Posted under Race
Together with first lady Michelle Obama, the president kissed and hugged scores of residents before pausing at Ollie Hayes’ pub for the requisite pint of Guinness. He drank about three-fourths of it and later remarked, “I feel even more at home after that pint that I had.”
All day, Obama played upon his Irish roots, only discovered during his presidential campaign. His hosts helped him along. “Today, the 44th president comes home,” said Irish Taoiseach, or prime minister, Enda Kenny. “He doesn’t just speak the American dream. He is the American dream.”
At which point the president introduced himself: “My name is Barack Obama of the Moneygall Obamas,” he told the crowd that had begun gathering seven hours earlier. “And I’ve come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way.” ~ Tuscan Citizen
In a form of postmodern legerdemain, the media, in the wake of Obama’s visit to Ireland, have hailed Obama as “Irish” because of his white ancestors’ Irish ancestry. To the observant, Obama looks about as Irish as a cat looks like a dog. If Obama is “Irish,” then anything can be Irish.
Let’s see how closely related to the Irish Obama is using genetic distances between various populations. As noted by Bryan Sykes in the Genetic Roots of Britain, there is very little genetic distance between the Irish and English. Nearly everyone from the Isles seems to be descended from the same stone-age people who (periodically) occupied the British isles for tens of thousands of years. Step out a little farther from the Isles, and using Cavalli-Sforza’s genetic distance charts from his History and Geography of Human Genes, one sees distance widening. The genetic distance from the Danish to the Irish is 1.0. The genetic distance of the Italians would be 2.5 times as distant as the English/Irish-Danish distance. Iranians are 9 times more distant. The Japanese are 59 times more distant. And Sub-Saharan Africans are 109 times more distant from the English than are the Danish (which is unsurprising given recent Neanderthal findings).
Assume that Obama’s genetic markers are half-white and half-black. He would be still 55 times more genetically distant from the English than would an average Dane. In other words, any average Dane off the street would be about 55 times more closely related to the English/Irish than is Obama. Obama is about as “Irish” as a Japanese person (who is 59 times more distant from the English). As an Irish friend emailed today, “he’s not my kin.”