|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol. 8, No. 2||February 1997|
Ending a Historical Taboo
Restoring the respectability of eugenics.
Last year, more than half a century after the death of Alexis Carrel (1873-1944), his name was removed from the medical school of the University of Claude Bernard in Lyon, France. Carrel, an alumnus of the university, was a world-famous surgeon in the early years of this century and won the 1912 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discoveries in surgical techniques. His work in the 1920s and ’30s — much aided by a perfusion pump designed by his most famous helper, Charles Lindbergh — paved the way for organ research and transplant.
Why did the university deliver this posthumous rebuke to one of its greatest sons? Because, like his assistant Lindbergh, and many of his most eminent contemporaries, Alexis Carrel was a champion of eugenics.
Over the past fifty years, opponents have succeeded in bringing eugenics into disrepute by calling its supporters “racist,” “anti- Semitic,” “sexist,” “classist,” and “Nazi.” Even Christian foes of eugenics have recently appropriated some of these labels to make their traditional objection — that eugenics is a blasphemous tinkering with the Creator’s handiwork — sound more “relevant.” The anti- eugenics campaign has succeeded to the point that, as with Alexis Carrel, an association with eugenics can tarnish even the brightest reputation.
In fact, the currently promoted view of eugenics as a malevolent ideology or crackpot “pseudoscience,” is a gross caricature. In its heyday, eugenics was pioneered and promoted by leading biologists, including the founders of modern genetics. Their scientific authority was often transformed into public policy by some of the most eminent statesmen and intellects of the time.
Politically and socially, support for eugenics spanned so broad a spectrum — from socialism and liberalism on the left to, undoubtedly, the Nazis on the right — that to pin it on any one regime or philosophy is pure propaganda. Similarly, the diversity of support that eugenics enjoyed in its first flowering is evidence that the movement was not a disguised rationale for seating the ruling class more firmly, or for bolstering the patriarchy’s dominion over women, or for persecuting Jews. It is worth recalling not merely the authority and eminence of so many early eugenicists, but their diversity and idealism.
Man is instinctively eugenic: the most capable men have sought and been encouraged to mate with the healthiest women. Legal prohibitions against inbreeding, due evidently to an understanding of the increased chance of unhealthy offspring, are found as far back as the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1750 B.C.) and in the Old Testament. Plato and Aristotle advocated eugenic measures in the interests of society.
The birthplace of eugenics, properly understood, was 19th-century England, where Charles Darwin (1809-1882) had supplied strong evidence of man’s descent from other life forms. One consequence of this was quickly grasped by another Victorian Englishman, Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton (1822-1911). In Hereditary Genius (1869), Galton argued that intellectual abilities, no less than physical characteristics, are hereditary. From this insight, it was a short step to the realization that measures to foster the transmission of desirable traits could lead to enduring improvement of the race.
The four decades of laboratory and organizational work that Galton invested in eugenics establish him as the founder of the discipline and the movement. He coined its name, which derives from the Greek for “well born,” and defined it as follows: “Eugenics is the study of agencies under social control which may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally.”
Galton also established eugenics as an institutional presence in Edwardian England, and he gave the movement powerful impetus abroad. Himself childless, he dedicated much of his personal fortune to creating a laboratory for national eugenics, and to endowing the first eugenics professorship, at University College, London.
Although Francis Galton himself was from the propertied upper-middle class, his chosen successor, Karl Pearson, was an economic and political radical, in fact a socialist. The impression carefully cultivated today is that eugenics was spearheaded by ruling-class rightists. A few of its supporters, like Herbert Spencer, did see it as a natural corollary of class society, but the most vocal eugenics boosters came from the left. Their names read like a roster of Edwardian radicalism.
George Bernard Shaw, the pacifist, socialist, vegetarian playwright, wrote plentifully and quirkily in favor of eugenics, and was a subscriber to Pearson’s eugenics magazine, Biometrika. H.G. Wells, also a socialist, was a strong advocate of sterilization of the feeble-minded. Havelock Ellis, the pathbreaking student of human sexuality, and essayist, was the author of the eugenicist The Problem of Race Regeneration (1911). Other prominent supporters included Beatrice and Sidney Webb, founders of Fabian socialism and later enthusiasts for Soviet Russia, as well as the Anglo-Jewish radical Harold Laski, later to head the British Labor Party, who worked for six months at Pearson’s laboratory and once took tea with Galton himself.
This list of personalities evokes the politics of a ban-the-bomb march rather than, say, a Nuremberg rally. Nor is it an arbitrary group. In the judgment of Michael Freeden, a leading historian of the left-wing of British liberalism, “. . . in the first great enthusiasm for eugenics liberals were prominently to the fore. . . .” Eugenics, with its promise of long-term, innate human improvement, had great appeal for the reform-minded.
The leading names in the new science of genetics enthusiastically provided the intellectual foundations for the new movement. Among the more eminent supporters of eugenics were William Bateson, the first English professor of genetics (at Oxford); Ronald A. Fisher, originator of the modern evolutionary synthesis and successor to Pearson in the Galton Eugenics Chair; J.B.S. Haldane, innovator in population genetics and vocal radical; and the great biologist Julian Huxley. Heredity was a fact that could be put to the service of mankind.
In the early years of British eugenics, there rapidly arose a consensus among scientists and intellectuals spanning the entire political spectrum in support of positive eugenic measures. These included tax rebates to cover the costs of maternity and child-rearing, especially for meritorious families; education allowances for promising boys and girls of the working class; grants for maternity leave for the deserving, etc.
The eugenics movement included a disproportionate number of women. While its frank discussion of sexual matters and contraception enlisted the support of radical feminists like Margaret Sanger, Victoria Woodhull, and Emma Goldman, its focus on the family and the new value it attached to women’s intellectual prowess — how else was a prospective suitor to measure the hereditary mental capabilities of his mate? — recommended eugenics to more traditional women. In the estimation of historian of science Mark Adams, “[I]t would appear that by contemporary standards eugenics was one of the least sexist fields of the day in a number of countries.”
Some of the leading churchmen in England supported eugenics in uncompromising language. W.R. Inge, the famous “gloomy dean” of St. Paul’s, wrote in the first issue of the Eugenics Review: “Humanitarian legislation, or practice, requires to be supplemented, and its inevitable evil effects [emphasis added] counteracted, by eugenic practice, and ultimately by eugenic legislation.” When, in 1912, the House of Commons dithered on passage of the Mental Deficiency Bill (which provided for mandatory segregation of the feebleminded in institutions, but not for sterilization), the Archbishop of York, the second-ranking prelate in the Church of England, urged that they “get a move on,” and pass the bill.
