|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol. 15, No. 1||January 2004|
How Illusions are Maintained
The Washington Post shamelessly distorts scientific findings.
On September 2, 2003, the Washington Post published a front page article by Rick Weiss called “Genes’ Sway Over IQ May Vary With Class,” which argued that “environmental factors — not genetic deficits — explain IQ differences among poor minorities.” Citing a recent study, Mr. Weiss claimed that “the impact of genes on IQ varied depending on a child’s socioeconomic status,” and that “the influence of genes on IQ was significantly lower in conditions of poverty, where environmental deficits overwhelm genetic potential.” Here, in the face of increasingly irrefutable evidence of the power of genes, was a conclusion liberals could love: Heredity may account for intelligence differences in middle-class whites but it is environment that mainly determines intelligence for poor blacks.
Basing his article on a not-as-yet-published study by Eric Turkheimer of the University of Virginia and several colleagues, Mr. Weiss drew the inevitable conclusion: “The results suggest that early childhood assistance programs such as Head Start can help the poor and are worthy of public support.” (The timing was perfect. Congress had just been debating an overhaul of Head Start that would turn it over to the states, some of which were likely to scale it back.)
The article compared Prof. Turkheimer’s work to a trivial experiment done by the famed anti-”biological race concept” scientist Richard Lewontin, who showed that genetically identical seeds grow differently in different soils. Poor minorities, explained Mr. Weiss, perform badly on intelligence tests “not because of their genes but because they are raised in an environment lacking in resources and poisoned by racist attitudes.” The article quoted Marcus Feldman of Stanford University, who said the study should “draw us somewhat away from genetics and back into the importance of the social sciences.”
Mr. Weiss also quoted Robert Plomin of King’s College, London, who praised the new study even though his own work does not find that intelligence is any more affected by environment among the poor than among the rich. Prof. Plomin wondered whether the groups he studied were “not as poor” as Prof. Turkheimer’s, or if they might have benefited from “Britain’s superior social safety net,” implying that the billions America has spent on blacks have not been enough.
Mr. Weiss’s article was, in other words, the perfect account of what appeared to be the perfect study with which to confound those who doubt that environmental intervention can raise the intelligence of blacks and poor people. If genes make a big difference to middle-class white children, but it is the environment that matters most for poor blacks, then all the uplift programs of the 1960s can be justified after all.
Needless to say, it was all far too perfect. The Weiss article is a startling distortion of the Turkheimer study that only exposes how desperate the Washington Post has become in the face of mountains of evidence that the liberal-egalitarian project has failed and has no hope of success.
The actual research paper (“Socioeconomic Status Modifies Heritability of IQ in Young Children,” Psychological Science, Vol. 14, issue 6, pp. 623-628.) finally appeared in November, two months after the Weiss article. It does report data that are, in some respects, surprising, but in contrast to the Post’s breathlessness, Prof. Turkheimer is quite restrained. His paper hardly mentions race, and certainly does not dismiss genetic explanations for the results. The differences between it and the Post account are so striking, it is clear Mr. Weiss must have assumed his readers would never see the original Turkheimer paper, and would therefore believe whatever he wrote about it.
What does the paper say? Prof. Turkheimer conducted a twin study, which is the classic way to determine heritability. Such studies are important in discovering the effects of genes because identical twins are genetic copies of each other, whereas fraternal twins are no more similar (50 percent) than ordinary siblings. However, the environments shared by twins, both before and after birth, are as similar as those any two different individuals can ever experience. If the environments are thought to be identical, the greater similarity between identical as opposed to fraternal twins should show just how much a trait is affected by genes.
The Turkheimer data were from the National Collaborative Perinatal Project (1959-1974), which recruited expectant mothers from 12 urban hospitals across the country, followed their babies from birth, and tested their IQs at age seven. Forty-three percent of the twins were white, 54 percent black, and three percent were “other.” Twenty-five percent of the families were below the poverty line ($4,500 in 1973 for a family of four), and the median annual income for the group was between $6,000 and $7,000, or the equivalent of around $22,000 a year in 1997 dollars. This was clearly not a typical sample of Americans.
The Turkheimer paper set out to determine whether the effects of genes and environment on IQ differ according to socioeconomic status, specifically, whether the IQs of poor children are more heavily influenced by environment than the IQs of rich children. The authors took the standard approach of breaking down the influences on IQ into three components. The first was genetic heritability. This was estimated by comparing the variation of IQ between monozygotic (MZ) “identical” twins, and dizygotic (DZ) “fraternal” twins. The greater the heritability — the influence of genes — on a trait, the greater the tendency for MZ twins to be more similar to each other than are DZ twins.
Obvious examples of highly heritable traits are hair- and eye-color, in which MZ twins are usually indistinguishable, whereas DZ twins differ from each other as much as ordinary siblings. An equally extreme example of something unaffected by genes is language. Children brought up in the same home speak the same language. MZ twins are no more similar to each other than are DZ twins, so this “trait” is not heritable.
Needless to say, the effects of genes and environment on intelligence and personality are not as clear-cut as on eye-color or language. Twin studies, including those of twins separated at birth and reared in different homes (and therefore different environments), have produced a range of estimated heritabilities for different characteristics. Intelligence, with a heritability of 60-80 percent, is a trait almost always found to be largely independent of environment. This is why the Turkheimer results are significant if, indeed, the effects of environment really are greater for poor families. Other personality traits, such as attitude toward the death penalty (51 percent heritable), divorce (40 percent), socialism (26 percent), and pajama parties (0.8 percent) appear to be the result of increasingly large environmental effects with a diminishing genetic heritability.
The second influence on IQ Prof. Turkheimer studied was “shared environment,” that is, environmental factors common to a family and shared equally by the children. Shared environment includes such things as family wealth and social standing, quality of housing, neighborhood, presence of two parents, whether a parent suffers from depression, is unemployed, in jail, etc. The National Collaborative Perinatal Project determined the quality of “shared environment” by measuring the socioeconomic status (SES) of the mothers according to standard scales.
The third influence on intelligence was calculated from the variance in IQ that remained after genes and shared environment were taken into consideration. This remainder is often attributed to measurement error but also to what is called “unshared environment.” This refers to those parts of a child’s surroundings that are different from those of his siblings, even though they grow up in the same family. Many of the different experiences children have are random events, but others reflect different preferences that cause children to seek out different experiences. These preferences often have a substantial genetic component.
The Turkheimer study calculated the amount of IQ variation due to the three components, as well as their interaction with socioeconomic status (SES). The authors found that as SES increases, genes become the dominant influence on intelligence, whereas at low SES, shared environment is the dominant influence.
In practical terms, this means that at the higher end of the socioeconomic scale, there was a clear difference between MZ and DZ twins: MZ twins were considerably more similar to each other in IQ (less variance) than were DZ twins. At the low end of the SES scale, MZ twins were not much more similar to each other in IQ than DZ twins, which suggests a strong environmental rather than genetic effect.
Prof. Turkheimer and his colleagues looked at the data in a number of sophisticated ways, but the simplest was to separate the twins into one group that was above the median SES level and another group below it. They found that, indeed, in the low-SES group, MZ twins were only slightly more similar to each other in intelligence than were DZ twins (correlations of .68 and .63 respectively) whereas in the high-SES group, the DZ twins were considerably more similar to each other than were MZ twins (correlations of .87 and .51).
This is the long and the short of the Turkheimer findings. They are interesting, but do not come anywhere near justifying Mr. Weiss’s conclusions. First, Prof. Turkheimer and his colleagues say nothing about how race affects any of these outcomes, presumably because the effect of SES they found on IQ was the same for blacks and whites. Thus, there is no justification for saying anything about minorities at all, much less asserting that their environments are “poisoned by racist attitudes.” This is not just liberal Post spin; it is pure misrepresentation designed to buttress the liberal view that whites are responsible for the poor performances of non-whites.
Nor do the findings necessarily mean the IQs of poor children can be raised by environmental intervention, as Prof. Turkheimer and his colleagues understand perfectly. Like all serious scholars and unlike most journalists, Prof. Turkheimer knows that poor children do not grow up in bad environments because of pure bad luck. Their parents largely make their environments for them, and if parents have low IQs they pass on a genetic tendency towards low intelligence while, at the same time, they build bad environments that are likely to drag it down further. As Prof. Turkheimer explains:
It would be naïve . . . to interpret SES strictly as an environmental variable. Most variables traditionally thought of as markers of environmental quality also reflect genetic variability . . . Children reared in low-SES households, therefore, may differ from more affluent children both environmentally and genetically . . . and the models we employed in this study do not allow us to determine which aspect of SES is responsible for the interactions we observed.
