After 9-11, I hung an American flag prominently at the entrance to my house. Didn't think twice about it. But to a group of young British politics students at Loreto College who visited Washington and New York City last year, the omnipresence of the American flag and unabashed patriotism was “very peculiar.”
In Britain, they told me, it’s very hard to find their flag displayed publicly, especially by citizens. This is in part because the National Front movement, strong in the 1980s, co-opted the British flag for its xenophobic politics. Flying the flag in homes is often understood as a symbol of racism, they explain.
They also claim not to see displays of national pride very often, explaining it ebbs and flows with the soccer season. One girl continues: “And even then we use the flags just to support the teams, really.” “When the soccer match is on, flags are up all over the place. But if we lose the match, those flags will come right down, nowhere to be found.”