While a diluted version of the Mental Deficiency Bill became law the next year, the British proved both too conservative and too liberal to enact strong eugenic measures, even in the heyday of eugenics: too conservative to entertain what smacked of meddling with matters of family choice that were traditionally private; too liberal (in the laissez-faire sense) to countenance restricting individual liberty or subsidizing procreation, even for the best of citizens. In any case, many leading English eugenicists would lend their approval only to voluntary sterilization.
A Growing Movement
The first International Eugenics Conference took place in London in 1912, just a few years after the establishment of eugenics as a science. The 750 or so participants represented a galaxy of international achievement. Arthur Balfour, the former prime minister and future foreign minister, delivered the opening address while Leonard Darwin, Charles Darwin’s son, who served as chairman of the Eugenics Society from 1911 to 1928, presided. Winston Churchill was a sponsoring vice president, as was the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Bishop of Ripon.
A large contingent from the United States made the crossing, including Charles W. Eliot, storied president emeritus of Harvard, Alexander Graham Bell, and Gifford Pinchot, the famous conservationist, each of whom served as a sponsoring vice president from the American side.
In a sense this conference marked the passing of the torch from England to the United States. While American eugenics lacked the advocacy of a glittering ensemble of writers and radicals, the support of politicians, scientists, and the public at large made the United States arguably the world’s leading eugenic power in the first three decades of the twentieth century.
The movement in America owed its rise to Charles Davenport, a biologist and anthropologist who was one of the first Americans to understand and write about the findings of Gregor Mendel. Davenport, who earned his doctorate at Harvard and had been an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, was, like Galton, a gifted organizer and able fundraiser.
In 1910 he established America’s first center for the study of eugenics, the Eugenics Record Office, at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island. For this and other eugenics projects he was able to get significant funding from the Rockefeller and Harriman family fortunes, and above all the backing of the Carnegie Institution (all three have long since become engines of an anti-eugenic environmentalism). At Cold Spring Harbor, Davenport directed ambitious eugenics studies and supervised the gathering of anthropometric and genealogical data from all across America.
Davenport and his second-in-command, Harry Laughlin, drew criticism, most pertinently from other geneticists, for their tendency to exaggerate and oversimplify the heritability of characteristics that have since been demonstrated to depend on more than one gene, or to involve significant environmental factors. Their errors — understandable given the field’s infancy — and the warnings from geneticists have been exploited by anti-eugenicists to obscure the reality that, as historian Kenneth Ludmerer reports, during the years in which the eugenics movement flourished in the U.S., approximately half of all American geneticists were involved in it.
As the leadership of Eliot, Pinchot and Bell at the London conference shows, enthusiasm for eugenics in early twentieth-century America was not limited to geneticists. The two leading American physical anthropologists of the era, Aleš Hrdlička, curator of the National Museum in Washington, and Harvard’s Earnest Hooton, were both enthusiastic proponents. There was broad support among psychologists, above all the American pioneers in intelligence testing: G. Stanley Hall, Henry Goddard, Robert Yerkes, Lewis Terman, and William McDougall (who dedicated the 1921 Lowell Lectures at Harvard to the thesis “that the great condition of the decline of any civilization is the inadequacy of the qualities of the people who are bearers of it”).
Luther Burbank, the famous plant breeder, was active in the formation of the American Eugenics Society, as was David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University and a biologist by training, who invoked eugenic principles to underline his opposition to war. In all, five presidents of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science served on the advisory board of the American Eugenics Society.
From the beginning, eugenics caught the imagination of ordinary Americans. Its relation to family genealogy and its connection with the principles of plant and animal breeding aroused enthusiasm, particularly in farming communities, and eugenics exhibitions and contests became common at county fairs.
As in England, leading churchmen endorsed eugenics — as did many Jews, who arguably owed their hereditary capabilities to a eugenic mating system adopted during their centuries of segregation in exile. In a Mother’s Day sermon at a temple in Kansas City in 1926, Rabbi Harry Mayer declared, “May we do nothing to permit our blood to be adulterated by the infusion of blood of a lower grade.” Jews were well represented in eugenics societies, and in eugenics research as well.
It was America’s reform-minded Progressives — not right-wing conservatives or Southern segregationists — who took the lead in advocating and enacting eugenics legislation in America’s eugenic heyday. As historian Mark Haller writes, “Eugenics in its early years exerted a broad influence upon American thought as a sort of scientific reform among the many other reforms of the Progressive Era.”
In his later life, perhaps the most eminent Progressive, Theodore Roosevelt, promoted the cause of improving the race through better breeding with his customary vigor. Echoing Professor McDougall, the Rough Rider wrote: “The great problem of civilization is to secure a relative increase of the valuable as compared with less valuable or noxious elements in the population. This problem cannot be met unless we give full consideration to the immense influence of heredity.”
The Progressives were instrumental in passing laws providing for sterilization (often involuntary) of the insane or feebleminded. Indiana’s (1907) was the first; Governor Woodrow Wilson signed New Jersey’s sterilization law in 1911; Hiram Johnson signed California’s two years later. Significantly, sixteen American states passed legislation for sterilization before a single such law was passed in the South. By the 1930s, some thirty states had passed eugenics laws, primarily in reform-minded legislatures. It was in the most “conservative” states, where religion and tradition were most strongly opposed to reform, that eugenics made the least progress. From 1907 to the 1960s, some 60,000 sterilizations were performed in the United States, with California well in the lead with 20,000; below the Mason-Dixon line, North Carolina eventually carried out the most sterilizations.
Involuntary sterilization came under legal fire as a violation of a basic right. Fittingly, it was a great progressive jurist who wrote the most authoritative decision on the matter, finding that involuntary sterilization, in certain compelling circumstances, was not incompatible with the United States Constitution.
The decision, Buck v. Bell, was written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who dominated American jurisprudence for half a century. Of the right of the State of Virginia to sterilize a feebleminded child, Holmes, who had been badly wounded at Antietam 54 years before, wrote:
We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the state for those lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such for those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with their incompetence . . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” [The Bucks, one of whose family members were plaintiffs in the case, were poor whites.]
Following the American lead, other governments adopted eugenics measures. In Switzerland the canton of Vaud passed a sterilization law in 1928; in the next year Denmark was the first European nation to enact such a law, followed by the rest of Scandinavia shortly thereafter.
