Congressional caucus would champion "Anglo-Saxon" traditions

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Nikole Killion
·5 min read
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A controversial new caucus that is expected to be introduced in the House would champion "Anglo-Saxon political traditions" and work toward infrastructure "that reflects the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture," according to a document that appears to describe the caucus.

The document was first reported on Friday by Punchbowl News, which said Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar are behind the "America First Caucus."

On Saturday, in an apparent reference to Punchbowl News' reporting, Greene claimed on Twitter that the document was a "staff level draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn't read."  

In a statement to CBS News, Greene's communications director Nick Dyer said the caucus' platform will be "announced to the public very soon." 

Greene is a controversial figure who was stripped of her committee assignments earlier this year in response to her previous promotion of conspiracy theories, racist social media posts and apparent endorsement of violence against Democrats.

GOP Representative Louie Gohmert, a staunch ally of former President Trump who was reportedly invited to join the caucus, told CBS News on Friday that he is looking at the language but had not yet made a decision on whether to join and was unaware of other potential members. He said he did not know when the caucus would be launched. 

"Well, I haven't seen that but it's not supposed to be about race at all," Gohmert said when asked about the specific language. "I'll have to go back and look."

Earlier on Friday, he described the objectives of the prospective caucus to reporters as "not selfish."

"If we let our country go without taking care of America, making sure we are viable for the future, then we're not going to be in a position to help the other countries and that would be a tragedy for the world. So, it's not selfish. It's just trying to get our own country in order so it's sustainable and is sustained so that we can help other countries," Gohmert said. 

Gosar's office has not responded to requests for comment.

Representative Matt Gaetz, another ally of Mr. Trump, tweeted Friday that he was "proud" the join the caucus.

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy implicitly criticized the draft caucus platform in a tweet on Friday, although he did not mention Greene or Gosar by name.

"America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn't built on identity, race, or religion. The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles," McCarthy wrote.

A document about the caucus titled "America First Caucus Policy Platform" says it exists "to promote Congressional policies that are to the long-term benefit of the American nation." It says "a certain intellectual boldness is needed" among its members "to follow in President Trump's footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation."

The document employs nativist language to discourage illegal as well as legal immigration, arguing that "we cannot ignore the impact mass immigration has on reducing job opportunities and depreciating wages for Americans."

"America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions," the draft caucus platform says. "History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country."

The platform discourages birthright citizenship and claims that immigrants who came to the United States before 1965 "were more educated, earned higher wages, and did not have an expansive welfare state to fall back on when they could not make it in America and thus did not stay in the country at the expense of the native-born."

Since 1960, there has been a major shift in countries of origin for immigrants to the United States. According to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, the shift has been from mostly European countries to mostly Latin American and Asian countries, with recent large contingents of immigrants originating in Africa as well. The United States implemented a series of racist immigration policies in the 19th and early 20th centuries aimed at restricting immigration from non-European countries, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 — the year explicitly mentioned by the caucus platform as a turning point for immigration — ended the national origins quotas that ensured immigrants primarily came from European countries. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the quotas, in place since the 1920s, were "designed to favor Western and Northern European countries and drastically limit admission of immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Southern and Eastern Europe."

The platform also calls on American infrastructure to be modeled after "European architecture," which is described as "classically beautiful."

The focus on "Anglo-Saxon" and European terminology could be read as a veiled analogy for "White." The term "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant," or WASP, has traditionally been used in American culture to denote wealthy White families, typically with British ancestries. The Anglo-Saxons were a group who inhabited England prior to the Norman invasion of 1066.

American white nationalists have also relied heavily on medieval, viking and Anglo-Saxon imagery to justify their prejudice. During the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, some marchers carried banners with Anglo-Saxon runes, iconography that was also used by the Nazis.

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