|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol 3, No. 8||August 1992|
A Conversation With Arthur Jensen
One of the great post-war pioneers of intelligence testing talks to AR.
Arthur Jensen is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is perhaps the world’s best-known scholar in the field of racial differences in intelligence. Ever since 1969, when his article, “How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?”, appeared in the Harvard Educational Review, he has been at the center of what is probably the most controversial of all academic fields. Prof. Jensen has been widely reviled, but his patient research and keen analysis have now won a position of near-unanimity for his views—at least among specialists.
What follow are excerpts from a several-hour conversation with Prof. Jensen, in which he talks about race, intelligence, sex differences, eugenics, and the future of the United States.
American Renaissance: You are probably most famous, still, for that Harvard Educational Review article.
Prof. Jensen: That’s true, yes. I think that’s probably one of the most over-cited articles in the history of psychology.
AR: Well, I’ve always assumed that article got the incredible amount of attention that it did because this was really the first time after the Second World War that someone had stated that there could very well be a genetic factor that accounts for the difference in black and white achievement.
Jensen: Right, yes. It’s the first time that it had really been stated explicitly in the academic literature since before World War II.
AR: Why were you the person to first do that? What prompted you?
Jensen: I became involved in this subject the year  that I spent at the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Palo Alto [CA] think tank. I went there that year to write a book on the psychology of the culturally disadvantaged. I felt that I should have one short chapter about the inheritance of mental ability, if only to dismiss the subject. That was the standard stance at the time.
AR: That was your view at the time?
Jensen: Yes, that was my view at the time. I knew next to nothing about the subject, except that I had heard Sir Cyril Burt give the “Walter Van Dyke Bingham Address” at the American Psychological Association. I’d mainly gone just to see the most famous British psychologist. I wasn’t interested in the subject particularly, but it stuck with me because it was a brilliant lecture.
There also happened to be a geneticist at the think tank that year, and I became acquainted with him. He put me on a sort of reading course in this area so that I could learn more about it, the technical aspect of it. It was the year after that that I wrote the HER [Harvard Educational Review] article, in 1968, and it was published in the Spring of 1969.
And it was there that I met [William] Shockley. We got together periodically to talk about some of these things.
AR: Dr. Shockley had taken a public position on these questions before you had?
Jensen: Oh, yes; in two talks. One that he gave at the Commonwealth Club, here in San Francisco, and one that he gave at the National Academy of Sciences. This was in 1967. It was the first time he stuck his neck out on this.
AR: What do you think accounts for the ferocious opposition to your views—especially then—but which continues up to today?
Jensen: It continues today, yes. For one thing, people have been taught from early childhood—and it’s especially true of better-educated people—that all people are essentially the same, except for very superficial differences due to their social background and advantages in upbringing and so forth. To suggest anything else offends this deep conviction. In fact, I was brought up very much that way. My own parents, especially my mother—my father was more hard-headed and tough-minded—but my own mother thought it was just outrageous that I had written that HER article. The view being a very common one today, still, that blacks would be no different from the rest of us—the rest of the population—if they simply had the same education and all of that.
Even among a single racial group there’s a great sensitivity about individual differences in the trait of intelligence. This is probably the most highly valued trait. When people are asked what characteristics they want their children most to have, the two things they mention first are good health and good intelligence. If you suggest that people differ in intelligence for reasons that they themselves are not responsible for, because of the particular assortment of genes they happen to get, this seems terribly unfair.
AR: There’s an aspect of this that’s particularly curious, and that’s the fact that at the turn of the century there was a very strong acceptance, it seems, or a very strong movement towards acceptance of genetic differences by men like Sir Francis Galton and Karl Pearson. Even in the United States, very reputable people became advocates of eugenics.
Jensen: I think that World War II was really the main turning point in this. We’d been headed in that direction [egalitarianism], but the turning point, I think, was the revulsion against the Nazi Holocaust. People pointed to that as an example of what would happen if we recognized differences.
Of course it’s very inapplicable really, because the group that was persecuted there was the group that was doing very well in Germany and around the world. It had a larger percentage of Nobel Prize winners and members of the National Academy of Sciences and Fellows of Royal Societies than any other group.
AR: It’s my understanding that in fact there’s no record that Hitler even said that Jews were inferior anyway.
Jensen: That’s right, yes. They had other reasons for their views. But this [the Holocaust] was still given as an example of the result of making racial or ethnic distinctions between groups.
AR: I know that in the past Stephen Jay Gould, Leon Kamin and a few other people have been widely and popularly quoted as maintaining a strictly environmental point of view.
Jensen: That’s right. Well, certainly Kamin does; I’m not so sure about Gould. He does on the race difference issue, no doubt about that, but on individual differences in intelligence he doesn’t seem to be a strict environmentalist. He’s too much of a biologist for that. Kamin is, but whether Kamin believes this privately or not, I can’t be sure. He seems to me to be too intelligent to really believe what he says.
