Happy St George's Day!
by Mark Steyn
April 23rd is England's unofficial national holiday - unofficial because, under Blairite devolution, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and selected Muslim neighborhoods of Greater London, Yorkshire and the Midlands are all nations, but English nationalism is a dark demon that must never be loosed upon the land. At the turn of the century, Tony Blair's ministry was gung-ho for Celtic nationalism and parliaments in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff, but for England all the government was prepared to offer was a subdivision into artificial regions that commanded no loyalty and could therefore be safely entrusted with "regional assemblies". Even this was abandoned, and in the years after 9/11 English nationalism was further complicated by the fact that, unlike St Andrew, St Patrick and St David, the patron saint of England had a starring role in the new clash of civilizations: St George's was the crusader cross, the banner England's soldiers took across a continent to reclaim Jerusalem for Christendom.
These days the traffic from Islam to Christendom is mostly the other way, and in the multicultural utopia St George is a problematic figure. In the "Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets" â€” the heart of London's East End, where one sees more covered women than in Amman, where male infidel teachers of Muslim girls are routinely assaulted, where police turn a blind eye to misogyny, Jew-hatred, and gay-bashing for fear of being damned as "racist" - I noticed a year or two back that one gay pub had attracted particular ire: patrons were being abused, and beaten, and, in one case, left permanently paralyzed.
The hostelry that had so attracted the attention of the local Muslim youth hung a poignant shingle: The George and Dragon. It's one of the oldest and most popular English pub names. Another George and Dragon just across the Thames on Borough High Street has been serving beer for at least half a millennium. But no one would so designate a public house today. The George and Dragon honors not just England's patron saint but the most famous story about him, brought back by the Crusaders from their soldiering in the Holy Land: In what is now Libya, Saint George supposedly made the Sign of the Cross, slew the dragon, and rescued the damsel.
Within living memory, every English schoolchild knew the tale, if not all the details â€” e.g., the dragon-slaying so impressed the locals that they converted to Christianity. But the multicultural establishment slew the dragon of England's racist colonialist imperialist history, and today few schoolchildren have a clue about Saint George. So that pub in Tower Hamlets turned gay and Britain celebrated diversity, and tolerance, and it never occurred to them that, when you tolerate the avowedly intolerant, it's only an interim phase. There will not be infidel teachers in Tower Hamlets for much longer, nor gay bars.
Tony Blair's proscriptions on English nationalism may prove less tenable if the Scots vote to jump ship in their upcoming referendum. It's not even clear what the remains of the United Kingdom - England, Wales and Ulster - would call itself. The UK would be left with the northern end of Ireland and the southern end of Britain. For perfect symmetry, maybe the governments in Edinburgh and Dublin should get together and form an alternate United Kingdom of their own.
At any rate, in honour of St George's Day, here's a whimsical if-the-English-were-like-the-Irish column that first appeared in The Daily Telegraph in Tony Blair's pre-Iraq heyday 13 years ago. A lot of topical references - mad cow disease, the then Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine's lavish tastes in taxpayer-funded decor, Hugh Byrne called England "the leper of Europe", etc - but the gist of it, for a poor suppressed English nationalism, still applies:
New York, 2051 - The annual St George's Day parade dominated the city today as thousands of English-Americans proudly marched up Fifth Avenue led by Mayor Chelsea Clinton in the colourful garb of the English community's traditional mascot, "Ken-John Peel". (Peel was a mythological figure who used to roam the countryside with his "goat so gay" - an animal in the advanced stages of BSE.) Other parade members dressed as St George, the small "cheeky chappie" known as a "leperchaun", a word deriving from a notorious denunciation of the English 50 years ago this month, when Irish Cabinet minister Hugh Byrne referred to the country as "the leper of Europe". St George is usually accompanied by his "dragon" - an intimidating female figure in a blue suit swinging a giant "handbag".
