Much ado has been made about a DNA study released last week that found that descendants of the Melungeons, those mysterious dark-skinned Appalachian mountainfolk, aren’t who they thought they were.
The study found genetic evidence that Melungeons came from the union of sub-Saharan African men and central European women—basically, the mixed-race offspring of black men and white women working as indentured servants in the first days of the American colonies—not the amalgam of Native American, Turkish and Portuguese genes that Melungeon Pride groups have come to herald as their ancestry.
While I agree with the Discover blog that other genetic lineages could have died out over the centuries, my theory that Melungeons were Portuguese Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition appears to have bit the dust.
However, my other favorite Jewish American conspiracy—that Christopher Columbus was in fact Queen Isabella’s favorite Jew and sent off to the New World in order to save his tushie—continues to gain momentum:
Recently, a number of Spanish scholars, such as Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, have concluded that Columbus was a Marrano, whose survival depended upon the suppression of all evidence of his Jewish background in face of the brutal, systematic ethnic cleansing.
In his last will and testament, Columbus directed a ten percent tithe to the poor, specifically indicating someone in the Lisbon’s Jewish Quarter, and signed the document with a triangular cluster of dots—a secret symbol for Mourner’s Kaddish and perhaps a decree to his sons to recite the prayer for him after he died. Scholars have also concluded that Columbus wrote and spoke Castilian Spanish, from which the Jewish language Ladino derived. (Ladino is the Spanish Yiddish—do you think “Ay, Caramba” is the equivalent of “Oy, Vey”?)
Think it’s all meshuggeh? (That would be “loco” in Ladino.) Here’s the rest of Charles Garcia’s article.
Geez, Columbus Day is already crazy controversial; not sure I want to know what happens when you add a Jewish layer on that…