american nations

on the recommendations of jayman and benjamin (thanks, guys!), i’m reading colin woodard‘s American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, and, so far, it is terrific!

except for this paragraph which appears in the introduction:

“Finally, I’d like to underscore the fact that becoming a member of a nation usually has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with culture. One doesn’t *inherit* a national identity the way one gets hair, skin, or eye color; one *acquires* it in childhood or, with great effort, through voluntary assimilation later in life. Even the ‘blood’ nations of Europe support this assertion. A member of the (very nationalistic) Hungarian nation might be descended from Austrian Germans, Russian Jews, Serbs, Croats, Slovaks, or any combination thereof, but if he speaks Hungarian and embraces Hungarian-ness, he’s regarded as being just as Hungarian as any ‘pure-blooded’ Magyar descendant of King Árpád. In a similar vein, nobody would deny French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Frenchness, even though his father was a Hungarian noble and his maternal grandfather a Greek-born Sephardic Jew. The same is true of the North American nations: if you talk like a Midlander, act like a Midlander, and think like a Midlander, you’re probably a Midlander, regardless of whether your parents or grandparents came from the Deep South, Italy, or Eritrea.”

poppycock!

what does woodard base his assertion upon? nothing. no references backing up what he says whatsoever (just a couple of little anecdotal news stories). his “a nation usually has nothing to do with genetics” statement just hangs there in midair like … something just hanging there in midair.

what do i base my “poppycock” reaction on? actual biological evidence:

european populations - genetics

nations — as in nasci (to “be born”) — exist as real, biologically based populations — with fuzzy edges, of course, because it’s biology that we’re talking about. that doesn’t make them any the less identifiable as populations (see map above). and different nations have their own, innate characteristics. those that are closer to each other are more alike to one another, of course, because it’s easier to swap genes if you’re neighbors (especially in the past — nowadays, with modern transportation, almost anything goes — theoretically anyway).

the population of the united states is, obviously, much more tumbled up than old world ones, but oddly people keeping spotting the fact that there are different regional cultures across the u.s. — different nations as woodard puts it. this isn’t (wholly) down to “culture.” and, despite all the ethnic/racial mixing in the country, this is probably very much down to biology — and woodard, unbeknowst to himself, explains how this can be:

“Our continent’s famed mobility — and the transportation and communications technology that foster it — has been reinforcing, not dissolving, the differences between the nations. As journalist Bill Bishop and sociologist Robert Cushing demonstrated in The Big Sort (2008), since 1976 Americans have been relocating to communities where people share their values and worldview<…. As Americans sort themselves into like-minded communities, they’re also sorting themselves into like-minded nations.

americans (and immigrants to the u.s.) have been getting up and moving to areas of the country where they can find people like themselves. so american “cultural” regions — woodard’s nations — have persisted. thanks to self-sorting.

apart from that one paragraph, American Nations is really terrific! i, too, recommend it. (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. one of my favorite nations!)

50 Comments

  1. @joe – “Woodard probably has to put in politically correct nonsense like that just to get his book published.”

    yeah, prolly. it’s still poppycock, though! (~_^)

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  2. By coincidence I’m reading the book now, and had exactly the same reaction as you… my impression is that Woodard seems to sympathize most with the ‘Midlands’ culture of America, although he lives in New England… which might explain why he genuinely seems to believe in crap like ‘diversity is ur strength’ (even while every chapter of his book describes how America’s diversity has always led to conflict and discord)… still, I appreciate the effort and honesty with which he researched the book, often pointing out politically incorrect facts too

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  3. @bleach – “I appreciate the effort and honesty with which he researched the book, often pointing out politically incorrect facts too”

    ditto! there’s really a lot of great stuff in the book — a LOT! (^_^)

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  4. You picked precisely the same bone I did when I first read his book. But what’s great is that the rest the book works when you just assume “cultural DNA” to mean just plain old “DNA”. ;)

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  5. An yet another great post by HBD Chick, spot on. You nailed it.

    (We’re still waiting for your book!)

    Woodard is just another conventional average liberalish guy, trying to somehow juggle, on the one side, his intuitions and research effort, and on the other side, the whole moral structure that surrounds him. A moral structure that essentially says that european caucasoid humans (to be true only them, the rest are spared of this struggle) have to actively deny Biology and purposefully work against their inclusive fitness, trading it in exchange for social status and in-group belonging.

    Funny that example he uses, the one about Sarkozy. I don’t know how many french people he has really met through his life, or the *kind* of french people he is used to. I can talk a bit about this, and outside those french guys like himself, I mean, conventional average liberalish go-along types, they’re VERY AWARE of Sarkozy origins. Specially after some speech by Sarkozy parroting some nonsense about the moral obligation of the french people of actively mixing with the whole world. You know: in order to get rid of any biological identity, demonstrating in the process how morally superior they are. Supposedly, Sarkozy dixit, if you are not a deranged jacobin masochist, gleefully committing genocide against your own people, you are not a good french,

    After that speech, all of a sudden, many french guys became strangely aware of the actual origins of Sarkozy. Surprise!

    I guess Woodward doesn’t use to hang around with the true french people. That’s the problem, probably.

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  6. @tomás – “Funny that example he uses, the one about Sarkozy.”

    heh! yes, i was going to mention that, but then i thought i’d better stick to my main point.

    maybe i’m overly focused on surnames because of my own clannish background, but i remember what i instantly thought of the first time i heard of sarkozy and that was “that doesn’t sound like a french name…?” i immediately looked him up, of course, and found that, obviously, he’s only part ethnically french (that’s right, isn’t it?).

    @tomás – “We’re still waiting for your book!”

    (^_^) well, i’m currently collating all of the cocktail napkins (on which the notes have been scribbled) … so progress is being made! however slowly…. (~_^)

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  7. @bleach

    “my impression is that Woodard seems to sympathize most with the ‘Midlands’ culture of America”

    The difference between your response and mine might be a cultural thing. ;)

    I’m a Midlander. I’ve lived in or known many of the areas of the Midlands. I was born and spent my early childhood in a rural working class town in Ohio. I spent another part of my childhood in a upper class Jewish suburb of Chicago. And I spent the next part of my childhood in a small liberal New England style college town in Iowa surrounded by farmland. I also regularly visited as a child towns in Indiana where my parents were born and raised.

