This could get very, very nasty, very, very quickly.

Francis W. Porretto asks the question that allegedly no one is supposed to ask:

Here we confront the ultimate forbidden thought for our time and place: What if the differences among the races extend to more than appearance and physique?
  • Could there be intellectual differences among the races?
  • Could there be emotional differences among the races?
  • Could there be moral or ethical differences among the races?
  • Could there be spiritual differences among the races?

My thinking on this has been, and continues to be, that yes, there could be, but that demonstrating the existence of same would not, in and of itself, justify discriminatory action.

One of Mr Porretto's commenters, meanwhile, asks a provocative question:

Your ruminations on race and sociology lead you to a dangerous place. The great civil rights victories of the 1950s and '60s were won only because racism was successfully branded in the minds of Americans as not only backward and ugly, but irrational. Wrong on the merits, so to speak. Even still, the idea of the natural supremacy of the white man over the black man hasn't died so much as gone into remission.

To allow free inquiry into this contentious matter — especially on the matter of spiritual equality, which to my knowledge only the most disgusting of racists fails to grant — is to violate the bedrock tenet of the tenuous (at times) racial peace that has prevailed in this country. What could we possibly gain from greater acceptance of musings like [Steve] Sailer's that would be worth such a price?

Note that I define "free inquiry" above as the removal of the strong social taboo against the asking of such questions, as addressed by the thrust of your essay. In no way do I advocate the use of State power to stop people from asking questions.

I will stipulate, for purposes of argument, that "wrong on the merits" is correct and that the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 60s was doing the right thing for the right reasons: at this point, I can't imagine anyone other than the most blatant of racists arguing otherwise.

I question, for instance, Mr Sailer's assertion, in the item linked under his name, that "Let the good times roll is an especially risky message for African-Americans. The plain fact is that they tend to possess poorer native judgment than members of better-educated groups. Thus they need stricter moral guidance from society." It seems to me that if superior native judgment is to be found among the "better-educated groups," it would follow that education, not genetics, is the primary variable.

Another commenter on Mr Porretto's thread:

I don't mind people bashing on popular black "culture" in America — young black men are constantly assaulted by MTV, movies, celebrity news, etc with an image of the glamorous "thug life" in a way that whites never are. Combine that with the statistical realities of poverty, illegitimacy, etc, and it's not hard to see where Sailer gets his ideas.

But these things have not only no provable connection with race, but not even any plausible hypothetical one. We've never been able to do any kind of study that controls for the environmental factors in upbringing when measuring such factors as academic performance, intelligence, etc — which we KNOW has a very substantial impact on performance — so group averages of such things are completely meaningless as long as the massive cultural and economic disparities remain between blacks and whites. (Or the smaller ones between whites and Asians, for that matter.)

This is a point regularly leveled against, for instance, The Bell Curve. And I would mention that the life of the "thug" has considerable appeal to some young white men as well.

But I remain puzzled. Did white America really basically buy the silence of black America? Is the social contract somehow based on this taboo? And, most disturbing, are there other subjects that must remain off the table?

The Vent

#452
8 September 2005

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