Clinton evolution
by H. Millard (c) 2004
H. Millard

On May 29, former President Bill Clinton gave a commencement speech at Cornell University in which he repeated something that he had said in another speech several years earlier that was as dumb then as it is now.

In his latest aww shucks can't we all just get along gush, Mr. Clinton told the graduating class: "World history can be seen in part as the conflict that is generated when people of different families, clans, tribes and nations start bumping up against one another. And first they are afraid of people who are different from them; then they see that they're not so different from them; then they get interested in working together. When the human genome was sequenced, to me the most interesting finding was that all people are over 99.9% the same genetically...."

So, what's the problem with what Clinton said? Two things, basically. First he was wrong about conflict. Then he was wrong about genes.

Clinton in AfricaClinton's statement that "World history can be seen in part as the conflict that is generated when people of different families, clans, tribes and nations start bumping up against one another," fails to recognize that conflict is a natural and necessary part of existence. Anytime there is more than one thing in existence there is conflict. When you walk down the street you're in conflict with billions of other things, some living and some not, that you must push aside to make forward progress. You may not be aware of them, but they're there. You push through the air and thus displace it. Doesn't the air have a right to remain undisturbed by your forward motion? You destroy bacteria and viruses that you can't see every time you wash your hands. You kill insects by the score just by stepping on them unintentionally. You walk on grass that was there first and was just minding its own business by growing.

Of course, the billions of things that are pushed aside or destroyed by you were also in conflict with other things. That's the nature of reality. In order to exist--to Be--one must be in conflict with other things. Only a state of non-Being would have no conflict.

But, let's not be overly cute. What Clinton was really referring to was human conflict. His speech was, on one level, a seemingly reasonable call to avoid human conflict by recognizing that we are all much alike. Of course, this relative alikeness that Mr. Clinton believes is a reason to all get along is a bit more complex than he lets on and this relative alikeness means that those who are relatively alike are all competing for the same niche of existence--the same food, the same land, the same everything. But all this surface competition is really just an outward manifestation of the real competition--the struggle by genes to dominate other genes.

This struggle by the genes is a part of the eternal struggle. It is not something to try to overcome. It is this gene struggle that has the potential to lead to ever higher forms of life.

Rabin, Clinton and ArafatEven when one seems to see families, clans, tribes and nations working together, a closer look would show that the relationship is never really equal and that one side is dominating the other side. It is often the case that one side won't dominate on all things and there is a flux about this so that one side will be dominant in this and the other side will be dominant in that, and such things aren't static but continually moving along the spiral of existence. If the level of "cooperation" is very deep and broad then the price of this cooperation is a change to the families, clans, tribes and nations involved. Closely related people should certainly strive to work together for their common good, and when such people do work together they give up less of themselves than if they were trying to cooperate with people unlike them and who do not share their genes.

In order to cooperate on a deep and broad basis, the families, clans, tribes and nations have had to, at a minimum, give up some of their prerogatives. In other words, they have had to sublimate some of their essential nature--their soul--to work together with others. They had to compromise. If those compromises are over inconsequential things that do not go to the essence of who they truly are, that is one thing, however what often happens is that one group ends up compromising itself away in order to avoid conflict.

Communion in AfricaAlthough Clinton didn't mention religion as one of the things that bumps up against others, religion does so bump, and it also offers us examples of how the basic "can't we all get along" type of thinking he is positing changes the essential nature of those involved. For examples, look no further than the religious ecumenical movement that attempts to smooth the rough edges of various religions as they relate to other religions. What is happening is that various religions are compromising their basic founding principles and truths away in order to get along with other religions, with governments, and with various social movements or trends that continually pop up. The current controversy over homosexual marriage and related issues comes immediately to mind. Should religions that teach that homosexual conduct is wrong, now suddenly accept it because the temper of the times says that it should?

What if God really does exist [which would be a major shock to many so-called religious people today] and what if He really did mean what He said in the past? What if He really doesn't want homosexual conduct? And, why might He not want such conduct? Oh, how about it conflicts with going forth and multiplying? So, we're back to conflict. To avoid this conflict, the religions that don't want homosexual conduct will have to compromise to allow it. Then, that puts them in conflict with their own religious teachings and, presumably, with their God. This conundrum is being answered by more and more religious bodies with acceptance of homosexuality. In other words, they are turning their backs on God and doing what some humans want.

