I have always wanted to get married. I have always wanted to have a family. I didn’t want to date women who weren’t serious about having a family or young enough to have them. And I remember what Father Fox told me at NYU over 40 years ago: “Marriage is serious. Marriage is a sacrament. Marriage means openness to children.” So sure I wanted to get married but I realized I need ed to have a job, some property (a free and clear car) and a few dollars in the bank. So I put off getting married for three years. It wasn’t easy. I only saw my wife for two weeks of each year as she lived and worked 8000 miles away from where I worked. At that time most of our relationship was via letters. I wrote at least once a week sometimes several times a week. It was too expensive, then, to call on the phone and there was no internet. We had, ultimate three kids, the last coming when my wife was 38. All blessings. All now out of college and working. Two grandchildren so far and two children of three married. I am approaching retirement. But I don’t feel fear or depression but real joy because i will be able to spend more time with my family and help raise and educate our grandchildren. I never doubted our children would have children because they believe as we do, that “marriage means openness to children.” Amen. What gifts our children were to us. We are very thankful.
Ruben Navarrette recently wrote: “Julián Castro is going through his own personal version of the Spanish Inquisition.The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful keeps being pestered about not speaking Spanish fluently by white journalists on the East Coast whose understanding of Mexican Americans is a taco short of a combination plate .” Navarette also mentioned that Beto O’Rourke’s Spanish was not very good and that Gaelic was not a language he was going to use anytime soon. The point is no one would say that an O’Rourke can’t be Irish if he didn’t speak (Irish) Gaelic. But language is an important part of a national or cultural identity. But I don’t care, as an ordinary citizen how well Beto O’Rourke or Julian Castro speak Spanish. I am more interested in their ideas and character.
I appreciate Castro’s very honest answer reported by Navarette:
“In my grandparents’ time and mom’s time, Spanish was looked down upon. You were punished in school if you spoke Spanish. … People, I think, internalized this oppression about it, and basically wanted their kids to first be able to speak English. And I think that in my family, like a lot of other families, that the residue of that … is that there are many folks whose Spanish is not that great. ” I am glad he said his parent’s and grandparent’s time because it has been a long time since Spanish-speaking children were physically punished at school for speaking Spanish. And “punished” sounds like physical punishment.
Navarrette also said: “I have a confession: During my 20s, I pretended that I didn’t speak Spanish. In fact, I spoke it pretty well — at least compared with many other Mexican Americans. I could converse with my grandparents, who spoke no English. And later, when I started working full time for newspapers, my Spanish improved. Only when I was in Mexico City, meeting with academics or government officials, did I feel out of my depth. “
As a former AP Reader in Spanish let me say that Beto’s Spanish is fair to good but not great I am quite certain he would not get a 5 on an AP Spanish test. So if Linda Chavez or Linda Ronstadt (both have Mexican ancestry) or Mr. Castro don’t speak Spanish that is almost to be expected of people of a certain milieu It is very common for heritage speakers not have as well developed a language as educated native speakers. I speak Gaelic quite well and can read and write it. I have worked at it for over 50 years (and I am still learning . I feel the disadvantage of not having been educated formally. For example I have trouble with bigger numbers and numerical concepts.) I listen to the language and read it regularly. But I do not have the fluency of an educated native speaker.
And I found out something else: my grandparent’s Gaelic was very inadequate also because they were not formally educated in that language. It wasn’t their fault. And in English, they spoke with a very thick accent and dialect all of their lives. They spoke the language of the croft, of the dock, of the kitchen So I am never ashamed that my Gaelic isn’t perfect. There is an old saying “Tha Gàidhlig briste na Gàidhlig nas fheàrr na Gàidhlig or”El gaélico roto es mejor que ningún gaélico (Broken Gaelic is better than no Gaelic at all). And the same can be said for Spanish. In fact, when learning Spanish I found that the sounds of Gaelic and some of the vocabulary were helpful. The one thing growing up in a household were more than one language was spoken and sung was that all of us were very receptive to learning foreign languages. So my sister is fluent in Spanish too (She was a Fulbright scholar in Peru) and her husband is fluent in Spanish as well (he was raised in Panama and Mexico)
One has to work at learning a language and cultivating it by reading it etc. And being a heritage speaker is not the same as being a native speaker living and being educated in a native speaker environment. My Portuguese is not perfect ( I get little practice today and invariably lapse into Spanish) but I can read it well (the last skill you lose) and with effort write it reasonably well. I can communicate orally also but I don’t pretend ever to be a Portuguese scholar I just say “Posso me defender em português” (I can defend myself….) Gaels have the same history of marginalization and if I may say much worse than that Italians, French-Canadians, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Mexican-Americans have endured for the simple reason is Italian, Spanish, French are great culture languages, great world languages.
