And I have to say, Mr Speaker, How Tickled I Ham ...
One of those lessons is that, apart from what was effectively state control of media, to provide the means by which the propaganda could be disseminated, the Third Reich depended heavily on symbolism. Symbolism of uniform, symbolism of gesture (the Nazi salute, for instance), symbolism of physical prowess, and symbolism of, well, symbols.
And there was no Nazi symbol more enduring than the swastika, presented as a military standard, or simply as part of a flag. Waved by enthusiastic Germans, leading columns of troops, and yes, flown from public buildings, the Nazi flag was ever present. It was, to use the current vernacular, a time of intense and committed flag shagging.
Respect for the flag. The flag flying from public buildings. All of this transmitted to the people by a compliant media. And once the symbolism is in place, all else follows: the increasing demonisation of anyone exposing the less than perfect governance of the country (“stop doing the country down”), for instance, is already well established.
Yes, well established in the UK. Here and now. As is that compliant media: today, the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph tells “Union flag to fly from Government buildings”, with the ominous quote “Our nation’s flag is a symbol of liberty, unity and freedom that creates a shared sense of civic pride”. It does that all by itself? Wow.
Where flag shagging can lead
There was more. “[Oliver] Dowden [the Culture Secretary] … said that the Union Flag ‘unites us as a nation and people rightly expect it to be flown above UK Government buildings’ … Although the guidance only applies to Government buildings, local authorities and organisations will be encouraged ‘to follow suit where they wish to fly flags’”.
How might that “encouragement” manifest itself? But we already know that, after the BBC, under its new and conspicuously cowardly DG Tim Davie, caved in to attacks by the Tories and their press allies and carpeted two presenters who had the audacity to make a light-hearted aside at Dowden’s colleague Robert Jenrick. Encouragement, indeed.
But, you may say, we have human rights. We have safeguards. We have freedom of speech, and of expression. And all of this is, at present, true. Sadly, we also have insidious propaganda - “people rightly expect”, on the basis, of, er, nothing, actually - and a compliant media capable of demonising those of inconvenient thought.
That compliant media is also well versed in demonising the other. It has already cheered to the rafters a series of moves to stifle the right to protest. It has already honed its skills in attacking a series of minorities. And meanwhile, the far right becomes emboldened, while the population are instructed by that same compliant media to Look Over There at the left.
Flag shagging keeps enough of the people in line, and sufficiently distracted, to cover for further suppression of rights and freedoms. By the time the penny has dropped, it will be too late. The country will have been sold down the river. Here endeth the history lesson.
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