Sam T. Francis, American Renaissance, February 2004
Over the years, as most of you know, I have written a syndicated column that often deals with racial issues in what I believe are fairly frank terms, and like most columnists I receive a good deal of reactions from readers. Most of my mail, especially when it concerns racial issues, is positive, but some of it I have to acknowledge is vituperative and other readers are what I would call skeptical or respectfully concerned about what I have written.
It occurred to me in the last year or so that much of these responses reveal or suggest certain patterns in the white mind — most of the more courteous letters seem to come from whites — and that they disclose certain deeply lodged and to many whites deeply worrisome objections to the ideas I am trying to express — that race is a natural as well as a social reality, that whites in the country are the victims of an entrenched double standard, that whites should actually be proud of who they are and of their racial and cultural heritage, that whites are also victims in a more literal physical sense of “hate crimes” and racially motivated violence and discrimination, and that given the level of non-white immigration into the United States and the lack of any white racial consciousness among whites and the emergence of an increasingly powerful racial consciousness among non-whites, that whites are in serious trouble.
If you do not have the degree of racial consciousness that most of us at the American Renaissance conference have and if you have never really thought very deeply or very unconventionally about race and racial issues, these ideas are often disturbing and to many whites, a great deal of what I say and what Jared Taylor says is probably outright terrifying.
It’s terrifying in part because it appears to constitute what is now routinely called “hate speech” — which is simply any expression that violates liberal canons abut race — but also in part because it forces you to confront ideas and facts you would much prefer were not true.
What I have found is that an awful lot of white people do not want it to be true. They do not want to think that race is real. They do not want to think that whites are in trouble. They do not want to think that racial consciousness is emerging among non-whites or that many if not most non-whites are anti-white or that racial consciousness is necessary or desirable for whites. And above all, I have found, whites do not want to think they will have to do anything out of the ordinary to protect themselves or their race or their civilization — to risk their reputations, their well-being, their money, their friends and social status, let alone their lives or physical safety — and as a result they grasp at any straw that is available to avoid confronting the realities of race that might imply that there is a serious problem.
What I am going to do today is to read to you and discuss some of the reactions, mainly from whites but also some from people who seem to be non-whites, that I have received from readers in the last year or so about race.
I do this not to try to refute them or show how clever I am or to toot my own horn about what I have written or how stupid they are. Some of them do in fact strike me as fairly stupid, but by no means all, and I very much appreciate all of them — even those who were abusive — taking the trouble to write at all. The mere fact that some people do bother to write and often at considerable length suggests that something I have read has bothered them and not just as something offensive or bad.
My point is rather that these responses seem to indicate that whites are really afraid of racial realities and that fear, much more than any rational or empirical argument, is what really keeps whites from dealing with racial issues more realistically than they do. Moreover, the fears are bolstered by a vast panoply of flawed arguments, misinformation, misconceptions, and unexamined and erroneous assumptions that are routinely invoked to avoid confronting the reality of race.
And my purpose in exploring all these responses and their meaning is that if we are really going to make any real progress in developing white racial consciousness, we need to know not just what the scientific arguments and the social arguments about race are but also what the pseudo-arguments are and how they can be dealt with and laid to rest in the white mind.
Last spring many of you may have seen a three part series on PBS about race that was devoted to trying to prove that race does not really exist and is simply a “social construct.” That claim of course has been an increasingly common response to the hereditarian argument about IQ since at least the publication of the Bell Curve and goes back at least as far as Franz Boas, who made something of a similar argument. In recent years, far more than the scientific challenge to the IQ argument, the “race as just a social construct” argument has prevailed, especially because the Human Genome Project and its director Craig Venter more or less endorsed it.
The PBS series regurgitated that point of view, and I commend to you the excellent article dissecting the series and the argument Michael Rienzi in American Renaissance last spring.
