Tim Stanley: Why is There No Such Thing as an 'English-American'?Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Telegraph (UK), England, Tim Stanley, St. George's Day, Englishness
...I’ve met Italian Americans, Croatian Americas, Latin Americans, Scottish Americans. But, strangely, no one has ever identified themselves to me as an English American. The absence of conscious Englishness in America reflects the absence of conscious Englishness in England. As Phil Johnston writes, we don’t celebrate St George’s Day because we don’t really celebrate our own identity. Perhaps it’s to do with the peculiar politics of Britain, where multiculturalism has rendered English ethnicity almost a taboo subject (the far Right has much to blame for this – whenever I see a St George’s flag flying I presume I’ve wandered into some skinhead compound). It might also be to do with the modesty that comes from knowing that we’ve already won the lottery of life – after all, it’s vulgar to boast. But the fact stands that while Scottishness and Irishness are bold and globally exported ethnic brands, Englishness is without easy definition.
That’s nowhere more true than in the US. I’ll get hate mail for writing this, but the American Revolution was essentially a civil war between Britons with a heavy English influence. George Washington’s folks were from Sulgrave and Benjamin Franklin’s from Ecton. Although there was a great backlash against the Englishness of the Redcoats, Englishness lived on through blood and the Episcopalian inheritance. Consider the brilliant episode of The Simpsons when Marge imagines herself visiting heaven and finds it segregated between Catholic and Protestant. The Catholic half is a mix of Mexican piñata party and Irish punch-up. The Protestant half is a pastiche of middle-class Englishness that the Brits would instantly recognise: polo-shirted fellows playing tennis and drinking martinis. The Simpsons makes it clear that its emotional sympathy is with the liberated Catholics, but it’s interesting to note how cultural elitism has a heavy English accent. Even today, conspiracy theorists are keen to point out that Bush and Clinton are distantly related to Queen Elizabeth II – the lizard diaspora goes a long way....
comments powered by Disqus
- 1619 Project: New York Times Magazine Publishes Special Edition Dedicated to American Slavery and Its Legacies
- National Security Archive Releases New Briefing Book on Chernobyl through the Eyes of the Soviet Politburo, KGB, and U.S. Intelligence
- Before Trump eyed Greenland: Here’s what happened last time the US bought a large chunk of the Arctic
- Illinois Governor Signs Bill Mandating Public Schools Teach LGBTQ History
- Controversial Monument to Women’s Suffrage Redesigned to Include Sojourner Truth
- Historian Elizabeth Hinton Profiled in Harvard Magazine: Color and Incarceration
- 'Clearly, he did not take part in our curriculum': Historians bash Ken Cuccinelli's revised Statue of Liberty Poem
- The Increasing Popularity of Hotel Historians
- If You Call It History, You’ve Got to Do History’: Historians Chafe at a Video That Omitted Their University’s Whites-Only Origins
- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum gets grants to help publish Abraham Lincoln papers