Thursday, 18 November 2010

There's nothing wrong with being on our own side

I heard an academic moaning on the radio the other day that some programme was about Western civilization. 'Why should we single out the West [to talk about]?' (s)he whinged. Why not? Yes, we should be fair and tolerant, but what's wrong with having a particular interest in our own culture and background?

Take this down to a smaller scale. I'm more interested in my family than the Blinge family of Clacton-on-Sea. I'm sorry, but it's true - and it would be ridiculous if I weren't.

I can understand the importance of being inclusive, and all those good things, but it is equally important that in the process of appreciating everyone else's culture and history we don't lose sight of our own. We have a great cultural and scientific heritage in the UK. We did things wrong. Lots of things. Just like everyone else. Only they get on with their lives and don't beat themselves up for dubious moments in history. (How often do you hear Scandinavians saying they're really sorry for the Vikings?)

In the end, it's fine to be self-deprecating, but we shouldn't be self-hating. We take things too far. Every other country seems proud of its cultural heritage - but not Britain. That's ridiculous. Please stop disappearing up your own bottoms, academics.

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