Flag-waving re-awakens old enmities

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I’m puzzled by Derrick McClure’s assertion (Letters, 12 July) that the letters submitted to your newspaper (9 and 10 July) concerning the Saltire affair were full of “hysterical vituperations”.

I thought they were all well written, balanced and mature responses to what was an ill-judged action by Alex Salmond, and the descriptions of his behaviour were accurate, not abusive.

Since I was one of the contributors (though not quoted by Mr McClure), I obviously have an interest in analysing this response to the opinions expressed by those of us who contacted The Scotsman.

My impulse to express my views about the whole affair arose from my innate horror of the dangers of a narrow, self-interested, emotion-driven nationalism – in any country.

We’re already beginning to see people sniping at each other with mutual accusations of duplicity, lying and even of being non-patriotic, and these are fellow Scots, who should know from the lessons of our own history that it’s not always easy to draw clear distinctions 
between the “baddies” and the “goodies”.

For instance, at Culloden, many Scots fought side-by-side with the English, by some estimates comprising a third of the government army.

Human beings have a propensity for putting self-
interest before moral scruples, and both distant and recent history is replete with examples of people taking the opportunity to settle old scores with their neighbours and fellow citizens when the equilibrium between them is disrupted by war.

Have we not learned any lessons from the recent past? The people of the Balkan region lived peacefully side-by side in villages for centuries, until divisions based on religious and ethnic differences were deliberately fostered, and the world looked on in impotent horror as they slaughtered each other.

Furthermore, one major lesson learnt following the Second World War was that unreasoning hatred of a people can and does lead to their persecution, while their fellow citizens turn their heads away at best, or participate in the victimisation for numerous reasons – whether it be envy of their victims’ accomplishments, wealth, or business acumen, or even due to personal grudges which have been harboured for many years.

Take heed: no country is immune from such a 
response, no matter how 
“civilised” we think we are.

The use by some of the 
expression “white settlers” to refer to English incomers is evidence of that.

We may not wish to slaughter each other with weapons, but we can certainly inflict harm by our words.

My Scottish identity is strong: I respond with my heart as well as my head to my country’s landscape, music and people. This is why I feel a sense of growing 
disquiet as I see my fellow countrymen and women 
beginning to hurl mutual 
insults at each other across the inexorably expanding barrier of nationalism.

National pride is a neutral force until the flames of hatred and intolerance are stoked against “the others” who may hold different, or simply less polarised, views.

Please don’t let this happen to Scotland.

Carolyn Taylor


Broughty Ferry

What is all the fuss about Alex Salmond brandishing a Scottish flag at Wimbledon?

I have no intention of 
voting to split Scotland from the rest of the UK but had I been at Centre Court on 
Sunday with a Saltire concealed about my person, I too would have been waving it to salute Andy Murray’s victory.

The St Andrew’s Cross is the flag of all Scots, and should not be considered the personal property of the SNP.

Jane Ann Liston

Largo Road

St Andrews

The juxtaposition of Michael Kelly’s piece (“Salmond’s crass trick cheapened the moment”) and that of Blair Jenkins (“We’re better prepared than anyone for 100 years”) in The Scotsman (Perspective, 11 July) was very illuminating.

On the left-hand page we had the incoherent rambling of Michael Kelly. Some of his piece was venomous to the point that he should be ashamed of himself.

On the right-hand page we had the well-considered, moderately stated views of Blair Jenkins. He argued his corner well without any descent into nastiness.

I think Michael Kelly is full of the illogical emotion he mistakenly sees in others.

Andrew Parrott

Stuart Avenue