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The Stupidity of Race:
What My DNA Test Reveals

| July 3, 2016

Not quite an Arab: the author's DNA test has him all over the map. (© FlaglerLive)

Not quite an Arab: the author’s DNA test has him all over the map. (© FlaglerLive)

Momondo is a Danish travel site that offers cheap flights and deals worldwide. On June 1, the company, as part of a contest, posted what would become one of the more clever viral videos of the year. It’s a five-minute piece blessedly free of cats or Trump doing odd things. (See the video below.)

pierre tristam column flaglerlive.com flaglerlive The video is called “The DNA Journey.” Momondo and its ad agency gathered 26 people of different skin colors, religions and ethnic origins. They had one thing in common—ironically, their patriotism. One woman thinks she’s 100 percent French. An Englishman who calls himself “not a fan of the Germans,” and who probably just voted to get out of the European Union, says: “I think we’re probably the best culture in the world, if I’m honest.” A Kurdish woman who’d just show pictures of a Kurdish wedding says she hates Turkish people before correcting herself to mean she only hates the Turkish government. And the leading prig of the lot, a “100 percent Icelandic,” says: “I’m more important than you. I don’t know you but in my opinion I am strong and more important than a lot of people.” (Who could ever associate such a modest island with such volcanic immodesty?)

They’re then challenged to take a DNA test, eliciting the expected response: “What could you possibly tell me that I don’t know?” As it turns out, plenty.


Each of these chauvinists’ preconceptions about ethnic background is upended: The anti-German English Trump is only 30 percent English and 5 percent German, the Icelandic is from all over the place, the Kurd ends up being partly Turkish, and one of the 26 people in the assembly, a Turk, is apparently her cousin. The 100 percent Frenchwoman proves to be not at all French but rather British and Greek-Italian, prompting her to say of the DNA test: “This should be compulsory. There would be no such thing as, like, extremism in the world if people knew their heritage like that, like, who would be stupid enough to think of such thing as like a pure race?”

As it happened, my brother several months before the Momondo campaign did a DNA test of his own. Assuming I was not adopted, the results apply to me as well, and were just as surprising, if a lot more pleasing, than those presented to the Momondo group.

I’ll out myself here—not least to myself: I turn out to be only 46 percent Middle Eastern, with the possible range actually putting me as low as 39 percent Middle Eastern. So much for calling myself Arab. I am apparently 26 percent Italian-Greek, almost twice the “Caucasian” DNA I carry, making me the likely late offspring of a Venetian Crusader with whatever Seljuk line cook was tending her shawarma stand that day in in June 1124 when Tyre finally fell (on St. Peter’s Day, naturally. The distance between Tyre and Beirut, where I was born, is about the distance between Palm Coast and Port Orange).

But here was the kicker: I am 12 percent European Jewish, with the range giving me a likelihood of being as high as 18 percent Jewish. Not Sephardic, mind you, which might have made sense, but Ashkenazic. I’ve spent the past few decades calling myself at least intellectually Jewish (to put as much buffer as possible between me and my Satanic Catholic upbringing). Now I don’t have to pretend anymore. “Portnoy’s Complaint” is my Torah. Mazel tov.

But the point of this whole exercise should be the sort of self-evident truth that even the white-coded Declaration of Independence refused to acknowledge: we are created more equal than we know, not just before god, but in our genes. There are no white people, black people, Latin, Arab, Jewish, Asian. There are only racial salads, which is to say that we’re either all mongrels, or, more elegantly, that there’s no such thing as “race.” It’s not even biology. It’s an invention—the founding father of all racist inventions.

Its American mutant produced some of the strangest patents. Back in the grim days of the Confederacy and Jim Crow it was habitual of white assumptions to declare anyone black who had so much as one drop of black blood. But if that logic applied, it could not do so without being applied in reverse, making every slave-descended black person in America white: you’d be hard-pressed not to find the DNA of white rapists in any of that progeny. American demography’s original sin could not possibly have been better illustrated than by the progeny of the author of the Declaration. America’s original sin is its most absurd, and enduring.

That it’s all an invention—like the Nicean creed, the divine right of kings or the infallibility of popes—doesn’t make racism any less real or lethal. Religious extremism is an invention, too, and look at the results (I write this as they’re still counting the dead in Istanbul, Dhaka and Baghdad). But the fact that it’s an invented disease only reinforces the tragedy of its consequences and the importance of battling it with the kind of virulence it deserves.

