Friday, October 23, 2009

For he himself has said it, and it's greatly to his credit

I didn't watch Nick Griffin on Question Time but I'm relieved to get the general feeling, from those who did, that he didn't exactly emerge victorious. I'm still in two minds as to whether the whole thing should have gone ahead. Con: his odious ilk deserve no publicity or credibility, implied or other, whatsoever. Pro: no one ever became a fascist (or indeed communist) out of perversity: when people vote that way of their own volition it's in response to genuinely felt needs that the mainstream politicians are not addressing. Its not enough for the mainstreamers to dismiss these concerns as "oh, that's just fascism". If Mr Griffin could puncture a little mainstream complacency then the show was right to go ahead.

I don't know if Mr Griffin is familiar with Daniel Defoe's poem "The True-Born Englishman". I certainly wasn't until a friend drew my attention to it this morning. (Mr G and I must have similar reading tastes as we've both read Mein Kampf; rather, I did dip into it for an A-level project. I bought my copy, 1930s edition, at a secondhand shop in Aldershot, home of the British army. I will now cancel this train of thought.)

Even back in 1703 it's refreshing to see that Mr Defore had no truck with any ludicrous notion of racial purity within these isles of ours. The poem is a long one so I shall quote selectively from the transcript made available at
... The Romans first with Julius Caesar came,
Including all the nations of that name,
Gauls, Greeks, and Lombards, and, by computation,
Auxiliaries or slaves of every nation.
With Hengist, Saxons; Danes with Sueno came,
In search of plunder, not in search of fame.
Scots, Picts, and Irish from the Hibernian shore,
And conquering William brought the Normans o'er.
All these their barbarous offspring left behind,
The dregs of armies, they of all mankind;
Blended with Britons, who before were here,
Of whom the Welsh ha' blessed the character.
From this amphibious ill-born mob began
That vain ill-natured thing, an Englishman.
He continues, dryly:
The customs, surnames, languages, and manners
Of all these nations are their own explainers:
Whose relics are so lasting and so strong,
They ha' left a shibboleth upon our tongue,
By which with easy search you may distinguish
Your Roman-Saxon-Danish-Norman English.
Not even the flower of our glorious aristocracy goes untouched:
And here begins our ancient pedigree,
That so exalts our poor nobility:
'Tis that from some French trooper they derive,
Who with the Norman bastard did arrive
Here's the bit that Mr Griffin should memorise:
These are the heroes that despise the Dutch,
And rail at new-come foreigners so much,
Forgetting that themselves are all derived
From the most scoundrel race that ever lived;
A horrid crowd of rambling thieves and drones,
Who ransacked kingdoms and dispeopled towns,
The Pict and painted Briton, treacherous Scot,
By hunger, theft, and rapine hither brought;
Norwegian pirates, buccaneering Danes,
Whose red-haired offspring everywhere remains,
Who, joined with Norman-French, compound the breed
From whence your true-born Englishmen proceed.

Thus from a mixture of all kinds began,
That heterogeneous thing an Englishman;
In eager rapes and furious lust begot,
Betwixt a painted Briton and a Scot;
Whose gendering offspring quickly learned to bow,
And yoke their heifers to the Roman plough;
From whence a mongrel half-bred race there came,
With neither name nor nation, speech nor fame;
In whose hot veins new mixtures quickly ran,
Infused betwixt a Saxon and a Dane;
While their rank daughters, to their parents just,
Received all nations with promiscuous lust.
This nauseous brood directly did contain
The well-extracted brood of Englishmen.


A true-born Englishman's a contradiction,
In speech an irony, in fact a fiction;
A banter made to be a test of fools,
Which those that use it justly ridicules;
A metaphor invented to express
A man akin to all the universe.
And finally, a bit of philosophical concluding with which it's hard to argue, even though I can see Jerry Springer reciting it at the end of one of his shows:
Could but our ancestors retrieve the fate,
And see their offspring thus degenerate;
How we contend for birth and names unknown,
And build on their past actions, not our own;
They'd cancel records, and their tombs deface,
And openly disown the vile degenerate race:
For fame of families is all a cheat,
'Tis personal virtue only makes us great.

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