The paper goes on to point out that there is an inherent flaw in trying to determine what effect SES has on the intelligence of children when SES itself can be a result of the genetic makeup of the parents. SES is not acting independently but reflects, at least in part, the very genes the children are inheriting. As the authors explain in somewhat convoluted language, this skews their results:
“SES and IQ are correlated, and that correlation is potentially mediated both genetically and environmentally. Therefore the models [we built to understand the data] are attempting to detect an interaction between genotype and environment in the presence of a correlation between genotype and environment, raising the concern that the presence of the correlation might introduce bias in the estimation of the interaction.”
The authors do not pretend fully to understand what they have found. As they have the good grace to concede: “[M]aybe outcome simply becomes less predictable in poor environments.” Not only is this an honest admission of the limits of their theoretical model, it completely undercuts Mr. Weiss’s happy prediction that “childhood assistance programs such as Head Start can help the poor and are worthy of public support.” It is hard to imagine more flagrant disregard for reservations expressly included in a scientific paper.
Prof. Turkheimer and his colleagues do not mention this, but there is another possible explanation for their data. The twins in the low-SES group will have had IQs considerably below normal. It may be that genes that code for intelligence have a cumulative effect, in that there is a threshold level of high-IQ genes that must be reached before intelligence is seen to be consistently heritable. In other words, at the low end of the IQ range, individuals have few of the genes that code for high intelligence, and so may fail to achieve the necessary minimum required for IQ to be predominantly determined genetically. Thus, it is conceivable that children with very low intelligence may be influenced to a greater extent by environmental factors because they lack the genetic structure necessary to allow for the higher levels of intelligence that are clearly heritable.
What are some of the possible implications of the Turkheimer paper? The Post would have us believe it is saying some environments are so bad they lower a child’s IQ no matter how good his genetic endowment. In extreme cases, this is obviously true. If Isaac Newton had spent his entire life in a closet he would have lived as an idiot despite his genetic endowments. Mr. Weiss seems to be ready to conclude that poor (black?) environments are so bad they uncouple genes from intelligence in much the same way.
It is true that blacks often degrade their environments in ways that tend to depress the intellectual capacities of their children. An urban ghetto is a terrible place to rear a child. What Mr. Weiss and so many others like him fail to understand is that the ghetto does not arise independently of the genes of the people who live in it.
One in five of the poor mothers in Prof. Turkheimer’s study were younger than 21, and one third did not have husbands. Both these factors, at least to some degree, reflect personal choices and are difficult to blame on “white racism.” Despite liberal assumptions, having an illegitimate child is far more a cause of poverty than a consequence of it. Many of the poor women in this study were poor, at least in part, because of choices they made. These choices, and the cognitive and behavioral characteristics underlying these choices, are at least partially genetically determined.
Another aspect of the Turkheimer study that suggests grounds for caution is the age at which IQ was tested. The IQs of young children are notoriously unstable, and appear to be quite susceptible to temporary environmental influence. A very young child has little control over his environment, and is almost entirely dependent on what his parents provide. As children get older, they change their environments to suit their preferences and abilities. A more genetically intelligent person will change his environment in ways that stimulate his mind, thus improving cognitive development, while a dull person will do the opposite.
This is the basis for the observation that the heritability of intelligence increases with age. A dull child’s abilities may be temporarily boosted by ambitious parents who push him in certain directions, while a bright child may be held back by dull parents who offer a dull environment. Once children are able to make their own environments, their intellectual levels will more closely reflect their own genetic propensities rather than those of the adults who controlled their early environments. As we age, the effects of childhood environment fade, and our cognitive abilities reflect our genetic endowments — intelligence becomes more heritable. Genetic differences present from birth are the constant driving force in this gene-environment interaction.
Just as children eventually create environments that suit their genetic predispositions, early environment can reinforce genes both for better and for worse. As Prof. Michael Levin explained in the March 1994 issue of AR, “One of the ways [high IQ] genes produce high IQs is by producing high-quality environments, which in turn stimulate the development of children raised in them.” At the same time, it is undoubtedly true that abysmal black environments depress black IQs (at least for children), and that those environments are products of a particular genetic structure. Why, after all, is the environment almost always bad wherever there are large concentrations of blacks? Do bad environments just happen to follow blacks around, or do blacks create them?
As Prof. Turkheimer and his colleagues understand, poverty and “low SES” hardly explain everything about differences in achievement. As was reported in the November issue of AR, whites from families with incomes of less than $10,000 a year (this is less than half the median of $22,000 a year in 1997 dollars for the subjects in the Turkheimer paper) had average SAT scores 123 points higher than the black average, and no fewer than 46 points higher than blacks from families with incomes in the $80,000-$100,000 range! If, for poor children, environment overwhelms genes, why do poor whites outscore rich blacks? SAT scores are not the same as IQ scores, but they track them very closely. In fact, because they reflect the results of training and instruction, they should be biased in favor of wealthy blacks who can offer their children more enriched environments than those of white children from families that make less than $10,000 a year.
If, as Mr. Weiss so rashly claimed in his Post article, environmental intervention can work wonders for the poor even if it has little effect on the rich, why have Head Start programs produced such poor results? J.S. Fuerst of Loyola University examined 684 black students who attended special programs of such intensity they were called “Head Start to the fourth power.” The test scores of these children improved while they were immersed in these expensive programs, but 10 years later their scores were indistinguishable from those of other children from similar backgrounds. People like Mr. Weiss, who claim the Turkheimer study confirms the value of Head Start are ignoring a vast literature to the contrary.
The famed “Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study” — initially considered a triumph for IQ egalitarians — was discussed in detail in the March 1994 issue of AR. Here, too, early success faded, as children grew up and reached their own levels of intellectual ability. Sandra Scarr and Richard Weinberg tested the IQs of black and mixed-race children adopted into upper-middle-class families. At age six, these children had substantially higher IQ scores than equivalent children reared by their own parents in poor black homes. However, when the children were retested years later at an average age of seventeen, this IQ gain had vanished.
The fact that a strong environmental influence that was observed in the same age range examined by Turkheimer (six to seven years old) can completely disappear in a decade does not bode well for the long-term stability of Prof. Turkheimer’s findings. It is likely that as his pairs of twins increase in age, the correlations between the MZ and DZ IQ scores will move steadily in directions that indicate heritability of intelligence for children of all SES levels.
Another finding supporting the view that the black-white IQ gap has a genetic origin is the consistent phenomenon of regression to the mean. There is a powerful tendency for extreme or “outlier” values in any normally-distributed variable to “regress” to the average value of that variable. For example, when very tall people marry, they do not generally have children who are even taller, but ones who, though tall, are not as tall as their parents. Likewise, people with very high or low IQs do not continue to produce children with progressively higher or lower IQs. Their children likewise “regress” in the direction of the average.
At the same time, anyone with a very high (or low) IQ is likely to have parents or siblings with IQs closer to the average. For example, any given person with an IQ of 140 may turn out to have a sibling with an even higher IQ, but usually the family members of such a person have IQs closer to the group mean. When very intelligent whites and blacks are matched for the same high IQs and other variables are controlled, the family members of the blacks have lower IQs than family members of the whites. This suggests the black family members are regressing towards a lower group mean (generally found to be 85) than the white family members, who are regressing towards a mean of 100. It is difficult to understand how “racism,” poverty, etc., can explain why the brothers and sisters of a high-IQ black should have lower IQs than those of an equally high-IQ white of similar background.
There is a test that might lay to rest the question of race and IQ. Current studies that compare white and black IQ scores are always open to the theoretical objection that American society is so harshly anti-black that genetic equality with whites is smothered by the effects of “racism.” This objection could be overcome by testing a sample only of black Americans who all, presumably, face the same oppressive environment. Because almost all American blacks are racially mixed to some degree, it would be possible to determine whether IQ rises as the proportion of white genes increases.
It is now easy to determine the precise ancestral mix of anyone, by using autosomal DNA testing. The Ancestry by DNA test offered by DNA Print Genomics, Inc. (https://www.dnaprint. com) gives an accurate reading of the percentage of ancestry that is white, Asian, American Indian or black. By focusing on actual racial-genetic ancestry rather than on perceived or self-identified race, the test could measure objective racial correlations with intelligence rather than bog down in debates about “socially defined” groups.
Similar methods have already shown there is a clear link between sub-Saharan African ancestry and obesity. Why not for IQ? Does IQ in the broadly-defined “black” population drop as genetic African ancestry increases? Since black Americans of varying racial proportions are all, socially speaking, equally “black” and equally subject to “racism,” such a connection would be strong evidence of a genetic cause for the racial gap in IQ.
Whites also have varying ancestries. Genetic studies have found that some “whites” have enough African (and American Indian) genes to overlap with the lower end of the “African-American” scale. If it were discovered that within a “socially-defined” white American population IQ varied with African ancestry, that, too, would be strong evidence for a genetic link between race and IQ. One could expand this approach to a country like Brazil, where a large fraction of the “white” upper class has significant African ancestry. Does IQ vary among whites according to percentage of African genes?
