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Tag: Race Realism

The Arguments Against “Race”

“Race” is a coherent biological category, as much as is “species,” and the cases against it simply don’t add up. This essay is drawn from the book Making Sense of…

“Race” is a coherent biological category, as much as is “species,” and the cases against it simply don’t add up.

This essay is drawn from the book Making Sense of Race, which can be purchased here.

 


 

Is “race” an outmoded, morally dubious idea that was deservedly cast into the dustbin of history, along with Stalinism, astrology, and blood-letting? Many say so. Indeed, there is a vociferous movement in anthropology, as well as in the mass media, opposed to the use of race as a biological category. Their opposition functions through a series of “memes” or “variations on themes,” which recur again and again. It is to these arguments that we now turn an informed and critical eye.

How Can You Draw a Line Between Different Races?

A chapter summary in Race and Intelligence includes the lines:

There are no biological races. Human physical appearance varies gradually around the planet, with the most geographically distant peoples generally appearing the most different from one another.1

In other words: there is no clear way to divide different races. They merge into each other, with great variation in-between. A version of this argument is that there is no specific gene that is found only in one specific race. It can be countered that races are, of course, not entirely discrete categories because, if they were, they would be more like species, or perhaps genera, families, or orders on up the taxonomic scale.

Even if it were true that no unambiguous line can be drawn between races, this does not undermine the utility of race. The line between Grizzly bears and Brown bears is blurry, too—but you still know one when you see one and making distinctions between these subspecies is meaningful. Moreover, even if we were to accept that a species varies in small ways due to slightly different environments, then those at the extremes would differ so much, and in consistent ways, that it would become useful to distinguish between them.

Ultimately, it seems like people who make this argument are flirting with a kind of “tactical nihilism.” After all, no concept about the real world is mathematically pure. If “race” is “problematic” because it has blurry borders, then the concept of “history” is equally “problematic”—indeed, the term “problematic” is “problematic.” We use categories to divide our world into manageable chunks and thus negotiate it successfully. If we could not do that, we’d die. So the “blurry borders” argument fails the philosophical test of pragmatism. There exist population clusters that differ profoundly due to varying degrees of evolutionary isolation. These allow correct predictions to be made. That is all that is being argued.

Race is a “Western” Concept

Some say that race is illegitimate or immoral because it is steeped in Western history (and thus things like slavery and oppression), as well as the supposedly myopic and suffocating outlook of “Western science.” But this same argument could be made about almost any concept—including the ones that supposedly undermine or overcome Western hegemony. At some point, we have to accept a basic framing.

And the central question is whether race is a predictive category or not. If race is “problematic” because it’s Western, then, presumably, we cannot use Western concepts at all to analyze anything non-Western. Following this logic, we shouldn’t even talk about anything that is non-Western using a Western tongue. Such argument may sound profound, but under inspection, they’re rather shallow. And for what it’s worth, non-Western cultures clearly have words and concepts that track with the Western notion of “race.”

Race Has Meant Different Things

It has been noted that the word “race” can mean different things. Historically, it has been used in ways that “culture,” “ethnic group,” “nation,” or even “family” are now employed. Lord Acton’s Cambridge Modern History, for instance, referred to the “Habsburg race” in reference to the dynastic line.2 While the history of words is interesting, the fact that the meaning of words change over time is simply irrelevant to our purposes here. We are clear that by “race” we mean breeding populations separated in prehistory and adapted to different environments. If anyone uses race to mean anything else, then our use of race and his are merely homonyms. For what it’s worth, the word “mean” has meant different things historically. In Middle English, it meant “to intend.” Only by 1834 was “mean” widely being used in the way in which it is above.3 Does that “mean” that we cannot use the concept of “meaning”?

Studying Race Leads to Bad Things

Another supposed problem with race is that developing the concept leads to bad consequences. It legitimizes “racist groups,” “inspires hatred,” and so forth. That it might do this is clearly of no relevance to whether or not it is a scientifically justifiable and predictive category. This argument commits the fallacy of an “appeal to consequences” and, depending on how the consequences are described, an “appeal to emotion.” Firstly, it’s obvious that concepts of all kinds can have bad effects. Ecology—as well as awareness about pollution and natural degradation—has, on some level, “inspired” eco-terrorism and murder. Does that mean that research into cleaning the oceans and preserving their ecosystems should cease because it has led, in some way, to violence? To ask the question is to answer it.

