Archive for the ‘Irish’ Category

More Bad Taste from Starbucks

I can’t think of a reason to want to buy Starbucks’ Coffee: They allow gun toting clients in the USA (“would you like hot lead with that?”).

Now, they have the bad taste to ask the Irish why they are proud to be British!

Inviting followers on Twitter to “show us what makes you proud to be British” as part of a diamond jubilee promotion must have seemed like a good idea at the time at Starbucks.

But after tweeting the invitation to nearly 2,000 Irish followers of its Twitter account on Tuesday, the coffee giant has been on the receiving end of a backlash over its seemingly shaky grasp of political geography.

If allowing gun toting customers isn’t bad enough, they have to show how DUMB they are by asking Hibernians (the Irish) if they are proud to be British--TWO DIFFERENT ISLANDS.

I should repost the C G P Grey video post about the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain

It never fails to amaze me how culturally ignorant the Yanks are with this  error coming months after another global brand, Nike, found itself on the back foot after falling foul of sensitivities over Irish history.

The sportswear giant said no offence was intended after issuing a St Patrick’s Day-themed shoe which raised memories of a British paramilitary unit which gained notoriety during the Irish war of independence.


The Sources of US history

The United States, and the Western Hemisphere for that matter, did not spring up tabula rasa, but have roots in European History. In the Case of the United States and Canada, that history is closely tied to English, Scottish, and to some extent French History. The two strongest roots being English and Scottish in the US (Canada and Louisiana have closer ties to the French history). The problem is that Scottish history is pretty much neglected in the US, which is a shame.

Not that I wasn’t somewhat aware of Scottish contributions to North American History. My friend, Neil Oliver, forced this into my attention with his excellent works on Scottish history. What is really hammering the point home though is that I am reading Arthur Herman’s How the Scots Invented the Modern World. Herman’s book is an enjoyable read and a very edifying work on Scottish history from the Reformation forward. What I particularly like about it is how he links Scottish and World history, with an emphasis on North American.

Of course, there is a comment about John Witherspoon moving to New Jersey to take the job at Princeton that I found quite amusing:

Reading the handwriting on the wall, Witherspoon accepted an offer from the American Colonies he had declined befor: to become president of the College of New Jersey in Princeton. In that guise, he will reappear in the next chapter…But in 1768, his departure marked the final triumph of the Moderates and their vision for an enlightened Church of Scotland.

Of course, the Next chapter would be the American War for Independence and John Witherspoon was a fundamentalist of the extreme right wing variety who was highly influential in the Independence movement. Naturally, I thought that Scotland did not have much of a loss when it sent Witherspoon to the Colonies. That move was far more detrimental to North American politics in many different ways. Of course, Witherspoon, as were others in the North American Independence movement were far more influenced by Scottish than English history. One commentor has mentioned that the rebellious nature of US politics comes from the Scots, Scots/Irish, Irish, and Border Country than English politics. This would be because of the unsettled nature of those people during this period. After all, the last actual battles on British soil took place during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.

Whether I am totally in agreement with that last comment needs to be seen.

But, it stands for certain that many of the concepts that are present in US history have roots in the history of Britain, whether English or Scottish. In my opinion, Scottish history is far too neglected in the North American curriculum. I strongly suggest that anyone interested in this topic read the books below.

Neil Oliver, A History of Scotland
Arthur Herman, How the Scots Invented the Modern World