Perhaps there is a threshold for African admixture below which the effect is not seen, in which case results would be clearer among blacks than whites. Or, there may be a nearly constant decrease in intelligence as black ancestry increases from zero to 100 percent. And there is always the theoretical possibility that African ancestry has no effect on IQ at all.
To return, finally, to the Turkheimer study, it does offer interesting results. IQ correlations generally thought to indicate heritability of intelligence were far less pronounced for poor children than for rich children. These findings may or may not be replicated. If they are replicated, what do they mean? Prof. Turkheimer does not claim they justify Head Start or anything else, and suggests only that intelligence may develop in poor children in ways we do not fully understand.
Mr. Weiss’s damage, however, is likely to go unrepaired. The Turkheimer paper has not produced the flood of delighted media coverage that would have followed if its contents really justified the Washington Post’s giddy conclusions. Still, thanks to the Post, defenders of Head Start and proponents of the view that whites are to blame for black failure will point with pride and confidence to a study they will never read and would not understand if they did read it. It is constant and — one is tempted to say deliberate — misrepresentation of this kind that makes it impossible to discuss race honestly in this country, much less establish sensible policies.
Michael Rienzi is the pen-name of a biologist working in the Northeast.
Notes on Baseball
Lack of ‘diversity’ leads to championship.
Picked by most analysts to finish third or fourth in the National League Eastern Division, the Florida Marlins became the Cinderella team of Major League Baseball, going from last place in May to defeat the $180-million payroll New York Yankees in the World Series. Jack McKeon engineered this amazing turnaround at 72 years of age, the third oldest manager in major league history, trailing only Hall of Famers Connie Mack (87) and Casey Stengel (75). Mr. McKeon went on to be selected National League Manager of the Year, and to top it off, in late November, his neighbors in Alamance County, North Carolina, named him Grand Marshal of the local Christmas parade. For those who were paying attention, there was an interesting lesson here about “diversity.”
Off to a poor start under manager Jeff Torborg, the Marlins were 16-22 and buried in last place when the team fired Mr. Torborg and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg on May 10. Owner Jeffrey Loria then hired Jack McKeon, who had been puttering around his farm near Elon, North Carolina, since being fired as Cincinnati Reds manager after the 2000 season.
Mr. McKeon didn’t know he was being interviewed for the manager’s job when owner Jeffrey Loria invited him to lunch. Mr. McKeon thought Mr. Loria just wanted to compare notes with an experienced old timer, but two days later, Mr. Loria called and asked him to manage the team for the rest of the year. The Marlins didn’t expect to win their division, much less go to the World Series. They just hoped to play respectably and build toward next season. Under Mr. McKeon, the Marlins posted the best record in baseball during the final four months of the season, and edged out the Chicago Cubs to become National League champs. Down 2-1 in the World Series, they won three in a row to beat the New York Yankees in their home stadium.
In hiring Mr. McKeon, who is white, without interviewing any other candidates, the Marlins violated Baseball Commissar Bud Selig’s minority-hiring “guidelines.” In 1999, Mr. Selig sent a letter to teams, requiring them to notify him of certain job vacancies, including manager. Teams are supposed to provide a list of non-white candidates, and the Commissioner’s Office reviews them before anyone new may be hired.
The Marlins were fined a “substantial” amount by Major League Baseball for failing to follow Mr. Selig’s minority-hiring diktat. MLB senior vice president Rich Levin refused to disclose the size of the fine, but ESPN and other sports news services speculate that it ranged anywhere from $100,000 to $2 million.
After the World Series, all complaints stopped about the Marlin’s decision to hire an old white guy instead of some black, Hispanic, or Asian, and Commissar Selig has been noticeably silent about the fine. When asked about it by ESPN, he said he would not discuss the subject, disingenuously telling reporters, “I never comment on club matters.” Mr. McKeon quipped, “I’ll say one thing, the AARP ought to make Jeff Loria their Man of the Year for hiring a guy like me.” From short-term fix to Manager of the Year, Mr. McKeon, who celebrated his 73rd birthday on November 23, will be back for at least one more season in 2004.
Wayne Lutton, at one time an aspiring knuckleball pitcher, sports a Ph.D. in military history and is editor of The Social Contract.
White Men Meet Indians
Jamestown and the clash of civilizations.
David A. Price, Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003, 300 pp., $25.95.
Everyone has heard of Jamestown, Captain John Smith, and Pocahontas, but most Americans know few details about the clash of races and civilizations that marked the arrival of the English in Virginia in 1607. Love and Hate in Jamestown is a fascinating, readable account of the early days of the colony that treats the cultural collision with none of the anti-white hysteria now common in historical writing. Author David Price clearly admires Captain John Smith, and though many of the other Englishmen he writes about were greedy, naïve, or lazy, they came seeking better lives, not conquest or domination. In today’s terms, Jamestown was a port of entry for illegal immigrants. What followed was an early exercise in diversity that brought tragedy for the English and oblivion for the Indians. It has lessons for us today.
The Virginia Company of London had no romantic or swashbuckling pretensions. It was a money-making venture with three aims: to find gold, discover a passage to the Pacific, and — a distant third — bring Christianity to the natives. The 105 colonists who arrived in 1607 were so sure of finding gold they entered into what now seem very reckless contracts: In exchange for a one-way ticket to America and a share in the profits, they bound themselves to a set period of service in Virginia — it appears to have been seven years — during which they received no pay, had to obey orders, and could not leave. There were no women in this first group.
Unlike the Spaniards, who had a reputation for massacre, they were determined to treat the Indians lovingly. They would bring civilization and Christianity so that, as one of the company’s backers wrote of the natives he had never met, “Their children when they come to be saved, will blesse the day when first their fathers saw your faces.” About half the colonists were “gentlemen,” with no experience or expectation of manual labor, but all were in for a shock. As Mr. Price writes, they arrived “with pure hearts and empty heads, expecting to find riches, welcoming natives, and an easy life on the other shore.” Most were dead before the year was out.
The passage to the New World should have been a sign of trouble to come. It took from January 5 to March 23 to get to the West Indies, and another month to sail the 1,500 miles north to Virginia. Along with 39 sailors, the men were crammed into three small ships, of which the largest was only 15 feet across at its widest point. There were sharp disagreements on board, the nature of which have not been recorded, and the leaders of the expedition kept John Smith prisoner for most of the voyage. During a stop at a Caribbean island they even built a gibbet for him, but with his usual knack for survival (see sidebar), he talked his way out of the noose.
On April 26, the ships reached Virginia, and the colonists quickly met Indians. The initial contacts are well recorded, as are the English attitudes to what they referred to as “the naturals.” Both are instructive, and are hardly consistent with the now-standard image of rapacious colonization. Mr. Price emphasizes that the colonists had entirely benevolent intentions. “The English,” he wrote “did not believe that white people like themselves were innately superior and the natives innately inferior . . . [as] savagery was only the starting point for a people’s progression toward modernity.” He explains further: “The English did not exclude themselves from the progression: in the days of the Roman conquest, as the English now saw it, the Britons themselves were savages. The civilizing influence of the Roman conquerors, and later of the Christian gospel, had lifted the English up from savagery. Supporters of the colony expected it to bestow the same benefits on the natives . . .”
Mr. Price adds that the English thought of the Indians essentially as white people, unlike Moors or black Africans, whom they considered fundamentally different from themselves. At first, they were convinced Indians were born white, but that constant painting discolored their bodies. The English were careful to settle only on uninhabited land, and looked forward to trade and cooperation. It was clearly the Indians who, not unnaturally, saw the colonists as invaders and were determined to dislike them.
There was trouble the first day ashore. As the English were returning to the beach, a band of five Indians ambushed them with bow and arrow, wounding two. The English chased them off with musket fire but hit no one. Smith, who observed the engagement while still a prisoner on board ship, noted that the Indians’ weapons were more accurate than muskets, and that their rate of fire was faster.
The next day, the English met no natives but they found oysters cooking over a fire, which Indians had obviously left behind in a hurry as the strangers approached. The colonists helped themselves, and found the oysters “very large and delicate in taste.” Several days later, they met Indians, and succeeded in making gestures of peace. The Indians led them to their village, fed them, and performed a dance, which involved, in the words of one visitor “shouting, howling, and stamping against the ground, with many antic tricks and faces, making noise like so many wolves or devils.”
The English spent about two weeks looking for a place to settle. They met various tribes — some friendly, some not — but there was no bloodshed. On May 14, they chose the present site of Jamestown, and the leaders finally released Smith from confinement, since all hands were needed to help build the settlement. The colony president, Edward-Maria Wingfield, decreed that since the English came in peace there would be no fortifications and no training in the use of weapons. During the first few days, Indians made friendly visits, fascinated by metal weapons, tools, and the trinkets the colonists brought to trade.
