Opposing racial preferences while hiding racial differences in intelligence

John Leo, a shrewd and sensible if not exactly path-breaking commentator, can’t quite figure out how to describe the black deficit in intellectual abilities—which is of course the central problem in the diversity debate. He starts off a column on the Jayson Blair affair by remarking that quota systems lead newsrooms to hire “many inexperienced, unprepared blacks and Hispanics.” Now Leo surely knows that the problem is not a mere lack of experience and preparation on the part of minorities such as Blair (i.e., a lack which could be made up by more experience and preparation), but a lack of the requisite intellectual ability for the job. He uses the “unprepared” euphemism—as all mainstream conservative writers do—to avoid stating the uncomfortable facts about racial differences in intelligence.

But then, having covered himself with the obligatory euphemisms, Leo steps sideways toward the truth. Referring to the goal of the American Society of Newspaper Editors that by the year 2025, 38 percent of reporters must be minorities (today the figure is 11.5 percent), he asks: “Can newspapers triple the percentage of nonwhites in two decades while maintaining standards? What are the papers willing to do about the low SAT verbal skill scores posted among minorities it wishes to sign up in big numbers?”

As Leo surely knows, SAT scores are a measure, not of “experience” or “preparation,” but of inborn academic ability; indeed, one of the original purposes of the SATs was to ferret out students who may not have gone to good high schools but who nevertheless had the potential to do college work despite their lack of preparation. Furthermore, SAT scores are known to correlate highly with IQ. The upshot is that Leo makes only a passing acknowledgment of the real racial differences in intelligence, while continuing to lace his columns with obfuscatory references to blacks’ “lack of preparation.”

Like all mainstream conservatives, John Leo is caught in a bind on the question of race. On one hand, he clearly sees that the movement to achieve an enforced racial equality of results must be ruinous to civilization. On the other hand, he refuses to face the fact that that movement can never be decisively discredited until mainstream writers like himself unambiguously refute the egalitarian fiction on which it rests.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 19, 2003 07:39 AM | Send


A correspondent writes:


“Do you really believe that blacks are born inherently less intelligent than whites?”

Here is my reply to him:

It’s not a matter of my opinion. Surely you’re not unfamiliar with the 15 point IQ gap between blacks and whites which has held true for generations. Here’s a quick illustration of how that affects the percentage of blacks who are qualified for intellectual professions, as compared with that of whites. Remember that the minimum IQ for intellectual professions is about 115.

50 percent of whites are above 100 IQ. 16 percent of blacks are above 100 IQ.

16 percent of whites are above 115 IQ. 2.3 percent of blacks are above 115 IQ.

2.3 percent of whites are above 130 IQ. 0.4 percent of blacks are above 130 IQ.

What this means is that the percentage of blacks who are minimally qualified for academic work and the professions is about one-sixth that of whites. This—not discrimination, not illegitimacy, and not culture—is the underlying reason for the lack of equal representation of blacks in intellectually demanding fields.

The IQ differential also correlates roughly with the fact that under the (pre-race-normed) SATs, only about 100 blacks in the whole U.S. got over 700 in the verbal SATs in any given year.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 19, 2003 2:16 PM

I’ve commented on this issue on vfr in the past, so I’ll just raise an ancillary question. Mr. Auster shows that John Leo really sees the truth, and one has to believe that most conservatives do too. So, why do we all sidle away from it?

On one level there’s sheer physical fear. ‘Nuff said.

But more subtle dangers threaten. Try a thought-experiment. Suppose everybody who in his heart of hearts accepts the fact of that 15-point IQ difference, but won’t admit it even to himself, openly acknowledged it and acted consistently with his knowledge. What would happen?

Federal and state laws by the score would be recognized as destructive and hypocritical. School structures would need to be modified. Other variants of the egalitarian ideology would undergo new scrutiny. A large part of our social consensus would crumble, and what would take its place? Pursue that thought experiment further, and the prospects become truly scary.

For that reason, we shall continue to be public hypocrites, for the sake of social peace. We shall continue to rationalize that policy, on the ground that the stiff price we’re paying is still less than the price we’d pay for the overturning of the whole structure—social, political, educational, economic—built upon a lying foundation.