Canada, too, had its eugenics movement, in which women played a leading role. While the influence of the Catholic Church prevented eugenics legislation in Canada’s most populous provinces, sterilization laws were enacted in Alberta and British Columbia in 1933. Fatefully for the eugenics movement, in that same year Germany adopted a law for eugenic sterilization.
Nothing has blackened the reputation of eugenics so much as its link to the Hitler regime. In the estimation of Paul Popenoe, one of the leading figures in the American eugenics movement, “The major factor in the decline of eugenics was undoubtedly Hitlerism.” But in fact, as the American geneticist and anthropologist Stephen Saetz has demonstrated in a well-researched study of eugenics in the Third Reich, German eugenic practice was not radically different from its American counterpart, and many policies afterwards blamed on eugenics, above all the measures against the Jews, had nothing to do with eugenics. The “euthanasia” program, in which as many as 80,000 of the severely retarded and incurably insane were killed, was motivated by a desire to free medical facilities and personnel at the outset of the war, and was not a eugenics program. In the view of historian Sheila Faith Weiss: “German eugenicists . . . have at most only indirect responsibility for the “euthanasia’ program.”
Still, the association of eugenics with Adolf Hitler and Nazism helped turn what was already a strong opposition to eugenics — stretching from the Catholic Church on one end, to the anti-hereditarian left (from the American academy to the Kremlin) on the other — to an ironclad orthodoxy. Most Jews, at first affronted by tangential connections between the eugenics movement and U.S. immigration reforms of the 1920s, and then repelled by Hitlerism, passed solidly over into the anti-eugenics camp.
After the war, eugenics was largely driven underground, or softened and repackaged as “genetic counseling” and other limited applications. The involuntary sterilization laws and other programs deemed to be “eugenicist” were either abolished or allowed to fall into disuse. Eugenics societies and eugenics journals were renamed, redirected, or abolished. Working geneticists, whatever their private opinions, denied the original and long-standing connection between their science and eugenics.
Nevertheless, even in its eclipse, eugenics continues to be publicly supported in America by a bold, creative and diverse minority. In the 1960’s, the leftist, Jewish, anti-racist geneticist Hermann Muller (Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1946), who three decades before had praised Alexis Carrel and Charles Lindbergh’s work, collaborated with inventor and entrepreneur Robert K. Graham to establish a “genius sperm bank.” In 1980, William Shockley, outspoken advocate of recognizing racial differences, was the first Nobel laureate to become a donor to Dr. Graham’s Repository for Germinal Choice.
Constant progress in our knowledge of how heredity plays a role in every aspect of our nature — including the Human Genome Project, which is to map and identify all of the human genes by the target date 2005 — has demonstrated that the environmentalist vision of improving man is a mirage. As the eminent geneticist James D. Watson told Congress, “We used to think that our fate was in the stars. Now we know that, in large measure, our fate is in our genes.” Breath-taking advances in genetic engineering have brought many of the dreams of the eugenicists within reach.
Yet despite this, and despite the obvious failures of Western liberalism and the collapse of Communism; despite all the promising implications for the renaissance of eugenics, the taboo remains. Today, the greatest obstacle to eugenic thinking is the dogma of equality. Although inequality is evident everywhere, and although genetic laws clearly apply to every organ of every species, modern liberalism can almost be said to be founded on the notion that the human brain is unaffected by genes.
In a multi-racial society, it is the racial implications of the heritability of mental traits that have forced obvious truths underground. All standards of eugenic selection will fall differently on different racial groups, so even the most obvious and benign measures are sure to provoke cries of “genocide,” and “Nazism.”
We continue to pay a fantastic price because of the fear that we cannot afford to abandon the illusion of racial equality. Since we deny inequality of races, we can barely countenance inequality of individuals, even among members of the same race. Homogeneous societies are far less prone to egalitarian nonsense because they need not make racial comparisons. China and Singapore have already instituted mild eugenic measures and future generations will reap great benefits.
The principles of eugenics are, of course, racially neutral and all groups can benefit from them. Until Americans are prepared to accept the reality of racial differences, they are unlikely to accept even the most obvious and beneficial eugenic proposals — and all Americans of all races will continue to suffer.
It would a great tragedy if mankind, and in particular the white race, which created both genetics and eugenics, were deprived of the great opportunity that lies before us. Reclaiming the truth about the first eugenicists can be a first step to winning the future.
Mark B. Adams, ed. The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in Germany, France, Brazil and Russia, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Michael Freeden, The New Liberalism: An Ideology of Social Reform, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978.
Mark Haller, Eugenics: Hereditarian Attitudes in American Thought, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1963.
Daniel Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.
Kenneth Ludmerer, Genetics and American Society: A Historical Appraisal, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.
Stephen Trombley, The Right to Reproduce: A History of Coercive Sterilization, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988.
Rumors of Wars
Two books with which to cure a liberal.
The Coming Race War in America: A Wake-up Call, Carl T. Rowan, Little, Brown, 1996, 310 pp., $22.95.
The Coming Race War? Richard Delgado, New York University Press, 1996, 198 pp., $24.95
reviewed by Thomas Jackson
As a book, The Coming Race War in America is one of the sorriest efforts by a major publisher in a long time. It is incoherent, vituperative, and often just plain stupid. However, as evidence of the state of mind of an influential black commentator and, by extension, an indicator of the current state of American race relations, it is a fascinating piece of work.
Carl Rowan is a syndicated columnist, who has had a very distinguished career. He has been ambassador to Finland and director of the U.S. Information Agency. He was the first black to sit on the National Security Council and he is on several corporate boards. He has won awards for journalism and is a frequent television commentator. As he freely admits, he has led a very well-rewarded life. It is therefore all the more surprising to find that, first, he has written such an incompetent book and, second, bears so much animus towards whites.
As for competence, there is not a single sustained argument in the whole book. It is largely a series of wild assertions, with few facts and no footnotes. It is so graceless and unpersuasive that much of it reads like a skin-head parody of a black intellectual. What is one to make of a sentence like this:
Or must we find blameless the gatekeepers, the politicians, the opinion-makers, finding that we are hating and killing because we are afraid and feeling hopeless in the face of a terribly high crime rate, a sexual revolution that ensnares and kills our teenagers and makes some of us feel dirty, and an economic revolution that renders us insecure?
It is still possible to scavenge from this sort of wreckage some notion of what Mr. Rowan appears to believe. The book’s main theme seems to be that white supremacists will soon start trying to kill off blacks and other non-whites. Underclass blacks, who are smoldering with righteous fury, will then start killing whites, and the country will be plunged into a blood bath that will make the Civil War seem tame. The militias, led by bigots who are even now preparing genocide, will play a key role in starting the killing.
