The idea of an “America First Caucus” seems to have hit a snag. A draft of a policy platform leaked last Friday, revealing that members of Congress, led by Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, were planning to launch a group united by a “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” The next day, following significant backlash from social media and from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, a spokesperson for Greene told CNN that she is “not launching anything.”
But while the proponents of the America First Caucus were likely more persuaded by their colleagues’ disapproval than by that of historians, scholars’ concerns were less easily assuaged by the launch being scrubbed. As many argued on social media, the idea of “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” is based on a false—and troubling—understanding of history.
TIME spoke to medievalist Mary Rambaran-Olm, an expert on race in early England and Provost Research Fellow at the University of Toronto, who has written about the loaded racist connotations behind the term “Anglo-Saxon.” Here, she talks about her research on the real origins of the term and where the latest controversy over its use—and misuse—fits in its history.
TIME: What does “Anglo-Saxon” mean? Where does it come from? What’s the real origin of this term?
RAMBARAN-OLM: Basically it was an Anglo-Latin term that King Alfred used to describe how he was king over the Angles, which is the English, and the Saxons, two of the main tribes that had migrated to Britain. [Use of the term] has only been recorded three times in the entire corpus of Old English—apart from a handful of charters where kings referred to themselves as such and that was used for propaganda to try and unite the kingdoms. The early English weren’t calling themselves Anglo-Saxons. Once we look at the manuscript evidence, we see that there isn’t really a basis—especially now—for people to be calling themselves Anglo-Saxons. The terms that people used during the period to describe themselves in the vernacular were most commonly “englisc” or “angelcynn.” There’s no record of it in English manuscripts from shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066 until the 1600s.
What changed at the time it started to be used more frequently?
It was tied to colonization. Back in the 17th century, Empire was starting to manifest…and a nationalist tone. They started to look back at the …read more
Source:: Time – World