When I grew up there was not a single Gaelic book in our house. I first saw written Gaelic as comments in Scottish song books (the name of the melody) and as slogans in clan histories (though many are in French and Latin which were great prestige languages). Italian, Spanish, and French have a great world literature and are commonly taught in schools and have prestige (Italian songs and opera are commonly used in commercials and movies, the same is true for French and Spanish).
In the Auld Country, as I found out to my astonishment in the 1960’s, Gaelic was mostly considered with contempt as the language of criminality and terrorism (IRA Irish nationalism) as well as ignorance and dirt. There was an open contempt for Highlanders (Gaels) and they were called “Teuchtars”. Many well-to-do Scots were almost entirely anglicized and more English than the English. I will be very honest: I felt out a great culture disconnect with Scottish women I did meet (I met few Gaels mostly Anglicized well-to do women). My only friends were people in the musical community because we shared a love for traditional music. But as I was not a great artist I could not make a life in that world or community, just an occasional visitor.
And the debate goes on: Can you be a Gael and not speak the language? The answer is, of course, you can be.
But I would say this: a Gael does not HATE his language and his ancestral origin and is not ashamed of the (probably) humble origins of his people. For most people of Irish or Scottish origin Gaelic is a remote ancestral language spoken generations ago by SOME of their ancestors (pre 1860 or pre 1790). There is the memory of the language for some and perhaps a few words or expressions. But that’s all. For 99% of all people of Gaelic ancestry there is no living memory of a Gaelic speaking community. If there is no community at all (and Gaelic today is, on the brink of community extinction) the language becomes ceremonial and folkloric only. When this happen no new songs or poems will be written and no new books.
Similarly, Hispanic-Americans and Mexican American do NOT have to be AP Spanish scholars to have an identity.
It is very strange really but I finally realized in my 20’s everything I knew about Celtic culture, religion, history came via English, ultimately. I have Scandinavian ancestors too but do not speak Old Norse nor any Scandinavian language so I have (almost) zero knowledge or interest in Vikings (a traditional enemy of Gaels by the way) or Scandinavia.
Much of what we consider the Gaelic character is transmitted via English. It is true my people lived on the fringe of the English-speaking world and were conscious that English wasn’t the only language in the world. And this is what made us cosmopolitan and comfortable in Latin America and India and other places. And Munros do not have a single race. I have met Munros from Chile, from India for Jamaica, from Africa. The norm, among ordinary working class people, is the intermarriage. Returning to study at Eaton or Oxford was only for Anglicized elites.
What is an identity?
By the way, my wife was a monolingual Spanish speaker. If I hadn’t spoken Spanish and shared her religious faith I would never have gotten to first base. Knowing my wife changed my life. And I don’t have to say it was the best thing that ever happened to me. For one, I decided in my 20’s never to live or study in Scotland -something I had always wanted to do. As a younger person I dreamed of getting married wearing a kilt and having pipers. I got married in a blue suit and we had Spanish guitars. (I did wear a Munro tartan tie my father’s and he wore HIS father’s Munro tartan tie).
My wife -then my girlfriend- asked me why I didn’t want to marry someone from my own culture and language.
I said to her in Spanish that SHE was of my culture and language -we were both Christians in the Roman Catholic tradition for centuries.
We belonged to the same culture -Western Christendom. I didn’t care where I lived or what language my children would speak. I would live where I could make a living and speak to my children in my wife’s tongue.
I would raise my children in my wife’s religion the religion of my people -the Gaels. My family was not English and did not belong to the Church of England. My father’s parish priest Father Collins spoke Spanish fluently and so did my uncle who had worked in Chile -the Scots are a wandering cosmopolitan people. Father Collins studied at the Scots College (then at Valladolid) . And I told her , in my house, Spanish would have an official status. Our house would be part of la Hispanidad and I swore she could visit her home as often as possible and her family could visit us as often is possible.
The one thing I could not promise was that I could live in her hometown and home country. I had to live where I could have a career.
I told her I could not be happy sleeping on her mother’s couch or eking out an existence. Living like that would make me hate her hometown and her country. By the way I applied for hundreds of jobs and worked (marginally) in her home country. But realized early there was no future for me there. I told my friend (my future wife) America and life in America was my future and destiny.
