Myths and misnomers

Max Fisher wrote a piece in 2012 titled ‘Sorry, Romney, Neither America Nor the U.K are ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Countries.‘ The sub-headline of the article quotes Fisher’s claim that:

“The term is a long-abused misnomer for England, and fewer than 9 percent of Americans identify English ancestry anyway.”

Max Fisher, Atlantic Magazine, July 2012

Where does one begin with trying to de-construct this stupid piece of fiction?
I’ve written many pieces attempting to refute such deliberate obfuscations and lies, but obviously I have little influence and I cannot command an audience like that which Max Fisher can reach. So for now, his uninformed and/or disingenuous opinions win the day.

Fisher wrote this ill-conceived article in July of 2012, during the election in which Mitt Romney was running against Mr. Obama for the presidency. Because Mitt Romney, or more correctly, his staff member, alluded to a ‘shared relationship’ between Britain and the U.S., the dishonest media pounced on this faux pas, trying to make it into a bigoted statement, and moreover, a lie. No such relationship, so the ‘journalistas’ said, ever existed. Any relationship between the Anglo-Saxons in Britain and those in this country was a fabrication, as there was never an Anglo majority here, and in fact, there is no Anglo-Saxon majority in the UK. And maybe there were never even any Anglo-Saxons to constitute a kindred relationship. After all, “fewer than 9 per cent” of Americans identify as English-descended. So there.

When a Mitt Romney foreign policy adviser reportedly told London’s Daily Telegraph, in advance of the candidate’s trip to England, “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special … The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have,” the comment sparked exactly the sort of campaign mini-controversy you might expect. Dogwhistles about Barack Obama’s race and partial African heritage brought some of the 2008 campaign’s ugliest moments, and “Anglo-Saxon heritage” could be interpreted as code for “white.” The entirely foreseeable firestorm was followed by a similarly foreseeable Romney spokesperson’s insistence that “If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign.”

If Romney responded that way, shame on him; why deny his ancestry? I suppose, given Mr. Romney’s fondness for political correctness (which, to be fair, is shared by most politicians everywhere) it’s not surprising that he would not stick to principles. But Mormons generally do know their own personal genealogy, so maybe Romney was not willing to claim majority-English descent, because he is apparently less than half English by ancestry according to research done by a fellow blogger, whose nom-de-blog is “Hail.” His research shows:

“Mitt Romney: Ethnic Ancestry Summary
40.6% England — Mostly Northwest England, partly W.Midlands.
18.8% Scotland
26.6% Colonial-Yankee
12.5% North-German
1.5-3% French, Acadian and possible Huguenot…”

However, would not ‘Colonial Yankee’ imply English ancestry? Very few non-English were among the colonists in the early days of the New England colony.
Later on, others did arrive, like Ulster folk and Huguenots (among notable Huguenot arrivals were the Rivoire family, the parents of Paul Revere).

But in any case Romney was not all English. Even he had some German ancestry.
And it seems that now, German-Americans have claimed persistently that they are the real majority in the U.S. — based on questionable self-reporting.

Self-reporting of ancestry is often notoriously inaccurate. Some people are die-hards in denying their actual ancestry in favor of a mythical, more ‘colorful’ story. There was a syndicated news article some years ago about Americans whose own ideas about their ancestry and ethnicity were proven incorrect by DNA testing; some people were heartbroken to be told that they weren’t descended from Cherokee princesses, or whatever their preferred story was. The article reported on how some people denied that the DNA was correct, so attached to their fictional family history were they.

One of those celebrity genealogy TV shows found that a certain young lady performer was mostly European-descended, and in the YouTube clip I saw, she was visibly disappointed at being told the bad news. Such is the state of ethnic hierarchies now. It’s not ”in” to be of plain old European stock. Boring. Not diverse. Not cool.

German-Americans have long been one of the more ethnocentric groups, and I don’t disparage this at all; it’s normal to be curious about, and to identify with one’s forebears and living kin. That’s a healthy, natural preference, given that it’s been the way of things for most of human history. The left even validates it — if it is non-European, non-White ethnocentrism. All other kinds are taboo; thought-crimes, hate-crimes, even.

So when most Americans have been DNA-tested, or at least had their family trees mapped out thoroughly, I will believe that Germans have the longest claim to being the most numerous. But that’s all being rendered moot by the fact of the ‘Great Replacement’, (which is now being admitted and not called conspiracy theory anymore), and the fact that soon all European-descended peoples will be outnumbered by the new arrivals, among whom both Anglo-Saxons and Germans are few and far between. Both rival ethnic groups will soon be relics from the past unless things reverse themselves.