How did America come to this pass? “White supremacists” have been encouraged — sometimes openly sometimes covertly — by just about any powerful white person whose politics do not suit Mr. Rowan. Richard Nixon was “a stealth bigot” who appealed to “the right-wing Caucasian soulless brothers.” Beginning with his presidency, “appeals to racism became a staple of Republican politics,” and the nation began to slide towards race war. The real arch fiend, though, is Ronald Reagan, “the President who is more responsible than any for the fact that white racism is both tolerated and even fashionable again in America.” With the Gipper in office, “every white supremacist figured that his time in America had come again and the bigots had a field day . . .” William Clinton may actually mean well, but does not have the backbone to fight the racists.Radio personalities Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern are “sophisticated hatemongers,” and “a lot of the blood of America’s race war victims will be on [their] hands and bloated bodies.” Bob Grant, G. Gordon Liddy, and Oliver North are yet more radio hosts who promote racism, and all have large audiences because “millions of white Americans are crazed with notions of white supremacy.”
Mr. Rowan does concede that some blacks are in the hating business, too, but mentions only the Nation of Islam and Al Sharpton. Astonishingly, he cites Patrick Buchanan and Louis Farrakhan as the “two most publicized and most dangerous of a small army of American hatemongers,” both of whom have grown rich “by peddling bigotry at great profit.” Mr. Buchanan is a “semi-lunatic,” “shamelessly anti-Semitic, anti-black, and anti-Hispanic,” and more of a racist than George Wallace. His successes in the early Republican primaries so emboldened him that he began to “talk like a half-mad would-be dictator.”As for black hatemongers, “for every Farrakhan who riles and poisons black America, there are twenty white bigots who seek to take us into organized murder and mayhem.” Mr. Rowan refrains from naming them.
All conservatives are really just white supremacists. Newt Gingrich, for example, “may be just as dangerous as the old gallus-snapping, wool-hat [?] racists ever were.” Since black congressman Charles Rangel says so, Mr. Gingrich “has a slaveowner mentality.”Needless to say, the effort to abolish affirmative action “is led mostly by conscienceless politicians, publicity-seeking bigots, whites with individual gripes who find it easy to make trouble in a litigious society, and a handful of blacks who harbor doubts about their own intellectual merits.” Affirmative action stirs hysteria among whites who fear to see “some of their lifelong special privileges vanish.” The “baseless assertion” that less-qualified blacks might be getting preference over better-qualified whites is “the ugliest, most venal, most destructive part of the affirmative action debate.” Since Gov. Pete Wilson of California opposes racial preferences, he is a “political flamethrower,” who only encourages violent white supremacists.
If America abandons affirmative action, the country will take a giant step towards race war because there are “armies of raging blacks and furious Hispanics who would go ballistic over effectuation of the proposed campaigns to roll back the meager gains that nonwhites have made in America during a cruel century.” As for recent court decisions that restricted some preferences:
The Federal courts . . . surrendered to racist mob psychology as cravenly as any law officer ever did in the Reconstruction South under pressure from a lynch mob. Suddenly, mass bigotry was more dominant in the so called halls of justice in 1995 than it had been in 1955.
Mr. Rowan flirts briefly with the fashionable view that race is imaginary. He points out that most American blacks have some white genes and adds, in his usual unfootnoted way, that “probably 95 percent of “white’ Americans have some “Negroid blood.’” This being the case, whites had better worry that they, themselves, could suffer from the horrible ways they treat “blacks.” The race-doesn’t-exist argument goes no further than this, probably because it is an obvious embarrassment in a book preoccupied with race.
In Mr. Rowan’s view, no event in the last 50 years has produced more “belligerent racism” than the O.J. Simpson trial. He is quite keen on the sexual angle:
I knew that the stories of the two murders would immediately grab the glands of millions of American white men, prejudicing them in ways they would never admit publicly . . . [It] would enliven the insecurities of millions of white male psyches. The old college girl’s chant, ‘Once you go black you never go back!’ surely would take on feverish new meaning.
A black friend of morbid wit said to me, ‘Doesn’t O.J. know that we can f*** ‘em now but we still can’t kill ‘em?’ . . . Black people would in private say that Nicole was ‘white trash,’ using her blond hair, her big breasts, her teenage pussy to woo a famous, rich, middle-aged black man away from the black woman who had sustained and nurtured him through the toughest years of his life.
Mr. Rowan says he watched all but a few hours of the Simpson trial and concludes that the jury had good reason to acquit. Whites, blinded by racial prejudice, convinced themselves that it was the jury that acted out of prejudice. As for Mark Fuhrman, the white detective whose “racism” so hurt the prosecution, “the interracial sex taboo that poisoned the psyches of so many men had also poisoned him.”It goes without saying that virtually every white man who wears a uniform is a danger to blacks:
[T]he upsurge of violent racism in armed groups in America involves more than the United States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. It now includes every police force in any city and county in America, the National Guard, federal agencies, and even some private ‘protective’ groups.
So, what can be done to save America? Mr. Rowan sees a faint possibility that race war can be avoided, but only if the country takes his advice: First, we must relaunch every possible liberal program, from the Works Progress Administration to midnight basketball. Next, we must disarm all Americans, starting with the militias. He concedes that this might justify the fears that prompted the militia movement in the first place, but guns simply cannot be left in the hands of white supremacists.
Mr. Rowan has opposed private gun ownership for years, but those with long memories will recall that he means it only for other people. In 1988, he opened fire with an unregistered weapon on a young white man who decided to take an uninvited dip in the Rowan swimming pool.A book like this is actually very useful. Carl Rowan is many times a millionaire, has hobnobbed with Presidents, and is in great demand as a speaker and commentator. That someone like him can loose such wild, unsubstantiated tirades is immensely instructive for whites. It would be good if every liberal in America were made to read this book. Some would beat their breasts and resolve to be such consummate toadies that even Carl Rowan might pronounce them free of “racism.” Probably many more would quietly conclude that race relations are beyond salvaging, that decades of preferential treatment have left blacks angrier than ever, that blacks will never be satisfied, no matter what whites do. This book will open at least a few eyes.Mr. Rowan offers a prescription for “saving” America, but why should he want to save it? Since whites are such miserable bigots and are getting worse by the year, why not call the multi-racial experiment a failure and separate the races? If Mr. Rowan believes what he says, separation is the only solution. Of course, in his bones, he probably knows that an all-black nation would soon begin to look like Haiti. It is vastly better to live well in white America, pretend to be oppressed, and throw profitable tantrums.
A Different Flavor of Medicine
Richard Delgado’s The Coming Race War? is considerably more intelligent and better written than Mr. Rowan’s book. It is just as anti-white, but it’s calm justification of double standards and the destruction of white America make it less comical and more disturbing.Unfortunately, Prof. Delgado has written a series of dialogues rather than a proper essay. The result is a plotless novel of long conversations over meals, and a book that is twice as long as it should be. Moreover, since all the ideas are expressed by “fictional” characters, the author can presumably deny they are his own views. Finally, the book is mistitled, since the possibility of race war is evoked only briefly.
The conversations wander over many topics, but the most consistently developed theme is that “merit” and “neutral principles” are simply tricks for maintaining white supremacy. Whites have arranged all the standards in such a way that only they can meet them. In a suitably lickspittal introduction, white author Andrew Hacker agrees that the concept of merit is a fraud because “the very format of [standardized] tests reflects a culture that is essentially European,” and the only thing tests do is “emphasize linear rationalistic thought.” Huge numbers of non-whites are kept down because their distinctive gifts (elliptical and irrational?) go unrecognized. The “linear structure of the multiple-choice mode” simply fails to recognize non-white genius.
As one of the characters puts it (the book’s ideas are hereafter attributed to Prof. Delgado), “add items like love, compassion, or intercultural awareness and you have a completely different SAT,” on which blacks would presumably outscore whites. Because merit is a rigged game, it “is basically, white people’s affirmative action” and “up-to-date bigotry.” Prof. Delgado makes no attempt to explain why Asians outscore whites on standardized tests.
One of the most hilarious ideas encountered in books of this kind is the implication that the mere presence of blacks as second-class citizens has been a tremendous source of wealth and power for whites, all of whom have prospered because of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow. According to Prof. Delgado, the idea of merit was not even necessary before legal discrimination was ended in 1964. Until then, white men could exploit blacks and women, and this enabled them all to get rich without bothering with merit.Prof. Delgado then undercuts his own argument by claiming that whites would be vastly better off if they would only unleash non-white genius. “We could teach whites lessons of incalculable value, ones that might help arrest the country’s decline. But they deny and reject, demonizing the very thing that could save them.” Whites have grown rich by oppressing blacks but can now save themselves only by seeking black wisdom. Hmm.
Prof. Delgado even toys with the idea that the concept of “demerit” is as false as that of “merit.” Since society has loaded the dice to make whites seem to be deserving, blacks may also only seem the be undeserving. Thus, our disapproval of high rates of black crime, drug addiction, illegitimacy, etc. may only reflect artificial values promoted by whites.Richard Delgado is a professor of law, but sees law as nothing more than a tool for advancing black interests. Law cannot be a set of consistent principles under which justice is sought for all people, for like the concept of merit, “neutral principles fail miserably, except as a justification for white supremacy.” For that reason “minorities should invoke and follow the law when it benefits them and break or ignore it otherwise.” It is common for blacks to be utterly unprincipled in promoting racial interests, but rare to admit that they are.
In practical terms, “colorblind jurisprudence simply maintains racism and the status quo,” so the law must include built-in racial preferences. Furthermore, plaintiffs in civil rights cases should be exempted from “rules of evidence, relevancy, cross-examination, and so on” because such formalities prevent oppressed people from “telling their stories” in an authentic way. Oppressed people should not have to be made to describe the behavior and motives of their oppressors in order to establish guilt; once they have described their own suffering the question of guilt answers itself.Part of the problem is that there are too few black, lesbian, disabled, and working-class judges. For this reason “courts are ill-equipped to hear and act on the stories they need most urgently to hear.”
Prof. Delgado favors laws prohibiting derogatory remarks about minorities and cannot understand why “our friends in the ACLU” oppose them. He argues that all kinds of speech is already prohibited — perjury, false advertising, violation of copyright, conspiracy, death threats — so banning words that would hurt the feelings of non-whites would cause little additional injury to the First Amendment.Like most writers of this kind, Prof. Delgado believes that there has been very little progress in civil rights, and that it is important for blacks to understand this. Otherwise they might begin to think they were responsible for their own failures. Whites, he explains, routinely convince themselves that much has improved for blacks, since this is the only way they can shirk responsibility for black misery.
As for the possibility of further progress in civil rights, blacks should set aside the naive view that blacks and whites can have common goals. Occasionally whites do something for blacks but only if it happens to be good for whites. As an example, Prof. Delgado cites the abolition of formal segregation during the 1950s and 60s. Whites did this only because of the Cold War; the United States was trying to recruit allies among non-white Third-World countries, so could no longer afford blatant discrimination. “Interest convergence” of this kind is rare and fleeting, like an eclipse, and not to be counted on.
Oddly, Prof. Delgado seems to recognize that there are some whites who sincerely want to help non-whites. However, this is “false empathy,” because the best that whites can do is “visualize themselves in our places and ask what they, themselves, would want.” The golden rule is inadequate here because whites cannot possibly know or imagine what non-whites want. Therefore “their help, if any, is likely to be misguided, paternalistic, mistaken, and unhelpful.” “False empathy is worse than indifference,” and the assistance of white liberals “sometimes can amount to outright betrayal.”
If whites want to be helpful, they should become traitors to the white race and adopt the motto “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” Whites should “reject racial privilege and challenge manifestations of racism that they observe . . . And if enough people do this, the system will collapse, because whites will never be sure which other whites are disloyal to the white race in the sense of refusing unearned privilege and declining to cooperate in the myriad ways society keeps blacks down.”
In the long run, whites might as well fade away, for it is only out of ignorance that they think they prefer their own societies:
A person may be a good liberal, may think he or she is genuinely fair and open-minded about blacks, race, Critical [sic] ideas, socialism, and so on. But simply by virtue of having grown up in a white enclave in a world that is dominantly black, brown, or Asian, the person has had a skewed experience. Give that person a vote, ask him what sort of society he wants, and it is absolutely predictable what he will say.
The preference of such a person for a white society is irrelevant because “the most basic political question for a democracy, then, is not, what do we in fact want, but what should we want.” Of course, Prof. Delgado knows what we should want: “The cure for the United States’ stagnation is new ideas from minority, Latino, Asian, and non-Western sources.” Resistance to the non-white influx is immoral because “an appeal in today’s climate to national unity, assimilation, or against balkanization is deeply racist.”