Could she marry me under those circumstances? She hesitated but said yes. I promised her I would always work had and be true to her. We have been friends for 46 years and married for 37 years. It hasn’t always been easy. The one who never or rarely travels is me. One has responsibilities to dogs to a house to bills to a garden. When you are young your mother and father and aunts and uncles can take care of things for you and you are footloose and fancy-free. When you are a man you suffer what men must because you have adult responsibilities. That’s a big lesson I have learned. But as I write my wife and one of her Spanish-speaking daughters are visiting her hometown with our granddaughter -whose father is Mexican-American. I believe it a very safe bet that 1) our granddaughter will be raised as a Roman Catholic 2) she will be raised as a native Spanish speaker as all our children were raised.
What is an identity? Behavioral, cultural or personal characteristics of a person that are recognizable to identify that person as a member of a group. We suffer an identity crisis as a result of the pressures external and internal conflicts There is an enormous pressure for youth to conform especially in the military, public school and in work. It is only in the private life that one can live entirely freely.
For myself, personally, it was very difficult to admit that I could not personally resuscitate Gaelic culture and that the tartan I wore was really a shroud for a lost world that could never be recovered. I turned my back on my youthful notion of wanted to study, live and work in Scotland. I did not turn my back on my love for my parents and grandparents and Scotland but my parents and grandparents are all dead and essentially the Scotland they knew is dead also. I have visited Scotland (and Ireland) several times but chiefly as tourist and attendee to Celtic Colours musical events. I made a conscious decision not to study in Scotland or attempt to work there or in Britain.
And instead I lived and worked in Spain and in the USA. I decided that education would be important for our children but the main education would be in religion, music and Spanish and English. Gaelic would be, like Latin, on the backburner. I taught some Latin and Gaelic to our children but only intermittently and without any continuity or seriousness. My attitude was that if they were interested in Latin, Greek or Gaelic I would help them but that they should study useful languages and get useful degrees (Bilingual Certificates k-6, Spanish k-12 and Engineering). I proud that the engineer minored in Spanish literature (not Spanish but Spanish literature.) to give you some idea of my daughter’s cultural background she was a Hispanic AP National Scholar. She had 5’s on In AP English literature US history, European history,, Mathematics, Science as well as Spanish. Like all of our children she feels at home in Spanish as in English.
There is an enormous pressure for youth to conform especially in the military, public school and in work. I remember my shock when our son, about age 10 or 11, told people HE didn’t speak Spanish either. He found it a burden to be considered bilingual or Hispanic (he grew out of that). When I was in school I was ridiculed for reading Burns with a real Scottish accent and correcting the teacher who said, quite ignorantly, that Burns wrote in Gaelic. I had never spoken in public before but I said Burns wrote in Doric Scots or Lallans and Highland Scots (Gaelic) was a completely different language and one Burns did not speak, read or write though he listened to Highland music and songs and appreciated them. You would have thought I had come from Mars. Needless to say I was cruelly treated by many of my classmates. It was only when our history teacher, Mr Adler showed us the film Culloden I was able to interpret some of the interviews for him and the class. Mr. Adler, whose family survived the Holocaust by emigrating from Austria to the USA, told the class, “Mr. Munro is not WASP he is not even English. He is a Highlander and a Gael. And he knows about persecution, poverty and exile.If you get to know him you might learn something. He is also, I hear say, quite a Spanish scholar. No doubt due to his early bilingualism. And he knows some Yiddish as well.” That happened more almost 50 years ago but I still remember clearly those two days in my high school my “Gaelic” days. It is only in the private life that one can live entirely freely but one one can only have an identity, truly as part of a family, faith community and nation. For me, I hope our children always value their cultural inheritance but in the long run the most enduring cultural inheritage will be their faith tradition, not their race or national origin(s).
I have great respect for all immigrants but IMHO the politics of resentment are not helpful. Calling America ” stolen land” means , essentially that the USA flag, Constitution and the Union itself are illegitimate and so can be undermined or destroyed without any compunction. Ultimately it means one does what one wants and thus the strong will conquer and the poor die without mercy. That’s not what we want.
Talk of reconquest and “stolen land” is not the road to peaceful coexistence, It is, ultimately, the road to resentment and ultimately violence. I know you don’t want violence Jorge Orrantia I understand the words “illegal” and the non-English epithet “illegals” are used as a weapon. You will note recognize that “illegal alien” is a legal term (“illegals” is not) I NEVER use that term) but I myself often use the term undocumented person or “orphan of Empire.” The main crime of the vast majority of “undocumented aliens” is that they are unlucky and poor.
