omething is wrong with Middle Easterners, Muslims, people with Muslim names, dark-skinned immigrants and their children, and other non-whites, according to the narrative established by the right, particularly after September 11, 2001.
When President George W. Bush addressed the nation in the days following the attacks, and said “They hate our freedoms,” he was talking about the terrorists responsible for 9-11. But somehow that phrase became part of a rallying cry and general inquisition against innocent brown-skin citizens wrongly suspected of terror.
Now a policy advisor to Mitt Romney has another diagnosis of what’s wrong in America: President Barack Obama, b.k.a. the Foreigner-in-Chief, fails to appreciate
the white man’s America’s mythical Anglo-Saxon heritage.
The anonymous advisor reportedly told the Daily Telegraph:
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
Way to rally the Ku Klux Klan base.
Romney’s camp told the Washington Post this conversation never occurred. “It’s not true,” Romney spokeswoman, Amanda Hennenberg, said in a statement. “If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign.”
But the Daily Telegraph insists that it’s true, the Post reported. And one of Romney’s European advisors, who says he isn’t the culprit, is particularly fond of the phrase Anglo-Saxon.
Look: I know some people are still harboring suspicions and nursing dreams that Obama’s birth certificate is fake. But let’s assume for a moment that some random black man hasn’t used a fake birth certificate to pull off the greatest conspiracy to usurp power in American history. Let’s assume that Obama is qualified by his birth in Hawaii to be president and won his election by campaigning better than his opponent and by being — gasp — favored by voters. Then we start to see how ridiculous it is to accuse him of not ‘fully appreciating’ America’s “Anglo-Saxon heritage.” Obama’s just as Anglo-Saxon as the rest of America, which fortunately, isn’t very much.
Like most of us, he inherited English — the biggest legacy of Anglo-Saxon culture — as his first language and I would venture to guess that he’s studied more than a little English literature and history. Maybe he didn’t do it every school year that he lived abroad, but how many years do you need to do it get the picture? Or does Obama need to be born in England itself to be president?
The ludicrousness of challenging Obama’s bonafides as an Anglophile — or is it Anglo-Saxon-phile – is underscored by America’s bloody severance of its ties to its European overlords in 1776. Wasn’t Mitt Romney just celebrating his independence July 4th?
Who Were the Anglo-Saxons Anyway?
The myth that America is an Anglo-Saxon country is dangerous and un-democratic. Whites only came to think of America that way in the decades before the Civil War and continued to perpetuate the myth because it justified white supremacy and slavery.
Angles and Saxons were two of three barbarous Germanic tribes who began invading Britain in the 5th century A.D., when it was under Roman rule. They colonized it and the Saxons set up England. For obvious reasons — like the non-English ancestry of many white colonists and settlers and the bloody overthrow of English rule during the American Revolution – white Americans didn’t think of themselves as Anglo-Saxons for their first 200 years here. That idea started to catch on in the middle of the 19th century after three white American historians — William H. Prescott, Francis Parkman, and John Lathrop Motley — wrote books suggesting it. According to the late Stanford University historian George Frederickson, the books credited the Anglo-Saxon ancestry of the English for helping the English to push the French, Spanish and Dutch out of north America:
Almost immediately, America’s mythical Anglo-Saxon heritage took hold as an alternate justification for slavery and basis for white superiority, Frederickson wrote. Even critics of slavery, including prominent abolitionists of the day such as Unitarian minister Theodore Parker, believed it.
First of all, this mythical Anglo-Saxon sounds like a rapist. Second of all, ew. Is this the heritage that Mitt Romney’s policy advisor appreciates?
I don’t know how Obama constructs his identity relative to England and I’m pretty sure that loyalty to the crown shouldn’t be a presidential litmus test. But for my part, I’ll just say it. “Appreciate” is not the word I’d use to describe the mythical Anglo-Saxon identity. “Regret” is more like it.