More racial denial from mainstream conservatives
, editor of National Review
, has an article at TownHall.com entitled “Leaving black kids behind,”
in which he writes:
Consider, then, what Ted Kennedy and Co. have wrought: … The typical black high-school graduate has, in effect, only an eighth-grade education … The typical black student scores below 80 percent of white students on tests … Only 23 percent of black students read at a level equal to or better than the average white student …
Lowry’s attempt to blame “Ted Kennedy & Co.” for blacks’ poor performance takes the prize for know-nothing statements about racial differences in academic achievement which ignore the underlying racial difference in intelligence. Average black IQ has been consistently 15 points lower than that of whites ever since IQ tests began, meaning that only 16 percent of blacks have an IQ higher than the average white. Is Lowry also going to blame that
on Ted Kennedy?
In this connection, below is a letter I posted at Opinion Journal.com in reply to Clint Bolick’s article on the racial academic gap, which, like Lowry’s article, is based on the new book by Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom. I got further enlightenment on the subject from Mr. Bolick in a later e-mail exchange. The long and short of it is, while there are a handful of schools that report getting poor blacks students up to the white mean, most of the evidence of black academic improvement cited by the Thernstorms finds, not an elimination of the racial gap (which is what the rhetoric of the Thernstrom’s promoters including Bolick, Lowry, and Thomas Sowell misleadingly suggests), but a narrowing of the gap by between one-fourth and one-third. Here is my letter to OpinionJournal:
The Brutal Reality
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 10, 2003 10:02 AM | Send
Lawrence Auster—New York
Clint Bolick, summarizing the Thernstrom’s findings, tells us that black high school graduates are a full four years behind their white peers in academic skills, and that the majority of black students do not even possess the pre-requisites of basic skills in five of seven subject areas. Having insisted on the harsh reality of this stunningly large academic deficit, Mr. Bolick then places all his hopes for closing the gap on charter schools that have a high sense of mission, high standards, and so on.
But, if you read carefully, you will see that he does not actually claim for such schools what he appears to be claiming. Specifically, he does not say that these schools close the racial academic gap or indeed that they come anywhere near to closing it.
He only says that they do “a remarkably good job,” without his specifying what that means. He also mentions some Texas and North Carolina schools where “rigorous testing and accountability standards” have “narrowed the academic gap slightly.” Since it seems that the best these charter schools can accomplish is a “slight” improvement in an overwhelmingly large racial academic gap, why does Bolick insist that such schools are the solution to the racial gap—a solution so urgent, moreover, that it requires the radical restructuring of public education in America?
It is ironic that an article calling for brutal realism ends with a flight into pure utopianism.
The new book by Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom, “No Excuses”, was discussed recently by Thomas Sowell, including the fact that (supposedly,; I have not read the book) there are public and private schools in this country that take poor black kids and get their achievement test scores above the 50th percentile. I realize that the 50th percentile in the USA is below the 50th percentile in international comparisons with other developed countries, but it still makes you wonder what the real ceiling is on black academic achievement.
I don’t believe that being a traditionalist conservative requires that I believe that IQ scores are purely genetic and not susceptible to significant environmental influence. And, unless that is a fact, then it is certainly possible to point the finger of blame as Rich Lowry did.
Mr. Coleman wrote:
“I don’t believe that being a traditionalist conservative requires that I believe that IQ scores are purely genetic and not susceptible to significant environmental influence. And, unless that is a fact, then it is certainly possible to point the finger of blame as Rich Lowry did.”
Isn’t that a straw man though? Mr. Auster didn’t make a claim about nature or nurture specifically. He said that ever since IQ tests have been administered that blacks have scored 20 points lower. So presumably all of the different nurturing environments during that time have not made any difference whatsoever, and it would be utopian to assume that at issue is a wrong nurturing environment propogated by Ted Kennedy particularly since the relative scores haven’t moved in Ted Kennedy’s lifetime.
Thanks to Matt for that clarification. I’ve added further material to the original post which may also address Mr. Coleman’s concerns. Every time I discuss this issue I make the following caveat: Of course black academic performance could be improved from its present dreadfully low level by a change in the culture, higher standards and expectations, better discipline, and so on; and such measures should be pursued. But there is no evidence (except perhaps for a handful of schools cited by the Thernstroms) that the racial academic gap can be _eliminated_. The demand that it be eliminated, and the assumption that a failure to eliminate it is the fault of white society, is a formula for national suicide via false racial guilt.
