Recently, so did Kirk Herbstreit: The most interesting sentence we read this weekend was found in a book review written by Walter Isaacson.
The book in question is called Life Of A Klansman; it was written by Edward Ball. Yesterday, Isaacson reviewed the book in the New York Times Book Review.
At one point, Isaacson directly quotes a rather peculiar statement Ball makes in his book. For whatever reason, the statement doesn't seem to strike Isaacson as peculiar. The passage in question says this:
ISAACSON (9/6/20): Near the end of his book, Ball makes a fascinating digression. It involves a prominent person of color who lived in New Orleans [in the 1870s]. Louis Charles Roudanez was a medical doctor, trained in France and at Dartmouth, who published The New Orleans Tribune, a daily newspaper for the Black community. An homme de couleur libre, Roudanez married a free woman of color. While researching his own family, Ball decided to look for the descendants of the Roudanez family.What a strange thing to say! For the record, Ball is discussing something Mark Roudané learned in the year 2006, when he was 55.
He finds one of the physician-publisher’s great-great-grandchildren, named Mark Roudané, living in a leafy subdivision of St. Paul, Minn. “He was raised white, and he appears white,” Ball writes of Roudané. “In middle age he learned that according to the one-drop rule of blackness, he was not white.”
What did Mark Roudané learn in 2006? Way up north in St. Paul, Roudané had grown up believing he was "white."
But "in middle age"—more specifically, in the year 2006, when he was 55—Mark Roudané "learned that according to the one-drop rule of blackness, he was not white.”
According to the one-drop rule, Roudané learned that he wasn't "white!" What an amazingly strange thing to write! And what a strange statement to quote!
Presumably, most people have heard of the famous "one-drop rule." As part of our nation's benighted history, the following events occurred:
For starters, our benighted ancestors created a taxonomy in which everyone belonged to a "race." The two main "races" in question were the ones we now call black and white.
The belief that these "races" exist comes to us, live and direct, from "the world the slaveholders made." Several centuries later, we still believe in the taxonomy of that world with all our hearts. In the present day, no one believes in that world more than we liberals do.
According to the world the slaveholders made, everyone belongs to a "race!" In most American instances, that means that a person is either "black" or "white."
As a further part of this benighted history, our ancestors also invented the one-drop rule. If a person has even one drop of "black blood" (African ancestry), the person in question is "black."
Let's continue from there:
According to Edward Ball, Mark Roudané learned the following in 2006. He learned that, according to the one-drop rule, "he was not white.”
In Ball's actual book, he quotes Roudané saying that a DNA test showed that he has or had 5% sub-Saharan African ancestry. We'll guess that means that as much as 95% of his ancestry tracks to Europe, not to Africa, in the relevant time spans.
(Everyone's ancestry tracks to Africa if you go back far enough.)
Mark Roudané has 5% African ancestry. What "race" does that make him?
According to the one-drop rule, that makes him plenty "black!" But if we're speaking in the year 2020, why would anyone be reporting what Roudané "learned" according to the one-drop rule? Unless we're just having a whole lot of fun, that strikes us as extremely odd thing to say.
The one-drop rule is one of the crazy "racial" notions which originated as part of "the world the slaveholders made." The slaveholders insisted that everyone belonged to a "race," and that one drop of African ancestry meant that the individual's "race" was black.
Walter Isaacson strikes us as a good, decent person. In his otherwise excellent biography of Einstein, he wasn't able to make Einstein easy. Of course, even Einstein couldn't do that, so why should we blame poor Isaacson?
It would have been better if Isaacson had simply said that he couldn't make Einstein easy. But Isaacson is almost always found in the saner end of the wading pool. Presumably, he's a good, decent person. We'd be amazed if it turned out that he somehow wasn't.
That said, it struck us as very strange when we saw Isaacson quoting that strange statement by Ball. Except on a performative basis, it also strikes us as very strange to think that Ball ever published that peculiar statement in the first place.
According to the one-drop rule, Roudané isn't white? Crazy discussions of that type arise from adherence to the concepts which come to us, live and direct, from the world the slaveholders made. To wit:
Is Roudané white or black at all? Does anyone actually have a "race?" Or is that belief simply part of the world our benighted ancestors made?
Do people really belong to "race?" Or re we just treated that way?
Granted, everyone is treated that way. But leaving aside the ways people get treated, does anyone really belong to a race? Do these "races" really exist?
Do "races" really exist? At present, our own liberal / progressive tribe seems to love that part of the world the slaveholders made.
We love it more than life itself. We believe that people do belong to a "race," not just that they'll be treated that way!
We believe that people belong to a "race"—and we also seem to believe that your "race" constitutes your "identity." We keep slicing "identity" finer and finer, as derived from various people's gender and race!
At present, our nation is engaged in a great conceptual war concerning the concept of "race." As part of this ongoing war, many people who are defined as "white" are engaged in acts of performative virtue, or so it may sometimes seem.
These many deeds of performative virtue will likely involve many deeds of performative belief. Before a member can act out his virtue, he must demonstrate his belief.
Jesus wept, the Bible says. Over the weekend, so did Kirk Herbstreit!
Over the weekend, Herbstreit wept? Where has this TV star been?
Tomorrow: Where has this mofo been?