PC Today, PC Tomorrow, PC Forever
Joseph Kay, American Renaissance, November 15, 2012
A paradox informs today’s race relations. On the one hand we have an African-American President and nearly all of the historical civil rights agenda is now law. In countless ways, life for African Americans has never been better. On the other hand, race-related Political Correctness (PC) grows harsher by the day. Yes, talking about race is still permissible but you better watch out. Even acknowledging the rise in black-on-white violent crime can be risky. The Bell Curve sold over 400,000 copies after it was published in 1994; today it might not even see the light of day.
Why? After all, the election of Obama was supposed to bring a post-racial society. Of course, it has not. Blacks still lag behind whites on nearly everything that counts, and all the traditional, “respectable” explanations for this gap grow increasingly less plausible. And, as “respectable” explanations fail, the one cause that dare not speak its name (and least in polite society)—intractable biological differences—slowly moves to the forefront. Repressive PC is thus a preemptive measure to choke public discussion of what is unthinkable and unspeakable: that racial differences in crime, child rearing, welfare dependency, educational attainment and all the rest are substantially rooted in genes.
Conventional explanations for why blacks lag behind whites number into the dozens and in their day, each sounded convincing, at least for a few years. During the 1950s one regularly heard about the legacy of slavery, inadequate school funding and poorly trained teachers, urban over-crowding (and white slum lords), white supremacist organizations like the KKK, discrimination in employment, white prejudice, lack of political access (especially in the South due to the poll tax and literacy tests), lead-paint poisoning, the absence of black heroes in school textbooks and movies, all-white TV shows, and all this topped off with apartheid-like Jim Crow. Then there were movie portrayals of blacks as childlike incompetents, e.g., Stepin Fetchit and Mantan Moreland. Further add the white plot to put liquor stores in the ghetto and, if that fails, claim that the CIA imports drugs. There was also the argument that the English language hindered blacks because of negative associations with the color black, as in “black magic,” “black mood,” “black eye,” and “black sheep.”
As each of these explanations waned (for example, school spending was equalized, the 1965 Voting Rights Act brought equal ballot access, lead paint disappeared, ghettos became less dense as millions of blacks moved to the suburbs), new explanations took their place: exposure to carbon dioxide from auto exhausts lowered black intelligence, welfare incentives destroyed black family cohesion, black infants did not get enough verbal stimulation, blacks students couldn’t learn because they were hungry, blacks received inferior medical care, written exams (including IQ tests) were culturally biased, banks refused to lend money to blacks, standard English was “foreign” to blacks and was to be replaced with Ebonics, whites unconsciously debilitated blacks with stereotypes and low expectations while blacks themselves internalized negative self-images. Another popular explanation was unhealthy diets, especially for expecting mothers.
More modern explanations of black failure tend toward multiple racisms invisible to whites but catastrophic for blacks (so-called “dog whistle racism”). Among these subtle racisms are implicit racism, environmental racism, aversion racism, subliminal racism, and unconscious racism. And don’t forget institutional racism. The venerable term “colorblind” is now allegedly a code word for racism. The seemingly neutral political concept of federalism—favored by conservatives—has become the reincarnation of the 1950s era States Rights which, as “everybody knows,” actually means the Confederacy, that is to say, slavery. The Stanford social psychologist Claude Steele has made a lucrative career of explaining that “stereotype threat” causes low black academic achievement.
Blaming whitey is a thriving industry with regular product launches. During the 1980s the field of Critical Race Studies rose to prominence in many law schools with its argument that white racism was part of our national DNA and was incurable. The judicial philosophy of strict constructionism is now being interpreted as a ruse to deprive blacks of civil rights. Michelle Alexander’s recent The New Jim Crow “shows” that the only thing that has changed for blacks is that white-dominated society now better disguises its racial repression: only outward appearances differ. The science-minded have used fMRI imaging to study the brain for unspoken racism and, sure enough, have found it. If all else fails, it is poverty or “the culture”—certainly not their race—that holds blacks down.
This menu of excuses has a desperate quality about it and cannot survive cursory inspection. “Invisible racism” evokes the days when physicists relied on ether to explain the transmission of light—and even if whites were racist, nobody has yet demonstrated how unexpressed, unconscious beliefs debilitate blacks.