Of course, all nations were created and defended by force of arms. Remember wars, slavery, and oppression existed on a grand scale long before Columbus or William Bradford. It is a great historical error to romanticize Pre Columbian America. Historian Hugh Thomas reminded us of the history of the Aztecs whom he called “the Nazis of the New World.” The crimes and brutal conquests of the Aztecs were so vast they can, in truth be compared to the Armenian genocide or the Nazi holocaust. The crimes were not accidental, they were not because of disease but intentional. But we have to look at the larger historical picture. The introduction of the alphabet, modern medicine, rule of law,, schools, hospitals., and the concept that the rights of man come not from a King or Emperor but from the hand of God are all Western gifts. The very fact I consider all immigrants as equal human being deserving of dignity and just treatment derives from the ideas of the Declaration. American influence, despite its flaws and American government and society, have been, upon the whole, and it is upon the whole such things must be judged, a healthy and kindly influence. We have an imperfect society, with imperfect justice but we have gradually made life better and freer for more people of great diverse background than any other country in the history of the world.
What values and virtues do we pass on to our children? Should they be proud of the “race”? Should they be proud of their “nationality”? Should they be exclusively one nationality or another? Should they be proud of their material success and wealth? I hope they value above all, family, culture and faith. Generosity and love are, I believe, the keys to happiness and abundance.
Ruben Navarette posted a recent missive from a reader who complained about Navertte identifying as Mexican-American.
“If, as you say, you are true blue then you would refer to yourself as just plain “American.” You, quote are a “Mexican-American” Yankee doodle etc.
My husband’s grandparents were born in Ireland. He calls himself American. Likewise my son-in-law whose 4 grandparents were born in Poland, calls himself American.
You say only one of your grandparents were born in Mexico, then why the hyphenate?”
Navarette, quoting his nine-year old daughter said, because “You’re not the boss of me.” Just so. There was a time when a King would say: “you are my subject and you must follow the religious faith of the realm.” In America, things are different. And if you honor your mother and father and if they come from a culture and faith tradition you love it is very normal and reasonable to feel a close emotional tie to that other nation that “patria chica” -that “wee homeland of your heart.” Legally my forefathers were British subjects (all of them including the Irish in the family). But no one I have know had ever considered himself “British”. Technically a British person is a Welsh-speaking Briton. Some Scots were, in fact, descended from Welsh-speaking Britons. WIlliam Wallace was descended from Welsh-Speaking Britons. But my ancestral clans were not. They were Gaelic in identify with roots in the Gaeltacht of Ireland and Scotland. It is quite possible some of my ancestors were dual French nationals because some of my ancestors served in the French King’s bodyguards. In any case, it is very likely that at least some of my ancestors were Anglo-Normans or even Lochlanoch (Vikings). But those connections are so remote that they have little influence on my identity or character. But clan or tribal identity was strong. That feeling WAS as strong or stronger than any nationality. When my grandfather spoke of his “race and line” he was not speaking of the “White Race” (I never once heard him speak in such terms. He taught me there was only one race now and in the future -the human race). No, he was speaking of his ancestry as a member of Clan Munro and being also descended from Clan MacKenzie, Clan Fraser and Clan MacFarlane. He considered himself a Highlander (Gael) first and foremost though he was legally British and then legally, by choice an American.
I have relatives who are completely assimilated and never had any interest in the heritage, culture or religion of their grandparents. The way to get along is to go along. They are more English than the English and more Americans than any Americans. That’s fine if it makes them happy. I know a business associate of my father named “Hunter” who said he was “Anglo-Saxon”; my father was astonished to learn his brother was “Cacciatore” ; their family was Italian in origin. But that man hid his “Italian roots” (he was very fair-skinned) and married a WASP in the Episcopal Church. He didn’t even invite his Italian-speaking mother to the wedding. That was astonishing to me. But some people, then, were eager to get into the country club and the right private school and college. Today it would be different, I think. Of course, I chuckle at all this because I have been asked, hundreds of times, if I am Italian-American because my name ends in -o. I have been called “Mr Murro” many times. I have also been called “Monroy” many times as well. I never make a big deal if people mispronounce or misspell my name unless it has legal or financial consideration.
But some people ARE by their very nature, hypenated Americans. They might be dual nationals (many people in my family are dual nationals) For example, my wife and daughter in law and son in law have deep, deep cultural and language ties to Spain and Mexico. Spanish is an everyday language in our household. So almost everyone one in my family is Mexican-American or Hispanic-American (some have roots in Spain and Chile).