Posted by: frieda on May 19, 2003 4:23 PM

Let me suggest another thought-experiment. A time must come, perhaps in the lifetime of some vfr posters, when all the measures to expand career opportunities for blacks, all the gimmicks to boost black kids’ self-esteem, all the extra coaching of college freshmen, all the “diversity” programs in corporations, etc., etc., will have existed long enough to have proven that the racial difference in IQ wasn’t innate. Everyone will have to concede that all the aforementioned measures were futile, and their very failure will provide a far stronger argument for the innateness of the IQ difference than would be available if they’d never been tried.

Posted by: frieda on May 19, 2003 4:36 PM

Good points by Frieda, but why does she find this scary? For whom would it be scary?

It seems to me that we face two options: either we continue to yield step by step to the diversity agenda until it destroys our society, or we take a stand and oppose it. This choice relates not just to affirmative action but to racial shakedowns of businesses, multiculturalism, illegal immigration, legal immigration, all of it. The unexamined assumption in the minds of the white majority is that they cannot openly oppose these things because they cannot lead any more, and they cannot lead anymore because all groups, as groups, must be treated with equal respect and as having an equal say. That is multiculturalism, which is tantamount to the end of a single nation. But if the majority began acting as the majority again and took the lead (for example, in opposing racial preferences for blacks and in rejecting the idea of white guilt toward blacks), this entire dynamic would change.

In a larger sense, we have effectively ceased to be a nation because the group that used to represent the nation—the white majority—no longer does so, and there is no prospect of the nonwhite groups, as groups, ever doing so. So for the whites to make the legitimacy of their own positions (e.g., opposition to group rights) dependent on minority approval is a recipe for defeat. The salvation of America depends on the European America majority behaving as the majority and leading, which they did in the past. And if they led, representing not just themselves as a group but America as a country, many of the minorities would respect them and follow them.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 19, 2003 4:55 PM

Responding to Freida’s second thought experiment, I think she is underestimating the power of liberalism to maintain its beliefs in the face of the most spectacular discrediting. Example: Israel under Barak took the “peace process” to the max, and in return the Palestianians launched a terror war. This should have been the nail in the coffin of the “peace process,” but it wasn’t. Another example: the Jayson Blair affair. This should totally discredit the regime at the NY Times, but it won’t. The Sulzberger crew will just sail on.

If we wait for the failures of leftism to convert leftists from their leftism, we will have to wait for leftism literally to destroy our country. Leftism will never stop on its own; it must be opposed by a counter force.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 19, 2003 5:16 PM

Responding to Frieda’s first thought-experiment, I would argue that this society has already reached the point where AA should have effectively closed the gap between black/white achievement. The diversity regime has been entrenched for more than 30 years now. As Mr. Auster pointed out, this will make no difference whatsoever to leftists. As with the Soviet Union, they will simply modify their argument to state that the pure AA/diversity doctrine has yet to be applied. The people running the NY Times are true religious fanatics - no unpleasant truth will dissaude them from carrying out the dictates of their leftist faith. Perhaps that is one of the reasons (on a subconscious psychological level) they have taken up the Islamist cause so willingly.

Posted by: Carl on May 19, 2003 6:18 PM

A correspondent who agrees with me about many issues thinks I’m completely wrong on IQ and race. Among other things, he wrote:

“The very concept of what you are attempting to show is totally flawed. It is not provable in any way and is a useless point.”

Here is my reply:

I want you to understand why it is essential, and not whimsical or arbitrary or cruel, that this argument be made.

Imagine you had a cousin of below average intelligence who worked in a non-demanding job in the family business. He’s your cousin, you’re fond of him, no one makes anything of his intelligence. But then suppose that he decided he should have equal rights in running the family business because, he’s been told, everyone is equally intelligent. Not only that, but now he says that his lower status position in life is really your fault, because you’ve been keeping him down despite his equal abilities. Suppose he also says that you owe him years in back pay for all the lost salary he would have made if his real abilities had been recognized. Unless you want to allow him to make false charges against you, to expropriate your wealth, and take over your business and run it into the ground, you would have no choice but to point out the very things about his limited intelligence that before, out of simple decency, you didn’t want to mention.

