I supposed I should know better, but the Village voice is attacking me, and every other ‘right wing blogger’ for defending John Derbyshire.
Curt Doolittle … allowed as how “racism is just plain stupidity.” Nonetheless he explained that “African Americans FACTUALLY demonstrate African American distributions of IQ are FACTUALLY almost a full standard deviation lower than that of their white counterparts,” and that “whites used to be racist but the wars ended their comfort with self confidence. Blacks are racist at the bottom.”
Doolittle also noted that black people are disproportionately represented in crime statistics. He did not consider their disproportionate representation in poverty statistics to be connected — that sort of thinking, we suppose, would conflict with the Austrian Libertarian tradition — but suggested that “aberrant behavior among minorities” in the U.S. is “tolerated under the principle of diversity and freedom of self expression.” — The Village Voice
To which I replied:
Thank you for quoting me on this issue. I was pretty reluctant to write about it. It strikes me as odd that if I write something on fashion or gender relations, or racism, that it gets a lot of attention — my most popular article was when I stated that tattoos had gone out of style in the middle class. But if I write something meaningful about political theory you can hear crickets. So, I guess this kind of thing goes with the territory.
But I have a few nits with your quote:
1) Racism is just plain stupid. One cannot judge an individual by the properties of his class. Although one can judge a class by the properties of its individuals.
2) Denying that we in the states have a racial issue is not stupid. It’s obvious, or we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I’lll avoid the detail of why we have a greater problem with race than our English and Canadian counterparts, but the fact that we do, is indicative of the problem. They can enforce behavioral norms, and our society has forbidden such pressure to conformity as the French impose.
3) Denying that poverty is a symptom is not stupid either. You imply that I do not seem to appreciate this issue. Acknowledging that the reason for poverty is not racism but IQ is not stupid either. It’s just what it is. Acknowledging that the distribution of IQ varies among groups isn’t stupid either.
5) I’m not advocating racism – that is an emotional construct. I”m saying that the suite of policy solutions that seek to solve the problem through educational commingling, and treating racial groups as homogenous in ability is simply HARMFUL to those at the bottom, 40% of whom are black. Even the genders are not homogenous. If we look at the data we should not start boys in school for a year after we start girls, and perhaps two years. That’s just one aspect of the Finnish model. Instead, those troubled demographics need special attention. I’m appealing for special attention — ie: schools designed to teach something other than middle class whites and asians. I can forgive you for not knowing my broader political position, and leaping to the conclusion you did. I’m just not sure I want to let the error go unanswered. And a look at the complexion of my family, which is a rainbow, should be enough to convince anyone of my personal disposition.
6) Derbyshire was fired for speaking the truth in order to draw attention to the problem. I”m not sure I think his argument is particularly useful. I am sure I don’t agree with his reasons or his solutions. But he was speaking the truth. If you are one of the deniers that thinks human IQ distributions are environmental rather than genetic, then you can get together with climate deniers and have a celebration. But the matter is settled in the data. It’s settled in the profession. And the dirty secret of the Human Genome project: we now know why. Social classes are genetically determined too. And capitalism’s fast meritocratic rotation makes these differences rapidly visible.
So lets move beyond name calling and solve this problem. We can solve it by throwing welfare money at it, or do what we’re doing and continue to see little progress, or we can understand that a very different school system is needed with far more support for a demographic that needs special care in order to fit successfully into society. Because what we’re doing isn’t working.
The race and class warfare prevents us from “Getting To Denmark” and building an egalitarian society. I don’t believe that society can be created with a 300M+ population like it can in a 5M population if we have to rely on a government where consensus of belief is needed and where the winner takes all. And reorganizing our political institutions to accomodate for our impossibly complex diversity of opinion, desire, visions AND abilities, is what I work on full time.
I don’t expect thanks for it. On the other hand, I have many faults, but I don’t think the one you’re attributing to me is one of them. :)