There was a hashtag trending on Twitter yesterday, #WeAreScottish. It was Scotland’s response to the xenophobia, racism, and British exclusionism of Thrasher May and her government of pygmy minds. Ordinary Scottish people took to social media to state our rejection of the inward looking Brits-first ideology of the Conservatives and to affirm that our Scotland is accepting, tolerant, and multicultural. We are Scotland says that a Scot isn’t just a person who was born in Scotland, a Scot is someone who makes Scotland their home, who chooses to be Scottish, who chooses to identify with Scotland. A Scot isn’t just a person who is Scottish by the accident of birth, it’s also a person who is Scottish by design and Scottish by adoption.
Being Scottish is a state of mind. It doesn’t matter where you were born. It doesn’t matter where your family comes from. It doesn’t matter what religion you espouse, or none. Scottishness is blind to race. Scottishness doesn’t depend on ethnic origin. We are all Scottish. Scottishness means you live in Scotland, you identify with Scotland, you choose Scottishness. It means you strive to make Scotland a better place for all who live here. Scottishness means you’re part of the journey that this country makes, that you share in its story and you become one of its story tellers. The modern Scottish shennachies who tell tales of Poland, of Africa, of Syria and weave them into the fabric of this land.
The Tories say that foreigners must be registered, and Scots register their protest and solidarity with migrants. Scotland is a country with a long history of emigration. Hundreds of thousands of Scots left this country because they sought to make a better life for themselves. Hundreds of thousands left because they were dispossessed and had no choice. Many left because Thatcher and her minions had blighted Scottish communities with unemployment and hopelessness. So Scotland knows what it’s like to have to leave. And we know how important it is for emigrants to find stability, security and acceptance in their new home. That’s why we know how important it is for modern Scotland to make that same offer to those who have honoured Scotland with their choice to come and make their lives here, those who bless Scotland with their talents, their skills, and their experiences which enrich this country even more. They come here and they become us, and they say “We are Scotland.”
Sadly there were the voices of small minded and large mouthed Unionist critics. How long will that hashtag make nats feel good about themselves eh? carped those who didn’t see fit to complain about the Tory xenophobia which the hashtag was a response to. It’s just sanctimonious rubbish, said people who were silent when EU citizens were being terrified and threatened by Conservative bullies intent on using human beings as bargaining chips. Because in modern Scotland, for many Unionists it’s more important to complain about those who resist the ordure into which the Tories are plunging this country than it is to resist the Tories who are causing it. They are the people who cannot allow a Scotland whose people can feel good about themselves, who thrive on the misery of Westminster, whose self-esteem rests upon the rest of the country being too wee too poor and too stupid, because they’re too wee too poor and too stupid in spirit and would feel diminished by a small country with a big heart.
Some of them even welcome what the Tories are doing. But they are Scottish too. It’s just up to the rest of us to demonstrate that the small minded net curtain twitchers, the bigots and the billy boys, those whose wallets are more important than their hearts, are a small minority. They are part of Scotland but do not speak for it. We’re bigger than that.
Yet others are victims of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which states that your view of the world is shaped by the language you speak. Because English uses the same word nationalist, to refer both to those who seek independence for their country and who reject ethnic nationalism and exclusion, defining citizenship as a matter of choice and self-determination of the self, and those who have an independent country but seek to aggrandise it at others’ expense and who define citizenship in narrow exclusionist terms, they wrongly believe that the two concepts are the same thing. They’re not the same thing at all.
Scottish nationalism is not nationalism in the second sense, it’s independentism. Scottish nationalism is the radical belief that a country is best governed by those who choose to live in it, that a government of a country should be elected by the people who live in that country. It’s the belief that citizens aren’t just those who were born Scottish, but those who choose to become Scottish. British nationalism is nationalism of the second sort. British nationalism is exclusionary, parochial, and inward looking, harking back to a golden age of an empire that’s long past, an empire that was built on blood and oppression. Scottish Unionists prefer to perpetuate the confusion. It suits their Tory masters.
Scotland is a land which belongs to all of us who live here, those who choose to move here, those who decide to make their homes here, every bit as much as it belongs to those of us who were born here. Migration is the story of Scotland, from Fergus Mòr Mac Earca and his forty ships who brought the Stone of Destiny from Ireland, to the English refugees who fled from William the Conqueror’s Harrying of the North, to the Syrian refugees who have made their home on the shores of the Firth of Clyde. The songs of Scotland have always been sung by immigrants and emigrants. Scotland’s song is a song of migration. Migration defines us, it makes us who we are. It’s a song which the Tories in Westminster want to silence. Let Scotland respond with a chorus of voices, singing a song of self-determination.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984, https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/a-song-of-migration-wearescotland-wee-ginger-dug-8th-october-2016
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