On the fourth day, a chief named Wowinchopunck arrived with about 100 armed men. The English nervously readied their weapons, and there was a standoff. An Indian picked up an English hatchet and refused to put it down. There was a scuffle, and the chief “went suddenly away with all his company in great anger.”
Shortly afterwards, 23 men including Smith set out to do the company’s work of looking for gold and a passage to the Pacific. On this trip they learned of the extent of what was called the Powhatan empire. The great chief controlled the entire eastern part of what is now Virginia, and though local tribes had some autonomy, he had firm control.
The exploring party found no gold and no route to the East, and had another disappointment when they returned on May 26. Just the day before, hundreds of natives had attacked the settlement, killing an English boy and wounding a dozen men, one of whom later died. The colonists managed to panic the attackers with canon fire — without which they might well have been massacred — and killed at least one Indian. These were the first deaths on both sides. Jamestown was not even two weeks old.
Wingfield decided the settlement would have to be fortified after all, and the men built the triangular palisade with gun emplacements at the corners now familiar to school children. From that point on, there were sporadic attacks, but no deaths for another week. On May 31, a man who had been outside the palisade came running back inside with six arrows stuck in him, and died a week later.
Not all contact with Indians was violent. The English learned that it was the Paspahegh tribe, their nearest neighbors, that most disliked them. Although the English thought they had settled on unclaimed land, the Paspahegh considered it theirs. Indians who lived farther away were more friendly and willing to trade. This was the reverse of what the English had hoped for — it was the Indians with whom they had most contact who liked them least.
On June 22, the sailors, who were not subject to Virginia Company rules, set sail for England. They had been the most productive workers, and for reasons that are not entirely clear, work on the settlement all but stopped. The “gentlemen” refused to work, but so did many others. Everyone seems to have thought the ships were going to come back full of food. As Smith wrote in disgust, the colonists were “in such despaire as they would rather starve and rot with idleness, then be perswaded to do anything for their owne reliefe without constraint.” Freeloading was a big problem. Everyone shared the common food supply, so there was little reward for individual effort.
The summer brought several nasty surprises. Jamestown was marshy, and what had been good drinking water in April turned brackish in June. Mosquitoes brought malaria. The stores from England began to run out, but anyone who went hunting risked being killed by Indians. Men began to die from disease and malnutrition. At times only five men were strong enough to stand guard or drag the dead out of the fort. Nearly half the colonists died, and the rest expected to be massacred. To their surprise, Indians came to trade food for beads and hatchets. Chief Powhatan appears not to have realized how weak the English were, and how easily he could have exterminated them. At this low point, the colony elected John Smith as its leader. He tightened up discipline, and established the rule that those who did not work would not eat.
That winter, after the men had recovered somewhat from sickness, Smith set out again to hunt for gold and the Pacific. It was on this trip that he had his famous encounter with Pocahontas. At one point he split his party in two, leaving seven men on a boat with strict orders not to venture onto land where they could be ambushed. However, Chickahominy warriors set out women on the shore, and had them gesture pleasingly to the English. They went ashore, only to be attacked, and all but one, George Cassen, scrambled back to the boat. This, as Mr. Price tells it, is what happened to Cassen:
“The natives prepared a large fire behind the bound and naked body. Then a man grasped his hands and used mussel shells to cut off joint after joint, making his way through cassen’s fingers, tossing the pieces into the flames. That accomplished, the man used shells and reeds to detach the skin from Cassen’s face and the rest of his head. Cassen’s belly was next, as the man sliced it open, pulled out his bowels, and cast those onto the fire. Finally the natives burned Cassen at the stake through to the bones.”
While this was going on, Indians attacked Smith’s group, killed his companions, and captured Smith. The men brought him to one of Powhatan’s younger brothers, Opechancanough, who would play a significant role in later years. It appears to have been a very near thing whether Smith would be carved up and burnt in pieces, too, but he claimed to be a chief, and it was not the custom to torture chiefs. Opechancanough decided to take him back to Powhatan for a final verdict, but marched his captive from village to village for several weeks before taking him before the chief of chiefs.
Smith began to understand that Opechancanough wanted to attack Jamestown, so he lied stoutly about its defenses. He also persuaded his captors to let him send a message back to Jamestown, claiming that if his men thought he was harmed they would come and wreak terrible vengeance (Smith had an unusual gift for bluffing; the colonists were in no state to mount a punitive expedition). He wrote on a page from his notebook that the colonists were to terrify the Indian messengers with a demonstration of cannon fire, and to send back certain gifts. The messengers came back suitably terrified, and astonished that the colonists had given them exactly what Smith said they would. They had no writing, and thought Smith had made the piece of paper talk.
Smith spent Christmas as a prisoner, and did not meet Powhatan until the new year. He estimated the great chief to be in his sixties or seventies, and was greatly impressed by his bearing and aura of command. Powhatan wanted to know what the colonists’ intentions were, and Smith lied again, saying they had come ashore only after losing a battle on the seas with enemies, and would go back to England soon. He bragged again about how vengeful the English were, implying that Powhatan had better treat him well or reap the consequences.
It didn’t work. Powhatan ordered his men to force Smith’s head down on a large rock and dash out his brains. It was then that Pocahontas, age 11 or 12 and the favorite of Powhatan’s many children, scampered out of the crowd, put her head over Smith’s and begged for his life. Smith believed it was nothing more than a gesture of kindness from the child, who had a lively curiosity and wanted to know more about this strange visitor rather than see him executed. Powhatan agreed to spare his life if Smith would promise to send two cannon and a grindstone. Smith could hardly decline.
On his return to Jamestown on January 2, 1608, Smith found the colony in a bad way. There had been more Indian attacks, and only about 40 of the original 105 settlers were still alive. Several had taken over the remaining ship, and were about to sail back to England. Company rules forbade defection, and Smith trained cannon on the ship to prevent escape.
He also had to deal with the 12 men Powhatan had sent back with him to haul home the grindstone and cannons. Smith, who had a sense of humor, offered the men two culvereins, which weighed about 3,000 pounds each. The Indians could not even lift them, much less drag them through the woods, and left without them.
Such were the contacts with the Indians during the first half year of the Jamestown colony. The English meant no provocation, but their very presence was a provocation. From time to time Indians found it useful to trade with the colony, or to enlist its help in quarrels with enemies, but their abiding attitude was hostility. Many men back in England — and many who came later to Virginia — continued to believe harmonious relations were possible with the “naturals,” but Smith soon understood uneasy toleration was the best the English could expect.
Still, there were gestures of amity. The English left a boy in Powhatan’s village to learn Indian ways and master the language. The Indians left a boy with the English, who was later taken to England for exhibition by the Virginia Company as one of its many money-raising schemes. Pocahontas took to visiting Jamestown, where she played with the English boys, and got better acquainted with Smith.
Throughout this period, the English were still convinced they would find gold. They sent boatloads of fool’s gold back to England, and the company sent miners to Virginia. Once again, Mr. Price tells us, Smith was among the first to shake off illusion. He laughed at the “gilded dirt” the English kept bringing in, reasoning that if there were gold nearby, the natives would have found it just as the South Americans had before the Spanish arrived.
During the spring of 1608, as the colony marked its first year of existence, there were no all-out attacks by Indians, but Powhatan proposed to trade turkeys for swords. Smith, who had no intention of arming a potential enemy, said no. Powhatan started sending small parties of men to try to steal things, and at one point the English caught and locked up a dozen thieves. Smith sent a message to Powhatan, saying that if the spades, shovels, swords, and tools the Indians had stolen were not returned, he would hang the prisoners. The Indians then caught two colonists and proposed an exchange.
Smith, his numbers reinforced by a new installment of colonists, went on a punitive expedition, in which he killed no one, but burned villages and destroyed canoes. Powhatan returned the two colonists. Smith learned from his Indian prisoners that Powhatan planned to hold a feast for the English, kill them while they were off guard, and take all their weapons and tools. Smith released the prisoners, but his bluster and resolution seem to have cowed them. For a time there was uneasy peace.
Mr. Price recognizes the wisdom of Smith’s firm approach to the Indians. These were not gentle children of nature yearning for Christianity. “The alternative to intimidation was not love and friendship,” he writes, “it was open war — which the English, in 1608, would have lost to the last man.”
Smith sent frank letters back to the company, explaining that Virginia was a failure as a get-rich-quick scheme, that sending over titled layabouts to look for gold was folly. It was a rich country, he explained, but one suited for farmers and fishermen rather than gold miners. His messages began to sink in and the company began to send more suitable colonists.
