Tartan Day, much like Paddy’s Day in the States, isn’t about Scotland. It is a saccharine projection of dim-witted American expectations of Scotland and half remembered traditions of the old country. More, than this: It is about whipping up sales in the international centre of the religion of capitalism. Tartan – or “plaid” as our Merican cousins prefer to call it – is about money; it’s about playing on the emotions of American’s who have been convinced their great granny came over from Brigadoon or, more likely, Balamory. Tartan Day is about giving them what they want.
We are not permitted the language of genocide – legally and technically precise as it is – because it makes certain people uncomfortable. That’s the seat of all the anger and vitriol right there: That Britain did this to Gaelic Scotland is discomforting, it tears from Britishness the fraudulence of benign and beneficial patronage and lays bare its naked and vicious and murderous ethno-nationalist imperialism. One simply cannot have the comfort of being “British and Scottish” and accept as historical fact that Britain did this and still does this.
It is an important image. This is a social history that must be remembered and taught. These “beaming boys” and what they evoke and represent are integral to our national story. My gripe, if that is what it is, is not with David Peat and his photographic journalism of this Glasgow in the late 1960s.
There is no avoiding the association of tartan and the bagpipes with battlefields spanning the whole width of the world. Scots regiments marched on and subdued Egypt, Afghanistan, and India. Scottish graves litter the fields of Flanders and the Somme. Scotland has made its mark on the world and left behind it a horrendous trail of misery, suffering, and blood.
Robbed of our past we are limited in our understanding of how Scotland has become the property of the English state through Union, to be used to the sole benefit of the London government.
Our resolution is clear, but like the ciggies, 300 years of London rule is a hard habit to kick – but kick it we will. All that is required of us – as wee Scots and as One Scotland – is that we stay the course.
A huv bin spennin’ some time hinkin’ ae whit it means to bei a Scot an’ tawk oor ain leid in oor ain plot ae urth. We kin blame ithers fur the pair state ae Scotland, an’ much ae that micht bei true. Bit we hae a pairt tae play in aw this annaw.
Our desire for independence is rooted in our awareness of our identity as a distinct identity from that of England, and integral to our better understanding of our identity is a better knowledge of our past. It is precisely this fear of self-discovery that make the unionist a revisionist.