UK Dopers comment, please...

I’m an American, born and raised, but I come from an English-Scottish family. We visited the UK many times when I was younger and I have always had a deep fondness for England and Scotland (I have similar feelings for the Irish and Welsh areas, though I never visited them). Although I’ve never held British citizenship, I consider England to be “my country” as much as America is simply by grace of my strong familial ties to the place. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with that.

A few nights ago I met a new co-worker, an English guy. I was outside smoking a cigarette when he came out to meet me.

“You’re [kidneyfailure], right?” he asked.

I had just taken a drag so I nodded instead of saying yes.

“Where you from in the UK, then?” he asked.

I blew out my smoke and told him, in my American accent, that I was from the US, not England. I assumed he thought I was British because of the sweater I was wearing, which had the UK national emblem and a Union Jack embroidered on the left breast.

“Then you shouldn’t be wearing that,” he said. “Wear your own country’s flag, not ours.”

Uh, excuse me? WTF is wrong with me wearing it?

“It’s not yours. Wear something else,” he said, and then went back inside.

Yeah, thanks for the advice, dick! Through talking with some of our other co-workers I discovered that that guy is seen as a kind of arrogant jerk, so I didn’t think much of it.

So, I’d like some input on a few questions:

  1. Is there anything you find particularly wrong/offensive/off-putting about non-Brits wearing British symbols if they actually do have a genuine fondness for the UK?

  2. In your opinion, were that guy’s comments justified or was he just being a jackass?

  3. Could this possibly be a manifestation of that “British anti-Americanism” we often read about ( or was the guy just a moron? I’m leaning towards the latter…

No from Britain but I’m familiar with their work :slight_smile:

Seems very unusual IMO. Total jackass. The brits generally aren’t that passionate about their flag.

Moran of the highest order.

  1. No. Far as I’m concerned there’s nowt wrong with wearing British symbols even if you don’t have a genuine fondness for the UK.

  2. The guy’s a twat.

  3. Sounds like he does have a bit of a chip on his shoulder about something, but it mainly boils down to the guy being a twat.

British flags are only rivalled by American flags in their predominance in fashion. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more tourists and hipsters wearing it ironically than I have actual Brits, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone wear it patriotically outside football matches.

The guy was an idiot. He’d probably either had a bad day or been jilted for a Yank in the past.

I was born in England, I left it in 2001 and have never been back once. I have no real affinity to the place and now even prefer to travel on my NZ passport. I don’t read UK newspapers and were it not for the fact that my sisters are still there it wouldn’t exist for me.

And pricks like that dude are no small part of my many reasons for leaving. As we are not in the pit am not going any further down that road.

For my part, had it been me, I would have definitely ribbed you about the sweater, but with a smile on my face and in an obviously friendly fashion. Not becasue of the Union Jacks but … seriously:D

I would have been genuinely interested in your celt/scots roots.

Incidently, although an island nation most Brits don’t really understand where their roots actually lie. Eddie Izzard presented a wonderful discovery channel documentary about England the “Mongrel Nation” Patron Saint George is now generally accepted as being a Turkish Muslim Knight, the national dish is an indian curry! We learned hygeine also from the Indian subcontinent. English as roast beef? Nah! the Romans brought that to the shores.

But one thing I suppose I have to say for fairness sake, is that British workplace humour is very very different from American. it is sharp, harsh and sarcastic to an extent that to others seems absolutely shocking. Maybe, just maybe he may have thought he was being humourous.

Check out this discovery channel preview.

The general opinion here seems to be the same in our workplace: dude’s an asshole (or “arsehole,” if you prefer) and no one really cares much for him. But, as manila pointed out, I guess it could be some kind of “workplace humor” that I don’t get, so I’ll give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Needless to say, though, he didn’t make a good first impression.

A bit of a tangent: how do you feel about me mentioning that I consider England as my own country as much as America is? Not fishing for compliments or trying to start arguments or anything, I’m just interesed to see if other people think it’s possible to truly love a country that you’re not a citizen or even a resident of. In my case, with English culture always having been an important influence in my family, I’d say so…but maybe I just have a romaticized view of “Britain.” Who knows?

St. George died in 303, having been martyred by Diocletian. Muhammed wasn’t born until around 570. George was born in Nicomedia, which is part of Turkey now, but the Turks hadn’t gotten there yet. Nicomedia was ethnically Greek.

