It's quite simple really. It's because we aren't (well, at least we weren't when I were a nipper) made to salute the flag.
It seems like a small thing, but it's quite important, when you think about it - namely to be made to subordinate yourself every morning, from a very early age. I mean, just think how bad you are first thing in the morning now, let alone how vulnerable to suggestion you were when you had the life experience of a day old newt to indoctrination and other covert operations aimed at turning you into a spineless, unthinking moron. And so early in the morning.
So this is why we are as we are and why they are as they are. We Brits - in particular those of us with Celtic lineage - have an innate ability to become insubordinate; at the drop of a hat, we can retire from the herd into a position of glacial isolation from which we can come to our own conclusions about matters of global import when necessary. "That's totally LOONEY that is", we can decide, completely unaided and exempt from the pressure of the media and our peers when, confronted with the prospect of going to war in Iraq - as at least 2 million or so of us did indeed conclude. You might think it's a splendid notion to bring about a catastrophic, tri-partite sectarian civil war there - as we have so successfully done (although you wouldn't know it what with all this rumpus in the Middle East we're allowing our airports to act as re-fuelling stops in order to aid the prosecution thereof...) - but we don't!
We are often described as two nations separated by a common language, but this is pure piffle. La difference (as our even more insubordinate, Bolshie and anti-American cousins across the channel would describe it) is that we will not be told what to do or think by anyone when we see our inalienable right to think freely being eroded. This is what defeated that other flag-saluted-before-assembly lot, the Nazis. When I was a kid, the only child who didn't attend the assembly was a little lad called Aaron who was Jewish and who consequently had the great good fortune of being locked up in a room on his own with a comic while we all groaned along to a series of interminable hymns whose every thou and art and wherefore revealed them as yet another Victorian stick with which to beat us. Some might argue that we have been too slack in allowing the Christian framework that used to be the spine of those apologetically mumbled assemblies to wither on the vine, but I see it as a virtue, a strength - something to be proud of. Another example of our great fortune to have been allowed to choose our own path. And long may that continue to be the case.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no soggy-eyed patriot who worships the shit-concealing autumn leaves he slips up on and sits there rooting for Petula Clark to win the Eurovision, crying for a decade when she loses out to an egregious Latvian novelty act dressed as bizarre bat/gekko hybrids. And there are a lot of things I love about America too - the lack of pretention, the aspiration to classlessness and democracy is laudable, even if those thiongs are not as firmly rooted as many Americans might think they are. The popular culture has been a cornerstone of my life. Equally, I hate many things about this country - its establishment and political leaders with especial passion. But the one thing I'd say in its defence is that this country has never tried to brow beat me into a ritual expression of my subjectivity. I may be a subject - it says so on my passport for a kick off - but I am free, as far as anyone is free to do anything, to cry foul, to see the vast conspiracy of subjecthood for what it is and to think, if not to shout at the top of my voice, "cobblers to all this SHIT!" in a way that those who, having effectively had their freedom to define themselves removed by having been brought up to salute the flag, may never be able to.
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