How did a Turkish Arab become adored by the far right and nationalists in the UK?

How did a fairy tale (folk story) become the foundation for demanding a national holiday; propaganda by populist politicians and waving a flag with a red cross on it?

There are a number of versions of St George the following is but one:

‘Saint George travelled to Libya. When he arrived there he found it had a large pond, almost as big as a lake, where a ferocious dragon lived. The dragon was terrorising the country and, every day, the people had been feeding the dragon a sheep to appease it. When the sheep had all gone, the dragon had demanded that the people sacrifice a young maiden to him each day. Saint George found that all the young girls had now been killed and only the King of Egypt’s daughter was left. Unless a knight could be found to slay the dragon, the princess would be sacrificed the next day. The King of Egypt had promised his daughter’s hand in marriage to the knight who could overcome the terrible dragon. Saint George was determined to save the princess, and the next day he rode out to the lake. When he arrived, he found the princess there, waiting to be fed to the dragon. Saint George sent her home to the palace and approached the dragon’s cave. When the dragon heard Saint George’s horse approaching, he came out of his cave and roared at him. The dragon was huge and its roar sounded like thunder, but Saint George was not afraid. He struck the monster with his spear, but the dragon’s scales were so hard that the spear simply broke into pieces. Saint George fell from his horse but did not give up. Instead, he rushed at the dragon and used his sword to slay it under its wing where there were no scales. The dragon fell dead at Saint George’s feet.’

Others describe how George refused to kill the dragon unless the whole village converted to Christianity. Yet others refer to him as a brave Roman soldier who stood up to the persecution of Christians and was beheaded for his faith…

No one knows. It has become yet another fantasy to entrap the gullible in to a nationalistic fervour. The irony is that he is also patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to Saint Mark). He’s also patron saint of soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers, and he helps those suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis. In recent years he has been adopted as patron saint of Scouts.

The other day someone on facebook described those who challenge myths such as these as the “loony left”. Surely this person must have a sense of humour as well as a sense of irony? Or perhaps not.

Douglas James

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