- by Eileen McNamara
- My belated comment
·It's clear now that Skip Gates is a suck-up of the highest order. Knowing better, he assured Affleck that Affleck's mother was a Freedom Rider in 1964: "Your mother was there"--with powerful pictures displayed behind the men. That to my mind is unforgivable, even worse than removing something embarrassing because the subject is a "megastar" who just might be persuaded to get you into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. For years I have been working intermittently on a book to be called something like ORNERY PEOPLE: WHAT WERE THE DEPRESSION OKIES?--(question mark at the end). I started off thinking there would be no written record of my Colonial and Early Republic ancestors and found, in fact, masses of documentation, including some of their own words going back to the 1600s. In the years before I learned to demand clear proof I accepted some connections others had made. I loved being a North Carolina Gregory for a while--after all, 7 sons fought against the British. I loved being descended from Cyrus Parks--after all, that made me a Beattie, some of whom in Pennsylvania had been heroic. Alas, the connections were not there. I learned that in genealogy there were recurrent types: the "I want to be kin to kings at any cost" sort of fantasist or "I want to get a glimpse of their character more than their names" sort of ancestor hunter. To lie, to say one more ancestor was at King's Mountain, would dishonor the 9 or a dozen who did fight there. Dammit, GGGG Grandpa Knox is in the history books as a fighter there but at 90 in his pension application he said he was not there because Col. Johnston (whom he did not identify as his brother-in-law) had sent him away on some business. You go back to camp half an hour away and bring something back and you miss the whole magnificent one-hour show. You don't lie. You don't lie when an uncle carries out an order to draw and quarter a murderer. You don't lie when someone kills a slave with a blow from his cane and gets away with it, in Maryland just before the Revolution. You don't lie when one of the men skins a wolf alive. (I was startled last week to see this practice depicted in HORSESHOE ROBINSON.) You find unimaginable heroism, too, if you were an Okie whose folks got to Indian Territory early, for often you can track their passage from Philadelphia or Baltimore or Charleston. But you verify and verify and rejoice in all you find. You never lie to yourself or others. Skip Gates must not be allowed to perform on PBS again. He shames all honest genealogists.