In the U.S, Praise for Anglo-Saxon Heritage has Always Been about White Supremacy

tags: racism, Republic of Texas, Nativism, Texas history, Anglo-Saxonism

L.D. Burnett is a historian of American thought and culture. Her book-in-progress on Western Civilization and the culture wars in higher education is under contract with University of North Carolina Press. Burnett also edits The Mudsill, a twice-monthly little magazine of commentary, criticism and creative work.

On April 16, the news broke that Trump loyalists in the House were planning to form an “America First” caucus to defend the nation’s purported “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” The news sparked immediate widespread condemnation from activists, scholars and even other Republican politicians — so much so that plans for the caucus have been scrapped.

The term “Anglo-Saxon” does some heavy lifting in the memo laying out the planned caucus’s creed, particularly because it appeared in the section on immigration policy implying that only some people are capable of appreciating, embracing or defending American ideas of self-governance. But anyone can hold ideas. If immigration imperils “Anglo-Saxon” traditions in the view of the memo’s authors, that could only be because they view those traditions not as abstract concepts but as heritable characteristics, not as political principles but as a particular reimagined ethnicity handed down from one’s ancestors.

And this sinister use of Anglo-Saxonism is nothing new. Beginning in the 19th century, mentions of “Anglo-Saxon” heritage, including invocations of Anglo-Saxon political traditions, ceased to have even an imagined grounding in supposed traditions of self-governance in Britain before the Norman conquest. Instead, mentions of Anglo-Saxon tradition and Anglo-Saxon blood commingled in the early 19th century to signify the purported racial and intellectual superiority of White Americans. This superiority not only entitled them to rule, but actually destined them to conquer and occupy the whole continent of North America after forcefully subduing all other races.


Read entire article at Made By History at the Washington Post

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