    The Midlands has many ethnic enclaves in the big cities and many ethnic islands in the rural areas. I guess we have a culture of multiculturalism because we have lived this way for centuries. It isn’t just let’s all get along liberalism. Many of these ethnic places were the most traditionally conservative in the country. It was more of a libertarian live-and-let live attitude supposedly inherited from the political tradition set down by Quakers and later war-weary Northern Europeans who had enough of the Old World style of fighting over ethnic differences.

    Maybe its in our Midlands genetics to promote cultural diversity and tolerance. Midlands ethnic pluralism has survived for centuries, including the rural conservative areas.. We must be doing something right.

    “which might explain why he genuinely seems to believe in crap like ‘diversity is ur strength’ (even while every chapter of his book describes how America’s diversity has always led to conflict and discord)”

    If you know your history, you’d know the Quakers and Germans of the Midlands were among the least prone to conflict and discord. Think what you will, but those Quakers in particular took their pacifism seriously, even to the point of being willing to die for it. When the Scots-Irish Paxton Boys massacred a bunch of Native Americans, the remaining Native Americans sought refuge among the Quakers.

    I’m not saying that there never was any violence, but there was surprisingly a lot less conflict than one might expect. In the town I live in, there were many Czechs and Germans, both Catholics. The original Catholic Church had a priest who either spoke some in German or had a heavy German accent. So, the Czechs built their own Catholic Church. No one had to fight over it. Every ethnic culture is allowed its place.

    That kind of thing happened all the time throughout the Midwest. People of the same ethnicity would build their own churches, their own schools, their own neighborhoods and their own towns. They were free to do so and few cared to try to stop them. I’m not sure why so many non-Midlanders don’t understand this simple concept of live-and-let-live. It is such a natural way of understanding society to my mind that is practically part of my DNA.

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  8. “skokie?!”

    Nope. Deerfield. They had a great public school there.

    There is also a sizable population of Jews in the liberal college town I live in at present, Iowa City. The local population of Jews even includes some of the clannish Orthodox Jews.

    An interesting way of looking at some of these US regions is by ethnicities that were found across multiple regions.

    There were Jews both in the North and the South. From what I understand, Jews in the South were an accepted part of Southern society where they played an important role in the economy. It seems that many Jews have tended to be inbreeders, whether they are in societies full of inbreeders or not. However, I suppose they may have been forced into inbreeding if non-Jews refused to breed with them as would have been the case in many Christian countries.

    The Scots-Irish who were very clannish, however, seemed to have lost their clannishness quickly when they were put into a more outbreeding population. Where Scots-Irish were less concentrated and isolated, they more or less blended into the local population over time. There were plenty of Scots-Irish who settled in the North, but they are less ethnically distinct than in the rural South.

    Outbreeding cultures in some cases allow for pockets of inbreeding. In the Midlands, the dominant outbreeding culture doesn’t impose outbreeding onto the entire population. This seems to be a balance of sorts between inbreeding and outbreeding. This kind of multiculturalism of this sort allows for clannish ethnic enclaves and islands, but within those ethnic enclaves and islands there is much ethnic exclusivity. This seems to allow for diversity while lessening potential conflict.

    In Iowa, we have a bunch of Amish. They are the most clannish group in the entire United States. Isn’t it interesting that the Amish flourish so well in the multicultural Midlands?

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  9. @benjamin – “Nope. Deerfield.”

    ah! yeah, deerfield’s nice. (^_^) i grew up in chicago — nw side of the city. i had some family over in wheeling for a while, but they’ve moved on, too.

    @benjamin – “The Scots-Irish who were very clannish, however, seemed to have lost their clannishness quickly when they were put into a more outbreeding population.”

    well, a lot of the scots-irish — the ulster-irish — originally came from lowland scotland (there were quite a few from the borderlands, too), and were, perhaps, one of my middling inbreeders/outbreeders in-betweeners (i still have to find good mating patterns data for them, though), so perhaps they were halfway out of being clannish already? dunno. still speculative.

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  10. @hbd chick

    “well, a lot of the scots-irish — the ulster-irish — originally came from lowland scotland (there were quite a few from the borderlands, too), and were, perhaps, one of my middling inbreeders/outbreeders in-betweeners (i still have to find good mating patterns data for them, though), so perhaps they were halfway out of being clannish already? dunno. still speculative.”

    Border people might have significant differences from other groups. The Scots-Irish for the most part are neither Scottish nor Irish. They have a complex history that might be hard to figure out in terms of specific data.

    I’ve suspected that they were not as xenophobic as some portray them. The history of how they early on would so quickly go to the frontier and intermarry with the natives seemed to imply they weren’t extreme inbreeders. They are a group that went looking for where ethnic boundaries met and merged. Strong inbreeders would seek isolation and separation. Border people are used to crossing ethnic boundaries rather than enforcing ethnic boundaries.

    I go with the theory that the Scots-Irish are partly to be given credit/blame for the outbreeding that created the American mutt. It’s precisely where Scots-Irish were concentrated that people are more likely to simply identify as ‘American’. I also think the Scots-Irish may have had this reinforced by their dealings with the Shawnee in Appalachia. Shawnee had a more open sense of family and tribe because of their adoption practices. Daniel Boone was adopted by Shawnee and considered to be Shawnee for the rest of his life, even after he returned to his life among white settlers.

    I wonder how the Scots-Irish may have had some impact in the Lower Midwest as well. There is a cultural link between Appalachia and the Midwest, but clear differences at the same time.

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  11. Benjamin,
    “I’m not sure why so many non-Midlanders don’t understand this simple concept of live-and-let-live. It is such a natural way of understanding society to my mind that is practically part of my DNA.”

    I understand the concept just fine. The thing is, I also know that when you live-and-let-live, there is no guarantee that a rival culture is going to give you the same grace. Plenty of them will not–the wars between Appalachians and Indians, which you mentioned, are one example. Another, more contemporary example would be the cultural takeover of many cities in Britain by Muslims.

