St George: A symbol of universal values not racism


Like racism itself the Far Right nationalist groups who adopted St George as their symbol of xenophobia towards practically anyone who isn’t their narrow brand of English, doesn’t stand up to the most basic logic.

Emblazoned on one Far Right website - I won’t name them and give them any undue publicity - they have St George slaying the dragon draped in the English flag with the strap line: ‘England for the English’, which of course is not very subtle coded to mean England for the white English, as long as they’re not Jewish too’.

But the patron they use for their unbridled bigotry was neither English nor in all probability white. George, the mythical dragon slayer, was actually born in Turkey, lived in Palestine and fought for the Romans at around 300 AD. He came to fame many centuries after being executed for not renouncing his Christian religion.

Kings and writers sought to mythologize the Roman solider to help them sell a political/religious narrative that would serve their cause .

For example, the story by Caxton who wrote a book in 1483 a called ‘The Golden legend’ in which St George slayed a dragon that was terrorising the people became widely read, and of course in Shakespeare’s Henry V that most famous Agincourt speech, the valour of St George becomes a deep rallying political cry.

But whilst the symbol of St George is meant to stand for the values we uphold: Bravery, righteousness, dignity, and heroism, the man himself was never the ‘little Englander’ the type the xenophobes desperately seek to portray, in fact, the opposite is true.

He was international, and the values we associate with him are equally embraced by many countries and cultures who have also adopted St George has their patron, including Portugal, Malta, Ethiopia, Georgia, Serbia, the Palestinian territories

Therefore, the most honest portrayal and celebration of St George, particularly in the 21st Century context that pushes back against the rise of virulent national racism, is to see St George as an internationalist who embraced universal values adopted around the world.

So I say let’s celebrate St George for what is an international hero, fighting for universal values.

Happy St George’s day

Simon Woolley