AR: You think that what he says might very well simply be what he thinks people should think?
Jensen: I think so. I think that is probably it. But then, I can’t accuse him of that, because that would be accusing him of dishonesty. I know he’s a very learned and bright person, and he’s a sane person basically, which some people in the opposition aren’t.
AR: Well, I guess what I’m driving at is whether or not there really are any people left in the psychometric community, or in intelligence testing, or serious applied biology, who do think—and are willing to say publicly—that racial differences in achievement are strictly a matter of environment?
Jensen: I know almost none myself. I’ve looked for such persons. When my book Bias in Mental Testing came out in 1980, Time magazine ran a full-page story about it. Then they got so many complaints about that article because it didn’t tear down my position at all. The same writer called me and said that they had gotten so many complaints that they had promised people they would bring out another article on the same subject after a certain amount of opinion had accumulated about my book. They would report this and it would satisfy the opposition.
Then they called me perhaps a month later and asked me if I could suggest anyone who might disagree with the main conclusions of this book, because they hadn’t been able to find anyone. I said, “Well, have you contacted Kamin?” And I mentioned a couple of other people. They said, “Yes, we thought of them first, but what they have to say sounds so weak that it wouldn’t satisfy our readership that we’ve done a job on this thing. Is there anyone else you could suggest?”
So I mentioned a couple of very competent psychometricians around the country. I didn’t know quite what their stands were, but I knew they were competent people who would be capable of criticizing this type of work and would likely have seen my book by that time. They called them, but they got nothing that they could use against me, so they never did the article. Now that would have been news itself, but it didn’t make the news.
One person who takes the opposite side on the race issue, not on the [test] bias issue, but on the race issue particularly, who I think is a respectable scientist, is James R. Flynn. He’s in New Zealand, at the University of Otago. He’s a professor of Political Science. I don’t agree with everything [he says] and I think he weights different items of information very differently than I would, or many others would. But he does seem to be a sensible and intelligent person without any very obvious ideological ax to grind.
AR: It sounds as though, in effect, you have to go all the way to New Zealand to find someone who is not an obvious ideologue with an obvious ax to grind who will take a reasoned and intelligent position that is opposed to yours.
Jensen: That’s right, yes.
AR: I understand that there are more or less physiological assessments of intelligence—reaction time correlates with height and myopia [all of which correlate with intelligence]. It seems to me, if the general public, or perhaps more importantly, the people who run the media, are to be made to accept the notion of genetic origins of individual and perhaps racial differences, then something like direct physiological assessment might be more convincing to them than IQ tests.
Jensen: Oh, I think so, yes. You see the black/white difference is mainly a difference in this g factor that I talk about. The term was invented by [Charles] Spearman way back in 1904. If one does factor analysis on a whole battery of tests to determine the degree to which each of the tests measures this general factor that’s common to all cognitive tests—I don’t care what the test is; it can be as bizarre as anything you can imagine—if it measures cognitive ability, if it measures some kind of mental effort, however slight or however varied, it will measure this g factor. Those g loadings, as they’re called, of the various tests, will predict quite well the degree to which whites and blacks differ on that test. Blacks and whites differ hardly at all on some tests, but they differ a lot on others. The thing that predicts the size of the black/white difference is the g loading of the test. Really nothing else, for all practical purposes.
AR: Can you describe in words the ones that tend to be the most g loaded?
Jensen: Yes. One of the best tests for measuring g is Raven’s Progressive Matrices. I can show you one right here. [Prof. Jensen describes the test—it involves recognizing patterns and making a selection that conforms to that pattern.]
Everyone is familiar with these kinds of shapes. There is nothing at all esoteric about these things as there would be with, say, a vocabulary test, where the words keep increasing in difficulty because they become rarer words. It’s really a test of true reason. It’s really inductive reasoning. It measures nothing but g plus error. There’s nothing verbal, nothing numerical, nothing spatial, nothing mechanical, nothing musical. I mean it’s just pure g.
AR: How do people who argue that test results are a function of bias in the test respond to a test like that? I can’t understand how there could be any cultural bias.
Jensen: Well, they will claim there’s cultural bias in doing this kind of activity. If the test were really culturally biased one thing we would notice would be that the items in this kind of test should be in a different rank order for different racial-cultural groups. I mean what’s hard for one would be easy for another and vice versa. But the rank order of item difficulty on this is exactly the same for blacks and whites.
AR: In other words, you can’t pick out particular questions that seem to be prejudiced against blacks?
Jensen: That’s right. Take the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), for example. This is an interesting one, because again the items in it are also the same for blacks and whites tested in this country, but if you take the PPVT, which was standardized on Americans, and give it in England, as I have done, you find that there are certain items that are way out of rank order of difficulty.