But to return to the confused (or purposely confusing) Mr. Fisher, now a writer for the most exalted media organ of the Luegenpresse, the New York Times — he’s living up to his employers’ publicity.

Do I dare to say that Mr. Fisher seems to be writing from some invidious attitude towards Anglo-Saxons, whether born on this side the Atlantic or on t’other side? Why is it that Mr. Fisher’s ethnic group seems to feel affronted at the very existence of an ethnicity called Anglo-Saxon? Inter-ethnic rivalry and envy?

Fisher refers to the Anglo-Saxon designation as a ‘misnomer.’ Again, from the article:

‘We don’t really know what the Romney adviser meant when he referenced the “shared … Anglo-Saxon heritage,” if he even said it, but he wouldn’t be the first person to overstate the influence of these long-gone Germanic tribes. On the off chance that anything productive comes out of this micro-scandal, maybe a slight corrective to the 1,200-year-old Anglo-Saxon misnomer will be one of them.”

Max Fisher, from Atlantic Magazine, July 2012

Meanwhile, DNA tests are able to identify American of English descent as being part of a coherent ethnicity, descended from the people Fisher says don’t exist. DNA tests can’t detect ‘misnomers.’

Christmas

The card above shows English as it was more or less during the lifetime of Chaucer. It’s surprising that even after so many centuries, the language is still mostly intelligible to us in the 21st century.

I wish all of you a happy Christmas, you and your loved ones.

The Yule log

Our English ancestors’ Christmases involved bringing in a Yule log, as in the illustration above, (by Alan Wright and Vernon Stokes). The Yule log is one of the traditions that appear not to have survived in this country, though many English traditions were observed for some time in both New England and the Southern colonies.

The New England colonies, of course, did not observe Christmas for some time, starting in the 17th century, because the Puritans objected to the ‘worldliness’ of many of the Christmas customs, and wanted to keep Christmas as more of a religious observance.

I’ve written on my first blog about the lavishness of the Southern Christmas observance, at least in, say, Colonial, antebellum days. I’m referring to the aristocracy, but I would think that even the less prosperous could get plenty to eat because of a hospitable climate and the plentiful game that was available. But many of the English customs were observed in the array of foods that were served. Some favored Southern Christmas dishes may not have been customarily eaten at Christmas, such as oysters, for example. Not all the traditional English foods were available in the New World, nor did the people in England eat some of the foods that originated here, due to lack of availability, or the (then) unfamiliarity with some of the foods that were native to this continent.

In the old South, the Christmas observance went on until January 6, which was the original date of Christmas before the change from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. Southrons tended to see the change as a pretext for simply lengthening the Christmas festivities. There are traditional Southron tunes titled ‘Old Christmas’ and ‘Breaking Up Christmas’, which commemorate the former practices of celebrating during the days between the Gregorian calendar Christmas day and ‘old’ Christmas. ‘Breaking up Christmas’ parties, which involved music and good food, were mostly an Appalachian custom.

For another slant on Christmas, English vs. American, this BBC writer seems to find more differences than commonalities. I don’t know how much time he spends, or has spent in this country but I think he underestimates many Americans’ familiarity with British or English customs. More and more people travel widely today than in the past; more people watch British TV and movies, and more British or English expats live here. The world, (sadly, in most ways) has become smaller, and we’re all somewhat less insular, though in a way, the poorer for it. Why make insularity a bad word, anyway? Let’s each keep our customs intact. We would be foolish to discard customs that are centuries old, the things that tie us to our fathers — for what? To feel more cosmopolitan? We shouldn’t sell our birthright for a mess of multicultural pottage.

On Father Christmas

Bruce Charlton has posted an interesting piece on his blog, in which he explains why he believes that Father Christmas is ‘real’, not just a fictional character. The piece is not a variation on the familiar “yes, Virginia, there is a Santa”, but a different take on the meaning of the character called Father Christmas or Santa.

It’s a fact that some Christians believe Santa to be a bad influence on children, encouraging materialism, selfishness, and greed, rather than the ‘Spirit of giving’ we hear about each year at this time. But is Father Christmas/Santa ”real” in any sense of the word? Read the post; it’s certainly food for thought. It’s possible to look at ‘Santa’ in a different light.

Don't write them off just yet

By now everybody knows about the results of the recent elections in the UK. The fact that Labour has suffered a defeat is good news for most of us who care about England. And I hope that there can be no more obstructions put in the path of Britain’s exiting the EU. After so many previous efforts to thwart Brexit, I can’t help wondering if someone will make an effort to delay it further; I wonder if the EU can legally pull something out of the hat at this point?

