I’ve now been asked this question, “But what is a WASP?” several times. In comments. In emails. And since I have the dadgum word all over the blog it does seem like it’s my responsibility to offer a definition. But first, let me just say, that sheer fact that I am asked this question is a sign of the how much the world has changed since I was born. In 1956. Yeah, so last century.
WASP stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. We could leave it at that. But like many terms, WASP has several layers of meaning. White. Well, we all by now should have a sense of the multiple meanings there. Largely these days, and for the good, around what it means to be not-White. As for Anglo-Saxon, it used to matter whether you were from Italy, France, Spain, vs. England, Scotland, Ireland, or Germany. How silly. Germany/Belgium/Netherlands are the Saxons. Protestant. In the days when WASPs ruled the Western world, they were really only trying to tell the Catholics to go away. They failed.
But that’s the simple meaning set. The complex meaning is, um, gee, complex. It was the WASPs who originally took sail across the ocean, left England and Scotland, maybe Ireland behind, and founded America. It was those same WASPs who then set mysterious standards, complete with arcane artifacts, to keep what they had won to themselves. I hope the values can be separated from the artifacts. And that’s what I’m trying to do here. Along of course with amusing myself and anyone else who shares may somewhat cracked sense of humor. To speak for the values that drove us to leave behind our sheep farming and cheese making, and to brave very deep oceans. The values that created a society in which we really did believe that your effort trumps your origin. And to repudiate, if it still matters, the devolution of that society into a place of too many noses in the air for no good reason.
And I suppose to discuss the various pieces of cloth we all like to wrap ourselves in. Because at the end of the day fun is still a good goal.