We say a lot of things in our guidebooks and TV shows. And while we try to be accurate and fair, we don’t shy away from issues that tourist industry advertisers would rather travel journalists avoid. We appreciate the feedback we get from our caring readers, viewers, and travelers. I find that many comments that seem snarky and mean-spirited are a symptom of how people think they need to be shrill to be heard in the din of electronic communication these days, so I strive to not fixate on the volume and try to understand the concern. I recently received a good comment from a Scottish patriot — who must know far more than I do about Scotland’s struggles with England — angry about something I said on TV.
First, here’s an excerpt from the script that offended him:
Scotland’s long underdog struggle with England found inspiration from romantic and almost legendary Scottish leaders. Mary Queen of Scots — educated and raised in France during the Renaissance — brought refinement to the Scottish throne. She was imprisoned and executed by the English. Her memory stoked the irrepressible Scottish spirit. Two centuries later, another Scottish hero, Bonnie Prince Charlie, led the last hurrah in Scotland’s long battle for independence. … Eventually the Scots were quelled and united with England. Enjoying peace, stability, and English investment as the Industrial Revolution swept Britain, many hardworking Scots prospered.
And here’s his response:
As a Scot, I was outraged to hear Rick Steves say on this program that Scotland had been “quelled” by the English. That did not happen. We had expelled the English from Scotland long before. Scotland was joined with England because, when Elizabeth I died, she left no children and James the VI of Scotland, the son of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, was asked by England to succeed to its throne. This is known as “the union of the crowns” and the “union of the parliaments” came some time later. Steves should make a public and abject apology for this insult to Scottish pride!
Dear Outraged: Here’s my public and abject apology. I consider myself a supporter of all underdogs, wherever there are struggles between empires and ethnic groups. In the case of Scotland, I believed that it was a generally one-sided union dominated by London. Far more Scotsmen have died, per capita, than Englishmen in defending the British Empire over the centuries, and Scotland just recently got its parliament back on Scottish soil for the first time since 1707. But I surely am sorry if I insulted Scottish pride. Freeeeeedom!!!