. George’s cross: it incorporated the word ‘ENGLAND’ and various other national symbols). So this is a recent development there and, quite apart from cheapening the place, it seems to be linked to an increase in ‘British pride’ that coincides with increasing political success for the BNP.

    It is this second point that concerns me the most. While there are a few people who seem to feel threatened by seeing Senyeres and Estelades about, I’ve never ever felt like that. And I’m an immigrant here. Perhaps it’s all a double standard. I’m more inclined to think that the Union Jack, with its long association with imperial slaughter and then suburban fascism is intrinsically a more frightening symbol. It’s certainly a very ugly flag.

  3. Why is it that people who define themselves as English and proud like this are totally illiterate, always unemployed and blaming it on others and incapable of any type of rational thought?
    (Quick check for typos just in case)

  4. I Agree 100% Tom. I’d add that just because someone is displaying a George’s Cross, it doesn’t mean that they are a supporter of the BNP or anything like. The recent England ashes victory caused a cricket mad friend of mine to put his on display. No political meaning at all. My real point is, if you are English and want to display your genuine patriotism in the normal flag waving way, which flag do you use? The modern day far right appear to have appropriated both the GC and UJ as their own. Maybe the answer is for the English to be ashamed of being English and put a stop to any ideas of patriotism.

    In Catalonia, “flag waving” can be much more specific than in England. Several variations were born with specific original meanings. Crucial difference though is that, at least to my knowledge, they haven’t all been hijacked by the far right, so patriotic flag waving here can’t be a bad thing. I have been told about a couple of the different versions but am not sure how accurate it is. Based on that I prefer the standard Senyera (just the stripes) or Estelada (proper name? white star, blue triangle) to the “paisos Catalans” (name? red star). However, as I have found quite a lot of conflicting stories, I’d welcome any pointers to some reliable sources regarding this.

  5. I think it is really sad how the BNP have hijacked the English flag for years, thus preventing the great majority of good English folk from using it. I have English friends and they really struggle to come to terms with using their national flag in public. Any celebration (the Ashes for example) and they immediately feel guilty and uncomfortable having a flag visible outside a sports ground. The same pretty much at rugby matches. A few years ago I witnessed a superb anecdote: an English rugby fan hid his small flag in his anorak after coming out of a 6 Nations game at Murrayfield, saying to his mate “I don’t want any hassle, you know…”. A Scotland fan walking next to them heard it and ticked him off for hiding his flag and kind of made him take it out again. I was with an Irish friend and we all took the English guy and his friend to the pub to make them feel better about his own national flag (any excuse really) and stop feeling guilty because of the BNP arseholes.

    The English need to get their flag back from the BNP but it is going to be quite difficult. Unlike Toni, admittedly from quite a distance in Scotland, I do think that things are changing, but progress is very very slow.

    Neil: not sure how is your Catalan but this Wiki article is a very good start:

    http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estelada

    (or summarised English translation).

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