Beyond that, it can be convincingly argued that suppressing the concept of race leads to very bad consequences. If a South Asian person has a kidney transplant and is given the kidney of a White person, then his body will likely reject it, elevating the possibility that the patient will die of kidney failure. This scenario is the reason why Britain’s National Health Service regularly appeals for more Black and South Asian organ donors.4 During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, it was found that mortality was particularly high among Blacks and South Asians living in Northern Europe, something that was argued to be for genetic reasons. Specifically, Vitamin D deficiency rendered one more susceptible to serious complications from Covid-19, and non- Europeans were much more likely to be deficient due to their darker skin, leaving them less able to absorb Vitamin D from the sun.5

There are consistent genetic racial differences in the prevalence of many serious medical conditions. Sometimes these stay in populations because a single inherited allele had positive consequences in ancestral environments, overwhelming the negatives consequences for individual carriers of two alleles. An example is sickle cell anaemia, a condition associated with Sub-Saharan Africans. If you carry two copies of the mutant allele, then you develop this debilitating condition. If, however, you carry one copy, then you will likely be immune to malaria.6 Cystic Fibrosis, a congenital disease among Northern European, is similar.7 It only appears when two carriers of the faulty allele have a child, there being a 50 percent chance that such a child will have Cystic Fibrosis. Various hypotheses have been advanced to explain why Cystic Fibrosis has remained in European populations. One states that carrying a single copy of the faulty allele causes carriers to be better able to fight off tuberculosis.8

In some cases, something is adaptive under Darwinian conditions but is maladaptive under modern conditions. For example, South Asians are particularly good at storing fat, and this is useful in the context of food scarcity, for obvious reasons. But with food abundance brought on by the Industrial Revolution and the use of fossil fuels, South Asians become diabetic more easily than Europeans.9 Helping South Asians deal with these problems can only occur with a proper understanding of their nature.

There is evidence that Northeast Asians are less well-adapted to flu-like viruses than either Europeans or Sub-Saharan Africans. This may be because flu thrives in cold and wet or hot and wet ecologies, meaning that Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans would be more strongly selected to be resistant to flu.10 Moreover, races that never developed complex agriculture—such as the Inuit, the Australian Aborigines, the Pacific Islanders, and many Native American groups—have low resistance to flu because animal husbandry often causes viruses to jump the species barrier, and races that evolved in such a context developed better adapted immune systems.11 This would imply that, during an influenza pandemic, East Asians in Western countries should get special protection from the flu. Denying that race exists would simply put people in danger. All of these are poignant illustrations of why race is definitely not a “social construct” and a proper understanding of it is literally a matter of life and death.

Lewontin’s Fallacy

A more scientifically informed criticism of race can be found in the common criticism, “There are more differences within races than there are between them.” This is wheeled out with great profundity by biased scientists when interviewed in biased newspapers, without any references. It has come to be known as “Lewontin’s Fallacy,” named after biologist Richard Lewontin (b.1929), who argued that 85 percent of human genetic differences are due to individual variation, and only 15 percent due to differences between populations and ethnic groups; ergo, “there are more difference within races than between them.”

This fallacy can be easily dispatched. The sheer number of differences is less important than the direction of the differences. If a variety of small differences all push in the same direction—which they will in the case of subspecies evolved to different ecologies— then this can add up to significant overall differences between average members of different races.12

British biologist A.W.F. Edwards presented a systematic critique of Lewontin’s argument (along the way, coining the phrase “Lewontin’s Fallacy”).13 He noted that Lewontin simply looked at a small number of genetic loci and found that, indeed, 85 percent of human variation was due to individual differences. However, argues Edwards, if you look at lots of loci, then you will find these loci correlate differently in different groups, due to gene frequency differences, leading to very different results. Indeed, this leads to races being very different in numerous predictable ways, rendering “race” a scientific category. Edwards pointed out that, using Lewontin’s logic, we wouldn’t be able to distinguish between different tree structures, because these differences are hidden in the correlational data, just as race differences are. But using only genetic data, scientists were able to correctly highlight 15 forms of tree structure. As Edwards notes, Lewontin’s argument could only work if each of the genetic loci highlighted were randomly distributed between races, but it is in the very nature of races—being adaptations to different ecologies—that genes are not randomly distributed. Thus, Lewontin presents us—albeit wrapped up in abstruse scientific language—with nothing more than a circular argument.