I agree with Mr. Auster’s comments above. As for pointing the finger of blame, black education has pretty much gone through two historical phases in this country. In the first, there were a few exceptional schools (Thomas Sowell has written about a black high school in D.C. that was exceptional in its output and high standards) during the segregation era, but they were the exceptions. It is hard to make comparisons during an era of “separate but unequal”. This all precedes Teddy Kennedy.
In the second era, “separate and unequal” was starting to pass away, but the welfare state assault on the black family was phasing in at the same time. Thus, today’s black schools are separate and unequal for reasons having nothing to do with funding or racial discrimination. Their problems stem mainly from the quality of the families in their neighborhoods, and I can certainly hold the likes of Teddy Kennedy responsible in large part for perpetuating that destructive welfare state.
I would not expect to even be able to adequately compare the academic achievements of black and white children until the welfare state was almost completely abolished, and enough time passed that almost no one of influence in the black community could even remember it. Let’s all get back together on this site in the year 2200 and talk about it again. :-)
Mr. Coleman raises too high a bar to discussion. Of course the welfare state and culture are major factors affecting blacks, and in that sense it’s correct to blame liberals, symbolized by Kennedy, for their low condition. But (1) there are lots of blacks who are not part of that welfare state, and (2) there is a vast literature of studies of race differences that factor in socioeconomic differences. Therefore it is quite possible to reach defensible conclusions about race and IQ without having to wait for the utopian event of the end of the welfare state.
If black relative IQ had moved at all, ever, then we might be in a position to start assigning causes to that movement. As it is, though, we are just going through another phase of presupposition.
Mr. Auster’s main point (as I understand it) is that IF there is NEVER an equality of academic performance, under whatever circumstances, that is manifestly not the fault of whites generally or Ted Kennedy specifically. The notion out there in the sky is that as long as blacks underperform relative to whites we have to keep changing things; we _owe_ it to blacks to keep changing things. Blacks have been getting screwed all along, first by evil confederate slaveholders who bought them from other African blacks, then by evil capitalist industrialists who exploited them even after they were no longer enslaved, and then by Ted Kennedy welfare-staters who use them as political cannon fodder.
That notion is nonsense, and the one writer who has demolished it with razor-sharp clarity is our Lawrence Auster. We don’t know why blacks on average have always underperformed academically to the exact same degree despite radical changes in circumstances, and we might never know.
I continue to agree with Mr. Auster and Matt on the key point that we cannot have equality of outcomes in education (just as in income or wealth) be the benchmark that proves whether whites are oppressive or not. The point is that I don’t expect two white males with identical IQs to necessarily end up with the same income, wealth, or academic achievement. Thus, egalitarian results are a nonsensical expectation in general. Furthermore, many of the cultural factors that hold back black students can only be dealt with in the black community, e.g. the accusation that a black student is “acting white” when he is observed to be taking his studies seriously. Obviously, in a case like that, white input is the LAST thing that will be listened to by people in such a culture.
As a traditionalist, I believe that culture matters, and our answer to racial gaps in education should be that: (1) the educational culture needs to be improved, and (2) don’t expect the exact equality of results to follow in any case, because that is absurd. A lessening of the gap on a broad statistical basis is all that can be expected.
The contrary position seems to be that we should publicly declare that the racial gap in education is primarily due to IQ differences and thus will not lessen much, ever; perhaps a little, but not much. I don’t see how this position is more of a traditionalist conservative position than my own, and I can foresee what a loser it will be in terms of political popularity, so the remaining question is its truth or falsehood.
See the three-part recent series of columns by Thomas Sowell on these issues (available in the townhall.com archives) and the column by black liberal William Raspberry at:
In particular, note the results in Raspberry’s column from the second book he reviewed, about Shaker Heights, Ohio, suburban schools, which looked at the educational disparity between middle class white kids and middle class black kids IN THE SAME SCHOOL. These black kids constitute the “there are lots of blacks who are not part of that welfare state” that Mr. Auster mentions. The fact that there are still major cultural differences among whites and blacks in the SAME suburban middle class environment is the salient point there.
Mr. Coleman’s key point, which he offers as a moderate and acceptable alternative to my supposed hard-line explicit insistence on race differences, is: “(2) don’t expect the exact equality of results to follow in any case, because that is absurd.”
Yeah, but the problem is, people DO expect equality of results, and even the mainstream conservatives in this debate seem to expect it as well. So how does Mr. Coleman expect that deeply engrained expectation, amounting to the central creed of modern America, to be dropped? It can only be dropped by demonstrating and insisting on its falseness. And that means talking explicitly about race differences.
Also, this is not a matter of whether Mr. Coleman’s position or my position is the correct “traditionalist” position. It is a matter of which position is correct.
