Tribal Tribulations

Ken Gorrell

by Ken Gorrell,
Weirs Times Contributing Writer

E pluribus unum. It’s one of the few Latin phrases kids learn in school – or used to. Given the sorry state of civics education, perhaps the motto of the Great Seal of the United States has been left on the curriculum cutting room floor.
The American ideal of a single people forged out of many – the melting pot – has fallen out of favor. In its place we have a strange mélange of micro-tribalism and identity-politics, pitting small groups against each other and the best interests of the nation. Soon we may need to update the Great Seal’s motto to E pluribus chao: Out of many, chaos.
The irony of this regression into ever-smaller and more bizarre tribes is that we have never been more “melty.” Race had been the big dividing line, not just for blacks but Asians as well. Even within the “white” label there was a pecking order, with Irish, Italians, Poles, and Jews struggling at times at the bottom of the pile. The lines have blurred in 21st century America.
Mixed-race marriages no longer merit notice in most of America. Christian churches ordain and marry homosexuals. More women than men earn advanced degrees. Movement between income quintiles is much more fluid than the “income inequality” protestors acknowledge. Race, sex, and hereditary wealth aren’t the gatekeepers they used to be.
It’s hard to tell from the twelve-year-old black & white photo that accompanies these essays, but I am a ruddy-complected red-head; by appearance my ancestry is clearly “UK mongrel”. A recent DNA test confirmed that, but with a twist.
Seventy-five percent of my DNA is from the UK, which defines as not just England, Wales, and Scotland, but also Normandy and a bit of the Low Countries. The test picked up my St. Lawrence River French settler connection. My great-grandfather’s marriage to a French-Canadian Catholic girl got him kicked out of our Anglo-Protestant family, a banishment that lasted two generations. Times have changed.
The only other high-confidence match – meaning there definitely is a DNA connection – was Senegal. Yes, West Africa. It was only 4%, but it’s there. Senegal was a big slave-trading area for centuries. It seems one of my distant relatives did more than sample the native cuisine.
Based on the science of DNA, I’m more “African” than Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is “Native American.” Unlike Fauxcahontas, I won’t try to capitalize on a genetic connection (real, in my case) to get preferential treatment at Harvard.
The senator’s former employer is being investigated by the Department of Justice for its race-based quota system that limits its Asian student population to about half of what it would be under a policy based on academic performance. Maybe Harvard should follow its Ivy League compatriot Brown University and adopt a process that allows applicants to “self-identify” as a “person of color.”
Does that sound crazy? It’s the direction we’re heading, pushed along by Progressives who believe in the daffy notion of “social constructs.” Liberals claim the mantel of science, yet want us to believe that we can create our own reality just by wishing it so. Non-believers can either acquiesce or be forced out of the public square – violently, as we’ve seen on college campuses across the nation.
DNA – our genetic code – is being cast aside in this rush to create personal realities. The problem with this, besides the obvious, is that newly-minted subgroups are now jockeying for position in the grievance hierarchy.
Rachel Dolezal, the Caucasian woman forced to resign from her leadership position in the NAACP when she was outed as Black-in-her-mind-only, is still playing dress-up and staging a comeback. Blacks rightly reject the idea of race as a matter of “self-identification” that ignores their history and would open the racial preference system to, well, people like me.
An administrator at a state university claims that campus LGBTQ centers are bastions of “homonormative whiteness.” The multi-colored rainbow flag is too “White,” it seems. The transgender movement works to normalize a psychiatric condition that favors “feelings” over the reality of XX and XY, leading to head-scratching headlines like this: “High School Boy Wins All-State Honors in Girls Track and Field.”
When reality is considered a social construct, all bets are off. People will construct things that make sense only in their minds. Each “reality” will demand pride of place in the social hierarchy and spoils system. Progressives will insist that we accept these flights of fancy or risk the worst label modern society can apply: Judgmental.
So, hang on. The social-construct roller derby is going to be bloody fun to watch.

Ken’s email is