The way the test works, there are four pictures on each page, and you name one of them and the child simply has to point to it. Well, there’s one item that something like 75 percent of grammar school kids in this country get right, but Fellows of the Royal Society that I tried it on in England, flunk. It’s a picture of a caboose. You say “caboose”, and they look puzzled. I’ve tried this on Francis Crick [discoverer of DNA and winner of the Nobel Prize], and he said, “There is no caboose there.” I said, “Do you know what a caboose is?” He said “Yes, it’s a ship’s kitchen.” I said, “Sorry, that’s not right.” He said, “Well, I’m sure it’s right.” And he took down the Oxford English Dictionary and showed me that in England “caboose” means a ship’s kitchen. So that’s a true cultural difference, you see.
There are quite a few items that are of different difficulty in England, but it’s not true in this country. We tested hundreds of black and white children on the PPVT, and the item difficulties are the same rank order, except that fewer black children get any single item right.
AR: So those that argue cultural bias are reduced to arguing that the entire process is”
Jensen: The entire process is somehow biased, yes. That inductive and deductive reasoning is itself a cultural invention and it is biased against blacks.
AR: That seems a bit of a stretch, doesn’t it? That’s almost like saying that intelligence is somehow biased against blacks.
Jensen: That’s right, yes.
AR: It reminds me a little bit of the Ptolemeic Solar System, in which having assumed that the earth does not move, then people had to come up with increasingly hair-brained schemes to explain the apparent motions of the planets.
Jensen: Absolutely, and there’s sort of an infinite regress of this sort of thing. You have to make up one fiction to explain something, then you need another fiction to explain that fiction, and it goes on and on. This affects branches of psychology that are nominally totally disconnected from this issue. Things way out here someplace can’t be dealt with honestly because that fiction is a support for some other fiction. The bottom line turns out to be that we can’t face the prospect that there are real differences between the various racial and social groups. It’s really quite incredible.
AR: I have always thought that given this human genome project, that we can’t help but stumble on genes, that in certain combinations, result in intelligence.
Jensen: Right, yes. That is already a subject of research. Robert Plomin, at the State University of Pennsylvania, is actually researching this now with modern techniques of molecular genetics. He’s looking for specific genes that influence intelligence. It will be a difficult project, but this will eventually happen. Of course, when we do find those genes, I think that’ll probably settle the race differences issue, which can’t be settled by any known techniques of quantitative genetics, mainly because all of those techniques are for studying the heritability of individual differences in intelligence within racial groups, and it is highly inheritable within all racial groups that have been studied. There’s no question that the preponderance of the variance in intelligence—the g, more so than IQ—is attributable to the genetic variance.
But you can’t use the same techniques to study racial differences, because all these techniques are based on a comparison of relatives—twins, identical twins, fraternal twins, siblings, parents and children. You don’t find pairs of identical twins where one’s black and the other’s white, so there are no known ways in quantitative genetics for studying this, short of one that’s technically possible but practically unfeasible—to say nothing of the ethical objections. It would be something like a true breeding experiment such as they do in agricultural genetics.
There would have to be random samples of the white and black populations mated at random. Then the children cross-fostered at random in black and white homes. You’d have a complete experimental design of children whose parents are both white, both black, mixed white and black, and children who were reared in each type of home. Then if that were all thrown into what is called an analysis of variance, those data could be analyzed and one could sort out the degree to which the differences on any trait were attributable to genetic factors and environmental factors.
AR: So you could design an experiment that would give definitive data?
Jensen: Oh, right. No doubt about it, but it’s an experiment that simply couldn’t be done.
AR: Well, to raise another question about intelligence: it’s my understanding, although I’ve never seen it written about very much, that although the average male and female IQ is the same, the variance for men is greater.
Jensen: That’s absolutely true, yes. All of the data show that.
AR: Well that seems to be a thoroughly suppressed bit of data also.
Jensen: In some circles, yes. Although nearly everyone working in the field knows of this.
AR: But it seems to me that it’s important in so far as out at the tails of the curve—doesn’t that mean that the number of men with IQs of 160, say, could very well be five or six times greater than the number of women with IQs of 160?
AR: Which seems to me would explain the kinds of things egalitarians are so often complaining about.
Jensen: Right, few women mathematicians and musical composers.
AR: Perhaps that’s explained as much by the difference of IQ in these tails [of the distribution curve] as anything else.
Jensen: Yes. Julian Stanley is a professor at Johns Hopkins University who, for 25 years has been conducting a nationwide talent search for high level mathematicians. He finds these kids when they’re anywhere from ten to fifteen years of age and he gets them into universities. He finds very few women each year, very few girls. The top fifty are always males. He goes through at least fifty males before he finds a female who’s next in rank.
These females who are selected into this program—he’s only interested in maybe the top 100 each year that he can find in the whole nation—but the females are the best in their schools. I mean they’re not girls who didn’t like math; they’ve loved it all their lives. They are the best in their schools. They are math whizzes, but there are always fifty or so males ahead of them in math talent.
