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Hey, the Guardian? Fuck off. While I am delighted that you've produced a British equivalent to the Real Hot 100 list of inspirational women, I am beyond frustrated that among the admirable "British" ladies are the (very admirable) Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan. Why are these women listed as being in Britain? One's Irish, the other is resident here but was brought up in Canada, and they live in Dublin. The piece even mentions the fact that they're now both Irish nationals. I am simply astonished and disgusted by the sheer stupid arrogance that allows the editors to include Irish people in a very specificially British list with absolutely no caveats. What with this and the morons who tried to insist to Radio 1 that Ireland was part of Britain, I'm kind of appalled at the apparent state of the British educational system. How can someone not know the geographical boundaries of their own country? Jesus!

Note that yet again, my sense of nationalism has been roused by the single thing capable of doing so: ignorance of the fact that my native country actually exists independently of Britain.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
wonderlanded
Aug. 21st, 2006 11:16 am (UTC)
Have you written to them? I'm in a writing mood, so I shall.
stellanova
Aug. 21st, 2006 11:52 am (UTC)
I was just going to do so! I might ask is there no one in the Guardian office who could have said, "um, it's great that we're doing something about the most inspirational women in Britain, but Ireland isn't actually in Britain..." For fuck's sake!
wonderlanded
Aug. 21st, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC)
It's ridiculous. It's like a question on Junior Mastermind: 'Finish the name of this country: The United Kingdom of....'

I think I'll offer them an atlas for their library.
biascut
Aug. 21st, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
... which I had to look up on my passport when I was twenty-one and living in Germany and an American girl asked me what the name of my country was anyway. We really seriously just don't know - it's not part of any curriculum at school as far as I know, and it just doesn't get discussed.
wonderlanded
Aug. 21st, 2006 06:41 pm (UTC)
But... but.. you learn in history about Ireland, don't you? We little colonials learn about Irish independence. The concept held dear to apparrently so many that Ireland is still part of the UK/Great Britain (Pangaea hurrah!)/possibly England just confuses me hopelessly. Granted, I've filled out visa application forms ad nauseum so I have a vague idea of the proper names for the various bits, and what's included and what's not, but it is what makes me see red about things like citizenship tests for prospective citizens when most who were born here couldn't answer this sort of question accurately.

I think I first learnt that Ireland was, properly, a separate country from the Richard Scarry books, and in primary school from the Endeavour Readers we had at school -- I think it was one of the Level 6 books where a girl was moving to Ireland, which some people called Eire, and was a Proper Country.

Ah. The Endeavour Readers. I think Sparky the Space Chimp is still my favourite, though Digger the Dog had style.
wonderlanded
Aug. 21st, 2006 06:42 pm (UTC)
It's very possible, though, that lots of people who think Ireland is in the UK can spell 'apparently' properly.
biascut
Aug. 21st, 2006 08:41 pm (UTC)
AHAHAHAHAHA. Hollow laughter, hollow laughter, hollow laughter. Let me tell you about the history I learnt in school. At junior school we did things organised by topics, so The Elizabethans, or Shropshire and the Industrial Revolution, The Egyptians. Secondary school was the early nineties, so this is all the National Curriculum introduced by the Tories:

First year secondary (Year 7): Foundations Studies, which was a combination of History and Geography. Focussed on settlements, and where, if you were a tribe of Anglo-Saxons people wanting to found a village, you would settle. Basically, you were supposed to recognise that they would look for water, pasture land, land to grow crops on, defensive positions, wood for fuel &c. Also stuff on the village hierarchies and how buildings were constructed and what people ate.

Looking back, this was quite an innovative way of teaching history, since it had nothing to do with Famous Kings and everything to do with how people lived: it's very archaelogy-based history. But there was absolutely no concept of the formation of the nation or of who the population was: it was taken for granted that we were talking about our local area, which was unquestioningly English/British.

Second Year & Third Year: All change. Traditional king-based history, starting around Richard II and going up to Elizabeth. Wars, peasants' revolt, Black Death, Richard III, &c. Really, really traditional. Lots of emphasis, however, on distinguishing between secondary and primary sources and how to use documents to find out about what happened. Got as far as Elizabeth and the Spanish Armada.

Fourth Year: GCSEs begin, therefore history is optional. I didn't do it. If I had done, we'd have jumped straight to the first and second world war. I think A level History was a bit more comprehensive, but obviously, only about 10% of the population is doing that.

Basically, therefore, not much about the Reformation or any other European history, and nothing about the English Civil War, the establishment of Parliament, the Restoration, the Acts of Union, the development of Empire, the Industrial Revolution, or, you know, anything else to do with how our state's constitution came to be the way it is. Never mind anyone else's state constitution. I did a bit of the background to Shakespeare and Keats in A level English, but I honestly had no idea about why anyone would learn history, or what on earth history might have to say about how a nation state came to be formed, until I started my degree. It just wasn't a priority at all. So, of course, we all took the idea of England/Britain/United Kingdom for granted without really bothering to figure out what they were: until the moment you step outside England, nobody had ever suggested it.
stellanova
Aug. 21st, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
So, of course, we all took the idea of England/Britain/United Kingdom for granted without really bothering to figure out what they were: until the moment you step outside England, nobody had ever suggested it.