The good-natured throng, including many prominent English-American political leaders, sang such well-loved favourites as "Let's All Go Down The Strand ('Ave A Banana!)", the old rebel song commemorating a march on government buildings during the dark days of the "meat famine", when the haughty Celtic governor Tony Blair dismissed the emaciated peasants and advised them to become vegetarian. As in the less popular St Patrick's Day parade, participants march under the banners of their ancient English counties - "Avon", "Humberside", "Salop" and "West Midlands". Many of these were abolished when Governor Blair, in a cynical attempt to crush the nationalist movement, "partitioned" the kingdom of England into different regions. Most marchers regard these divisions as artificial and waved placards calling for a "United England".
St George's celebrations are still outlawed in England under Draconian measures dating back to the Blairite regime. In the late 20th century, many Scottish families - the Blairs, Browns, Cooks, Darlings - settled in England, seizing the rich pasture land of north London, driving the local chieftains from the Palace of Westminster, and forcing the native population to work in servile, degrading jobs such as "Leader of the Opposition". Many still speak of the effete decadent sadistic viceroy, Lord Irvine, who had entire herds of cattle slaughtered merely so that he could use their hides to wallpaper his en suite bathroom.
Those few English peasants who prospered were forced to assimilate with the ruling European elite and suppress their cultural identity, abandoning the simple fare of their people such as "yards of ale" and "Eccles cakes". These semi-gentrified figures included once famous names such as Michael Heseltine, who urged his compatriots to adopt the ways of the oppressor: "Does anyone seriously think that France is a 'foreign' country? Or that Germany is a 'foreign' country?" he demanded rhetorically in 2001. With his taste for Continental wine and helicopters and his Italianised name (Hezza), Heseltine was able to pass as European (from a distance), though even he was patronisingly known as "Tarzan", a reference to an Englishman raised by apes, a local custom that the EU tried to stamp out through animal hygiene regulations.
Back then, England was derided as a pox-ridden wasteland infested by simpletons cut off from the mainstream of European civilisation. Comedians mocked them in "English jokes" that to contemporary ears sound shockingly racist:
"An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman stop for lunch at a pub. The Scotsman orders the endive-studded monkfish with a fennel coulis, the Irishman the oyster clafoutis in an aubergine glaze, and the Englishman orders beef on the bone. The waiter says: 'Sorry, we don't serve diseased animals.' 'OK,' says the Englishman, 'I'll wait in the car'."
But revisionist scholars now argue that in earlier times England was a great cultural centre, producing many of the world's outstanding scholars and scientists, and that it once enjoyed many of the recognised indicators of civilised society, including primitive units of measurement, its own currency and even a legal system, known as "Common Law", because Lord Irvine found many English solicitors frankly somewhat provincial.
During the meat famine, many English had no choice but to leave their homeland, emigrating to Dublin to take jobs in telephone sales with European car rental firms. But others went to America, where they found they could eke out a living playing psychotic Arab terrorists in Hollywood films. Wider recognition was slow in coming. But an important breakthrough occurred when Demi Moore announced that she was calling her latest child not Scout, Satchel, Latrine, Consignia or any other traditional name but rather "Trevor". The following year Jodie Foster named her twin sons "Nigel" and "Derek" and revealed that this time round she'd used a turkey baster made from Sheffield stainless steel.
Yet some historians confess to being uncomfortable with the sight of English-Americans prancing up Fifth Avenue in jodhpurs and fourfold scarves in lurid shades of pink. They say "The Wearing Of The Pink" is a travesty of English culture - some even insist the colour is supposed to be red.
However, English nationalists claimed the parade had been a great victory, not least for the "Troops Out" movement. "We were told," said President George Z Bush, himself an English-American, "that, when the European Rapid Reaction Force was sent into England, it was simply to facilitate the disposal of animal carcasses. Half a century later, they're still there. Once again, I've asked the Europeans when they intend to pull out. And this time I'd like a rapid reaction."
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