Sometimes a simple test is all the inoculation necessary, as the Momondo experiment shows. On a larger scale, nothing illustrates the stupidity of race better than the diversity of the European Union or the United States—or of Baghdad and the Indian subcontinent, for that matter, and many other places where people’s ethnic backgrounds look like Ben and Jerry’s Everything But the Kitchen Sink ice cream. That’s my kind of ice cream. It’s what’s kept America fresh, and what may now be at risk here if the racist purists, building walls behind the coded chauvinism of making America great again, have their way.

Let’s hope not. Walls don’t honor us. They stunt our DNA. We’re American because nothing defines us as eloquently as our borderless blood.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him @PierreTristam. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.

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35 Responses for “The Stupidity of Race:
What My DNA Test Reveals”

  1. Anonymous says:

    im 100 percent american

  2. Geezer says:

    Well then, at least 18% of you, Pierre understands my frustration when searching for
    a real Jewish deli. 26% of you feels what I feel, when looking for sesame-seeded
    semolina bread and Italian pastries.

    My DNA says “hello” to your DNA, please pass that along.

  3. Outside says:

    Frankly, I didn’t really give a shit about race before Obama came out with his speech on race that was supposed to end all discussion of it. Exactly the opposite happened, and yet, he gets accolades for reminding everyone that we are different, and dividing us among said lines. Go figure. On a related note, you call us racists for wanting our laws and borders enforced, so we can keep the criminal element, such as MS13, which is taking over many American cities, out. That would happen, of course, if the immigration laws were followed. The failure of the governmen to enforce, and illegal immigrants to follow these laws has given birth to the falsehood that the system is “broken.” It is not broken; it is simply being ignored. And still, we are the racists, while others divide themselves by their race: black lives matter, La Raza (The Race,) etc. And yet it’s our fault. What a crock.

  4. Oh WOW says:

    Great article.

  5. Tired of it says:

    I am proud to say I am 100% Irish per my DNA test and 1st generation American born.
    GOD BLESS AMERICA!

  6. A.S.F. says:

    Welcome, my fellow “hasbara” whatever. Just goes to show ya how stupid the distinctions can really get.

  7. Lin says:

    I just might kinda sorta agree with some of the story here.
    But disagree too (no surprise)

    DNA is important for medical matters yes. And I do feel an extra tinge when I hear how the land of my ancestors in Eastern Europe who were mightily oppressed by the USSR/Russia is now facing the rising continuing threat again. And I admire those who came to the neighborhood with nothing but a sponsor here and brought their knowledge of making pierogi and babka and learned the language, got jobs and became part of that melting pot.

    Where I don’t agree is where America is demonized for wanting to continue to be a sovereign nation and hold on to our own culture. What I mean by our own culture is that melting pot of nationalities where the immigrants came legally (we welcome more immigrants than any other nation historically). And those immigrants pledged allegiance to the United States of America, pledged to our flag not waving their native country’s flag and even worse than that demanding that our country adopt their country customs like Sharia law and all that means. And demanding their rights. And religion is in the mix if it demands we change. We fought hard for our freedom here and I won’t give it up easily.

    I sometimes feel a kinship with Jewish people or feel for the Palestinians when they talk about loss of a homeland but they doesn’t blind me to the violence that exists in the Middle East or who is committing it.
    And sometimes I miss living in a city where I can stroll the lower east side Ny and bargain for pine nuts or purses and get great ethnic food. But I am an American no matter what my DNA says.

    Happy Independance Day y’all.

  8. Geezer says:

    Regarding the mention of MS13 by Outside–they are a scary bunch of 13 techno-nerds
    with Microsoft tattoos led by Bill Gates. Beware of the lanky guy with “Pentium II” on his forearm.
    He targets people with iPhones and cars with Apple stickers. The others smuggle pocket
    protectors into Guadalajara. These are desperate geeks and they carry laser printers.
    Warning: do not approach these nerds.

    Happy 4th, fellow readers and Flaglerlive.

  9. Fredrick says:

    Well said Outside. Wouldn’t it be nice if we just enforced the laws that were on the books before we try to implement new laws that won’t change anything.

    The problem is not race, it is extremests involved in religions. How many people have been beheaded in the name of Atheism.

  10. W.Ryan says:

    Great article Pierre. My Great Grandfather was white on my mothers side and the same on my fathers side. On looks no one can determine this. As a man of greater quantity of melanin, I find it irrelevant to even consider the difference in my DNA profile. In this world I live in, melanin has no distinction of borders or nationality nor does it keep me safe from the invention of racism. Unfortunately we have trolls that find fault in the obvious. We are all the same! To outsider – Black Lives Matter is just a plea from blacks to consider people of darker pigmentation important just like any other person! You know this but hate prevails!

