LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Denigrating others due to physical characteristics absurd

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal … .”

This was the stated belief of our founders, despite many being slave owners. Even today, that statement is far from being true. In this 21st century, we find too many Americans denigrating “others” because of physical characteristics, ancestry, birthplace, language, and culture. The word “… Men …” in the Declaration has given our male-dominated government license to exclude women (and others) from equal standing for far too long.

The rhetoric of chauvinism, xenophobia, homophobia, religious intolerance, and racism used during his campaign propelled our president-elect to his victory, but should not exist in our “civilized” modern society, let alone be condoned or encouraged. I must believe that the vast majority of Americans refrain from these practices, but realize that others feel empowered by his spoken and tweeted words.

From the beginnings of humankind, there has been conflict between individuals and groups. The victors took advantage of the losers by enslaving them, controlling them and treating them as inferiors. Archaeology, oral traditions, and written records show that this has persisted to modern times. The concept of “inferior races” is a concept created solely by humans.

Denigration and enslavement by more-powerful groups has been practiced for millennia. The Egyptians enslaved Jews, the English and Spanish enslaved Africans and natives in the New World and elsewhere, the Nazis enslaved and executed Jews and other non-Aryans; the list is extensive. Each more-powerful group believed these “others” to be inferior, yet, they were neither “racially” superior nor inferior.

The creation traditions in the Christian Bible, the Jewish Torah, and the Muslim Qur’an are quite similar. Each tells of “God,” who created the first human called “Adam.” This Creator then took a part of “Adam” and created a human female called “Eve.” This couple and their descendants began a single human race. These traditions tell us they lived in or near Africa, and so, must have been of dark complexion, not the “white” of artists’ renderings. The physical variations of their human descendants are likely dependent upon migrations to other regions of Earth with differing climates.

Archaeologists and geneticists have determined that Homo sapiens began in that same region some 200,000 or more years ago. The geneticists found what they refer to as a “mitochondrial Eve” after analyzing DNA found in her remains.

Mitochondrial DNA is that which is transmitted from a mother to her offspring. Within the past 30 years or so, DNA from humans of the many regions and ethnicities of the globe has been analyzed. Fragments of this same mitochondrial DNA were found in virtually every sample, further evidence that there is but one human race on the Earth.

The physical differences we perceive and upon which we base our actions and attitudes about “race” are, again, due to human migration. Religions and science seem to agree that there is but one race, with different ethnicities from different regions.

I’m a white, 71-year-old male of Christian faith and European descent. I was raised in a bigoted household in a New Jersey city where “de facto” segregation was practiced. I hope that I no longer display the attitudes and behaviors of my youth as I encounter my fellow humans and treat them with respect.

Alan Gaddis

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