Many cultures are observed to instill the attitude that one should not do better than one’s elders in the family. I have read a study of the arrival of Italians and Sicilians in America that noted this trait. Those who left for America were sometimes even asked something like, “Is it not good enough for you to stay here and take over your father’s shoemaking business? Are we not good enough for you any more?” In other cultures, such as the one in which I was raised, the parents want the children to get a better education and better job than their own.
For the first couple of generations, Italian immigrants lagged the mean in income in America. Cultural assimilation helped remove some of the cultural barriers that were holding them back. No explanations based on IQ were needed when they were lagging behind. I would not be surprised to find that some were offered, though, being that they were olive-skinned Mediterraneans, etc.
How do I expect Americans to stop expecting equality of results? I propose that we talk about examples such as the one I just gave. I propose that we talk frankly about the “acting white” taboo, and how that must be cured from within the black community. Which do you suppose will be more feasible: Convincing mainstream America not to expect equal results by pointing out what I have pointed out so far in this discussion, or convincing them by saying, “Blacks have lower IQs and thus will never match whites or Asians in academic performance.” ??
It seems that Mr. Coleman is backing away from his earlier, relatively firm position, to a mushier one. Now he wants to rely on the cultural explanation. I don’t think this will work, for several reasons. One, the cultural theory has been tried for a long time, and hasn’t succeeded in debunking the equalitarian expectation at all. Second, the cultural explanation assumes that when black culture is changed, black intellectual abilities will become equalized. This puts us back in the social engineering mode of trying to alter people’s behavior to achieve a certain result, and then, when it doesn’t work, resorting to some intellectually dishonest explanation of why it hasn’t worked. Third, the Italian example isn’t apropos since Italians, despite their backwardness relative to the mainstream society when they arrived in America, were still a functioning, self-reliant people. Except for some occasional knife fights and murders (which newspapers a hundred years ago sensationalized), no one particularly worried about them in terms of their being functional human beings. The differences with blacks are much more substantial, they introduce the element of white guilt which is very powerful in a great many whites.
My bottom line is this: modern society subscribes to a ruinous lie. That lie cannot be defeated except by speaking the truth.
Of course I may be wrong. Perhaps there could be a more gradual process, by which people just stop believing the lie, without any public debate about it. However, one of the things that fuels that process is that at least some people, here and there, keep speaking the truth.
Mr. Auster writes: “It seems that Mr. Coleman is backing away from his earlier, relatively firm position, to a mushier one. Now he wants to rely on the cultural explanation.”
I thought my earlier position WAS the cultural explanation, also. I chose as my first two examples the destructive effects of the welfare state, which are cultural effects not IQ effects, and the anti-academic attitudes within black culture. I mentioned that in order to shake off negative cultural effects, it takes generations, e.g. parents who have not known welfare raising children to never think about depending on welfare, or parents who had pretty high academic standards (not worried about “acting white”) setting even higher standards for their own children.
I made it sound pretty pessimistic, but I honestly think that major cultural improvements of any sort really do take generations. Just as getting white Americans to stop thinking that the government owes them prescription drug benefits, or college loans, or whatever, will not be accomplished overnight. But, I try to just be optimistic and say, “If it will take a long time, let’s start today.”
We can call it “social engineering” to try to improve black culture over time, but what is the alternative? Announcing that “Your culture is your own problem; fix it yourself; and, by the way, you have lower IQs and will likely never get up to the mean around here even if you DO improve your own culture.” I would think that such talk will destroy the motivation to work on the cultural problems. And, it certainly is NOT social engineering to end the welfare state. “Compassionate” white people foisted that on blacks in the first place. Removing it is restoration, not utopian engineering. We need to heed the words of Hippocrates, “First, do no harm.”
My long-term plan for blacks is to focus on the cultural problems, including welfare dependency, while simultaneously pointing out that it is historically rare (to the vanishing point) for any two cultures to be so equal that they produce equal economic outcomes.
I have heard everyone else’s criticism; what is everyone else’s plan, so we can compare?
I can’t give full reply now, but I’m NOT saying society should be indifferent. I’ve said over and over that society should do what it can to raise black standards and all the rest. But it should not be done with unrealistic expectations.
Another possible problem with what Mr. Coleman is suggesting is that back when it was illegal for blacks to be taught reading and writing, (and hence receive any education at all,) many blacks desired nothing more than to become literate and receive an education.
Now that the opportunity is open to them, in a society that generally expects its citizens to become educated, there exists the “anti-intellectual culture” within the black community.
It’s not so much a stigma of ‘acting white’ per se as you stated above; it’s deeper than that. They weren’t worried about ‘acting white’ back when they WANTED an education.
