This was an opportunity to dust off some ideas developed here late last year. See link to "Re-discovered: our Britannian heritage".
Here's what I have just sent:
"My views on Englishness have been totally transformed since reading the work of Stephen Oppenheimer, the Oxford geneticist.
Contrary to what we have been told until recently, the English are not for the most part a bastard race of Anglo-Saxon stock who arrived relatively recently, eg 8th century AD.
(ed. I meant to say "mongrel", not "bastard")
Nor can the Celts (Scots, Welsh and Irish) claim to be older, more authentic inhabitants of the British Isles. According to Oppenheimer, most British and Irish share about 70-80% of their genes in common (the remainder being Celt, Anglo-Saxon, Norman etc). That's because we are all derived from Basque settlers who arrived some 15,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age, as the last ice began to recede, but while Britain was still joined to Europe by a land bridge.
As I said a while ago on my own blog, I no longer regard myself as English or British, because these terms are either too vague, or in the latter case have acquired ugly racial overtones that I dislike.
I regard myself as a "Britannian", with a long proud history of continuous social, linguistic and technological evolution. Invaders have come to our shores, but we have learned from all of them, and then either booted out the ones we don't like, or integrated and assimilated the ones we do.
We Britannians are not Johnny Come Latelys. We, like the Basques of the Pyrenees, are one of the oldest surviving races in Europe.
But unlike our Basque cousins, we dumped our difficult language, and created a blend of Germanic and Latin that is recognized the world over as being without parallel for expressing oneself in virtually every context one can imagine - social, technical, literary, you name it. That's why English is the world's lingua franca (noting use of a term that keeps the Latins happy).
Forget St.George's Day. Who was St.George anyway ? Who cares ?
Let's instead celebrate the arrival of the first Basque immigrant to our shores. Then we should give the present day Basques the benefit of our experience in how to work constructively with locals of a different ethnic stripe instead of making a fetish of separateness, because that is the true Britannian genius - avoiding absurd excesses of national chauvinism - while still calling most of the shots !
Martin (April 20, 2007 7:57 PM) asks where the ideas come from that most British share the same (Basquish) genes, with there being little difference in genetic makeup of those in East Anglia ("Anglo-Saxons") from those in Wales ("Celts").
See also my earlier post on this thread, and yesterday's post to my blog entitled "Britannian- and proud of it".
Are you by any chance the same Martin I met at the Telegraph's Bloggers' Open House ?
More later (maybe).
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