Skip to comments.WHY AMERICA WAS BORN FIGHTING? - (America's Scots-Irish heritage, never dominated; "true grit,"!)
Posted on 07/04/2005 6:06:58 PM PDT by CHARLITE
In the Appalachian Mountains, writes James Webb in Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, American flags are frequent, on the trucks and in the yards and on the porches. America got bombed and mountain people dont forget, even if it happened in New York and Washington, because when it comes to fighting wars, mountain people have always been among the first to go.
In chronicling the Scots-Irish, Webb writes of the people who made him and, he argues persuasively, America what both are today. It is a close call on which benefited the most from that lineage. Webb is a top graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, the most highly decorated Marine officer of the Vietnam War, a graduate of Georgetown Law School, a former Secretary of the Navy, author of six best selling novels, including the preeminent Vietnam tale, Fields of Fire, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, and author of the screenplay for Paramount Pictures Rules of Engagement. America is, in the words of Scots-Irish Ronald Reagan, a beacon for all who must have freedom, the last best hope of man on earth, and, with Scots-Irish like Sergeant Alvin York leading the way, the defender of that freedom.
Who are these Scots-Irish who shaped America and why is Webbs book the first to give what Tom Wolfe calls the all-but-invisible ethnic group that created the core beliefs of democracy American-style the attention it deserves? Webb writes that 27 million Americans are descendants of the 250,000 to 400,000 Scots-Irish who left Ireland during the eighteenth century and whose bloodline was stained by centuries of continuous warfare along the border between England and Scotland, and later in the bitter settlement of Englands Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland. They settled the mountainous regions of todays Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Within decades, they had spread to southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois; northern Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In another generation, they were the dominant culture in parts of Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. After the Civil War, they helped settle the Rocky Mountains and the Far West.
Scots-Irish culture, which Webb maintains is dominant among Americas working class, is one of values-based combativeness, an insistent egalitarianism, and a refusal to be dominated from above, no matter what the cost. Webb explains why the Scots-Irish history has been allowed to melt into obscurity. First, given their individuality and years of arrival, the Scots-Irish did not wish to be defined by their ethic identity. Second, most literate observers categorize Scots-Irish with settlers of New England and Virginia. Third, literary and academic types lump the Scots-Irish in with the Irish themselves.
In a politically correct world there are more reasons Scots-Irish are invisible. Because of the land they settled they are blamed for the Trouble in Ireland and for taking land from the Indians. Though few owned slaves, they are tarred with the brush of slavery, and, because they fought for the South, they were the racist soldiers of the Nazi-like Confederacy. Plus, theirs is a culture founded on guns and they are the very heartbeat of fundamentalist Christianity, which itself is largely derived from the harsh demands of Scottish Calvinism.
Webb celebrates a culture that shaped the emotional fabric of the nation, defined Americas unique form of populist democracy, created a distinctively American musical style, and, through the power of its insistence on personal honor and adamant individualism, has become the definition of American that others gravitate toward . Yet he does more.
Webb explains the divide, which began during the Vietnam War along cultural and class lines, between the political radicals and the traditionalists who were fighting the war and feared America was being destroyed. That battle continues today; it is a battle from which those of whom Webb writes will not shirk: We were born fighting. And if the cause is right, we will never retreat.
Yep. I resemble that remark.
I read it. Fascinating book.
Same here. I've always been known as a scrapper, even at my age. LOL!
Wonder where the author got that information. While Webb was indeed one of the most highly decorated Marine Corps platoon leaders of the war I believe John Ripley, of the Bridge at Dong Ha fame, earned more decorations in Vietnam.
My grandpa referred to his stock as Scotch-Irish.
Great post Charlite.
"Scots-Irish culture, which Webb maintains is dominant among Americas working class, is one of values-based combativeness, an insistent egalitarianism, and a refusal to be dominated from above, no matter what the cost.
He's talking about my Father, and his Father, and...
"No Kings but Jesus!", is what the old men used to say.
Some of them weren't that sure of Jesus.
I never knew a more proud, independent, patriotic American.......and, as all Scots-Irish people are (including myself!), he was admirably rugged, despite the application of learning. The rugged temperament is always in evidence with "my people!"
Thanks for all of your comments!
Long live American Scots-Irish!
The most decorated Marine in Vietnam was First Sergeant Shannon Brasher.
I like James Webb, but in reality I'm not sure that it really matters. The only ethnic group that matters now is AMERICAN.
However, I now have a HUGE problem with Muslim Americans. If you read their "guide book" (called the Koran), you see clearly that allegiance to that chimera named "Allah," created by an illiterate brigand 1,400 years ago (Muhammed), comes first, last and always.
Since they are taught from babyhood that Islam and "Allah" come first, how can they be true, patriotic Americans?...........let alone part of an "ethnic group" that is American?!
They aren't even allowed to associate with non-Muslims, and their marriages are always arranged with other Muslims, so genetically, they will never assimilate, and I dare say not socially or culturally, either.
I second that resemblance!
My understanding is that in England, nobody messes with a Scotsman face-to-face. The bloody English may have been able to keep them down militarily, but one-on-one nobody messes wi' a Scotsman, he' clean your clock for ye.
Thanks for posting.
I got this as a Christmas gift and read it here in Virginia's Scots-Irish belt.
A great book.
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