No Nazis Here

At my mother’s behest, I recently sent a tube of spit to a lab for DNA analysis.  No surprises in the results.  I’m a mix of Teuton and Celt, and my mother had nothing to hide. Equally unsurprising is the daily drip of e-mail advertisements with which I have since been pestered by the testing laboratory, Ancestry DNA, urging me to purchase additional services.

Today’s drip included the photo I have pinned below.  I now see that I was supposed to see this pair as a couple of brothers who were surprised by the differences in their gene sequences, who paid Ancestry DNA to explain what this means, and who are now grinning like the dickens because they are such satisfied customers.

But I must confess, that is not what I saw at first.

What I saw at first was a homosexual couple, and what I thought at first was, “those two guys are going to be nobody’s ancestors.”  A nasty thought, some would say, but there you have it.  What I saw on closer inspection was, perhaps, two half-brothers, the one on the left vaguely Latin, the one on the right a Teutonic blockhead like myself.  Maybe they are grinning like the dickens because, thanks to Ancestry DNA, they now know their mother did have something to hide.

My reactions may be nothing more than the twitches of a crabbed and ungenerous mind, but I think there is more to it than that.  DNA testing encourages people to see themselves as members of extended families and, truth be told, races.  Ancestry DNA reported my results by geographic region, but everyone knows these geographic names are euphemistic proxies for what were until very recently known as races.

This makes DNA testing profoundly countercultural and “transgressive” in a world where cosmopolitan individualism is public doctrine.   Just about everything else in our culture discourages people from seeing themselves as members of extended families and races.  I am sure the DNA testing services are acutely aware of this, and that this is why they use weirdly ambiguous images like the one above.

Perhaps the most fitting caption to this photo would be, No Nazis Here!


22 thoughts on “No Nazis Here

  1. Pingback: No Nazis Here | @the_arv

  2. Their commercials are sometimes unintentionally hilarious. There’s one with a Latino woman who is “shocked” by her results which are exactly what you’d expect – a mix of Iberian, native American, a little bit of North African, etc.

    One of my sister’s high school students told her those tests were bunk because his test revealed his ancestry as West African and he’s , in fact, Jamaican.

  3. Note they show “ethnicity” in their results chart and frequently use people that are highly mixed in their commercials – so I guess their gig is consistent with “there’s no such thing as race.”

    Also note that based on their commercials (and my personal experience) it seems to be women who are obsessed with this ancestry testing thing. In my family they have used it to dig up dirt (questionable divorces, siring of bastard children, harlotry, etc.) on dead people who aren’t here to defend themselves.

    • Yes, the whole operation has to pretend really hard that it is not about what it is actually about. I’ve wondered how much mistaken paternity has been disclosed by these tests, and how many women now live in fear that their past infidelities will be revealed. There are, of course, biological reasons why females are more concerned with who is related to whom, but females are at the same time blind to the implications of their genealogical obsession.

      • Women love gossiping. They used this wonderful tool of the information age to hurt my father (whether intentionally or not) a year or two before he died. Sometimes things are better left unrevealed. That’s what he gets for 45 years of being a hard-working, loyal provider who never once complained.

      • Sorry to hear about the ill-treatment of your father. There are many ways the information age can make a man’s past come back to haunt him. Public records weren’t really all that public when you had to hike down to the courthouse or library to look for them. There is a lot to be said for the mist of time.

      • True. FWIW my father was good. They dug up dirt on his father – no son wants to hear bad things about his father -this is how the women hurt him – and it was pointless except to provide entertainment for the women – this is why I dislike ancestry.

  4. It’s not just you. When I saw that picture, my first thought was “fags”. Then a moment later I corrected myself and thought “oh, they’re probably brothers or friends or something.” I was feeling guilty about my dirty mind–what’s the matter with me to be suspicious of hugging men?– until I learned that you went through the same process.

    There must be a subtle trigger here. Maybe it’s that those guys look a little gay apart from what they’re doing.

    • I think it is mostly the beards. But the way the picture is framed has to have something to do with it too. Put those elements together, and what you see is is a couple of queers. But who is to say they aren’t queers in any case?

      • The metrosexual look seemed to converge heterosexual and homosexual styles, but I’d guess that subtle distinguishing identifiers remained. I lived on the outskirts of the main gay neighborhood of Washington, D.C. in the early 1980s, and some fairly unambiguous signaling of heterosexuality was a good way to avoid embarrassing propositions. A certain degree of negligence in grooming and dress normally sufficed. Bright smiles were dangerous.

      • I think the name has changed, but the look remains much the same. It is in some ways casual, but in others obsessively groomed. I think it is the latter that gives the gay vibe to someone of my generation. It’s the feeling that this guy spends a little too much time in front of a mirror for a guy.

      • I hope beards aren’t gay now. I grew mine after starting “Throne and Altar”. I remember thinking I was striking a small blow for natural sex differences.

      • I’m no authority, but I think the degree of manicuring is significant. A man should aim to be well turned out, but should not give a suggestion of having spent an inordinate amount of time before the mirror.

      • … but I think the degree of manicuring is significant.

        Yeah, that’s all I meant. My fault in not making that explicit.
        I wore a beard for a couple of years back in my early 40s. My main reason (I think) was just to give off a different look for a time and a season. My wife hated it. Several persons in my circle told me it made me look “more intimidating.” By which I take it they meant that it made me look *uglier*. I’m pretty again, so it’s all good. Ha!

  5. Xi Jinping must be green with envy. What the totalitarian regimes have to impose by force, supposedly “free” Americans not only give up willingly, but pay for the privilege. My sister voluntarily paid for the privilege of giving her DNA sample to the government, so there may be something to this “it’s a female thing.”

  6. Pingback: No Nazis Here | Reaction Times

  7. The reason you thought they were homosexuals, or at least that they seemed effeminate, is that they are smile with their mouths’ opened (as opposed to clenching the teeth). Google it. It’s a weirdly modern phenomenon, which seems to be confined to bug men and soy boys. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ve never seen a normal guy smiling like that.


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