As for the race war of the book’s title, Prof. Delgado proposes that this may be the conservative white plan. He notes that some whites actually seem determined to abolish affirmative action and wonders why. After all, railing against reverse discrimination is (he says) a sure vote-getter and even lets conservatives pose as morally superior champions of color-blindness. It is such a good thing for them, they must have some ulterior motive for abolishing it (the fact that they might think it unjust is not, apparently, reason enough).
The plan, Prof. Delgado suggests, is to abolish preferences, cut welfare, and eliminate racially gerrymandered voting districts, thereby provoking long-suffering blacks into a violent uprising. This would then be put down with great bloodshed, by armed forces that are being kept strong for no other purpose. After blacks and Hispanics are smashed, the Constitution can be amended to return them to permanent second-class status. Prof. Delgado wonders if the popularity of militias as well as calls for a return to “traditional values” are not part of this plan. He detects an upsurge of interest in the American Civil War, which may be unconscious preparation for another one.
We Have Been Warned
Books of this kind reveal much about black thinking. Prof. Delgado appears to believe that apart from a handful of useless, “false empathy” liberals, whites are constantly conniving to keep non-whites down. What whites pass off as principled behavior is a deliberate fraud that only maintains white supremacy. Civil rights reforms were a mere Cold War tactic. Prof. Delgado and blacks like him are so preoccupied with their own racial interests that they cannot believe whites are not equally preoccupied with theirs.
For the good professor, law, principle, and standards of all kinds are to be maintained or flouted strictly according to whether they further black interests. Finally, whites, who are just a small minority of earth’s population, might as well be phased out for their own good.
We should be grateful for the professor’s candor just as we should be for Carl Rowan’s vituperations. We cannot say we were not warned.
IN THE NEWS
O Tempora, O Mores!
What You Say?
Everyone has now heard that the Oakland School Board voted to recognize the fractured English spoken by uneducated blacks — now given the grand name of “Ebonics” — as a legitimate language. This has driven the liberals into a frenzy, not least because the board described Ebonics as “a genetically based language structure.” Even Jesse Jackson at first said the plan was crazy, but has since softened his criticism. What was the school board trying to do? As they pointed out, nothing seems to help black children do better in school. As one member explained, “whatever we are using now is not working.” The theory is that teachers should perhaps be trained to understand “Ebonics” so they can communicate better with students, just as teachers trained in Spanish can better understand immigrant children.The people now harrumphing about how idiotic “Ebonics” is are the very ones who backed all those failed proposals that were just as idiotic: busing, minority role models, self-esteem, Afro-centric curricula, abolition of grades, nutrition programs, Head Start, etc. etc. By refusing to consider the real problem — low IQ — and betting on cosmetic silliness, blacks are doing exactly what white liberals have taught them to do.
More on Prop 209
California’s Proposition 209, which would ban state-sponsored affirmative action, continues to face heavy weather. Now that a black judge has blocked implementation, the University of California system has announced that it will continue to use race and sex as criteria for admitting students. Last year, the university’s Board of Regents ordered it to stop the practice, and it was expected to obey. It is using the current legal maneuvers as an excuse to defy the board.In the meantime, the Clinton Justice Department has sided with Judge Henderson in thinking that Prop 209 is unconstitutional, and has joined the fight to stop it. California Governor, Pete Wilson, describes the move as “a legal challenge that is absolutely Orwellian.” (Reuter, Justice Dept. Opposes Calif. Race Law, December 20, 1996.)
More Army ‘Racism’
Last month we reported that British papers were breaking the news that the recent army sex scandal mostly involved black men molesting white women. The story finally seems to have surfaced in the United States. Of the 12 drill instructors accused of rape and other sex offenses at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., 11 are black. For whatever reason, the army is deliberately concealing the races of their accusers. As if on cue, the president of the NAACP chapter closest to Aberdeen Proving Ground has expressed the suspicion that the investigations reflect a pattern of “racism.” (Rowan Scarborough, NAACP Suspects Racial Factor in Army Sex Cases,Washington Times, Dec.11, 1996, p.A1.)
Meanwhile, the army brass has discovered that its elite, Special Forces units are overwhelmingly white, and has decided to end this scandal. As one inside source puts it:
The first task was to ‘correct’ the special operations recruiting film. During the months of July and August 1996, army film crews spread out around SWCS [Special Warfare Center and School] and the ranger battalions to make a new flick. But they ran into a major problem: the flick was too ‘white.’
The takes were reviewed by Generals Scott, Bowra and Tagney, but when they counted the number of Negro and Caucasian soldiers in each frame the quotas DoA [Department of the Army] told them were acceptable were not present. The solution was easy — shoot the film again to reflect ‘future truth.’
For example: During the filming of mortar drill at Company B, 1st Bn, 1st SWTG(A) [Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne)] in mid July, the politically correct one-to-two quota was staged, but a group of real students were standing in the background. The camera man stopped filming. Addressing the background students, while flagging his arm in the direction he wanted them to move, he said, ‘You white guys need to move out of the shot.’
A related incident occurred while the film crew was shooting rangers in action down in Georgia. Unable to obtain the ‘correct’ quota among available rangers they dragooned the support unit truck drivers, slapped black berets on their heads, and resumed filming . . .
The GT score [General Technical score on the army’s aptitude test] requirement of 110 for special forces candidates is being lowered to 100.
The swimming test will still be given, but will no longer be a must-pass event; in other words, the swimming test will become nothing more than a finger wave.
(From The Resistor, “political warfare journal of the Special Forces Underground,” Vol. III, Nos. 1&2. For a sample issue, send $7.00 to Box 47095, Kansas City, MO 64188.)
Calling all Black Saxons
The Coca-Cola Foundation has established a new, full-tuition scholarship at the University of Arkansas. As a spokesman for the university explains, it is available to “anyone other than white Anglo-Saxons.” “The neat part about this scholarship is that it’s based on merit,” she adds. “We’ve never had a minority scholarship based on merit before. Usually, the scholarships are based only on financial need.” What this means is that the scholarship can be given even to non-whites who don’t need the money. Such scholarships have been established at most universities because there is so much competition for competent non-whites. “Merit” simply means “for reasons of race or diversity, not financial need.” The meritorious non-Anglo-Saxons at Arkansas must maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 in order to get the money. (Tammy Williams, Minority Merit Scholarships Established, Arkansas Traveler (University of Arkansas at Fayetteville), Nov. 15, 1996.)
