The Scots are not native to Scotland.

The Scots are not native to Scotland.

Wait, let me back up. During the Roman period, the people who inhabited Scotland were the Picti, or “painted people.” After the end of the Roman domination of Britain, a tribe from Ireland, known today as the Scots, migrated to northern Britain and fused their culture with the native Picts. Therefore, the culture to which I belong and am so proud of is the result of migration and cultural integration.

But this example is hardly unique to Scotland. In 1066, the Normans arrived in England, fusing themselves with the contemporary Anglo-Saxon culture, itself already being a complicated hybrid of German migrants, and created what we now know of as English. The Franks were a tribe that migrated from the Eurasian landmass, fused with the Celts, and became the modern French.

This is hardly exclusive to Europe. The Turks originated in Central Asia. The Arabs transformed the Middle East and Northern Africa. We can even go back to the Romans, the Greeks, the Assyrians…

People move. Cultures change. Since the beginning of time.

The expectation that some ineffable concept of a “British” culture or a “German” culture—or even an “American” culture—will be as unchanging as something frozen in amber is an idea that is in total denial of how History and Culture actually works.

The people who cling to that concept, as though something will be lost if brown and black faces start appearing in Danish crime dramas, or if Falafel becomes a new staple of German cuisine, are anthropomorphizing a broad concept. Culture is not a person. One culture cannot attack, subvert, or undermine another.

If we’re defending the notion that current nation-states should never change, why aren’t we bemoaning the fact that the Pharaohs no longer rule Egypt? Why aren’t we calling for a return to the Roman system that ruled Europe for so long?

“Western culture” has hugely changed over the last three hundred years. Western culture used to include human slavery, and treating women as chattel. Maybe we can let it change a little more.

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