Saturday, April 29, 2017

- A Word On Tribes

Another Saturday, another episode of Radio Derb. Actually, I haven’t listened yet. My daughter is at my place this weekend, so I’ll listen while I make her breakfast. Like most 17 year olds, she ignores every word I say, mainly because I said it. But if I listen to Radio Derb on speaker while she’s in the room, she’s bound to absorb a little clarity of thinking. She’s met John, and knows who he is. So I find she pays more attention to Radio Derb, than she does if I’m listening to someone she doesn’t know. I figure it can’t hurt.

Feel free to copy this strategy with your own wives or children.

Anyway, I haven’t listened yet, but I did read the sub headings on the Vdare webpage. For all I know James Fulford writes those. But there was one that got me thinking a little. (My brain is always very ‘on’ in the mornings.) It reads “QE2 has had only 158 birthdays.” I’m not sure what that means exactly. I simply ignore the 158. Whenever the Derb mentions numbers I expect he’s going to a place I haven’t thought of yet, through some interesting and curious route. But I was thinking that it must be the boat not “Betty” herself, because I imagine the Derb would have written that as HRH E2. A lot of assumptions I know. I’ll be interested to see how it turns out.

The Brits have a lot of cultural tradition and decorum when it comes to the royal family which aren’t explicitly formalized into law, and I’m not completely sure what they are. Is the term HRH only for ‘subjects’ of the crown? The Derb was an Englishman, though he’s been an American for years so he isn’t any longer. So is their one rule for subjects, another for ‘foreigners’ and a third for ‘former subjects’? It’s not impossible. Does the rule fall under the ‘if you want to be polite’ umbrella, or is their some more formalized structure to it? It all feels very much like an ancient tribal rite, smoothed over by time and repetition, and brought into 21st century cultural legalism to me.

Which of course gets me thinking about my own tribe. My kin and clan are pretty easy for me. When you have as many first cousins as I do it’s easy to visualize. But my Tribe is a greyish area. Just like it is for most people who have lived in America for multiple generations.

I’m an American of course. And I’m also Irish. My family came to the states around the start of the 20th century, give or take a generation. Memories are short here so that’s far more than enough to culturally claim an American heritage, especially with my family’s propensity for military service.

But before that, my family went to Ireland in 1170. When we got there, we immediately began intermarrying with the locals. And I’ve read that the term ‘more Irish than the Irish’ - a description used to characterize the Norman Lords of Ireland of which I’m descended - was first said about some ancient relative of mine. I don’t really know for sure that it’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

But what about prior to that? 1170 was just 3 generations after William the Conqueror, England’s first Norman King. And thanks to a little bit of scuffling between his mother Matilda and her cousin Stephen, Henry II who was King of England at the time of my family’s ascendency to a Barony, started his life as the Count of Anjou. He probably spoke not a word of English, and at the time French was the spoken language of the English court.

And while that might have made Henry French, it doesn't do so for me, because Normandy was the territory of a different tribe. Rollo the Viking was the first ruler of Normandy who was granted a charter in 980 (probably with a knife to the Frankish king’s throat), and settled there with his own tribe. Though my own family history disappears from the written record prior to 1170, Henry’s does not. I’ve never done the research myself but I’ve read that William, Henry’s great grandfather could trace his own ancestry back to Rollo.

The genetic record for me bears all this out. I have Celtic Irish, and Norman DNA, with a little mixing from the other northern European tribes. Elizabeth II the current queen, claims Norman ancestry with her own more recent bit of German mixing. The French royals descended from a different Frankish lineage, again, with some mixing. And it seems ironic to me that given the peasantry moved very little, the royals probably all have less pure tribal blood than the people they ruled over.

So though I’m an admirer of the current Queen, and may be a very distant relative to her in some long forgotten and unwritten past, I probably have to go back to 7th or 8th century Norway to find it. Your average displaced Rhodesian Farmer, inevitably descended from some Dutch Fisherman, is probably as closely related to the current queen as I am. So do these genetic connections actually mean anything at all?

With all that said though, you can see the tribal affiliation in Americans. And for what it’s worth, I have a look. That tall, lean, intense look is a common thing that I, and all the men in my family possess. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Derb, Peter Brimelow, and Jared Taylor all have it too, at some small measure of lifestyle remove. Personally I think it’s a Norman thing. And that look plus my mother’s general attractiveness allowed me to masquerade as someone with ‘good breeding’ the entire time I was on Wall Street. I know it was taken notice of by people who felt it was important.

And that’s my point. I think in 21st century America, my tribal affiliations matter if I say they do. If I feel it, it matters. This is sort of a contradiction to the way I normally think, where facts say more than how you feel about them. But Tribe is different. Genetics will tell us who are ancestors were, but only we can say who ‘we’ are. In my case, like many Americans, I have a choice. I feel the American very firmly, and I reflect it in my manner and behavior. But I also feel the Irish, and the Anglo-Norman.

The genetics only represent limits I think. You can’t make a Pekinese into a guard dog. But you can do so with a Doberman, or a Rottweiler, or even a Giant Schnauzer. And all my perceived tribes have their strengths. Americans are brash and creative, the Irish are tough and loyal, and the Normans are determined and smart. I like to think I can be all of that. I certainly wasn’t built to be a victim. That culture will never sit right with me.

And though the Exeter guys probably think it takes more than that, to me it all feels like pretty good breeding.

2 comments:

TimH said...

She's not ignoring you, but she does need to give that appearance. In a few years she might even admit what you said had value.

ikaika said...

I'm a mezzogiorno which is a northern italian slang term for anyone that traces their lineage south of Rome. Most Northern Italians are descended from the Lombards. While us folks from the coastal south were greek, North African (Carthage) Burber, Arabic, and possibly phoenician. We have a lot of French blood coursing through Sicily as well. It would be difficult to trace my lineage back to the Sicels or the Itals, but I'm sure an argument can be made.
While I don't fault a British expat from addressing their nobility with requisite tradition.. such as calling a Knight by the title of "Sir"... I absolutely can't stand when Americans address Richard Branson as "Sir Richard" - make me vomit.