Powhatan seems to have vacillated between trying to starve out the English and seeing what he could get out of them by trade. By the winter of 1608, the colonists were nearly out of food. Powhatan offered grain in return for an English-style house, guns, swords, copper and beads. Smith was desperate for supplies, and accepted the offer except for the weapons. Then followed what may have been the first act of European race treachery on North American soil.
Smith sent more than a dozen tradesmen to build Powhatan’s house, including two German glass-makers for the windows. The Germans, who had never been to Powhatan’s village, were impressed by the large stores of food, and decided to go over to the Indians. They told Powhatan about Jamestown’s defenses, and offered to go back to the colony and steal weapons.
Meanwhile, when Smith showed up for the food, Pocahontas once again saved his life by warning him about a plan to kill him and his men when they had set their weapons aside to eat. They kept their weapons at the ready while they ate, as the strapping, fierce-looking men who had brought the meal looked on in obvious frustration. Smith returned to Jamestown with enough food to tide the colony over the winter.
During their trips to Jamestown to steal weapons, the Germans persuaded six or seven Englishmen to gather weapons and help arm the Indians. Early in 1609, Smith learned about the treachery. With uncharacteristic forbearance, he offered to pardon the Germans if they came back, and they accepted. After a month in Jamestown, however, they went back to Powhatan and offered to turn their coats again. They told him about plans for a new shipment of several hundred new colonists, and offered to collect information on the grandee who was coming to replace Smith. Powhatan is reported to have said, “You that would have betrayed Captaine Smith to mee, will certainely betray me to this great lord . . .” He then had his men beat out their brains with clubs.
Smith continued to explore, getting as far as Delaware, and the future site of Washington, DC. However, by 1609 he had made so many enemies among the gentlemen that the company cashiered him and brought him back to England. He never returned to Virginia. By this time there were about 500 people in Jamestown, but the newcomers were still, as Mr. Price explains, “looking forward to lives of idle leisure supported by supplies from London, food from the natives, and gold from the ground.” This was because the Virginia Company strictly controlled all news about the colony, even censoring private letters, so as not to discourage potential investors and colonists with tales of torture and starvation. The deluded colonists were still not growing enough food to feed themselves.
After Powhatan had met the incompetents who replaced Smith, he began attacking the colony again with surprise raids. His men massacred a party of English who went looking for food, and left their bodies for the others to find, with bread stuffed in their mouths.
A ship that went out to trade with Powhatan came back empty, and with only 16 of the 50 men who had set out on the trip. The commander had not taken the usual precautions with the Indians, and got the usual treatment of slow dismemberment and burning. “And so for want of circumspection [he] miserably perished,” recorded one of his contemporaries.
During the winter of 1609-1610, which came to be known as “the starving time,” Powhatan nearly succeeded in wiping out the colony. By March 1610, 400 out of the 500 Smith had left behind were dead of starvation or Indian attacks. Another 36 stole a boat and did a flit back to England. The English were so hungry they ate their dead comrades, and one man even killed and ate his pregnant wife. Once after an Indian attack, the English buried a dead Indian, but several days later, regretting their improvidence, dug him up and ate him.
The colony came within a hair’s breadth of abandonment, and Mr. Price tells the dramatic story of how the English were saved. He goes on to tell of Pocahontas’s kidnapping, her conversion to Christianity, and her 1614 marriage to John Rolfe, which brought peace with the Indians. Mr. Price also mentions the arrival in 1619 of the first Africans, noting that the English did not have any illusions that they were potentially white: “Notions of black racial inferiority seem to have been firmly in place in the colony from the start.”
During this time of peace with the Indians, the authorities threw themselves again into the idea of loving and Christianizing the “naturals.” They set aside 10,000 acres of land on the site of Pocahontas’s conversion, to be used as a Christian college for Indians. A leader named George Thorpe was particularly solicitous of Indians. Unlike in the old days, they came and went freely in the colony and in the satellite colonies that sprang up along the river banks. When Indians complained that dogs were frightening them, Thorpe had the dogs publicly hanged. Thorpe even had an English-style house built for Opechancanough, brother of Powhatan who captured Smith, and who became the new chief after Powhatan’s death in 1618.
Opechancanough did not, however, have a favorite daughter married to an Englishman. He resented the steady growth of the colony, and hatched a plot to be rid of it. On March 22, 1622, Indians arrived among the English, unarmed as usual, taking their places at breakfast tables and workplaces. However, when the colonists were least suspecting it, they rose up and killed as many as they could with anything they could get their hands on. Fortunately for the colony, the main population at Jamestown got warning early that day. The men kept their arms by their sides, and the Indians did nothing. Elsewhere, they achieved complete surprise, slaughtering and mutilating men, women, and children. To Thorpe, their celebrated benefactor, they “did so many barbarous despights and foule scornes after to his dead corpse, as are unbefitting to be heard by any civill eare,” according to a contemporary chronicler. Of an estimated 1,200 colonists, the Indians managed to kill about 400.
This was a great setback for the colony, but the English spent a year making war on the Indians, and in March 1623, Opechancanough sued for terms. The English pretended to agree, and brought a great cask of wine to the peace celebration. After much friendly speechifying, the Indians drank the wine — poisoned by the English — and about 200 died. Later that year the English signed a real peace treaty with Opechancanough, and the two peoples gradually returned to their old ways of peaceful intercourse.
Amazingly, in 1644, Opechancanough masterminded an identical sneak attack, and this time managed to kill between 400 and 500 people. The impact was not as great, since the colony had grown bigger still, but this time the English did not stop until they had killed a great many Indians, including Opechancanough. In 1646, the Virginia General Assembly noted that the natives were “so routed and dispersed that they are no longer a nation, and we now suffer only from robbery by a few starved outlaws.”
It is clear from Mr. Price’s account that the English approached the Indians with about as much goodwill as it is possible for one alien people to approach another. To have established the conditions that made it possible for the Indians to mingle so freely with the colonists they could manage the massacre of 1622 shows a high level of trust, which the Indians brutally betrayed. For the English to have then so lowered their guard that the same Indian chief could slaughter another 500 colonists 21 years later in exactly the same way, again shows how much the English were prepared to trust their neighbors. Had the Indians taken the same benevolent view of the English, it is possible to imagine peaceful trade, missionary work, and perhaps even large-scale miscegenation and eventual absorption. The colonists, for their part, seem to have brought to Virginia no preconceptions that would have prevented such a result.
For the Indians, however, the English brought no possible outcome — be it conversion, assimilation, or absorption — that meant anything but their destruction as a people. In delaying their all-out assault on the colony until there were too many English to exterminate, they ensured their own physical rather than merely cultural or genetic destruction. Even if they had succeeded in wiping out Jamestown during the “starving time,” the English — or someone else — would have come eventually. By the 17th century, Europeans were too ambitious to leave an entire continent in the hands of stone-age savages.
It is instructive to note that nearly 400 years later, the whites who have now taken possession of the continent have lost none of the illusions of the Jamestown colonists. As whites, in their turn, suffer invasion by aliens they persist in believing that with enough love and generosity, the children of today’s illegal immigrants “will blesse the day when first their fathers saw their faces.” This, of course, was the illusion that led to the massacres of 1622 and 1644. It is only whites who believe in and try to practice multiracialism and peaceful coexistence.
The future probably holds nothing so dramatic for today’s whites as the Jamestown massacres, but if they do nothing, what is in store for them is the gradual dispossession that awaited the Indians had they not brought about physical destruction through futile acts of violence. Yet again, whites seem prepared to pay the price for believing that others are no different from themselves.
The Adventures of Captain John
John Smith’s biography is a tale of heroism and narrow escapes that reads like a James Bond novel minus the girls. He was born in 1580 to a simple farmer, just one step above grinding poverty. He became a soldier as a route to better things, and as a teenager fought with the Dutch in the war of independence from Spain. Afterwards, he withdrew to the English countryside for a year and immersed himself in the theoretical and practical arts of war.
In 1601, he joined the Austrian forces in Hungary that were fighting the occupying armies of the Ottoman Empire. He was captured in 1602 and sold into slavery, where he was fitted with an iron ring around his neck and toiled on a Turkish farm. One day, his master rode up on a horse as he worked in the fields. He killed the man, stole his clothes and horse, and rode to freedom.
It was perhaps his experience as a soldier fighting in foreign battlefields that gave him his tactical shrewdness when dealing with the Indians. He studied them carefully in the hope of understanding them exactly as they were, and not as imagined symbols of either nobility or depravity. Indeed, he left the best ethnographic records of the Virginia Indians.
He badly wanted to go back to Virginia to run the colony, but had offended too many “gentlemen” ever to win reappointment. Still, his adventures were by no means over. He explored Massachusetts 10 years before the Mayflower sailed. He battled pirates, was betrayed by his men, was captured by the French, nearly died in wild escapes, and still found time to write the then-standard accounts of the New World.
