by Ed West
Friday, 23
April 2021

St George was actually Turkish — take that, racists!

Aren't I clever and high status for pointing this out?
by Ed West
Both of these people are Turkish. Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Is there a lamer English tradition than the annual St George’s Day hot take about how England’s patron saint came from what is now Turkey and never even visited England? Take that, racists!

It used to be a bit of a comment section slot in the 2000s, where we would be informed each year how St George — whose flag is most commonly displayed by English football fans and other untermenschen — was askshually a Middle Eastern refugee and your sort would probably vote to deport him, you grotesque proles and purple-faced golf club bigots. (I’m paraphrasing, slightly.) Then it became a tweeting tradition during the Brexit wars, which began with the rise of Ukip in 2014 and ended with Boris Johnson killing the European Super League in 2021.

As I may have written once or twice before, political beliefs act as status markers where other status markers (accents) are levelled out or freely available to too many people (cars, electronic goods, foreign holidays). Cosmopolitanism is the ultimate upper-middle-class status marker, the mark of urban elite status, along with a degree and a house; it is therefore all the more strongly emphasised by the more insecure members of that class, what Mary Harrington calls the “everywhere precariat”.

Their political beliefs are deliberately cultivated to mark them out from the class below them, the instinctively Right-wing Middle Englanders. The class above them, the actual international elite of finance, are so genuinely international they don’t care.

The problem with adopting a political view as a fashion is that fashions change and your worldview starts to look a bit, well, low-status. St George is a boring talking point because it doesn’t contradict any actual claims, and the idea that foreign influences on a national culture negates the existence of a separate national culture is a straw man. (The straw man comes from Greece, by the way.) No one believes that national cultures emerge from spontaneous generation.

Our national religion originates in the Middle East, as does our alphabet; what does that say about 21st century multicultural England? Almost nothing.

The cult of St George had had a strong association with England since the time of the crusaders, when he was adopted by Norman and English knights, although it was during the Hundred Year’s War with France that he became established as a national saint.

On this day in 1348, Edward had celebrated the great victory at Crécy by initiating the Order of the Garter, inviting 25 knights to sit with him and form an order of chivalry, with St George as patron. And as the mighty king sat down at Windsor with the bravest men in the kingdom, one noble knight turned to him and said “Assskhuallly I think you’ll find St George was from Turkey, you moron, you idiot. I am very intelligent.”

Join the discussion

  • Can we please appreciate the caption to the photo?

    Both of these people are Turkish

    Made me chuckle

  • Since, by definition, an elite is at the top of the tree, the “Upper Middle Class” cannot be members of it, since there is an Upper Class (whether the aristocracy or the very wealthy) above them. Their situation is akin to the 600th best tennis player in the world. He is undoubtedly better than you, but he is not elite. There is, after all, nothing less elite than trying to show you are a member of it.

  • Presumably, Adrian, you’ll now go off and find a chat site frequented by practising Muslims, where you’ll pour cold water on their religious constructs. Or maybe you won’t. Hmmmm…….

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