It’s as though there is an innate tendency on the part of a significant percentage of the black community to go against the grain of the larger society. In the earlier times, whites could be blamed for their lack of education, obviously. But whites can hardly be blamed today. Yet this anti-cultural tendency results in unsurprising effects for which whites DO get the blame.
Bringing the question down to mere feasibility in terms of what most people are inclined to accept is problematic. If we continue to skirt the real underlying reason for the achievement gap in favor of some explanation that should in theory be correctible, the we will keep chasing the wind, at tremendous expense, while the problem continues to get _worse_. What then?
There has to come a time when we recognize that racial differences in IQ is something that WE CANNOT FIX by any known means, and that society’s expectations must conform to this unyielding reality. Trying to posit other explanations will only exacerbate the effects of the problem by approaching it with a false diagnosis and false hopes for a ‘cure’ based on unrealistic expectations.
The question is do we address it now? Or do we wait for the problem to get worse, contributing to it as we go?
Mr. Lefevre wrote: “If we continue to skirt the real underlying reason for the achievement gap in favor of some explanation that should in theory be correctible, the we will keep chasing the wind, at tremendous expense, while the problem continues to get _worse_. What then?”
If we pursue the theory that black academic achievement is low because of not enough spending on their schools, or class sizes that are too large, or the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, or other leftist explanations, then we will make things worse, and at great expense.
If we pursue what I suggested: wind down the welfare state, stop subsidizing bastardy and dependency, start talking openly about cultural problems and their very real effects, start talking openly about how the “I’m a victim, so you owe me” attitude is self-defeating, talk openly about the unlikelihood that any two cultures are exactly equal in economic outcomes, talk about how a child with a 17-year-old single welfare mother is going to receive less stimulation at home than my two sons receive and therefore we need to steer clear of this situation, etc., etc., then I fail to see how the problems of black academic achievement will get worse, and at great expense.
Perhaps someone can explain it to me.
Because no matter whether any or all of the suggestions you make above were implemented, a significant disparity in academic (and professional) achievement will remain.
And if we keep approaching this fact as though it were something that could be corrected, we are operating under a set of unrealistic expectations. So for instance, we employ forced busing to ensure a racial mix in the schools. But this only exacerbates the problem, because at or around the 4th grade, blacks start falling behind the white students, causing frustration and resentment. (Another effect is that it ends up slowing down the pace that the white children should be following and holding them back, but that’s another matter.)
As blacks continue to remain below the achievement level of whites, whites, again, will be blamed — even if all the problems you rightly identify were eliminated.
So for example, ivy league schools go the extra mile trying to recruit blacks, both out of a perceived need for percentage representation of minorities, and with the justification that if they were only given the chance they would succeed. What we end up with is a black dropout rate that vastly exceeds the white rate.
Instead, if the same blacks had entered a less demanding college they might have done much better. (And the whites excluded from the ivy college might have graduated, but that’s another matter.)
This is just one example of the damage done by denying the fact of racial IQ differences.
Joel: Why don’t you stick to critiquing the ideas that I actually presented, instead of leftist ideas that I did not espouse?
Ivy league affirmative action admissions have nothing to do with addressing the cultural problems that I mentioned, nor does forced busing. They are not a necessary result of my approach in any way. You can hypothesize that leftists might come up with convoluted reasoning to support these policies, but then we can start guessing what their response would be to open discussion of permanent IQ differences, couldn’t we? Two can play this game. Would their response be something that you are therefore responsible for? Whatever we say, the leftist response will always be something to be DEFEATED, not accommodated. We are aiming at the conservative and moderate elements in our country, not at pacifying or converting the leftists.
You also fail to address the significance of my proposal to openly talk about how disparate cultures will never be exactly equal economically, and the effect that could have on unrealistic egalitarian expectations.
Nor does anyone propose an alternative. Can you outline how you would talk about IQ as an economic determinative, and what the end game is for that approach? Do you suppose that large numbers of people will just accept that they are inherently doomed to be less successful? Do you suppose that the negative cultural factors will be addressed as vigorously as I would like, with no sense of defeatism on the part of those who have just been told to accept their position of inferiority on a permanent basis?
I guess I can keep posting these points, and people can keep ignoring them and responding to straw men if they wish.
Mr. Coleman wrote: “Can you outline how you would talk about IQ as an economic determinative, and what the end game is for that approach?”
How about plain, straightforward English? ;-) In fact, this is what the evidence indicates. See for example Prof. Rushton’s review of “IQ and the Wealth of Nations” by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen.