No Whites (or Asians) Need Apply
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been seeking applicants for its Minority Medical Faculty Development Program. Candidates must have completed medical training and be black, American Indian, Puerto Rican, or Mexican-American (what about us Haitians?). Winners will get an annual salary of up to $50,000, plus an annual $25,000 research-support grant — a mouth-watering prospect for post-doctoral researchers who are often thankful to get posts that pay $25,000 to $35,000 a year. (Ad in The Scientist, Nov. 25, 1996.)
Sign of Things to Come
One of the common ways to “fight apartheid” in the black townships was to refuse to pay utility bills. The new government has tried to get blacks to pay up, but with only modest success. Now, in Johannesburg, the plan is to increase rates in the white parts of town by as much as 300 percent to subsidize service for blacks. Whites have actually marched in protest over the move and are threatening a rate boycott of their own. (Sudarsan Raghaven, South African Whites Balk at High Utility Bills, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 24, 1996, p. C2.)
Any Color so Long as It’s Not White
Ford Motor Company wants non-white suppliers to account for five percent of its purchases by the year 2000. In order to help such suppliers financially, it has agreed to pay the interest on some of their loans. This program is not open to white-owned companies. (Ford to Pay Interest for Minority Suppliers, Washington Times, Nov. 8, 1996, p. E12.)
Holding the Bag
A jury in Minneapolis has awarded $400,000 to a black baggage handler for Northwest Airlines because of “racism.” In 1992, after he was involved in an accident, Robert Landon was tested for drugs and was found to have marijuana in his system. He was then fired. It is Northwest policy to test people for drugs after an accident if they appear to be acting abnormal. Witnesses said that Mr. Landon was not acting abnormally, and the jury was persuaded that the decision to test him was based on race. (Jury Awards Bag Handler $400K, Associated Press, Minneapolis, Nov. 28, 1996.)
More Good Democrats
The motor-voter law requires states to let people register to vote when they get a license or to take them to the nearest voter registration office. Across the country, social service agencies are interpreting this to mean that they are required to take mentally retarded inmates of public institutions to registration offices and put them on the rolls. At election time, this often means that the people who tend the inmates trot them down to the polling station and cast their ballots for them. Interestingly, some of the fiercest opposition to this practice comes from the parents of adult inmates. They know very well that their children are incompetent and think it is an outrage to give them the vote. (Christi Parsons, Mentally Disabled Join Voter Ranks, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 17, 1996, p. 1.)
Survival Amidst the Ruins
The University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, is one of the pillars of the East Coast academic establishment and a member of the Ivy League. It is also located in what has become an increasingly black and barbaric part of town. Unlike a household, a university cannot simply uproot acres of facilities and move to the suburbs. It has to stay and fight. The University of Pennsylvania is losing. Penn spends millions of dollars a year on safety and security personnel. It briefs students on elaborate evasive tactics, and urges them never to walk alone at night. Many students report that they often plot their movements with an eye to avoiding assault. Even so, this winter, robberies on and around the campus were running at 20 to 30 a month. Most students do as they have been instructed: they hand over their wallets and are not hurt. However, a graduate student from Russia, inadequately trained in American racial etiquette, tried to fight off a purse snatcher and was stabbed to death. (Thomas Gibbons, A Halloween Homicide Jolts a Reeling Penn, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 2, 1996, p. 1.)Students are demanding quicker police response and better patrols. The university promises to try harder than ever. The real question is whether Western Civilization can be maintained in the face of certain kinds of demographic change.
For its winter commencement, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill chose as its speaker black “race relations expert,” Michael Dyson. Prof. Dyson, who teaches communications at the university, decided to introduce “young, black voices often not heard in the lily white halls of academia” because, in his view, the opinions of the young are often wrongly dismissed. His chosen subjects were rap “artists,” whom he quoted verbatim and with enthusiasm. Themes he judged fit for the occasion included fellatio, pimping, prostitution, and various parts of the human anatomy. A number of white graduates had the good taste to throw their caps on the ground and walk out.Prof. Dyson also took the opportunity to criticize one of the university’s most famous graduates, basketball star Michael Jordan. Mr. Jordan recently gave one million dollars to the School of Social Work but declined to give money to a planned Black Cultural Center, saying that the center would benefit only one group. (Jane Stancill, Dyson Speech Draws Criticism, Raleigh News & Observer, Dec. 17, 1996, p. 1B.)
Prof. Dyson’s favored art form is doing extremely well. It is dominated by Death Row Records and its distributor, Interscope. The top “artists” for the label are Tupac Shakur, recently murdered, and Snoop Doggy Dogg, who narrowly escaped conviction on a (different) murder charge. Marion (Suge) Knight, the president of Death Row Records is running the company from a jail cell, where he languishes because of parole violations. In the first week of December recordings by Death Row were in the top four spots on the Billboard 200. Not in the last 20 years has a single company so dominated the charts. (Brent Staples, Dying to Be Black, New York Times, Oct. 9, 1996.)
In 1969, Greene County, Alabama became only the second county in the entire South to vote out white politicians and institute black rule. Martin Luther King’s assistant, Ralph Abernathy, rather nonsensically called the election “the most significant achievement by black men since the Emancipation Proclamation.” Now the county and has filed for bankruptcy — another first for the state.The county has spent foolishly, sometimes illegally, and with few controls. State law requires that certain funds be set aside for specific purposes — gasoline taxes are to pay for roads and bridges — but the county spent the money on salaries. There have been many salaries to pay, since Greene County has a payroll larger than some Alabama counties with three times its population.Sums of money have disappeared in chunks of three and four hundred thousand dollars, and the county now has $3 million in debts — $300 for each of its 10,000 residents. Matt Hart, an assistant Alabama attorney general who is leading the state investigation says, “The unusual thing here is there were no records. They just pass out money without any control.”Booker Cooke, the county chief of staff, explains why some records might be missing:
If I’m going to New York, when I would get back I would have the plane ticket, the hotel — I would lose some of them, I wouldn’t have them all. If I have a plane ticket to New York, obviously I went to New York. I just can’t prove to you that I ate. But obviously I ate. I do eat every day.
