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Novander
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7287984.stm

So a recent report on British Citizenship suggests that we (the British) are losing our sense of national pride and one method to get it back would be to have schoolchildren swear oaths of allegiance to Queen and Country.

I, for one, am wholeheartedly against this idea. In fact, let's split it into two ideas:

1. An oath of allegiance to the Queen.
2. An oath of allegiance to the Country.

Number 2. is the trickier of the two, so let's deal with it first. I like to mess with your preconceptions of ordered lists. An oath of allegiance to the country means what, that you won't commit treason? That seems both fair enough and rather redundant. If you're going to commit treason you probably won't mind that your first act is to break that oath. So maybe the oath would go deeper than that, and you'd swear to defend your country. Well, that seems to me a little like conscription through emotional blackmail. And if the oath goes any deeper than that then I think the government is starting to tell people how they should think and that is totally not cool.

And on the subject of point 1., I firmly believe that the monarchy is a giant waste of money. I'm told the Queen has this wonderful dry wit and is quite a nice person, and nice and witty wins my respect, but not my allegiance. We don't need a symbolic figurehead and if we do, we should get to choose who represents us.

I am down with some of the other ideas. Less tuition fees for students who do volunteer work - fine. Council Tax Rebates for people who do volunteer work in the community - no problem. National Britishyness Day - no, I think we can give that one a pass.

How do you guys feel about this?
Daria
Personally, I do not see myself as being British. I have had many an arguement with those crazy 'mericans about it, pointing out that I am pretty much as English as you can get. (I have recently found out I have a trace of Scottish ancestry, but that's about it.) So, a pledge for Britain would mean nothing to me as I am not England AND Scotland AND Wales AND Northern Ireland. So, how about a pledge for England?
I'm not proud to be English. There are few things that I am proud of about this country, and they can generally be summed into a few groups: The Countryside, The Science, The Art. Historically, England is very interesting, but as well as the castles and the shipwrecks you have slavery, religious reforms, witch hunts, racism, pointless wars, other wars, provision of weaponry to unstable countries and other such delights. Just as they should be able to choose a political viewpoint, religion and lifestyle, teenagers should be allowed to choose whether they want to support the monarchy or, like most of the inhabitants of the British Isles, think it is outdated and a waste of money. This does not make them any less British.

If people are losing their national pride then perhaps the question "Why?" should be answered long before suggesting stupid things like a pledge.
Moosh
No. No no no. No no no no. No no no no no no no. No.

An Oath of Allegiance is unnecessary, dangerous, undemocratic, unpatriotic and just plain wrong.

Why would I ever swear my unconditional support to a state over which I have extremely limited control, and little-to-no trust? The patriotic thing to do isn't to support your country unconditionally, it's to do what's best for it, which may include fighting against what is nominally "the country" at any time, and overthrowing the government. If I was to do this, I'd be breaking my Oath, which leads me to ask what the point of it is in the first place?

People say it would instill us with a sense of "British-ness". What the hell is that? There are things about Britain that I like, but nothing that I'd say I was particularly proud of. How can I be proud of it? You can be proud of your own achievements, why would I be proud of a geographical accident of birth?

As for swearing to the Monarchy, I like them, I think that we should keep them, but I don't think I owe them anything. What would I be swearing to do? Fight for them? Not gonna happen. Defend them? Probably not. Not try and hurt them? They already get that from me by being human. Not attempt to remove them from what power they have? That should be a choice thing, not something you'd have to swear to.

When would this Oath be taken? What would they do if you refused to take it? Are we going to be brain-washing children with this by making them say it everyday in schools?
Phyllis
If I naturalize (big IF at this point), I'll have to swear an oath to the Queen. I expect that, since I'm foreign-born. Doesn't really bother me, aside from not seeing the point of the monarchy. If I'd been born here and someone said I had to say a silly oath in school to foster national pride, I'd tell them where they could shove their oath.

I stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance in my US schools as soon as I realized that it was optional. I still stood up out of respect to those who wished to say it, but I was silent and did not put my hand over my heart. I didn't like it once I really thought about what I was saying.