Meanwhile, black youngsters from well-off families living in affluent suburbs lag behind their white classmates and their test scores resemble those of poor inner-city blacks. Obesity has replaced hunger, but black youngsters still fall behind. As for the “poverty does it” explanation, it is far more plausible that poverty is a function of intelligence rather than the other way around, and how do you explain the total failure of hugely expensive anti-poverty programs?
Head Start and similar early interventions have failed, though the government hates to admit it. Culture-free IQ tests show the same results as traditional “biased” tests. Endless affirmative action programs have not closed income gaps, though preference-heavy government jobs have helped. In some ways, the civil rights revolution never happened—millions of whites (even liberals) still flee blacks and avoid venturing into black neighborhoods despite powerful social pressures to the contrary.
Most embarrassing, the scientific basis of racial differences in intelligence grows in strength, though those who follow the mainstream mass media would never know it. But even if these scientific confirmations never existed or were successfully repressed, the case for at least some genetic component to racial differences in accomplishment is increasingly plausible. As Yogi Berra said, you can see a lot by looking around, and evidence is everywhere.
How can one account for the chaos and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (including nations from which slaves were never taken) in spite of decades of independence and hundreds of billions in foreign assistance? Why do economies in Africa collapse when whites leave? What’s wrong with Haiti despite years of massive government and private assistance?
The evidence on the home front is even more compelling. Racial preferences have opened the eyes of millions of whites by bringing them into contact with incompetent, affirmative-action blacks. Why is it that when blacks come to dominate a school, standards decline and crime rises? What do Detroit, Newark, East St. Louis, Gary Indiana, Camden, Birmingham, and several other troubled, nearly bankrupt crime-ridden cities have in common? Can anyone name a city, even a neighborhood that improved when large numbers of blacks moved in and whites left?
Finally, recent waves of immigration show that upward mobility for the desperately poor is still possible even when new arrivals are “people of color.” Why do Vietnamese refugees who are uprooted from their families, speak little English, and live in squalid housing nevertheless excel in school? Similar successes can be found among the Chinese, Koreans, Indians, and Filipinos.
This is not to say that a genetic explanation is becoming widespread. Biological explanations are probably more common than, say, 20 years ago, but probably fewer than a quarter of all whites state them openly (and among the liberal elite, this figure is probably less than 5 percent). Still, the mounting weakness of non-genetic explanations permits The Great Taboo to gain traction, and it takes ever more heavy-handed PC to keep it down.
The weakening of today’s “respectable” explanations does not, however, mean the eventual triumph of race realism. It is just the opposite: The dishonest orthodoxy will only be pushed harder and will doubtless hang around, if not dominate for decades. One can still meet ostensibly smart people who (at least outwardly) insist that black academic shortcomings result from unequal educational funding, too-white textbooks, the lack of black role model teachers, and all the rest, though each of these explanations is demonstrably false.
Be prepared for even more hate crime hoaxes while the definition of “hate” continues to expand (John Derbyshire calls this “hate creep”). Meanwhile, academics are already inventing next year’s lies, each one more bizarre than the last (a Princeton professor of sociology recently suggested in The New York Times that young blacks are disadvantaged by irregular sleep patterns). Defenders of racial orthodoxy also easily hide behind propositions that are unfalsifiable, such as, “it’s the culture,” or “solutions require more time.”
The key to understanding this tenacity is that blatant falsehoods rest on economic self-interest and nobody makes a living from contrary arguments. For millions of blacks (and many whites, too) environmental determinism is the ticket to a government-facilitated good life. At the very core of affirmative action is the assumption that black deficiencies are reversible if blacks get a temporary leg up. Imagine trying to justify affirmative action if racial differences were scientifically certified as genetically hard-wired, and this were publicly accepted?
What, then, might the future hold in the face of unrelenting, burgeoning racial PC? My own view is a Darwinian one: With a sufficient number of clever people, societies incrementally adapt to tribulations, though the changes may be imperceptible and little is said (adaptation may be easier if nothing is said). In fact, this slow and quiet disengagement from the egalitarian fantasy is already happening.
Consider, for example, the absolute public silence about reinvigorating dying cities or African-American neighborhoods. These Third-World conditions are now just part of the landscape. This is a far cry from the 1960s, when urban renewal, model cities, scattered site housing, the Job Corps, Upward Bound, Project Uplift, church-based social services programs, and similar high-profile measures targeted urban blacks. The once commonplace call to attack black poverty and all the rest by focusing on “root causes” has quietly slipped into oblivion. Nor is there much talk of spending millions to combat soaring AIDS rates among blacks.