See, I do understand that, and I know that Ireland doesn't come into history curricula across the water. And I don't really expect people in Britain to know about Irish history (although they obviously should be taught at least something about it in schools - like the fact that there was actually a war of independence). I just can't understand how people can possibly think that another country is part of their country now. I mean, surely no one thinks Australia or India or other former colonies are part of Britain.
biascut
Aug. 21st, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC)
Of course you know it! I have ranted this rant many times! But poor wonderlanded hadn't actually heard it yet.

And - I dunno, neither examples seems that surprising to me. They really should know better, but it's that casual conflation of "British" the nationality and "British" as in "the British Isles". When I took the modernism course as an undergraduate, it was called English Literature 1900-1950, had no Americans or other non-British or Irish writers on it, and lots of Joyce and Yeats. Obviously, I'm not saying that makes it OK or anything, but it really is so damn common that people just don't think.
tenderhooligan
Aug. 21st, 2006 11:41 am (UTC)
That Radio 1 think is shocking. Not entirely surprising, but shocking nonetheless.
tenderhooligan
Aug. 21st, 2006 11:42 am (UTC)
*... Radio 1 thing, even
stellanova
Aug. 21st, 2006 11:53 am (UTC)
It's the fact that people were so sure of their insane ignorance that they were moved to ring and text the programme that truly shocks me.
clanwilliam
Aug. 21st, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC)
I once had a case where a man insisted vehemently that I was a subject of the Queen of England, even though he did agree that Ireland had a president. The entire table sat gobsmacked because of what the conversation had been about earlier - he had been lecturing me strongly on the issue of Northern Ireland...

The 100 Great Britons poll also annoyed me. Fine having Michael Collins there - he was, after all, a British citizen by birth, but Bono? And Bob Geldof?
lolamoz
Aug. 21st, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC)
I was in Buckingham Palace a couple of weeks ago on a tour (please, don't ask - I'm still cringing) and was surprised to hear the narrator on the audio tour proudly state that Her Majesty is the still the ruler of Ireland, along with the rest of the Commonwealth! It jarred me terribly.

Interestingly, there are decorative harps and shamrocks all over the place (like on the ceilings and staircases) in her gaff by the way. Someone needs to have a discreet whisper with the old dear.
stellanova
Aug. 21st, 2006 12:48 pm (UTC)
Oh my God, even the Queen doesn't know the boundaries of her own kingdom (queendom?)! I suppose she didn't actually go to school, so some gaps in her general knowledge are understandable, but that's a bit much.
bradybee
Aug. 21st, 2006 01:21 pm (UTC)
Re: the Guardian: Jesus! Re: Radio 1: Jesus Christ! Re: Bastarding Buckingham Palace audio tour...speechless.

I have to endure a little bit of this bullshit here in New York, too; mostly, I should add, from folks who aren't native New Yorkers but have come up here to attend college. One of them sent me spinning into a state of near violence last year; he was an undergrad from Georgia who was acting opposite me in this play I was in (he was playing an Irishman, and because it was a Mike Leigh play and the accents need to be accurate, I was coaching him in his Cork accent...he was unbelievably arrogant, and kept insisting I couldn't be right about this pronunciation or that intonation...)
Anyway. I also gave him a little bit of a lesson about the country, and about how it's no longer all cottages and donkeys, and is in fact the second wealthiest country in Europe or whatever the statistic of the moment was, and he scoffed and said to me, "what are you talking about? Ireland? Ireland's not a country, for god's sake. Ireland's an island. It's part of Britain! You can't call that a country."
I'm still feeling anger right down to the tips of my fingers as I type this. Luckily, as part of my role, I had to thump this guy on the back every night, quite hard, because I was meant to be drunkenly responding to his asthma attack. Man, did I hit that guy. I swear to God, I laid into him like a hammer. Every single night he bitched to me about it afterwards. And the next night I hit him even harder, thinking "this is for the island, you little prick"....
stellanova
Aug. 21st, 2006 02:28 pm (UTC)
Ha! That's brilliant. Your back-thumping revenge, that is, not his preposterous ignorance. The latter reminds me of an incident which took place a day or two after my friends and I arrived in Boston on our J1 summer back in 1997. We were staying in a really nice hostel until we found an apartment, and on our first night we were sitting outside having a smoke when two frat-boy types went past and started talking to us. They asked where we were from, we said Ireland, and one of them said - all pleased with himself, I might add - "oh yeah, I've heard of the UK." Well, good for you! But what has that got to do with me?

Why do people like your charming ex-colleague feel that's socially acceptable to lecture someone about her or his own country? I mean, just how arrogant do you have to be to think you know more about the state of a country than someone who actually lives there?
bradybee
Aug. 21st, 2006 01:29 pm (UTC)
* Georgia the state, that is, not the country. Though he was probably confused about that part too. But then, considering that, where he came from, the biology textbooks carried until very recently (when they were forced to stop doing so by federal court) a sticker warning students that evolution was "a theory, not a fact", it's hardly surprising that his geography wasn't so hot.
tenderhooligan
Aug. 21st, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
You may enjoy this
I reported the article above, and the linked article about Radio 1, on another site and the first comment I got back was:

"Dublin is in Northern Ireland ... therefore Sir Bob Geldof is British"

No, he wasn't kidding. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
stellanova
Aug. 21st, 2006 08:41 pm (UTC)
Re: You may enjoy this
OH MY GOD.

Please, please say no one agreed with him....
tenderhooligan
Aug. 21st, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
Re: You may enjoy this
I'm the only one who's responded to him yet and I do hope my disgust was obvious!

I shall keep you posted if he argues back. He was so sure, the idiot!
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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