Notes on the rise and fall of the Anglo-Saxon Caucus and its Florida fellow travelers

April 26, 2021 7:00 am

Back to the future? A reconstructed Anglo-Saxon village at West Stow, England. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” — America First Caucus

You may have heard that some of the most MAGA-ty of the congressional MAGA types — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Duelling Banjos; Paul Gosar, R-Trump Tower; plus our own Matt Gaetz, R-Lolita Shores — recently proposed a new caucus dedicated to promoting the “values” of Donald Trump, by which they mean white supremacy.

Also no immigration, no foreign aid, and none of those weird-shaped modern buildings with all the glass: in their 7-page statement, the AmFirsties pledge fealty to “the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture.”

Perhaps they envisioned us building Anglo-Saxon longhouses, where we could quaff mead and sharpen our battle axes. Or put Doric columns on everything from wastewater treatment plants to federal parking garages, just like the ones in ancient Athens.

But no sooner did their MAGA-festo become public, some of the more powerful Republicans loudly, if implausibly, insisted they wanted nothing to do with white nationalism or the America First Caucus. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy huffed that, what with the Rs being the “party of Lincoln,” they’d never indulge in “nativist dog whistles.”

Perish the thought.

Then again, Rep. McCarthy might not understand. McCarthy is not an Anglo-Saxon name. Sounds suspiciously Celtic to me.

Marjorie Taylor Greene. Credit: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

In any case, Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Green now denies all knowledge of any such caucus. She blames the “scum and liars” in the media: “They do this all the time to smear people like me and divide the @GOP.”

She blames “outside groups.” She blames her staff: Somebody wrote that document, but it wasn’t her; she didn’t even read it, knows nothing about it, and besides, she was out of town at her daddy’s funeral.

Meanwhile, two of the most dazzling intellects in the House of Representatives, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Matt Gaetz still want in — even if the caucus doesn’t officially exist.

But who needs a caucus when pretty much the whole Republican Party (with a few honorable exceptions) is all about racism, xenophobia, science denial, and other hot topics of MAGA-tism — no matter what Kevin McCarthy may say?

Kevin McCarthy, you may recall, voted to overturn the presidential election. Still, maybe even he has limits.

Although I’ve yet to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis weigh in on preferred architectural styles (what do you want to bet he’s partial to the kind of ersatz Roman edifices that warmed the dark heart of Il Duce?), he’s certainly all about protecting white people from the unwhite people who constantly threaten the Anglo-Saxon Way of Life so cherished here in the state of Florida.

The governor agrees with Fox News’ whitest white boy Tucker Carlson that the guilty verdicts in Minneapolis were likely due to the jury being “scared of what a mob may do,” as opposed to, say, having watched Derek Chauvin murder George Floyd in front of dozens of witnesses.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared on Fox News on April 20, 2021. Source: Screenshot/Fox News

As far as I know, DeSantis hasn’t publicly expressed his views on “replacement theory,” Carlson’s favorite slice of racist madness, which holds that George Soros or some other sinister lib is importing brown people to America, where they proceed to have lots more babies than do white chicks — reproductive slackers! — then take over and ban “Merry Christmas.”

But this is now mainstream Republican thinking — and the governor’s never disavowed it.

Funny thing: The Anglo-Saxons running the U.S. government at the time DeSantis’ great-great-grandmother Luigia Colucci immigrated from Italy tried their damnedest to keep folks like her out. She barely made it in before the 1917 Immigration Act barring the illiterate went into effect.

Had she hesitated a few more years, she would have fallen foul of the even more xenophobic 1924 Immigration Act, designed, as its Senate sponsor said, to keep “American stock up to the highest standard” by barring southern Europeans, Asians, and other insufficiently white people.

You might think the governor’s family history would make him more tolerant toward the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free — both the ones trying to get into the United States and the ones already living here.

Instead, he’s on the side of the Anglo-Saxons, losing no chance to attack brown people, at one point even accusing “overwhelmingly Hispanic” farm and construction workers of spreading coronavirus in Florida.

He’s praised white supremacists, hung out at Islamophobic events, and, when it comes to vaccines, shown a marked partiality for old white people. And he’s obsessed with “critical race theory” demanding it be outlawed in Florida schools, because it teaches “kids to hate their country and to hate each other.”

Obviously, he’s scared the tough truth about this country, the genocide of indigenous people, the enslavement of millions of Africans, and centuries of racist statutes won’t inspire children to strive for a more perfect union but join Antifa (I hear the dues are really affordable) and go burn down a McDonalds.

In his quest for the love of House MAGA, national name recognition, and fat, greasy campaign donations, the governor’s confident that his crackdown on the First Amendment is a winner.

He’s probably right. DeSantis just approved an almost-certainly unconstitutional law that makes rioting — already illegal, in case you didn’t know — even more illegal, invents a new crime called “mob intimidation,” and allows drivers to run over protesters if they get in the way.

Come to think of it, that’s a pretty Anglo-Saxon move: 1,600 years ago, the original Anglo-Saxons were known for their love of state violence, their irascibility, their cruelty to the poor, their hatred of foreigners, and their fetishization of weapons.

The congressional Anglo-Saxon Caucus may be officially dead, but it lives on here in the Sunshine State.

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Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.