To make matters worse, the loci which Lewontin used do not vary substantially between races. He used markers such as blood-type, and, as anthropologist Peter Frost has noted, these are “not particularly selectively important. . . . [W]hen genes vary within a population, despite similar selection pressures, it’s usually because they have little or no selective value.”14 When methods were used with markers that do vary between races, such as craniometric variation and skin color, it was found that 81 percent of the variation is between races.15 Lewontin, therefore, only uncovered the findings he did by using genetic loci that aren’t especially relevant to regional evolution—despite evolution to different regions being the essence of race. So, Lewontin’s argument is a kind of sleight of hand.16 What he is actually proclaiming is this: When you use genetic loci that are distributed very similarly in all races, and in which there is much variation within races due to these loci not being very important to selection to different ecologies, then there are, indeed, more differences within races than between them. He hardly disproved the reality of race.

We’re All 99% The Same

In recent years, an argument against race has arisen that is much like the Lewontin fallacy: “Science has proven that every individual is more than 99 percent identical to every other.” This meme of “99%” was introduced at the turn of the century by none other than the Human Genome Project.17

On the individual level, tiny genetic differences (humans only differ by 0.0012 percent on average) have important consequences, and it is highly misleading to downplay them. The genetic differences in heritable musical ability between a professional musician and Mozart are probably rather small, but they are obviously profound. Moreover, on the level of species, humans share a remarkable amount of genetic similarity (upwards of 98 percent) with our closest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee. We even share much in common with other animals, like pigs and dogs. Clearly, small differences can have dramatic physical, psychological, and behavioral effects. And no one is willing to assert that since humans and chimpanzees are “98% the same,” we should not make distinctions between the two.

The Concept of Race Makes Me Uncomfortable

Another argument—and there are many versions of it—amounts to an appeal to emotion, in which a person essentially argues that “race” makes him feel unhappy. All that can be said is that this is manifestly fallacious and thus should be dismissed out of hand. How you feel is irrelevant to whether or not something is true. If being told that you have a rare blood disorder makes you feel unhappy, does that mean that it is not true or that you shouldn’t be told about it?

On a deeper level, we should understand that science is fundamentally amoral. It is about the relentless search for the objective truth. New scientific discoveries almost always offended some vested interest or other. This is why the kind of scientists who tend to make really important discoveries—so-called “geniuses”— seem to combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness (altruism and empathy) and moderately low Conscientiousness (impulse control, rule following). This means that they can “think outside the box,” not bound by conventional rules—maybe they even take pleasure in slaughtering sacred cows. It also means that they either don’t care about offending people or they are sufficiently high on the “autism spectrum” that they wouldn’t be able to anticipate offending people even if they did care.18

If You Are Interested in “Race,” Then You Are Probably “Racist”

This criticism—that discussing race is “racist”—amounts to a so-called “fact-value conflation.” That a person presents something as being a “fact” has no bearing at all on his “values.” Facts are value-neutral. If a doctor tells you that you only have a week to live, does that mean he wants you to die? Furthermore, we should probably be, at the very least, suspicious of those who regularly employ the word “racist.” The first recorded use of the word “racist” was in 1932, with “racism” first observed in 1928. These terms gradually came to replace “racialist,” which was first recorded in 1910, and “racialism,” first noted in 1882.19 In 1928, “racism” meant the belief that each “race” (meaning “ethnic group”) should have their own state and that civic society was optimal if states were racially based.20 “Racialism” referred to prejudices against other races and the belief that one’s own race was superior.

In the wake of World War II, “racist” gradually came to mean what “racialist” had once meant.21 However, the term “racist” has been extended far beyond this, to refer to anybody who is seen to deviate from ideological orthodoxy with regard to the issue of race. Terming such a person the “racist” associates him with that which is accepted as somehow evil and immoral. As this association is damaging, the term “racist” is an emotionally manipulative means of keeping people on the “correct” ideological path. In other words, it is an ad hominem criticism. The essence of the accusation is that the subject has strayed sufficiently far from orthodoxy that he is immoral; he is a heretic. There are many terms of this kind. As English historian Alexandra Walsham summarizes, in her analysis of Early Modern religious non-conformity in England, the accusation of “atheist” was “available for the expression and repression of disquiet about ‘aberrant’ mental and behavioral tendencies—for the reinforcement and restatement of theoretical norms.” Both “atheist” and “papist” were “categories of deviance to which individuals who were even marginally departed from the prescribed ideals might be assimilated and thereby reproved.”22

There is simply no logical reason to reject the concept of race, and there are very persuasive reasons to accept it as what it is—a scientific category. On this basis, one should be rather guarded about the motives of those who refuse to accept it, who resort to name-calling and obfuscation, or who are mired in the contradictions and incoherence.


