Many of us have the eighth century historian Bede to indict for the misplaced notion of our genetic and cultural precedents. It was he who gave flight to the idea that, some time after Rome withdrew, Saxon hordes swept across Britain in a genocidal orgy of conquest and plunder and regime change, seeding the countryside with what would rise up one day to become the Anglo-Saxons. So compelling was this nonsense that it holds sway even today, despite there being not a shred of archeological supporting evidence for it, and much in the archeological record to dispute it.
That record in fact tells us that the truth is far messier, and it is far likelier that Britain was inculturated by degrees, by small movements of settlements of many strands of diverse peoples from varying parts of Europe. Indeed, to be truly British means nothing more than to be truly eclectic, and the white ancestors that settled America out of Britain would have probably been horrified to learn what glorious mutts they in fact were.
That this, and the mapping of the human genome, has not put an end to arguably the greatest misconception ever formulated by the mind of Homo sapiens – the notion of race and racial “purity” – is attributable to that most reliable relic of human traits, mallet-headed ignorance. The question of how long it will take to breed this piffle out of the race remains to be seen. It may involve humility of the kind for which we simply lack the cranial capacity for now, but one day, if we do not destroy ourselves first, enough of us will finally get it that, of this pugilistic species of ours, there really is only one race: the human race.
Until then, the idiotic notion of “them and us,” advanced by factions promoting hatred and division, is the greatest threat to our survival as a species. I could not even say with certainty that it is, in any sense, unnatural. In nature, growling at strangers with inconsequential differences is a thing that every creature that has a voice seems to do. We appear to be alone in our capacity to reason our way out of it. That we sometimes do gives me hope. That we more often do not causes me to despair of our continued existence.
The Republican Party stands in the way of our survival as a species. It promotes climate science denial. It undermines education through the encouragement of superstition and falsehood. It guarantees the perpetuation of poverty by thwarting and subverting the emancipation of women. It endlessly schemes to ensure that the currents of wealth continue to flow in ever greater amounts to the wealthy, thereby advancing hierarchies of social strata in order to conserve the impotence of the voiceless. To allow power to continue to be wielded by Republican hands no longer merely constitutes a contest of ideologies, it very well may mean our doom.
Whoever becomes the Democratic candidate for president must therefore unhesitatingly become our candidate. A man dying of thirst in a desert is in no position to dispute what flavor or brand of beverage he is being offered. It is my intention to vote for him or her, even if he or she is my least favorite of the many on offer, and it should be yours too. Unless, of course, you think our survival as a species is not worthy of your concern, I suggest you prepare yourself to uncritically support the Democratic candidate, and drag every like-minded person you know to the polls, kicking and screaming if needs be.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.