Perhaps the last major push to fix a race-related problem was George Bush’s No Child Left Behind effort to reduce racial differences in academic achievement. That failed program is now almost universally denounced as wasteful, and there seems to be no enthusiasm for its replacement, President Obama’s Race to the Top. When was the last time you heard “schools, not prisons”? Note that neither presidential candidate said much about the “crisis” of black illegitimacy.
It is, for example, hardly an accident that many new automobile factories are located in the South, safely away from high concentrations of African Americans. Many firms now put their back offices in places like South Dakota, while others leave the country altogether or automate. I’ve noticed that telephone-based customer service has improved as companies discover places where you can hire polite, helpful employees who speak clear, unaccented English. I always ask where the customer service person is located and recent responses include Ireland, Fort Worth, and Orlando. Record-breaking unemployment among young blacks, especially in urban areas, testifies to this adaptation.
One could also argue that the influx of Hispanic workers represents an adjustment to the problem of dealing with blacks in the workplace. Hispanics are preferred, given their superior work habits, better attitudes, and reluctance to file lawsuits at the slightest hint of discrimination. Much the same holds for the growing number of Caribbean blacks who have replaced native-born blacks as medical workers and domestic servants.
Adaptation is most visible at a personal level. John Derbyshire may have been terminated at National Review for being “offensive,” but millions of Americans—many unconsciously—still follow his advice on race relations: Avoid blacks, even if this means not helping blacks in trouble. Many bars and restaurants promote racial segregation by seemingly innocuous choices in background music, décor, pricing, menu selection, and overall ambience.
Needless to say, solutions by quiet subterfuge will depress race realists, and the blatant lying and hypocrisy can be unbearable. Realists long for open acknowledgement that massive government efforts to impose equality are an expensive failure. And make no mistake, race realists are a persecuted minority and this persecution will grow as their arguments become indisputable. Still, there is much to be said for hypocrisy to sustain civil society. Honesty may be the best policy—except when it comes to race.
Reply to Mr. Kay
By Jared Taylor
In his usual brilliant way, Dr. Kay has described the endless excuses liberals make for the failures of blacks. Liberals seem to have a genuine libido for the implausible when it comes to concocting and swallowing new ways to blame whites for the natural state of blacks.
But Dr. Kay is wrong about two things and perhaps a third. First, whites do not close their eyes to the facts of biology out of economic self-interest. Second, hypocrisy about race is not the best policy. Third, racial preferences might very well survive in a world that accepted genetic explanations for race differences.
To start with the third, Dr. Kay argues that racial preferences are based on the assumption that blacks are just as smart and hard-working as whites, and need only a temporary leg up to put them on track for the corner office. He writes that if it were widely understood that the races have different average levels of ability, preferences would disappear.
I’m not so sure. When it comes to race, liberal whites are certifiably insane. It is entirely possible that the victory of the Jensen-Rushton position would only harden their support for race preferences. After all, if blacks really don’t have the same abilities as whites, how else are they to get their share of the swag? If they are one standard deviation on the low side of the IQ bell curve, then just give them an official, across-the-board boost of one standard deviation on every job test.
There is a precedent for this. In the 1980s, the Employment Service of the Department of Labor “race normed” the results of a then-popular job aptitude test called the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). It did this by first ranking everyone only against people of the same race, and then adjusting final scores to put everyone on the same bell curve. In other words, if a black’s raw score put him at the 60th percentile for blacks, his adjusted score put him at the 60th percentile for all test takers. This meant that a raw score of 300 became an adjusted score of 79 for a black, 62 for a Hispanic, and 38 for “others,” meaning whites and Asians. The Employment Service didn’t tell anyone it was cooking the scores, and when the facts came out, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991 that banned the practice.
However, if an employer wants to hire by quota—and that is what he must do or fight off the sharks at the Department of Justice—race norming is the best way to do it. If you hire the black or Hispanic with the highest score at least you know you got the best black or Hispanic.
To repeat: Whites are just crazy enough to go along with a system like this. They pay for dialysis for illegal immigrants. They let Haitians and Muslims into the country. They say “diversity is our greatest strength.” Republicans think they can “reach out” to Hispanics. So, judging on present form, they are perfectly capable of carrying on with the quota game, even after some future World Genome Project finds that the alleles for intelligence are not spread evenly around the world.
