A white supremacist spits in a vial. A lab analyzes the spit. The results are printed on paper: Your genetic heritage is 86% European and 14% African. “That’s not right! Oil and water don’t mix!” Different essences cannot inhabit the same body. He spits in another vial. A different lab uses a different method. The results: Your genetic heritage is 97% European and 3% Iberian. “Yes, that’s me….mostly right anyway.” Mostly.
This is the story of the racist Craig Cobb. It is also the story of the majority of white supremacists, because they take DNA tests and are dissatisfied with the results. But it is so much more than that. It is the story of our times. Adrift in a globalized, hyper-paced world with infinite cultural possibilities and identities at our fingertips. We want to know: Who am I? Who are we? It is a chasm of anxiety. Phones clutched in bed at night. Tell me who I am. The answer is never fully satisfying.
They carry torches and swarm a small band of students on campus who are linked arm in arm at the foot of Mr. Jefferson. (Who was he…slave owner, author of human rights? Oil and water.) They shout “blood and soil.” Das Volk. But what about blood? It’s not the hemoglobin – everyone has that. It is why all blood is red when it ends up out there on the pavement. On your knuckles. No, not the blood of physiology but of heritage. Bloodlines. Lines back in time. The ancestors, the antecedere, those who came before. Anchor lines.
But they never hit the bottom of the ocean. The spit unspools into the thinnest strand and goes down, down, down. Back in time. As thin as a spider’s thread. Where to stop? How about a few hundred years ago in Europe. Fine, but why? There is no answer to that question that doesn’t carry the stain of the arbitrary and thus, the indefensible. After all it goes much further back. To Africa – always through Africa. How painful. It’s okay, you are white if you look in the mirror and you see a white man there looking back. “But the mirror is thin. What about the anchor line through the depths?” It’s still dropping into the fathoms. Past the monkeys past the frogs and fish. Who are we again? “The mirror is cracked….hello?”
The soil under the concrete under their marching feet is moving inches per millennia. Time and space move through each other. Soils hemorrhage down the James River to the bottom of the ocean. Soils emerge after long nightmares that turned them into rocks, scared stiff. Soils are atoms – the same as you. Quarks, really. It is all just quarks out there on the university square. Torches are quarks. Racists are quarks. Their arms linked. Quarks. Each one the exact same as the next. Give it enough time and Virginia will be at the equator. It will be under an ocean. The point is: it won’t be anymore. Hubris of man – to think the soil could hear you call its name. Does the mountain stoop to entertain the existence of the flea? Some supremacists! Kings of nowhere. Kings of never.
What could white culture mean if not the culture that gave us modern science? Though there is that “Iberian thing.” Those Muslims – Ibn Sīnā, etc. Mostly, though. Mostly it is the culture of science. Then, I am sorry, it is your heritage and your fate to fall and keep on falling. To spin and keep on spinning. To have your blood forever slip through even the most fastidious of methodologies. To have your soil pulled out from under you like a rug. Forever a hybrid. Mixed. Mongrel. Unrein.
Poor soul. This culture – the one you love – has planted inside of you an unbearable itch for certainty and purity. And then it deprived you of every possible means for scratching that itch. Everything melts in your hands.
“Those DNA tests are a Jewish lie!” Good. Tell yourself that so that you don’t shatter. You’ll keep falling, but at least you’ll never crash.