Friday, November 05, 2004

Red and Blue contributions - the Scottish factor

The current fashion of analysing the state of the US in terms of what Red and Blue states have supposedly contributed to humanity seems to me particularly futile.

The South gave us Martin Luther King, Elvis Presley and cajun food.

One of the few pieces that say something interesting about this cultural divide is this from The Scotsman -

George Bush owes it to the other America
Here in Scotland, where the mainstream view is anti-Bush, the instant reaction will be to dismiss this other America as redneck, racist, bigoted, gun-loving and ignorant. But hold a mirror to thyself: the part of America that doggedly voted Republican on Tuesday is its ethnic Scottish-Ulster heartland. These are the descendants of the lowland yeoman folk who colonised Virginia in the 17th century, then crossed the Appalachian Mountains to open up the frontier in the 18th, joined by the refugees from the Govan slums in the 19th.
It really is a good account of how the Scottish-Irish have influenced US culture and how it fits in with the Bush's politics.

It's worth considering for what it implies about New Zealand as well. Much of my family came from Scotland and there is still a strain of puritanism detectable. Also, Scottish society in some ways resembled Maori society more than it did that of England. Traditional Scottish society, which had only recently been disrupted by the English in the 1800s, had been tribal and warrior based.


Blogger stephen said...

That "tribal and warrior" based society was that of the Gaelic highlands. The puritanical folk who peopled the US south, and provided the bulk of New Zealand's Scottish migrants, were Lowlanders (Sassenachs, if you like) whose culture much more nearly approximated that of their northern English neighbours. If you want tribal highlanders, try Novia Scotia or Newfoundland.

I gather there are or were a few pockets of Highland dominated settlement in NZ but they were vastly outnumbered by folk from the industrialised cities like Glasgow.

8 November 2004 at 9:27 AM  

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