That is the situation with blacks and whites in America. Liberal orthodoxy says that blacks on average are equally capable as whites and that their lower economic position is due to white racism. That charge is used as a cudgel to attack the whole country, to justify riots, to portray whites as evil racists, to enforce racial preferences in schools and businesses, to blackmail companies, to lower standards, to run institutions into the ground, and so on and so on. The ONLY WAY to discredit that anti-white campaign is to expose the egalitarian fiction that justifies it. This makes it necessary to speak the truth about black capabilities, as unpleasant and difficult as that is.

It was not race-conscious traditionalists who raised the issue of group differentials in intelligence; it was liberals who did that, when they began demanding group equality of results. If they don’t want this sensitive and painful issue to be discussed, then they should drop their claim that blacks as a group are exactly equal in intelligence to whites and that, if it weren’t for white racism, blacks as a group would be equal to whites in all measures of accomplishment.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on May 19, 2003 6:35 PM

I agree with everything that Mr. Auster has written in reply to my posts. I said that the consequences of a turn toward honesty would be scary, and so they would be. That doesn’t mean I think it wouldn’t be worth the price. And I said that we shall continue on our present course on the ground that the price of changing it would be higher than the price of not changing it. I don’t endorse that rationalization; but most people do. The responses to my posts have amplified my thoughts and are consistent with them.

Posted by: frieda on May 20, 2003 8:18 AM

Carl is right: AA and other such programs have been around long enough to have closed the achievement gap, if the assumption underlying those policies had been true. Yet liberals persist in their egalitarian faith; so do many conservatives (David Horowitz is a particularly vocal example).

By predicting widespread acknowledgment of the truth for the future—oh, maybe the end of this century—I was looking forward to the time when even liberals would be forced to abandon the lie.

Conservatives will do so first, because the lie contradicts their own philosophy. Liberals will hold out longer, because the lie expresses values in their philosophy. Yet reality has already mugged them in a number of less threatening ways. Their acknowledgment that IQ innately correlates with race will take longer to come than their acknowledgment that tax-rate cuts do foster economic growth, and that the Soviet Union was not the New Deal In A Hurry, and that the New Math has produced a generation of adults who can’t add, and so on. After all, tax-rates, New Dealers, and teachers of New Math don’t riot and loot to express their opinions.

Posted by: frieda on May 20, 2003 8:41 AM

Failure to see that white Europeans such as Piaget and Vygotsky concluded that cognitive development is a result of culture and enviornment is to be flawed in your thinking. When white men who have held the cultural and intellectual dominance for centuries administer white concaucted I-Q test to the oppressed non-dominant population, what would you expect but a 15 point difference. To use I-Q testing alone as a measure of true intelligence is to be in deep denial of the fact that I-Q is a socio-cultural construct developed by white privileged individuals who wish to maintain and perpetuate their own socio-economic type.
a brother with deep concerns

Posted by: Roxroy Reid on March 7, 2004 3:11 PM

Thanks to Mr. Reid for the entertaining riff of clichés. I would like to ask him this. If IQ is just a construct created by whites to advance the power of whites over non-whites and has no real meaning, then why is it that some white people score much much lower on IQ tests than other white people? Why is it that 10 year old white children with IQs of 90 will as adults have vastly lower average incomes, higher accident proneness, and more trouble with the law than white people who at age 10 had IQs of 120? In short, if IQ is valid for whites, and shows very significant differences among whites, why should it be invalid for blacks?

Also, if IQ tests are created to advantage whites over nonwhites, then why do East Asians have higher average IQ scores than whites?

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on March 7, 2004 4:56 PM

“…the Soviet Union was not the New Deal In A Hurry…” —Frieda

Actually, the Third Reich was the New Deal in a Hurry. Complete with affirmative action.


Posted by: Reg Cæsar on March 8, 2004 2:55 AM
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