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Patriotism, is a controversial topic in Britain. It was reported in early 2008, that British army soldiers were now prohibited from wearing combat uniform in public, deeming it “offensive to Britain’s multi-racial society”. For the exact same reasons, patriotic citizens have also been banned from publicly displaying the English St. George cross flag. They have been informed that only the full Union Jack can be flown, as a “friendlier” option.

Since the early 1970’s, Britain has seen a steady decrease in the open expression of patriotism, particularly in England. It is not by chance that this coincides with mass immigration. What doesn’t help matters is that most of us are generally aware of the troubled history of the 1970’s skinhead supporters of the National Front, who were the last outpouring of Union Jack-wavers. Expressions of pride in our country are limited these days; mostly to football or rugby matches, where we seem, to our American and Asian neighbours, slightly deranged about our passion for these sports. Alas, the firey passion they are witnessing is not just for the Beautiful Game itself; it is the direct consequence of what happens when some 83,000 Britons are given the freedom to simultaneously uncork the highly pressurized bottle of patriotic expression. What our neighbours don’t know, is that it is now considered an oddity, perhaps even a silent act of aggression, to see a Union Jack flown outside a home in 21st century Britain.

This is in stark contrast to the American attitude towards patriotism. Americans never need an excuse to show national pride. An American flag stands, outside pretty much every home in the U.S. Everywhere you turn, it seems, the national flag is emblazoned on absolutely every blank surface. Arriving tourists are often amazed to find themselves bombarded with this bizarre, American ‘obsession’ with the Stars and Stripes, making it’s way into every holiday photograph, cutting into their line of sight with every blink. Businesses, cars, trucks, shop fronts and windows of all manner are flamboyantly and often, outrageously adorned with it. Most of the time this is done completely in spite of the hatred expressed toward America. Day and night, American marches and other such patriotic music, pours out of classical music radio stations; at deafening decibels in every university, college or national sports game. Sung over and over again like a broken record at schools the country over, the American national anthem is now one of the most recognised patriotic songs in the world.

However, as a result of the negative image patriotism has in Britain, the tendency has been to frequently look down upon the bold, loud American display of patriotism as false and showy, aggressive and insensitively hostile to foreigners on their soil. Honestly speaking, I think neither extreme serves well. A country’s governance shouldn’t go to the ridiculous heights of banning it’s brave military from wearing it’s khakis or citizens from waving the flag; nor should it go to the absurdity of making it federal law to face the flag, hand over heart and sing where both song and flag are in the same room. I do, however believe that Britain can learn a little from the Americans in the face of adversity. It is good and fitting that every British citizen should, in the face of politically correct discouragement, fly either the Union Jack or the English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish flag, as a mark of recognition and respect for the freedoms their soil has earned them.

An ethnically diverse London has earned me friends with people of hundreds of different nationalities. I am curious to hear people’s views on what you believe patriotism means to you. Bring into consideration the entire mixed bag: your ethnic origins, country of birth and your country of residence, because often, these are not always the same thing or place.

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It incensed me to hear this week, of the banning of 3 British soldiers from a bar in Maidenhead because they were ‘inappropriately’ dressed in their uniform, having come straight from a comrade’s funeral. The bar manager’s pitiful spineless excuse was that he had to “protect the interests of my customers”. A 5 year old could have come up with a more convincing argument than that. But what was most horrifying about the incident, was that this was considered a socio-politically “sound” response in today’s Britain. What, pray, might these interests be? Alarm at seeing a British army uniform in the flesh? Having survived two World Wars not more than a century ago, we, the steadfast remnant of a true British people, are sick and tired of hearing about anti-patriotism being the way things are done these days. By jove, it wasn’t but 30-odd years ago that we were sat around the television watching Allo’ Allo’, Dad’s Army, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and even more recently, 16th on the list of 100 Great British Comedies, Blackadder. We celebrated our nations’ efforts at war with thoroughly acceptable British pomp and mirth. This was a multi-cultural Britain which purposed popular comedy and sit-com as politically incorrect as possible and quite rightly walked off with awards for it too.

However you do realise, of course, that it requires stepping out of this blind hypnosis, out of years of the media brainwashing the British people, in order to fully defend the right in this scenario. This cock-and-bull soundbyte “Somebody Else’s War” has no compatibility whatsoever with the indignation towards the dishonour of our troops on home turf. I don’t know if it’s the effects of centralised healthcare (Oh, Lord help us!!) or the ‘reliability’ of our Inland Revenue that have stopped us thinking for ourselves altogether, but you’ll have to excuse me for a moment….WAKE UP BRITAIN! We’ve always had an army! They’ve always had a job to do! The press have been dishonouring substantial news for many a decade now, so it’s no small wonder the British public have had no idea that the last 50 years of peacetime……were being earned.

The bottom line is this. It isn’t somebody else’s war. You may think this foolish but I solidly believe that the reason we’ve even had the liberty of having any government able to spend their time running up illegal expenses on taxpayer money, is because we’ve had too much peace, if such a thing is possible. We’ve never had to go through 1939 again. We’ve never had to watch our home destroyed by shelling, day and night. We’ve never had to sit in Anderson Shelters all over again. The House of Lords, the ruling party have sat around playing Punch and Judy for the last decade…….because at the same tim, outside the country, our young’uns were–voluntarily–fighting off our enemies the whole time. The bankers, the hedge fund managers,  the benefit cheats, the white collar fraudsters, the gang members on the street, the social deviants and misfits, the criminals on parole, they’ve all been allowed their day in the sun…..because the British Army, Navy, the RAF and the TA, have been putting their lives on the line every single day, year in, year out, keeping our enemies and invaders at bay. The servicemen and women of Britain are awarded and honoured for their work by the Head of State, the authorities and we might just catch a 10 second mention in the news bulletin or a little square in the bottom corner of page 2 of our papers, next to the weather forecast. Which most of us skim over to get to the rest of the ‘news’. But when it comes to the average Joe thanking a soldier on the Tube one morning, for being braver than he to serve, oh no, the offence comes right up. “Who, me? It’s got nothing to do with me!” Yes, you! It’s got everything to do with you, me, him, her and everyone else standing on the 8.15am train to Liverpool Street. Someone paid the price for you to pick up your morning latte and scroll through your Blackberry on the way to work to read notes for the morning meeting, without hearing an air raid siren and dodging bombs falling. The fact is that Britain has had enemies for the last 1558 years since the Romans came face to face with the English. London has been the scene of battle and bloodshed it’s entire history, someone has always been fighting over it. No, this has got nothing to do with America “making” us some enemies out there, we’ve always had enemies and we’ve always had to fight them.

Only last week The Metro interviewed a Lt. Cp who was asked, what the British public could be doing to help them. “Just show your support. You’ve no idea how much it means to know that British men and women appreciate what we’re doing.”

These lads were just popping in for a pint. This IS our war and it is high time we shook the hand of the humble British servant who’s out there on enemy frontlines because we didn’t want to do it. And for those Britons who think this is a call to take up what some of you refer to as “sickening-American-Support-Our-Troops-gung-ho”, honour the British history-makers of the crest on your purple passport: with staunch British pride, originate, don’t imitate. We are the only nation who don’t know how to make the connection between our peacetime and what our troops are doing. Let our enemies never say of Britain what the character Edmund Blackadder famously said to Lord Percy, “The eyes are open, the mouth moves, but Mr Brain has long since departed, hasn’t he, Percy?”