Although in the popular imagination he is romantically linked with Pocahontas, she was only a child during his two years in Virginia. Smith never married, and left no children when he died in 1631.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
A new Dartmouth College study claims to show that “racism” makes you stupid. A team led by Prof. Jennifer Richeson recruited 30 white college students and had them take an Implicit Association Test (IAT) supposedly to measure racial bias. The students sat before a screen with two buttons. If a “positive” word, such as “beauty” or a name like Nancy with no ethnic connotations appeared on the screen, they were supposed to push the left button. For anything else, they were to push the right button. After the first session, a number of black names like Tyrone or Kaneesha appeared on the screen. The greater the difference in the reaction to the black names, the greater the prejudice was assumed to be.
After the IAT, students spoke briefly with a black member of the research team, and then took an intelligence test known as the Stroop test. According to the study, the most biased students did worst on the Stroop test. As a further step, the scientists connected the students to a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, which can measure activity levels in different areas of the brain. They then showed photographs of black and white men. The more biased a student was according to the IAT score, the more activity the scientists found in the “executive control” part of the brain, which reportedly indicates a conscious effort to control inappropriate thinking.
Prof. Richeson says prejudiced people try so hard not to do or say anything inappropriate when they encounter people of another race that the struggle temporarily overworks the executive control center. “It’s almost like working a muscle,” she says. “If you work it out too much then you can’t lift any more weight.” She says people are “getting caught in this trap where they are trying not to do the wrong thing, rather than trying to act naturally.”
Some experts are already saying that Dr. Richeson’s technique may some day be used to screen people, such as police recruits, for racial bias. Others are hailing the study as the most successful attempt yet to use neuroscience to explain racism. Stanford psychology professor John Gabrieli is already happily concluding that “just having prejudice makes you stupider.” Whether or not the test is really measuring what it claims to measure, it would be interesting to see results with black test subjects. [Gareth Cook, Bias Taxes Brain, Research Finds, Boston Globe, Nov. 17, 2003. David Adam, Inside the Mind of a Racist: Scans May Reveal Brain’s Hidden Centres of Prejudice, Guardian (London), Nov. 17, 2003.]
More Police Racism
Darrell Shaw, who is white, is a ten-year veteran of the Portland, Oregon, police force. On Nov. 18, he got into what may be serious trouble when he answered a call at a hip-hop club with a stuffed, toy gorilla tied to the grille of his police cruiser. “I think everyone was kind of shocked,” says Clyde Fulkerson, manager of Ringlers Pub. “It’s either a real ignorant, insensitive policeman or an insensitive, racist policeman.” Patrons were furious, and some used cell phone cameras to record the outrage.
Why did Officer Shaw have a toy gorilla tied to his car? At 1:21 a.m. on the day in question, he was despatched to a strip club, where there was a report of a disorderly drunk. He found Robert Fowlkes, race unspecified but well known to police, cuffed him, and put him in the back of his patrol car. Mr. Fowlkes has a habit of carrying around a stuffed, toy gorilla that he bought for 25 cents at a thrift shop, and he had it with him that night. Officer Shaw says it was soaking wet and stank of vomit or urine, and he didn’t want it in his car. He knew Mr. Fowlkes would be upset if he threw it away, so he tied it to the front of his car to let it air out. At 2:34 a.m. Officer Shaw got a call about a fight at the hip-hop club, and this is why he arrived among the black patrons with the apparently unforgivable decoration on his cruiser.
Police Chief Derrick Foxworth has heard Officer Shaw’s explanation but says there will be a full investigation anyway. “We’ve opened a case and will attempt to make contacts with witnesses,” adds Richard Rosenthal, who is in charge of disciplinary hearings. [Maxine Bernstein, Officer Apologizes for Having Stuffed Gorilla on Car, Oregonian (Portland), Nov. 25, 2003.]
Rio Grande de Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state, is its most European, populated largely by the descendants of German, Polish, and Italian immigrants who arrived early in the 20th century. They tend to be tall, blonde, and blue- or green-eyed, and supply almost all of Brazil’s models. The world’s number-one model, Gisèle Bündchen, is from Rio Grande de Sul, and the man who discovered her, Dilson Stein, hopes to find more like her. “The mixture [of ethnicities] means you get these marvelous-looking women,” he says. [Alex Bellos, Tan, Tall, Lithe, and Lovely — Girls from Brazil Rule Catwalks, The Observer, (London) Nov. 3, 2003.]
A ‘Gubba’ is Vindicated
In early 2000, the board of the Boree Aboriginal Corporation (BAC), in New South Wales, Australia, decided to purge its supervisory staff of “gubbas,” Aborigine slang for whites. Among them was Sharon Carr, whom the board fired in June 2000, after nearly two years employment. The BAC also refused to pay her 100 hours of overtime, even though Aborigines normally received overtime pay.
Miss Carr fought the firing in court on the grounds that it violated the Australian Race Discrimination Act, and won. The BAC must now pay her $25,000 for lost wages, legal fees, and damages. The judge in the case said that Miss Carr also deserved a written apology for the “hurt, upset, and humiliation” she had experienced. “People don’t like not to be given a job because they’re black, or not given a go because they are black,” said Miss Carr. “If they don’t like to be judged in a certain way, they shouldn’t do the same thing to others.” [Leonie Lemont, Sacked Woman Gets Payout over Discrimination, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Oct. 17, 2003.]
The Wrong Friends
Eric J. Moore, a black Milwaukee police officer, has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing his black supervisors of denying him promotions because he associates with whites. “I have been repeatedly denied a promotion despite my being qualified and having more tenure than the selectees,” he says. “Upper management has made known their biases against me because of my race and association with non-blacks.”
Mr. Moore has collected many statements to substantiate his complaint. He says police chief and mayoral candidate Arthur L. Jones called him a “shuffling-okey-dokey-for-the-white-man type of brother.” Mr. Moore’s former supervisor Leslie Barber reportedly said that he would not be promoted because he “runs around here talking to those damn white people.” Finally, Mr. Moore says another former supervisor gave this advice: “Don’t be a court jester like Eric Moore and be entertainment for these white folks. Eric be running around here and shucking and jiving, skinning and grinning in these white folks’ faces and he should realize . . . they don’t really like his ass.” [Black Officer: Befriending Whites Cost Promotion, WorldNet Daily.com, Nov. 13, 2003.]
On Oct. 7, graffiti appeared at Wellesley High School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, saying, “On October 15 or 17 the school will burn and there will be no blacks in our schools.” This prompted a police investigation and much public hand-wringing. A week later, police had found the culprit: a 16-year-old black boy who had been bused into the predominantly white suburban school district for 11 years. Wellesley responded by showering the troublemaker with compassion and sensitivity. Deborah Ward, who is responsible for the school’s desegregation program, says, “It’s like having a sibling who’s in trouble. We’re all one. Most of the kids will rally ‘round that person.” Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara suggests that the solution to any racial problems at the school is to increase the number of black students. [Anand Vaishnav and Suzanne Sataline, Wellesley School Links Graffiti to Metco Teen, Boston Globe, Oct. 15, 2003. Eileen McNamara, Ugly Scrawl Hits Home, Boston Globe, Oct. 15, 2003.]
There was a more vigorous response to a racial hoax at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Student Jaime Saide claimed to have found anti-Hispanic slurs written near his dormitory room, and said a man had put a knife to his throat and insulted Hispanics. He used this story to great effect at an anti-discrimination rally. A few days later, police arrested him for fabricating the story, and charged him with felony disorderly conduct, which can carry a three-year prison term. Mr. Saide said he made up the story “to motivate minority students and staff to the problems of racism.” [Lisa Black, Police Say Hate Crimes Faked, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 19, 2003.]
Last June’s Supreme Court Grutter and Gratz decisions on racial preferences in higher education were so unclear that colleges are having trouble figuring what is still permitted, and many legal battles lie ahead for colleges determined to discriminate against whites. “This is a war, and we are in the middle of it,” says Tom Parker, Dean of Admissions at Amherst College. One area of dispute is “minority outreach” programs, under which promising non-whites get all-expenses-paid visits to campus. Many colleges are taking no chances, and are extending outreach to whites. Administrators at Amherst fear this will lead to a “resegregation” of campuses. It also remains to be seen whether race-exclusive clubs, student organizations, and housing are still legal.
Another burden on colleges is that they must gear their preferences towards getting a “critical mass” of non-whites, and can no longer justify them with vague claims that they are making up for “past discrimination.” The language of preferences has gotten tricky. The term “affirmative action,” according to legal consultant Arthur L. Coleman, is no longer to be used in statements of college policy because it has become a “red flag.” “Underrepresented minority” is also no longer acceptable. “[U]nderrepresentation is not a concept that jibes very well with critical mass,” says Angelo N. Ancheta, legal director of Harvard University’s Civil Rights Project. The meaning and import of the term “critical mass” remain a subject of intense study for many college administrators, who say more research is needed on the concept.
