Was it Samuel Johnson who was alleged by Boswell to have said “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”? He should have prefixed that quote with ‘phoney’ for I don’t know about you, but I’m getting very weary of seeing St. George’s flags being raised to support self-adoring, over-paid footballers, rather than for self-sacrificing, under-paid and under-resourced soldiers doing their very best not to cry over fallen comrades.
[I] have supported this country during many conflicts over these past 25 years; Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever our boys (and girls) seek to fight fascism. But now all over London we see evidence of a phoney patriotism. And look how shallow all their football patriotism is, Marks & Spencer, that temple to middle class consumerism is like a football flea market, piled high with World Cup tat: flags, plates, kids’ games and yes, mugs, which rather sums up those who purchase this worthless junk. Walk across the road and the Nationwide Building Society is offering a higher rate of interest on some accounts if England wins this contest, couldn’t they have just paid better rates in the first place?
In America, that place which really likes to wear its heart of its sleeve, there are so many star-spangled banners flying on every lawn and shopping mall that all patriotic impact has been lost. They use Old Glory to support the troops; they use it to sell you a Chrysler. Many of these flags are imported anyway; the year after the 9/11 attack, the United States imported $7.9m of flags from China and some had 53 stars.
Is this mindless support for football heroes, a manifestation of a national nostalgia that constantly harks back to a simpler age, when we had decent men prepared to lay down their lives for a cause they believed in, or is it now just an excuse for the indolent males of England to eat twice their own body weight over these three weeks?
The flag we all should be flying is the Union Jack, for tomorrow is Armed Forces Day which quietly acknowledges the work our brave soldiers are doing, in conditions likely to test most of us. The organisation’s aims are to provide a much valued morale boost for the troops and their families especially at the present time.
Our footballers, some of which are as rotten and corrupt as our politicians, might like to support the real men and women of courage, who between them have kept England safe, and a country that you can dress up in a football shirt, with a red and white flag draped around your shoulders, if you choose to be a plonker.