David Brooks' article on mutts in the Times (June 27) really bothers me. I have a few questions.
If an Episcopalian marries a Presbyterian, are the products of their union to be called mutts? (My parents. Me. And my brother.)
If a Welshman marries an Englishwoman, shall we call their issue mutts?
If a Hungarian marries a Dane, do we call their kids mutts? (My mother's parents.)
If an Irishman marries an Italian, do we get mutts?
If an Ashkenazi Jew marries a Sephardic Jew -- mutts?
If an Episcopalian marries a Jew, are their children mutts? (Me. And my wife. And our children.)
If a Christian marries a Muslim?
If a white woman from Kansas marries a black man from Kenya?
I could go on. In fact, I will.
William the Conqueror's father was from a Scandinavian family. He was duke of Normandy in France. William's mother was a townie from Falaise in Normandy. William became king of England -- hence the Conqueror name. What do you say? A mutt?
Julius Caesar and Cleopatra had a baby. Julius was Italian. Cleopatra was Egyptian. Was Caesarion a mutt? Would you be willing to say that to his parents?
The concept of a mutt, or mongrel, derives from the idea of racial purity, which is pursued these days mainly by the likes of the American Kennel Club. Race as a scientific concept has been exploded -- although many still quietly adhere to the old learning. I think the attraction is the corollary concept of a master race.
I was attending a service in St. Thomas on Fifth Avenue years ago. Wedding, baptism, funeral, something else? I actually forget. The minister touched briefly on sin, so it may have been a baptism.
He suggested that many of us probably didn't feel particularly sinful (we were Episcopalians after all). But he said we also probably thought we were better than most other people. And that, he gently reminded us, is a sin.