As many predicted, the main effect of the rulings may only be to encourage colleges to conceal what they are doing, not stop doing it. The Gratz decision forbade a point system of racial preferences, yet Mr. Ancheta has told college officials, “Be wary of using a point system. If you advertise your point system, you are vulnerable to challenge.” He seems, in effect, to be telling colleges to lie. [Peter Schmidt, Affirmative Action Remains a Minefield, Mostly Unmapped, Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 24, 2003. Michael Dobbs, At Colleges, an Affirmative Reaction, Washington Post, Nov. 13, 2003.]
This is exactly the sort of thing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cannot stand. He recently lashed out against the Court when it refused to hear a case against the city of Denver, which had been accused of discriminating against white-owned businesses. It was clear to Justice Scalia that the legally necessary evidence of past discrimination against non-white businesses had not been produced. Without that evidence, he pointed out, “the only function of the preferences is to channel a fixed percentage of city contracting dollars to firms identified by race.” [Anne Gearan, Scalia Lashes out at Supreme Court Judges, AP, Nov. 17, 2003.]
In Time for Christmas
A new Christian rock opera is touring the nation. Called !Hero, it is about a dreadlock-wearing black Jesus, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who fights terrorists in New York. The musical is the brainchild of Eddie DeGarmo, described as a “Christian music veteran” who heads EMI Records’ Music Publishing Group. Mr. DeGarmo describes !Hero as “a very aggressive story” about a mysterious figure known as Hero, “who performs miracles, teaches, gains followers, and ends up on center stage.” Besides the musical, there are !Hero CDs, comic books, and novels. [Jim Remsen, A Modern Savior Wears Dreadlocks, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 2, 2003, p. C4.]
Battling the Bantu
In the November issue, we reported that the residents of Cayce, South Carolina, were upset that their town had been chosen to get 120 Somali Bantu refugees without their knowledge or consent. Local officials, worried that the Somalis would drain city and school resources, persuaded Rev. Richard Robinson, the local coordinator of resettlement for the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, to cut the number in half. They thought 60 was still too many, but had no say in the resettlement decision.
The US State Department has since decided not to resettle any Somalis in Cayce, citing “insufficient local community support.” This is good news for Cayce, but just pushes the problem somewhere else; all 120 Somalis are now headed for nearby Columbia. Rev. Robinson calls the decision by the State Department “devastating.” He has enlisted the support of more than 30 religious groups and other organizations to put pressure on Columbia and make sure it doesn’t turn away the Bantu.
Mayor Avery Wilkerson of Cayce says the city would have accepted two or three families, but no more. “When it was forced down on us, it caused a negative reaction,” he explains. “It became a fairness issue.” [Monique Angle, Cayce Will Not Get Bantus; Lack of Local Support Cited, The State (Columbia, S.C.), Oct. 8, 2003.]
Meanwhile, 181 other Bantu are headed for Pittsburgh, thanks to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Executive director Sister Patricia Cairns says the people of Cayce are misguided. The Bantu may be illiterate and may never have seen indoor plumbing but “they enrich our community,” she explains. [Chris Osher, 181 Refugees Pittsburgh Bound, Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh), Nov. 24, 2003.]
The US admitted 85,525 refugees in fiscal year 1999, 73,147 in 2000, and 69,304 in 2001. Improved screening following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks reduced the numbers, but did not halt the flow: 27,142 came in 2002 and 28, 421 in 2003. Under pressure from refugee advocacy groups, the Bush Administration has promised to increase the number to 70,000 during fiscal year 2004, which began October first.
Some congressmen want even more — at least 90,000 — but view the president’s goal as a good start. “Realistically, it’s not likely that we can get them to move immediately to a higher number,” says Rep. Christopher Shays (R-NJ). “But minimally, we want to make sure all 70,000 slots are used, and then get a bigger number next year.”
About 25,000 refugees will come from Africa, including several thousand from Somalia. Last summer, the Somalis rioted in their camp in Kenya, forcing US refugee workers to flee. The State Department has since spent $500,000 to fortify the camp, adding fences and guard towers, but still plans to bring the Somalis here. The department is also negotiating with China to bring in an unspecified number of North Korean refugees. [Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, U.S. Officials Aim to Admit More Refugees in 2004, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 3, 2004, p. A8.]
The United States Postal Service (USPS) publishes a magazine for employees and philatelists called Mailers Companion, and the July issue highlighted diversity. For the fourth year in a row, the magazine bragged, the USPS scored high on Fortune magazine’s list of the 50 Best Companies for Minorities, coming in 11th, far ahead of rivals UPS (26th) and FedEx (41st). No fewer than 36.6 percent of USPS employees are non-white — 21.2 percent black, 7.5 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian and 0.6 percent Indian. Non-whites are 20.5 percent of the top executives, and 31.3 percent of management as a whole. Thirty-seven percent of all new hires are non-white. [Devoted to Diversity, Mailers Companion (USPS), July 2003.]
When one computer controls the operations of another the two machines are called “master” and “slave.” Los Angeles County has now decided such language is offensive, and has asked computer companies to call their machines “primary” and “secondary.” A black employee in the Probation Department took offense at the traditional nomenclature. Dennis Tafoya, director of affirmative action for the county, concluded that the employee had not suffered outright discrimination because of this language, but decided the terms are “antiquated and offensive,” and has asked vendors to change their ways. “If it means culture change, then we have to begin someplace,” he explains. [Troy Anderson, County Deletes ‘Master-Slave’ PC Term, Daily News (Los Angeles), Nov. 25, 2003.]
No doubt male and female connectors will soon have to be renamed “convex” and “concave.”
The Southern Chinese have bizarre taste in food, and patronize animal markets that sell rats, dogs, goats, cats, snakes, and assorted birds. There is even a delicacy called “three-screams rat,” in which rats are eaten live. The rat is said to scream once when it is grabbed by chopsticks, the second time when it is dipped in vinegar, and the third time when it is bitten.
Wild animals are believed to be the source of SARS: many of the first SARS patients worked in the wild animal markets, and a virus similar to SARS has been discovered in the civet cat, an expensive delicacy. The Chinese government has tried to regulate the markets in order to exterminate the virus, but has not succeeded. [David Lynch, Wild Animal Markets May Be Breeding SARS, USA Today, Oct. 28, 2003.]
Mother of the Year
When Jacksonville, Florida, police arrested Dakeysha Telita Lee, 22, on aggravated assault and petty theft charges on September 10, she neglected to tell them her two-year-old daughter was home alone. The little girl lived on catsup, mustard, and uncooked pasta for more than two weeks before her father, who is separated from the mother, found her on September 28. She was sitting in front of the television, wearing only a towel, and was covered in filth and dried catsup. She is recovering from malnutrition in a Jacksonville hospital.
Ogden Lee said he had been trying to contact his estranged wife for some time, but did not know she was in jail. Mrs. Lee now faces an additional charge of felony child abuse, and remains in jail on $20,000 bond. [Girl, 2, Alone at Home While Mother in Jail, USA Today, Oct. 1, 2003.]
Joy of Diversity
As many as 5,000 women world-wide are murdered each year by relatives who believe the women have disgraced the family’s honor, usually because of a sexual indiscretion. Some women are even killed because of the shame they brought on the family by being raped. Most honor killings take place in Muslim or other Third-World countries, but the practice is coming to the West, along with immigration. In Britain, police say there were 12 honor killings in 2002. Abdalla Yones, for example, a Kurdish refugee who came to Britain 10 years ago, stabbed his daughter 11 times and slit her throat because she had become “too Westernized” and had taken up with a Lebanese Christian. A culturally sensitive court gave Mr. Yones just16 years for the murder. [Lyric Wallwork Winik, ‘Honor Killings’ Reach England, Parade Magazine, Nov. 9, 2003.]
Banned in Skokie
The first grade class at Madison School in Skokie, Illinois, was looking forward to the annual Thanksgiving party last November. Half had made Indian headdresses out of construction paper, and half made Pilgrim hats or bonnets. A parent said the Indian costumes were racially insensitive, but principal Pete Davis initially brushed the complaint aside. Later, however, he contacted two Indian organizations in Chicago, and “they advised us very strongly not to” wear headdresses. So, instead of the dress-up party, Mr. Davis invited Leonard Malatare of the American Indian Center to talk to the first-graders and give them a traditional blessing. Mr. Malatare says headdresses in first grade are the top of the slippery slope. “They’ll grow up with that image in their head,” he says. “I’ve had people come up and ask me if I was born in a teepee.” [No Pilgrims or Indians at Skokie First Grade Class, AP, Nov. 23, 2003.]