My own roots are Gaelic (Highland and Irish) and I am a hispanophile but have never claimed to be anything else but a Gael. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet and modern social media I can correspond to Scotland and listen to Scottish music and radio (in English, Scots or Gaelic) every day. And my hyphen came to me honestly because it was a significant part of my culture, identity, and language. I will always feel a close tie to the Highlands and Islands. My forefolk were Highlanders and Islanders for over 1000 years.
But my strongest identity is as a Christian in the Roman Catholic tradition. I have ancestors who were of the Protestant persuasion also, of course, (Free Church or Scottish Episcopal Church) but the basic tendency of my family was High Church. My parents were married in both the Anglican Communion and Roman Catholic Church for example and so were my father’s parents. Some of my maternal grandmother’s relatives were Church of Ireland (Anglicans). It was very common for Irish or Scottish soldiers serving in the British military in the 19th and early 20th century to fold into the Anglican Communion or have as we used to say “a Protestant trail.” For poor people it really didn’t make much difference. For people like the Duke of Wellington or Edmund Burke it DID make a difference because if they did not conform with the Anglican religion they could not inherit their property. Both were Irishmen, of course. Burke’s sisters and cousins were, I believe, all Roman Catholic. I was reading about Myles Keogh the other day and he came from a well-to-do Irish Catholic landowning family. He fought in the Papal Army and then later for the Union during the Civil War. He was famously killed at the Battle of Little BIghorn in 1876 with Custer and his horse Comanche was the only survivor of the battle. Some historians believe Keogh and two sergeants were among the very last survivors and died in a mini-last stand of their own and hence were some distance from the main body and therefore his wounded horse managed to survive the story. Myles Keogh was a Gael. His name is purely Gaelic. I am quite certain he considered himself a Gael and he probably was conversant in Gaelic. The evidence of course is indirect but he was fluent in Italian and one of the markers of a bilingual Gael is linguistic ability. Certainly his parents and grandparents were native speakers. It is only after 1845-1850 when entire populations were wiped out that Irish Gaelic went into a precipitous decline.
My cultural values were very close to my wife’s because we belong to the same civilization -Western Christendom.
Rome was always more important for us than London and it is easy for us as amphibious Gaels to live in the Spanish-speaking world and learn the language.
We are accepted as “honorary” Hispanics because we love the Hispanic culture and language. Hyphens are useful when they mean something. Sometimes they are almost meaningless.
We know “official” Hispanics who don’t know a word of Spanish and have very little connection to Spain or Mexico. We know “Native Americans” who don’t know a word of indigenous language but boast of being 1/8 or 1/16 Native American. Good for them.
A man’s roots are a man’s roots and a man’s culture is a man’s culture. I decided long ago that I was the last of my race.
I never had any interest, really, of dating women of my parent’s language and nationality. I encouraged our children to have interest in languages, generally speaking, but I made no direct effort to teach them Gaelic. Naturally, they picked up some words, some phrases some choruses. Nonetheless for me and for them The Gaeltacht is the past and a lost world. A distant world. There are abandoned villages and island from whence my people came but no one lives there now.
We survived the 20th century but lost our nationality and language. My grandparents came to this country with next to nothing carrying with them only a strong desire to work, to be free and to practice their religions traditions in private and freely without persecution or discrimination from the Bold State.
In a long journey some things have to be left behind.
We did retain our strong faith, the most important and enduring value IMHO. I am an American citizen and proud of that.
But that is no all I am nor is it all that my grandchildren and in-laws are.
It is only natural that people with such cultural and linguistic ties to Latin America will consider themselves “hyphenated” Americans. We are citizens of Mexico, Canada, Spain, Chile and the USA. All of us have connections by marriage or ancestry to Scotland and Ireland but as time goes by those ties are more and more remote. Perhaps our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be so mixed that they will consider themselves Americans only or Mexicans only or Chileans only. Good for them. I only hope they are happy, free and have a strong faith and culture.
