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The US Government struggles to understand what it means to be English.

Bryan Edwards

There are endless difficulties in definitions. Here's an excellent example.

The USA is undertaking research into crime against and within ethnic racial groups. It is trying hard to define groups. Here's a quote: " If issuing specific guidelines for the collection of detailed White race and ethnicity data, should OMB adopt the NCT format, which includes separately German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, and French?"

It's not the fault of the US Government that it's confused. We, the English, have the most tangled ethnicity imaginable. The only effective classification for us is "unclassifiable."

Here's the problem: "English" is not a definable racial or ethnic group. We are the most bastardised mongrels on the planet. There is no definable "English" DNA set. Ironically, there are regional DNA sets in some parts of England - and of course if Irish are classified separately, then so should Scots and Welsh be (there are definite hereditary characteristics in both countries although whether that is enough to define them as an ethnic group or race is open for discussion). I heard someone saying "I'm British Indian but I'll never be English" - and that is probably true, in his lifetime. But in a few hundred years of inter-breeding, his descendants will be - and by that the DNA mix of "the English" will be further lacking in clarity.

For those cultures which in-breed, they will never integrate and will never be English.

In the USA, some 15 years or so ago, it was said that 40% of Americans were of Irish extraction. It's weird: Jews say they are a race but the USA does not list them as such. But in other cases, it's given up entirely, saying "The Subgroup proposes no changes be made to the current standards to specifically incorporate the following geographic locations into any existing race or ethnicity category: Australian (including the original people of Australia/the Aborigines), Brazilian, Cape Verdean, New Zealander and Papua New Guinean. "

I don't envy them the task of trying to make a brute-force classification of an area that has long developed fuzzy boundaries.

After all, if we check out the DNA of much of the world, we'll find bits of Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish and various British tribes all over the place.

There seems to be an evolving plan to let people self-describe. That's an awful idea. That allows the nutcases like Halley Berry who follow the "one drop" principle to provide slewed data, social not genetic, and that helps no one.

Mixed race people are mixed race: they are not black and they are not white, for example. While, later generations may be predominantly one or another, that does not create a singularity.

The poor group trying to sort it out has issued a six month consultation period. Even before that it's had more than 3,000 submissions.

What an utterly horrible job.