Back when I did say the Pledge, it never instilled me with patriotism. All it gave me was a sense of boredom. I didn't care about the words, I just zoned out. I can't imagine that an oath to the Queen and country would be any different to kids here.

A sense of national pride is not gained by boring schoolchildren and creating an arbitrary national holiday. And why is national pride such a great thing, anyway? A lot of people I know have a great deal of pride in being from the US. It hasn't served us all that well, in my opinion.
Sir Psycho Sexy
QUOTE (Daria @ Mar 11 2008, 03:42 PM) *
Personally, I do not see myself as being British. I have had many an arguement with those crazy 'mericans about it, pointing out that I am pretty much as English as you can get. (I have recently found out I have a trace of Scottish ancestry, but that's about it.)


I really don't understand people that feel the need to point out that they're English/Scottish/Welsh as opposed to British. Yes they all have their own unique and distinct history and heritage which are all rich and facinating if you like that sort of thing. But England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all part of the United Kingdom, Great Britain and so on, that makes us all British. The petty need to differenciate ourselves boils down to basic snobbery in my eyes.

Maybe it'd help if we fielded British sports teams in international events, it would give us all something to get behind and potentially a damn sight better chance of actually bloody winning something.


If you're interested, I'm also about as English as they come, my maternal grandfather was Scottish, and my family name has been traced back to the Normans of 1066 fame, but I'm still British, ya dig?
michael1384
I have a citizenship lesson later this week, do you think they'll make us do it then?

If so, i'm not doing it. I'm not swearing alleigance to a country I don't like!
elphaba2
QUOTE (Spussy Cat @ Mar 11 2008, 03:51 PM) *
I really don't understand people that feel the need to point out that they're English/Scottish/Welsh as opposed to British. Yes they all have their own unique and distinct history and heritage which are all rich and facinating if you like that sort of thing. But England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all part of the United Kingdom, Great Britain and so on, that makes us all British. The petty need to differenciate ourselves boils down to basic snobbery in my eyes.

Identity is somewhat of a life-raft for a lot of people right now, I think, and so I don't see a problem in wanting to hang onto the idea that one is Welsh or Scottish rather than part of big, blobby Britain. I don't consider myself especially similar to someone who's been raised in the Midwest, or in the South, because of this idea of regional identity. Statistically, the people who live in the same region of the states as I do lean democratically; we are more in favor of liberal political ideas. We are surrounded by some of the oldest stuff in our very young country, we can drive to the beach, etc---whatever the pettiness, most people find the differences between a Northeasterner and a Southerner significant enough to, say, kill 600,000 people. Or, in your case, 3,500. Trying to change what people think they are is too complicated and difficult to do effectively.

So is it snobbery when people decide that their regional or ethnic or whatever identity is the best and everyone else can go jump off a cliff? I think it's probably grown-in from all of the decades in which people (like my grandparents, let's say) were told that they weren't good enough, were subhuman and dangerous and Catholics besides. What else can you do but go home to your people and talk about how you are the best? Having an identity is a comfort to most people, and it almost never works when you tell lots of people with different identities to all get together under one. (eg, the US Census in 2000 telling Hispanics to check "white" or "black" for racial status)
Daria
By calling myself "English" as opposed to "British", I am just defining to a closer point my geographical identity. If someone asked me what nationality I was or where I come from, I would say that I am English as that is where I grew up, it's where my family all originate from and it's where I feel most at home. I could say British or I could even say that I am European- I could even say I am Suffolkian, which I do on occasions where I want to explain in further detail to people who I am in that sense. It is, in no way, mean to express "snobbery" towards others who don't come from Suffolk/ England/ Britain. I just really don't feel that the rest of the British Isles define me as a person at all. I have no ties with Irish or Welsh culture, so it feels unnatural to describe myself in terms that include them.
michael1384
QUOTE (Novander @ Mar 11 2008, 03:04 PM) *
Less tuition fees for students who do volunteer work - fine. Council Tax Rebates for people who do volunteer work in the community - no problem.


