The strange lineage of Heziciah Buttonhole Benton

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This just in: I’m apparently a racist. Frankly, the news isn’t as shocking as you’d think it would be. I do hail from a region of the country that might have been opposed to equality at one time. I’ve been called racist before, based solely on where I was born. This, of course, is as asinine as saying someone born close to a river likes to eat fish, but there are asinine people on this earth and they are solely responsible for the flagrant use of the word asinine in today’s flagrantly asinine culture.

Here’s the scoop: I don’t give a good damn what color your skin is or what language you speak; if you approach me with common courtesy and respect, you’re going to get the same from me. Pissing in the parking lot is disrespectful to those of us who agree that a parking lot and a toilet are two exclusively different things. Also, if I ever choose to live in Mexico, or France or Pakistan, I’ll use the sense God gave me and attempt to learn and actively use whatever language the great majority of the people in the country speak, be it their “national” language or not. These things seem so blatantly obvious, I feel redundant in even having to mention them, and if it makes me a racist to fervently believe both of them, then so be it.

My mother-in-law is big into genealogy and has researched my surname pretty far back. If my general composition is any indication, there’s no possible genetic way for me to be racist. Every continent and the various races they represent are firmly rooted somewhere in my fantastic family tree. If I were truly a racist, I’d hate the very fiber of my own being, and I can assure you that’s not the case. So I scientifically rebuke the assertions I’m partial to one race only. Stop it.

Heziciah Buttonhole Benton is a figment of my imagination, but Howard and Callie Carroll Benton were real and they were my great grandparents.Heziciah Buttonhole Benton is a figment of my imagination, but Howard and Callie Carroll Benton were real and they were my great grandparents.

Heziciah Buttonhole Benton didn’t sail across the ocean in the Sault Ste Marie for the sole purpose of trapping beaver, he had hopes of meeting a nice girl and settling down. According to the completely fictional lineage I’ve constructed in my mind, he actually ended up in Jacksonville, Fla., with a fireworks stand and a beautiful Seminole Indian for a wife. (The only part of this scenario that’s remotely true is the fact I had Scot ancestors on my mother’s side who came here to trap beaver and ended up staying and marrying indigenous women in the Florida area, where they didn’t actually trap beaver, but built railroads instead.)

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Human beings are psychologically attracted to other human beings who mirror themselves. It doesn’t matter if you believe in creation or evolution or something in between, you can’t dispute the fact that humanity split into clans and tribes based on their physical and linguistic characteristics a very long time ago. Modern living conditions and the need for fresh gene pools have forced those clans and tribes to meld and fold into one another, until none of us has a truly pure heritage. There’s no such thing.

So if you put me in a room full of strangers, yes, I would probably gravitate toward the ones who look like me. Does that make me racist? No. It makes me human. I am an impatient, imperfect and sometimes intolerant human being, as I have admitted to in public, frequently. If it makes you feel any better, I probably annoy myself as much as I annoy you. So let’s just all be friends, coom bah yah and all that. And thank you for at least having to courtesy to call me racist in English. That was nice. Bless your heart.

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