Billy Bragg takes on Morrissey over slam of London Olympics’ ‘blustering jingoism’

Morrissey, as he’s wont to do, made headlines this week with a typically acerbic attack on his native England, this time blasting the London Olympics over “the blustering jingoism that drenches the event” and suggesting that the “spirit” of Nazi Germany no pervades modern-day Britain, all via a note posted to fan site True To You.

The remarks have drawn a sharp response from Billy Bragg — shown with Moz in the photo above, taken during The Smiths’ 1985 North American tour — who took to Facebook on Tuesday, noting that, “I’m sure no one will be surprised to hear that Morrissey is in the wet blanket brigade when it comes to the Olympics.” (He also tweeted a photo of Morrissey wrapped in the Union Jack, noting, “Is that Morrissey I hear complaining about all this bloody flag waving?”)

Bragg goes on to differentiate his fellow Brits’ prideful Olympic flag-waving from naked jingoism, noting, “We’ve been conditioned over the years to associate any flag waving with Nazism — as Mozzer does, breaking Godwin’s Law in the process. But the truth is that the waving of flags is all to do with context. … When Jessica Ennis does it, however, it speaks of a different society, one in which all can reach their full potential no matter what their background. ”

You can read both singers’ statements below. And, to throw another musician of the era into the mix, Lloyd Cole has come down on Bragg’s side (“Billy on the money as usual. Morrissey looking for trouble as usual,” he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday).

 

Morrissey (excerpt of longer statement):

And, yet! I am unable to watch the Olympics due to the blustering jingoism that drenches the event. Has England ever been quite so foul with patriotism? The “dazzling royals” have, quite naturally, hi-jacked the Olympics for their own empirical needs, and no oppositional voice is allowed in the free press. It is lethal to witness. As London is suddenly promoted as a super-wealth brand, the England outside London shivers beneath cutbacks, tight circumstances and economic disasters. Meanwhile the British media present 24-hour coverage of the “dazzling royals”, laughing as they lavishly spend, as if such coverage is certain to make British society feel fully whole. In 2012, the British public is evidently assumed to be undersized pigmies, scarcely able to formulate thought.

As I recently drove through Greece I noticed repeated graffiti seemingly everywhere on every available wall. In large blue letters it said WAKE UP WAKE UP. It could almost have been written with the British public in mind, because although the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain, the 2013 grotesque inevitability of Lord and Lady Beckham (with Sir Jamie Horrible close at heel) is, believe me, a fate worse than life. WAKE UP WAKE UP.

 

Billy Bragg:

I’m sure no-one will be surprised to hear that Morrissey is in the wet blanket brigade when it comes to the Olympics, but I’m posting his comments here in an attempt to nail the charge of jingoism that has been levied by those who feel uncomfortable at the flag waving joy that has accompanied our athlete’s success.

Jingoism is defined by it bellicosity, by it’s blinkered assertion that we are better than everybody else and you are rubbish because you are not us. I hate jingoism, but I don’t feel that’s the impulse behind the flag waving that I’ve seen. Yes, the home crowd are very enthusiastic when our athletes perform, but they’ve also shown a warmth towards those from other nations and not always the winners – witness the supportive response to Liu Xiang crashing out of the 110m hurdles this morning.

We’ve been conditioned over the years to associate any flag waving with nazism – as Mozzer does, breaking Godwin’s Law in the process. But the truth is that the waving of flags is all to do with context.

When the British National Party do it, it symbolises their bellicose, divisive views. When Jessica Ennis does it, however, it speaks of a different society, one in which all can reach their full potential no matter what their background. When our fellow citizens wave their flags with her, I feel that they are expressing their pride in the possibility of that diverse, open society.

 

 

 

 

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23 Comments

  • KingP

    Morrissey getting in a twist about some kind of revered British tradition has become in itself a revered British tradition. I haven’t checked, but I’m sure ol’ Johnny Lydon isn’t letting the games pass him by without a jab or two either (although it is possible that the Pistols tribute in the opening games may have softened his tone a bit). That’s why we love those guys.

     
  • durga

    Mans a waste of carbon atoms ..

     
  • johnathan

    I dareay Billy Bragg, whom I admire, missed Mozzer’s point. Moz went after the royals and their place at the epicenter of the institutionalization of economic disparity, not the athletes. Nothing Moz hasn’t spoken out against previously in the past 30yrs (The Queen is Dead?), and still relevant today.

     
  • Chris

    While I do take Billy’s side on the whole jingoism angle, Mozzer does touch on some rather valuable issues amongst the English society with all of its false sense of glamour and glitz. But this has obviously been issue within their country since the Olympics were first announced to take place there.

     
  • salford

    The difference is that NO ONE CARES what Bragg thinks about anything. He’s just as big a hypocrite as Morrissey is. As a socialist champion of multi-cultural Britain , it just doesn’t do to up sticks from the lively melting pot you lived in and move to a big house in one of the whitest, middle class areas of the south east does it Billy?

     
    • Richard

      Speak for your self or is your superiority complex so warped you actually genuiningly believe you have the authority to speak for everyone. CLEARLY, you’ve been reading and watching far too much mainstream media because just as you’ve demonstrated in your ego fuelled comment the MSM like to be the authority on opinions.
      From what I can see, most of society have no idea what real news is. It’s just a population of greedy consumers who like to compare shiny things while hiding behind their fake personality. So don’t worry my friend, I’m sure you fit in very well indeed.

