Monday, January 13, 2003

By Jingo what a fuss

There is a bit of a to do around the use of the term "Jingoism" relating to a post in England's Sword. Essentially Iain Murray has been labelled a jingo by a contributor, a use derided by his wife as being not too many degrees off racism, and Iain's no racist.

Is seems that the mystery contributor (I am not this person, by the way) may be right on the strict semantics. The Cambridge Dictionary defines Jingoism as:

the extreme belief that your own country is always best, which is often shown in enthusiastic support for a war against another country

While Iain is certainly not always of the belief that his country (which could be either Britain or America) is always best, his patriotism - like that of Samizdata or Peter Briffa is certainly more martial than required if you were to look at something as piddling as the British national interest.

It is however a nasty word with at least xenophobic, if not outright racist connotations. This is an injustice to Iain who would be a funny kind of xenophobe who raises his family in another country.

So jingoism may have been a useful label a hundred years ago, but it is useless except as a term of abuse. That does not mean that I think that Mr Murray's ideas on foreign policy are short of national suicide or that his Anglospherical musings are anything other than an attempted abdication of English independence. But Iain's no racist, and if the xenophobe label is going spare I'd like first refusal.


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