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By Jason Michael
Once more I have been called an anti-English bigot for wanting Scottish independence, but this time it has come from someone close. Once again I will stand my ground and say: No, I am a lover of Scotland – not a hater of England.
Yesterday on Facebook I received a private message from an old friend; a man I consider to be family, asking me to remove this blog from his timeline. “I see,” he wrote, “too much hatred against English people for no reason other than the Crown. Not for me I’m afraid.” Of course I helped him to unfollow the Random Public Journal page, this wasn’t a problem. What caught me off guard was the accusation that what I write is bigoted and hateful, and that this is directed against people for no other reason than that they are English.
Scotland’s constitutional debate is polarising. It divides opinion, as we all know. Writing for the cause of Scottish independence attracts a good deal of attention both on and offline, and every day, reading over readers’ comments, I get to see just how passionate people are about their opinions. Much of the negative commentary, as you would expect in the age in which we live, is directed against me. I have been called every name under the sun, my parents’ home address has been published in an attempt to intimidate me, and my life has been threatened. No one needs to tell me how divisive the politics of Scotland are right now.
Now when people tell me Scottish independence is about hating the English I remember Grenfell tower and I think to… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) January 12, 2018
One accusation that is routinely thrown at independentistas is that we are Anglophobic; that Scottish independence is an ideology rooted in anti-English bigotry – a form of racism. This dirty bomb is a standard component in the unionist trolls’ repertoire. But when someone we care about – as I have just discovered – casts this at us it stings. This has hurt my feelings.
So in answering this for what must be the one hundredth time I would like to say to T that I love him, and his opinion of me and my character means a great deal to me. In responding I do not intend to return the hurt or any sense of insult or disrespect. But given that this suggestion that I am a bigot strikes at the core of my most treasured feelings about my nation and my national identity, I feel it is only fair to give a full account of my “hatred” and my attitude towards English people.
Scottishness is not about the blood in my veins. There is nothing genetic about being Scottish. No matter how soggy the turf, no matter how refreshing the water, or glorious the scenery, there is nothing in Scotland’s fields and brooks that makes us Scots. Scotland is a beautiful relationship; a long and intimate conversation with the people we love most and count as our own. It is a friendship that continues to be new and alive no matter how long the parting or wide the distance between us. My Scotland is home – where I started and where I am going. It is a standpoint from where I see the world. It is a state of mind. It is peace of mind.
Graham Megennis #FBPE (@GrahamMegennis) January 12, 2018
This Scotland invites friendship, producing Scots with voices from all around the world. The Scottish accent is Ayrshire, Glaswegian, Highland, Yorkshire, London, Irish, Welsh, wherever. As a product of this Scotland I am not going to begin despising the people for whom it has always held its arms wide. I don’t have the time and the patience for that. I’m too Scottish for that.
So what of England and the English? What of them?!
I don’t spend much time thinking about England and the English. I don’t spend that much time thinking about Botswana and the Botswanans. My life in Ireland and Scotland doesn’t force me to spend time thinking about England or Botswana. I spend as much time thinking about Guatemala and the Guatemalans – not really that much.
Campaigning for Scottish independence is about Scotland. It is as anti-English as it is anti-Mongolian. This is some trick that’s being played on us. When English people celebrate their Englishness and their pride in being English it is never presented as a comment on their attitude to Scotland or Wales or Ireland. Why then must our celebration of our Scottishness, the expression of our culture, or the exercise of our politics be seen as a comment on England? Is Englishness really this fragile?
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) January 12, 2018
England is a smashing country and the English people I know are fantastic human beings. They have every right to celebrate their nation and their identity – in spite of the frequent bad press the English have so much to take pride in. I mean, where else would you get the Blackpool tower and illuminations? With or without independence, England will always be a grand wee country. I’ll always visit and I’ll always have English friends and comrades.
All the same, I do harbour a dark and brooding hatred. I despise and loath the state that humiliated my severely disabled mother. I run cold with fury to think of the state that dumps world destroying weapons not fifty miles from where I grew up. My knuckles turn white on my fists and I taste blood in my mouth when I remember the oil and gas that was stolen from us to fuel the wars, the murders, and the savagery of that diabolical state’s hellish ambitions. That state makes a victim of England and the English too. How can I hate them?
Imagining that striving for the independence of our country has anything whatsoever to do with England or English people says something more about what has happened to our imaginations. Our minds have been so conformed to the chains we have become almost incapable of thinking of ourselves as and for ourselves. What this is is self-hatred – and I am sick and tired of my self-loathing. I have decided to stop hating myself and my Scotland. Perhaps it is time the English started doing the same. We can cast off our British shackles together.
Nina and Craig from the north-east of England say Yes.