All posts by Richard K. Munro (Auld Munro)

Like Russell Kirk, I am a great admirer of the late Gilbert Highet. I am the president and founder of the Gilbert Highet Society (on Facebook) which includes many scholars and authors. I was intensely homeschooled as a boy learning English phonics, drama, and oratory as well as the history of the Raj and British Empire where my people prominently served as Empire builders in the Merchant Marine, Indian Civil Service or Highland Regiments. My people specialized in building ships, trains, bridges and were interpreters or scouts for the British Army or Navy for generations. For many generations, it was the desire of each son of Munro, Fraser, MacFarlane or MacKenzie to go a-soldiering far "frae the hame" and to return to marry a woman of his faith "and race and line" and by that was meant to marry a woman of the Gaeltacht (Gaidhealteachd). Two things changed this pattern forever. 1) the depopulation of the Highlands from 1790-1890 meaning there was no place to go home to and 2) the Catastrophe of what we called An Cogadh Mor (the Big War) and An Cogadh Hitler (the Hitler War) 1914-1945. This led to the biggest catastrophe of all -the British Empire went smash and so we became "Orphans of Empire." But the old Highland prophecy sang "Is gearr gach reachd ach riaghailt Dhe" (Each realm is short but the Kingdom of God. " We have seen many Empires rise and fall. I am a teacher of English, Spanish.& history. Author of Spying for the Other Side, KIM PHILBY &The Historic El CID. I have authored one-act plays such as "Euripides' Trojan Women (Calliope),"Romans on the Rhine", "Clad in Gold Our Young Mary" "Beneath Alexandria's Sapphire Sky" among others. I am a California Certified teacher in history, Spanish and English. MA Spanish Literature. BA with Honors (NYU '78) winner of Helen M. Jones Prize for History. ISI Fellow UVA 2004-2005. Board of Advisors PRO-ENGLISH I have edited galleys of several books but especially CHURCHILL WALKING WITH DESTINY for my dear friend Andrew Roberts with whom it was my honor to serve. I consider this biography to be the greatest biography of our time both for history and as literature. I Have taught Spanish for Native Speakers, AP US HISTORY, AP Spanish as well as English for Learners in the USA and Spain. My specialty is English literacy for newcomers (emphasizing phonics, diction, and grammar) and sheltered English immersion Social Studies (history) for English learners. I believe in sheltered English immersion for newcomers (English language books, notes, tests and quizzes with some translation and bilingual glossaries available. I have a New Wine Credential. I am married with three children. Two of our children are teachers and one is an engineer. I am proud to have served as a peacetime "Ice Cream" Marine (reserves) and to hold an honorable discharge from USMCR. My parents emigrated to the USA when young in 1923 and 1927. The war destroyed the fragile economic communities from which they came and essentially no one ever returned. They became US citizens and were Americans by choice. Both graduated from public high school and were the first and only members of their families to graduate from high school and go on to college. My mother was an RN and came from a strict Free Church Calvinist family. My father had a BA in English and French Comparative Literature and was a Roman Catholic. They were married in two separate Catholic and Anglican ceremonies. No one in my mother's family came to either wedding and during the entire war period, my mother had no contact with her mother and family. Needless to say, from a young age I was exposed to great sectarian hatreds and prejudices and this almost destroyed my Christian faith altogether. What saved me? The love of good Christians; the forgiveness of good Christians. College in Valladolid (Spain) and spoke fluent Italian and Spanish. In the 20th Century, my family emigrated to the Americas (Chile, Canada, and the USA) My uncle worked in Chile and Argentina circa 1914-1936 and my father was an American officer in Texas, Louisiana and the Pacific Theater during WWII. My father was a notable amateur linguist ( reading ancient Greek, Latin, speaking Tagalog, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian). I grew up in a multilingual cosmopolitan household and cannot remember a time when I spoke, sang or heard only English. My mother played the piano and sang in five languages. I lived and studied in Spain and got my MA in Spanish Literature there via the University of Northern Iowa under the legendary Adolfo Franco Pino. I first visited Spain and Italy in 1964. My primary interest is in classical literature (chiefly English and Spanish), history, music, and poetry particularly the music and literature of the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. Cuimhnich air na daoine bhon tainig mise (I remember the people I came from...the Gaels of Cioch Mhor in Ferindonald). Most of my family today is Spanish-speaking (Spain, Mexico, Chile and the USA). Most of us follow the faith of St. Maelrubha, St. Columba, St. Patrick and St. Mungo. Of course, no Highlander ever recognized St. Andrew as a patron per se as he was later accretion of lowlanders as worthy as St. Andrew is. I was married in Spain and my son was married in Mexico. It is a cognate fact that every marriage in our family for centuries has a direct or indirect connection to Spain either through marriage in Spain or marriage by priests educated in the Scots College in Spain or Rome. La fuerza del sino? (The Force of Destiny?) I believe in the policy of the Buen Vecino (the Good Neighbor) and in la conviviencia (peaceful coexistence) of different cultures, languages and religions. I realize I am the very last of my race but am glad to be the father of a new race of Americans whose blood comes from the peoples and races of four continents. Hyphenations can be good descriptors but they are usually a temporary condition like bilingualism. Monolingualism, cultural diffusion and assimilation are the natural tendencies of the human race.

