Contemporary US race relations is a paradox. On the one hand there is a smothering PC consensus that absolutely forbids any public discussion critical of blacks. But judging from private behavior such as residential segregation and conversations among close friends, the very opposite prevails: black pathologies are frankly admitted.
This public silence has multiple roots but let me highlight just one, the reluctance of race realists to express views in “polite company.” As Peter Brimelow has put it, pointing out obvious racial realities resembles loudly farting at the dinner party. The upshot is that race realists are cowed into silence and the mendacious public consensus on race survives unchallenged.
I have long observed this suffocating silence but recent social encounters with those who drink the racial Kool Aid have provided some Eureka moments. These experiences crystallized just how the palpable racial truth is transformed into an unspeakable taboo.
So, what happens when in the course of a dinner one causally mentions, for example, that the black violent crime rate far exceeds the white rate? The reaction is hardly one of rational debate. The very opposite occurs—this “fart” generates intense emotion, accusations of being mean-spirited and undermining civility: “I find that completely offensive . . . are you suggesting that African Americans are sub-humans, unable to control their violent impulses?” Those especially offended may actually leave the table in a huff.
Any factual reply may elicit a blizzard of non-sequiturs on the order of “Bush-the-war-criminal killed millions in Iraq,” or “What about Big Pharma and their obscene profits?” In other words, a simple incontrovertible fact becomes an awful insult, and the often shrill responses make all the dinner guests uncomfortable. Who invited this trouble-maker? Pushing the argument with yet more statistical data only escalates the outrage and non-combatants will immediate suggest “let’s drop the topic and talk about something more pleasant.”
Nor do fantasy dwellers have any compunction about inventing evidence. Occupying the high moral ground seems to justify concocting a counter-reality, even a pseudo-science flavored counter-reality. Common “rejoinders” to crime statistics are, “That’s just because police disproportionally pick on blacks,” or “The criminal code itself is racist so what do you expect?” Or, “Judges and lawyers are all racist.” Anecdotal evidence is also a favorite: “I know lots of law-abiding African Americans.”
If one tries yet more logic (e.g., asking what explains high black crime rates in cities run and policed by blacks), even more facile, supposedly fact-based counter-arguments appear: “Black cops are just brainwashed to pick on blacks.” Needless to say, faced with an opponent who instantly makes things up, the race realist can never win, and goes mute to avoid ulcers.
If fantasy dwellers cannot come up with a specific rejoinder there are always the cliché, all-purpose “factual” replies to defeat realists. Differences in crime, welfare dependency, academic failure, and the like, are brushed off with “That’s because of white racism, poverty and discrimination” or “lack of opportunity” and, the old favorite, “It’s the legacy of slavery.” Our race realist might be told, “(non-existent) studies show . . .” or “That’s because racist Republicans have cut spending to help the poor.” In an emergency, they explain everything with “It’s the fault of capitalism” or the mother of all truth-killers, “That’s just a dangerous stereotype.”
Classical conditioning theory best explains this silencing. Race realists are punished for socially disruptive behavior and not only will be cut from the invite list, but more importantly, the truth teller learns via unpleasant experience never to raise certain issues. After all, no compelling reason exists to be truthful on racially sensitive issues, so the realist is responsible for his own plight plus the sin of annoying others. It is no different from teaching a laboratory rat that certain behavior brings a painful electric shock. After a few such awkward encounters, like the oft-shocked rat cowering in the corner, the urge to speak the truth on race “mysteriously” vanishes.
I am hardly the first to note the power of social pressure to impose orthodoxies, even those that clearly contravene reality. Alexis de Tocqueville over 170 years ago observed that in democratic countries like the United States the pressure to conform is inescapable. To quote De Tocqueville, “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and freedom of discussion than in America.” Even widely held private views may be pushed underground if those in the minority go ballistic when challenged. That certainly applies to race today. It is also possible that aversion to inter-personal conflict is hard-wired into our DNA, since societies prone to contentious squabbling go extinct.
So, gentlemen of the race realist persuasion, what is to be done? The answer is obvious. As Benjamin Franklin used to advise: Fart Proudly.