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Posts tagged ‘nationalism’

“The greatest nation on earth”? Obama’s victory speech viewed from overseas

Level Playing Field, The Hindu, 17 November

I woke early on Wednesday morning to check the results. First, I was relieved. Romney had failed, and more importantly the bigots and obscurantists who backed him had failed. Then I watched Obama’s victory speech, and what I felt was something other than relief.

The speech was dubbed “magnificent” on the Guardian’s front page by Jonathan Freedland, who hailed it, as did others, as a return to the bold, inspirational style of 2008 and a harbinger of a more ambitious second term.

I understand why people in the US clutch at straws, but I wonder how many times Freedland and other liberal commentators will clutch at this particular straw before they realise that it is in fact only a straw?

What struck me about Obama’s “soaring rhetoric” was just how rhetorical it was, and especially how heavily it leaned on the rhetoric of American exceptionalism. Read more

At the Olympics: Hype vs Reality

The Hindu, August 4 2012

I enjoyed my afternoon at the Olympics, sitting in my public lottery assigned £50 seat at the ExCel, with a fine view of the men’s boxing. And I enjoyed it not least because I was finally able to watch the sport itself without the surrounding hype, the layers of commentary. For a moment there was only that pleasure special to sport: the spontaneity of a story being fashioned in front of your own eyes, once and once only (despite digital repeats), robustly itself and not pretending to be anything else.

As a lover and student of sport for many decades, I don’t need to be reminded how compelling sport can be. But I’ve also learned what sport is not and that over-stating or mis-stating its importance does it no favours. Read more

Come on you Ghana, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Korea, Italy…

The World Cup and the pleasures of neutrality
The Guardian, 8 June 2010

With the football World Cup pressing hard on us and England mania on the rise, spare a thought for those of us who are not England supporters. Though we go largely unnoticed in the England-centred media coverage, we’re here and we’re a significant minority. Read more

Becoming British, at last

Mike Marqusee with British hero William Blake. Photo: Felix Clay

Mike Marqusee with British hero William Blake. Photo: Felix Clay

The Guardian, 16 February

In my case, the past is literally “another country”. I spent my first 18 years in the US, moved to Britain in 1971, and have been ensconced here ever since. But I applied for British citizenship only a few months ago. Read more

The Iron Click: American Exceptionalism and US Empire

[This essay was published in 2007 in the book Selling US Wars, edited by Achin Vanaik, Olive Tree Press.]

I am so terrifed, America,
Of the iron click of your human contact.
And after this
The winding-sheet of your selfless ideal love.
Boundless love
Like a poison gas.

DH Lawrence, “The Evening Land”, 1923

Read more

Thomas Paine: restless democrat

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING
Red Pepper, June-July 2009

“This interment was a scene to affect and to wound any sensible heart. Contemplating who it was, what man it was, that we were committing to an obscure grave on an open and disregarded bit of land, I could not help but feel most acutely.”

The occasion for this lament was the sparsely attended funeral of Thomas Paine, who died, two hundred years ago, in June 1809, at the age of 72, and was buried in the small farm he owned in what was then the rural hamlet of New Rochelle, twenty miles north of New York City. Read more