Now, the same may be true in musical composition talent, because there’s no prejudice against women writing music, as far as I know. Women write novels and poetry, and there are a lot of women composers. I found a whole book in the library of biographies of women composers, but you probably haven’t heard of more than a couple of them, and you’d have to name fifty male composers, at least, before you got to one that was on a par with the most famous woman composer.
AR: And you feel that that’s probably a reflection of their talent for composing?
Jensen: Yes, I think so. How would you explain that in terms of some cultural bias? You could explain it in the case of musical performance, let’s say—that the audience or the public doesn’t accept a woman pianist. But there are great women pianists, great women violinists, but there are no great women composers. There are no great women mathematicians, and there are no great women chess players. Those are the three fields in which there is a distinct sex difference—probably not at the middle—but at the top, and they are the three fields where there are authentic child prodigies, about the only ones where you find children who can outperform most adults who’ve devoted their lives to this kind of thing.
AR: Well, the sorts of things that you’ve been telling me, the sorts of things you’ve been doing research about, can you and do you freely teach these things in your classes?
Jensen: I sure do. I soft-pedaled things 20 years ago, and even then, there were great protests. I had students who would drop the course if these things were brought up even in a very mild way, in a hypothetical way. Students today wonder what all the shouting was about.
AR: Is that so?
Jensen: Yes, it’s rather hard to get students to believe that there were these protests and so on. They take a lot of this for granted. Oh, there’s been a great change in the students in that respect . . . But even in 1969-1970, I never saw a black in any of these demonstrations.
AR: Is that right?
Jensen: Not a one.
AR: They were SDS [Students for a Democratic Society]-types?
Jensen: All SDS and Progressive Labor Party, mainly. I tried to put them out when they tried to audit my course, because they were hecklers, and so some of the SDS people would sign up for the course. Of course, then they’d have to do the assignments and take the exams.
Interestingly enough, they usually were the top students in the course because they did so much outside reading to try and give me a bad time. They would go out and read everything Galton wrote! They were bright students. They just happened to be political radicals. ”
Years ago, if I gave talks at the APA or the American Educational Research Association, the least little thing you’d say, people would get up on the floor and start denouncing you. I haven’t run into that for a long time, except in Canada and Australia. There’s about a ten year cultural lag in those places, I think, on this topic.
AR: I guess nowadays, as compared to fifteen or twenty years ago, you’re not a notorious presence on campus? People don’t say, “There goes Jensen!” You just don’t get that anymore?
Jensen: No, no. I used to. I used to have to be accompanied around campus by two campus policemen. In fact, they told me not to leave my office and go to the library, or any place, except to go to the men’s room around the corner, but not anywhere else without calling the campus police. They’d whiz across campus in a car and they’d be here in just a couple of minutes and walk with me wherever I wanted to go. One year I had two campus policemen, plain clothes men, in all my classes. They audited my courses.
In next month’s conclusion of this interview, Prof. Jensen discusses the larger, social implications of his findings.
The White Man’s Burden
An appeal to white racial solidarity, written when such an appeal was still respectable.
The Philosophy of Nationalism, Charles Conant Josey, Originally published in 1923, Cliveden Press reprint, 227 pp. $18.00.
Reviewed by Thomas Jackson
Because so much that is written about race is now fantasy or obfuscation, it is instructive to read books from an era when public expression was not so rigidly controlled as it is today. It is refreshing to find matter-of-fact statements of a kind that would now provoke astonishment and outrage. At the same time, it is sobering to realize that well-respected men saw the dangers towards which our nation was moving and that their warnings were ignored.
Charles Conant Josey was a professor of psychology at Dartmouth College during the 1920s, and was a moderately prominent scholar. In 1923, he wrote a book describing what he saw to be the alternative courses that history might take. In his view, there was one great question on which all else depended: would the white nations maintain their loyalties to culture, nation, and race, or abandon those loyalties in the name of universal brotherhood? The answer to that question would govern the course of history.
That Josey should even ask it showed a remarkable prescience, given the near-total world dominance the white nations then held. Only Japan was conceivably a remote threat to their economic, military, and cultural supremacy. The French and British Empires were at their high water marks. The white nations conducted the affairs of the world with a confidence that, from today’s perspective, seems unshakable.
Josey saw that it was not unshakable. In fact, what he saw so disturbed him that he believed that the abdication and subsequent dispossession of whites was a real possibility. His book is therefore not only a forecast—surprisingly accurate—of what would happen if whites lost their nerve, but a valuable record of the early signs of that loss. Aside from some unconvincing psychological speculation in the early chapters, it is a compelling account of the choices that faced the European peoples. Originally published as Race and National Solidarity and long out of print, Josey’s book has been republished, with a new title, by the Cliveden Press.
It is well to be reminded that even in the 1920s there was a strong movement to tear down parochial loyalties and to replace them with a kind of world citizenship. Wilsonian idealism and the League of Nations were a clear break with the loyalties of the past. Josey writes that intellectuals and churchmen were among the strongest advocates of internationalism and that one-worldism, described as a logical extension of democracy, was rapidly becoming an ideal that few dared to criticize.
