Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Dream Dissolves

All dreams do, of course. Some take longer than others. Most persistent are the ones we consciously clutch to our breasts, taking them to be visions of a future not merely to be desired but to be attained at any cost. The agony of their failure can eclipse any bodily pain.

If the contentions of Nicholas Wade's new book are correct, the Left is about to lose one of the gaudiest of its waking dreams:

    Since the decoding of the human genome in 2003, a sharp new light has been shed on human evolution, raising many interesting but awkward questions.
    It is now beyond doubt that human evolution is a continuous process that has proceeded vigorously within the past 30,000 years and almost certainly-- though very recent evolution is hard to measure -- throughout the historical period and up until the present day. It would be of the greatest interest to know how people have evolved in recent times and to reconstruct the fingerprints of natural selection as it molded and reworked the genetic clay. Any degree of evolution in social behavior found to have taken place during historical times could help explain significant features of today's world.
    But the exploration and discussion of these issues is complicated by the fact of race.

What a gentle, gentlemanly introduction to what will assuredly be the most controversial book of the year!

Recent events have been trying for the apostles of absolute human equality. Statistical measures of all sorts have administered a terrible beating to the notion that we're all exactly alike. To a dispassionate observer, merely looking at the compositions of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Basketball League would have disproved that contention. However, those determined to insist that the races, sexes, ethnicities, and so forth must achieve absolute representational equality in all things are determined to wave aside such "outliers" as irrelevant to their "larger point."

If Nicholas Wade has it right, the most important of all the equalitarians' contentions -- i.e., that race is a "social construct" without objective significance -- has just fallen before the evidence from modern genomic studies. To wit:

  • Race as colloquially understood correlates with identifiable genetic constellations;
  • Those constellations reach beyond matters of appearance and size;
  • Some of them touch upon brain development and function.

Herrnstein and Murray told us so some years ago, and were shouted down for it. They cited battery after battery of tests of the higher cognitive functions that demonstrated it, to no effect. They pointed to tracking studies that followed the subjects of those tests over twenty to thirty years of subsequent development and experience, each of which confirmed their thesis. It was of no use. The Panjandrums of Political Correctness were determined that the link between genetic inheritance and intelligence would not even be discussed in polite company.

It would seem that Arthur Jensen deserves an apology. So does Lawrence Summers, come to think of it, but that's a subject for another day.

Once again, if Wade's presentation of the matter is accurate, the core questions about race are no longer scientific. That is, it's no longer a matter of opinion whether the races differ in measurable ways other than appearance and size. The core questions are now social and legal.

In our time, the most powerful of all rhetorical epithets is racist. Those who've wielded that word like a shillelagh to beat down those who question the rightness of legally enforced representational equality have seldom deigned to concede to a specific, hard-edged definition for it. Confronted with statistical evidence about intelligence distributions, aggression, propensity toward risk-taking, and willingness to violate the law, their answer has always been twofold:



Advances in the sciences have seldom been as detrimental to that tactic as those Wade reports on in genomics. These are matters that will be discussed. If the genetic thesis is wrong, public attention to it is mandatory to protect what remains of our social cohesion. If it is correct, the obligation is even stronger, for allowing ourselves to be albatrossed any longer by laws that assume the reverse would do great harm. Attempts to vilify those who refuse to be silenced or to shout them down will fail before public counterpressure. Americans have been constrained, coerced, and cudgeled under a racial rationale for far too long.

One matter must be disposed of absolutely and with prejudice. Physical and mental differences among the races cannot justify legal discrimination among them. Every human being must have the same rights before the law as any other, regardless of race. We are all equal in God's eyes; those who claim to define and administer justice are not qualified to draw distinctions among us.

Note that, to assert the reverse, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney had to imply that a Negro is not a human being in the eyes of the law:

The Court held that neither Scott nor any other person of African descent—whether or not emancipated from slavery—could be "citizen of a state", and therefore was unable to bring suit in federal court on the ground of diversity. Taney spent pages 407-421 of his decision chronicling the history of slave and negro law in the British colonies and American states. His goal was to ascertain whether, at the time the Constitution was ratified, federal law could have recognized Scott (a Negro descendant of a slave) as a citizen of any state within the meaning of Article III. Relying upon statements made by Charles Pinckney, who had claimed authorship of the Privileges and Immunities Clause during the debates over the Missouri Compromise,[19] Taney decided: "the affirmative of these propositions cannot be maintained." According to Taney, the authors of the Constitution had viewed all blacks as "beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

The horrors justified by such an assertion -- horrors that were occasionally practiced without compunction by Southern slaveholders -- were a large part of what ignited the Civil War.

We cannot expect that Wade's book, however it's generally received, will cause the repeal of the various laws that purport to enforce representational equality. Laws confer power on governments, and governments never willingly surrender power once acquired, especially power of an arbitrary sort than can be as selectively applied as the labor laws have been.

Neither can we expect that the proponents of representational equality enforced by law will surrender their positions equably or gracefully. This is a prime example of "sunk capital" of the mind: an idea that underpins so much else in its holder's psyche that undermining it endangers his entire mental structure, including his opinion of his own intellect and character. Regard how bitterly the Left has railed against the Supreme Court's decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action et al.

But we can expect some of the liveliest debates, in every imaginable forum, America has ever seen over this most sensitive of subjects. Always assuming the Left doesn't manage to get Wade's book banned by law, of course.


Sergio said...

I do not believe in evolution, and therefore enjoy the privilege of side-stepping the various grotesqueries of eugenics.

YIH said...

I don't believe in evolution either, but believing the whole ''only the color of the skin is different'' nonsense is about as realistic as believing in Leprechauns riding Unicorns.
I won't get into the Steve Sailer-style IQ debate when there is a much better proxy for group intelligence: Literacy. Whether Detroit, Haiti or sub-saharan Africa itself, where Africans dominate you have high rates of illiteracy. The other thing you'll notice about Africans is wherever they dominate everything deteriorates: ruins of Detroit the moonscape that is Haiti and the general ruin, poverty and violence throughout sub-saharan Africa.
Even Christianity devolves with Africans such as 'social justice' churches here, voodoo in Haiti and various animist/Christian hybrids in Africa,
One other thing Africans are noted for is the fact that even minor offenses can very quickly turn into a kill-or-be-killed situation (see the whole Martin/Zimmerman mess last year).
That's why the famous ''judge them not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character'' continuously parroted on talk radio is nonsense, because any interaction with Africans can suddenly explode in a life or death situation you MUST judge them by the color of their skin because if you try judging them by ''the content of their character'' you could well learn a fatal lesson what ''the content of their character'' actually is.