Are the jews the chosen people?

I am not Roman but I was raised to believe the Roman missionaries and their school raised us to a better life. We entered Western Civilization with St. Patrick, St. Columba, St Mungo and St. Maelrubha. I am not a Greek but I have the deepest admiration for Greco-Roman civilization. I am not a Jew but I have had many Jewish friends and teachers my entire life -and my parents too. One of my father’s best friends (our neighbor for over 50 years was Manny Sussman, an RAF veteran radar not pilot and his wife Doris.) I last had dinner with him in the fall of 2004 and was glad to spend some time with him then. He had been widowed by then. He lost most of his family during WWII due to the Holocaust and the Blitz. I listen to Jews constantly (Dennis Prager; Ben Shapiro) and others and learn from them. These are men of culture who mention fine music and good books constantly (unlike the philistine Russ Limbaugh who is funny but shallow). I am not English either but I have the greatest respect for English culture. My father used to joke that Manny represented the best of both worlds as an Englishman and as a Jew. We are not English but have alway been Anglophiles and strongly Unionist. We appreciate the gifts of the English, the Jews, the Greeks the Romans. We (and I am speaking as a Gael or Celt) know we lacked what it took to be a successful nation and empire. We only succeed as part of greater more stable and united cultural entities because basically we are emotional, brooding and barbaric seeking tit-for-tat revenge and almost incapable of unity. Believe me I have to fight my darker impulses to kill, to steal, to seek revenge over past wrongs. I cannot say the Duke of Cumberland without holding back some anger and some tears. One of the glories and one of the curses of Gaels is that we never forget. But , Thank God, my faith teaches me to be a Good Neighbor. I try to remember the gifts of the English not the bad moments. I try to remember Pitt, Disraeli, Churchill. I try to think on Shakespeare and the King James Bible not the Glen Coe Massacre or the Great Hunger.


Of course, Mexican and Spanish are not synonymous any more than Englishman and Irishman (Gael) are synonymous though most people don’t seem to know much about the cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious pluralism of the Isles (the British Isles but some people prefer to call them the Isles especially if it includes the Isle of Man and Ireland). However, I think it fair to say just as most native English are really Anglo-Celtic-Norman-Roman most Mexicans are Spanish Mexican in culture and language. And of course, their history as a separate people from their (mostly) Spanish overlords has created a separate identity. Are most Mexicans indigenous? Certainly, most Mexicans have some indigenous roots. However, since the Mexican race or line (or raza) has its origins in the Spanish missions, presidios, and pueblos and not in Indian Reservations most Mexicans are very far removed from indigenous peoples culturally and linguistically. In other words, most Irish and Highlanders are closer to their ethnic and linguistic origins as Gaels (Celts) than most Mexicans are to their indigenous roots. The Iron Age in Europe only ended in Scotland in 1745 and in Ireland circa 1692 and well into the 18th and 19th century, the Gaels were considered racially and linguistically distinct from the English. Of course, Mexican and Spanish are not synonymous any more than Englishman and Irishman (Gael) are synonymous though most people don’t seem to know much about the cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious pluralism of the Isles (the British Isles but some people prefer to call them the Isles especially if it includes the Isle of Man and Ireland). However, I think it fair to say just as most native English are really Anglo-Celtic-Norman-Roman most Mexicans are Spanish Mexican in culture and language. Are most Mexicans indigenous? Certainly, most Mexicans have some indigenous roots. However, since the Mexican race or line (or raza) has its origins in the Spanish missions, presidios, and pueblos and not in Indian Reservations most Mexicans are very far removed from indigenous peoples culturally and linguistically. In other words, most Irish and Highlanders are closer to their ethnic and linguistic origins as Gaels (Celts) than most Mexicans are to their indigenous roots. The Iron Age in Europe only ended in Scotland in 1745 and in Ireland circa 1692 and well into the 18th and 19th century, the Gaels were considered racially and linguistically distinct from the English. By contrast, and this can be proved by numerous documents, the vast majority of Hispanic Mexicans were heavily or almost totally Hispanicized into a virtual melting pot of the Spanish Empire. Hence, both the Philippines and Mexico share the Virgen de Guadalupe an old Catholic culture (now increasingly Evangelical protestant) and Spanish blood. Many “Spanish” sailors or soldiers of the 16th, 17th and 18th century were of Latin American, Filipino or even Guamanian origin not to mention Moroccan and African origin. I have taught immigrant students from Mexico and Central America for over 30 years (teaching easily and meeting thousands of students and their parents and relatives) and I have traveled numerous times to Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas. What has always impressed me was the great racial diversity of these people from people clearly African in origin (Black slavery existed in New Spain for over 300 years), Indian, Mestizo, and blue-eyed red-haired criollos. Racial categories no longer legally exist in Mexico but the old class/race system is still evident. And many Hispanic Mexicans, until very recent times intermarried with “White” populations (there was no law against it) and considered themselves “White” or “Spanish” because it was advantageous for them to do so. I have seen the birth certificates and census information prior to 1970 and even some prior to 1900 from New Mexico and California. Families of Mexican origin clearly identified as “Spanish” and many (if not most) identified as “White”. Many years ago Spanish-speaking far workers -impoverished former ranch owners of North Mexico used to routinely come up to me when I was coaching their kids and say things like (they didn’t speak English) and say knowingly, “nosotros los blancos (we the Whites ) were the first to play football and baseball and connect Mexico to American and European ways.”Those immigrants, probably born circa the 1930’s or early 1940’s clearly wanted to be accepted as Whites and identified as Spanish, I have personally observed 9th grader identified as “White” only to change by the 11th grade (time to apply to college)to “Hispanic/Latino.” (Good for them; you play whatever card life deals you.)