I also dissected the series and the argument in a column of May 30 last year, and I have attacked the argument that race is merely a social construct several other times in my columns over the last couple of years. Some time after my column appeared I received this response to it from someone calling himself “Disch”:
I have not seen the PBS show, however…. I read your rebuttal to it. We can agree that the concept of race has historically served as an impediment to social progress. More recently, the concept of affirmative action is a perfect example. Who is to say who is white, and who is black? What is the litmus test? Is it based on the darkness of skin? The degree of curliness in your hair? If you met me, you would say that I am white. But I would argue that thousands of years ago, my ancestors roamed Africa, and it is only due to their migration northward that you call me white. And if you want to go back more in time, all of our ancestors likely roamed Africa or what is now China, and earlier still, swam in the oceans. So despite arguments about mitochondrial dna, people who wish to divide us have to arbitrarily decide how far back in time they want to go as to when—somebody’s ancestors left Africa to go to Europe. That makes me wonder if so called Native Americans should be called Asians, since their ancestors came from Asia via the land bridge in the Bering Sea. Somebody better alert Washington on that.
The point is that there are those who wish to divide us and some who realize that the merit of somebody should be based on their individual qualities. The concept of the country was to abolish the need for hyphens in your nationality. If you have confidence in yourself, you don’t need the crutch of ethnocentrism. That’s all
As I said, my purpose is not to refute these responses but I can’t help but make several remarks about them. First, we do not agree that the concept of race has “served as an impediment to social progress.” The concept of race, like many other concepts in Western thought and science, was an immense step forward in human progress. Its denial and rejection in the early part of the last century is what has been an impediment.
Secondly, the question the writer raises of “Who is to say who is white, and who is black? What is the litmus test? Is it based on the darkness of skin? The degree of curliness in your hair?” Race of course is based on a number of different criteria, among which hair texture and skin color are two. It is a common misconception among anti-racists, as they often call themselves, that skin color is the main or only criterion racial realists invoke, though as anyone who has read scientists like Rushton or Jensen or Carleton Coon or John R. Baker knows, that is simply untrue.
Thirdly, there is this writer’s bald assertion that “If you met me, you would say that I am white. But I would argue that thousands of years ago, my ancestors roamed Africa, and it is only due to their migration northward that you call me white.” No I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t call Jesse Jackson white because his ancestors came from Africa. I would call him black because based on several biological criteria which I will not discus today that’s what he is, just as Africans like Muammar Qaddafi and F.W. de Klerk are not black. Migration by itself, or geographical location, has nothing to do with biological traits, and there is no reason to “go back more in time” to China or the ocean because we are talking about present-day racial differences, not how or when or where they evolved.
This writer also harbors an unexamined assumption closely related to the neoconservative and liberal belief that the United States is really a “proposition country” or that, “The concept of the country was to abolish the need for hyphens in your nationality. ” She does not argue for this belief any more than she argues for the belief that “race has been an impediment,” but merely assumes it and assumes also that I and probably everyone else also share it.
And finally there is the writer’s conclusion that her point is that we should evaluate each other as individuals, a point I don’t believe I ever questioned, and that “If you have confidence in yourself, you don’t need the crutch of ethnocentrism. ”
Again, I did not say in the column that we do, though in fact ethnocentrism is a perfectly legitimate and important trait, but rather I concluded with a point to which she did not respond at all, probably because she quite missed it.
What I actually wrote was:
PBS’s lies about race are worth exposing, not only because it’s not true that we’re all mongrels but also because those lies help perpetuate the anti-white claims that whites and their whole civilization are inherently “racist” and based on the repression and exploitation of other races. Showing that it’s the anti-white crusaders who are doing the lying and perpetrating the pseudo-science — and who just possibly might like to do a bit of repressing and exploiting themselves — tells us a few truths, not only about race itself but also about how Americans of all races are being deceived about it.
I think the reason this writer missed my point is because she was so worried about the danger of having to adopt the ethnocentrism that she thought my column implied, and she was probably correct that it did imply ethnocentrism. But she was so frightened by the specter of legitimizing ethnocentrism and the concept of race that the threat to whites to which I alluded in the columns simply did not register with her. And as I suggested in the beginning of my speech I think that tells us something about the white mind today and what has been done to it and what it has done to itself.
