Column: When idiots in Congress decide to corner the Anglo-Saxon market
Marjorie Taylor Greene was readying her assault, like that legendary Anglo-Saxon warrior Canute the Great at Assandun. The QAnon-friendly first-term Georgia congresswoman, who was banned from any committee assignments shortly after she was sworn in, was poised to launch her “America First Caucus” with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist so odious that his siblings cut an ad in 2018 endorsing his opponent.
They were going to be legends. But they turned out to be “cucks,” an insult that crowd loves to use.
Punchbowl News got ahold of the “America First Caucus Policy Platform,” a seven-page document detailing what these modern-day knights of the roundtable would fight for. Contrary to a lot of the hysteria, it doesn’t read like “Mein Kampf” or “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” It reads more like what Greene said it was — a “staff-level draft proposal” based on some Trumpian boilerplate.
Most press accounts focused on two passages as proof the American First Caucus was soaked in white supremacy. First, America should have an immigration policy consistent with “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” Second, our infrastructure should reflect “the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture.”
That was enough for most Republicans, as well as the press and the Democrats, to rain fire on the whole project. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insisted the GOP is not the party of “nativist dog whistles.” This point might strike some observers of the last four years as a bit of a surprise.
“Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil,” tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney, the valiant leader of what might be called pre-Trump conservatism in the House. “History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate.”
The remarkable thing about this whole project isn’t just the racism or nativism, but its stupidity.
The most enduring Anglo-Saxon political institution was monarchy. Though that was hardly unique to them. The institution that was unusual was the Witan, a meeting of “wise men” or nobles whom the king would call upon for advice on important political questions. Many historians see the roots of parliamentary democracy in the Witan.
“It does indeed look as if the history of constitutional liberty has important beginnings in Anglo-Saxon England,” James Campbell, an Oxford professor of medieval history, has written.
Of course, Greene, who famously thought that Rothschilds and space lasers might have caused California’s wildfires, almost certainly does not know this — and probably none of her supporters do either.
And, normally, they wouldn’t need to know it. Outside of a few Whiggish historians, nobody really cares because our institutions aren’t “Anglo-Saxon,” they’re Anglo-American. And, besides, our Anglo-American inheritance owes far more to France (James Madison cribbed a lot of our Constitution’s structure from Montesquieu), the great commercial Republic of Holland, and the ancient Greeks and Romans than to King Canute or Alfred the Great.
My point isn’t that these professional trolls deserve the benefit of the doubt or that their critics are wrong to assume “Anglo-Saxon” is a racist dog whistle. Any project Gosar (who is of Slovenian and Basque descent) is part of deserves no benefit of the doubt. My point is that these people are idiots.
Perhaps the staff-level poltroons who wrote this platform meant to say “Anglo-American.” Or maybe they spent too much time in Internet chat rooms where “Anglo-Saxon” is flung about like so much poo at the monkey house.
And they’re not just idiots. They’re also cowards. The whole schtick of this recrudescent nativist crowd is its alleged willingness to fight. Fight whom? Everyone: the establishment, the media, the deep state, the socialists, and George Soros.
In the fevered minds of Greene & Co., people they think accommodate the architects of demographic “replacement theory” are akin to spineless “cucks.”
Of course, it was Greene who backed down, whining that “the scum and liars in the media are calling me a racist by taking something out of context.” She has since announced that she wouldn’t be launching her America First Caucus after all.
Ignorance is often the author of cowardice. If Greene and her fellow travelers seriously believed in anything, they’d know how to defend their claims. But when confronted with criticism from McCarthy, Cheney and the media, they surrender like meek peasants before a feudal lord, unable to defend anything that can’t be reduced to a hashtag or an applause line delivered to a crowd of people who don’t know anything, either.
A cure for the common opinion
Get thought-provoking perspectives with our weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.