Anyway, conflict is a natural part of the struggle to exist. It is impossible to avoid all conflict if one wants to be true to oneself and one's beliefs and one's genes. However, we can avoid some conflict. Meaningless wars such as what is going on in Iraq is an example of a conflict that could have been avoided.

Clinton photo-opThis is not to say that because conflict is natural and eternal that there shouldn't be attempts at cooperation. However, people must realize where lines must be drawn. Unfortunately, there are those misguided and sometimes neurotic individuals who think that human conflict can be avoided by blending all humans together [which is what Clinton really seems to be about]. Those with this mind set keep blurring the lines in order to fool people into their own genocide. Oh, they don't call it genocide and they probably mostly believe that it is a good thing for races to disappear, but they're wrong. It may sound nice, in a simplistic way, to say that racial groups should agree that they will get along because they are 99.9 percent the same as each other, but uncritically accepting this type of statement can lead to a false belief that since there is so little difference between us (which belief requires us to not think too much about this or to believe our eyes) we might as well all mate together. Then, the group with fewer members starts getting smaller and smaller and may eventually become extinct.

take 9 scoops of chocolateSuch mating amounts to what I've called bedroom genocide. The primary victims of such genocide in the modern world are white people. This is so because only about ten percent of all humans are white people. Fully ninety percent of all humans are non-white people. Take ten gallons of white paint and mix them with ninety gallons of brown paint and see what you come up with. Right. No more white paint. Sure, genes are different than paint, but the principle is the same. I wrote a column a couple of years ago about the Germans in Jamaica. It seems there was once a thriving colony of blond haired, blue eyed Germans living in the midst of all the blacks in Jamaica. For a time, the Germans remained separate. Then, a little at a time, first this German and then this other German, faced with limited mating choices among their own people, mated outside the German colony.

Today, there are no longer any white Germans left from that colony. In their place are families of black Jamaicans, indistinguishable in any way from other black Jamaicans except that they have German surnames and photos of their great grandparents who were white. I call that bedroom genocide. Of course this doesn't only happen to whites. It can happen to any group that is in the minority in a sea of people unlike them. Take a look at American Indians these days. Few look like the guy on the nickel. Many of them look white. Bedroom genocide. It should be added that this is not a judgment of the intrinsic and objective value (if such things exist) of this or that people, either before or after they are genetically transformed. It is, however, a statement of the simple fact of nature that entire genetically distinct peoples can be so swamped with genes unlike theirs, that they are transformed into different people.

all our chemicals lying in a swampWhat Clinton said about humans being 99.9 percent the same is a lot like saying "When the chemicals that make up human bodies are listed, to me the most interesting finding is that all living things are made of the same basic chemicals." Yes, that's a true statement, but so what? Are we not, as we exist, demonstrably different from all our chemicals lying in a swamp someplace? The basic chemicals have been organized in a fashion in our beings that produces those reactions that we call life.

Or, what Clinton said would also be like saying that since all DNA is made of the same four basic nucleotides: adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine that all animals and plants are alike because they're all made of these four chemical bases. In fact, nature, or God, simply endlessly shuffles these four nucleotides through an endless spinning and spiraling and creates all living things as a result.

On some level, everything is similar to everything else. Wisdom lies in knowing that it is not the similarities that are important to existence, but the differences. It's all in the shuffle.

Bill, dog, HillaryHere are some other creatures that are a lot like us. Those who argue that all humans are alike and should therefore blend together, might want to include these creatures in their propagandistic genocidal speeches. I won't hold my breath, though. Chimpanzees and humans are about 99.4 percent the same. Horses and humans are between 85 percent and 95 percent the same. Rats and humans are about 90 percent the same. Fruitflies and humans are about 60 percent the same. Can't we all get along? Can't we stop our conflict with flies, by not swatting them anymore? We're so much alike. In fact, we're even closer to these creatures than the above gene order percentages indicates. We're actually all 100 percent just like all other living things in the four nucleotides that make up our DNA.

Unlike what Mr. Clinton apparently believes, and to repeat, it is not the sameness that is important, but the differences. But, because Clinton said what he said, many in Cornell's class of 2004, will have wrong ideas about genes. And, some of them will go on to teach others the same wrong ideas.

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