I also received another response to the column, from a person I think is probably black calling himself “Thousands”:
it’s too bad you don’t know more about DNA and racial heritage markers in DNA. The fact that such markers exist does not mean that they are consistent, or even always significant. For example, an African marker was found in the DNA of a South Pacific Islander. Conclusion? Possibly migration, but not necessarily, it could also be a spontaneous mutation of the DNA at that point, much the same as the one that created the same marker in African populations.
The DNA in all races on earth is remarkable similar. What science says is that there are no significant differences between races, when looking at DNA. That means that there is no significant difference between a white person and a black person, genetically speaking. That what it means that race is a social construct.
Is this clear now, you stupid cracker?
Department of Anthropology, it doesn’t matter where.
The silliness of this argument ought to be clear. First, Negro DNA did not spontaneously evolve or mutate in the South Pacific; interracial breeding is a far more likely explanation, if his assertion about its presence in the South Seas is true at all.
Secondly, it’s true “The DNA in all races on earth is remarkable similar,” which is why all human races are classified as belonging to the same species, but the DNA of chimpanzees is 98.9 percent the same as that of humans, so the point is not very meaningful and definitely does not mean “there is no significant difference between a white person and a black person, genetically speaking” or that “race is a social construct.” But what I found interesting about the response is that after invoking inaccurate science and weak reasoning to bolster his preachy opening about how “it’s too bad I don’t know more about DNA,” the writer simply loses it and winds up hurling names, betraying that it is not science at all that drives his rejection of race but resentment of some kind.
That motivation is entirely clear in several similar responses I received from other readers who acknowledged being black. One from last October with the slug, “Response to Hate Article” said,
You really don’t know what your talking about. Blacks, men women and children have been murdered and raped by white racist for hundreds of years and little or nothing has been done about it statistcally more blacks are incarcerated than whites. As a MINORITY does that mean fewer whites commit crimes being the majority of the population in the United states? Or does that simply mean that fewer whites get punished for their crimes? Why does a black person get 50 years for manslaughter and a white person get 20 years for capital murder? why can a white exconvict get a job today and a black exconvict cannot? You think blacks are privlaged? Well I’m Black and I don’t hate whites, but I do hate the White Man in general. Mostly because they are the biggest liars and make excuses for everything they do, they hide behind the rules and laws that they make to justify their actions in the public eye. They are the biggest thieves on the face of the earth and constantly paranoid that someone wants to take what they have. They call themselves Christians but they don’t forgive and wonder why every race in the world hates them. You should take a look through someone elses eyes before you form an opinion like that, because to tell you the the white mans biggest problem is his arrogance and thats why he will always be the hated. When judgement day arives God will judge the white man for his crimes against humanity and who was first will be last. I hope that you have enjoyed this email as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I pray that God blesses you one day with the sight to truly see whats right in front of you and not to do your will but his.
What I find interesting in this letter is its invocation of religious values to justify what the writer acknowledges is hatred of the “White Man” — he is licking his chops over the prospect of getting back at whites even as he prays for me — and also the effort to use Christian ethics to try to manipulate guilt. This is a common theme in the responses I have received from blacks. A somewhat similar but less gloating message said:
if america was to finally pay us for the free labor of our ancestors all could be forgiven but many whites feel as though it was ok for us to be enslaved for some barbaric reason.
this is the same country that gave the japenese 20000 for being locked up in interment camps during ww2. and they was the ENEMY for crying out loud.
but we get enslaved for 236 some odd years and not even an apology much less reparations.
and the people here call themselves christians what a cruel joke that is.
As I said, my point is not to refute these arguments so much as to try to show what arguments whites rely on in resisting racial consciousness, and even though these reactions come from blacks, I think they invoke these religious themes because they anticipate or have found by experience that a great many whites are affected by such appeals and these appeals are often invoked by whites themselves. Almost literally every time I have argued or debated about race in a public forum, I get a response from whites of quoting the Bible verse of Galatians 3:28 — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” This verse apparently has become the basic text for Christian universalism and race denial, although if it were interpreted as literally as those who use it for that purpose do, it would also deny the existence of sexual differences, a conclusion that is not only absurd but would appear to gut the Christian argument against gay marriage. It would also quite destroy any basis for the state of Israel, but that is another issue.
