The “Anglo-Saxon heritage”

Romney wants to base his foreign policy on it. I guess us racial inferiors will have to re-learn our place.

Mitt Romney wants to make it the basis of foreign policy. I guess the rest of us racial inferiors – Krauts and Kikes and Spics and Dagoes and Chinks and such-like, not to mention that n—-r in the White House – had better re-learn our place.

Note the deliberate racialization of the claim: “Anglo-Saxon” rather than, for example, Churchill’s “English-speaking.” Magna Carta means more to me than Talmud, but I don’t feel much kinship with the barbarian tribes that destroyed Roman Britain.

Footnote Even the Telegraph (aka the “Torygraph”) suggests this “may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity.” Ya think?

Update  Kevin Drum objects that the Telegraph isn’t the most obvious vehicle for conveying a racist dog-whistle to white bigots. Point taken. But perhaps the remark was entirely sincere: Romney’s unnamed adviser (John Bolton?) might in fact be himself a race-proud Anglo-Saxon.  Like master, like man.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

35 thoughts on “The “Anglo-Saxon heritage””

  1. In some ways you’re being unfair, in other ways you’re not going far enough.

    You’re being unfair in your claims that this is to be the basis of Romney’s foreign policy; in fact, the article says that (according to an unnamed adviser in Washington) Ango-Saxon solidarity is to be the basis of Romney’s ties to the UK. This is not fantastic, and as you say a literate “adviser” would have referred instead to Churchill’s “English-Speaking Peoples”, but at least it’s not a global vision to crush the Wogs.

    On the other hand, you’re not going far enough. I should clarify: I am basing this on the assumption that the anonymous “adviser” is an American close to the Romney campaign, neither of which is definitively stated in this poorly sourced article, although a later section refers to members of Romney’s foreign policy team. That said, the “adviser” sneers at Obama’s lack of Anglo-Saxon ties to Britain in a way that can only be a racist invocation of Obama’s half-Kenyan, half-Irish heritage (and the latter may even be the worse in the Torygraph). As quoted, it’s even more openly racist than your post suggests.

    The rest of the article reports on a series of nonsensical, dishonest, and contrived smears and that are intended to disparage Obama but serve mostly to demonstrate to the informed reader that Mr. Romney’s “foreign policy team” is composed offull-on fire-breathing chickenhawk morons of the first water, of the John Bolton variety.

    1. Given that the election is so focused on the economy, I don’t think many voters realize that Romney’s foreign policy team is recycled Neo-Cons from the Bush years, guys who are always looking for the next war they can send other people’s children to fight. Their next target, of course, is Iran.

      And I must say, as a proud descendent of Wops, they can stick their special Anglo-Saxon bs.

      1. To be fair to Pithlord, from comments elsewhere it appears that on his mother’s side he has not only Irish but also English ancestors. But, yes, he definitely has Irish ancestors on his mother’s side.

      2. My bad, although I would think someone with one great-great-grandfather from Ireland would be basically WASP/Luo. America works on a one-drop rule though for non-WASP ancestry.

  2. Wow. Where to start? ‘Appeasement’ appositional to “Left Wing? Isn’t that kind of, um, Cheney-esque, a little 2006? How about our “special relationship [that’s….wait for it…] special.” Not to mention special. I might be a little biased here, but is Team Romney sounding less like they’re pitching to your cognitively limited, crazy uncle, than sounding like they are your cognitively limited, crazy uncle? I mean this sincerely – their messaging, at least in this report, seems almost too base to survive minimal reflection:

    “’Obama is a Left-winger,’ said another. ‘He doesn’t value the Nato alliance as much, he’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him. He wouldn’t like singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.’”

    Really? That’s it? That’s all they got? And then this:
    “One [Romney adviser] conceded that on the European crisis: ‘I’m not sure what our policy response is.’”

    Ok. So on foreign policy we have weak, appeasing “Left-wingers;” Anglo-Saxon unity/supremacy; Bolton/Cheney redux with an added dash of nuclear showdown (read: highly insecure puerile belligerence in place of realistic assessment); and flat out ignorance of any beyond-our-borders issues of actual consequence. The frightening thing is, given how Team Romney has veered ever more crazy-land since he clinched the nomination, and given the potential for Citizen’s United and voter suppression to de-democratize elections, and given Romney’s genetic and explicit commitment to corporate authoritarianism; given these rather disturbing realities one would hope the increasing silliness and dissociative nature of the Romney campaign are making a suitable impression on Team America.

    1. Yes, it really is an indicator of our country’s decline that this third-rater actually has a chance.

    2. With respect to appeasement being left wing, I do wonder how many Republicans realize that Neville Chamberlain was a Tory? (Who, if it hadn’t been for Munich, would likely be remembered as one of the UK’s great social reformers.)

      Also, my impression is that the rest of NATO are rather happier with Obama than with Bush; they tend to view NATO as a system for mutual defense and securing peace, not as a tool for the continuation of American politics by other means. Our tradition of presidents conducting at least one war (ideally, a short, victorious one) per election cycle to prove their toughness to the electorate seems rather alien to most of them.