This ideal was in direct conflict with deep-seated feelings that men have always had. As Josey put it, “To one’s friends one owes more than to strangers. To one’s fellow citizens one is bound by stronger ties of duty than to foreigners. To members of one’s race one is bound by bonds which do not exist between members of different races. We cannot neglect these closer bonds, which draw men together in groups, in the attempt to simplify life by treating every one alike.” As he pointed out, group loyalties are inherent to the nature of man, and to wish to do away with them flies in the face of history and of common sense.
Value of the Group
Josey was perhaps at his best in describing how important are the very parochial loyalties that the internationalists wished to destroy. After all, a sense of the group is possible only because it does not include everyone. To ask that people be loyal to humanity at large is to dilute the notion of loyalty so greatly that it loses all meaning.
Josey offered many examples of the strength and inspiration that men draw from the group: martial valor, school spirit, patriotism, the sense of peoplehood. He drew parallels with the ancient Greeks and Romans: “They felt themselves to be a race of superior men, and they acted as superior men. When, however, the Greeks and the Romans lost their group consciousness, when their sympathies became so broad that all men were regarded as belonging to one brotherhood, the glory and grandeur of these peoples suffered a steady decline.” Internationalists prefer to ignore something known to all football coaches, military men, and even factory managers—that group cohesion is a precious source of energy and inspiration.
At the same time, Josey pointed out, group consciousness brings out that sentiment for which the internationalists professed to feel so deeply: sympathy for one’s fellow man. It is within the bounds of ancient loyalties that charity and self-sacrifice naturally arise.
Josey noted that national and racial loyalty is sapped by individualism as much as by internationalism, and that the former may masquerade as the latter. For a coward who is afraid to fight for his country, what better excuse than to claim to be a world citizen and a lover of all mankind?
Josey would not be surprised to learn how far both narrow selfishness and the pose of internationalism have corroded group loyalty. Americans neglect their children—when they bother to have them at all—while professing a fashionable belief in the equivalence of nations and races. They vote less and less often, while printing ballots in more and more languages. As group cohesion withers and borders lose their meaning, the individual becomes the only unit that matters. The racial and national group that can keep alive a great culture is thus dissipated from within and eroded from without.
Who Will Prevail?
Josey saw very clearly that if whites lost their confidence, they would lose the chance they then had to direct the destiny of the world. But should whites have prevailed simply because they had the power to prevail? Who was to say that their ideals were the best and that they deserved to prevail?
Josey rejected the relativism that paralyzes so many whites today: “We may admit that our idea of the maximum good of the world may not be the same as the ideas of a tiger, lion, or possibly even of the Chinese or the negroes. We may even admit that their ideas may be better than ours. But what is the probability? Are not the chances equally great that ours are as good as theirs? More than this, our values are the only guides we have.”
Josey urged us to seek wisdom among any people that may have it. However, to fail to act because our wisdom is not perfect is contemptible: “Perhaps our values and preferences are not the best values and preferences, but as long as they are our values and preferences, we must make use of them in regulating our behavior. To do otherwise could but result in the most complete moral chaos.”
In the long term, Josey saw that one-worldism would lead to the disappearance of Western culture and of the people who created it. If the white nations, as they were increasingly being asked to do, shared with the non-white nations the fruits of their science and hygiene, the already outnumbered whites would be further outnumbered. If they followed the ideals of the equivalence of races and the illegitimacy of national borders, they must receive the burgeoning non-white populations into Europe, North America, and Australia.
The past 70 years have witnessed exactly what Josey predicted. What will the next 70 bring? At least in the 1920s, it was possible to warn against an outcome that looms ever nearer: “” a shift [in populations] would be disastrous to us, and in all probability to mankind. Certainly we have no reason to believe that the good of the world will be served by the submergence of the whites under a wave of color.”
One of the tasks Josey set himself was to understand the “moral elation” of men who urge their people to sacrifice the interests of their group or race to the interests of others. He saw one-worldism as an irrational extension of democracy which, in turn, he saw as virtually the equivalent of dogma. For him, democracy was the religion of the mediocre intellectual; all ideas could be evaluated quickly and lazily according to whether they were or were not democratic.
Josey warned repeatedly of the folly of extending to the entire world the democratic principles we might find appropriate among ourselves. He likened one-worldism to “the waves of religious enthusiasm which gave rise to the Crusades, Flagellation, and the Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages.” He then added darkly that “historians may look back upon it as an interesting episode in the affairs of men. Let us hope they will not have to look back upon it as a wave of emotional contagion that brought about the destruction of the white races.”
Josey wrote that men have managed to throw off some of the cruel demands religion has made in the past: “We no longer think that God is pleased at human sacrifices. Why should we think he is pleased at the sacrifice of a race and culture?”
