Our "Anglo-Saxon heritage"? Really?

A Romney adviser's gaffe in Britain isn't just offensive to minorities -- it leaves out most white Americans too


Joan Walsh
July 25, 2012 4:00PM (UTC)

Oh, Mitt Romney. You're a terrible person to lead this rapidly racially mixing country. Yet the white folks seem to like you. But what if they're not "Anglo-Saxon"?

On the eve of Romney's visit to Old Europe, an adviser helpfully told the Telegraph that the presumptive GOP nominee (I always say "presumptive," he's so gaffe-tastic, anything could happen between here and Tampa) would make a better president than Barack Obama because:

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We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special. The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.

The adviser also shared that Romney is "better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Obama.

Yeah, he's probably swiping at Obama's alleged "Kenyan anti-colonial mind-set" there, à la Newt Gingrich, referring to the president's Kenyan father, whom he never knew. Basically the Romney folks are reminding us again that the president is, well, yes, black. It's idiotically racist.

What about other Americans who obviously aren't Anglo-Saxon? Latinos, Asians, Native Americans? Well, like African-Americans, they're not a huge Romney demographic. So no problem there.

But I hope that Romney quote gets a lot of play among Irish Catholics. We are not Anglo-Saxon, as we were reminded when John F. Kennedy ran for president. Unfortunately, though, a lot of us forgot our roots and joined Romney's Republican Party.

But the Irish aren't alone: The American identity of most "white" immigrant groups -- especially Jews, Italians, Eastern and Southern Europeans – was forged in opposition to the supposed Anglo-Saxon ideal. There are British people who don't consider themselves Anglo-Saxon, either. That Romney adviser team is super-talented. When they're not handing the media "Etch-A-Sketch" imagery, or promoting "self-made businessmen" who got a major (and easily traceable) hand from government, they're slurring most of the American electorate.

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By the way, I've always wondered why Gingrich's attack on Obama's supposed "anti-colonial mind-set" was supposed to be a slur. OK, let's forget it was a lie, based on Obama's nonexistent relationship to his Kenyan father: Aren't we all anti-colonialist? What about the Founders, whom right-wing Tea Party crackpots supposedly revere? Weren't they the ultimate anti-colonialists?

And then we have my people: Lots of Irish Catholics are Republican now. As Romney honors our "Anglo-Saxon heritage," I hope they remember their heritage, too. I hate tribalism, and I'm not trying to stir up dated Irish-British animosity. The Romney team is.

Romney isn't fit to be president of the world's most diverse country. Why is this race close?


Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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2012 Elections Mitt Romney

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