So, it's basically bribary?
Daria
No, it's working for your tuition fees.
michael1384
oh.
voices_in_my_head
So, this is more or less the same as the American Pledge that we're forced to do everyday, right? (Well, besides being in a different country - I mean the basic concept.)

We've got to say not just the American pledge, but the Texas pledge (which, just btw, was recently edited to include "under God"...did they not hear the controversy over that one already? Geez) and then have a moment of silence.

And honestly - if there's one thing teenagers hate more than authority, it's being forced to obey it. If anything, all I've seen these pledges inspire in kids/teens is a sense of disdain for where they're from, not a sense of pride. Forcing people to say a few words isn't going to instill a sense of pride in them.
pgrmdave
Perhaps forcing children and teenagers will help foster a sense of community, if only to give them all a common enemy tongue.gif

I tend to agree with the general sentiment here, that it doesn't really help anything. I did recite the Pledge of Allegiance when I was in school, but only after careful consideration and coming to the conclusion that I did love my nation, be it right or wrong. Reciting it made me no more patriotic than I would have been though, so I don't really see the point in it. Either I say it without thinking, in which case it doesn't help, I say it after thinking about it, in which case it isn't needed, or I don't say it, in which case it isn't helping.
Calantyr
In my not so humble opinion nationalism is an outdated concept that does not hold up to scrutiny, at least on a level where it is of overwhelming importance to identity. How much do you have in common with someone on the other side of the country? How about the same county? The same city? A random person who lives down you street?

To me Britishness can not be strictly narrowed down to a few things and then applied to a nation on a whole, most certainly not a pledge to some nebulous concept as 'state', nor to a group of individuals who hold their privileged position strictly by who boned who in the distant past.

Everyone has their own montage of what it means to be British. To me Britishness is a love of moaning at little niggling things that you know aren't really important but you enjoy it anyway. It's going out and drinking too much at the weekend and getting the photographs the next day not remembering a thing. It's watching sport even if you know your team sucks, but it's still a laugh regardless. It's knowing that there's so many different people that you can never pigeon-hole *all* of them. And it's being embarrassed if someone takes themselves, or patriotic gestures, too seriously.

That last one is probably the most important. I've noticed that in general people feel that sentimentalism, bombast, reliance of oaths, and chauvinistic nationalism is... well... embarrassing. Sure we like it when it's a bit a fun, a bit of glitter, or when there's a chance for a bit of a fight... but when it's taken too far it's just... weird. Like your gran asking you where she can pull.

In short the only thing this 'initiative' does is make me feel less British.

How is it going to do anything but alienate huge swathes of the public and turn more people into a republican?

And, of course, the sort of people you would want to instill 'Britishness' in are those who disrespect authority in the first place. With this you're just giving them another reason to. Well done.

Of course it's probably all kind of moot. Everyone has opinions on what they regard as distinctly British and they'll fight to preserve it. Not because they're told to, but it's what they love. What more is needed?
gothictheysay
Man, there's a TEXAS oath? I am much more scared of Texas now. *shiver*
Wytukaze
I was told to say something in here. Oath = stupid? There was more to it than that. Someone remind me.
Izzy
QUOTE (voices_in_my_head @ Mar 12 2008, 12:50 AM) *
So, this is more or less the same as the American Pledge that we're forced to do everyday, right? (Well, besides being in a different country - I mean the basic concept.)

You can refuse to do it. We had this freaky substitute one day and she got really pissed off at me and 3 other kids for not doing the pledge, put she couldn't do anything about it.

The thing that's sad about our pledge and how "important" it is in my school is this: Every morning we watch the announcements and stuff, or at least we're supposed to, but our teacher cuts it off right after the pledge. After words it's supposed to show all the little kids who achieved their goals, tell us important things that are going on in school today, what they're serving for lunch, blah blah blah. But we cut they cut it off after the pledge. I never understood that. I think people's accomplishments and current school events are more important than saying some silly oath.

That thing they're trying to make you Brits do is bull.
voices_in_my_head
QUOTE (gothictheysay @ Mar 12 2008, 05:32 PM) *
Man, there's a TEXAS oath? I am much more scared of Texas now. *shiver*

Boo! tongue.gif

"Honor the Texas flag
I pledge alligence to thee, Texas
One state under god
one, and indivisible."

