The (once) Special Relationship

Pat Buchanan has a column this week which asks whether America and Britain are growing apart. I recommend you read it; he asks a legitimate question. Current news reports tell us how the UK Ambassador (now ex-Ambassador) Kim Darroch has been feuding with President Trump, calling him ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘unpredictable’, among other things. This is all to be expected as the left universally loathes Donald Trump, on both sides of the Atlantic.

However there has always, probably since colonial times, been distrust and dislike between Americans and our British kinsmen. It does seem to be worsening in recent years, at least judging by Americans’ comments on blogs and social media. The most popular criticism of the English/British is that ‘they don’t have the right to bear arms; they’re weak.’ Or, these knee-jerk Anglophobes jeer at ‘undemocratic’ Britain, with its class system, however weakened it is. This kind of American takes pride in saying that ‘we [Americans] don’t bow down to kings’. Oftentimes it’s said that ”we fought a war to keep royalty out of our country, to get rid of kings.’

Judging by the words of the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers clearly objected to George III:

“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

Nevertheless, our country never expressly repudiated the idea of a monarchy, though some uninformed Americans repeatedly say that.

Certain Americans (I won’t say all) seem to feel superior to the British people in the sense that our political system is better and more ‘enlightened’ — we are ‘freer’ supposedly. But it seems we are all in the same boat.

In the above-referenced Pat Buchanan piece, he concludes that Britain is our most natural ally, though we are currently at odds. This attitude used to be the most commonly-held one in the U.S, at least until the mid-19th century wave of immigration. That influx brought a great many immigrants who either had no ties to England (or Britain) or who held animosity towards the English because of historical grievances. I wonder if we could trace a direct line between the anti-English feeling of later immigrants to today’s resentments on the part of some Americans?

Reading many internet comments and blog pieces, I often come across denunciations of English/British people (past and present), as well as the British government and the Royals. There are those who hold an everlasting grudge against the Puritans who arrived in the 1630s and their descendants, the ‘New England Yankees’ and the favored whipping-boys, the ‘WASP elites’. Some people are still under the misapprehension that those ‘WASP elites’ still run this country. Nothing can convince them otherwise.

All in all, it’s getting harder for Americans of English descent to feel appropriate pride in our ancestors. Hardly anyone seems to want to claim their English (or British) heredity, having internalized the scathing criticism of the English-descended American.

I won’t attempt to speak for the English, but it’s my impression that their heritage (which is in part the same as ours) is under constant attack, and their ancestors are decried as perpetual villains. Why? Because of their successes and their strengths. This is upside-down, but then so is our world now.

Despite the fact that apparently, most Americans have no significant English (or British) roots — at least, by their account — they still must face the fact that much of our culture — our folkways, our children’s games, our proverbs and sayings, our folklore, and even many of our idioms come from our English heritage. That’s not insignificant.


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