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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Story of Robert Burns (and Burns Night, January 25th); Scotland; the Scottish Legacy

Watch a short animation video from Visit Scotland

More, from the Scottish Poetry Library

Complete Works

Aspects of the Scottish influence and legacy:

How the Scots Invented the Modern World

"Mention of Scotland and the Scots usually conjures up images of kilts, bagpipes, Scotch whisky, and golf. But as historian and author Arthur Herman demonstrates, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Scotland earned the respect of the rest of the world for its crucial contributions to science, philosophy, literature, education, medicine, commerce, and politics—contributions that have formed and nurtured the modern West ever since. Arthur Herman has charted a fascinating journey across the centuries of Scottish history. He lucidly summarizes the ideas, discoveries, and achievements that made this small country facing on the North Atlantic an inspiration and driving force in world history. Here is the untold story of how John Knox and the Church of Scotland laid the foundation for our modern idea of democracy; how the Scottish Enlightenment helped to inspire both the American Revolution and the U.S. Constitution; and how thousands of Scottish immigrants left their homes to create the American frontier, the Australian outback, and the British Empire in India and Hong Kong".

“The point of this book is that being Scottish turns out to be more than just a matter of nationality or place of origin or clan or even culture. It is also a state of mind, a way of viewing the world and our place in it. . . . This is the story of how the Scots created the basic idea of modernity. It will show how that idea transformed their own culture and society in the eighteenth century, and how they carried it with them wherever they went. Obviously, the Scots did not do everything by themselves: other nations—Germans, French, English, Italians, Russians, and many others—have their place in the making of the modern world. But it is the Scots more than anyone else who have created the lens through which we see the final product. When we gaze out on a contemporary world shaped by technology, capitalism, and modern democracy, and struggle to find our place as individuals in it, we are in effect viewing the world as the Scots did. . . . The story of Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is one of hard-earned triumph and heart-rending tragedy, spilled blood and ruined lives, as well as of great achievement.”

Scotland and the Klan (BBC iPlayer, 29 days only)

Programme Details:

"Scotland has exported many great things to the rest of the world, and people like Neil Oliver have often celebrated the disproportionate impact of its ideas and energy on places like America. The role of Scots in shaping the concept of the American Dream is a story often told, but could Scottish settlers have also had a hand in America's racist nightmare? Neil Oliver travels over 2,000 miles to examine links between racism today in the Deep South and the Scottish settlers that first occupied it. Throughout the 18th century, hundreds of thousands of Scots emigrated to America, and some believe that it was their wariness and moral certainty that significantly shaped the south into an isolated, fearful society that easily took to slave-owning when the opportunity came. Walter Scott, the creator of a romantic vision of the 'Old Country' is blamed for reinforcing their fantasy world of Georgian gentility. When that world was threatened, the southern states opted for civil war rather than give it up. After the devastating war, attitudes in the south were hardened by defeat and fear of the now-freed slaves. When six Scottish-American former Confederate officers formed a fraternal society, clan turned to Klan".

Strange to think that a verse of Robert Burns (from "Address To The Deil") is quoted on the title page of the founding constitution (The Prescript)  of the Ku-Klux Klan (watch video at 26.10 mark):

"An' now, Auld Cloots, I ken ye're thinkin,
A certain Bardie's rantin, drinkin,
Some luckless hour will send him linkin,
To your black pit;
But faith! he'll turn a corner jinkin,
An' cheat you yet".

The works of both Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns seem to have been appropriated or exploited in the Southern States of the USA and by the KKK.

I don't think the KKK is mentioned by Arthur Herman in his book. which has several wide-ranging chapters on the Scots in America/USA. Not all Scots were equally enlightened.

Bob Wamble of Pulaski, Tennessee, talks to Neil Oliver (Scottish Daily Mail, 1 October 2016) - "How Scots founded Ku-Klux Klan to 'serenade pretty girls'".

The six founders of the 'Clan' were Calvin E. Jones, John B. Kennedy, Frank O. McCord, John C. Lester, Richard R. Reed and James R. Crowe - all six apparently of Scottish descent. Ku-Klux comes from the Greek kuklos (circle).

Joe Jones, American Justice, 1933

The Midnight Rangers, September 3, 1866 - scroll up a little to view photograph of the musicians

Did Sir Walter Scott invent Scotland? Dr Juliet Shields

Above - Two woodcuts by G.W. Lennox Paterson, for the Bicentenary edition of "Poetical Works of Robert Burns" (1958).

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