The myth of our “special relationship” with England


Jane Yolen posted the followed about Mitt Romney’s arrival in London, because she was struck by the obvious racism:

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” a Romney adviser said when he and crew landed in London for the Olympics, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.” Romney himself capitalized on that same thought a bit later.

I posted this:

Minnesota is full of Americans who identify with their Scandinavian heritage, their German heritage, their Czech or Italian or Balkan or African or Sioux or Ojibwe heritage… The big question in Minneapolis when I was kid was “what are you?’ Which meant, are you Norwegian, Swedish, Danish…? In my experience, English descent Americans have been here so long that they no longer identify with the original homeland, unless they have some class or race issue. A lot of Anglophilia seems to me to be coded dislike of other Americans. (This is not entirely true. There are all kinds of people who love England for its literature, the way people love France for the food and the general Frenchness. But the American ruling class has identified with the English ruling class since the 19th century, and white racists obsess over the English language — which they can barely speak — and “our” Anglo-Saxon heritage.)

I just had a bone scan. The tech and I were chatting. She asked if my name was Norwegian. I said, “No. It’s Icelandic.” — “Have you been to Iceland?” “Yes.” “I’ve been to Norway,” she said. Typical old-time Minneapolis conversation. No mention of our Anglo-Saxon heritage.

I could go on a long time about this, because I cannot stand the “special relationship” crap. It was invented by American Nativists, who could not stand the rest of the American people, and by the English ruling class in order to bond with a rising power as their empire declined.

In point of fact the US has fought two wars against the English: the Revolution and 1812, and in next war that was about American survival — the Civil War — the English backed the Confederacy. When the issue was freedom, England was our enemy. I feel a lot more kinship to France, because the French backed the American revolution — granted for imperial reasons — and because they fought their own revolution soon after ours, and because of Lafayette. Also, because of French food and general Frenchness.

Because England was the first industrial nation, it has a long and noble history of working class struggle. I admire that — and the wonderful literature and an amazing, rich, mongrel language I am glad to have an my own. But the Anglo-Saxon stuff is crap. It’s nineteenth century Germanic racism and imperialism.