With all that depth and longevity of culture – all that wonderful architecture, soulful music, sumptuous art, and probably the best female dancers on the planet – why do you have leaders who present a derogatory image to the world? Why do they show us abuses in Tibet, suppression of dissent, and ethically dubious expansionism in the South China Sea? And why do we still remember Tienanmen Square?
And I want to talk about nationhood generally and its pre-eminence in the value system of the human psyche. Why do American Republicans use the phrase ‘America First’? Why don’t we draw lessons from the fact that ‘Britain First’ gave rise to the largest empire ever known, an empire which is now provoking debate in Britain over whether the term ‘genocide’ should be attached to its dealings. And why is it so difficult to say that ‘Germany First’ spawned the rise of Adolf Hitler? And why, when Angela Merkel says she won’t abandon the refugees, do I see a YouTube video spring up with the title ‘Angela Merkel Betrays the German People.’ Why do people in positions of power so rarely say ‘Humanity First?’
But I can’t be bothered because it’s a contentious issue and I’m tired and I’m not looking forward to the rest of this week.
Instead, have a picture of Penny le Pooch wearing my hat without asking permission. That isn’t contentious, is it? It isn’t likely to provoke outrage among patriots who will feel moved to accuse me of being a dangerously misguided traitor, even when they have trouble spelling the word ‘traitor.’ OK, so here it is.