    Most people will see tolerance as a form of submission, and submission as a sign of weakness. And then they will treat you accordingly. I would say that Midlanders will find this out the hard way, but… with the City of Brotherly Love already holding one of those highest crime rates in America, it seems Midlanders are not going to learn anything from actual human behavior any time soon.

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  12. @bleach – It is relative to the larger context. The overall data shows Midlands to have relatively low rates of violent crime.

    I’d recommend reading Culture of Honor by Nisbett and Cohen. The authors show that big cities have lower rates of violent crime than does the rural South, specifically the parts of the rural South where slavery was uncommon and hence the black population small. That is extremely interesting. The rural South is possibly the whitest, least diverse and most xenophobic area in the entire US (whether or not that was always the case; for example, Kentucky used to be one of the most progressive states in the country).

    The other similar region is the rural Midwest which is part of Midlands. It is similar to the rural South in having high rates of whites and high rates of gun ownership, but dissimilar in actually having low rates of gun violnce. There is obviously some relevant factor beyond the presence or lack of diversity.

    Anyway, going by ths data, I’ll stick to my assessment that we must be doing something right in the Midlands.

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  13. @bleach – There is another aspect that came to my mind aince I wrote my last comment.

    There is a difference in the rural white South in the kind of violence and the source of it. Since it is majority white area, most of the violent crime is white on white. More specifically, there is a higher rate of people being killed by people they know which might relate the culture of honor or else siply a closely related population. The rural South doesn’t just have higher rates of homicides. There are also higher rates of suicides and ‘accidental’ deaths.

    Of course, this is an area of the country that is famous for its violent and long-lasting family fueds and historically known for a tradition of vigilante justice. The reasons behind this many have speculated about. Whatever the reason, it is most obvious to note that the Scots-Irish were known for violence even before they came to America.

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  14. I should clarify my point. I said Midlands must be doing something right. I didn’t mean to imply that Midlands was the best region in the country. I simply meant that all in all we aren’t doing half bad, relatively speaking. I also didn’t mean to imply that other regions were doing it wrong. It is true that the rural South has major problems, but I don’t feel like blaming the Scots-Irish. They’ve had a tough lot in life, both back in Britain and here in the US.

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  15. I was reading again my comments here. I noticed my mentioning the Paxton Boys incident. Now, that was a fascinating culture clash.

    The Paxton Boys were Scots-Irish. They killed a bunch of Native Americans in a village. Going by their own traditions, they assumed this meant they now owned the land by right of conquest. The Spanish used that as a legal justification, but the English had come to a more Lockean legal justification for land ownership. The Scots-Irish, though, hadn’t caught up with the latest legal fads in England.

    The Quakers were good English folk. They weren’t at all fond of the idea of conquering people to take their land. The Quakers would go so far as to pay the natives to keep them happy. The Quakers didn’t want to fight the natives or even have much of a militia for defense. This worked out fairly well until the likes of the Scots-Irish came along.

    It’s ironic that the Scots-Irish came to the Quaker colony for the very reason that it was tolerant of diversity, but the Scots-Irish weren’t tolerant of diversity. The Native Americans deserved to die because after all they were different, i.e., they weren’t Scots-Irish or even British. The Scots-Irish ended the Quakers’ happy utopia (Peaceable Kingdom Lost by Kevin Kenny} and their lawbreaking, authority-snubbing ways created such social disorder on the frontier as to make the American Revolution almost inevitable (American Leviathin by Patrick Griffin).

    After killing many of the peaceful Christian Conestogas, the Paxton Boys and their kin headed to Philadelphia. They planned on sacking the city if the Quaker government didn’t give them the right to the land and give up the few surviving Indians that sought refuge. Fortunately, Benjamin Franklin was around. He went out to talk to the Paxton Boys and calmed them down, and that was the end of the rampage. Benjamin Franklin’s behavior reminds me of Roger Williams going out to talk to the Native Americans on the warpath so as to get them to stop attacking his settlement. Maybe that isn’t surprising as both Franklin and Williams were New Englanders.

    The four parties involved were the violent Paxton Boys who wanted what all clannish people want, the peaceful Christian Conestogas who had been friends and allies of the Quakers for some 70 years going back to Penn himself, the peaceful Quakers who just wanted everyone to get along, and the lover-not-a-warrior Benjamin Franklin who as a New Englander had grown fond of this Quaker settlement and its way of life.

    In some ways, that culture clash remains to this day. There still is a concentration on the western edge and former frontier of Pennsylvania. The Scots-Irish population doesn’t so much follow any North/South divide for they mostly settled in concentrations within Appalachia which connects North and South. I think that the Scots-Irish in the North are less well known because their culture was muted by the multiculturalism that surrounded them there. Maybe even the clannish Scots-Irish were eventually tamed by their close proximity to the Quaker influence.

    The Midlands has seemed to have long played a moderating role in American culture and politics, moderating between North and South and moderating between the vast ethnic diversity. We may never have become such a successful country in assimilating new immigrants if not for the Midlands cultures of tolerance, although the clannnishness of the South almost tore the country apart with the Civil War. It took a Midlands president, Abraham Lincoln, to bring the country back together by defeating the clannish South. Maybe the Midlands is the only thing that has held this country together for this long.

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    1. “Hmmm, what does that sound like? :\”

      I actually made that connection myself in my mind, although the context of my making that connection is a bit different. I wasn’t thinking about that particular case, but I was thinking about the issue of modern immigration and assimilation.

      My thinking is different in that I see the Midlands culture at the heart of American society and that culture seems to be more powerful in assimilating than many people give it credit for. The South, and to the lesser extent New England, simply chose to deny multiculturalism which in the case of the South led to a social and economic backwardness. Also, part of the reason the South loss the war is that they weren’t very friendly to new ethnic immigrants and so didn’t have enough population to fight the North.

      What has to be considered is the assimilation we see today took centuries. The Scots-Irish didn’t want to be assimilated into good law-abiding Americans. They wanted to be Scots-Irish, through and through. If it weren’t for the Scots-Irish, the Civil War probably never would have happened because who would have been the soldiers for this war started by Southern aristocrats. It was largely a war about refusing to assimilate, putting region above nation.

