Letter to the Editor - The Lakeville Journal – 2-7-19

False understanding or lies?

In response to Mark Godburn’s column of Jan. 17, I have to ask:

Before the recent advent of DNA testing, what besides family oral history did people have upon which to found their beliefs about their ancestral heritage? When Madeleine Albright discovered that her family had protected themselves by hiding their Jewish heritage in this country, did that mean she had a false understanding of herself or that she had participated in a lie? Surely the former. No one called her a liar. I doubt she would have been accused of lying if the truth of her heritage had been revealed by DNA testing, either.

My guess (based on the honest, straightforward person I observe her to be) is that a teen-aged Elizabeth Warren would never have described herself as having Native American heritage if DNA testing had existed then. She believed it because she’d been told it was so.

We don’t have the luxury of basing our judgments of a person’s past self understanding on current scientific capabilities.

Try looking at it this way: had video-capable smartphones existed and been focused on Brett Kavanaugh when he was a teenager, he might never have been considered for any judicial position, let alone the Supreme Court. (This, by the way, is not empty speculation. There are teachers who have lost their jobs and careers because of selfies depicting their drinking behavior in bars.)

Your timing of a piece resurrecting this issue, as Elizabeth Warren considers presidential candidacy, is suspect, as it seems an attempt to spread distrust. I challenge you to devote a column to each and every one of Donald Trump’s lies and misbehaviors. Therein lies job security.

Jandi Hanna

Falls Village