Saturday, January 12, 2008

The continuing Appeal of Nationalism

At eight o'clock in the morning and six o'clock in the evening the Thai national anthem begins its tune on the nearest speakers. The Thais will stand around in semi silence out of respect. Its a similar affect as when Americans stand for the pledge of allegiance, but the thai national anthem is much more common (as are Thai national flags and the royal flag) Before the beginning of every movie at the cinema the anthem is played. The patriotic tune is juxtaposed with pictures of the king in people's work areas, homes, and public places.
Every monday, which was the date that the King was born, many Thai wear their yellow shirts to show their allegiance to the king. Some Thais were the shirts on other days as well.
Recently the King's elder sister, Galyani Vadhani died. The papers have been filled with eulogies to the princess. The opening page for the bangkok post has a brief message dedicated to her. The news every night follows the 100 day mourning period. Hundreds of thousands of people are flocking to the Royal Palace in Old Bangkok to pay their respects to the late princess.
I don't understand the appeal of royalism, or the reverent nationalism that many Thai seem to have. The country is small, the size of California, and perhaps that helps to create a sense of solidarity?

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