Yup. Everyday.

And yes, it is optional - we are forced to stand but whether or not you say it is, technically, optional. But all of the hassle and questioning you get from teachers makes it so not worth it that it's an option that was never really an option in the first place. (For example, our Coach once made us write a paragraph over why we chose not to say the pledge....)

And, as you can tell, none of this has encouraged me to be even slightly more proud of my country or state. So I agree with whoever is was who said [extremely early morning here...do not feel like looking it up] that perhaps instead it should be looked into as to why people are loosing their sense of pride in the country. smile.gif
I_am_the_best
So I'm all for it. Let's do it. Now.
Jaq
I think this is just one more of those things that shows how afraid the British are of their children. There seems to be a hysteria about teenagers and children in general in the UK and how they're running wild and ending civilization as we know it, and this is only one more of the attempts by people to control and "civilize" teenagers, heavy on the control.
It seems to me that this will just breed more contempt for adults and authority, especially if teenagers are required to take the oath.

Also: Did anyone notice the killer moustache on the kid in the picture? Pure teenage facial hair for the win
patback87
Alot of your agruments remind of this book I keep picking up and then not finishing, but it's "Who are we?" it's all about the American identity but he the author talks about how places such as the United Kingdom, many people don't really feel united under one identity. He also talks about how we are much more moblie society so idenities are hard to form and how the United States and other countries are not as united as they seem.

As for the pledge thing we say the pledge of Allegence all through Elementry school to High school without any thought of it's true meaning. Well at least that was my experience. There was a thing when I was in high school though that you had a choice whether to say the pledge to sit quietly while everyone else did. This all came about because some people as myself didn't believe in what our president were and are doing, I still said the pledge, but in reality I'm a little unsure if support everything this country stands for at this point, this land of free? I could go on for hours about what is wrong with this country, which I still love, but just so many things these days. We usually end up talking about these kinds of things in my editing class with my teacher, about things like our very consumer driven economy that discussion was spurred by the internet video she showed us http://www.storyofstuff.com/. It's kind of Micheal Moorish in facts, but a lot of what she says is very true just maybe a little blown up.
scotscarol
I consider myself more Scottish than British. when I go on holiday abroad and people ask me were I am from I say Scotland not Britain. I wont be pledging my allegiance to Britain nor will I ask my children to. I am Scottish first British second and European third.


Carol
spiffilicious05
QUOTE (gothictheysay @ Mar 12 2008, 06:32 PM) *
Man, there's a TEXAS oath? I am much more scared of Texas now. *shiver*



Seconded. ^^

I remember in high school we all used to talk through the pledge -- in fact our American History teacher encouraged it. There's no point in pledging to something if you're being forced or don't believe in it. What's worse is I'd love to say I believe our country stands for liberty, and justice but over time I think that our government's ideas of liberty and justice have been seriously clouded.
Faerieryn
I have responsibility in my school for all of the citizenship lessons we teach. I do my damndest to make sure that the lessons cover things that students will need to know in the future. Things like- why the EU exists and why we are members. What rights and responsibilities we have as EU members etc how the democracy we live in works and how other systems work and so on.

I see no reason that an oath of allegiance would work for most of my kids. If nothing else they would all say- "are we doing this so we can be like America?"
Giving back to the community is a good idea however. I'm feeling a bit hard line today so I'm all for National Service BUT NOT IN THE ARMY!!!! I think that everyone should do a certain amount of community based service. It makes you think about what you have and it allows you to give back to the community.
Calantyr
Has there been any follow up to this suggestion? I can't find much in the press.

Here's hoping that people lobbed half-bricks at it until the idea died. *noddles*
-TheKasbah-
Somehow, I don't see that working too well over here in Northern Ireland, the fact that many Nationalists are feeling a bit of freedom may come crashing down. But hey, if the police are up for a few weeks of rioting over some silly pledge then so be it.

Last time there was a bomb on my street, like last year or so. I nearly didn't have to go to school, in the end, I did. dry.gif
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