Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scotland forever, more or less

Considering the depressing nature of the news in general, the move toward an independent Scotland that culminates Thursday in a referendum has been kind of a welcome diversion. In case you missed it, Scots will vote tomorrow on whether or not to sever ties with the United Kingdom, thereby reducing the "great" in Great Britain by one major player and apparently breaking Prime Minister David Cameron's heart.

This does not mean the Queen will be out of job north of the border, although it certainly could come to that should independence prevail and the Scots wish it down the road. But the crowns of Scotland and England have been united, more or less, since 1603 when James VI of Scotland became James I of England, too, and that relationship will be unaffected by the vote. Balmoral is in no immediate danger.

James VI and/or I also, of course, put the "king" in the King James translation of the Bible, so beloved by some Protestants that they have declared it's lovely wording, but somewhat slipshod translation, to be the only true expression of God's will for humanity. It's always fun to point out that this James, so highly revered by homophobes, was almost as widely known in his time for his succession of highly placed boyfriends and seems to have been, indeed, a notable "sodomite."

I wish it were possible to claim a clear Scots ancestry, but the overwhelming majority of my ancestors were Scotch-Irish, as they're generally called in the United States; Ulster Scots, elsewhere. 

These were fiercely Presbyterian forebears descended primarily from the lowland Scots peasantry, resettled in what now is Northern Ireland, sometimes called Ulster, in a conscious effort by the English to push the native Irish off their land. These Ulster Scots began flooding into what became the United States during the 18th Century. They were a hardy and rambunctious bunch. Most of the men wore pants, few if any would have considered kilts.

Nor were these Ulster Scots ancestors of ours, despite confusion among their descendants, likely to observe St. Patrick's Day --- or wear green. They were the Orangemen, and could be quite cranky about their Irish neighbors and their adherence to the old faith.

I'll be watching Thursday's results carefully, however, despite the tenuous connection.

No comments: