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Showing posts with label History of Britain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History of Britain. Show all posts

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Simon Schama’s Radio Times doublethink - how to be a romantic British nationalist while opposing nationalism

The BBC does its anti-independence propaganda obliquely in Radio Times – it sneaks it in blandly.

On pages 28-29 of the current edition, it carries an article by a Charles Laurence entitled “I’m a Jewish sea dog!” The eponymous Jewish sea dog is Simon Schama, historian, and relates ostensibly to his History of Britain series on BBC Four.

The article is a sort of profile-cum-interview with Schama, who, despite living half his life in America, holding his professorship at Princeton and bringing his family up there,  refuses to become an American citizen.

I’ve told my son I want to be thrown in the Thames when I die. No, not my ashes. All of me!”

An extreme manifestation of English – or British – nationalism? Perhaps, but he then comes out quite gratuitously with this sort of thing, through the words of Charles Laurence -

“His vision of the Britain forged by this history makes him adamantly opposed to Scottish independence and the break-up of the Union. If Scotland goes, he wrote in the FT, “something precious, to this historian at any rate, will have been irreparably destroyed: a nation state whose glory over the centuries has been that it does not correspond with some imagined romance of tribal singularity but has been made up of many peoples, languages, customs, all jumbled together within the expansive, inclusive British home

This is romantic, woolly and historically inaccurate and offensive nonsense.

The British “nation state” that exists today is the rump of brutal, exploitative colonial empire, corrupt and venal in all of its institutions, incompetent, brutally uncaring to the poor and vulnerable, desperately trying to hang on Scotland as the last symbol of its former power, hoping to preserve what his fellow historian Andrew Davies calls in The Isles

a dysfunctional dynastic conglomerate” – the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Or take this view attributed to him by Charles Laurence -

‘He adds that the same forces threatening to tear Britain apart are “happening in dreadful places, causing ethnic and tribal wars, immense massacres.”’

Given his earlier remarks about Scottish independence, one may conclude that the peaceful, broad-based, multi-nationality, multi-ethnic and legally agreed Scottish independence campaign is one of the “forces threatening to tear Britain apart”.

This is inflammatory nonsense from an apparently extreme, romantic British nationalist.

He is strangely obscure - almost silent - on the State of Israel, its extreme brand of religious and secular nationalism, and its behaviour towards the Palestinian people. A word about that situation, which does threaten the peace and stability of the world, and has done for 66 years, would be most welcome,  Simon Schama.