Skip to comments.DNA Doesn't Define Who We Really Are
Posted on 10/19/2018 5:38:58 AM PDT by Kaslin
Sen. Elizabeth Warren's big reveal that she's got a little Native American DNA in her deserves all the mockery it's getting. But I just want to use it as an excuse to explain why I hate the way we talk about DNA and identity.
Consider Kyle Merker. You've probably seen the Ancestry.com commercial featuring his story. It begins with him declaring: "Growing up were German."
"We danced in a German dance group," he continues. "We wore lederhosen." We then see him doing a little German dance in his lederhosen.
Merker signed up for Ancestry.com and noticed very few Germans in his family tree. So he had his DNA tested through Ancestry.com's test service and discovered: "We're not German at all. Fifty-two percent of my DNA comes from Scotland and Ireland." In the ad, a little pie chart shows that the rest comes from Scandinavia, Italy, Greece and "other."
And then the kicker: "I traded in my lederhosen for a kilt," Merker says. And we see him in his authentic Scottish garb with a big smile.
This is terrible. And Merker is hardly alone. Other ads and services make similar appeals. And they are all based on the idea that your "real" culture and identity exists in your DNA. That is grotesque and profoundly illiberal.
Every single person reading this column can trace his or her DNA back to some ancient ancestor who hunted antelope on some African savanna or Asian steppe. That doesn't mean my real identity is caveman or nomadic hunter. Most of us -- white, black, Asian, etc. -- probably have ancestors who were serfs or slaves. All of our family trees are top-heavy with pagans and animists. That is not who we are.
I don't want to pick on Merker. He seems like an entirely decent fellow. Nor do I want to say that investigating your family tree or your DNA is a bad idea. That stuff is fascinating and has all sorts of benefits. But the idea that one could be raised by a family that takes a certain heritage to heart and then cast it aside because of a pie chart on a DNA test is terribly sad to me.
Some people I know are passionate about their Irish heritage and are "black Irish" -- i.e., they have dark eyes and hair and, sometimes, a more Mediterranean complexion. One theory is that they are descendants of Spanish sailors who were stranded on the Irish coast in the 1500s. Another is that they can trace their roots back to one of the countless invasions by Vikings or Normans over the centuries.
I don't begrudge anyone who wants to investigate how their people came to Ireland. But why would you throw away your culture and identity because five, 10 or 20 generations ago your great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather or grandmother came from somewhere else? Many Italians have a smorgasbord of DNA in them -- from the Moors or other invaders. Are they not "real Italians"?
There's a term for this kind of thinking: "racial purity."
Elizabeth Warren used a small blip on her retroactive genetic radar to claim a heritage she does not have and to get credit for a culture to which she does not belong. Indeed, if her DNA test came back with much "better" results -- say, 25 percent Native American DNA instead of somewhere between 1/64th and 1/1,024th -- it would still be tawdry for her to borrow a culture and heritage that is not hers, particularly to advance her career, because she was not remotely raised as a Cherokee. She does not speak their language, is not fluent in their customs or culture, and has little to no factual claim to their story.
"A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship," the Cherokee nation explained in a statement lambasting Warren.
The idea that you are what your DNA says you are is illiberal, because liberalism (in the classical sense) is premised on the idea the individual is more than just bloodlines. Think of it this way: You know what you call an American citizen with Irish DNA going 300 or 1,000 years? An American. (Or, if you really care, an Irish-American.) That so many people aren't content with that is a symptom of a much deeper problem with our society today.
“DNA Doesn’t Define Who We Really Are”
Oh good greif charlie brown.
PKDick was writing science fiction stories to address concepts of existence, reality and identity and what makes you who you are many decades ago, and that was cool. Not only is this lame and not cutting into the real philosophical (and spiritual?) questions, it’s impetus is political. Forgive me for not reading past the first few sentences and assuming it’s as deep as the newsprint the NYT is printed on
Good article. We only get 46 genes and a bit of other stray genetic material (most notably mitochondrial DNA). This means that beyond great-great grandparents, there are a bunch of people who are ancestors—people whose existence is important for our existence, and whose actions may have had definable impact on us, but to whom we more likely than not are not related in a genetic way. There is an exception along the straight matrileneal line, as well, for guys, among the straight paternal line, but these exceptions just make every one else that much less likely.
