America First's Anglo-Saxon 'Racist Dog-Whistle' Slammed by Historians

Historians have strongly criticized a document describing a proposed new congressional caucus as promoting "Anglo-Saxon political traditions," and pointed to the use of the term by racists.

A group of House Republicans have been discussing the formation of an America First Caucus, according to the Associated Press, with Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida saying he was joining.

Punchbowl News, which first obtained the document, reported that Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona were behind the move. Gaetz also indicated Greene's involvement.

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A new America First Caucus — led by @mtgreenee and @RepGosar — is recruiting people to join based on “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” architectural style that “befits the progeny of European architecture”

Some of the most nativist stuff we’ve seen pic.twitter.com/diPDItUt2V

— Punchbowl News (@PunchbowlNews) April 16, 2021

A number of historians took to Twitter on Friday to criticize the use of the phrase "Anglo-Saxon" in relation to U.S. culture and highlighted instances where it was used favorably by organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.

"I mean it's not just the ideology that's late 19th century, it's the very language," wrote Peter A. Shulman, associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University.

I mean it's not just the ideology that's late 19th century, it's the very language.

Anyway it's a made up category anyway but what percentage of Americans could even identify as having Anglo-Saxon ancestry? 10%? 12%? So ridiculous. https://t.co/ZTY3E1K4yX

— Peter A. Shulman 📚 (@pashulman) April 16, 2021

"Anyway it's a made up category anyway but what percentage of Americans could even identify as having Anglo-Saxon ancestry? 10%? 12%? So ridiculous," he said.

"The #AmericaFirstCaucus is confusing their racist medievalisms," said Thomas Lacaque, associate professor of medieval history at Grand View University.

The #AmericaFirstCaucus is confusing their racist medievalisms. The lack of education is appalling, clearly. Confederates thought they were the NORMANS and the Yankees with the Saxons.

— Thomas Lecaque (@tlecaque) April 16, 2021

"The lack of education is appalling, clearly. Confederates thought they were the NORMANS and the Yankees with the Saxons."

"These American fascists have no relation to Angles or Saxons, the terminology is clearly chosen on far right lines. They do remind me of Beowulf, though--violent, vain, boasting oafs who think killing is governance and will die doing dumb shit leaving the nation in ruins," he said.

"There is no such thing as 'Anglo-Saxon' political traditions' unless Margorie Taylor Greene is talking about Old English charters and she isn't," tweeted Mary Rambaran-Olm, medieval scholar at the University of Toronto.

There is no such thing as "'Anglo-Saxon' political traditions" unless Margorie Taylor Greene is talking about Old English charters and she isn't. If she wants to return to those, she'll have to stop advocating for gun use. "Anglo-Saxon" is being weaponized by the far-right. https://t.co/Ahwb03Dnq1

— Axel Folio, PhD, carries soup for the family (@ISASaxonists) April 16, 2021

"If she wants to return to those, she'll have to stop advocating for gun use. 'Anglo-Saxon' is being weaponized by the far-right."

"And here's a resource on the term 'Anglo-Saxon' and why it's a racist dog-whistle, inaccurate and generally sucks balls," Rambaran-Olm said in a separate tweet.

Historians outside the field of medieval studies noted that the term "Anglo-Saxon" had been invoked by racist and white supremacist groups at various points in American history.

"Part of the creed of an 'Anglo-Saxon Club' in Virginia in 1925: 'I believe in the supremacy of the white race in the United States,'" tweeted Larry Glickman, historian at Cornell University, sharing a link to a newspaper clipping from the time.

"In 1875, the Louisville Courier-Journal called Reconstruction a 'scheme of upturning society and placing the bottom on top: an effort to legislate the African into an Anglo-Saxon,'" he added.

In 1875, the Louisville Courier-Journal called Reconstruction a “scheme of upturning society and placing the bottom on top: an effort to legislate the African into an Anglo-Saxon."https://t.co/lvZA76DvVI

— Lawrence Glickman (@LarryGlickman) April 17, 2021

Kevin M. Kruse, professor of history at Princeton University, shared a link to a document showing a leader of the Ku Klux Klan drawing on the term.

"Ku Klux Klan leader from Georgia linking preservation of Anglo-Saxon heritage with maintenance of white supremacy, a common Klan theme at the time," Kruse said.

Ku Klux Klan leader from Georgia linking preservation of Anglo-Saxon heritage with maintenance of white supremacy, a common Klan theme at the time. pic.twitter.com/8aQ2nreQTa

— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) April 16, 2021

Newsweek has asked Gaetz, Greene and Gosar for comment.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks during a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on February 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. Greene is reportedly involved in the proposed America First Caucus. Drew Angerer/Getty Images