The whole case for reparations and affirmative action depends on this presumption of white guilt that Christianity as interpreted commonly today by both liberals and conservatives bolsters. Personally I am very skeptical that many whites actually feel guilt over racial issues, but it is true that whites have a very difficult time dealing with the appeal to guilt. They do not want to defend slavery and are unable even to rely on a historical relativist argument that slavery was a widely accepted institution in its time or to argue that slavery, like persecuting witches, was wrong but does not mean that whites today bear no responsibility for it. Almost all the other actions in the white past that are widely regarded today as evil are ignored, — no one argues that we owe reparations to women because we used to burn witches at the stake — but slavery and racial exploitation are exceptions that most whites seem unable to deal with objectively.
Last November I wrote a column about an op-ed by Shelby Steele that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 13. Steele acknowledged that white racial consciousness was not permitted in Western society today, in contrast to the racial consciousness of non-whites that was permitted and even encouraged, and the reason for this double standard, he wrote is that:
No group in recent history has more aggressively seized power in the name of its racial superiority than Western whites. This race illustrated for all time — through colonialism, slavery, white racism, Nazism — the extraordinary human evil that follows when great power is joined to an atavistic sense of superiority and destiny. This is why today’s whites, the world over, cannot openly have a racial identity.
In my column I did point out that this claim was simply untrue, that non-whites up until fairly recently in world history have probably committed far more violence and aggression against whites than whites had against them, given the Arab and Mongol invasions of the Middle Ages and indeed the Moslem conquest of white controlled areas in Asia and Africa, but refuting Steele’s case in that respect was not my major point, which was to argue that whites themselves deny themselves racial consciousness, for some of the reasons I am trying to talk about here today, and frankly I am largely indifferent to Steele’s argument about who has committed more violence against whom. But that was precisely what most of those who responded to my column wanted to talk about.
Thus, in a response slugged “Whites and extraordinary evil,” a reader whose race I am unable to tell for certain wrote:
Objectively speaking, Steele is right. How do you explain the fact that whites are approximately 20% of the world’s population yet occupy about 65% of it land surface. The Americas fell to the whites because they slaughtered at least 80 million people to occupy the vast spaces from Canada to the Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). Then they slaughtered the indigenous Australians, Tasmanians and New Zealanders to occupy those territories. They invaded Africa and slaughtered Africans in order to occupy those parts where the found the climate tolerable: Kenya, Zimabawe(Mugabe is just trying to pry them loose and send them packing), South Africa(Mandela is liked because he is tolerant of the crimes(murder, rape and theft) the whites committed to occupy that beautiful land, Namibia(the Germans slaughtered approximately 70% of the Hereros in the early 1900’s in most horrific fashion) and other parts of Africa. But white King Leopold of Belgium takes the cake. He slaughtered up to 10 million Congo inhabitants in his rapacious drive to capture a rubber producing area. Murder interspersed with limb chopping was that “goodly” king’s speciality. And of course, the whites have slaughtered each other for eons in Europe and Eurasia. The latest slaughter was WWI with its Holocaust for which the white Jews are exploiting to the hilt—as if they are perpetually enraged that fellow whites could have treated them that way. Only now the whites of Europe have cast aside the sword for which the rapacious white settlers in the Americas castigate them. What a bloodthirtsy lot!
You say Moslems have attacked whites in Europe. Hardly. The Moslem Turks invaded Europe but about 60% of Turks are phenotypically white and the Moslems(Moors and Arabs) who invaded(some claim that they were invited) Southern Spain hardly went beyond that area and did not engage in wholesale slaughter.
You mention Idi Amin(his kill toll is vastly exaggerated by the Western media) and Mugabe(same for Mugabe)—bah! these 2 are petty pikers in the killing business compared to the masters of KILL such as Stalin, Hitler, Nixon, Bush I and II , Jefferson(he ran a slave state which resulted in the deaths of millions), Elizabeth I, Ferdinand of Spain, et al.
As I said, I am more or less indifferent as to which race slaughtered more of the other race, but the apparent importance that readers like this gentleman as well as Steele himself attached to that issue suggests they see it as critical in the case against whites and the legitimacy of white consciousness and that in turn suggests that perhaps whites themselves are just as vulnerable to that argument as they are to the appeal to guilt over slavery.