James Thompson at Unz.com gives a good analysis of the election results. Among other things, he brings out the fact, of which many in America are unaware, that the United Kingdom is made up of several separate ‘nations’: the three on the island of Great Britain, England, Scotland, and Wales, and then Ulster, in northern Ireland. England tends to be the most conservative part, with Scotland siding with the Brexit globalists, and making noises about independence, while voting against it in the last referendum on the subject. Wales, as Thompson notes, is leaning towards the English stance. I often hear people in America complaining of the “leftist” English, but they seem not to know that it is the other components of the UK that skew the politics of the country in a leftward direction. I can’t say I agree with the writer of the piece, or with the finer points of Chesterton’s supposed viewpoint on politics, because I am not a Catholic, but somehow Chesterton’s poem seems to fit the current situation in England.

“They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.”

On what England means

Tony Linsell is an English writer; some of you may have read one or more of his books. He’s written books and essays on Anglo-Saxon mythology, but for me, his most interesting works are to do with England as a nation, that is, a people.

Those books by Linsell which focus on England and the indigenous, ethnic English have caused controversy. He was one of the founders of the Steadfast Trust, which the UK’s Charities Commission investigated, regarding questions of his dealings with the ‘Far Right’ or ‘Ultra-right.’ Linsell has since resigned from his position at Steadfast Trust, with the usual accusations of ‘racism’. If you read the linked article about the Steadfast Trust, you notice that the article puts the proper noun English in scare quotes, as if to imply that no such word as English exists and no such people as the English exist. And this is just what is being promoted by the people who now hold power in the UK; they are teaching that England has always been multicultural and multiracial. Therefore, according to their thinking, no charitable or cultural group for English, or Anglo-Saxon descendants should exist, any more than, say, a group supporting Hobbits, or Atlanteans.

Still, I recommend reading Linsell’s books. They are not ‘racist’ (a word which does deserve to be printed with scare quotes, or ironic quotation marks) unless one has the delusion that any ethnic integrity or pride is ‘racist’ and ‘vile’. If that were true then all our ancestors were guilty of it, because for untold centuries it was normal, and a good thing, to be mindful of our forebears, and normal for our loyalties to be centered on our closest kin, from our families, to extended families, then neighborhoods and ultimately our folk as a whole. But then we’ve let the people in power declare those feelings to be wrong, and even to be criminal in some benighted places.

Despite ethnic loyalty and consciousness of who we are being criminalized, it hasn’t been altogether expunged from our world, but the concept needs to be re-emphasized and even taught for the first time to some of the young who don’t remember the days of healthy nativism.

Here are a few excerpts from Tony Linsell’s writings:

By “the English” I mean the ethnic / indigenous English. They are members of a community that has a recorded history that goes back nearly 2000 years. That community – that nation – migrated from Jutland to Britain about 1500 years ago. People who have since then merged into the English population, and are indistinguishable from the English, and claim no identity other than English, and are accepted by the English as being one of their own, are English – and England is their homeland.

Tony Linsell, What England Means to Me

He writes of the different dimensions to England and the English people: the physical England, which in part shapes the people, and then the ‘communal imagination’ which he describes as a place “where no outsider can go.” I think that is understandable to most people, but we sort of take it for granted. Linsell puts it into words. Our customs, way of life, traditions, the perceptions we have which are unique to a people.

The current situation in England and elsewhere in the Western world fosters the general perception that ethnicity and ancestry mean nothing. Everyone is the same except for the paint job, as some put it. Those who are not native to the society they currently live in are adamant that living in a country, even for the briefest of time, means that anyone is somehow entitled to all the privileges as the indigenous people of the host country. Even more egregious is the way that many Americans will say ”We don’t have an ethnicity; we’re just Americans and everyone who comes here and stays is an American.” Or, “Americans are all mixed, and of no real ethnic group.” Or, ‘who cares’?

Tony Linsell’s thoughts about ancestry and nationality:

Hostile outsiders (and misguided or foolish insiders) often scoff and say, “I suppose you think you are Anglo-Saxon” or “Do you have a family tree that shows your ancestors where here a thousand years ago” or worst of all – and from the certifiable – “But we’re all Celts” . The answer is that I don’t have to prove my ancestry by means of formal records and bits of paper. It is enough that I am a member of the English community – its history is my history. As a member of the English community I am linked to the communal history and imagination of those who have for over a thousand years called themselves English and regarded England as their homeland

What England Means to Me

By all means, read the essay at the link.

