That was (David's) mother: The state of Indiana is full of great kids.
For the latest confirmation of this encouraging fact, we refer you to this news report in this morning's Washington Post. We'll also note this important fact:
It seems that the child in question got lucky with her selection of parents.
Reading the Washington Post's report, we thought about our own sainted mother. We also thought about Bernie Sanders. Also, Larry David.
In the past few days, we'd been recovering from a type of sickness induced by the experience of reading last week's New Yorker. As our whole staff struggled to recover from the magazine-inflicted flu, we watched the first two episodes of the current season of Professor Gates' PBS program, Finding Your Roots.
Sanders and David were the subjects of the season's first program. We also watched the season's second program, which featured three more famous subjects.
Our own sainted mother was rather tight-lipped about her personal history. In a recent award-winning report, we described the way her Casey Stengel story and her "longest game in major league history" story seemed to turn out to be one story, not the apparent two.
That said, she told very few such stories. And a few of her stories weren't true!
Watching those PBS programs this week, we were struck by the way the parents of Gates' subjects had also been extremely reluctant to discuss their personal and family histories. In the most striking example of same, Larry David, for the first time, learned his mother's first name!
Joe Otterson explains for Variety:
OTTERSON (10/3/17): Series host Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and his researchers were able to determine that David’s mother’s family came from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, with his grandparents having been born in the city of Tarnopol, Poland. In addition to information about David’s grandparents, Gates and his team also uncovered that David’s mother was also born in Poland and that her birth name was Regina, while David had always known her as Rose. “I cannot believe I didn’t know her real name,” he said. “It’s so typical of my mother to withhold something like that.”Larry David was raised by his mother. He just didn't know her first name!
(Neither he, nor Professor Gates, knows why his mother's name was changed, assuming it actually was.)
For ourselves, we never knew how our parents met until we were told the story by our older half-brother, when we were at least fifty. Our mother never talked about matters like that. We'll guess those parents in Indiana are being a bit more forthcoming.
In the second program of this new PBS season, Carly Simon is told something concerning her alleged "race." We don't mean this as a criticism of Professor Gates. (We're not even sure he used the term.) But might we suggest that Carly Simon, and everyone else, doesn't quite have a "race?"
Does anyone actually have a "race," except to the extent that they may choose to think of themselves that way? Consider three different terms:
Whether we can name the people in question or not, everyone does have an ancestry. Everybody had two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents. Your "ancestry," a simple matter of fact, leads on back from there.
Similarly, everybody has an "ethnicity" to one extent or another. As a general matter, this is a reference to the places where your ancestors lived, and/or to the language and cultural group to which they belonged.
These are simple matters of fact. The notion that we all have a "race," and that it forms our "identity," is rather different.
Within the American context, the idea that we all have a "race" comes from the world the slaveholders made a very long time ago. Those people created a highly disordered world. Part of the disorder they created is the idea, which dominates our thinking even today, that we all have a "race," and that it defines our "identity."
This idea is one part of the wide-reaching poison the slaveholders handed down. Within our current American culture, no one is more devoted to maintaining this idea that we liberals are.
Within our modern American culture, people get told that they have a "race;" we all get pigeonholed hard. But do people actually belong to a race? Everybody has an ancestry. Except within our slaveholder-scripted heads, does anyone have a "race?"
Carly Simon has an ancestry. Societal strictures to the side, does she actually have a "race," unless she wants to picture the world that way? What makes us cling, with such devotion, to the world the slaveholders made? Wouldn't it be a smarter world if we remembered, even once in a while, to let this corrupt idea go?
"That was your mother," Paul Simon once said. His traveling companion was 9 years old. To hear that child told about his mother and father, you can just click here.
For the prologue to that conversation, you can just click this. These are two of our favorite songs. Because everyone wants to know these things, they strike us as deeply humane.
Dancing to the music of Clifton Chenier, the king of the bayou: To our ear, that story is deeply humane. According to our older half-brother, it isn't entirely unlike the way our own parents met.