When whites discovered diamonds on land occupied by the Nama tribe near Alexander Bay, South Africa, in 1925, they took the land under the legal concept of terra nullius (empty land), which holds that uncivilized peoples do not have property rights. The Nama, who are similar to South African bushmen, were nomadic goat herders. The South African government opened a state-run diamond mine, and earlier this year, miners found a 111-carat diamond that fetched $3 million.
When the ANC took over in 1994, it passed the Land Restitution Act, under which indigenous people who lost land because of “racial discrimination” could file to reclaim it or receive financial compensation instead. The Nama went to court, but the ANC government, which now owns the diamond mine, opposed their claim — citing the doctrine of terra nullius. ANC lawyers argued that the 2,200 Nama, who live in tin shacks without running water or electricity, are still so backward they have no ownership rights, and that returning their land would “open the floodgates” to countless other frivolous claims.
“I use this word carefully,” says Gert de Wet, leader of the Nama, “but I am accusing the ANC government of being racist. In my view . . . the [brown-skinned] Nama people are not black enough to be treated fairly.” [Tim Butcher, Tribe Accuses ANC of ‘Diamond Apartheid,’ Telegraph (London), Sept. 13, 2003.]
On Oct. 14, South Africa’s constitutional court ruled in favor of the Nama, awarding them the land at Alexander Bay, the diamond mine, and compensation for all diamonds mined since 1925. The compensation alone amounts to an estimated $1.5 billion — more than $680,000 per Nama. [Tim Butcher, Tribesmen Win “900m Suit Over Diamonds, Telegraph (London), Oct. 15, 2003.]
Treason at Treasury
The FBI says the matricula consular card issued by Mexico to its citizens in the US is unreliable ID and can be easily forged. The General Services Administration does not accept the cards for access to federal buildings and, as we reported in October, Mexican banks do not consider them proof of identity. Many American banks, however, accept the matricula with the blessing of the US Treasury Department. On Sept. 18, the department said it would not withdraw its recognition of the matricula.
Banks are happy. Steven Bartlett, president of the Financial Services Roundtable, says, “This is a win for the matricula, a win for the economy and a win for our close ally Mexico.” His organization represents the 100 largest financial service companies.
Some utilities, libraries, hospitals and even several state and municipal governments — including police departments — accept the matricula consular. Montgomery County, Maryland, in suburban Washington, DC, decided in mid-September to let Mexican immigrants use the card to get county handouts. [Treasury Allows Mexican IDs for Bank Accounts, AP, Sept. 19, 2003.]
Coming Home to Roost
The Hispanic population of Nashville, Tennessee, officially stood at 35,000 in the 2000 Census, and at an estimated 47,000 in 2002. Yuri Cunza, director of Nashville’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says the real figure is closer to 100,000. He says one problem Hispanics face is that many don’t have health insurance and are “intimidated” by a medical system that requires prescriptions for many drugs. He is happy the Catholic charity, Saint Thomas Health Services, will spend $4 million to double the size of its street clinic, which serves an overwhelmingly Hispanic clientele. St. Thomas is a private hospital, but we can be sure that taxpayers contributed a substantial part of the $4 million. [M.B. Owens, New $4 Million Clinic Planned, The City Paper (Nashville), Nov. 4, 2003.]
Hispanics are as baffled by zoning as they are by prescriptions. County ordinances and health codes prohibit residents of Davidson County (Nashville) from keeping farm animals on their property. The ever-increasing numbers of Third-World immigrants moving into Davidson County are bringing their livestock with them anyway. County authorities now get many complaints about chickens wandering the roads and goats being slaughtered in back yards. Roosters can be even worse for insomniacs than barking dogs, and one woman complained her neighbor’s chickens had turned her front porch into a roost. [Diversity Brings Roaming Chickens, The City Paper (Nashville), Oct. 23, 2003, p. 6.]
A new study has found that the population of Nashville began declining in the late 1990s, as rich and even middle- and working-class residents began moving out. Poor people are replacing them, and the city fathers fret about declining taxes. David Penn, who did the study for Middle Tennessee State University, doesn’t understand why people are suddenly leaving Nashville, after years of growth. “We’ve heard a variety of explanations,” he says, “but the truth is I haven’t seen a decent study as to why people are moving out.” [Nashville Population Declining, The City Paper (Nashville), Oct. 23, 2003.]
Perhaps Mr. Penn might ask some of the people who have left what they think of neighborhoods that are filling up with people who slaughter goats and keep chickens.
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — Ian Jobling’s “Competitive Altruism” in the Oct. and Nov. issues reminded me of a remark by Oscar Wilde: “One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing.” The New Class has almost no involvement with the people it pretends to cherish. In order to believe its own propaganda, the New Class must recognize no differences between races or beliefs. Each is as good as the other. Saying all things are equal is liberal, tolerant and compassionate, but it is also nihilistic. When all creeds and manners are as good as any other, none has any value.
Dan Althoff, Atlantic Beach, Fla.
Sir — The “Competitive Altruism” described by Dr. Jobling is, I believe, related to four factors that have had disastrous consequences for whites. The first is the singularly white, especially Anglo-Saxon, proclivity toward fairness and inclusiveness. We welcomed the Germans, Irish, and Italians to our shores, and then became convinced blacks and Third-World immigrants deserve “equality,” too. Our society refuses to acknowledge the failure of this round of “inclusiveness,” just as it refuses to acknowledge the biological reality of race, which is the reason for that failure.
This refusal is largely the result of the second factor: the association of the study of racial differences with Nazi atrocities. The propaganda trick of “Nazifying” anyone who mentions race and politics in the same breath has quashed honest debate.
Third, since the 1960s, our society has been haunted by self-contempt. The Vietnam demonstrators — unlike protesters of the past — did not drape themselves in the American flag. Instead, they burned it, and glorified Ho Chi Minh. One can only imagine what would have happened to the few Americans who opposed World War II if they had burned Old Glory while shouting praise for Hirohito. But in the new climate, contempt for all things American became the height of intellectual sophistication. Of course, the protesters are no longer anti-Establishment — they are the Establishment that teaches us to despise white America, and “celebrate diversity.”
Public outcry has been inhibited by the fourth factor: the climate of conformity and intolerance that has taken over intellectual life. The former flag-burners never believed in democracy. They believed in a combination of self-righteousness and political power that opposes intellectual freedom. Of these four, the third is the most dangerous. We can overcome lies and censorship, but only if we still have the will to survive.
Jonathan E. Ardleigh, Libertyville, Ill.
Sir — Thank you for the excellent article about immigration to Scandinavia. It was a pleasure to read such a comprehensive account, and I am sure there is nothing else like it available in English.
I would never have suspected there were such marked national differences in how Nordics view non-whites, and I could not help but be struck by the fact that the most successful immigration control advocates have so completely distanced themselves from Nazism. The Danish foes of immigration, we learn, actively support Israel, which makes it hard to accuse them of Nazism.
This is not just clever strategy; it is ideologically consistent. Those who fight for their own self-determination should support it for others. Israel is the only non-Third-World country whose ethnic exclusiveness goes unchallenged in the West. This should be our model, not an object of contempt. I have always been amused by racially conscious whites who suddenly develop tender feelings for Palestinians, but who certainly never shed a tear for the American Indians.
If Jews — or anyone else — claim racial or ethnic rights for themselves they deny to us they are obstacles to our survival. However, the state of Israel is, in many respects, precisely the kind of self-consciously ethno-national state we and our European kinsmen are fighting for.
Susan Brand, Pittsburgh, Penn.
Sir — So the Danish press is on the side of the angels when it comes to Muslim immigration? How in Heaven’s name did that happen? Surely that is the key to Denmark’s healthy state of mind. I have never doubted that there is plenty of residual good sense left in American whites that would flourish and flower if the media drifted only a few degrees towards sanity. Perhaps Mr. Widmark could give us his thoughts on why the Danish media are so different from those in Sweden — and in fact from those in every other white country in the world!
Jim Kelty, Truro, Mass.
Sir — I greatly enjoyed Scott Trask’s review of Paul Theroux’s account of his travels through Africa. I was reminded of a radio interview Mr. Theroux once gave to a silly liberal named Terry Gross who has a program on National Public Radio called “Fresh Air.” Miss Gross bubbled about how traveling all around the world, as Mr. Theroux did, must give him a sense of the oneness of all mankind, of how similar we all are. No, said Mr. Theroux, his experiences only impressed upon him how different people are from each other. I nearly kissed the radio.
Of course, the pity is that Mr. Theroux could travel through the United States and probably find himself in places just as alien as Khartoum and Kampala. And, somehow I doubt Terry Gross is going to interview him on the subject of Dark Star Safari..
George Carter, Athens, Ga.