References

  1. Jefferson M. Fish, ed., Race and Intelligence (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2011) ↩︎
  2. Lord Acton, Stanley Mordaunt Leathes, Sir Adolphus William Ward, and G. W. Prothero, eds., Cambridge Modern History, vol. 2 (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1902). ↩︎
  3. Online Etymology Dictionary (2019), “Mean,” https://www.etymonline.com/ word/mean (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  4. Sandish Shoker, “The Health System’s Struggle to Get More Black and Asian Donors,” BBC News, July 4, 2015, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england- nottinghamshire-33101610 (accessed May 15, 2020) ↩︎
  5. Susanne Bejerot and Mats Humble, “Inhabitants of Swedish-Somali Origin Are at Great Risk for Covid-19,” British Medical Journal, 368 (2020): m1101. ↩︎
  6. Lucio Luzatto, “Sickle Cell Anaemia and Malaria,” Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases, 4(1) (2012): e2012065. ↩︎
  7. Brian P. O’Sullivan and Steven D. Freedman, “Cystic Fibrosis,” Lancet, 373 (2009): 1891–1904. ↩︎
  8. Joanne K. Tobacman, “Does Deficiency of Arylsulfatase B Have a Role in Cystic Fibrosis?” Chest, 123 (2003): 2130–2139. ↩︎
  9. Emma Pomeroy, Veena Mushrif-Tripathy, Tim J. Cole, et al., “Ancient Origins of Low Lean Mass Among South Asians and Implications for Modern Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility,” Scientific Reports, 9 (2019): 10515. ↩︎
  10. Office of the Ministry of Health, Monthly Bulletin of the Ministry of Health (1954), 173. ↩︎
  11. C. L. Chen, Li Xiao, Y-P. Zhou, et al., “Ethnic Differences in Susceptibilities to A(H1N1) Flu: An Epidemic Parameter Indicating a Weak Viral Virulence,” African Journal of Biotechnology, 8 (2009): 25. ↩︎
  12. Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution (New York: Basic Books, 2009). ↩︎
  13. A.W.F. Edwards, “Human Genetic Diversity: Lewontin’s Fallacy,” BioEssays, 25 (2003): 798-801. ↩︎
  14. Peter Frost, “Lewontin’s Fallacy?” Evo and Proud, July 31, 2008, http:// evoandproud.blogspot.com/2008/06/lewontins-fallacy.html (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  15. John H. Relethford, “Apportionment of Global Human Genetic Diversity Based on Craniometrics and Skin Color,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 118 (2002): 393-398. ↩︎
  16. Nathan Cofnas, “Science Is Not Always ‘Self-Correcting’: Fact–Value Conflation and the Study of Intelligence.” Foundational Science, 21 (2015): 477-492. ↩︎
  17. Eric S. Lander, John Sulston, Robert H. Waterston, et al., “Initial Sequencing and Analysis of the Human Genome,” Nature, 4 (2001): 860–921. ↩︎
  18. Dean K. Simonton, “Varieties of (Scientific) Creativity: A Hierarchical Model of Domain-Specific Disposition, Development, and Achievement.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4 (2009): 5. ↩︎
  19. Online Etymological Dictionary, “Racist,” https://www.etymonline.com/word/ racist (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  20. Ibid. ↩︎
  21. Robert Miles, Racism (London: Routledge, 1989). ↩︎
  22. Alexandra Walsham, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity, and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999), 108. ↩︎
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Evolving Before Our Eyes

In Chapter Four of _The 10,000 Year Explosion_, Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending discuss the astonishing speed of genetic diffusion for skin lightening in Caucasians. The single most important gene is Solute Carrier 24A5, and the authors state that the skin lightening variant arose only about 5,800 years ago, yet now has a frequency of 99 percent in Europe and is found at significant levels as far away as Ceylon. Subsequent research has shown that it’s probably a little older, but as Cochrane and Harpending suggest, either way, the variant must have had a huge selective advantage and might have spread so rapidly that, at the most accelerated stage, a particularly old farmer could have noticed the change in appearance in his own village within his lifetime.