I am aware that genetic crossovers do sometimes happen between chromosomes, which complicates matters potentially
OTOH, Rachael Dolezal and Shaun White are still white, Bruce Jenner is still male, and Elizabeth Warren and Ward Churchill are still not Indian.
I have not studied these sites but it is obvious even to a casual observer that these tests are full of problems. The big one is just who or what they use for their database.
Are their employees reliable? Do they take too many shortcuts?
All this proves is that Jonah is still an idiot who is incapable of making a valid point.
So, keep your friends close and your Lederhosen closer? ;)
I will never have this DNA testing done. It smacks of Big Brother Micro-chipping me. *SHUDDER*
I know who/what my parents are and I knew all four of my grandparents and 1 of my ‘greats’ while I was growing up. So HAPPY that my great-greats came to America from Germany, that’s for sure!
I’m comfortable in my own skin, Thanks!
The root of this whole problem is that our Federal Laws say we cannot discriminate because of race , sex, color, or creed YET the same Federal Laws state that Private Institutions and companies, and Federal employers MUST discriminate because of race,sex, color, or creed (affirmative action).
Only Barack Obama can decide who we are.
Elizabeth Warren lied about her ancestry to:
-Advance her self-interest in gaining college admission.
-Advance her self-interest in gaining law school admission.
-Advance her self-interest in attainting employment.
-Advance her self-interest in attaining political office.
Lying for personal gain, profit and power.
IOW, a typical amoral Leftist.
I suspect throughout time people have assumed other countries of origin for various reasons.
Jonah’s entirely too worked up over a silly commercial, and attaching entirely too much meaning to something that is likely just an interesting bit of information to which few attach such profound meaning.
We almost forgot the new rule that we can be whatever we decide to be, and it can change daily (or more often).
So, if Warren wants to be Native American, who are we to suggest otherwise?
But look at the cheek bones! < /s>
A DNA test doesn’t say who you are. But when you say that you are “a person of color”, ‘a Cherokee”, “a Native American”, “a Delaware”, and your parents were discriminated against for being half-breed, and you were brought up with an “Indian culture”, then a DNA test along with testimony of your relatives can determine if your statement is true. Warren’s statement is clearly false, even when you give her every benefit of the doubt. She is lying and she benefits from that lie.
Warren could do what many of us do. We don’t tell our employers what our minority ethnic make-up is. We don’t say we are Swedish American on promotional material. We know that being white is a negative when we are looking for a job. But Warren chose a different path than almost all white Americans. And her actions brought this on. She got jobs, kept her safety in jobs (no one fires an American Indian if they can help it), promoted her appearances, and her institution, Harvard, promoted themselves by hiring her. While Harvard may say that her ethnic background did not matter, it clearly does. This is an institution that promotes its diverse staff. They are even being sued for racism with regard to their student selection. And they don’t deny it either. They say reverse racism is ok. So its hard to believe that Warren would have gotten her job at Harvard. She was in know way unique, unless you say that she got her job through nepotism because of her husband.
The reality is that Harvard promotes diversity above all else. And their understanding of diversity is race and gender. They give the most highly sought after diplomas to the best people of color they can find. They offer the most sought after education positions in the country, to people of color. So when Warren takes one of those positions because she lied on her resume, she is taking the position from a person of color. AND WHEN HARVARD PROMOTES HER AS A PERSON OF COLOR THEY, THEMSELVES ARE APPROPRIATING OTHER INSTITUTIONS THAT REALLY DO HAVE A DIVERSE STAFF. Harvard is just as culpable as Warren is.
More bilge from a NeverTrumper using similar logic.
I use Ancestry.com as a research tool and to uncover possible relatives (cousins) that I don't know about.
An autosomal DNA test will tell you some basic trends, migration paths, and that's about it. I'm considering a y-dna test, but am still researching that.
There's a lot of crap on Ancestry also. Ancestry is not idiot-proof. You have to know what you are doing.
If he thinks people of Irish or German descent are the problem, try American Indians - they are so obsessed with racial purity, they’d make Goebbels smile. Jonah gets everything wrong.
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