  11. Red Rover says:

    Oh crap……..My DNA does not register as any human specie……….Na Nu, Na Nu !!!!

  12. Genetically Speaking says says:

    Pierre, Here is a little history on part of your ancestry dealing with the Ashkenazi portion.

    An excerpt from

    The History of the House of Rothschild

    by Andrew Hitchcock

    This page has an excerpt of Hitchcock’s expanded Rothschild timeline. This page covers the beginning of the family up to the year 1818. Hitchcock’s complete and original timeline is here:

    Rothschild-timeline.htm.

    740: In 740 A.D. in a land locked between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, known as Khazaria, a land which today is predominantly occupied by Georgia, but also reaches into Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, and Romania, the modern Jewish race is born. A modern Jewish race that incidentally is not Jewish.

    How can this be, you ask? Well at that time, the Khazarian people felt a vulnerable people as they had Muslims one side of them and Christians the other side of them, and thus constantly feared attack from either side. Furthermore, the Khazarian people were of neither faith and instead practiced idol worship, which made them ripe for invasion by a people who wished to convert them to an established faith.

    The Khazarian King, King Bulan, decided in order to protect themselves against attack, the Khazarian people must convert to one of these faiths, but which one? If they converted to the Muslim faith they would risk attack by the Christians and if they converted to the Christian faith they would risk attack by the Muslims.

    He had an idea. There was another race that he was aware were able to deal with both the Muslims and the Christians either side of him, predominantly in matters of trade. A race which also dealt with Khazarians in the same manner. That race was the Jews. King Bulan decided if he instructed his people to convert to Judaism he could keep both the Muslims and the Christians happy, as they were both already willing to trade with the Jews, so this is what he did.

    King Bulan was right. He would live to see his country unconquered, his people convert to Judaism enthusiastically and adopt the principles of the most holy Jewish book, the Talmud. There are many things the king would not live to see, however.

    He would not live to see his Asiatic race of converts to Judaism, one day represent 90% of all the Jews on the planet, and call themselves Ashkenazi Jews, when in fact they were not Jews, but simply an Asiatic race of people who converted to the Jewish religion, whilst still continuing to speak the Khazarian language of Yiddish, totally different to the language of Hebrew.

    He would not live to see his people turn to the descendants of a man, far more powerful than him, who would be born just over 1,000 years later in Germany, a man named Bauer, who would spawn the Rothschild dynasty.

    He would not live to see this dynasty usurp the wealth of the world through deception and intrigue, which they would finance through the vast riches they accumulate as they usurp the wealth of the world by gaining control of the world’s money supply.

    He would not live to see his people demand a homeland for themselves in Palestine as their birthright, and ensure every Prime Minister there from its inception in 1948 is an Ashkenazi Jew, even though the true homeland of the Ashkenazi Jews, Khazaria, is his kingdom, some 800 miles away.

    And he would not live to see his people fulfil bible prophecy, as the, “synagogue of Satan.”

  13. Oldguy says:

    I emigrated to Florida almost 30 years ago and love living here. My DNA is is mostly Texan with some Tennessee and North Carolina mixed in. BBQ forever!

  14. r&r says:

    Outside, you said it right. Obama is the cause of the race issue we’re in. During the riots in Fulton and Baltimore he said on national TV ” I can’t blame them, if I were there I’d be right in there with them”. Now to me he’s saying it’s OK.

  15. Biker says:

    Let’s not rewrite history. BLM is a racist hate group no different than the garbage in the KKK.

  16. Mark says:

    Happy 4th to the Black Caucus of Congress.

  17. just me says:

    @Outside, You nailed it our immigration “system” not broken what is ‘broken is the enforcement of the immigration laws.

  18. nomad says:

    Pierre, I read your article over at the Smirking Chimp earlier and decided to mosey on over here to post a comment.

    “46 percent Middle Eastern/39 percent Middle Eastern
    26 percent Italian-Greek, almost twice the “Caucasian” DNA I carry
    12 percent European Jewish, with the range giving me a likelihood of being as high as 18 percent Jewish.”

    I’m confused with your racial identification since Middle Easterners in general – Palestinians, Syrians, Saudi Arabians, Iranians, Iraqis, Kuwaitis, etc, etc – are classified as White/Caucasian. A White/Caucasian born in South Africa doesn’t make him Black/Negro. Though Blacks/Negroes will make that claim, that does not make it fact/true. Jew/Judaism is a religion and not a race. Most Jews are classified as White/Caucasian. There are Black/Negro Jews, Muslims Christians, Buddhists, etc with the exception of Black/Negro Hindus since one has to be born a Hindu and cannot convert to the religion. However, this has not stopped Blacks/Negroes from claiming that Hinduism along with all the other religions mentioned are/were founded by Blacks/Negroes and hijacked by Whites/Caucasians and/or Asians/Mongoloids. Bigotry exists among all races. I guess I should also point out that Hispanic is not a race but a culture. Hispanics are majority White and/or White and Asian – eg Mexicans. Native Americans are Asians and not a separate race.