“Do you suppose that large numbers of people will just accept that they are inherently doomed to be less successful?”
Of course there will be denial of this. But do we base telling the truth on what we think people are inclined to accept? There is such a thing as leadership. The fact is, large numbers of people WILL be less successful than others.
I’m not entirely clear on what the difference is with your own proposal to “openly talk about how disparate cultures will never be exactly equal economically.” Is it only the _reason_ for that difference that you would gloss over? How do you propose to engage the topic in your way without at some point dealing with the question of _why_?
(As far as what’s ‘acceptable,’ when you talk about doing away with welfare, talking about ‘cultural problems,’ presumably things like the black crime rate, you’ve already crossed that line anyway.)
Perhaps I’m not understanding your point, (or perhaps you’re not understanding mine, or a little of both,) but what I’m saying is that even if we eliminated all the problems you and I decry, the gap will remain, only then it would become even more apparent, (since the former excuses couldn’t be blamed,) which in turn would only lead to greater resentment of whites by blacks as the only ‘acceptable’ explanation left is malicious racism on the part of whites.
I am saying that your suggestions won’t fix this problem. (I’m not sure whether you disagree with that or whether it doesn’t matter to your point.) And I am saying that if we continue to approach this issue as though every racial group has an equal ability to succeed we are only causing more damage, whether ANY of your agenda were implemented or not. And the longer we deny the truth, and keep rolling on as though it doesn’t exist, the problem will only get worse whethery ANY of your agenda were implemented or not.
I happen to agree with the gist of your proposals as far as it goes. But as long as there is a persistent IQ difference, I don’t see how it’s going to fix the problem of academic disparity.
It is just as likely that a school system effective at bringing out student’s maximum potential could enlarge the gap. But I think that the “g theory” of cognition that suggests more or less a single metric factor that varies among individuals has the most evidence behind it at the moment. IQ tests partly measure “g” and partly measure environmental factors. Tests like Raven’s progressive matrices measure “g” much more reliably. So part of IQ is variable according to environment, and this is what can be improved upon. Part of it is not, however, since “g” is a genetic factor, and it is to be assumed that any gaps caused by that will remain substantially as they are.
What I am 100% sure about, however, is that our current school system fails everyone. Blacks and whites could both do much better. And black communities could do much better at providing a nurturing environment for children. To that extent, I think that looking only at gaps is damaging, because it will inevitably lead to resentment. What each individual needs to do is look at what he can do to make his own community a better place, despite how other communities are doing. That is the most damaging aspect of the current victim-culture, how it keeps people from working to realize their full potential.
I don’t disagree with much of what Thrasy says here. Environment does play a role in I.Q., albeit a much more minimal one than genetics.
And certainly we would all like to see our school system improve. While there are any number of reasons for its decline, (for one thing, I think it was much better when there was real discipline — the Board of Education applied to the Seat of Knowledge.)
But I would still argue that denying racial differences in IQ has contributed greatly to this — not the denial itself, but the policies that have resulted from it, or at least were implemented without taking it into account.
People who have different learning abilities ought not to be in the same classes. I would not segregate classes strictly by race I mean, rather upon the ability of each individual. But this would still have the affect of appearing racially separated, with exceptions of course on both sides. The ruling elite can’t have this. So they mix things together BY race.
Then there’s the problem of achievement and standards. Look at the flack in Florida when Gov. Bush tries to push a requirement that all high school seniors must take a test showing that they have at least 8th grade level skills to graduate. The NAACP threatens to boycott the state lottery. They say it’s ‘racist.’
The grading curve that is given now in schools is largely due to the perceived need to keep classes racially mixed at all costs. (I know you don’t support these Mr. Coleman, but that’s not the point.)
Although we don’t approve of the old state segregation of schools, the fact is that under that system students of similar abilities tended to be together and teachers could address the specific needs of both groups. It’s no coincidence that education has declined since then. The suggestion I make above would accomodate this without the blatant unfairness. Asians of course do better than whites.
Thrasy is concerned that focusing only on the IQ gap would cause resentment. Well, we don’t want to focus ONLY on that — the point is that it has to be _included_ in the discussion, and given the weight of importance that its substance demands. We simply cannot keep beating around this bush.
As far as the resentment factor: OK, look, we have GOT to stop basing what we discuss on whether someone’s going to get offended or not! Certainly we don’t want to cause resentment, but neither can that possibility bring us to self-censorship of something as significant as this very real and long-standing difference.
The fact is there is going to be resentment no matter what we say or do. If we deny IQ, there will be resentment because the gap will still be painfully in evidence and will be blamed incorrectly on white racism. (Just trying to ensure that students earn their diplomas causes resentment!) You’re darned if you don’t and danged if you do. So why not let the hammer fall on the basis of truth?
