St George’s flag will have been glimpsed by millions all over the country today, being flown in the traditional style by some, and shared in the more modern spheres by many. While browsing some peoples posts online however, I found that many shared their images and views along with remarkably defensive comments alluding to the flags recent tendency to offend.
As frustrating as it understandably may be for a flag to cause such outrage, I find it equally frustrating that people still can’t understand the negative connotations that are now lingering behind the flag of St George.
In terms of the flag itself, it is at worst a harmless symbol, and a fairly bland one at that. At best it represents a hugely respectable Christian figure in ancient history who was killed in the early fourth century. Despite St George being in no way English and having absolutely no historical link with England whatsoever, he is not a bad character to have representing a country, which explains why so many others have adopted him as their own. But the people who now use the flag are giving it a new, tragically less respectable meaning, and the blame lies with the English Defence League and similar extreme far-right groups.
The epitome of the EDL’s tarnishing of St George’s cross
Image courtesy of thesun.co.uk
The EDL are liberal to say the least with their St George imagery, and it is through this uncompromisingly violent pride that the flag has been rather ironically tainted. Yet some people cannot then see why using the same imagery as these groups leads to controversy, even though their intentions are likely nothing more than to display their own innocuous pride.
This is not the first time a positive symbol has been ruined by the people who choose it as their own. The swastika was originally used as a symbol of ‘life, sun, power, strength, and good luck’, but since it was adopted by the Nazis in the early 20th century, it has been synonymous with hatred and evil, and inevitably will be for a very, very long time.
Flying and sharing the flag of St George does not make you a supporter of the EDL, or a racist, or anything else it has been linked with. But being surprised at the admittedly modest amount of controversy that comes with it is naive. By all means share the flag, be proud of being English – I certainly am – but we cannot escape the fact that until these extremist groups are faint whimpers in history, the flag will carry their burden, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.