Nationalist art

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Peter Jones (Perspective, 18 August) refers to a single poem, Speak White, to demonstrate that the cultural credentials of the Québecois independence movement are superior to those of the Scottish independence movement. He admits that he had never heard of Speak White until attending the show at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

While acknowledging that he could be equally ignorant of a body of art “of equal intensity” based upon Scottish nationalism, he still feels assured enough to pour doubt on the existence of such art. This despite the heavy nationalistic elements in the 1960s folk music revival and all the output of National Collective during the referendum campaign. He agrees “there is quite a lot of art… which has drawn inspiration from the nationalist movement” but then goes on to disparage the quality of such art.

Unlike quantity, quality is not something that can be proven as it’s largely a matter of taste. Peter Jones is of the Scottish unionist school of thinking which regards every aspect of Scottish experience – Scottish politics, culture, even victimhood – as essentially inferior to everybody else’s brand of the same thing.

Bizarrely, he claims that Scotland “experiences little of the cultural oppression that Francophone France did”.

In fact, Gaelic was actively suppressed in schools until the 1970s. (For comparison: the Official Languages Act making French the sole official language in Quebec was passed in 1974).

For lyrical lament of the precarious condition of the Gaelic language (which unlike French is in constant danger of extinction) I would refer him to the moving, angry song Canan nan Gaidheal.

Mary McCabe

Circus Drive

Glasgow

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