I believe America is their future but if they are happy and production I don’t care where they live or how they “self-identify”. I only pray is that carry as good citizens of the world and good people of faith. One of the great questions in life is whether or not there is (or isn’t) an eternal dimension to man (the human person). Of course, Jesus teaches that there is. I believe that each person has a soul, an immortal soul, a self-consciousness, a spirit. We are married in life to our soul but of course in death we depart this land of the living and then our souls and body part. The prime teachings of the Great Teacher are love, faith, hope, gentleness, forgiveness, humility, integrity. These virtues are the essential ones I hope we have imparted to our children (two of whom have married in the church). There are no realms that endure, goes an old Gaelic saying but the Kingdom of God. And this Kingdom of God is among us. This is the unity and wholeness I seek for myself and for my children and grandchildren. We have seen many Empires rise and fall . We have served the yoke of many kings and emperors. I know what it is to be the last of my race -I have always identified strongly with the Last of the Mohicans -a book that has Munros in it and Gaels. Once upon a times there were Gauls and Gaul, once upon a time there were Galatians and Galatia. Once upon a time we dwelled in Alba, the land of the Mountains White. Once upon a time we lived in Ferindonald. It is only a memory now and only the past. Omina exeunt in mysterium. All things vanish into mystery. But a part of that heritage lives in our strong desire to be free and to belong to Christendom.
No matter what country we make our home that will be, I am quite certain an important the most important part of our heritage. For we are descended from Gaels the oldest and truest Christians of the Northern people. “Dread God and respect his commandments. That is the whole duty of man.” That’s a philosophy of life worth teaching. That’s a tradition worth passing on. And ladies and gentleman it is a way of life open to all regardless of race or national origin. Race and nationality are nothing compared to this. They are just passing fancies in this mortal storm.
One could easily denounce George Washington for ‘retrograde’ White Supremacist views. But Washington’s views on race changed and advanced over his lifetime. Similarly, Lincoln lived and had a political life in a world in which “Universal Suffrage” meant “White Male” universal suffrage only. Lincoln explored many policies and points of view but the truth is throughout his life, like Washington Lincoln’s views evolved yet were always based on the natural rights doctrine of equality found in the Declaration. In 1859 Lincoln wrote “the principles of Jefferson are the definitions of a free society. And yet they are denied, and evaded with no small show of success. One dashingly calls them “glittering generalities; another bluntly calls them “self-evident lies” and still other insidiously argue that they apply only to “superior races.” Lincoln rejected White Supremacy and said, “those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God can not long retain it.” Lincoln said, “I have only to say let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefor must be placed in an inferior position, discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout the land until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.” Robert Sherwood in his Pulitzer Prize winning drama Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1938) pushed Jefferson’s and Lincoln’s abstract truth a bit more when he had Lincoln say should we read the Declaration as “all men are created equal, except negros, foreigners, catholics and Jews.” Lincoln did not in fact refer to the Jews at that time but who could doubt that Lincoln would have defended the Jewish people? I have studied Churchill’s life and writings for over 50 years Never at any time did Churchill express admiration for dictatorship, arbitrary government, or extreme authoritarianism. Quite the contrary. Washington and Lincoln lived in slave owning societies and yet progressed beyond the simple prejudices of their time. Churchill was a Victorian aristocrat by birth and education and yet the reason he is so interesting and compelling character is that he progressed beyond the Social Darwinism and Laissez Fair capitalism of his time to embrace a more liberal, pragmatic social policy and a more liberal attitude towards Woman’s suffrage. We should make a grave error if we slip into presentism and an obsession with politically correct nomenclature. Churchill, must be judged by the entirety of his life, his works and his writings not by quibbles or his use of old-fashioned terms -it seems to us- like “Civilization” or “Christian Civilization” rather than “Judeo-Christian Civilization”. Churchill was, without a doubt as Andrew Roberts has demonstrated, the greatest defender of liberty, natural rights, rule of law, due process of modern times. It is not too much to say Churchill was the savior not only of his nation but the cause of national independence and freedom all over the world, Churchill, more than any other individual put Fascism, anti-Semitism and the racial supremacy of the Nazis to the sword leaving that doctrine defeated and destroyed and completely discredited. All honor to Sir Winston Churchill, Lincoln and Washington.
How many times have I heard this nationalist comment “You should consider yourself an American first and foremost. Get rid of the hyphen!! ” And of course, if we speak another language besides English in public, sometimes we are told “to shut up and talk American!” , to which I reply, “excuse me, Sir, the language I speak to my wife and sister-in-law, in private conversation, is none of your business. What language would you expect I would speak to a guest in the USA from a Spanish-speaking country?” Of course, one cannot tell by the color of the skin or eyes the native language of a person. Spanish-speaking persons can be of any race and any religion. I daresay the same can be said of English-speakers as well. Very soon -if it is not a reality already- there will be more English-speakers of English as a second language than native English speakers.