      Nonetheless, give it a few centuries and now the Scots-Irish are the most loyal Americans ever. A similar thing happened with the Irish and the draft riots during the Civil War. The Irish didn’t want a government telling them what to do, especially not fighting a war that had nothing to do with them. But after the Civil War, they slowly generation after generation became uber-patriots.

      One thing America is good at is assimilation. It might take a while, many generations even, many centuries in the case of the Scots-Irish, but no one can resist the American assimilation machine. We are the Borg and we will assimilate you. Resistance is futile!

      Sure, the Irish will riot and the Scots-Irish will rampage. Some people will die. A Civil War might even break out. But nothing has yet been able to stop the Midlands vision of assimilation. Nothing! The Midlands made America and will go on making America until the whole world is America. LOL

      I don’t know what to think about it, but one has to be impressed.

      “I think HBD Chick will find that the Quakers and their allied German groups more fit the idea of an outbred population, much more so than the Puritans do.”

      I’d agree. The original New Englanders seemed to have been quite the clannish group.

      I’m not sure what made the Quakers so different. Their pacifist pluralism was a strange creation that has had vast influence beyond their religious agenda. Quakers declined as a religion or at least didn’t grow much, but their essential culture has taken modern American society like a storm and helped to make this country great. The Melting Pot ideal of America is a Midlands ideal, although to be fair the New Netherland Dutch gave a helping hand with their classical liberal take-no-prisoners capitalist American Dream.

      You may dislike the vision of the Quakers and Dutch, but I don’t know if there is any stopping their vision after it having been unleashed. I have my doubts about this weird hybrid of social democracy and rabid capitalism. As a Midlander, I feel I have some understanding of it and what made it work so well. But one does have to wonder where it is all heading.

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  16. @Benjamin:

    “The Midlands has seemed to have long played a moderating role in American culture and politics, moderating between North and South and moderating between the vast ethnic diversity. We may never have become such a successful country in assimilating new immigrants if not for the Midlands cultures of tolerance, although the clannnishness of the South almost tore the country apart with the Civil War. It took a Midlands president, Abraham Lincoln, to bring the country back together by defeating the clannish South. Maybe the Midlands is the only thing that has held this country together for this long.”

    I think HBD Chick will find that the Quakers and their allied German groups more fit the idea of an outbred population, much more so than the Puritans do.

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  17. @Benjamin:

    “My thinking is different in that I see the Midlands culture at the heart of American society and that culture seems to be more powerful in assimilating than many people give it credit for.”

    What does “assimilate” really mean?

    I don’t think America, or any culture, “assimilates” anyone.

    As the Borg put it: “we will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.” These societies don’t so much “assimilate” the newcomers, as much as the newcomers change the receiving society. Don’t believe me? Look at Boston (hardly the Ivory Tower core of the Puritan’s New England Utopia). As Greg Cochran notes, there has been heavy mixing between White settlers in America, and what we see today is the happy (more or less) medium between the input groups.

    It’s also worth noting that immigrants themselves are select, and are not representative of their home populations. People who pack up and move somewhere else are often different enough from the population they left, and that is often part of the reason they feel pulled to their new land in the first place.

    “Nonetheless, give it a few centuries and now the Scots-Irish are the most loyal Americans ever.”

    I think this stems from the fact that the Scotch-Irish of today (as much as you want to call them that considering admixture with other groups, particularly Deep Southerners and Midlanders) now feel that this is their home. With that established, their clannishness is directed towards protecting the land.

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  18. @JayMan – American assimilation aspires toward the Melting Pot, although the melting part happens very slowly, more of a stew in the short term. As differences increasingly melt together, they are assimilated and thus become something else.

    America has never been any single defined culture. You can’t easily point to anything and say this is American. America is in a constant state of becoming. We aren’t like the traditional nation-states for we have no single ethnicity and history with origins from multiple empires.

    The Borg is very fitting to the American style of assimilation. To be American isn’t like being French or Chinese. To be American is to take a little bit of everything and put it together. Whether or not that is good, it has been that way for centuries.

    To keep America American is to constantly change. That is an odd way to run a society, but that is what you get for building a country on immigrants and slavery. Every single generation since the colonial era has pointed out that America ain’t what it used to be.

    Virginia wasn’t founded by aristocrats, but it was taken over by aristocrats. What gave those aristocrats the right? What gave the Scots-Irish the right to mess with the Quaker’s worthy vision? Heck, what gave the empires the right in the first place to settle on Native American land or for Americans to settle on Mexican land? No one has ever had the right in any grand sense. People chose to come and so they came.

    There has been mixing between whites. There has been mixing between whites and blacks. There has been mixing between whites and Hispanics. There has been endless mixing for centuries. That is why we are all mutts. There is no such thing as a pure breed American. Some Americans have a little more of one ethnicity and others more of another, but nearly all Americans have multiple ethnicities.

    Part of what tamed Scots-Irish was that their clannishness was broken down a bit. Outbreeding has impacted even the most clannish inbreeding immigrants. That is the ultimate assimilation. My family living in Appalachia during the 1800s was already a mix of multiple ethnicities, probably including some Scots-Irish. The less clannish the formerly clannish become the more their sense of clannishness encompasses a nationalist identity. That is an assimilation success story that required a long process over many centuries. Not a quick success, but a success nonetheless.

    To be American is to be mixed. I can see this in my own experience. It is how mixed up my family is in terms of ethnicities and regions that makes me feel all the more American. I’m so ethnically and genetically mixed up that I don’t identify as anything in particular.

    Supposedly outbreeding causes or contributes increasing social democracy. The only way American democracy can succeed is to continue the American project of the Melting Pot. The moment Americans as an entire people begin to act clannish about being American then we will know that the American Dream as such has come to an end. As a fan of democracy, I hope the American experiment continues on. If more outbreeding means more democracy, then bring on the outbreeding!