Failing to face facts injures both parties, one more than the other in this case. If Jewish people are somehow more able than non-Jewish white people, which seems to be the case to this white non-Jewish person, then it is best to accept it and go from there. It does not follow that non-Jewish people must dominate or rule non-Jewish people, though it is possible a Jewish nation could bully a non-Jewish nation and vice versa. Blacks are not even calling for a limited separation whereby Blacks would rule Blacks. Blacks seem lost.
Sorry. The intent was “It does not follow that Jewish people….”
For that matter, I can’t recall ever having been offended upon learning that North Asians tend to be smarter than I am…
Many of the problems we’re touching on in this discussion, including the demand for equality and the fear of stating the truth about inequality, stem from racial integration. I think in a more natural, healthy society there would be much more residential, educational, and social separateness between the races. If they weren’t in the same schools, then there wouldn’t be the expectation that they have exactly the same academic achievement.
Also, I think these discussions would be much easier to follow if everyone tried to keep their comments more succinct. The mind glazes at 500-word long comments.
Mr. Auster wrote: “I think these discussions would be much easier to follow if everyone tried to keep their comments more succinct.”
Everyone = Joel. The incessant rambler. Old habits die hard, but I am trying to improve this. An occassion reminder can’t hurt though. Thanks for being ‘gentle’ in your rebuke. ;-)
I think leaving things to their normal course would result in a natural separation of the races, with exceptions here and there. The social engineering needs to stop. Perhaps just letting things work according to the natural dynamics would even mitigate the need, to some extent, for emphasizing racial IQ differences.
But there’s no way to get around a need for acknowledging the fact, painful though it is.
This has been an interesting discussion. I tend to take the view that it is ultimately only Blacks themselves who can improve their lives. The idea that Whites can come in and “fix” things is ultimately absurd, at least as absurd as the idea that democracy and rule of law will take root in Iraq if we just stay there long enough and pour in sufficient funds. In reading some commentary by the Black writer Elizabeth Wright, I’ve been left with the impression that Blacks were actually doing better in the “bad old days” under segregation than they are now - something completely contrary to the drumbeat of today’s ceaseless self-righteous moralizing from the left.
I think it is most important for Traditionalists to point out the destructive cultural elements while acknowledging that racial differences are real. Inequality is simply a fact of life. Why are we so obessed with eradicating it? Lower IQ does not mean that a person is less valuable in God’s eyes. The idea of equality under the law (vs. equality of outcomes) is a political reflection - albeit imperfect - of the Divine order in that it assigns value to individuals while simulataneausly accomodating inequality (all the parts, even the most humble, are needed for the body to work properly). In contrast, the liberal obsession with equal outcomes inevitably results in a prescription such as that described by Matt in an earlier thread: combining all the food and drink one would consume in a week with a blender and adminstering the mix via an enema. (That was one of your finest, Matt.)
Carl is correct. In addition, humans have the ability to make a good situation a living hell and to make a bad situation seem like fun. One of Christianity’s truths is those who receive more are expected to give more. So the gifted person that becomes a brain surgeon is expected to deal with training and pressures that seem terrible to many. I am quite happy to let others do brain surgery or become president.
“(That was one of your finest, Matt.)”
Thanks, I enjoyed writing it in part because it seemed such a perfect description of the multicult.
“The idea of equality under the law (vs. equality of outcomes) is a political reflection - albeit imperfect - of the Divine order in that it assigns value to individuals while simulataneausly accomodating inequality (all the parts, even the most humble, are needed for the body to work properly).”
It is true that the legal order has to reflect the divine order. The transitional words we tend to use as go-betweens are equality, fairness, and justice. Equality reflects a tendency to ignore the things that are not relevant to a just outcome. Fairness reflects a tendency to apply the laws consistently; that is, to have the laws reflect what is just rather than who happens to be friends of whom, etc. Justice is the master word to which the others refer, but it tends to emphasize the proper punishment for an offense, vindication of the one wronged, etc.
Now these are all very good as tendencies or attitudes. But “equal” and “fair” can’t stand alone. If taken as something more than an admonishment to avoid common errors they become self-contradictory. “Equal justice” is the same as plain old “justice”; it simply admonishes the magistrate to ignore things that are truly irrelevant. “Fair justice” is the same as plain old “justice”; it simply admonishes the magistrate to apply the law consistently.