Watching the recent film Gangster Squad, my thoughts went something like this:

What is it about the Ryan Gosling’s character that doesn’t quite work? The Josh Brolin and Sean Penn characters—they work. And it’s not that Gosling’s a bad actor and that his looks are unappealing. But somehow, he just doesn’t quite fit 1949. What is it?

Even his suit doesn’t seem right. But it can’t be that—Hollywood must have experts in costuming working on style and tailoring. And I can suspend disbelief on Gosling’s perfect dentition; almost no one had perfect teeth in 1949, but now the entire middle class does. No, it’s no one feature, but the gestalt. I just don’t feel cops looked like Gosling in 1949.’

I’ve had a similar thought watching many period movies: times are changing in fundamental ways.

In Chapter Four of The 10,000 Year Explosion, Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending discuss the astonishing speed of genetic diffusion for skin lightening in Caucasians. The single most important gene is Solute Carrier 24A5, and the authors state that the skin lightening variant arose only about 5,800 years ago, yet now has a frequency of 99 percent in Europe and is found at significant levels as far away as Ceylon. Subsequent research has shown that it’s probably a little older, but as Cochrane and Harpending suggest, either way, the variant must have had a huge selective advantage and might have spread so rapidly that, at the most accelerated stage, a particularly old farmer could have noticed the change in appearance in his own village within his lifetime.

The Gangster Squad is set in 1949—not so long ago, but over a decade before I was born, so I’m not quite the equivalent of that long-lived farmer. Also, there’s the time-travel aspect of film: I suspect a long-lived Bronze Age farmer could have noticed the skin change, but in reality I doubt he would have, because he was brought to the boil too gradually in a pot of lightening skin. But in a film set in 1949 and released in 2013, I can erase those 64 intervening years all at once. It’s as if that farmer, dreaming of his youth and the dusky charms of his maiden field companions, woke to find the fair-haired son of the local warlord showing a particular interest in his great-granddaughter.

It all got me to thinking, once again, about the evolution taking place within our lifetimes. There are a few items people wonder about.

First are the trends that “everyone knows”—those that, like Darwinism itself, we all think we understand. Increased race-mixing may be the most obvious. Whenever I get “race-realist” with my scientist wife, her reaction: ‘It’s all going toward one mixed brown race and there’s nothing anyone can do.’ And if I take that to my scientist father, his reaction boils down to ‘Whites deserve it in the end.’

That’s how it is with scientists; they are self-selected for incredible patience; the key segment of any experiment, no matter how creative, is one of passive observation of external nature; and scientists tend to orient to the geological scale of time. All this leaves them with little faith in the long-term power of will.

I doubt modern race-mixing is quantitatively so different from past upheavals, say, with the great migrations in the wake of Rome’s decline. For that matter, the Roman expansion must have spurred a lot of miscegenation, and the rise of sailing before that. To genes, planes are no faster than boats. Sure, migrants can now get to a new country within hours instead of months. But any descendants they have there will still require several generations, at least, to become truly comfortable. Geographic determinism got a bad rap under race-denying Jared Diamond, but that’s because he left a step out. Diamond believes geography determines culture, but it clearly should be geography determines genes determine culture. Race-realists should note the primacy of geography either way. Mountains and plains are not going away any time soon, are still important, and will re-assert themselves still more if the jet and the air conditioner run their course.

Something else race-realists all think we know is the dysgenic aspect of demographic transition theory. Leading edge dogma now is that a group of gene-based qualities, basically those that select for a prosperous farmer, have been favored reproductively since the dawn of agriculture; but with the maturation of the Industrial Age, they no longer are. Among these were relatively high intelligence, more patience through delayed gratification and impulse control, the capacity for hard, sustained work, and relatively low aggression. Essentially, high paternal investment. For 10,000 years in the earth’s temperate zones, these qualities led to having more children on average; but they no longer do. That change is the basis of demographic transition theory, with much speculation about widening IQ gaps, smaller elites and benighted mobs.

