Monday, January 27, 2014

Anglo-Saxon Israelites and history in America

It seems like Anglo-Saxon peoples have a strange propensity for identifying with the biblical Israelites. The combination of the Angles and the Saxons that overtook Britain while Rome teetered and fell did it, and so too did those from the British Isles who colonized America.

Though perhaps these historically separate peoples' identification with the biblical Israelites reveals nothing more than their giving equal measures of authority to the bible. And why not? In both historical moments it was a common text, in much the same way that the Jurassic Park movie or the Harry Potter book series is today. Referring to something that the largest number of people will recognize is half the point of making such references.

At any rate, from the way Kohn writes of it, eighteenth century Europe was excited by the political developments across the Atlantic. To many, the new world offered the perfect place to put their high minded political ideals into practice. After all, First Nations aside (something that European thought of the time did with ease), it was a place without a history where, as Kohn quotes Benjamin Franklin: "...America, where people do not inquire concerning a stranger, What is he? but What can he do?" (275).

No doubt it's that attitude towards a person's making his or her own merit combined with the sentiment that it was better to look ahead than to look back for ideas that contributed much to America's modern view of history.

A view that Eddie Izzard did a great job of summing up over fifteen years ago (Dress to Kill (1998)):

No comments:

Post a Comment