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  19. I agree with Asst. Village Idiot & JayMan on the PC-ness of Woodard’s book – haven’t finished it b/c i don’t tolerate PC-ness well (I’ll get back to it eventually) – BUT, Woodard’s interview-podcast about his American Nations book at “New Books in History” was great (more exciting than his book – watch out, in the interview index he’s incorrectly listed as Woodward:) That reminds me: Ricardo Duchesne’s podcast-interview for his book “The Uniqueness of Western Civilization” at New Books in History was incredible (tho i listened to it about 2 years ago & that reminds me to see if the price on his book has come down yet:) Marshall Poe is an excellent host & enthusiastic & fair interviewer. http://newbooksinhistory.com/list-of-all-interviews/ He even interviewed Greg Cochran a few years ago for the 10,000 Year Explosion. You & JayMan probably already know about it, but just in case :) & Mr. Steele, I’m a 50% British Isles, 44% German & 6% Volga-Urals American Mix.

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  20. @benjamin – “I go with the theory that the Scots-Irish are partly to be given credit/blame for the outbreeding that created the American mutt. It’s precisely where Scots-Irish were concentrated that people are more likely to simply identify as ‘American’.”

    i think that you are right about that, which is very, very interesting.

    the scots-irish — the ulster scots — came originally from lowland scotland and the border regions between scotland and england (where the border reivers came from).

    i believe — but i still need to check on this (like everything else!) — that the lowland scots were actually some of my middling inbreeders/outbreeders — my “in-betweeners” — not at all the most inbred, but not the most outbred either. however, probably more outbred than the border reivers, and definitely more outbred than the highland scots or other neighboring groups like the native irish.

    so they may not have been the most clannish in their behaviors, comparatively speaking. otoh, i think they are (were) more clannish than the southern english. much more — or more intense — corruption came out of the scot-irish population than the english. think boss tweed or andrew jackson.

    mind you, this is all still theory in the stages of being worked out. it could all be wrong! (ack!) (^_^)

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  21. @bleach – “I would say that Midlanders will find this out the hard way, but… with the City of Brotherly Love already holding one of those highest crime rates in America, it seems Midlanders are not going to learn anything from actual human behavior any time soon.”

    but, if we’re talking about innate behavioral patterns here, these midlanders you’re talking about might not be able to learn to be different. people are, to a large extent, what they are.

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  22. @benjamin – “The authors show that big cities have lower rates of violent crime than does the rural South, specifically the parts of the rural South where slavery was uncommon and hence the black population small….

    “The other similar region is the rural Midwest which is part of Midlands. It is similar to the rural South in having high rates of whites and high rates of gun ownership, but dissimilar in actually having low rates of gun violnce. There is obviously some relevant factor beyond the presence or lack of diversity.”

    they’re two different populations — different sorts of white folks. all white populations are not the same, in all sorts of ways. the ways i happen to be most interested in related to clannishness. southerners come from more clannish populations (thanks to their longer history of inbreeding), whereas your midlanders didn’t.

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  23. @benjamin – “There are also higher rates of suicides and ‘accidental’ deaths.”

    this is to be expected in a more tempermental population — which is what i was trying to point out in my post about nisbett & cohen’s “culture” of honor — it’s not (just) culture, it’s biology. southerners “fly off the handle” more often because they’re tempermental. they’re prone to getting these rises in testosterone when they feel insulted or worked up by something. tempermental. the higher rates of suicides and “accidental” deaths are unfortunate side-effects of being more clannish (i.e. in this case being more tempermental in order to be able to quickly defend your extended family/clan against rival extended families/clans).

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  24. @benjamin – “It’s ironic that the Scots-Irish came to the Quaker colony for the very reason that it was tolerant of diversity, but the Scots-Irish weren’t tolerant of diversity.”

    well, gee! doesn’t THAT sound familiar?!

    edit: or what jayman said above.

    Reply

  25. @benjamin – “One thing America is good at is assimilation. It might take a while, many generations even, many centuries in the case of the Scots-Irish, but no one can resist the American assimilation machine. We are the Borg and we will assimilate you. Resistance is futile!”

    (^_^)

    some peoples may be (are probably, i would bet) more assimilable than others (i’m talking about assimilable into anglo-american society).

    the irish and the scots-irish may have been far enough down the outbreeding road that, after a bit of a struggle, they might be assimilated. most muslim populations today? don’t think so. mexcians? not so much either (see: new mexico). (and NO ONE is going to be assimilated if we don’t even TRY — i.e. if we keep up this multi-culturalism nonsense!)

    edit: plus what jayman said: “These societies don’t so much ‘assimilate’ the newcomers, as much as the newcomers change the receiving society.”

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  26. @jayman – “I think this stems from the fact that the Scotch-Irish of today (as much as you want to call them that considering admixture with other groups, particularly Deep Southerners and Midlanders) now feel that this is their *home*. With that established, their clannishness is directed towards protecting the land.”

    this!

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  27. @benjamin – “Outbreeding has impacted even the most clannish inbreeding immigrants…. Outbreeding has impacted even the most clannish inbreeding immigrants.”

    please, don’t confuse outbreeding (mating with beyond second cousins) with inter-breeding between different ethnic groups/races. different things, really.

    the former, if done over the long term, can (can) lead to more individualistic/universalistic societies (i think) — the latter, not necessarily.

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  28. @panjoomby – “I agree with Asst. Village Idiot & JayMan on the PC-ness of Woodard’s book – haven’t finished it b/c i don’t tolerate PC-ness well (I’ll get back to it eventually)….”

    i know. i’ve gotten pretty good at glossing over the pc stuff, though! (~_^)

    thanks for all those video suggestions/links! (^_^)

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  29. @benjamin – “To be American is to be mixed.”

    @panjoomby – “I’m a 50% British Isles, 44% German & 6% Volga-Urals American Mix.”

    i’m hardly a mix at all! i’m mostly one thing (possibly something else, too) with a dash of germanic — but that dash of germanic goes back to the middle ages! — so it’s prolly really just a dash at this point. (^_^)

    edit: the only reason i’m not totally inbred myself is because my parents’ families (thank goodness!) came from different regions of “the old country.” whew! (~_^)

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  30. @hbd chick – “but, if we’re talking about innate behavioral patterns here, these midlanders you’re talking about might not be able to learn to be different. people are, to a large extent, what they are.”

