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Scotland the Brave.............. Reckless, and Unlucky

Independence has an "I" and no "we" in it, but it's time for a reality check

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

I wish I could say I cared more about Scotland. I grew up in the age of Dame Flora, the four foot Chief of the Clan MacLeod, whose diminutive presence was always fun at rare Clan gatherings in New England where I grew up wrapped in the Loud MacLeod tartans, the primarily shrieking yellow, black, and red plaid that is our most famous and British in origin. Even so, the family was fairly well read on Scottish history, which means on British history since they cannot be separated. The presence of the other was the biggest issue in the lives of both nations. On Thursday, September 18, Scotland will vote on whether or not to abandon the United Kingdom and become an independent nation.

Scotland has been viewed as a theme park by the English, or at least the upper branches of the English, seemingly forever. Groundskeeper Willie in The Simpsons isn't far off from the standard Scot character presented to the world. It's like, and yet unlike, the Irish. Gruff Celts, who drink less and support the British crown through history. At least since the Battle of Culloden Moor in 1746 where the Stuart pretender's son, Bonnie Prince Charlie, was destroyed by George II's , the Duke of Cumberland. The wounded were bayoneted and the camp followers of wives and children were sent as, yes, slaves to the American colonies with those men captured. Scots were elbowed off their own land, forbidden to play their music with the pipes and flutes, forbidden to wear clan markings or tartans. If they did, they faced death.

What the Scots did, as opposed to the Irish, was admit defeat and become more Imperial British than the British themselves. All of western Canada and much of the rest has Scottish names from British military conquest. The savage Highlanders, soon to be romanticized by Sir Walter Scott who created an entirely fictitious Scotland the world and Mel Gibson mistook for reality, were quite vicious in war and their Viking blood gave them a stature that scared the living hell out of the five foot four English soldiers, win or lose.

So terrifying were bagpipes to the British that it took a while for their soldiers not to cower when they heard them after 1746, because now the Scots were on their side. When Americans and Canadians searched for ways to describe the warriors of the American tribes to people around the world, they often used the image of the Highlander, which everyone understood. And as many Scots filtered into the British Army - and to the point where the highest generals were seemingly all Scot by the Great War - they met the Indians, and treated the a lot better than anyone else. They were honest, they were supportive, and they were kind. Native America had little to teach Scots about what it's like to be conquered by a huge, powerful enemy and then left to their own devices to support their people and nullifying centuries of cultural precedent. But the Scots were different than the Indians, or the Irish, or the Confederacy for that matter. Scots knew defeat and didn't pretend otherwise. They surrendered grudgingly, but they surrendered.

I fear the Scottish independence movement has not been honest. Unemployment in Scotland is huge and schooling - once its pride, has fallen off. The young want independence with all the enthusiasm ignorance and energy can provide. They're certainly capable of creating a great nation. But as even William Wallace came to know, there are ancient and deep animosities between clans and districts that go back to when the Scotti from Ireland first appeared. These are likely to reappear into the sun when the Union Jack is replaced by the Blue flag of St. Andrew and the Corries' anthem becomes the nation's. And they will be utilized by those hoping to profit and rule, as ever.

That Scotland has been taken for granted for centuries needed no clearer illustration than the government of David Cameron waking up a few weeks ago to the possibility Scotland might leave, legally and happily. The Queen was not thrilled, and all of a sudden a parade of Brits went north to try and talk the Scots out of it. They have much on their side to prudently argue, but may have burned so many bridges nobody will listen. John Oliver did the best summation on his show Sunday last, and you should all watch it. It's hysterical and true which are, be it said, qualities adored by those north of Hadrian's wall.