At Vox Day’s blog, there’s a long discussion on the subject of just what the phrase “our posterity” means when used by the Founding Fathers (“ourselves and our posterity“, as you see above on my blog header.)
To me, the phrase’s meaning is self-evident, but apparently not to a lot of people. Maybe it depends, more than anything else, on ancestry. Those who are descendants of colonial stock, or at least descendants of the Revolutionary War generation, know who they are — or should know. Granted, though, many Americans are still vague about their origins — or worse, are ‘certain’ of what may be incorrect beliefs about their own genetics and ancestry, believing themselves to have some kind of ‘exotic’ ancestry that carries some kind of cachet for them or for the average American. But many people don’t know who their ancestors were, or perhaps know about only one or two lineages, or only the most recent ancestry.
Now for whatever reason, I can’t seem to get comments posted on Blogger blogs, and so I can’t take part in the VP discussion, so I’ll just post my thoughts here.
I am surprised at how many people seem to react negatively to Vox Day’s assertion that only the descendants of the actual Founding generation (and ethnicity) are the real posterity. Some people, as usually happens, feel personally offended if told that their ancestors, still being in the ‘old country’ when the Founders wrote their words, could not consider their own progeny to be the ‘posterity’ of the Founders or their generation.
Because people take this personally they respond with peevish statements along the lines of the following: ‘‘there aren’t any of the actual posterity of the Founders now; there are no ‘pure English’ or unmixed people left“, or there is legalistic arguing that immigrants and their posterity are just as much legitimate heirs as by adoption (naturalization being equated with adoption into a family).
If there are any of my old-time readers here these days, those with long memories may remember that when we had these discussions say, ten years ago, I was actually offering a ‘civic nationalist’ interpretation. As I wrote in a blog post some years ago:
‘[M]y ”we” includes all those who consider themselves ‘old Americans’, regardless of where your ancestors originated. All of you who identify with the America that was, and the America that might once again be.’
Was I really so clueless then?
Obviously many of those who are not of old-stock Anglo-Saxon roots are unwilling to ‘forgive’ those of us who are, judging by their grudging and resentful tone when referring to Anglo-Saxon Americans, even continuing the old denial that we even exist any longer. Many of those who admit to multiple European ancestries seem to want to believe that all White Americans are as they are, with a half-dozen or so different ancestries, and hence no particular identification with any one strain. They choose to believe that everyone must be like them.
For a long time it did seem as if the ‘just-American‘ identity, the old civic nationalist line, worked, at least passably, but sometime around the 1970s there was a kind of resurgence of ethnic identities, maybe in response to the increasing in-your-face ethnocentrism of nonwhites, so many Americans of remote Irish ancestry or German ancestry or Italian ancestry suddenly became more assertive about their roots, and sometimes this newly-found ethnocentrism became a more antagonistic dislike of ‘WASPs’, supposedly for some past imagined wrongs done by WASPs collectively against their immigrant ancestors, collectively. I honestly don’t remember there being as much anti-Anglo sentiment as we see now. My own increasing Anglocentrism is in part a response to that, merely an effort to speak up for too-reticent Anglo-Americans who are used to discreetly ignoring slurs from others.
From the same blog post of mine which I quote above:
“It is getting harder to cling to a ‘just American’ identity when our country is now according what was once a great prize, American citizenship, to people from every corner of the globe, people who speak no English and have no connection with old America. The American identity has been devalued, and stripped of its meaning. To be an American might mean anything and everything, but ultimately nothing when there is little commonality among those claiming the title.
What then? Are we all to identify with our varied European ancestry? Those who have several different ancestries with no clearly dominant one will face a dilemma in such a case.
‘I think those whose families have been here for generations should be able to identify with the historic culture and people of the United States, and that means the Anglo-Celtic identity which has dominated. It used to be that this was the default culture with which everyone identified, and few chose to reject that. Now it’s reversed; it’s cool to be ”ethnic” because that is vibrant and colorful and ‘rich’.
Sadly we seem to be beyond that point. Everybody scents blood where old-stock WASP Americans are concerned; ‘WASPs’ are considered weak or effete, or even (as some claim) extinct altogether, blended out of existence, hence we are fair game, to be discussed in the third person — ”they”– as if Anglo-Americans are like the Etruscans or some other long-gone race. We’ve been pronounced dead, or as good as, by some people, people who have their own ethnic agenda.
One more claim from some ‘civic nationalists’ I meant to address is the claim that ‘other ethnic groups were here from the very beginning’, and usually a litany of nationalities is recited, ‘Swedish, Dutch, German, Slavic, French, Spanish’, etc. etc. The deceptiveness in this line of argument is in implying that these other groups were equal in numbers to the English colonists, or that they were here contemporaneously with the English colonies when they may not have been. Yes. There were these other ethnicities who had colonies here, or who came to the English colonies — in very, very small numbers. But they were fewer, and did not leave the same cultural/social/genetic/political imprint as the English. They were here, but their presence was not as significant, like it or not.
It’s funny how this subject of national identity continues to come up again and again, despite having been discussed so frequently by so many; we seem to be farther than ever from settling it, and all the while our country continues to be colonized by people who seem to be here just to feast off the carcase of English-speaking America. And all the while we are squabbling amongst ourselves, while others are busy taking our birthright.