If anything is clearer now than it was 70 years ago, it is that the failure of nerve among the white nations will lead eventually to dispossession, and that dogmatic internationalism will lead to the sacrifice of race and culture. Nevertheless,Time magazine cheerfully predicts minority status for American whites within a few decades, and affirmative action, welfare, and massive non-white immigration still evoke in some the “moral elation” that Josey found so difficult to explain.
When he wrote Race and National Solidarity, Josey thought that whites could perhaps combine their yearning for international brotherhood with the recognition that unchecked internationalism would weaken their nations and denature their cultures. He hoped that the white nations might set aside their quarrels and unite on the basis of race and heritage, but he feared they would not.
If they do, it will happen first in Europe. The Old World has fewer illusions about non-white immigration; nativist parties are winning votes on platforms that could have been written by Charles Josey. The whites of North America, who live amidst even clearer evidence of internationalist idealism gone wrong, have yet to heed his message.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
The Riots Rumble On
As expected, the Federal government has reacted to the riots in South Central Los Angeles by pouring money into it. So far, the feds have set aside $638 million and the total continues to grow. Three hundred million dollars is in subsidized loans by the Small Business Administration, and that figure could well reach $500 million. Another $200 million is in outright grants to local governments to replace public buildings that were burned down.
The $100 million or so that residents will see the quickest is for housing, food, and replacement of property. James Baker is a typical beneficiary. He lost his job as a shelf stocker when the store he worked in was destroyed. He gets food stamps, unemployment compensation, and grants with which to pay rent. “This is a great relief effort,” he says; “They have all the agencies you need here to take care of each aspect of your life.” [Richard Stevenson, Riots victims begin getting $638 million in aid, NYT, June 1, 1992, p. A12.] Let us hope Mr. Baker does not get so comfortable that he loses his taste for work.
The riots have introduced the strange logic of American race relations to insurance companies. Those that refrained from writing policies in South Central Los Angeles are being blamed for “blatant discrimination and abandonment of poorer areas,” while companies that wrote big policies are boasting about how much they will be paying out in losses. If anything were proof of the wisdom of staying on the sidelines in South Central, the most costly riot this century is surely it.
California’s Deputy Commissioner of Insurance, Steven Miller, doesn’t see it that way. He has proposed new regulations to induce companies to write policies on dodgey properties—and cover their losses by changing more to everyone else. [Peter Kerr, Did insurers abandon the inner city?, NYT, May 31, 1992, p. 1, Sec. 3.]
Meanwhile, about a third of the people arrested during the riots are being released because of insufficient evidence. When police make arrests by the armload, they cannot remember every face. In Los Angeles, some officers had the presence of mind to take polaroid pictures of looters, but those who did not must remember the reason for and circumstances of each arrest. When that is impossible, the suspect goes free. [Seth Mydans, Police can’t identify them, so looting suspects go free, NYT, June 3, 1992, p. A14.]
The 9mm semi-automatic pistol, favored by drug dealers, is a powerful weapon that can fire as many as 13 rounds without reloading. The six-shot, .38 caliber revolvers carried by New York City police are not nearly so potent. Recently, the New York State Senate voted 51 to 3 to even the odds by equipping the city police with 9mm weapons manufactured by Glock. Who should oppose this measure but Mayor David Dinkins and Police Commissioner Lee Brown? They have complained that the weapons are too powerful and too unreliable.
By curious coincidence, both Mayor Dinkins and Commissioner Brown’s own bodyguards carry the Glock 9mm. State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who supported the legislation to upgrade the police side-arm says, “Maybe I’m missing something, but if the Glock is safe enough to protect police commissioners, who have never been subject to attack in the past 50 years, why shouldn’t ordinary police officers have the same protection?”
Ray Kerrison of the New York Post (June 3, 1992) boldly points out that Assemblyman Joseph Lentol is missing something. Both the mayor and commissioner are black. “They don’t want white cops in minority neighborhoods with high-powered guns,” says Mr. Kerrison. [Ray Kerrison, If mayor & top cop oppose new gun”, NY Post, June 3, 1992, p. 2.]
The Color of Crime
On any given day, 42 percent of all black men in the District of Columbia between the ages of 18 and 35 are entangled in some way with the police. Fifteen percent of the men in that age group are in prison, 21 percent are on probation or parole, and 6 percent are awaiting trial or are fugitives. The same figures are not available for white people in DC, but a study done in 1990 in New York City found that the total equivalent figure for whites was three percent.
In Washington, 70 percent of black men are arrested at least once by the time they turn 35, and 85 percent are arrested at some point in their lives. In the city’s Lorton jail, 99 percent of inmates are black and one percent are white. [Jason DeParle, 42% of young black males go through capital’s courts, NYT, April 18, 1992, p. 1.]
New York City, which its mayor likes to call a “gorgeous mosaic” of races and ethnicities, is becoming less and less American. One indicator is what the city decides to celebrate. For example, this was the first year that there was no Memorial Day parade down Broadway. [Michel Marriott, Sun and fun yield to a day of reflection, NYT, May 26, 1992, p. B1.] Now that the city’s population is 35 percent foreign-born and 57 percent non-white, its people no longer see the point in honoring soldiers who died for the country.
