Should We Care That We Don’t Care More about Scottish Independence?


twas closed the day I came to visit

Do or should I care about Scottish independence? Do or should we care whether we care, and should we be gravely concerned about our uncertainty on that question?

As a vaguely or occasionally proud member of the Clan MacLeod, which posseses at Dunvegan, on the Isle of Skye, what I have been told is the only Scottish castle never to have fallen to the British, perhaps I ought to care, or even be enthused, but, as an American MacLeod of decidedly mixed parentage, my loyalty is as much to the so-called Scottish Exodus as to the homeland. My MacLeods have been in America for as long as Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom. To whatever small extent I qualify as Scottish, I am a Diasporetic Scot happy that the main difficulties of assimilation that I have experienced have had to do with inconsistent spelling, pronunciation, and alphabetization of the clan name, and secondarily with a series of silly sci-fi fantasy movies and TV shows eventually featuring one main character with my father’s name.

To my observation from afar, the arguments for “No” on independence seem stronger than the “Yes” from a pragmatic viewpoint, but, however things turn out, this Son of a Lout remains unpersuaded that changes of a national-constitutional nature should be decided by simple majoritarian referendum, rather than, say, by battle on the field of honor, or anyway by a broader process: From this point of view, the incompetence and unblooded carelessness demonstrated in the UK’s assent to the “#indyref” would be the strongest argument of all in favor of it. As for arguments against more strongly stated, Dan Trombly (@stcolumbia) points to a piece in the Weekly Standard on the dangers of “yes” mainly to ridicule it as “fearmongering,” but we are, I think, far too late in the game or far too early in it for that. If, as expected, the referendum loses, if perhaps by a narrower than comfortable margin, whatever may seem exaggerated or unrealistic in Jonathan Foreman’s depiction will belong to an alternative world that could never have been, a world in which the United Kingdom and the European Union, rather than being in difficulties, were falling apart before our eyes, a world in which the Scots really would rent former Great Britain’s only submarine base to Vladimir Putin… and so on.

If “Yes” wins – or has won already, while I’ve been editing this post, I’ll have to check – and, if secession follows, we may be more in or of that things-apart world than we realized, but, if so, our having been in a position to slip quietly into it will have been the problem from the start: an  apparent lack of interest extending necessarily to itself.


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