For years, state auditors have questioned the county’s books, but have until now been held at bay. John Kennard, who is black and is the county’s tax assessor, explains how they did it: “We call a press conference, call the auditors racist, and the state backs off.” The chairman of the County Commission, Garria Spencer, is still playing the game. “I think it’s racist,” he says of the state investigation.Mr. Spencer has many worries. In the most recent county election, half of his votes were from absentee ballots — an impossibly high proportion. A state investigation has shown that large numbers of absentee ballots were sent to single addresses, some were delivered to county agencies, and others were mailed to addresses outside the district. Both the state and the FBI are very interested. (Adam Nossiter, From Symbol of Pride to an Embarrassment, New York Times, Nov. 29, 1996, p. A1.)
Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, recently acquired a new wife. At the ceremony, the happy couple received $1,250 in cash gifts. Takaruza Lazarus Marufu, a cousin of the new wife, was given the money for safekeeping during the reception, but decided to make off with it. He has been sentenced to five months in jail. (President’s In-law Steals Wedding Gifts, Tallahassee Democrat, Nov. 16, 1996, p. 7A.)
Hate is a Many-Splendored Things
Last November, in the wake of national hysteria about church burnings in the South, the Boston Piano Co. established a fund to help congregations victimized by “hate crimes.” In December, the trust decided to send $500 to Trinity United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. The church, which has a mostly-black congregation, suffered fire damage on October 24th, during riots following the shooting of a black criminal by white police officers. (Florida Church Gets Hate-crime Money, Washington Times, Dec. 8, 1996, p. A2.)To our knowledge, all the rioters were black.
They Meant Well
Two men in Boynton Beach, Florida badly wanted to become police officers, but did not have enough money to enroll in the police instruction course at Palm Beach Community College. Kevin Carter and Michael Harrison, race unspecified, decided to rob a jewelry store to raise the money, and invited a friend to come along. The friend was shot dead in the attempt, and Mr. Carter was wounded in the legs. Mr. Harrison, arrested soon after, is reported to have said, “I guess I can’t become a police officer now.” (Police Hopefuls Charged With Murder, Washington Times, Dec. 8, 1996, p. A2.)
Immigration in the Third World
About one million people are thought to have immigrated illegally to Malaysia from such places as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and South East Asia, and the Malaysians are tired of it. First-time offenders will be deported and repeat offenders will now be flogged. Employers who hire illegals will be fined the first time, flogged the second time, and can go to jail for up to five years for the third offense. (Malaysia Gets Tough on Illegal Immigrants, Atlanta Journal/Constitution, Oct. 19, 1996, p. A4.) The West African country, Ivory Coast, has embarked on an Ivoirite or Ivorian-ness campaign. People who cannot prove that their grandparents were born in what is now Ivory Coast are subject to deportation. (Ben Barber, Ivory Coast Imposes Ethnic-purity Campaign, Washington Times, Oct. 10, 1996, p. A17.)
LETTERS FROM READERS
Sir — “The Cost of Affirmative Action” in the December issue reminds me of Robert Zelnick’s book, Backfire: A Look at Affirmative Action. He notes the poor showing of non-whites in medical school — half fail their National Board exams whereas only 12 percent of whites fail — and writes:
The conclusion is inescapable [that] . . . this society, which keeps potentially useful drugs off the market until they are tested for a near eternity, which bans carcinogens that must be eaten by the pound to produce harm — this society consciously and deliberately graduates doctors who are less qualified to treat the sick than would be the case if admissions to medical school were based purely on ability and not on race [emphasis in the original]
Loring Emery, Hamburg, Penn.
Sir — In light of the sexual assaults on white female army recruits by black drill instructors, is there any chance that the Center for Democratic Renewal, the World Council of Churches, and the Justice Department will look for evidence of a racist conspiracy?
The NAACP is already hard at work looking for conspiracies. See O Tempora, O Mores! More Army Racism, this issue.
Sir — It has been scientifically demonstrated that people can develop allergies late in life. The process usually involves extended exposure to unusually large doses of a potential irritant. After a certain threshold is reached, the body becomes supersensitized and it then takes only a small amount of the irritant to produce an allergic reaction. I fear that this may have happened to Daniel Attila, who wrote your January cover story about working in the New York City subway system. I go to the city from time to time and I ride the subway. It is loud and dirty and, yes, there are plenty of non-whites down there. However, I have never seen the kind of behavior he described. Of course, I am usually going from one white part of Manhattan to another, not to one of the outer boroughs that have been lost to civilization. I do not doubt the truth of the event Mr. Attila describes, but I know from personal experience that at least certain hours some parts of the system are safe.
Michael Edelman, Ramsey, N.J.
Sir — I enjoyed your January review of Inequality by Design. It must take great stamina for a sensible person to drag himself through a book full of such bunkum, and I am grateful that Mr. Jackson was willing to do it.I was especially interested to read about the authors ’ political views, but couldn’t help wondering if they really believe what they say: that as an explanation for who succeed in life, “native abilities are largely irrelevant.” This is at such astonishing variance with daily experience that I have puzzled my poor brain trying to imagine how anyone could possibly say such a thing. An obvious requirement is an overwhelming desire to want it to be true, but even that wouldn’t be enough for most people.I suspect that the authors of the book probably don ’t know anyone with an IQ of less than 120. They don’t know any ditch diggers or welfare mothers and probably have no idea how restricted and unrepresentative is the little corner of the bell curve in which they live. I’m sure they are all convinced they could have been lawyers or architects or doctors or millionaires rather than sociology teachers. Surely, it is only people who are ideologically receptive, cloistered, and highly intelligent who can imagine for a moment that native ability has nothing to do with wealth or success. Most poor people know very well that their station in life largely reflects their own limitations.
Andrew Harding, Tulley, N.Y.
Sir — In the December issue you quote a black Miami Herald columnist who defends William Clinton by saying that no matter how despicable he may be, “for most jobs — aside from, say minister — character is optional.” This is breathtaking. I am old enough — 76 — to remember a time when people thought character was important for every job, that everything a man did was inseparable from his character. The columnist’s words shocked me, but I suppose this means only that I am out of touch. He was no doubt only expressing what a great many people take for granted.“Character is optional.” The brazenness of it! I weep for my country.
Joseph Cooper, Albuquerque, N.M.
Sir — I was very interested to read your account of the redoubtable Pauline Hanson, who has shaken the Australian establishment by expressing the desire that her country not be “swamped by Asians.”As usual, sound sentiment is approved by the silent many and denounced by the chattering few. It would be hard to think of a more vivid demonstration of the difference between public opinion and published opinion. I am reminded of when David Duke used to run for office in Louisiana; not a single newspaper would endorse him but he would still get a majority of the white vote.
Alice Hopewell, Morgantown, W.V.• • • BACK TO TOP • • •