Christopher Columbus has barely survived the ax. Now that he is reviled as a racist and imperialist, the city no longer pays him any attention. Diana Dixon, a black woman who works in the mayor’s Office of Special Events, did not even want private citizens celebrating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America, and refused to grant a permit for a parade. Only after strong Italian-American support was mustered by a travel company owner, Bill Fugazy, did the Dinkins administration relent. [David Seifman, City discovers a hot potato: Columbus, NY Post, May 27, 1992, p. 14. Honoring Christopher Columbus, NY Post, June 1, 1992.]
Great Blacks in Wax
Great Blacks in Wax is the name of an all-black wax museum in Baltimore. One hundred or so figures are on display, including Malcolm X, Billie Holiday, Martin King, Rosa Parks, and Shirley Chisolm. The museum was founded with public financial help from the city of Baltimore and the State of Maryland, and is run by Elmer Martin, a professor at Morgan State University. He says he started the museum after many unsuccessful years of trying to teach history to black Little League players. “Documents wouldn’t do it,” he says.
Great Blacks in Wax actually displays a few whites. John Brown is there, and Rosa Parks is being taken off a Birmingham bus by a white policeman. [Dorothy Gaiter, Blacks in Wax: A museum breathes life into history, WSJ, May 26, 1992, p. 1.]
Such Capital Fellows
Late in May, Congressman Bob Traxler of Michigan was mugged just a few blocks from the Capitol building in Washington. A black man beat him unconscious and then rifled his pockets.
His brother congressmen made quite a fuss over the fact that such a thing could happen to one of their own within the shadow of the great white dome. Nevertheless, the uproar was notable for certain lacunae. Our legislators did not whistle up a study on the root causes of crime, nor did they commission an investigation into employment opportunities for black youth. They were strangely silent about the “legitimate rage” in the inner cities.
Instead, Congress set to work on a bill that would triple the geographical area that would be under the jurisdiction of the Capitol Police and added an amendment that would give the force general police powers. They also called in the FBI to help find the man who attacked Congressman Traxler. [When congress gets mugged, NY Post, June 3, 1992.]
Your Tax Dollars at Work
Blacks are turned down for mortgages more often than whites. The reason, according to prevailing theory, is that racist bankers deny loans to blacks just because they are black. No one has a convincing explanation for why bankers would deny themselves profitable business just because the borrower is black. No one seems to think that insurance salesmen or pharmacists refuse to do business with blacks, but bankers are apparently different.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has decided to spend $1 million in taxpayers’ money to get to the bottom of this. They will pay black and white actors to fill out dummy loan applications with equivalent information and see if the white gets the loan more often than the black. [Dee Gill, Big banks asked to explain racial disparities in loans, Houston Chronicle, May 20, 1992, p. 1A.] How HUD will establish phony credit records and job histories for these people remains to be seen.
Bankers have been telling HUD that lending criteria are colorblind, but blacks are less creditworthy than whites. HUD is prepared to make bankers waste a lot of time over bogus loan applications in order to find out for itself.
Ralph Martinelli is the publisher of eight weekly newspapers in New York’s Westchester County. On May 22 he printed a front-page editorial in three of them, entitled, “Here Was the Land of Milk and Honey.” He cited welfare and immigration statistics to show that illegal immigrants from Mexico are not the ornament to the nation we are supposed to think them:
They come in this country and have babies who are automatically American citizens . . . they swamp our welfare and social service rolls and the taxpayers of this country are paying through the nose to keep their children healthy and educated.
The editorial, which even spoke of “a horde of Spanish-speaking immigrants,” has elicited the usual fulminations from the usual quarters. So far, Mr. Martinelli is sticking to his guns. [Rose Marie Arce, Editorial outrages hispanics, NY Newsday, June 2, 1992.]
The Content of His Character
In Texas, judges are usually elected, but the governor fills unexpected vacancies by appointment. When a judge of the Texas Court of Appeals retired recently, Governor Anne Richards appointed a white Houston lawyer, Michael Charlton, to serve the rest of his term. In accordance with Texas tradition, Mr. Charlton sought approval for the appointment from his state senator, Rodney Ellis.. Senator Ellis, who is black, said that he did not want a white to get the job, and Mr. Charlton promptly withdrew. Senator Ellis told Gov. Richards she should appoint a black, and sent her a list of 10 names for consideration. [Alan Bernstein, Minority focus nudges white off appeals court, Houston Chronicle, May 13, 1992.]
The Houston Chronicle found this upsetting. In an editorial, it criticized Gov. Richards for not having consulted the black state senator before making her ill-advised appointment. [Doing it right, Houston Chronicle, May 15, 1992.]