“Equality under the law” attempts to make equality a principle unto itself. It starts from the theological premise Carl describes - that we are utterly ignorant of God’s assessment of the value of any particular person beyond the bare fact that God loves everyone - and attempts to turn it into a formal legal principle. This attempt will always fail, because we cannot extrapolate from an expression of our complete ignorance of God’s ultimate judgement to a principle of positive law. Political equality as a stand-alone concept always degenerates into self-contradiction, because what is just is just, whatever modifiers or warnings we may associate with its practical application.
Carl wrote: “I tend to take the view that it is ultimately only Blacks themselves who can improve their lives. The idea that Whites can come in and “fix” things is ultimately absurd … “
In fact, blacks do need whites to stop harming them through the welfare state, and that harm is so significant that I don’t think that blacks can fix things within their community until “compassionate” whites stop inflicting this “compassion” upon them.
Furthermore, it has been observed in various places that used to be part of the British Empire that a stable civil service that avoids nepotism and corruption has persisted after the British left, because they were there to impose it for so long. India is one example, Hong Kong another, although no example is perfect, of course (not even our own civil service is perfect, believe it or not!) Such a civil service is one of the key institutions necessary for ordered liberty.
What we are about to do in Iraq is impose “democracy” and then leave without imposing the other institutions needed for ordered liberty. The failure of the project in the long term is thus very predictable. It IS possible to impose cultural improvement, but only if you have the power of an empire over others. Contrary to the anti-war right, we don’t seek empire and will leave the region far sooner than an empire would.
Back to the point: Certain cultural improvements must come from within the black community, as I affirmed previously, but others CAN be imposed from without.
Joel Lefevre wrote: “I’m not entirely clear on what the difference is with your own proposal to “openly talk about how disparate cultures will never be exactly equal economically.” Is it only the _reason_ for that difference that you would gloss over? How do you propose to engage the topic in your way without at some point dealing with the question of _why_?”
I don’t think the sole reason is a genetic difference in IQs. Thus, I propose to talk about the other reasons behind economic inequality, such as anti-intellectualism and anti-academic attitudes, just for starters. If two cultures that differed greatly in this one regard were to achieve a (statistically) exact cultural parity (in this one regard), then I would have to deal with any remaining economic inequality. How likely would that be to happen? I think the likelihood that the cultural weaknesses among blacks will disappear in say, the next 200 years, is just about nil.
So, during the next 200-500 years, the message they would receive is: “There are things holding you back, and you can do something about those things within your own community.” That is a message that undercuts victimhood, resentment, group rights, affirmative action, etc. Your alternative appears to be the message: “There are things holding you back, and there is nothing you can do about them, because they are genetic.” I honestly don’t know the relative importance of cultural factors and genetic factors, so your explanation is not self-evidently true to me. Yet, the only thing anyone has really said to support this approach is that it is wonderfully “honest” to tell such “truths” openly.
I agree with everything Mr. Coleman has said. Only the whites can straighten out the blacks, because the things that have so deranged the black culture since 1960 have all been caused by white liberalism. Second, this straightening up of blacks must be done AGAINST the will of blacks, since they are attached to racial preferences and the emoluments of the liberal welfare state; and that, once again, points to the necessity of whites doing the straightening out. I think John McWharter is wrong on this issue.
I also like Mr. Coleman’s parallel of blacks to the question of Iraq and colonialism. The only REALISTIC prospect of our actually changing the political culture of Iraq is if we stay in control of that country for at least a generation, a point I made last spring. But the U.S. has simply never had a debate on this hugely important subject.
Mr. Coleman wrote: “Your alternative appears to be the message: There are things holding you back, and there is nothing you can do about them, because they are genetic.”
I am 100% in favor of the gist of your proposals. I am not making this an either/or as you seem to infer, (and appear to be advocating yourself.) I think an understanding of the IQ differences has to be part of the equation. It affects for instance where most blacks would attend college and what types of professions they would enter.
Your proposals are right on, but we can’t leave out something that is going to have a substantial and consequential significance no matter which of these steps we take. And to this extent it is something that society, (especially blacks,) must learn to accept, (and not blame whites.)
When only 2.3% of blacks have an IQ that qualifies them for an academic profession, (by white standards,) that is significant! Your suggestions won’t ameliorate the concerns this raises.
If you are not clear on the genetic basis for IQ differences and what it means in practical terms, there is a plethora of information on this. I didn’t accept it with any pleasure; I had to be convinced and went kicking and screaming. But the evidence is too overwhelming to deny.
