Sunday, 5 September 2010

Strange in a Stranger Land

Following on from the Morrisey post and why I find it bizarre that people think immigrants are diluting British culture, I was walking down the street yesterday and I saw someone asking two young soldiers (who looked about 12 and 14 respectively) to pose for a photo.

This gave me mixed feelings. On one hand I was grateful that the guy was making the soldiers feel important and valued. I'd guess most of our soldiers know the two most recent wars we've been involved in are deeply unpopular, and whilst they also hopefully know that we hope for their safety and mourn at their deaths, it really must be psychologically gruelling knowing that you enlisted to defend the country but you could be horrifically maimed or killed for a war that the people don't want, and which has no ultimate goal. For this I thought it was quite touching.

On the other hand I think that it is dangerous to sentimentalise the military. I find that's a path that leads to the demented Fox News world whereby the very people who think no cause is too stupid to send American soldiers out to be killed in are the very ones who claim to be backing the military.

Anyway, as I was pondering this dilemma an astoundingly gormless (but nonetheless very confident) middle class young man started doing wolf whistles at the soldiers and saying 'sexy'.

That really annoyed me more than I expected. Bearing in mind the two soldiers didn't look old enough to shave, I thought that it was exceptionally disrespectful and offensive.

As far as I feel, Britain is a changing country. Thankfully I think overall Scotland has changed less than the rest. But I really don't see what migration has to do with it. Being a bit of a nutter, when reading for friends' children, I keep hoping they'll ask me to read a Dick and Jane book because I love the Britishness of it all (my friends kids are half-Greek by the way). But frankly, I'm sure that few modern Brit kids do read them: they're probably more likely to be shooting cybernetic police men on their playstations. The rudeness of modern culture is quite astounding, but instead of inventing straw men to blame (like immigrants) it's as well to try and make the case against such rudeness and trying to speak up FOR traditional British values.


  1. Peter and Jane, surely? (or Janet and John?)

    Dick and Jane - ahem, ahem - were the US equivalent; hence 'Fun with ...'

  2. Great post, Gregor,

    On the topic of the military, I am convinced most Americans really don't care about the troops that much. Most people don't even care much about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because the vast majority of the populace was asked to sacrifice nothing. There is no draft and, for I believe the first time in American history, no new taxes were levied to pay for the wars, which are being paid for via deficit spending.

    Also, I think there is a major class element here. Most economically comfortable Americans see the military as a kind of dumping ground for the dregs of society who couldn’t get employment any other way.

    I suppose opinions might differ for those who went to a military academy and joined the officer corps or maybe the Air Force, but your average grunt is probably dismissed as rabble by many despite all the talk of “our brave heroes” and such. Thus, I think it is easier to send these kids off to die and not really be too worried about whether it was for a good cause or even if the intelligence used to sell the war was true or not (where are those weapons of mass destruction?).This is another example of the hypocrisy and selfishness that characterizes the culture of the United States.

    On the topic of British culture, I liked your Dick and Jane story. I am convinced that if there is a new counter-culture movement, it will be among those who believe in traditional values and I think a conscious rejection of the rudeness of modern culture will be an important part of that traditionalist counter-culture.

  3. @Robin
    Yes, must have been a Freudian slip if ever there was one

    'Also, I think there is a major class element here. Most economically comfortable Americans see the military as a kind of dumping ground for the dregs of society who couldn’t get employment any other way.'

    I'd say this is pretty evident from Hollywood. Firstly, how many war films have there been with an African-American protagonist? Very few, but then the African Americans seem to feel a certain anger at mainstream neo-liberalism.

    But secondly, how many have had fat, uneducated Southern baptist protagonists? Id imagine fewer (if that's possible) but this is the very demographic that supports the modern American right.