24 November 2006

DNA proves the English aren't so English

The English are not so English!

The Sunday Telegraph (UK) had an interesting story on using DNA testing to provide some 100% English citizens – or so they thought – information on their individual ancestry.

Some results were not what they expected:

Another of our participants has since discovered a family connection in Turkey which partially confirms her DNA test results. For others, it was not such a welcome revelation. Four days after hearing that her DNA suggested Romany origins, the 'ethnic English' campaigner was threatening legal action.

However, these tests could be a powerful tool in the fight against racism. It is not just that they prove, once and for all, that any notions of race or racial purity are patently absurd and scientifically wrong. Their power lies in that they prove it by showing people what is in their own blood. When the truths of science become personal truths, they get taken more seriously.

And as for the idea of being '100 per cent English', well - to put my art critic hat back on - no one has put their finger on the truth better than the great painter Walter Richard Sickert. 'No one could be more English than I am,' he once said archly. 'Born in Munich in 1860, of pure Danish descent!'

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