According to the news media, Henry Gates and the Cambridge policeman who arrested him, James Crowley, are distant kin -- both being descended from the 4th century Irish king, Niall of the Nine Hostages.
It seems to me that this is reminiscent of the campaign-era stories in the mainstream media which trumpeted 'Obama distant kin to Presidents' or 'Obama's Irish roots', all transparently intended to further convince readers that race is just skin-deep, and that we're all just one big family, one race, 'the human race.'
How that line fits with the whole storyline in these headlines: 'A historic first! America's First African-American President!' A Milestone! Moving beyond race! -- I don't quite understand.
I've read conflicting stories on Gates' alleged European ancestry, and it's all as may be. I question how these 'experts' in the article can say with certainty that 'x' number of men today descend directly from a 4th century individual. Do they have his DNA, or just DNA from those who think they are descended from him? It all sounds rather iffy to me, but I am not a genetics expert.
I do know something about genealogy, and I know that once you get back in time that far, the recorded information is pretty sketchy. If you come from a prominent family in Europe, one that has maintained careful records down through the centuries, there is more solid evidence of descent, but this kind of record-keeping was mainly limited to the more prominent families, in which ancestry and descent and family lineage were all-important because of lands, titles, and status in society. I just don't quite buy how it's possible to claim this kind of lineage without something more solid than the say-so of a researcher, and I have my doubts; is Niall's DNA available for comparison? My doubts are confirmed by the linked article.
The biggest caveat of this research is that without testing DNA from Niall’s remains, it is impossible to say with 100% certainty that Niall is the ancestor (and some argue that there never was a real Niall). For instance, Mrs. Niall could have only reproduced with the friendly neighbor, or a large fraction of the men with the signature Y chromosome could be descended from Niall’s promiscuous uncle George (I don’t know if there was an uncle, or if his name was George - it’s just an example).
I've expressed my skepticism here before about the validity and reliability of some of these DNA testing companies, which for a fee will pinpoint what your ancestry is down to fine details. Do we really possess complete enough samples to make such exact claims? For example, remember the story of Oprah claiming she learned of her Zulu ancestry, which was later contradicted by other testing. Would any American of black ancestry descend from just one tribe? Was there not considerable blending of several West African tribes among black slaves?
I'm skeptical on this whole subject, but open to being corrected.
In so many of these media stories about some famous figure's purported noble ancestry, there seems to be a political agenda at work, sometimes publicity, to make the celebrity or politician more glamorous by asserting his descent from some famous or infamous historical personage. It's just hype, in other words.
In even more cases, the media jumps on any opportunity to push their ''one planet, one people'' trans-racial propaganda. Look! We are all just kissin' cousins anyway, so let's all join together. Race is an illusion, we're all mixed and mingled hopelessly anyway, so embrace it.
Sorry, but this does not resonate with me. In reading some of these genealogical stories during the campaigns, I learned I was (likely) kin to Howard Dean, John Kerry, and John Edwards. I say likely, because if the family trees given are correct, I am probably distant cousin to these people though that does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy towards them.
As I recently quoted Proudhon as saying 'if everybody is my brother, I have no brothers', that applies here; if we are all cousins, then kinship is pretty meaningless. It's hard to love people in the abstract, on that kind of scale. We are not made for that kind of attenuated, stretched-thin 'brotherly love.' It has to be limited in scope or it is not love at all.
What racial lessons are we supposed to take from this latest absurd story about Gates and Crowley and their supposed common ancestor, Niall of the Nine Hostages? That Gates is an Irishman? To believe such is to stretch the definition of Irishman beyond recognition. Gates clearly bears grudges against his White ancestors and kin, and probably feels little fellow-feeling for medieval (or modern) Irishmen. That illustrates how race is not just a matter of mind, but a primal identification; blacks who are half White, as Gates is said to be, still feel and think black. And those on the left and on the right who would like that to change are dreamers. Having some White ancestry, particularly if it is further back in the family line, does not change one's essential identification.
Certainly the multicultists would like to deconstruct the whole notion of nationality and ethnicity, at least where European-descended peoples are concerned. And this serves that purpose. As I don't trust those who write these stories, nor the motives of the left, I can't take this story seriously. Beware of the multicultural agenda.