Ignorance fought, thank you.

To be honest, you probably do have a romanticized view of Britain. But that’s OK, British people are often very negative about Britain, so it’s nice to have someone out their liking us.
And it’s fine to have fondness for another country that where you were born. It’s an important part of your family history and it sounds like you’ve had holidays here which are probably nice memories for you.
My husband is American, I’m British. When we have kids, I plan to take them to America often and know the US side of the family. I hope they will grow up thinking of America as a second home.

But seriously, ditch the Union Flag shirt. That’s just tacky. :stuck_out_tongue:

Cmonnnnnnn, lighten up! It’s a nice sweater and you guys are just jealous because you don’t have as nice a sweater as I do!

The guy is clearly an arsehold and I wonder, if you engaged him in further conversation, whether he’d have some pretty full-on views on what does and doesn’t make someone English.

I don’t think it’s possible to truly love something you’ve not experienced, in the same way it’s not possibly to truly love someone you don’t know.

Personally, I find it frustrating when I tell people I’m from New Zealand and they spend the next ten minutes telling me what an idiot I am to have left because New Zealand is such an amazing country, and then when I ask, they’ve never lived there or even been.

Wear it all you want as far as I’m concerned :slight_smile:

I have a number of items of clothing with Americana on them. A Red Sox sweatshirt, a Cape Cod T shirt for example, and I’m sure at least one with the stars and stripes on it. I would consider it completely bizarre if an American were to criticise me for wearing them. They remind me of happy times in the States, and anyway, some symbols are iconic.

And, as has been said, the Union Jack has been a fashion item since the mid '60s. If it’s good enough for Pete Townsend, it’s good enough for you.

As a Brit, I’d take it as a compliment.

The guy’s an arse, but probably thinks you should have been wearing the cross of St George instead as it’s the English flag rather than the Union flag!

Just a thought: was the flag you were wearing upside down? That can get a lot of anal Brits very worked up.

“Britain’s highbrow paper, the Guardian, sets the intellectual tone”? The paper that launched an acutely embarrassing letter writing campaign to try to swing the 2004 US Presidential Elections? I assume the article is a joke? The Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Financial Times, all right leaning newspapers, all have larger circulation figures than the Guardian.

Never heard anybody complain about a foreigner wearing a union jack before. I think most Brits would think it pretty cool.

Seconded this. Where in the UK are you? I’m in London (South London, to make it worse) so I get a lot of ‘you left that paradise for Brixton?!’, and then have to explain that the whole country isn’t The Lord of the Rings or those stupid 100% pure ads…

But, to the OP:
The guy was being a jackass. Possibly he’s just a jerk all the time, or maybe missing the UK takes the form of jackassery for him, who knows. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing the Union Jack, especially if it’s meaningful to you. I wouldn’t mind if I saw people wearing the NZ flag, although I’d be surprised.

Missed the edit window: That article was very strange, and has not been my (limited) experience of the UK at all. There is some eyerolling about ‘Americanisation’ and the like, and a lot of anger about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Brits favourite topic to complain about is the Brits themselves.

On the other hand it’s something you’d have to be very careful about in parts of Britain. It may be interpreted as showing that you have BNP and / or Ulster Loyalist sympathies, which will get you into much more heated discussions than the one in the OP. Or people might just assume you’re a Tory. For the most part, no one ever wears or displays Union Jacks in Britain, and if people realise you’re none of the above they’ll just see you as a tourist.

NB the Union Jack in Mod fashion is not really anything to do with patriotism. If anything mods are against patriotism and use the flag fairly ironically. In any case there has not been a significant mod revival for several decades.

To the OP.

I have no objection to your wearing a Union Jack shirt. I wouldn’t, but that’s because I’m a reserved type.

I’m also in the position of having ties to another country, being as how my fiancee is Dutch. I wouldn’t go round wearing the Dutch flag either. What does happen is that I cheer the Dutch national team on in international games, unless they happen to be playing England. (The football purist in me wants to cheer the Dutch on in those games too.)

If you have connections to a region in the UK, feel free to wear British regalia all you like.

The Guardian is a paper with a noted left-wing bias. It’s always had an anti-American reputation.

The Guardian has also had the pretension of being the intellectual’s paper. Back when I was at University, there was a joke categorising daily newspaper readership in terms of their power in the UK. The Guardian was, iirc, read by the people who think they ought to run the country.