    That is where I am at with all of this. Midland culture has been so internalized in my experience that it simply feels normal to me. It is the world around me. Even my years in the Deep South only reinforced my own Midwest identity. There is no place in all of America that is more opposite of the Midlands than the Deep South. Appalachia actually has some bedrock commonality with much of the Midwest, but the Deep South is a foreign land.

    I was somewhat always an outsider when I lived down there, even though I wasn’t exactly treated like an outsider. I just knew it wasn’t my culture. I had a Southern Belle neighbor who had a black maid/servant that was with her at all times. The black lady didn’t do much other than keep the white lady company. Of course, no respectable white Southerner (i.e, anyone who wasn’t a working class redneck) would do their own yard work. I remember the first time someone called me a Yankee which at the time wasn’t part of my self-concept or even my sense of reality. Yankee is a word, a slur you might say, probably more often used in the South than in Yankeedom.

    I feel an impulse to defend Midlanders because, well, they’re my people. They are a mixed lot, but they made me who I am. For me, Midlands will always be the heart of America… but I’m biased.

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  31. @hbd chick – “they’re two different populations — different sorts of white folks. all white populations are not the same, in all sorts of ways. the ways i happen to be most interested in related to clannishness. southerners come from more clannish populations (thanks to their longer history of inbreeding), whereas your midlanders didn’t.”

    I was looking again at the map of Scots-Irish in the US.

    http://www.valpo.edu/geomet/pics/geo200/pct_scots_irish.pdf

    The Lower Midwest, including Iowa, has about the same amount of Scots-Irish as many of the states in the South. Even Pennsylvania has the same concentration of Scots-irish as found in the greatest concentrations in Southern Appalachia.

    The difference isn’t the lack of Socts-Irish. Rather, the important part is that the Midwest has vast more ethnic diversity, specifically Northern European. However, the Scots-Irish are severely lacking in the Upper Midwest. The least Scots-Irish area in the whole country is Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota; a small island almost entirely free of Scots-Irish. Heck, even New England has an impressive concentration of Scots-Irish.

    It is interesting that it is only in the rural South that the Scots-Irish were able to isolate themselves in enough concentration to make their presence known. Everywhere else they just blended into the background. What clannishness they had quickly disappeared in the Midwest. Nonetheless, you still can see their impact on the Midwest, specifically states like Indiana.

    BTW I saw a woman here in town who was visiting from Kentucky. She had that stereotypical ‘Appalachian appearance. She looked just like my aunt by marriage from Indiana. It is such a distinctive appearance, as distinctive as the blonde-haired Scandinavian farmers living here.

    Reply

  32. @Benjamin:

    “The Lower Midwest, including Iowa, has about the same amount of Scots-Irish as many of the states in the South. Even Pennsylvania has the same concentration of Scots-irish as found in the greatest concentrations in Southern Appalachia.”

    Don’t take those maps at face value. They are to be seen as interesting guidelines, but not much more than that, because of the inherent limitations of the data.

    Reply

    1. @JayMan – “Don’t take those maps at face value. They are to be seen as interesting guidelines, but not much more than that, because of the inherent limitations of the data.”

      I take them more as evidence for migration and settlement patterns. The Scots-Irish spread around the US quite a bit. Quite a few went to the West Coast and the Northwest, but people don’t tend to associate those places with Scots-Irish.

      The problem is the whole inter-ethnic breeding thingy. There are few US populations that have resisted becoming some variety of American mutt. Even in Appalachia, there are probably few pure breed Scots-Irish left, assuming there are any left at all. Then again, the Scots-Irish were always a mixed bunch and I don’t know that it matters so much.

      For my purposes, I don’t so much care about the idea of inbred ethnic genetics. I’m more interested in the culture. Ethnic cultures can survive as distinct even when the ethnic genetics don’t survive as distinct.

      Reply

      1. @Benjamin:

        But they are of limited use for “ethnic” purposes of the unreliability of self-reported ethnicity.

  33. @hbd chick – “this is to be expected in a more tempermental population — which is what i was trying to point out in my post about nisbett & cohen’s “culture” of honor — it’s not (just) culture, it’s biology. southerners “fly off the handle” more often because they’re tempermental. they’re prone to getting these rises in testosterone when they feel insulted or worked up by something. tempermental. the higher rates of suicides and “accidental” deaths are unfortunate side-effects of being more clannish (i.e. in this case being more tempermental in order to be able to quickly defend your extended family/clan against rival extended families/clans).”

    That is probably a good way of thinking about it. I understand what you’re getting at. That would explain not only the homicides but the rest of it as well. A culture of honor by itself can’t explain why, for example, ‘accidental’ deaths would be increased, although it could explain suicides in terms of shame as honor’s opposite.

    I’d love to see someone test your hypothesis on this population. If there is an inheritable genetic component, it could be discovered through research. Something is causing biological changes such as with testosterone, but the environmental factors would need to be controlled for in determining the precise source and mechanism. I’d be surprised if some genetic difference couldn’t be found.

    Reply

  34. @benjamin – “That is probably a good way of thinking about it. I understand what you’re getting at. That would explain not only the homicides but the rest of it as well. A culture of honor by itself can’t explain why, for example, ‘accidental’ deaths would be increased, although it could explain suicides in terms of shame as honor’s opposite.”

    yes, exactly. if violent, tempermental behavior is selected for because it benefits you and your close family when you fight with the neighboring clan, then tempermental behavior across the board might just increase. it’s hard to see how natural selection would get you genes specifically for violence against outsiders — probably easier just to select for general violence/tempermental genes.

    hackett fischer talked about how in the backcountry population, there was this general feuding between extended families/clans (just like back in the old countries!), but there was also a lot of wife-beating (often regretted almost immediately afterwards). you find this a lot in clannish societies — you find familiy honor and some level of violence against women, and they’re often all rolled up together: the scots-irish in appalachia (as described by hackett fischer), the chechens and other groups in that region, the balkans (see: the albanians), the arabs and other father’s brother’s daughter’s marriage folks, the yanomamo. the yanomamo are some of my favorite — the men are very violent and there is a LOT of killing between village (extended families’) groups — and the women are regularly clobbered over the head — and they (the women) are PROUD of how much their husbands hit them over the head, and happily show off their scars!

    it’s a whole package that seems to go together.