    “you’d be hard-pressed not to find the DNA of white rapists in any of that progeny.’

    Yes, there were white rapists but the majority of mongoloid slaves were bred by forcing white slave women to breed with black male slaves. Sadly, a lot of the white female slaves who ended up in America were befriended by unscrupulous white women with means who use their standing to “befriended” innocent and unsuspecting young women (sometimes even young women from decent families) by kidnapping them and having them shipped off to the colonies. Of course, some were also fooled with promises of a grand life. Either way they were tricked and kidnapped. Given Hillary’s disposition – evidenced in her actions, words and capabilities – I do believe that she possesses what it takes to be classified as one of the “white women of means” who tricked and kidnapped innocent and unsuspecting young women.

  19. Markingthedays says:

    Lin,

    “American” is a nationality, not a race.

  20. nomad says:

    @ W.ryan
    Ryan, if yours was just skin pigmentation, then you would be mistaken for Indian-Asian or equivalent since some Indians are also dark skin. Yours is definitely about your dominant features – hair, nose, mouth, eyes – all of which disqualify you from being mistaken for Indian-Asian or equivalent.

  21. William Moya says:

    I have heard about DNA testing and since my curiosity is overwhelming at times i though about having it done myself only to be stopped by the price tag attached to it. But frankly I wouldn’t be surprised by anything the report would show, i’m a Mediterranean type, long nose, hairy, with an olive (greenish) skin tone which looks great in summer terrible in winter.
    I suspect that the issue with race is symptomatic with our inability to deal with basic instincts of proximity and hierarchy, this couple with a large dose of denial (or ignorance) about our history is a perfect formula for a false and damaging form of patriotism leading to put america, and the world, in a very dangerous place, as several of the commentators on these pages demonstrate.
    My beginnings very much like those of America were defective, frankly as a kid I was a little bigot no one could measure up to my standards, fortunately my curiosity in this case came to my rescue, I atoned and hopefully became a better human being.
    So I celebrate America’s birthday pretty much the same way I do my own, with a mixture of joy and tears.

  22. W.Ryan says:

    I saw this a while ago. But keep in mind, just to those forces that hate. I’ll say it for them…I’m not a scientist. The Journey of Man; A genetic Odyssey- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dDXIX-y6aY

  23. A.S.F. says:

    Re: Genetically Speaking Says Says: You knew it had to be coming.

  24. Lin says:

    I know Markingthedays
    That’s my point

  25. Nancy N. says:

    Lin, the only people trying to impose Sharia or religious law of any kind in this country are conservative Christians. And somehow you don’t ever seem outraged about that?

    Outsider and r&r…did you both seriously just posit that everything was all kumbayah and hunky dory between the races in this country before President Obama made that speech on race relations? Allow me to refresh you memory of the context that speech took place in:

    * there were race riots going on
    * rampant white on black police brutality, including the execution of several unarmed black men by police
    * mass incarceration of black men
    * rampant unemployment and poverty in the black community
    * two presidential terms of President Obama being targeted for ongoing blatantly racist attacks by not just typical white supremecists but also supposedly respectable elected members of the GOP – with no censure from their party’s leaders (and in fact many of the party’s leaders participated)
    * a black man has fewer job prospects than a white convicted felon

    Not sure what universe you are living in, but in the REAL WORLD, racism is rampant and unrelenting. But sure, blame it on Obama, along with the fact that it rained today, the grocery store was out of your favorite beer, and you gained 5 pounds. Because everything is the fault of that black guy in the White House.

  26. Lin says:

    Nancy N
    There is no stronger example of imposing the religious will than all the murders committed around the world and here in the name of radical Islam. There are no rights for women, LGBT, other Muslums, Christians, etc. under this culture.

    There is a huge difference between murder of children and not wanting to bake a cake. Ideology is closing your eyes to the obvious.

    The relationships built here in this country before this administration have all suffered because of ideology – divide and conquer, identity politics has divided us more than ever. DNA and race is what we are born with but who we are and who we become is what is important. We are more alike than different. But murder is still murder.