The question isn’t whether we do one thing (your proposals) as opposed to another (openly acknowledge IQ differences.) All of the above is needed to make the best of this situation. As it stands, the PC makes it difficult to even have an open and honest public discussion on IQ, which I hope is not how you want things to be. ;-)
Correction, I hadn’t read Mr. Coleman’s last paragraph. He characterized Joel’s position as “Your alternative appears to be the message: ‘There are things holding you back, and there is nothing you can do about them, because they are genetic.’”
I think there’s a wrong assumption here, that everyone is thinking all the time about getting their abilities equal to those of other people. But that obsession only arises under modern liberalism and group-rights. Without that ideology, people are not insisting that they be the same as or as smart as others. The natural human tendency is to like oneself as one is. People who hang out in bowling alleys are not filled with envy of people who hang out in graduate seminars or D.C. think tanks. So I think Mr. Coleman is projecting a typically white, liberal concern about equality onto black people—which, of course, is the way liberalism got started in the first place.
Mssrs, Coleman and Auster are arguing that only whites can improve the lot of blacks by dismantling the destructive welfare and AA regimes they put in place. I think we are trying to say the same thing in different ways.
The point I was attempting to make was that the “fixes” put in place by white liberals are ultimately the cause of much misery within the black community. Based on the testimony of Elizabeth Wright and others, I think we can argue that blacks would have enjoyed better (not necessarily equal to others) lives in the US over the past 50 years if white liberals hadn’t interfered in the first place. This is why I was arguing that blacks would benefit from whites (especially liberals) ending all attempts to “fix” the inequalty - simply allowing the chips to fall where they may. However, Mr. Auster’s assertion that blacks are now thoroughly addicted to welfare and AA is very possibly true, which would require an “un-doing” on whites’ part as opposed to simple disengagement.
Carl’s post brings immediately to mind the quote by Frederick Douglass that Justice Thomas cited in his Grutter dissent:
“What I ask for the Negro, is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice… . All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! … (Y)our interference is doing him positive injury.”
“The point I was attempting to make was that the ‘fixes’ put in place by white liberals are ultimately the cause of much misery within the black community. Based on the testimony of Elizabeth Wright and others, I think we can argue that blacks would have enjoyed better […] lives in the US over the past 50 years if white liberals hadn’t interfered in the first place. This is why I was arguing that blacks would benefit from whites (especially liberals) ending all attempts to ‘fix’ the inequalty […]”
But Carl, don’t you get it? The white liberals aren’t doing it for the Negroes. They’re doing it for themselves — doing it so they can feel moral. That’s why they’ll *never* stop ruining the Negro race in this country, *never* stop driving it into the ground: their own need to get high is too great and overpowering, just like a drug addict’s! They could care less what damage they are wreaking on the American Negro Community. They aren’t even aware of it. They simply don’t care about it. If they did for so much as a split second, they’d stop and let that community get healthy again. (I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath waiting for that to happen.)
Unadorned makes a similar point to that made by Shelby Steele: affirmative action and other uplift schemes are the means by which white (liberal) elites bolster their own moral authority. That is why there is such enormous resistance to change, even though the schemes are shown to be failures. They are also a cop out on facing up to the serious educational development work that blacks so badly need. The false assumption that groups should be equal also entails the consequence that educational resources will be misallocated in pursuit of an unattainable goal, when a more realistic approach might produce better results. The problem at bottom is our democratic society’s obsession with equality, our “enlightenment” inheritance. I suppose this helps to dampen down the pervasive and hugely destructive human sin of envy in a democracy, and that is why so many of all persuasions seem to gravitate toward it, obviously false though it is.
The Republican and Democratic gangs (who, granted, often do not behave as gangs) cannot admit the truth because the gangs’ hierarchies and the many gang members believe speaking the truth would result in lost elections. To put it bluntly, Blacks and Hispanics with the help of their allies have ganged up on Whites to steal jobs and education from White applicants. For a gang member to admit this, the gang member would need to deal with the idea he or she is evil and should be punished; everyone admits stealing is evil. To the extent Blacks and Hispanics recognize the evil, possibly they believe it is justified nevertheless; perhaps they see society’s models taking advantage of people and feel justified in merely hanging on to what they have as long as everyone else is hanging on.
One model is the hierarchy of the American Catholic Church; the put-upon would include a few precious preteens and the many betrayed members. Another model is President Bill Clinton; the put-upon would include Monica Lewinsky, one of his young employees.
As Mr. Auster has pointed out elsewhere, one can fight this situation merely by refusing to believe the lies.
Finally, the thought crystallizes: one can BEGIN fighting this situation merely by refusing to believe the lies. This is not itself sufficient (which Mr. Auster never claimed).
Right. I never said it was sufficient. I said it was the indispensable condition for any serious and sustained resistance, whatever form that resistance might take.