    Reply

  35. @hbd chick – “some peoples may be (are probably, i would bet) more assimilable than others (i’m talking about assimilable into anglo-american society).”

    I wouldn’t argue against that as a general truth. The challenge is in applying that truth to messy reality.

    It is easier to say some people in the past were less assimilable because they weren’t assimilated. Even in that case, all you can say is they weren’t assimilated. Take the Chinese-Americans for example. Even if they wanted to assimilate, American society didn’t want them to assimilate and made sure they remained separate. Other groups have had a similar history of Americans not being sure they wanted them to be a part of the Melting Pot. Blacks and Jews have always been held at a distance by most white Americans, often enforce by laws and vigilante justice. It took a long while for Jews and Irish to be considered white in America, but now they seem as white as any Puritan-descended New Englander.

    Yes, both Irish and Jews are clannish, seemingly more clannish than blacks and Hispanics. Even so, I don’t think it was an issue of Irish and Jews refusing to assimilate, besides the earliest generations. It just took a while for other whites to finally accept them into the club. The same thing almost inevitably will happen for Hispanics and Asians.

    About groups still excluded from dominant society, it’s hard to know what might have happened if a group had been treated differently. And it is hard to know who to blame for some group not being assimilated. Assimilation is a collective effort that can fail both by those potentially being assimilated and those already assimilated.

    Consider the Hispanics, since they are such a hot topic right now. When North Mexico was annexed by the US, as I understand it (correct me if I’m wrong) Hispanics were legally listed as ‘white’. Part of the sudden recent increase of Hispanics might simply be more of them self-identifying as Hispanic instead of as white, once again for legal reasons (of benefits or whatever), not necessarily for reasons of Hispanic pride. Hispanic Americans are already one of the most mixed-race groups in the US with a massive does of Anglo thrown in.

    So, are Hispanics assimilable? The fact that so many of them still willingly choose the white label seems to imply that they want to assimilate. In fact, a majority of many groups of Hispanics identify as white:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/10/which-hispanics-identify-as-white/#.Ue1gO9LMCSo

    White Hispanic Amreicans don’t appear to be particularly inbreeding, actually trending toward outbreeding if anything:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Hispanic_and_Latino_Americans#Marriage_trends

    “A study of married, Hispanic, male householders revealed that U.S.-born Hispanic Whites often marry a non-Hispanic partner, although 66% still marry a Hispanic White partner. In comparison, 88% of foreign-born Hispanic White males married Hispanic White wives. Regarding U.S.-born people only, White women of non-Hispanic origin are many times more likely to marry Hispanic men of Some other race than are Hispanic White women, as 19% of native-born Hispanic Some other race householders are married to non-Hispanic White wives, compared to 2% who are married to Hispanic White wives. Hispanics who identify as “White” are roughly 1.5 times as likely to marry non-Hispanic Whites as Hispanics who do not. (Trends for Hispanic wives marrying non-Hispanic White husbands are not shown on this table.)”

    Many of those who self-identify as Hispanic or similar labels do so for practical reasons and don’t even see it as a race:

    “Like many Hispanic Americans, Ms. Rodriguez does not think of herself as black or white. ”I acknowledge I have both black and white ancestry in me, but I choose to label myself in nonracial terms: Latina. Hispanic. Puerto Rican. Nuyorican,” Ms. Rodriguez, 31, said. ”I feel that being Latina implies mixed racial heritage, and I wish more people knew that. Why should I have to choose?””

    Another thing the article notes is that:

    “A recent study by the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research at the State University of New York at Albany noted that the popularity of the ”some other race” category came at the expense of the ”white” category, which was the choice of the majority of Latino respondents in 1980.”

    So, there was a trend of Hispanics choosing to self-identify (assimilate?) as white. Something changed in the 1980s. What? I’m thinking that Hispanics felt increasingly rejected by whites and so increasingly rejected the white label. This is the problem of assimilation in America. A group can only assimilate if the dominant groups allow them to assimilate. Even so, I’d say many Hispanics are seeking to assimilate. I would point out the fact that traditionally Catholic Hispanics are increasingly switching to Protestantism which implies a conversion to American Protestant culture.

    Plus, many Americans with some Hispanic ancestry only see it as a small part of their ancestry. So why should it define them rather than some other aspect of their ancestry?

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/05/majority_minority_america_will_more_hispanics_and_asians_become_white_.html

    Even ignoring labels, genetics show Hispanics in America to be a mixed bunch. I’ve heard some say those from Mexico are about 10% European, but I’d suspect Nortenos who have been in the US for as long as their land was annexed have much higher rates of European genetics. Some Hispanic immigrants from certain countries such as Cuba tend to be more white, often mostly European genetics. Then there are a significant number of Hispanic Americans who are purely of Spanish descent because their families came directly from Europe.

    Here is a detailed post that analyzes the Hispanic populations:’

    http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2009/02/28/the-racial-makeup-of-hispanics/

    All of these people are technically Hispanic because it isn’t a label intended to designate race. That is why the census asks Hispanics to identify their race as a separate question. Even the concept of Hispanic is uncertain in its meaning which was explained well by this person:

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×3315750

    “The term non-Hispanic white is used on many forms in the USA. I thought white was meant to describe anyone with solely European ancestry. Why are white people from parts of Spain not considered white? A white Catalonian Spanish person (someone from Barcelona)qualifies as white because their first language is Catalan, not Spanish. A Basque Spanish person is white because Spanish is not their first language, but a Spanish person from Madrid is not considered white in the USA?

    “Also white Brazilians are considered white in the USA, because their first language is Portuguese, but a White Argentinian (even those of Italian or Portuguese ancestry) is not considered white because they speak Spanish as their first language. Mexicans who have 100% European ancestry are not white because they speak Spanish?

    “Why does speaking Spanish rule out someone being considered white? If white is a racial category how does language come into play?”