But let us assume Dr. Kay is right, and that if the scientific facts came out, the preferences merry-go-round would stop. There would be a perfect racial split on the impact this would have on economic interests. Blacks, who would fall off the gravy train, would want to keep the truth bottled up. But not whites. The only whites who make money out of “affirmative action” are the ones who perform it for a living. Those jobs are the first to go to “diverse” applicants, so Chief Diversity Officers and their staff are not usually opera-goers.
It is true that university administrators work every dodge to get non-whites on campus, and that dozens of major US corporations—including Xerox, Intel, Dow Chemical, GE—just petitioned the Supreme Court to keep racial preferences legal. But it is not because of economic interests.
For universities, preferences are a dead loss. Underqualified non-whites need special tutoring but drop out anyway. They demand student unions, group housing, and worthless courses in which they can study themselves. They bawl about “racism,” and march around campus at the slightest whiff of it. Some of them gin up fake “hate” to blame on whites. They are a tremendous bother, and if the cost of having them on campus were ever calculated it would come to a shocking figure.
Underperforming minorities are a burden to employers, too. They consume salaries, benefits, and office space, but do not pull their own weight. Why do schools and businesses continue to burden themselves with deadwood?
It’s hard to fathom the minds of the insane, but at least a few college administrators probably think blacks and Hispanics are oppressed, and that preferences are the only way to raise them to their true potential. How they can continue to believe this year after year, as affirmative-action recruits drop out or get stuck at the bottom of the class, is a miracle of faith that would test a saint.
It is more likely that the people who run colleges are inoculating themselves against charges of “racism.” That is Shelby Steel’s theory. Whites know that if there aren’t enough blacks and browns on campus it will look bad. It doesn’t matter if dragging them onto campuses where they can’t make the grade hurts them; whites can bask in the glow of moral superiority.
But what’s in it for businesses? Why did Intel and GE petition the Supreme Court to uphold race preferences? Their amicus brief claimed that having the right racial mix is “critical to . . . business success” but, of course, no study has ever shown that. In fact, all a multi-culti workforce does is create tension.
The reason big companies like preferences is that they are insurance against being sued by the Department of Justice. The only way to get a suit-proof workforce is through heavy racial preferences, and with Eric Holder sharpening his knives for a second term, that is a greater danger than ever. If the Supreme Court bans preferences, and the number of non-white employees falls, DOJ could swoop in with an expensive lawsuit that could lead to crushing fines.
Therefore, race preferences are in the economic self interest of an employer only in the negative sense that they keep the feds out of his hair. The preference hires themselves are a net loss.
But let us turn to Dr. Kay’s least convincing argument: that hypocrisy on the subject of race differences is what keeps the peace, and that the best we can hope for is to avoid the most awful consequences of egalitarianism by moving businesses to white counties and playing classical music in restaurants.
It is a huge mistake to build a society on any kind of lie. Mistaken assumptions lead to wrong policies, and wrong policies lead to everything from minor mishaps to catastrophe. The assumption that people of all races are exactly and precisely equal in every important respect—let us call it “the delusion”—is very dangerous. This entire website is devoted to the awful consequences of the delusion, but let us list just a few.
Every time blacks and Hispanics fail in any way, the delusion requires that we blame whites. This has grim consequences. First, the assumption that whites are guilty puts them at a psychological disadvantage that makes them unable to defend their legitimate interests. Second, it means society pours tremendous resources into the futile task of “narrowing the gaps” and trying to get blacks and Hispanics to behave like whites. Since whites are assumed to have caused the “gaps,” it is right that they finance these futile efforts. This drains individual whites who must pay for absurd programs, and who are elbowed aside to make room for their alleged victims.
The logic of the delusion requires that these misguided policies and wealth transfers grind on until the gaps are gone—that is, until pigs have wings. There will be no way to call an official halt to the folly—and no way to stop the perpetual punishment of whites—until we puncture the delusion.
Another dangerous consequence of the delusion is that it is part of the current buncombe about race being an illusion. Races are not only equal, we are told, they are equivalent and interchangeable. That means Europe can fill up with Moroccans, and the United States can fill up with Mexicans and nothing will change. This is absurd, of course, but it is meant to soften whites up for dispossession. Why should we worry about losing our countries? We are being replaced by ourselves!
Of course, Dr. Kay knows all this; I am not saying anything he doesn’t know. Our only difference—to the extent there really is a difference—is that I believe we should never give the hypocrites a moment’s peace. Honesty is the best policy, especially when it comes to race.