Posted on July 27, 2006

Before the White Man Came? War

Mark Steyn,, July 18, 2006

Nicholas Wade’s Before The Dawn is one of those books full of eye-catching details. For example, did you know the Inuit have the largest brains of any modern humans? Something to do with the cold climate. Presumably, if this global warming hooey ever takes off, their brains will be shrinking with the ice caps.

But the passage that really stopped me short was this:

“Both Keeley and LeBlanc believe that for a variety of reasons anthropologists and their fellow archaeologists have seriously underreported the prevalence of warfare among primitive societies. . . ‘I realized that archaeologists of the postwar period had artificially “pacified the past” and shared a pervasive bias against the possibility of prehistoric warfare,’ says Keeley.”

That’s Lawrence Keeley, a professor at the University of Illinois. And the phrase that stuck was that bit about artificially pacifying the past. We’ve grown used to the biases of popular culture. If a British officer meets a native — African, Indian, whatever — in any movie, play or novel of the last 30 years, the Englishman will be a sneering supercilious and the native will be a dignified man of peace in perfect harmony with his environment in whose tribal language there is not even a word for “war” or “killing” or “weapons of mass destruction.” A few years ago, I asked Tim Rice, who’d just written the lyrics for Disney’s Aladdin and The Lion King, why he wasn’t doing Pocahontas. “Well, the minute they mentioned it,” he said, “I knew the Brits would be the bad guys. I felt it was my patriotic duty to decline.” Sure enough, when the film came out, John Smith and his men were the bringers of environmental devastation to the New World. “They prowl the earth like ravenous wolves,” warns the medicine man, whereas Chief Powhatan wants everyone to be “guided to a place of peace.” Fortunately, Captain Smith comes to learn from Pocahontas how to “paint with all the colours of the wind.”

In reality, Pocahontas’s fellow Algonquin Indians were preyed on by the Iroquois, “who took captives home to them before ,” observes Nicholas Wade en passant. The Iroquois? Surely not. Only a year or two back, the ethnic grievance lobby managed to persuade Congress to pass a resolution that the United States Constitution was led on the principles of the Iroquois Confederation — which would have been news to the white males who wrote it. With Disney movies, one assumes it’s just the modishness of showbiz ignoramuses and whatever multiculti theorists they’ve put on the payroll as consultants. But professor Keeley and Steven LeBlanc of Harvard disclose almost as an aside that, in fact, their scientific colleagues were equally invested in the notion of the noble primitive living in peace with nature and his fellow man, even though no such creature appears to have existed. “Most archaeologists,” says LeBlanc, “ignored the fortifications around Mayan cities and viewed the Mayan elite as peaceful priests. But over the last 20 years Mayan records have been deciphered. Contrary to archaeologists’ wishful thinking, they show the allegedly peaceful elite was heavily into war, conquest and the sanguinary sacrifice of beaten opponents . . . The large number of copper and bronze axes found in Late Neolithic and Bronze Age burials were held to be not battle axes but a form of money.”

And on, and on. Do you remember that fabulously preserved 5,000-year-old man they found in a glacier in 1991? He had one of those copper axes the experts assured us were an early unit of currency. Unfortunately for this theory, he had it hafted in a manner that suggested he wasn’t asking, “Can you break a twenty?” “He also had with him,” notes professor Keeley, “a dagger, a bow, and some arrows; presumably these were his small change.” Nonetheless, anthropologists concluded that he was a shepherd who had fallen asleep and frozen peacefully to in a snowstorm. Then the X-ray results came back and showed he had an arrowhead in him.


Lawrence Keeley calculates that 87 per cent of primitive societies were at war more than once per year, and some 65 per cent of them were fighting continuously. “Had the same casualty rate been suffered by the population of the twentieth century,” writes Wade, “its war s would have totaled two billion people.” Two billion!


Why then, against all the evidence, do we venerate the primitive? And to the point of pretending a bunch of torturing marauders devised the separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution. We do it for the same reason we indulge behaviour like that at Caledonia, Ont. We want to believe that the yard, the cul-de-sac, the morning commute, the mall are merely the bland veneer of our lives, and that underneath we are still that noble primitive living in harmony with the great spirits of the forest and the mountain. The reality is that “civilization” — Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian — worked very hard to stamp out the primitive within us, and for good reason.


Nicholas Wade’s Before The Dawn: A Milestone On Long Road Back From Race Denial

Steve Sailer, VDARE, May 7, 2006

Last week, a reporter from another major newspaper called me to find out the inside story on this hot new idea that maybe — just maybe, and contrary to the higher conventional wisdom of recent years — race really does exist.

I strongly urged this journalist to make human biodiversity a specialty — because we need a second source in the mainstream press.

Nicholas Wade, genetics correspondent of the New York Times, has been doing an outstanding job. But if he gets hit by a bus tomorrow, the mass media will be back to the dark ages the next day.

Although he’s not a scientist, Wade may be the single most invaluable figure in the human sciences today. Now he’s written an important new book Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors.

Through his competence, bravery — and, of course, having the Newspaper of Record as his outlet — has done more than anyone else has during this decade to break down barriers to the honest scientific discussion of humanity.

While most of the press is terrified of violating the canons of political correctness, Wade has calmly explained over and over in the pages of the New York Times that the genetic data that is now pouring in validates the study of race.

Last September, for instance, Wade’s article about University of Chicago geneticist Bruce T. Lahn’s discovery of two human brain genes that have been evolving differently on different continents earned Lahn global publicity. (Researchers Say Human Brain Is Still Evolving, September 8, 2005)


Wade’s 21-page chapter entitled “Race” could have been called “Crimethink” with equal accuracy. He writes:

“It is often assumed that evolution works too slowly for any significant change in human nature to have occurred with the last 10,000 or even 50,000 years. But this assumption is incorrect . . .”

And he fearlessly goes on to explain the unpopular implication:

“Because the human population was dispersed across different continents, between which distance and hostility allowed little gene flow, the people on each continent followed independent evolutionary paths. It was these independent trajectories that led over the generations to the emergence of a variety of human races.”

Wade then offers heresies about the biological reality of race, the validity of traditional definitions of continental-scale races, the surprisingly low rate of racial mixing during American history, the benefits of race-specific medicines, the remarkable racial disparities in Olympic running results, and the dubiousness of Jared Diamond’s politically pious bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel.

These are all concepts you’ll be familiar with from articles. But they will come as shocking news to much of the rest of intellectually oriented public!

The publication of Before the Dawn is thus a milestone on the long post-World War II road back from the politically correct dogma that the evolution of humanity magically ground to a halt the instant the human race began to spread out across the globe from Africa 50,000 years ago — what we’ve called “Race Denial.” And there’s more to come. The scientific evidence for racial differentiation that’s in the pipeline right now will be even more convincing.

Yet the appearance of Before the Dawn hardly means the battle is won. Race Denial is supported by powerful forces in contemporary culture. The coming clash will be epic.