If a hyphen has some significance it should be used. I don’t consider myself a Mexican-American for the simple reason I have no Mexican ancestry though I certainly am a hispanophile. But if my son-in-law considers himself a Mexican or Mexican-American that’s fine with me. He is a US citizen. I also consider myself an Anglophile but have never considered myself an Anglo-American though I would be proud if I had any English ancestors. English is a acquired language for us only becoming predominate in my family post the mid 20th century. I can never remember a time when I did not hear different languages in our home being spoken or sung. Both my father and mother were multilingual A hyphen is certainly more attractive than the ugly “Latinx” que no es ni chica ni limonada. If you honor your mother and father what is more natural than honoring their homeland? The hyphen, of course, could be temporary. It might last only one or two generations. People change their idea of nationality or religious faith over time through education, assimilation, and intermarriage. I am quite sure that if parts of my family emigrated to , let’s say, Australia, that they would, after a time consider themselves Australians. What would be more normal?
I could never hate the homelands of my parents, my wife, my in-laws and I am a citizen of the United States. My grandchildren are all Mexican-American. But we have an identity beyond that of our political nationality and the English tongue. We have my family traditions and our faith traditions. I decide what party I want to vote for and I decide what hyphens I put by my name. If I want to say that I am, above all, an Earthling, that is my choice. Could I not be a Mormon-American? Or Jewish-American? Or Catholic-American? Of course, I could. In each case the hyphen could be very meaningful.
I don’t expect my children and grandchildren to have much to do with the culture and language of their great-grandparents none of whom were native English-speakers. I only hope my children and grandchildren -all of whom are native Spanish-speakers by the way- are free, stay true to their faith tradition, work hard and stay economically secure.
Our family line is crossed with Old Mexico but also Spain, Panama, Canada, France and Chile. So what does that make us? We have been called Spanish Munros and Irish Munros by people in our own family because it says a truth about our cosmopolitan family. We are all Americans by choice because we love living in a free and stable land. I don’t tell my children how they should identify themselves.
What they feel is a natural feeling brought about by la convivencia and love. I grew up loving and identifying with the Scottish Highlands but no one ever told me to do so -quite the contrary. My parents encouraged us all to assimilate and become as American as possible. My grandfather always said, “Scotland? What a country? It is a good country to be FROM.” He had zero interest in EVER returning and he did not. He was an American by choice but by culture and accent remained Scottish-American his entire life. So rapid and total “americanization” is not always possible. We love baseball but also love football (soccer). We remained outside the American mainstream to some extent and live on the fringe of the English-speaking world. This can be seen in the music we like and in the cuisine we share (strongly Spanish/Italian and French). Neither I, nor my son nor my daughter nor my sister married a “normal” monolingual English-speaker. We retain ties, close ties, to communities of Non-English speakers. So in that sense our cosmopolitanism has made us amphibious.
Everyday of my life I hear and speak other languages other than English. I would calculate that 90% of phone conversations in our household are held in Spanish. Our children feel at home in English as well as Spanish but always have spoken Spanish to my wife and family. I myself have spent many months of my life -consecutive weeks and months almost an entire year-when I have never spoken or heard a single word of English though I recall I corresponded in English and of course read books and newspapers in English (even though most of the books and newspapers I read were not in English). I studied Portuguese in Portugal and Spanish literature in Spain. But the Casa Del Libro in Madrid had the complete Penguin library in English. So I read many English books (chiefly classics) when I lived in Spain. They were numerous, widely available and relatively inexpensive. Books in other languages were rare and expensive. So I read less in those languages. I have many bilingual books. I have always been fascinated by translations. Consider the Italian adage “traduttore, traditore”: a literal translation is “translator, traitor”. The pun is almost lost in English, though the meaning persists. (A similar solution can be given, however, in Hungarian, by saying a fordítás: ferdítés, which roughly translates as “translation is distortion”.) My father felt that poetry to be appreciated should be read in the original as much as possible. Chinese and Hebrew were a little too much for him but he read Greek, Latin, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Russian, Scots and Gaelic quite fluently. He had an immense French library and that was perhaps his best Romance language. But he studied and appreciated art songs and operas in the original tongue whenever possible. I have surpassed him in Portuguese and Spanish but not in German, Greek or Russian. But I am young yet (still learning).
Some what are we? Our roots make our family, in my opinion, Americanísma. Spanish is, in my opinion, an All-American language. It existed and thrived in America before English and will continue to thrive and survive and coexist with English. English is not Mohican or Apache or Irish and neither is Spanish. World languages, the languages of Empire will endure. They were made to endure.
