Some stupid cow in our open-plan office spent the entire two minutes taping a box with shipping tape. RIIIIP! RIIIIP! RIIIIP! *sigh*
Boris Johnson had an interesting post on his site about the need for the “re-Brittanification” of Britian. (Side note: I’ve always liked Boris, although I’m not a political creature and have absolutely no idea, other than very roughly, where he stands on issues. I like him because he seems like a real person – he’s funny, he’s clutzy, he’s not afraid of pissing people off with his statements and opinions. He doesn’t seem like a politician.)
I would disagree about the positive value of American-style patriotism and nationalistic fervour. All the flag-waving in the States has an element of Nazi Germany to me; it makes me uncomfortable. I would agree, however, with the need for immigrants to become more “British.” Yes, you shouldn’t give up your language or religion or clothing requirements of said religion. You should teach your children a love of their history and original homeland. BUT, and this is an important thing, you should try to become part of your new homeland and not hold yourself separate from it. If you’re going to come to any country and ask for support and all the benefits of citizenship, you have an equal responsibility to become a viable, positive member of that society – learn to speak the language, for one thing.
Dress is another issue. Now, I love the Asian girls that I see on the street in their gorgeous clothing, saris and ornate tunics and trousers, all in beautifully embroidered silk, with their heavy black hair hanging in a plait…they are incredibly beautiful. I understand the need for things like head coverings for religious reasons, no problem at all with that. I do, however, have a problem with Shabina Begum, the girl who recently won the right to wear the jilbab, a restrictive/traditional form of Muslim dress. The school claimed the jilbab was a health and safety risk and it already offered an alternative uniform for its Muslim pupils. If you don’t want to be Westernised to any degree, then surely you should not move to a Western country? Seems fair.
I think that you should have the right to practice your religion, but you do NOT have the right to preach or espouse radical/terrorist views, or try to recruit others to perform criminal acts in the name of that cause. I couldn’t believe that it took so long to deport Abu Hamsa, for example. And this leads us to the London suicide bombers. If your values include destroying the country that you are a citizen of, then you perhaps shouldn’t be a citizen of that country. The same applies to honour killings – a father or brother does not have the right to kill a female family member who they see as becoming too Westernised. And so on.
Anyway, I’m blathering on about things that I know little about, being neither British nor Muslim. But my original point was (I think) that perhaps teaching children from a young age what it means to be British would be a good thing. The Brits are too self-effacing about that type of thing – I suppose the love of country is something that you pick up subliminally when you grow up in a British home. If, however, you grow up in a home where your family holds other values, perhaps you need to have that shortcoming met in schools, via the media, by whatever means possible.
So, come on, Great Britain-which-I-know-includes-England-Wales-and-Scotland, and Northern Ireland, as well as assorted commonwealth realms, [Edit: the word “England” removed. So there. :P]…teach the next generation just why they should love and respect their country. Don’t fall into American-style rabid, xenophobic patriotism, but wave your flag a bit. :)