  27. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    That’s right guys, you heard it here first. Obama is the cause of racism. Things like jim crow, laws preventing interracial marriage, the kkk, ww II internment camps, nazi germany, the holocaust – well, they’re all historic revisionism from the LIEberals and never really happened. Everyone knows that hundreds of years of systemic racism was wiped away because we elected a black president, no hard feelings right?

  28. Sherry says:

    Great article Pierre! WOW!

    Just imagine. . . if everyone had their DNA tested maybe people would begin to realize that we really are all brothers and sisters under all those skin colors. Then, if everyone on earth started to passionately respect, appreciate, and truly support the wondrous differences in religions, cultures, languages and societies created by our brothers and sisters . . . then perhaps we could continue evolving towards the enlightened species of our potential.

    Unfortunately, and tragically, at this point, it all to often, seems that our evolution has ground to a complete halt. So many are filled with fear by false prophets and have become “haters” of their fellow human beings. Racists, fascists, xenophobes and religious zealots are becoming more and more powerful and influential. They are rising up and their paranoia has them legally creating and obtaining powerful weapons, which they are beginning to use against their family of the human species. They are murdering even little children in school. . . all the while calling for even more and more humans to arm themselves against one another.

    Step by step the contagious madness and paranoia is spreading from country to country, causing political isolationism and breaking up the strength of unity between nations.

    Never fear, dear humans. . . the savage cave awaits. . .

  29. Nancy N. says:

    Lin, do you really think that “not baking a cake” is the only way that religious conservatives in this country are trying to impose their will on this country? I guess it’s hard to see it as oppression when you agree with it.

    Religious conservatives in this country are trying to impose their will on the country in a myriad of ways. Hobby Lobby sued to deny access to birth control to its employees (and employees at many other companies) and got corporations the right to be people and practice a religion somehow. Conservative lawmakers are trying to legislate Roe v. Wade out of existence by legislating things like the size of a janitor’s closet in women’s health clinics, and by treating women like children who need to go home and “think over” their decisions. They are trying to enact into law the legal right to discriminate against people for being gay, transgender, and even living together before marriage. They are trying to make it a crime to use a public restroom if they don’t think your genitals pass inspection. They are taking over the state school boards and setting Creationist and anti-science agendas in state standards in key states like Texas, that are then getting written into textbooks that serve the whole country in an attempt to indoctrinate children with their message. They have won court rulings giving them the right to open public meetings – even Congress – with Christian prayers that alienate a large portion of people in this country, leaving them feeling as though their “representatives” aren’t really representing them.

    I could go on hopefully by now you get the picture. The conservative branch of the GOP is owned by extreme evangelicals who don’t want to live and let live with people with other belief. Their entire belief system is that everyone else are apostates that must be converted or forced to comply. These people like Ted Cruz and other leading GOP names openly associate with preachers who call for the death of gays and atheists. One of these preachers made a horrific video in which he said that he wasn’t sad about the Orlando massacre and that he wished someone would finish the job and kill the survivors. You talk about foreign terrorists, but that ugliness was being fomented by a “red blooded American” in the name of “Christianity”. The only difference is he’s too cowardly to actually pick up a weapon and so hides behind a pulpit hoping someone else will do his dirty work.

  30. Sw says:

    I am 100% undocumented bipedal archaic hominid/humanoid

  31. Sherry says:

    Thanks Nancy N. . . truly great comments! Sure hoping your words pry some minds “open” just a tiny crack, so that some readers will consider another point of view, even if just for a moment.

  32. footballen says:

    Any group that purposefully segregates itself is asking for trouble in doing so.

  33. IMO says:

    Anyone who is of European ancestry and who knows there World History especially the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire and the “Barbarian Hoades” sweeping across Europe should not be surprised at all about their Ancestral DNA results.

    “As they say “To the victor belong the spoils” and that included the woman.

    Then of course you had the slave trade and very often the women were kept above deck to entertain the crew.

    One of the most startling findings of DNA testing was when it showed the Native Americans are Asian and European. As people fled the Ice Age they ended up in what is now America. Instead of fighting they joined forces. Thus the Native Americans were created.

  34. IMO says:

    My Ancestry DNA Test came back as this: Thought I was Irish and German. Shock was 21% Scandinavia. Conclusion “The Vikings” who pillaged and raped the Isles of Great Britain for many decades.

    Ireland 38%
    Scandinavia 21%
    Great Britain 18%
    Europe West 6%
    Trace Regions 14%
    Europe East 5%
    Italy/Greece 4%
    Iberian Peninsula 3%
    European Jewish 2%
    Finland/Northwest Russia < 1%
    West Asia 3%
    Caucasus 3%

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