But I want the personal touch. Here’s one: I confess to being occasionally so masochistic that I listen to NPR. And the morning of this writing, I was tuned in to an interview with a blogger well-known in “popular genetics.” I’d never heard his voice before. My immediate impression was how feminine it sounded, not to the degree of the overt gay accents commonly heard on NPR, but very different from the deep, reassuring voices that were the rule among male radio personalities until very recently. The topic of the conversation was the genetics of the fetus his wife and he were expecting. Not absolute proof of heterosexuality, but good enough for me.

I see the “metrosexual” voice as something of a milder version of the gay accent. A portmanteau for the ability to pick out distinctions like the latter is “gaydar.” It’s interesting that the validity of gaydar (and its nearly instantaneous, gestalt aspects) have been scientifically validated, though mostly visually. (It’s even more interesting that the original research into gaydar failed to validate it and subsequently, more careful research did—one wonders whether the first group had an ideological motivation.) Yet auditory recognition is typically more implicit and indescribable, more gestalt, than visual. If you find it hard to describe a friend’s face in detail, trying to describe his voice is really dancing about architecture. Yet you can instantly recognize both. And some kinds of 10,000-hour people, like old-school sonar operators, find that even when they have simultaneous video and audio versions of the signals they are trying to distinguish from background noise, it is the audio that tells them the most, but in ways that are almost impossible to describe, ways in which there is no substitute for experience.

Seeing Ryan Gosling in a period movie and wondering whether faces really looked like that only seven decades ago is fraught with all kinds of bias. So is concluding that the metrosexual voice is evidence of a feminization that is partly genetic. Nevertheless, I think it is. Mike Judge nailed it in Idiocracy: the 100-point IQ of Joe Bauers, the definitively ordinary hero, becomes ingenious in the idiocy of the future, and his middle-of-the-road voice becomes correspondingly “faggy.”

If I’m right, then evolution toward more pliant husband material, originally reflecting higher paternal investment, is not over in the developed world. Women are continuing to choose softer men, or at least men who are far from being natural masters, to breed with. Many will argue that the metrosexual voice must be all cultural, that it burst far too quickly on the scene to reflect anything genetic. Maybe they’re right, but I like my version. I bet that old farmer’s wife tried to convince him the young folk of the day were just spoiled by a soft new culture, and didn’t spend enough time out working in the sun.


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America in 2034

One day, it is assumed, a tipping point will be reached: Decent folks will get fed up, and they will . . . they will . . . we’re never told exactly what they’ll do. Restore the Constitution? Kick the bums out? White Revolution?

Originally published at American Renaissance as a part of their “America in 2034” series.

The American Right seems to operate under a Howard Beale theory of history. The reference is to Network, the classic satire of mass media from 1976. In the film’s iconic scene, Beale, who had been a respectable news anchor, can no longer merely report on the outrages of daily life: the economic depression . . . the depravity and inhumanity . . . the corruption . . . the fear, numbness, and isolation of Americans who watch it unfold on their flickering screens. “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” says Beale, and he wants you to be mad, too. He exhorts viewers to get off the coach and scream out the window: “I’m a human being, God damn it!”

Network reflected a certain liberal disillusionment, but the character of Beale always struck me as a recurring avatar of right-wing reaction. He’s Nixon’s Silent Majority, who just wants the cops to crack down on hippies, hoodlums, and faggots . . . the Middle American who goes to Washington . . . the Tea Party patriot who’s ready to take his country back . . . . The most successful conservative personalities have been the most emotionally unhinged, that is, the ones who crafted their personae on Beale.

And conservatives of all varieties seem to think like Beale, too. According to their logic, as time goes on, things keep getting worse: taxes, gays, illegal immigrants, philandering politicians, race hustlers, und so weiter. . . . One day, it is assumed, a tipping point will be reached: Decent folks will get fed up, and they will . . . they will . . . we’re never told exactly what they’ll do. Restore the Constitution? Kick the bums out? White Revolution? Pastor David Manning predicts that at some point red-blooded, God-fearing white people will get so angry that they will riot. (The Pastor will join them.)

There is a kernel of truth to this view, as sometimes seemingly insignificant or passing slights or frustrations ignite historical struggles on the grandest scale: The French Revolution, for instance, was sparked by a bad grain harvest.