It has become increasingly common for gangs of “youths” to stampede into a store, overwhelm the sales clerks, grab whatever they want, and make a quick getaway. A recent such caper in Miami went awry when one of the getaway cars crashed after police gave chase. The car was immediately surrounded by an estimated 75 people who looted the car. “There was merchandise all over the place, clothes and jewelry . . . the tags still on,” said Tyrone Jones, who watched.
The crowd was hostile to the police, and would not let them approach the car. This was convenient for two of the robbers, who escaped on foot, but bad luck for another. He was badly injured and trapped in the car, but the crowd paid him no attention. He waited in the car, bleeding, until police could clear the crowd with dogs and cut him free. [Looters learn that turnabout can be foul play, Houston Chronicle, June 5, 1992.]
New Vices to Conquer
The government has discovered a new form of discrimination that must be extirpated: accentism. One of the forbidden categories of discrimination under civil rights laws is national origin. Therefore, it is illegal for an employer to decline to hire someone for a public contact position because of his incomprehensible accent.
This is a form of discrimination that somehow managed to escape detection until January of this year. A successful accent-discrimination suit in Los Angeles has set off a number of imitators. For example, in a recent case brought in Alexandria (VA), a motel refused to promote a Ghana-born employee to assistant manager because of his accent. His boss found the man otherwise capable, but asked, “How will our guests relate to this man’s accent?” This was the wrong question to ask. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued the motel. [Jay Sherman, Bias suit targets worker’s accent, The Fairfax Journal (Fairfax County, VA) May 27, 1992.] Hispanics are following the case with great interest.
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — I would like to comment on your review in the May issue of Gringo Justice. As it happens, I know Spanish America (where I was born) and Mexico particularly well.
In my recent travels to the United States I have studied the population that Euro-Americans call “Chicano” or Latino. These people are hardly a reflection of the Hispanic reality. I am astounded when I speak with Chicanos or listen to Spanish-language broadcasts in the United States. The very low cultural level of these people and the lamentable poverty of their language show that the United States has become a receptacle for a class of people with little European blood, whose social and cultural levels are very low.
One need only cross the Rio Grande to know the contempt in which the higher classes Hispanic hold these “Chicanos.” You may recall that in Latin America, social barriers are really racial barriers; the highest levels of the social hierarchy are the most European.
Nevertheless, the degraded state of Mexican-Americans is not entirely the consequence of genetics. The loss of national identity after annexation in 1848 is an important factor. Let me cite you an example. I own recordings of popular Mexican-American music from the 1920s. The singers are all working class, but their songs are of a high literary quality and spring from the collective memory. Today, it would be impossible to find such a high level of culture among these people.
What has happened? American schooling obliterates Mexican culture without implanting “Anglo” culture. It is therefore not surprising that Latinos should adopt the intellectual schema of the liberals, and use the same means as blacks in order to seek advantages.
Therefore, I would say that Gringo Justice is not so much a reflection of the Hispanic reality as part of an internal debate within the United States. The book’s whining tone would exasperate any cultivated Hispano-American who, in his heart of hearts, considers himself superior to the Anglo colonist.
Trystan Mordrel, Paris, France
Sir — Your hunt for “test bias” in the May issue reminded me of Arthur Jensen’s 600-page book, Bias in Mental Testing, in which he examines test bias from every conceivable point of view. Before the book was published, the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences arranged for upwards of 20 psychologists to do an open peer commentary on the book’s thesis. If any AR readers would like a free copy of this issue of the journal, they may write to me at the address below. I still have about 25 copies.
On another matter, when can we expect from AR a no-holds-barred report on the causes and prevention of riots? Let me tell you how things were long before your time: In 1926 there was a devastating hurricane in Palm Beach County, Florida. Several hundred people lost their lives. There was no electricity, no water, no telephone. The chief of police warned that looters would be shot on sight. One was. No more looting. I know, for I was there.
R.T. Osborne, Box 5712, Athens, Ga. 30604
Sir — The piece on the Los Angeles riots in the June issue was by far the best I have seen on the subject. The media have been astonishingly depraved on this. In fact, after so many years of following American politics, I feel that I am just now waking up to how corrupt and contemptible the media-class really is.
I would like to point out to you, however that the one columnist who called for the National Guard to go into South Central Los Angeles at once and “shoot to kill”—surely the correct policy—was the black libertarian economist, Walter Williams.
Ralph Raico, Buffalo, N. Y.
Sir — I wish to congratulate you on a superbly well-written and informative publication.
Some of your readers may wish to know of a book in my private library called The American Renaissance, 1887-1917. It was published by the Brooklyn Museum in 1979 to memorialize a glorious exhibit held there that year, which later traveled to Washington, San Francisco, and Denver. As the authors point out, the Renaissance had, by the 1890s, become “the primary animating force of American art, architecture, and culture.” The result was an outpouring of beautiful and profoundly Eurocentric public works. Anyone with a good library or used bookstore nearby should try to get his hands on a copy of this reminder of what we have lost.
Robert Beverley, Asheville, N.C.