I come from a very different background than Paddy. What kind of national/patriotic celebrations do you have in Britain? There’s the Jubilee and the Remembrance Day. One honours the sacrifice of British men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty. The other, an old woman’s ability to stay alive.
Back in my homeland, things are quite different. Patriotism is an integral part of Polishness. We suckle it from our mother’s tit. Learning to remember and honour the history, sacrifices and achievements of Poles, who came before is as important as learning your ABC’s. There are three major events in Polish history, which are celebrated the most in modern Poland. Firstly, 11th November, The Independence Day. That one’s quite self-explanatory. Secondly, 3rd of May, when we celebrate our first constitution. The last, desperate effort, to save the homeland from expansionist ambitions of our imperial neighbours at the end of the 18th century (BTW we were second in the world after the US and first in Europe to do so). Thirdly, the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, its beginning and tragic end.
You can see a theme emerging there. All those events are linked with the fight for independence. Since I was a little kid, I either watched or took part in many school performances designed to honour and teach us about that fight. I always loathed having to stand in front of the whole school and recite a patriotic poem.
But you know what, I consider myself a patriot. Yes, I am proud of being Polish and I love my country. In my own special way. I’ve watched many historical drama and documentary movies and TV shows. Did you know that Paddy wishes he was alive during the Spanish Civil War, so he could join the volunteer brigade and fight fascism? Well, part of me wishes I was alive during the Warsaw Uprising, or any other uprising (and we had many) so I could take part in that. My heart actually swells when I hear the same patriotic poems and songs I found boring as a kid. I feel proud when I hear or remind myself about Poles winning awards. I loved to learn about our military victories, and I still kinda brag about them all when I talk with Paddy.
Unfortunately, as many things, even that has been hijacked by some assholes who decided to use it for their political or other gains. In short, the right-wingers (especially from the current ruling party) love to accuse anyone who doesn’t agree with them of being un-patriotic and sometimes going as far as calling them traitors. Even worse, the Independence Day has been turned into a battleground. The day when all Poles ought to enjoy the parades and celebrate has become an excuse for the nationalists to organize mass fights and riots against the enemies of the homeland. You know, the liberals, the left-wingers and pretty much anyone who happens to cross their path. They are nothing more than thugs and vandals, with not so subtle neo-Nazi undertones. The ideals of liberty have been tainted with racism, xenophobia and homophobia. Even the veterans who survived both WW2 and the Warsaw Uprising, so eagerly put on the pedestal by the nationalists, have condemned their behaviour.
This is one of the reasons why I agree with Paddy on that issue. Patriotism is an outdated concept and a dangerous one. It now serves to antagonize people and turn them against foreigners and outsiders. It justifies and encourages violence towards not only ‘external threats’ but also those these cunts consider ‘internal traitors’.
Fortunately, for every skinhead who uses patriotic slogans as an excuse to punch someone in the face, there are a few people who don’t. Unfortunately, the skinheads tend to shout the loudest and be given the most attention by the media. The silent minority is failing us.
So many things divide us as people. Race, gender, religion, sexuality. The list goes on. If patriotism means loving your country by hating everyone who doesn’t fit your narrow and ignorant world view, then kill it. I say this, a patriot.