Latino is the word that is probably most universal for Spanish-speaking immigrants from the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America and depending on the national origin Hispano is also very common (Not “Hispanic” not among Spanish speakers in Spanish) But by far the most common way to identify oneself is by national origin, Mexican, Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran, Panamanian, Puerto Rican etc. My own family is Spanish-speaking (it is the predominant home language of every household with children) and when we get together we have roots from Spain, Chile, Peru and Mexico. I wonder what my grandchildren will think of themselves in years hence. I think it highly likely they will be two things 1) Roman Catholic 2) consider themselves Mexican-Americans because that is the predominant ethnic group with which they associate They will be part of what Mexican author Carlos Fuentes called La Tercera Hispanidad. That is if they have an identity at all.

Who knows? But somehow I am sure that the dual identity of the Mexican that of having indigenous roots and Spanish roots will endure even as they will be (almost certainly) Americans. There is no question the Mexican-Americans feel ill at ease and uncertain about their status, acceptance and safety in the USA. For my part, I believe it very important for us to return to the policy of the Good Neighbor. We have to live to together as we will love together and have families together. That is the future and that is the road to peace and acceptance. When everyone is related by blood or marriage it will be hard to hate “the other.”

Is trump hitler?

Is Trump Hitler? Is he Mussolini? Is he Nero? Is he Rutherford B. Hayes? (That is probably closer to the mark). We could do a lot worse. But only those with eyes and ears can see. We must judge the man by 1) his actions 2) his deeds. History will be the final judge. The problem with calling Mr. Trump Hitler is like the boy crying wolf. If a real Hitler shows up no one will believe it. Mr. Trump is a patriotic American. He is a moderate conservative but a strong believer in property rights and American capitalism. I would like to believe he is a social conservative (I don’t think he is) but I am satisfied he tolerates and respects socially conservative views. How honest is his administration as compared to Mr. Obama? I only know what I read in the papers but from what I know Mr. Trump is much less corrupt than Maduro or the president of Mexico (those nations are kleptocracies -Venezuela is a failed state and Mexico is only one push and a shove from total anarchy and catastrophe.)

My immigrations views do not correspond exactly with Mr. Trump’s but I will say this. Mr. Trump is right that our illegal immigration anarchy must be attended to and that it is a threat to our national security and possibly the survival and success of the union over the next 20-50 years. My policies might be different in many cases. I am perhaps naive or overly optimistic about immigration and the assimilation of immigrants. But I believe in the idea of America. I also believe we must be Good Neighbors to our closest American neighbors. I believe we must be firm on the border and with illegal immigrants but just and our policy should be generous to ordinary hardworking, honest non-violent immigrants. Some guest worker program (with no immediate path to green cards or citizenship) should be broadly enacted. Every immigrant worker I know (I have known thousands) would PAY for a two-year permit to work in the USA for certain occupation. So instead of enriching coyotes sell work permits for cash and require cash deposits and guarantees as well as biometric ID cards. A real problem today is 1) so many phoney IDs and phoney social security numbers 2) identity theft threatens the financial security of millions of Americans. Is immigration good? It can be and over the long run, it can be positive for America. But it SHOULD be an organized and orderly process. Immigration anarchy is bad for children, bad for immigrants and bad for America. I have my differences with Mr. Trump. I have never, personally, liked him. I think he is a philistine. I thought, erroneously, he would lost to HRC. He didn’t. I don’t think Mr. Trump is a man of high culture and character. But I think is is a streetfighter and a remarkable politician. In other words, Mr. Trump has courage. He has guts. I respect that. I think Mr. Trump is wise about certain issues (he knows Socialism and the Bold State are not the answers for America or anywhere if you want happiness, freedom and prosperity). The economy has done very well under Mr. Trump and he must get credit for that. And Trump is no Hitler or Mussolini. He will win in 2020 or lose in 2020 and he will respect the outcome of the election. So it is up to the American people to decide. And Mr. Trump? History will be the final judge. So far he is at least as good a president as Rutherford B. Hayes. Let us now see if he is politically as successful as Ronald Reagan or Eisenhower or FDR.


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.

The castro conundrum: Languages and nationAL identity

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).

Is it true that no one is illegal on “stolen land?”

 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.

You’re not the boss of me!

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.