      These Olympics have been a disgusting immoral demonstration of the worst kind of filth you could imagine. Overflowing with satanic occult symbolism these games have indicated what society should expect in the coming years and it’s not a pretty picture. Capitalism rules the day as usual as the middle class evaporates and poverty creeps into most peoples homes. The British public have just been raped with these Olympics and they’re too stupid to even know it. Welcome to the Military police state, welcome to the new world order.

       
  • Clive

    Kind of agree with Moz’s points to be honest. I think he’s just saying the spirit of the Olympics has suffered and it’s become a consumerist showcase…and I think he’s right.

     
  • Um… you can’t “break Godwin’s Law”, which only states that the longer any internet conversation goes on the closer the chance of someone getting compared to the Nazis gets to 1. If anything, Moz validated the law.

     
  • Garry

    Moz didn’t mention flag-bearing or Nazis in his statement about the olympics. I agree that the regal, upper-class atmosphere is off-putting and takes away from the athletes achievements. Also it does seem as if the media is creating profound patriotism that is comparable to Nazi Germany or the USA, where the general public was/is blind.

     
  • “As I recently drove through Greece I noticed repeated graffiti seemingly everywhere on every available wall. In large blue letters it said WAKE UP WAKE UP. It could almost have been written with the British public in mind, because although the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain, the 2013 grotesque inevitability of Lord and Lady Beckham (with Sir Jamie Horrible close at heel) is, believe me, a fate worse than life. WAKE UP WAKE UP.”

    Maybe you should learn to read, Garry, and, when it comes to America–keep your ignorance to yourself. Obviously, you’ve never visited the USA and get all your info online or from Rupert’s FOX. Most of us see quite well, thank you.

     
  • Morrissey desperately trying to grab headlines again, poor guy, when will he realise that no one cares about what he says or thinks outside of his own modest fan base.

     
  • Antonio

    ” the spirit of the Olympics has suffered and it’s become a consumerist showcase…and I think he’s right.”

    The Olympics, including the ancient games, were always commercialized–we’re human. It’s what we do! It’s not always bad. Here’s a great new book (http://www.amazon.com/A-Visitors-Guide-Ancient-Olympics/dp/0300159072) that details how the first games weren’t all that different than London’s–there were professionals pretending to be amateurs, patriotism (between city states), cheating, sex scandals, parties, gambling, advertising, and religion (including the sacrifice of hundreds of cattle–Moz wouldn’t like that!) I think anyone who has watched these games has witnessed dozens of moments that made you proud to be human–the Liu Xiang finish? The American water polo player tugging the swim suit from her Spanish opponent!

     
  • Garry, Please stop watching TV.

     
  • Whilst I agree with most of Moz’s comments on the overbearing jingoism surrounding the London Olympics, it’s a little rich of him, given his recent show in Tel Aviv, where Palestinians encounter (on a daily basis) treatment no different (or better, for that matter) to that of the majority black population in apartheid South Africa (Palestinians are forced to carry pass cards in order to get from one place to another). It’d be interesting to hear his comments on this (just a personal thought).

     
  • Amelia

    Moz is Islamaphobic-he’s on record making hateful statements. His vist is par.

     
  • Ian Parker

    Mozza’s point, clearly, is that the country is still going down the pan, despite the ease of which the public’s attention is diverted. Despite camerons shiny smug face all over olympic park, a few trinkets gained on sports day havent, and wont, halt the economic avalanche. Braggy will continue to resolutely wave his flag but his attention would be better served on tory machinations than nit picking at Morrisey who is, lets face it, a genuine, substantial and continued source of national pride.

     
  • The Moz defender

    Yes Billy makes a point, but I fear misses the mark. What Moz is calling for is a deeper and more intricate understanding of “flag waving”. What he calls for is AWARNESS. All actions have consequences and therefore have meaning, even beyond surface intentions. Our lack of conscious living has resulted in a world of troubles and tragedies innumerable. A sad fact not so widely known…

    With kindest regards,
    TMD

     
  • JULIAN

    Morrissey has got it right,sorry to say Billy Bragg has got it so wrong.

     
  • Howard

    I just woke up to find to find the folks watching the closing ceremony at the worst time for me. They were playing the original John Lennon IMAGINE forming a face of John. In the DOW Napalm CHEMICAL sponsored stadium. If that is not a sick corporate fascist co-opting in a culture of no memory and no understanding only exploitation consumerism then what is. If John Lennon were alive he would be one pissed off grumpy old dude over it !!

     
  • Howard

    Now its even worse some tosser is covering WISH YOU WERE HERE an anti-war song in front of and for the glorifying benefit of the war criminals in the VIP box with no mental notion of the sickening irony.

     
  • Amazing really,Bragg is meant to be the voice of the working class man(in his mansion)but it is morrissey who had the thoughts of the working class man down to a tee on this one. Where i live no one wanted or were bothered by the olympics and saw it for the facade that it was,well done morrissey and proof that people like Bragg are just greedy capitalists doing the states and royals bidding for them.

     
  • I like Braggs point about pride in being a country that can compose itself (even if its ordered to). But Morrissey is right, this was a london event, if you live anywhere outside london, especially up north, the olympics was a total joke and a blanket on top of all the shit thats been going on, not surprisingly, up north!!! People are losing there jobs and people are on food banks, and the government was relieved to have the olympics, focus peoples attention away from the things they should be fixing!!!

     
 

 

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