I am of blended racial, cultural and ethnic ancestry, and it is conflicting. My great-grandmother, Lillian LaGrange, was of substantial Abenaki lineage, as well as French Canadian. All of my other ancestors were white Europeans, so this means some of my ancestors were of “racial groups” who killed or persecuted others of my ancestors. Which one am I? With whom do I identify?
My problem is compounded by the Klar name, as I am both German and Jewish. In hindsight, my Orthodox Jewish great-great-grandfather John Klar was unscathed by the hate — he immigrated to America after the Civil War but before World War II. Nothing to blame there. But my inner Jew is kinda spliced between the Abenaki and whitey strands of DNA.
My great-grandfather Jules Alexander came to America from Belgium in the late 19th century. He never owned slaves, either here or there, of any race. I have other ancestry back to the Mayflower, but then I’m told they killed my Abenaki forebears, so how great is that? (Though that too is a grotesque oversimplification of history.)
But even my white ancestors are conflicted. I am a Hemingway (my maternal grandmother from Brookfield, Vermont), and a Hemenway (my paternal grandmother from Sheldon, Vermont). I remember the two of them speculating whether there might be some family connection (neither knew). I now know what they didn’t — there were Hemingways who sided with the British in the War of 1812, and following the war they were cast out, moved for some years to the Canadian townships, and changed their names. (And yes, they all lead back to the same great-great as Ernest Hemingway’s — an Englishman named Ralph Hemingway).
I have been compelled to reconcile these conflicted blood lines within myself in order to understand my identity. Yet there has never been any conflict. By definition, those white forebears who married Abenakis were loving; any evil actions performed by others are as lost to time as the Hemingway intra-family bitterness over loyalties in the War of 1812. If my own experience and character do not inform who it is that I am, then I’d be in perpetual split-personality self-destruction, with infinite wars within. (And if my marriage was grounded on an endless accounting of past wrongs, it would not have endured for 25 years.)
There is no difference between this inner conflict and our society today. That “melting pot” exists in America’s demographics, spelled out in my own blood. I am not identified by that blood, but by my culture. We have a shared culture in the Constitution that freed Frederick Douglass and inspired Martin Luther King. It is not a white supremacist culture by any means — the world has not seen America as that but as a beacon of second chances, plenty, and opportunity. America cannot be separated into its past acts, failures or sins any more than my DNA. Lady Justice is blind — that is the system, an aspiration to overcome divisions (and DNA), in favor of equality, not “equity.” “Equity” as a policy serves to eliminate the very idea of equality before the law. “Lady CRT” is sharp-eyed and has ripped away that mask of impartiality. She demands an accounting — on racial lines only.
How many of our legislators, or teachers, or school boards, even understand this about the ideology they have so gleefully gulped down to regurgitate like bird puke into our children’s throats? Have they stopped to taste of it — being a “theory” and all? Either they do not understand and they need some race training and MLK lessons, or they do understand and they need to be removed. Our entire creed — the DNA of America’s Bill of Rights — is being dismantled before our eyes, in the name of freedom and equity, and splintered like my ancestry into an infinite myriad of past grievances, with no aspiration toward equality, ever. No aspiration toward forgiveness, only recrimination. What a horrid, hateful disease to inject into schoolchildren.
It is tragic that Native American tribes were displaced violently in America. As to the Abenaki, they are essentially gone. Like my forebears, they were assimilated. Diversity was embraced, and they integrated, multiculturally. Like the remnant of Vermont agrarian culture remaining today, they eventually were absorbed. Maybe they hid, but they hid in whiter blood, and their language and customs largely dissipated with that DNA dissolution. Today’s “Abenakis” are not Abenakis, they are faux Abenakis. The way “Italian Americans” who never went to Italy and don’t speak Italian are faux. The way African Americanism is faux — they aren’t African, because that’s where Africans live. (In fact, I’m sure that most black Americans would be quite culture shocked to move to Uganda or Nigeria — as would be most white Americans).
I know a great many Vermonters of Abenaki bloodlines — there are thousands and thousands of us. But not only do we not “identify” as Abenaki, we snicker at those who do. Because it is Cowboys and Indians playtime, not reality. A tattoo or earring does not resurrect a dead culture. We thousands are English-speaking Vermonters, defined by a twentieth-century culture. Our links to past grievances against our people are far far away: as reason, memory and common sense say they should be. We live in the now. Those fracturing our state and society over race are splintering us by splitting DNA, to suit themselves. They are race-shifters; race-hustlers; race opportunists; racists.
I could avoid all this and claim I am Abenaki, and join the social justice revolution: I could have special status, and demand that others genuflect in shame. But then, so can all of you.
Yes, in brilliant Vermontland, one becomes Abenaki by simply saying so. The government will give you money, preferential healthcare and COVID priority, and a special acronym (BIPOC). If you are a child you can go to a separate (but equitable) classroom for special attention to your DNA that you don’t even have. It is a lot like transgender surgeries for children — they can figure it all out in those early years, and decide for themselves what race, gender or species they are. They are our future, after all. Millions of furious Greta Thunbergs, armed with infinite axes for grinding. And they aren’t even their own axes — they stole them as weapons from my dead ancestors.
This whole thing has gotten wicked stupid. Let me explain it to you: we Vermonters are the Abenaki; the infestation and colonization is in the Bloated Dome, where bureaucrats rape our resources while pretending to help us, restrict us more and more in our land and homes, denigrate us and our history and culture, and tell us how they are doing all this through their enlightened desire to “help” us. Which is why they are going to reeducate our children for us so they too can be enlightened. What’s next, forced sterilization of those who dissent? Now that government is to be used to reprogram the human psyche in grade school, the sky is the limit.
We’ve had enough help. Critical race theory is worse than any smallpox infection ever spread to Native Americans. The question remains: was that deliberate, or are they just ignorant?
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2021. All rights reserved.