Tuesday, March 13, 2007

God Bless

Lord knows there's plenty to be angry and cynical about. Apparatchik Gonzales being the leading item of the moment. Roto gives him four days before resigning, down from four weeks prior to his finger-in-dyke press conference today. As the facts flood out, it becomes increasingly clear that this whole gang from the White House to Justice is, so obviously, crooked.

However, unlike one or two of my most cynical acquaintances, I actually have faith in the American people. Sure, they may be ill-informed about politics most places, but most folks are holding down a job or two and trying to hold the family or farm together, and not everyone has time to read political blogs after that.

The greatness of America, it seems to me, has always been our diversity. Sure, we've yet to see true diversity in the White House (although items like this make one think change could come sooner than later) and there are minglings of class and race issues that may not be untangled in my lifetime, but I try to maintain the sense that reasonable Americans of all different stripes can always get together on an individual level, away from the politicians and the hucksters, and find common ground.

No story better illustrates this belief in what is truly America's greatness, what sets us apart from all the other more homogeniously ethnic nations of the Earth, than this one from today's New York Times:

Ms. Higginsen, who runs a school for gospel singers in the brownstone, had organized this special family reunion to welcome to Harlem a newfound cousin she recently discovered through DNA testing.

And in walked the new cousin: a Missouri cattle rancher named Marion West, 76. It was Mr. West’s first visit to New York City, and he stood out partly because of his rancher outfit: black cowboy hat, shiny boots, string tie and a jacket advertising a feed company. But he also stood out because he was a white man greeted by a roomful of black New Yorkers embracing him as a long-lost member of their family.

Sure enough, his slave-owning, fightin' Confederate family progenerated a prominent African-American family in Harlem.

But in 21st Century America, the old rancher could not be more pleased at the revelation:
“Dear God, thank you for this beautiful night and this great family we got here,” he said in his heavy drawl. “My prayers have been answered. We just found the roots. It’s in the DNA.”

It's in the DNA. Have four more beautiful words ever been spoken? At a time when our entire Executive leadership is a house of lies, the irrefutable truth found in our very cells. Each and every one of us.

Rancher Marion West (hey, same effeminate guy first name as John Wayne's original) linked up their tests and made the initial contact:

She assumed he was white, and he assumed she was black, but neither said anything about it. He sent her a picture, and she sent him information on her gospel school and waited to hear back. She did: Mr. West invited her down for Thanksgiving.

“I thought, ‘Surely, he must be crazy,’ ” said Ms. Higginsen, who wound up going down in January with her 22-year-old daughter, Knoelle.

“As soon as Vy stepped off the plane, I could see in her face she was a West,” Mr. West said. He took her to the ranch and to the community college he helped open. Then he took her up a hill to the pine tree where he prays daily. They knelt and thanked God for each other.

Vy Higginsen returned the favor with what reads like an envious tour of Harlem from the inside, food, music, churchgoing. I urge you to check out the article if only for the photos you can enlarge from both the first and the second page. Did my heart good, bet it will for you, too. And what did Mr. West have to say to his newly discovered assembled family:

He brought laughter to the room when he spoke of cattle breeding.

“I’ve been breeding cattle all my life, and I’ll tell you, cross-breeding is better,” he said. “You mate the black angus with the other breeds, and you have better, healthier offspring.”

Mix it up, America. It's us at our best.

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