Saturday, 28 March 2009

Beyond The Pale?

Like the Spanish “Hamilton Family” not so long ago, Berlusconi’s not terribly remarkable remarks about being “paler than Obama” speak of the ambivalence at the heart, if not of the whole of his country, then certainly of a very great deal of it.

To affluent Northern Italians such as flock to Berlusconi and his coalition partners, “Garibaldi did not unite Italy, he partitioned Africa”, and “Naples is the only Arab city without a European quarter”.

Sicilians, by contrast, talk about “the Continent” just as we do, and do so in what for some reason has to be referred to as a particularly impenetrable dialect. In fact, that language is, like so much else on their island, a living monument to their identity as basically Latins, but Latins who are also in large part Greeks, Turks, Arabs, Jews, all sorts.

Meanwhile, have you ever seen any people from those areas only incorporated into Spain in 1492 or not much earlier? How Roman or how Gothic did they look to you? The Moors and the Jews were there for a very long time, and what goes on went on, Islam or no Islam, Judaism or no Judaism, and Catholicism or no Catholicism.

Paella is a variant on a dish found all the way to once-Mughal India and thence around the world (even to Saint Helena, where a rice-based, yellowed staple is called “plow”, to rhyme with “snow”). Numerous fiesta practices are clearly North African, analogous to the survival of berry-hanging at Christmas. All those very common “ez” names (Gomez, Fernandez, Gonzalez, Martinez, &c) are really Jewish. And so on, and on, and on.

Who is not a member of the “Hamilton Family”? Who is really “paler than Obama”? Even the Queen is descended, not only from the “negroid” Queen Charlotte, but, through Elizabeth of York, via the Kings of Portugal and Castille, from the old Moorish Kings of Seville. And thence from none other than the Muhammad himself.


  1. "analogous to the survival of berry-hanging at Christmas"


    You'll be the only MP elected next year who knows any of this unless they read this blog.

  2. Pagan? No, Late Mediaeval, left over from round about, oh, 1491-ish. Or, in these islands, later than that.

    Little or nothing is even known about the pre-Christian religions here, and absolutely no aspect of them survives.

    The things lazily labelled "pagan" are in fact Mediaeval, and usually Late Mediaeval at that, but were branded as pagan by Protestant polemicists, mostly as late as the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    And you are very kind.

  3. "All those very common “ez” names (Gomez, Fernandez, Gonzalez, Martinez, &c) are really Jewish."

    Could you explain the origin of these -ez suffix names in Hebrew; which letter(s) are equivalent in Hebrew to -ez in Spanish and -es in Portuguese? I'm intrigued...

    Pax vobiscum

  4. Oh, they are not Hebrew, any more than, say, Lieberman, or Marx, or Bernstein is Hebrew. But they are Jewish.