The Corner

Redneck Identity Politics

James Webb has a new book out called “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America.” I haven’t read the book, but I did read his summary of it in Sunday’s Parade (okay, I admit to reading Parade), and it wasn’t encouraging. I admire Webb’s act of filial piety, and the Scots-Irish did in fact shape America, and we’re better for it. But the tone of the piece smacks too much of an attempt to create yet another ethnic victim group distinct from the American mainstream. This is especially ironic with regard to the Scots-Irish because, as I understand it, in the 1960s the race-hucksters unsuccessfully tried to recruit them (those in Appalachia, to be exact — i.e., Hillbillies) to be a white victim group, to join blacks, Indians, et al. And in the 2000 census, it is precisely the areas of heaviest Scots-Irish settlement where the predominant ethnic ancestry that people reported was simply “American” (see the map on page 8 of this report.) The Scots-Irish are leading the way toward an American ethnic identity — why drag them back?

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