That said, “Bealeans” are blind to the way we can absorb and assimilate negativity, and thus maintain the hegemony of the status quo. This often takes the form of a recurring cycle:

  1. White America begins in a state of passivity and uneasy contentment. (In Beale’s words, “Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything. Just leave me alone.”)
  2. At some point, a shock to the system occurs–something surprising, new, or exogenous: Wall Street Bailouts, Barack Obama, Benghazi, etc.
  3. White Americans are then presented formal ways of venting: voting for a political party, joining a mass protest movement like the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street, etc.
  4. The shock dissipates, and whites are frustrated by the failures of activism. They return to where they started: passivity and uneasy contentment.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. This circle is continuous, predictable, and, possibly, endless. In other words, we’re mad as hell and we are going to take this anymore!

In considering the future of race relations, I can envision a variety of macro-possibilities:

  1. A linear extension of what’s happening now: Life for Whites will get progressively more expensive, troublesome and unpleasant, but remain somehow bearable. The void of existence will be filled with techo-gadgets, make-work, and pornography. Dispossession will be a slow burn.
  2. Or there could be more interesting times ahead, as Gerald Celente and Piero San Giorgio have vividly described them: America’s elite loses control, loses it nerve, or goes too far: hyperinflation . . . political dissolution . . . war and civil unrest . . . in a word, collapse.
  3. Or perhaps the 20th century isn’t over. The revelations of Edward Snowden prophesy a new brand of totalitarianism in which all aspects of private life—even our thoughts—are monitored by a paranoid regime. The deconstruction of gender, race, and class (at the moment, an academic concern) will be enforced by the federal police. Perversity was once forbidden; it became a right; it will one day be compulsory.

Each one these scenarios follows logically from clear tendencies within our time. What’s critical is that in this spectrum, I can imagine most all white people just sitting back and taking it. (In Network, Howard Beale ultimately became a harmless parody, finally shot dead on camera after his ratings sagged.)

But I can also imagine, in any one of the above scenarios, white men rediscovering themselves and recapturing their world. And this need not happen when faced with annihilation or the jackboot. As Hamlet observed, the truly great man will “find quarrel in a straw / When honor’s at the stake.”

The past and future of race relations are truly the past and future of how Europeans understand themselves. Events, policies, demographics—these are of secondary importance in comparison to will. Man is a social animal, and he is also an interpreter: He is the one who (sometime desperately) makes sense of his being, his history, and his world–and in interpreting them, he changes them.

In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner posited the “frontier” as the landscape of the American psyche. For the past 50 years, this has transformed into its quainter cousin, “suburbia.” The modern American Dream hinges on the assumption that we can comfortably escape social problems–which have largely been matters of race–by moving to the new development a half hour outside the city. There, one can create–at tremendous unseen cost–a simulacrum of a 1950s small town, replete with all-white schools and a Gap.

Whatever one might think of suburbia as a way of life, its bubble has most definitely burst. Might the closing of this frontier be an opportunity for us to finally confront the consequences, not only of race, but of our own blindness, weakness, and wishful thinking? I hope so. For the goal is not just to get mad at the world, but to change it.

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The Problem with Race Realism

I cannot recall when I first heard the label “race realist” but, with due respect to all parties involved, I have never much cared for it.

I cannot recall when I first heard the label “race realist” but, with due respect to all parties involved, I have never much cared for it. For one, no anti-racist I have ever met has deferred their smears because someone identified as a “race-realist” as opposed to a “racist.” Granted, any label “we” take on will be attacked, ignored, and called racist – however, the term “race realist” seems to have been developed in an attempt to gain mainstream traction, which has not happened. It has a propagandistic sound to it that is quickly detected by egalitarians, who are annoyed by what they perceive as a poor attempt at repackaging old and vile ideas. Admittedly, there are likely some out there who genuinely find that “race realist” fits their beliefs more than anything else, and perhaps the label has deflected a bullet here and there. But it is worth comparing art that could be considered “race realist” and art that could be considered “Identitarian.” In comparing the two camps, it becomes difficult to make a case that the “race realist” camp is superior in any way.

Looking over some of the largest controversies regarding “racism” in film, a curious pattern emerges. All of the films in question are attacked from the left, but hardly any would be championed as exemplar films by the readers of this publication. Lists with titles like “Most Racist Movies of All Time” are, of course, all over the internet, which is useful in that it shows regular targets. To begin with, a number of the films decried are explicitly anti-racist, such as Samuel Fuller’s White Dog, about an average White woman who winds up in possession of a dog of whose origins she is unaware, which turns out to have been trained by malicious Whites for the purpose of attacking Blacks. Mr. Fuller intended the picture to be a kind of tragedy about the lingering effects of racism, yet found himself garnering unwanted attention from the NAACP. Apparently, the trouble White Dog’s critics have with the film is that it acknowledges the mere existence of race.