A Southerner in Europe, ca. 1908

Clarence Hamilton Poe, a Southern writer and editor of The Progressive Farmer magazine, also wrote a book entitled A Southerner in Europe (1908) in which Poe gave his impressions of the people and the conditions in the European countries he visisted. Being of English descent, he compared conditions in England and Scotland with those in the American South and America generally.

He wrote of the prevalence of “familiar” surnames in England and Scotland. As he said, he didn’t feel like a ‘foreigner’ in those countries; he felt as though Europe was an American’s second home, his ancestral home; Britain did not feel alien to him.

His thoughts on the familiar surnames:

“There is one thing about these Scotch and English towns that cannot fail to impress itself upon any thoughtful visitor, and that is the similarity of the surnames to those common throughout our Southern country. It is the most striking illustration I have yet found of the oft-repeated statement that the South is now the most thoroughly Anglo-Saxon part of America. Walk down any business street in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Chester, or any other English or Scotch town that I have seen, and on the signs you will see in most cases names so common in your own town or county that you can hardly believe yourself in a foreign country, while the surnames you would find displayed in Boston or New York are strangely foreign and unfamiliar to a Southern traveler. I venture the prediction that any Southerner can walk down the main streets of Glasgow or Liverpool and find five times as many familiar names as he would find in a similar area on Broadway, New York.

And it’s a good stock of folk with which to claim kin — these English and Scotch. It’s very foolish and very harmful for jingoes to try to stir up bad feeling between England and America. We belong to the same great family, our ideals are mainly the same, and the two nations should work together in furthering those ideas throughout the wide world.”

A Southerner in Europe, Raleigh, N.C., Mutual Publishing, 1908
pp 28-29

Do Anglo-Americans reject their identity?

At least one online commenter asserts this is true. Below is the comment from a blog, (with the commenter’s name blocked out):

This kind of thing turns up on blogs here and there; it must be a somewhat widespread idea. Another allegation is that (Anglo or WASP) Americans “have no culture’.

I don’t know who this commenter has spoken to, or if he has even been to our country; I also wonder what kind of sample of ‘Old Stock’ English-Americans he’s met or talked to.

We’ve been sort of written out of the script in our own country, as it were. Many people whose families were here before the American Revolution identify as just ‘American.’ Many English-Americans from the South identify with their state; Texas used to be like that. Texas, after all, was an independent country in its early history, and it did seem as though it were a world of its own. The South in general is, or used to be, distinctive. That part of the country, especially the Southeastern states, was settled by English Cavaliers, as contrasted to the very middle class colonists of New England. So not all English- or British-Americans have the same origins, which in part explains their varying cultures.

The Ulster folk who settled parts of the Southeast, the Appalachian mountains, are also a culture to themselves.

Do English-Americans have no culture then, or are their original culture and folkways gone and forgotten? My answer would be ‘no’, because I don’t believe that the old ways are dead, but they may be on life support in some places.

Another issue is that America is a country that emphasizes individuality at the expense of group identity, and this may be a natural tendency of Anglo-Saxons. Scots-Americans, including the Ulster folk who settled here, have their cultural events and I think they are more likely to express their identity than Anglos.

But for WASPs or English-Americans, the fact that we’ve been declared people without a culture or identity is not conducive to maintaining our identity. Speaking for myself, though, I have no problem telling people about my ancestry. I certainly would not consider it an “insult”as the comment writer I quoted at the beginning. I don’t know anyone who would.

It’s true that some Americans have an obvious hostility towards the people of Britain — let me correct that: I should have said ‘the people of England; that’s more specific and accurate. Online commenters, bolstered by anonymity, feel free to spill their feelings, sometimes in very unpleasant ways. The English royals are especially targeted for harsh criticism, but then there are many American women who dote on royalty and all the glamorous trappings.

Some Americans of English descent, because of all the negativity towards the English, may downplay their ancestry. And many Americans don’t really know their ancestry except in the vaguest terms. Because of propaganda many White Americans, including some Anglo-Americans, would rather be something more exotic than “boring” “whitebread” WASPs, as the stereotypes portray them.

Many people seem surprised to be told that so much of American culture, things we take for granted, are English (or British) in origin. Maybe people think that these aspects of our culture original to America, and were ‘invented’ out of whole cloth right here in America. It’s as if people think that when we separated from England, we had to invent a new culture from scratch, just to distinguish ourselves as a nation, to be different from our Mother Country. (Actually, there was a touch of this attitude in Noah Webster’s changing the spelling of many English words; Noah Webster thought Americans