The Hollow Patriotism of the Right

The Hollow Patriotism of the Right

The political right often wraps itself in the cloak of patriotism. Recent events and statements reveal a disturbing trend. This trend is one of insincere and contradictory nationalism. Two notable examples—the comments by a Reform UK candidate and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak‘s handling of the D-Day commemorations—highlight how this fake patriotism manifests in damaging ways.

A Distorted View of History and Patriotism

Ian Gribbin, a Reform UK candidate, made headlines with his controversial statements that challenged foundational aspects of British identity and history. His claim that Britain would be “far better” if it had accepted Hitler’s offer of neutrality during World War II is historically dubious. It’s also an insult to the memory of those who fought against tyranny. Gribbin’s comments, claiming Churchill was “abysmal” and Putin embodies “maturity” the West lacks, reveal a troubling disconnection from patriotic values.

Gribbin’s remarks about women being the “sponging gender” and proposing that they should be “deprived of healthcare” are equally offensive and reflect a broader misogynistic undercurrent in some right-wing rhetoric. These statements not only undermine the principles of equality and respect but also highlight a stark contradiction: how can one claim to love their country while expressing disdain for half its population?

A Reform UK spokesman attempted to downplay these statements as “inconvenient perspectives and truths” and “tongue in cheek” remarks. However, such defences ring hollow. True patriotism involves honouring the sacrifices made to protect and uphold societal values, not rewriting history to fit a divisive and regressive narrative.

The D-Day Debacle: Prioritizing Politics Over Patriotism

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to leave the D-Day commemorations early to return to election campaigning epitomizes another facet of this hollow patriotism. The D-Day landings are a seminal moment in British history, representing a crucial victory against fascism and a testament to international cooperation and sacrifice. By departing early, Sunak not only disrespected the event but also demonstrated a prioritization of political expediency over honouring the past.

While Sunak participated in the initial stages of the commemorations, his absence from the later ceremony at Omaha Beach, where other leaders, including Sir Keir Starmer and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, were present, was glaring. This move was perceived as a significant misstep, prompting criticism and a rare apology from the Prime Minister. It suggests a failure to recognize the importance of symbolic acts of remembrance, which are crucial to maintaining national unity and honouring shared history.

A Pattern of Contradictions

These incidents reveal a troubling pattern within right-wing politics where the outward display of patriotism often masks actions and attitudes that are antithetical to the values being celebrated. Gribbin’s revisionist history and offensive views, along with Sunak’s prioritization of political gain over solemn remembrance, highlight a superficial commitment to patriotism.

True patriotism requires more than symbolic gestures and nationalist rhetoric. It involves a genuine respect for the nation’s history, a commitment to its values, and a dedication to the well-being of all its citizens. The actions of these right-wing figures, however, suggest a preference for exploiting patriotic sentiments for political gain rather than embodying the principles that underpin true national pride.

In conclusion, the right’s version of patriotism often appears to be more about posturing than principle. Whether it’s through the distortion of historical truths or the prioritization of political expediency over genuine commemoration, these actions reveal a hollow and ultimately self-serving interpretation of what it means to be patriotic. To restore a sincere and inclusive sense of national pride, it is essential to move beyond this superficial and divisive rhetoric and embrace a more honest and principled approach to patriotism.

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