Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mitt's Patchwork Past

I can't add much to the bath of righteous indignation about the "Romney Anglo-Saxon" meme, but I offer a meta-meme.  That is: I really can't remember a Presidential election in my lifetime where so much attention was paid to the details of the pedigree of the contenders.

Yes, I know, a bell just went off in your head saying :"racism," and it's in there somewhere.  But it is more than that. We are fascinated--horrified or otherwise--by Obama's complex transoceanic roots (trying to remind ourselves that he did, after all have an "American" mother, along with the Kenyan (or should I say "Luo"--?) father).  We're equally intrigued by Mitt's Mormon roots--the 1846 trek, the flight to Mexico, the return, the whole works.  Some people have noticed that there is the extra spice of polygamy in each account, though it seems to have been more of a problem for the Romneys.

So, there's good stuff here. But then we can bring in our new friend, the internet.  Took me about three clicks to come up with a battery of sites purporting to tell me just how "Anglo-Saxon" Romney is.  Some seemed to be just anodyne ancestry sites; others pretty clearly saw the Presidential race as a subsidiary of the Breeders' Cup (I won't favor them with links).  Most of the content will not surprise you if you have read this far in this post, but one curiosity catches my attention.  That is: the general view seems to be that Romney is predominantly "English" with a large "Scotch" (Scots?  Scottish?).  But wait, a lot of that "English," seems to  be "northwest"--i.e.,that part of the Isle which, but for the Battle of Halidon Hill, might well be Scotland itself?

In any event, aren't we dealing here not with "Anglo Saxons," but with the losers--Gaels, Celts, Picts, Britons, whatever, all those peoples pushed back to the fringes by the Anglo-Saxon onslaught?  Suffice to say I think that's a distinction often lost by those who want to make much of an "Anglo-Saxon" heritage.

Final statement of interest, and a warning.  Just for the record, last time I checked I concluded that my bloodline is at least as vanilla as Mitt's, with an important qualification.  That is: my mother's parents were Swedes, which means I am licensed to loot, burn and pilllage.

Whatever. In any event, it's always a good time to quote Defoe:
Thus from a mixture of all kinds began,
That het'rogeneous thing, an Englishman:
In eager rapes, and furious lust begot
Betwixt a painted Britain and a Scot.
Whose gend'ring off-spring quickly learn'd to bow,
And yoke their heifers to the Roman plough:
From whence a mongrel half-bred race there came,
With neither name, nor nation, speech nor fame.
In whose hot veins new mixtures quickly ran,
Infus'd betwixt a Saxon and a Dane
While their rank daughters, to their parents just,
Receiv'd all nations with promiscuous lust.
This nauseous brood directly did contain
The well-extracted blood of Englishmen.
--Daniel Defoe, The True-Born Englishman (1701)

No comments: