Thomas Jackson, American Renaissance, April 2004
Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele, Race: The Reality of Human Differences, Westview Press, 2004, 287 pp.
Sociologists, anthropologists, and television commentators tell us that race is biologically meaningless, that the physical differences between Danes and Pygmies are insignificant evolutionary accidents. Race, we are told, is an artificial concept white people invented only a few hundred years ago to justify colonization and slavery. If we free ourselves from this delusion, we can all march hand in hand into a future free of “racism.”
Everything about this view of race is obviously wrong, but since so few of the people who know better are willing to say so, this nonsense is beginning to tighten its grip on the popular mind. Now a book has finally appeared that blows to bits every one of these tendentious arguments. Race is a long overdue corrective that deserves wide circulation.
An Instinct to Distinguish
Authors Vincent Sarich, emeritus professor of anthropology at Berkeley and Frank Miele, senior editor of Skeptic magazine, take aim first at the notion that it was 16th and 17th century Europeans who first noticed race and race differences. As the authors point out, humans appear to share with dogs, baboons, wolves, and killer whales an instinctive ability to distinguish their own group from outsiders. Three-year old children sort people by race without being taught to. Therefore, every human population that ever had contact with foreigners seems to have noticed racial differences, and most did not like funny-looking strangers.
Egyptian tomb paintings clearly differentiate four racial groups: Egyptians, Asiatic Semites, Caucasians, and sub-Saharan Africans. Nor are these simple depictions of physical characteristics to which the Egyptians were indifferent. The Twelfth Dynasty Pharaoh Sesostris III (c. 1887–1849 BC) wrote that blacks were dishonorable cowards, “poor and faint-hearted.” He even erected a stele at the southern boundary of Lower Egypt which still reads: “No negro shall cross this boundary by water or by land, by ship or with his flocks, save for the purpose of trade or to make purchases in some post.”
The Indo-European conquerors of India were light-skinned people who despised their dark-skinned subjects. The authors note that Ancient Vedic texts describing the wars of 1500 to 900 BC record how the Aryans “stormed the ancient cities of the hated broad-nosed Dasas, the dark-skinned worshippers of the phallus.” The word Dasa originally meant “enemy,” then came to mean “dark-faced,” and finally “slave.” The invaders established the caste system, the most elaborate anti-miscegenation program ever put into practice. The Sanscrit word for “caste,” varna, also means “color.”
Arabs launched the earliest slaving missions across the Sahara, and quickly noted racial differences. The Baghdad historian Abu-al-Hasan Masu’di (d. 956) offered a detailed and accurate physical description of blacks, to which he added that they had long penises and were given to merriment. He attributed their cheerfulness to “defective brains.”
The jurist Sa’id al-Andalusi (1029-1070) wrote that blacks “lack self-control and steadiness of mind and are overcome by fickleness, foolishness and ignorance.” He called them “rabble” “savages,” “scum,” and barely human. He didn’t care much for the people to the north either, of whom he wrote:
Their temperaments are therefore frigid, their humors raw, their bellies gross, their color pale, their hair long and lank. Thus they lack keenness of understanding and clarity of intelligence, and are overcome by ignorance and dullness, lack of discernment, and stupidity. Such are the Slavs, the Bulgars, and their neighbors.
The 13th century Persian writer Nasir al-Din Tusi thought blacks were animals that walk on two legs: “Many have observed that the ape is more teachable and more intelligent than the Zanj [blacks].” He, too, found them carefree and highly sexed. The greatest of all Arab historians, Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406), wrote: “The only people who accept slavery are the negroes, owing to their low degree of humanity and their proximity to the animal stage.”
Among the Arabs, people of any race could be enslaved, but blacks were associated with the most degrading servitude. White slaves were called mamluk, which means “owned.” Black slaves were ‘abd, which eventually came to mean any black, slave or free. In The Arabian Nights, blacks are almost always shown as slaves or doing menial jobs, and they have prodigious sexual appetites. No ancient group that encountered blacks seems to have liked them. Romans made fun of them, calling them “sima” or monkey-like.
Greek and Roman art works that depict blacks and whites together sometimes show blacks with larger penises, often erect. Herodotus noted the physical characteristics of blacks, especially their “wooly” hair, and Hippocrates speculated that generations of exposure to the sun had burned them black. The ancients realized that racial characteristics were permanent. Jeremiah, for example, asks rhetorically, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?”
Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele note that the Chinese made fun of Caucasians, whom they thought odd-looking, but do not mention that Japanese did the same, inventing a series of “barbarian” words to describe them, such as “red-haired barbarian” and “blue-eyed barbarian.”
One of the book’s most interesting examples of the universal human instinct to characterize people comes from the Kalahari Bushmen. Their DNA is now known to class them with other sub-Saharan Africans, but for many years, anthropologists thought they were related to Asians because of their yellowish color, hooded eyes, and other traits. The Bushmen distinguish themselves not only from whites but also from neighboring blacks. They have one word for edible animals and another for inedible animals — which includes all other human groups. They use zhu or “human” exclusively for themselves. That is, they did until they met Asian anthropologists, whom they immediately called zhu because they thought they looked like Bushmen.
The Age of Exploration did not lead whites to any new racial categorizations to justify “oppression.” Instead, Europeans resisted emerging racial theories that emphasized qualitative differences between the races. Some scholars, for example, wondered if the newly-discovered people of the New World were pre-Adamite, that is, primitives who predated the creation of man. A serious debate within the Catholic church about the nature of American Indians concluded with a 1537 decree by Pope Paul III, officially declaring them fully human and endowed with souls. A finding that they were pre-Adamites would have made it easy to justify slavery or extermination. Civil authorities also declined to accept the view that indigenous peoples were qualitatively different from Europeans and therefore worthy of oppression.
Likewise, the monogenesis/polygenesis debates of the 18th and 19th centuries could have offered support for slavery but were rejected. Polygenists argued that the races were so different they could not have evolved from Adam during the 4,000 or so years recorded in the Bible. A theory of separate origins or creations for the different races might have justified slavery, but Americans preferred the Biblical account of common creation and descent.
So much for the silly notion that no one noticed race until white men tried to cook up excuses for colonization and slavery. Europeans and Americans reacted to race as all people do.
Furthermore, as the authors point out, it was almost universally accepted well into the 20th century not only that race was real but that races were unequal. For example, the 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica explains that “the mental constitution of the negro is very similar to that of a child, normally good-natured and cheerful, but subject to sudden fits of emotion and passion during which he is capable of performing acts of singular atrocity . . .” and adds that, “after puberty sexual matters take the first place in the negro’s life and thoughts.”
It was largely the rise of the Franz Boaz school of anthropology that successfully substituted “culture” for biology as the primary force that differentiates human groups. The authors point out that the early Boaz school was composed of people who felt estranged from established American traditions and wanted to undermine them. Boaz himself and many of his early followers were Jews who felt their Jewishness keenly. Israel Ehrenberg, for example, who rebaptized himself as Ashley Montagu, wrote, “If you’re brought up as a Jew, you know that all non-Jews are anti-Semitic . . .”
Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele note that some of Boaz’s most famous gentile followers were also at odds with American society: Margaret Mead was bisexual and Ruth Benedict was lesbian. Thus, “the Boazians shared an out-group sensibility, a commitment to a common viewpoint and a program to dominate the institutional structure of anthropology.” They succeeded brilliantly, with considerable help from the revulsion for Hitler and Nazism that swept America after the war.
Race also goes into subsequent debates about the nature of man, in particular the high-profile skirmishes between Montagu and Carleton Coon, best known for painstaking anthropological work that led him to believe that the races evolved independently and represented different levels of evolution. A biological understanding of human nature fell completely out of favor until it was revived in the 1960s and later, by such people as Arthur Jensen, Philippe Rushton, Richard Lynn, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray.
Race Science Today
It is a curious irony that although many people claim to disbelieve in race, society goes on taking it for granted. As Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele point out, no one has trouble telling one race from another, and even in court cases, in which anything can be bitterly contested, no one has ever argued that race is an illusion or is meaningless. In fact, despite decades of litigation over race, courts do not even have a definition for race or a standard for determining it. They accept the common sense view that race is evident to everyone.
Furthermore, this particular “illusion” is proving to have very concrete uses. Police can now easily test DNA samples to determine the race and even the racial mix of a criminal. In Britain, the Forensic Science Service uses DNA for what it calls photofitting, that is to say, to come up with the best estimate of the appearance of a criminal who has left behind a drop of blood or a bit of skin. The British even look for such things as the genetic markers associated with red hair.
Race is likewise important in medicine. Blacks, because of increasingly well-understood physiological reasons, do not get nearly as much benefit from standard hypertension drugs as whites, and studies are now underway to develop drugs specifically for them. Eskimos did not respond to early drugs for tuberculosis because, unlike other racial groups, they metabolized the medicine before it could act. Biological reality is beating back ideologues who argue that race has no medical importance. Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele also describe clear racial differences in athletic ability, relying heavily on Jon Entine’s book on race and sports.
Three of the nine chapters in Race recount the twists and turns along the scientific trail that led to an understanding of when the various lineages of man branched off from each other. This is interesting history, but not germane. Much more significant is what follows: an explanation of the scientific foundations of race.
Practically every discussion of race and biology begins with Richard Lewontin’s famous observation that if all human genetic variation is given a value of 100, 85 percent of this variation is found within races, and only 15 percent more variation is found when different races are added to the mix. This was, indeed, a surprising finding, but does not mean, as Prof. Lewontin slyly implied, that whites are more similar to Asians, say, than to other whites. Nor does it justify Prof. Lewontin’s conclusion, that race is an empty category. What it means is that the 15 percent that differentiates races is a very important 15 percent.
The late Glayde Whitney used to point out that humans and macaque monkeys have similar genomes. If the total genetic diversity of humans plus macaques were given an index of 100 percent, more than half of that diversity would be found in the population of Belfast alone. This does not mean that Irishmen are more similar to macaques than to each other, only that there is significant genetic variation within distinct populations.
Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele draw a useful parallel between humans and dogs. Breeds of dogs differ not only in appearance but in temperament and intelligence. Yet, it is almost impossible to tell Great Dane DNA from Pekinese DNA. The huge differences between the breeds are accounted for by tiny genetic differences barely detectable with modern analysis. As with human races, small genetic differences account for very important physical differences.
The authors note that observations about differences in dog breeds are not controversial but observations about humans are. Only after much difficulty did one research team that had published about dogs manage to publish about people. This was a study of behavior of newborns that found interesting racial differences even though the births were in the same hospital from women who received the same pre-natal care. Chinese newborns went to sleep in more or less any position in which they were put down, while whites turned their heads to a more comfortable position. White newborns cried more easily than Chinese and were are harder to console. The most striking difference, however, was in what is called “defensive reaction.” This involves putting a cloth over a baby’s nose and forcing it to breathe through its mouth. White and black babies immediately turned their heads or tried to push the cloth away, whereas Chinese babies lay quietly breathing through their mouths. Navajo newborns have since been found to behave like Chinese newborns, which is not surprising given their lineage.
In nature, any animals that were as different as human races would be different species. Although the evidence now suggests races diverged only 50,000 years ago, their external physical differences are very great. Animals that look as different as Arabs and Bantus do not mate. There are species of gazelle that are so similar they can be distinguished only by experts; they share the same grazing grounds, but do not mix.
Comparisons with monkeys underscore the significance of human races. A series of measurements on skulls yields an index of difference from one population to another. By this measure, human races are as different from each other as are different species of chimpanzee. In fact, a comparison of the most widely divergent human groups, such as Norwegians and Australian Aborigines finds physical differences as great as those between chimpanzees and gorillas.
Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele do not fail to note the importance of these findings:
The amount of variation that took approximately one million years to evolve in chimpanzees took only 50,000 years to evolve in humans. This much shorter time for the evolution of comparatively larger racial differences must mean that these differences are more (not less) significant, and that adaptation, not chance, is the only mechanism capable of explaining this.
The shorter the period of time required to produce a given amount of morphological difference, the more selectively/adaptively/functionally important those differences become.
Human races are very strongly marked morphologically; human races are very young; so much variation developing in so short a period of time implies, indeed almost certainly requires, functionality; there is no good reason to think that behavior should somehow be exempt from this pattern of functional variability.
What this means is that the rapidity with which human groups diverged strongly suggests the divergence was not random genetic drift due to isolation but was adaptation to real evolutionary pressure. Populations do not become as different as Eskimos and Watusis by accident; they are different because the differences are significant and help them survive. And, as Race points out, physical differences as striking as these are not likely to arise without equally striking behavioral differences.
Intelligence is, of course, one of the most crucial race differences, and Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele are not afraid to take it up. They review the findings of racial differences in brain size, noting that it has a 0.4 correlation with tested intelligence. They point out that individuals can vary in brain size by as much as 400 cc — the size of a chimpanzee brain. There are races that differ in average brain size by 300 cc, and show corresponding differences in average intelligence.
Some have argued that there cannot be racial differences in intelligence because it is a crucial aspect of humanity to which all groups would have devoted equal evolutionary effort. This is silly. The authors point out that in terms of metabolic cost, brain tissue is very expensive, so brains would have grown only as a result of tradeoffs with maturation time, size of the birth canal, diversion of blood supply away from other organs, and a host of other factors. It would have been astonishing if all these tradeoffs had turned out identically in populations that show so many other differences. Evolution in brain size — and intelligence — has been very rapid, and was possible only because there is so much variation in these traits. There is variation not just between individuals but between races.
Any thorough racial comparison of IQ runs up against the finding that sub-Saharan Africans have an average of 75. Is the continent really populated by the retarded? Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele point out that in white populations, an IQ this low is usually only one of several serious defects that leave a person incapable of leading a normal life. However, among Africans, IQs of 70 or even lower are simply the result of normal distribution, and can be found among people who are otherwise normal.
An IQ of 75 is, as Race points out, the mental equivalent of a 12-year-old. Twelve-year-olds can drive cars and some can even fix them. Twelve-year-olds can do arithmetic and follow reasonably complex instructions. What they cannot do is run a modern society. As the authors point out, an intelligent population can tolerate a certain number of low-IQ people, but once they reach a certain proportion, the quality and texture of life change completely. This is what we find in many Third-World countries and in those parts of the United States where blacks or Hispanics are dominant.
Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele point out that race is not only a valid category for grouping differing populations; it is a focus of loyalty. They note that people of all races prefer the company of people like themselves, vote for co-racialists, and are more generous with people of their own group. What, then, are we to make of race once it is accepted as a significant biological and social reality?
Race offers three choices: meritocracy, continued leveling through race preferences, and separation into ethnostates. The authors support meritocracy: They want an end to all legal and administrative consideration of race, with employers and colleges free to make decisions strictly on merit. Presumably they support repeal of all anti-discrimination laws, which would leave businesses free to choose their customers and home-owners their neighbors. This book says nothing about immigration, but a meritocratic approach presumably means restrictions based (only) on ability.
What about ethnostates? Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele recognize that they provide the best sense of community and offer a social fabric in which people are willing to be taxed to support fellow citizens. They even realize that they are the only way to maintain real, world-wide diversity. They list several objections — that separating out the less able races leaves them poor, that a homogenous society is less adaptable to changing conditions, that maintaining homogeneity requires social controls, and that ethno-states are more likely to make war on each other — none of which is very significant.
It is unfortunate for the less able races if separation leaves them less well off, but is it any less unfortunate for the more able races to be saddled with low-IQ, high crime populations to support? No race has a right to charity from another. Likewise, it would be hard to think of challenges the Japanese or the Icelanders are unable to face because of homogeneity. How would large numbers of Mexicans or Filipinos better prepare them for changing conditions? At the same time, homogeneous societies need fewer internal controls than diverse societies because the government need not police the inevitable inter-ethnic conflicts. The controls are at the border, and do not effect citizens. As for the likelihood of war, diversity within borders causes much more bloodshed than homogeneity. A UN study of the years 1989 to 1992 found 82 conflicts that resulted in 1,000 or more deaths. Of this number, no fewer than 79 involved ethnic or religious antagonists, and took place within the borders of single nations. Only three were cross-border conflicts.
Prof. Sarich and Mr. Miele are remarkable to have considered separation as an option at all, much less to have listed its advantages and disadvantages. Most commentators do not even consider it an option, or reject it out of hand. Of course, separation is not merely a logically possible reaction to the reality of race; it is the necessary reaction if whites are to survive as a distinct people with a culture of their own.
The race-is-a-myth argument is not only wrong but hugely damaging. It promotes the fantasy that no population should resist replacement by another, since it is really being replaced by itself. It suggests that miscegenation is a myth, so no one need be concerned about whom their children marry. In practical terms, these misconceptions hurt whites far more than anyone else. It is almost exclusively whites who are being replaced by aliens, and it is whites who are failing to reproduce themselves and whose numbers are most dangerously thinned by miscegenation. The most significant and insidious effect of the current foolishness about race is to encourage whites to resign themselves to dispossession and oblivion.
This book is a very important contribution to the study of race. It covers the science in accessible language, and presents unfashionable data without flinching. It is an invaluable resource for the defense of our race against ignorance and indifference.