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Of Being British; Without Being an Englander

Reader comment on item: An American in Search of the English National Character

Submitted by M Tovey (United States), Jan 23, 2021 at 18:03

Ethnicity Being a Frame of Mind, But Not Necessarily Immersed in Body:

In an uncanny stretch of philosophical meanderings, the eminent Dr. Pipes brought into this changing era of challenged ethnicism a topic that has held this reader in deep fascination for decades; that in trying to understand purposes of our lives as many of us do, who are we and what made us this way?

In point of his topic, this reader being only a generation away from being British along with other northern European lines in lineage, and yet having multiples of generations of being American, there seemed to be this conundrum of how to describe the circumstances of the contradictory influences that might have been the thesis by which this reader could have postulated; except for the most obvious contradiction innate to being British, the multiplicity of ethnic varieties of invading contenders, that in each of their times, held onto their ethnic identities of not being British.

Being English does not necessarily mean being British, except in native identity as to where one may have been born. One need only read but a brief bibliography of English history, such as that written by Winston Churchill or other eminent scholars to realize that England is a composite nation; ruled over the centuries by ancient islanders, then Norsemen, Romans, inferences of Gaelic speaking Irish, Scottish, Saxons and Normans with interferences by French and the Danes.

This reader can trace his decidedly British bloodline to the Norman conquest at Hastings; it is variously interspersed with Cornish, Welsh and other influences that cannot be fully expressed; except as once they were able to come to terms with a united crown, for a while, they were indefatigable as being royal pains anywhere in the world they roamed; and roam they did. Hence, we understand becoming American under the influences of the modern British empire after breaking away from George. Let us not forget the consternation of the German heritage of the British crown when we learn the Kaiser was cousin to George V.

Dr. Pipes' 'survey' of the various authors and some of their tones of disdain for their attempted descriptions of the British composite identities speaks volumes to how misunderstood the British psyche was/is and in the modern day and age, misconceptions of dealing with the United Kingdom become easier to understand; no one except they that are truly descendent of a British heritage would be able to put up with the multiplexities of conflicting personalities that are inherent to being British; that is not to say other ethnicities do not have own idiosyncrasies. However the British appear to have developed a certain adaptability at it. This comes from being a minority in one's own country, as many have come to realize internationally, not only in Great Britain, but as the stepchild of the rule of Britannia, we have it here in America. Britannia once ruled the waves and even dispersed the King James Gospel; but who understands today what really makes being British worth talking about except in annoying terms.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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