Many other pictures on these lists fall into a similar category. Mandingo, serves as another example, a film set in the antebellum South in which a White couple is married, but both husband and wife begin sleeping with the Black slaves they own. In the end, the wife claims that the Black slave she had been having an affair with (Mandingo) raped her, and he is hung. It is essentially a film about the guilt Whites must feel for sexually desiring Blacks while living in a racist country – clearly an “anti-racist” moral. Yet the film acknowledges differences among races, and employs what one might call “stereotypes” throughout the film, and ergo was- and still is- smeared for “racism.”

Perhaps an even more absurd example than the above two is The Last Samurai. A fairly recent action film, Samurai tells the story of a PTSD stricken Civil War veteran who is employed by an urgent-to-modernize Japanese government to train their peasant army. This modern army is to crush the last remnants of traditionalist holdouts in Japan (you guessed it, the Samurai), but in due time the protagonist is captured by the Samurai, learns to admire them, and switches sides. The critics view this as a culturally imperialistic “white savior” film, and of course find the depiction of the Japanese to be crass and insensitive. All of this, despite the film being a corny story of a self-loathing White man who decides to completely abandon his culture and people because he finds a better one.

What the three films described above, and almost all the films on these “racist” lists, share is not messages of supremacy or deliberate maliciousness, but a basic understanding of the fact that races exist, and are different. For those on the political and cultural left who believe that “racism” will be solved by keeping anyone from talking about it, and that race does not exist, these films would indeed register as “racist,” “supremacist,” etc. With the news that Tim Wise has declared Jesus to be a symbol of racism, it is not hard to see how the likes of Heidi Beirich, Eva Longoria and others of their sort could find Nazis in every reel of every film here listed.

However, more than any of the smears attached to these movies by talking heads and bored bloggers, what they could be more accurately called is “race realist.” White Dog leaves no doubt that race is a biological fact, since an animal with no understanding of society can take note of it. Mandingo makes clear that love is not colorblind, and that human biodiversity has to do with matters aside from IQ. The Last Samurai shows one Western man’s perspective on living among an initially very alien race and culture. Judgements regarding these differences are up to the viewers, and if anything have a left-wing slant. But the label of “race realism/t” was always meant to be morally neutral, and a purely scientific acceptance of differences. Michael Levin, an important figure in the “race realist” movement of the 1990s, wrote in the preview to his book Why Race Matters, that:

I wished to make clear that no empirical facts about race imply that whites are better than blacks, a judgment so often imputed to hereditarians that only a full airing of the issue of value can put the imputation to rest. To this end Race presents a resolutely “naturalistic,” non-realist view of values…. The mean intelligence levels of whites and blacks were adaptations to selectional pressures at work in Africa and Eurasia, just as the lion’s strength and the gazelle’s speed are evolved responses to selectional pressures in their niches. And just as the lion’s talons are neither better nor worse than the gazelle’s speed—each creature simply is what it is—whites are not better or worse than blacks.
Race is similarly neutral toward morality itself. An individual’s “moral” values are construed as those of his preferences that he wants everyone to adopt (and wants everyone to want everyone to adopt); and a group’s morality is the set of moral values shared by most of its members.

Such cold and clinical standards certainly do not make for good moral teachings, or artistic guidelines. In this light, the proponents of race realism become as guilty of scientism as the New Atheists. Self-identified race realists should consider this when thinking about what kind of culture they want to live in, or more simply, what kinds of movies they would want their children to see. For example, It’s A Wonderful Life cannot be considered a race realist film because all it shows is Whites, their culture, their heritage, and their values – and in a glowing way. Life registers as more of an Identitarian film than anything else; as do a long list of films worthy of being discussed in our circles, such as Stagecoach, Make Way for Tomorrow, and Paths of Glory. Each one of those pictures are much better than race realist – they are White.

None of this implies that race realism is “bad.” The science behind it is of extreme importance to understanding the world. The takeaway from this article should not be that all who identify as race realists are knaves or saboteurs, they are trying to survive in a hostile world as best they can just like the rest of us. However, we should remember that the study of race is not an end unto itself, and that ultimately, race differences matter less than race itself – a fact that the “race realist” label avoids.

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