It is good, wise and useful to speak the national languages of North America, which include French, Spanish and English. But that is a choice people make. People can choose to study computers and engineering or they can choose to do what is easy and that is to be monolingual. It seems a strange choice to me. I love languages. In fact, this summer I am studying another one. I correspond, regularly in three or four languages. People enjoy using their mother tongue and respond very positively.
We have chosen to prepare ourselves to coexist as Good Neighbors in a multicultural, multilingual world.
That’s a reality that is not going away. English is powerful, the language of the banks and the long-range guns but we are not going to live in a monolingual English-only world. It is not wise. It is not good business and it is not good diplomacy.
I have always known that English was not the best, nor the only nor the oldest language in the world. But I love and respect English. But I admit I have always had a soft spot for other languages as well and they are mine, too. When we married all they hymns were in Latin so all sides of the family could understand and appreciate them. We sang songs in English and translated them to Spanish. We sang songs in Spanish and translated them to English. We sang some of our own macaronic original songs.
Yes, we have always valued English as the lingua franca of the Commonwealth, and the USA. At one time the sine qua non for business and culture was to speak Latin, Greek or French. Those are former languages of Empire and still are highly influential as culture languages. But it is delightful, useful and fun to speak the languages of other communities.
This will be the hallmark of a new generation of Latin/Spanish Munros and Mendozas. Will they be Hispanic-Americans Mexican-Americans? Perhaps.
Anything but “Latinx” , a horrible expression. People say that is the new growth of a language but this Esperanto-like invention is, more likely la mortaja (the death shroud) of a language. Creating a patois may be a political choice but it is not a healthy linguistic choice. Made-up words and language are not natural.
But whatever my grandchildren and children decide will be their choice. I respect that. I pray they make good choices and happy choices. And I hope sincerely they will be proud of their ancient heritage and recognize that they are part of a great international melting pot -the United States of America. Yes, the melting pot bubbles on. That is a certainly we all need to accustom ourselves to if we haven’t already.
|THE GILBERT HIGHET SOCIETY|
|The Gilbert Highet SocietyPublic group · 224 membersJoin GroupWe try to stay true to the spirit of the late Gilbert Highet. Gilbert Highet was a patriot, an educator, critic and writer. Before WWII he served in M…|
We try to stay true to the spirit of the late Gilbert Highet. Gilbert Highet was a patriot, an educator, critic and writer. Before WWII he served in MI6 while visiting Nazi Germany with his wife who had an MA in German. Highet himself was fluent in German and several other languages. During WWII he was a Colonel in British Intelligence (his true role has never been completely revealed but I surmise he contributed to interpretation of ULTRA intelligence). He may have been an agent for MI6 (military intelligence during the war and even before the war). Therefore his true contribution to the Allies has never been publicly acknowledged. He and his wife, author Helen MacInness were naturalized Americans -Americans by choice-having emigrated from Scotland. Their son Keith Highet was a veteran of the US Marines who served in Korea and a noted legal scholar. Highet is best known for his book “The Classical Tradition,” a generous, lucid survey of the Western Canon.He also was the translator of PAIDEIA by Werner Jaeger, one of the best books ever written on Greek culture and literature. In the 1950’s he had a radio program on WQXR and later turned his radio scripts into books of essays (still outstanding reads). His book MAN’S UNCONQUERABLE MIND still makes compelling reading; many have called him the Scottish-American Cicero. But beyond all of this, his writing was jargon-free and confident. It is a style and manner that is sorely missed. Gilbert Highet. wrote Robert Ball, “taught the classics for 40 years, also believed in the importance of great books, which he brought to life in class and in print through a humane form of scholarship. He concentrated on those aspects of the classics that he thought made them worth studying—their truth, beauty, and wisdom, and the imagery and language that inspired him—without burying the texts under a technical, theoretical superstructure.”
In addition to all this Professor Highet recorded many radio programs on general culture and some of these recordings are commercially available. This group celebrates the best in non-fiction writing, fiction, history, literature poetry and culture.”I believe that much of the maladjustment in our societies is caused, not by malevolence and corruption, but simply by ignorance.” GILBERT HIGHET We also post things that would interest Mr. Highet such as literature, history, poetry and Scottish things as well as aticles and pictures of HELEN MACINNES, his wife, the well-known 20th century suspense author whose books were made into well-known films such as THE SALZBURG CONNECTION.