THAT’S us telt then. Supporting Scottish independence and wanting an escape from the xenophobic madness of Brexit is exactly the same as snuggling up in your bed at night with a nice cup of cocoa and a copy of Mein Kampf. So said Sadiq Khan and opinionistas in The Guardian, so it must be true. How dare white Scottish people object when an Asian guy says something about racism.

Only those white Scottish people were not rubbishing what Sadiq Khan or some random Guardian columnist had to say about racism, they were rubbishing what was said about Scottish nationalism. That part got lost in the British Unionist moral outrage. There are no bounds to the shameless hypocrisy of supporters of the British state – they decry an open, inclusive Scottish indy movement that welcomes migrants and refugees and say nothing about a xenophobic and nasty British state that is basing its entire future on a desire to put up walls against foreigners.

The condemnation is based upon a simple trick of words.

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The English language lacks the nuances other languages possess when it comes to discussing independence movements. I’m fluent in Spanish, and when discussing Scottish politics with my Spanish-speaking friends I would never describe myself as a nacionalista escocés. The Spanish term nacionalista calls to mind a nasty, right-wing authoritarianism. It suggests someone who believes in the moral and political superiority of their own particular ethnicity. The party of the late dictator Franco were the nacionalistas. This is the kind of nationalism that Unionists want us to associate with the Scottish independence movement. It’s why one of the most common jibes against independence supporters is that nats equal nazis. It’s why, during the first independence referendum campaign, The Scotsman printed that shameful photograph of a Saltire that had been photoshopped with a swastika.

It’s a straw man argument. The overwhelmingly dominant force in the drive for Scottish self-determination is the political opposite of what Francisco Franco stood for: it is social democratic, progressive, left-wing, democratic, and it celebrates its diversity. Mainstream Scottish nationalism doesn’t make the claim that the Scottish ethnicity is morally superior or better than anyone else. It doesn’t even concern itself with defining Scottishness in ethnic terms. Scottish nationalism is a civic nationalism which defines Scottishness in terms of the future, not the past. Ethnic nationalism is about the past. It’s about who you are descended from. Civic nationalism is about the future.

It’s about welcoming everyone who wants to share in the journey that Scotland can take as a country. Scottish nationalism seeks the establishment of a Scottish state. It is nationalist only in so far as it recognises the existence of a Scottish nation, which is a bit like saying that recognising the existence of matter makes you a materialist.

In Spanish, espousing this kind of politics doesn’t make you a nacionalista, it makes you an independentista escocés. Sadly, however, if you try to call yourself by the closest direct equivalent in English and say you’re an independentist, people just ask you how much you charge for orthodontic work. But the fact that the English language happens to conflate two very different political ideologies under the same term “nationalism” doesn’t mean that the two share anything much in common.

English, like most languages, contains many words which have different and sometimes contradictory meanings Take the word bolt, which also has two very different and contradictory meanings. Bolt can mean to secure, or to flee. Left can mean remaining or departed. To be a peer can mean that you are someone’s equal, or it can mean that you’ve been given the legal power to lord it over the rest of us, don fancy costumes and continue to influence our laws even though no-one voted for you. Just ask Michael Forsyth.

Dust can mean to wipe away fine particles, or to cover something in small particles. The one word contains opposite meanings, but if your maw tells you to dust the living room and instead you open up a bag of flour and scatter it all over her new rug you’ll soon discover that there’s a very big difference indeed. That’s exactly what those who equate Scottish nationalism with fascism are doing though. They scatter a bag of ground-up dried mud all over Scottish politics and claim that they’re cleaning.

Words with contradictory meanings are called contronyms, and in English the word nationalism comes very close to meeting that definition. A political movement which is seeking a state for a country which currently doesn’t have a state and which doesn’t have the political powers associated with statehood is a very different creature from a political movement which seeks the aggrandisement of an ethnicity which already possesses a state and the full range of political powers that go along with statehood. The arguments of Unionism very often depend upon convincing us that the different definitions of the English word “nationalism” are indeed describing the exact same phenomenon. It’s just a cheap trick of words that comes from people who are either unaware that they’re confusing two distinct phenomena, or more worringly just don’t care.

Nationalism isn’t the only political contronym in English. There’s also the term Labour, which can mean to work very hard but in politics refers to a party which achieves nothing at all. Conserve means to keep something the same, but Conservative means to rip up social protections and kick away a disabled person’s crutches while telling them to stand on their own two feet.

And then there is the greatest contronym of all. There’s the brutish xenophobic nationalism of the British state and its desire to define itself by its hatred of migrants, and those who defend it with lies, deception and mendacity deny that they are nationalists at all. British nationalism is the nationalism that doesn’t exist at all despite the bunting-bedecked military parades and its royalism and arrogant belief in its own exceptionalism. The real racism that Scotland faces is the racism of Brexit.

In plain and simple language, the British state and its supporters are terrified, because they know that their precious nationalist state is in its final days. And the days of the British state are numbered because of the actions and inactions of those self-same British nationalists who think they don’t exist.