  3. Hi! As a Brit with an interest in history, can I just point out that we do have one thing in common with Romney? We avoided fighting the Vietcong, too.

    1. Ironic, isn’t it? We followed the French lead and ignored the British?

      We had a Republican President, who happened to have been a five star general, who warned us against it. Then we had a Democratic President, who happened also to be a war hero, who got us embroiled over there. It was confusing, and mostly nonpartisan.

      Now, we just got finished with a team of two Republican draft dodgers who couldn’t wait to go to war with anybody who looked sideways at us, never mind the recent example of how the Russian adventure in Afghanistan turned out. And we’ve got another one of those chicken hawks who can’t wait to get it started again. It seems to have become a Republican meme that “strong” = “belligerent.”

      I have some sympathy for some folks who fail to learn the lessons of history, when those lessons are found solely in history books. But geez, I’m only 69, and those lessons are still vivid in my memory.

      1. I’m frankly baffled by this whole Republican draft-dodging thing. When I was young (I’m 50) the political class, right and left, consisted largely of WW2 veterans, some of whom were heroes by any definition. Now, because we haven’t had a draft since the Fifties, there are only a handful of ex-servicemen in parliament, and again they’re pretty evenly distributed across the spectrum. What the hell happened in the US to put so many hypocrites and cowards in the ‘war’ party and most of the actual veterans in the ‘peace’ camp?

  4. A few Irish-Americans might squirm uneasily with the “Anglo-Saxon” heritage bit.

    But I suppose the days of the Irish-American urban voter are long gone, and anyway it was a Democrat “thing”. Bill Clinton got more heavily engaged in the Irish peace process than any President before or since (but those were the crucial years).

    Mitt Romney is also meeting the Irish, Israeli and Polish Prime-Ministers …. an interesting “balance” to the “Anglo-Saxon” emphasis?

    1. Look at it another way. He can’t go near France, because that’s where he sat out Vietnam. Germany is out because its the political and economic core of the European Union, and it also happens to be a very successful country with excellent socialised medicine, i.e. a superior form of Romneycare. Italy is a bit of a joke, and indeed most of the Mediterranean nations are imploding because of the kind of austerity policies Romney advocates for the US. Also, Obama remains very popular in Europe, generally speaking. But Poland, Ireland and Israel are so pro-American that that sentiment tends to work in favour of any visiting US politician, however dull and dodgy he may be.

      1. Poland and Israel’s current political leaders are full-on NeoCons, way to the right of their populations (not to mention of the real world).

        Also, Poland is (as telegraphed in, well, the Telegraph article) an opportunity for Rmoney to issue smears and lies about the Missile Defense program Bush wanted installed there. The Missile Defense program is inherently a lie (in that it doesn’t work), but this is another story.

  5. Surely this is simply a case of Romney of saying what his audience want to hear, which he always does and famously always gets away with? This is the Daily Telegraph, bastion of angry right-wing English seniors, so he harrumphs about Churchill and Anglo-Saxon unity. If it was a Mexican paper he’d no doubt talk about his father’s Mexican beginnings and his deep comity with Hispanic Americans. I don’t see why the waffling lies he tells one should be considered to be his true views whereas the latter would doubtless be recognised for the crud that it is.

    1. But Obama is every bit as Anglo-Saxon as Romney. “Payne” and “Dunham” (maternal forebears) are evidently English, in the case of the former, English associated with some seriously early noteworthies: Thomas Paine, Dolly Payne Madison, and so on.

      Shoot, even his “Kenyan” roots are heavily informed by English tradition — that is, if Anglo-Saxon includes speaking English and living in a British colony with legal and educational norms (still) significantly informed by English sources, including the common law. Aren’t there birthers who claim Obama is disqualified for the presidency precisely because his father was British?

      No doubt there are some conservative Tories who loved the Empire without loving its people, but the rest of us might be forgiven for asking whether England hadn’t, in fact, invited its colonial “subjects” to the table and tried really hard to make them Anglo-Saxons.

      I mean, we are not talking ancient history here, but history that played out within the last 50 to 250 years.

      And if the answer is, well you know, they are just looking at the color of his skin, I say, all the more reason to aske these pointed questions and make them own, in one fell stroke, both their history and their racism.

  6. “I don’t feel much kinship with the barbarian tribes that destroyed Roman Britain.”
    Barbarian in the Greek sense, yes, but not unsophisticated. What is there from four centuries of Roman Britain, an unimportant and remote province, that compares with this?

    [caption id="attachment_32056" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Sutton Hoo helmet, 7C[/caption]

    And they gave us and the world their language.

    1. Give me the bath-houses and the mosaic floors of a Roman villa in the English countryside any day. It is amazing that two thousand years ago, people were able to live civilized lives, reading Horace and Virgil, drinking good wine, taking daily baths, and not bother to fortify their homes. That was not to happen in England again until the Tudors.

      That being said, I do love the old Anglo-Saxons and admire their achievements, cultural and military-political.