As I also remarked, I am not at all convinced that real feelings of guilt are especially powerful among most whites, but what apparently is powerful among many whites is not so much real guilt feelings as simply an inability to answer the accusations against whites or to resist the argument that because these accusations are true, whites should not be allowed a distinct white consciousness and identity. That attitude—I’m not sure what else we could call it since it doesn’t seem to be so much a consciously held idea as simply an unexamined assumption — is one that AR readers and racially conscious whites should consider addressing more than we have.
In addition to an inability or unwillingness to deal with the argument from accusation, whites also seem inclined simply to deny arbitrarily even the social meaning of “whiteness.” In one response to my column on the Steele article, a reader wanted to take me to task for talking about “the white vote.” Actually, it was Steele himself who had written that
It is quite acceptable for either party to explicitly go after the black, Hispanic, or even the Jewish vote. In fact both parties gain an indispensable moral authority by doing so. But it is absolutely verboten for either party, or any white candidate, to appeal to whites as a racial identity group. Racial identity is simply forbidden to whites in America and across the entire Western world.
My reader challenged the very existence of a “white vote”:
Hi Mr. Francis,
I just finished reading your article and I understand your view on the apparent double standard. I have pondered the issue for quite a while, and I would like to give you an alternative view you may not have thought of.
What exactly is “the white vote”? I know what Jewish is, I know what black is (decedents of Africans), and I know what Mexican is (decedents from Mexico). Aside from making the incredible logical jump that everyone in these categories votes the same, they are discernible categories.
I do not think people who have pride being Irish, German, Italian, Swedish, etc are painted with the same “Nazism” brush. How can you be proud you are a color? That doesn’t—to me—make any sense. I can fully understand being proud of your heritage, your ancestors, your family name, but I don’t think all white people fall into a category with any other binding then they all share a lighter pigmentation. From what I have seen, a German household tends to have different priorities than an Italian one, for example.
I think if a politician said he was going after the Irish vote or the Swedish vote it would be taken differently then “the white vote”. I understand your point in the article—I have seen and do see the preferred categories in our society (affirmative action, et al), but I am not sure being “proud you are white” is necessarily a good thing either.
I think the reader actually has a point here, though it really doesn’t challenge anything either Steele or I said and it’s also clear he has no understanding at all of what race means. He assumes race simply means “color.” “How can you be proud you are a color? That doesn’t—to me—make any sense. I can fully understand being proud of your heritage, your ancestors, your family name,” without grasping that those cultural legacies are closely related to racial identity and that racial identity involves much more than skin color.
His valid point is that non-racial white groups are allowed to have distinct identities, at least as voting blocs. But the larger point remains, that while other racial groups have distinct identities even beyond political behavior, whites as a group are not.
Moreover, the reader sees nothing wrong with this, I would suggest, precisely because he cannot make himself believe that being white is in itself meaningful or real or important. This is not the same idea as the belief that “race is merely a social construct” but it is closely related to it. And there is the uncertainty at the end of the letter, that he is “not sure being proud you’re white is a good thing” that points to a more deeply seated fear of racial identity. Note that nowhere does he say that being proud you’re black or some other non-white is not a good thing. Only white identity is what alarms him.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had years ago with a conservative about racial differences, long before The Bell Curve popularized the IQ argument. I suggested to him that there was evidence for hereditary differences between races in IQ, and his immediate response —not unfriendly — was that “I would be concerned where that argument could lead.” I didn’t pursue where he thought it might lead, partly because it was obvious enough — not the abolition of affirmative action (which he strongly opposed) or the end of a great deal of egalitarian superstition in social policy that is not directly connected to race itself, but to slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, Auschwitz! As with most conservatives in recent years, all you need to do is ring the bell, and they salivate the way the left has trained them.
