All You Had To Do Was Say Your Majesty Shove Your OBE

23:11 Thu 16 Apr 2009
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After my brother passed on Blood or Whiskey’s “Your Majesty” (because I mentioned Flogging Molly’s If I Ever Leave This World Alive due to its being used on Weeds), I was reminded of the unpleasant fact that both Bob Geldof and Bono accepted induction into the Order of the British Empire.

Which I think is completely disgraceful in both cases. For historical reasons, partly, and yes, because they’re both Irish, but also because that “honor” more or less defines the approval of the British establishment, and really if you’re even nominated you should stop to wonder what you’re doing wrong.

Furthermore, the list of people who have refused it quite long and includes quite a lot of people who are worthy of respect, so it’s not like it’s unheard of, or would create some kind of major incident, to refuse. (Not that that would be an excuse, but even that potential attempt at justification is absent.)

3 Responses to “All You Had To Do Was Say Your Majesty Shove Your OBE”

  1. Stephen Casey Says:

    Both Bono and Geldof have causes they want to promote and getting honours gets column inches; mission accomplished. How did an American, albiet one that grew up in Ireland, get to be anti-British-establishment? Neither does nationalism suit the anarchist streak!

    It’s a system for recognising achievement and contribution, does it matter where it has it’s roots?

    On the nationalist card, why not complain about Wogan? Not only did he receive the honour, he changed his citizenship in order to be called Sir Terry.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    Regarding the first point, I think it’s likely that refusing the honor would get more column inches. A more likely argument is that accepting the honor means easier access/more acceptance from the establishment, but that’s basically co-option.

    As for anti-British-establishment, I’m anti-establishment and anti-imperial, why would I be anything other than anti-British-establishment?

    I’m not sure which definition of nationalism you mean. If you mean nationalism in the broad sense, I regard it as another opiate for the masses. I’m not immune (which is why I’m a Yankees fan), but I don’t think it’s affecting my reaction here much. If you mean nationalism in the strictly Irish sense, to be honest I’m not sure exactly what that is at this stage, but I will point out that I’m not exactly fond of the Irish establishment either. But the Irish establishment doesn’t include any “royalty” or “aristocracy”, concepts I find inherently repulsive.

    I do think it matters where the system of honors has its roots, and I don’t think the system in question has somehow transformed itself into an apolitical, purely meritocratic one.

    To be honest I’d forgotten about Wogan. Also, I don’t recall ever getting the impression that he was putting himself forward as fighting for the cause of justice or for the downtrodden, whereas with Bono and Geldof I did get that impression (although I can’t cite references right now), and it’s that which I regard as incompatible with the OBE.

  3. Stephen Casey Says:

    For what it’s worth on the column inches front, as you said plenty of people reject their honours. The mechanics go something along the lines of: receive a letter asking if you’d accept an honour should one be offered; reject silently, which some do and it hardly gets reported or accept and get included in the news in the coming months. For both Bono and Geldof I think rejection would have been met with a quiet “What did you expect? They’re Irish”.

    I can’t help thinking that being anti Bitish establishent on the basis of imperialism or its aristocracy as being inherently nationalistic towards Ireland or any of it’s former colonies and conquests. The royalty is entirely symbolic, whether you like that symbolism or not, using it to reward achievement seems to me to be a valid application.

    Myself, I’m non-nationalist, I think I’ll be as vociferous about the Broncos next season as I am when I watch Ireland in Rugby U. I’ve never been to Denver, that was a grab bag selection. Following from that, I’m not sure I see the difference between British honours and the Légion d’honneur, and award which both have received, though not Wogan.

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