      1. Don’t forget the cuckoo clocks, as Harry Lime would say: reading Italian poets, drinking Italian wine (if any good, the locally produced stuff would have been rubbish) out of Gaulish cups. You can certainly make a case for second-rate, derivative, provincial contentment against the brutal violence that went along with the creative vigour of the Anglo-Saxons. Where we have no choice is on paternity. Contemporary Brits and Americans owe nothing to Roman Britain beyond the legends of Arthur, mainly Celtic anyway. The Mediterranean elements in out language and culture came later, through France and Italy. For good or ill, we owe a lot to the Anglo-Saxons. We are violent too.

        1. Oh, I am sure the wine was French or Spanish, and the Roman Britons were just being “Good Europeans”. 🙂 And no doubt there was good British ale too for all to drink in peace. Later there was Christianity and wider educational opportunities.

          The Romans did leave a legacy of “One Britain” that the great Anglo-Saxon nation-builders like Alfred and Athelstan were able to use. There were the Roman roads, intra-island trade, international trade and some learning (the Welsh monasteries). You could contrast how Alfred and Athelstan united England in the face of Viking invasions with the centuries-long attempts of the descendants of Brian Boru (plus their rivals!) to do the same in Ireland. The Normans took England by simply imposing a new ruling aristocracy; they could never accomplish the same feat in a decentralised Ireland.

          It is these later descendants of Alfred that I admire, the ones who set up a rudimentary civil service, managed national defence and probably had by the 11th century the most advanced state in Europe. But they had a certain debt to the Romans, also.

  7. No true Scotsman could fail to be offended by Romney’s invocation of “Anglo-Saxon” unity. Send the Schiltrons!

    1. It’s a quite recognizable ancestor. Two lines from the Anglo-Saxon poem The Battle of Maldon, incidentally with non-trivial content:

      Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre,
      mod sceal þe mare þe ure maegen lytlað.

      Modern English cognates:
      (*) shall the harder, heart the keener
      (*) shall the more, the our might little-s.

      Translation by Tolkien:
      Will shall be the sterner, heart the bolder
      spirit the greater, as our strength lessens.

  8. The term “Anglo-Saxon” is used in a cultural, as opposed to racial, sense all the time. Mostly by French politicans, but sill…

    I somehow doubt that Mark Kleiman actually believes Mitt Romney wants to institute some Cecil Rhodes/Rudyard Kipling-style racialist hierarchy in which Antonin Scalia is a second-class citizen. Since I doubt he actually believes there is anything wrong with outsourcing or that a politicians’ tax records are really relevant to their performance in office too, I guess it is election season again. Tribalist emotions must be expressed. I just wonder at the cognitive dissonance when you decry tribalism and confirmation bias on matters you actually know something about like drug and penal policy.

    1. Do you believe your own propaganda?

      There is a very good reason why we have seen the tax returns of presidential candidates. The presidency is powerful; we have a right to know if there are conflicts of interest when a politician endorses policies. We have a right to know about what their priorities were, and whether they used elaborate tax dodges. This wasn’t controversial in the slightest – until the Republicans nominated someone for whom they could be inconvenient. Now you claim that they’re “irrelevant.” This rather obviously depends on their content.

    2. Do you have any evidence for this usage of the term “Anglo-Saxon”? Because nothing I have read indicates a common “cultural” usage of the term.

      “The term Anglo-Saxon is used by some historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Britain beginning in the early 5th century and the period from their creation of the English nation up to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon era denotes the period of English history between about 550 and 1066.[1][2] The term is also used for the language, now known as Old English, that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in England (and part of southeastern Scotland) between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century.[3]”

      See here:

      1. Here is Sarkozy denouncing the “Anglo Saxon” economic model. Presumably, he wasn’t talking about Hengist and Horsa’s get-hired-as-mercenaries-and-loot-your-employer approach.

  9. Good for Kevin Drum, BTW. Bolton is many bad things, but I’m doubing that a long time member of the neoconservative fraternity is racially hostile to Jews and Catholics.

  10. Why would you “bleep out” nigger and not the other epithets? The history of the word in the US? The whole sentence was obviously mocking the racist tone of Romney’s choice of words until I got to nigger, then I couldn’t tell if you think the other words are O.K. and that one isn’t.

  11. It is really amazing how certain American Jews, who are the world’s wealthiest and most influential people, remain hypersensitive to the most minor potential slight.

  12. Footnote: David Cameron, responding this morning to another Romney gaffe in expressing doubts about the readiness of London for the Olympics, took an extra sideswipe at the earlier one:
    “… the torch relay demonstrated that this is not a London Games, this is not an England Games but this is a United Kingdom Games.”
    In the case of G.W. Bush, the explanation for repeated gaffes was simple: he was a lazy idiot. Romney is neither; his insensitivity flows from supreme arrogance. He no more cares what ordinary Brits (English, Welsh, Scots, immigrants) think of him than did Lord Curzon.

    1. The Chimp wasn’t an idiot: he was lazy and arrogant. (I’ll trust Al Gore on this, and I’ve heard that GW is an excellent conversationalist on subjects he cares about, such as baseball.) Mitt is neither an idiot nor lazy. Arrogant? I’m not sure. His former subordinates have not complained about this. I prefer the word: “limited.” He seems to have a certain lack of empathy, which is rare in a politician. Although bright and hard-working, he also seems to lack curiosity.

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