I could continue with these kinds of reactions to my efforts to write about white racial problems and consciousness for some time, but the point would be the same: Many whites — and while I can’t prove it, I think the kind of responses I receive are fairly typical of what most American whites today believe and how they think about race and about being white — many whites are deeply terrified of the very concept of race as it applies to whites. Their reaction to any frank discussion of the subject is what I have called before “Escape and Evasion” on an intellectual but also on a deeper psychological level — to deny that race is real, to assert that even if it’s real, it’s not important; to assert that even if it’s real and important, it’s wrong; to assert that even if it’s real and important and not wrong in itself, it could lead to terrible wrongs, and to share, consciously perhaps but even more commonly, unconsciously the assumption that whites, even though there is no such thing as whites, have done great evil throughout their history and that that history forbids them from any positive white racial identity or consciousness.
I am reminded constantly in these replies and others of what James Burnham, wrote in his book Suicide of the West in 1964, a book that was directed mainly toward what he identified as liberal responses to the erosion of Western (American and European) power throughout the world. As the European empires ebbed in the 1950s and 60s and communist and anti-Western power expanded, Burnham wrote, the liberal reaction was one of accommodation, though the flaccid liberal response was not confined to foreign dangers. Toward the end of the book, in a passage that would deeply shock and offend most self-proclaimed conservatives today, Burnham offered this illustration of liberal rationalization of Western decline:
At the beginning of September, 1963, at a moment when the nation’s constitutional and social fabric was being torn by generalized racial conflict that was posing issues impossible to settle and therefore certain to become graver and more dangerous over the coming years, the American Psychological Foundation held a large conference in Philadelphia. The New York Times (Sept. 2, 1963) singled out for report the address in which Professor Gordon W. Allport of Harvard explained that the ‘racial demonstrations in America are basically a sign of good national emotional health…. On the whole, it is a wholesome and healthy movement.’ The Negroes, Professor Allport elaborated further, are “running for home” — a term he adapted from a “goal gradient” theory derived from the observation that “an experimental subject speeds up when approaching the goal presented in a psychological test.” It is easy to imagine Professor Allport in late Roman days, explaining how the animals in the Coliseum are generally a playful lot, especially when running for home.” (SoW, p. 303)
Burnham concluded his book with an analogy that keeps coming to mind when discussing today, not the liberal responses to foreign communist conquests and Western decline, but the white responses to the realities, natural and social, of race.
It is as if a man, struck with a mortal disease, were able to say and to believe, as the flush of the fever spread over his face, “ Ah, the glow of health returning!”; as his flesh wasted away, “At least I am able to trim down that paunch the doctor always warned me about”; as a finger dropped off with gangrene or leprosy, “Now I won’t have that bothersome job of trimming those nails every week!”
Liberalism, Burnham concluded:
permits Western civilization to be reconciled to dissolution; and this function its formulas will enable it to serve right through to the very end, if matters turn out that way: for even if Western civilization is wholly vanquished or altogether collapses, we or our children will be able to see that ending, by the light of the principles of liberalism, not as a final defeat, but as the transition to a new and higher order in which Mankind as a whole joins in a universal civilization that has risen above the parochial distinctions and discriminations of the past.” (SoW, p. 305)
My purpose today is not to dissect the ideological and psychological construct Burnham labeled “liberalism,” but whatever its label, what he was talking about is with us yet, a mentality, now far more pervasive among whites than 1960s liberalism ever was, that reconciles the white race to dissolution and eventual extinction. It is, let me emphasize, much more a psychological phenomenon than an intellectual or philosophical one, although it makes use of intellectual and philosophical concepts to rationalize itself, concepts that often betray their irrational motivations simply by their transparent absurdity and incoherence.
And because it is essentially psychological and indeed a form of neurosis, it is a problem that we — by whom I mean people like us who read or even write for American Renaissance and similar publications — cannot adequately deal with on a rational and intellectual level.
In other words, all the scientific arguments about IQ and DNA, all the facts about the reality of race as a force of nature or as a social and political force, all the statistics about black crime, black educational failures, black poverty, and the absence of significant black accomplishments over history, all that will avail us nothing because those are rational and intellectual appeals and are easily ignored or deflected by those who are unconsciously terrified by the realities to which they relentlessly point. What we do need to do is to explore more fully what it is that lies at the root of the mental block that prevents today’s whites from confronting those realities, to discover why it is there at all and how it got there, and to find out how that block can be dissolved before the realities it hides destroy us.