    It seems concepts are changing. Hispanics used to be categorized by censuses as white, but then they created the Hispanic category that was separate from white. Then they made Hispanic as a non-racial category that was added to races such as black or white, Apparently, Hispanic oddly was constructed to originally exclude those from Spain and now it has been changed to include those from Spain:

    http://www.vpaa.uillinois.edu/RaceEthnicity/New%20Data%20Collection%20on%20Race%20persons%20from%20Spain.pdf

    Speaking of the question of groups being assimilable, many Southern whites especially rural Scots-Irish are still not certain whether they want to assimilate toward some greater American identity. In some ways, when a rural Southerner calls themselves ‘American’ I wonder if that partly gives evidence to a view that they wish the South was still the dominant culture in America, as it was politically dominant a couple of centuries ago. They like to think of the South as true America and so the rest of America should have to assimilate to their culture. Southerners do seem to be fond of referring to Real Americans by which they mean themselves. The ideal of Melting Pot assimilation is a Northern value and in this sense the notion of the Melting Pot American identity is a Northern perception of America. This puts the South in an odd position for assimilation to Southern culture has for a long time been antagonistic to assimilation to the larger American culture.

    This has led to America being a divided country for its entire history, and this is without even considering any Americans besides whites. Talk about a failure of assimilation.

    Assimilation is complicated. It is a two way street. This requires cooperation, but it also requires the influence going both ways. As Southerners aren’t sure they want to be Americans in the sense that this applies outside the South, Americans outside the South aren’t sure they want the concept of America to be Southernized. I’m of the opinion that if white people in America were so great at assimilation the Civil War would never have happened.

    At the article you linked, M.G. wrote in the comments section:

    http://thosewhocansee.blogspot.com/2012/09/were-you-assimilable.html?showComment=1347836524230#c7931949611430067017

    “There is something really odd about the whole Irish question. They seem pretty normal and first-world today, both in their country and out of it, but to read reports from a couple hundred years ago you’d think people were talking about Australian aborigenes. What happened there?”

    I’m reminded of the IQ issue as well. Isn’t there a set of data that shows the Irish IQ was low when they were tested early on, but now they test higher. Anyway, the British have always been concerned about the Irish, both in terms of lack of assimilating and the clannish violence that can go along with that. The British saw them as low class.

    Many British worry about that in contemporary Britain and back in centuries past they worried even more. The whole reason the Scots-Irish were brought to Ulster was because the Irish wouldn’t be good British citizens, as the British government thought they should be. In the colonies, the British weren’t sure any of the non-English British immigrants would ever assimilate. The same worry continued into early American history when many Anglos called the Irish “niggers”.

    Eventually, the Irish did assimilate or rather were allowed to assimilate, but plenty of people for centuries felt certain they were unassimilable. Those people turned out to be wrong. It is hard to say who is assimilable or not. Assimilation is one of those things that is a very slow process, so slow that it is hard for us to detect over our short lives..

    Reply

  36. @hbd chick – “please, don’t confuse outbreeding (mating with beyond second cousins) with inter-breeding between different ethnic groups/races. different things, really.”

    It’s not confusion. it’s simply acknowledging the extensive overlap between outbreeding and interbreeding in the American population. If this wasn’t the case, we’d still have African-Americans who were entirely African in genetics, Anglo-Americans who were entirely English in genetics. Irish who were entirely Irish in genetics, Germans who were entirely German in genetics, Italians who were entirely Italian in genetics, Native Americans who were entirely Native American in genetics, and on and on and on. Americans are both an outbreeding and interbreeding people.

    This isn’t to say this is true for all Americans, but I suspect it is true for most Americans. It is true there are plenty of new immigrants coming in every year whose ancestry is of a single country, but even that is deceiving. Most European countries include multiple genetic lines. The Spanish for example have the Basque who are genetically, culturally and linguistically separate from other Spanish people. The English, of course, are a complete mess of mixed genetics from many different places and races.

    Maybe we Americans inherited our outbreeding/interbreeding tendencies from the British tradition of the same. It’s an Anglo-American tradition to breed with new people. So, to defend our Anglo-American culture, we better continue the tradition. The clannish Americans such as the Scots-Irish who fought against this Anglo-American tradition are undermining the American Way. LOL

    “the former, if done over the long term, can (can) lead to more individualistic/universalistic societies (i think) — the latter, not necessarily.”

    The former and the latter led to America as we know it. It has been going on for a very long time, longer than the US has existed as a country. I don’t know if the Anglo-American tradition of outbreeding/interbreeding is the best way to run a country, but I’ve become fond of the America that has been produced by this traditional practice. It is hard for me to imagine an America divided up by completely isolated ethnic enclaves/islands of genetically pure English, Irish, Scottish, German, Scandinavians, French, Russians, Italians, Spaniards, Native Americans, etc.

    In the end, I’m being descriptive more than I’m being prescriptive. I honestly don’t know the best way to run a country or to breed among people. I’m not an expert in such matters. All I know is that I find this crazy experiment going on in America to be the most fascinating thing going on in the world. No one has ever attempted to create such a diverse society in all of human history. Maybe it will fail, but I hope we carry the experiment to its full extent just to find out what will come of it. Why stop now after all this effort in keeping it going?

    Reply

  37. @hbd chick – “i’m hardly a mix at all! i’m mostly one thing (possibly something else, too) with a dash of germanic — but that dash of germanic goes back to the middle ages! — so it’s prolly really just a dash at this point.”

    You bring up a useful perspective. I’m a mixed person and I meet so many people who are mixed. In doing genealogical research, I’ve looked at probably thousands of family trees at this point. It is mind-blowing how ethnically mixed up many Americans are.

    I suspect your more ethnically pure ancestry is pretty freaking rare these days, at least for those whose family has been here for more than a generation or two. There are some groups that are more exceptions to this rule of the American mutt, but why they stand out in my mind is because they are exceptions.

    Nonetheless, exceptions are Americans too.

    Reply

  38. That is a very uncharitable reading of Woodard – a much more reasonable interpretation is that genetic relatedness is not a requirement for national identity (which is trivially true). A stronger claim would be that national identity and genetic relatedness are not strongly correlated. That would be an interesting hypothesis to test and the population of Koreans adopted into French households would make an interesting test case.

    Reply

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