Apr 092012
 

John DerbyshireJohn Derbyshire has been fired from the National Review for an openly racist column on how white people should advise their children with respect to “blacks”: for the most part, avoid them. Because on the whole, they are unintelligent, antisocial, hostile, and dangerous. Or as he puts it, avoid “concentrations of blacks” or places “swamped with blacks,” and leave a place when “the number of blacks suddenly swells,” and keep moving when “accosted by a strange black” in the street. The language is alarmingly dehumanizing: black people come in “swamps” and “concentrations” (and presumably also in hordes, swarms, and just plain gangs). And it’s clearly meant to be a dismissal of the notion — much talked about recently in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting — that African Americans should be able to walk down the street without being shunned, much less attacked.

The column has been roundly condemned, and it’s probably the result that Derbyshire – who is suffering from terminal cancer – sought out in a final attempt at countercultural heroism. But the summary dismissal of the column – without substantive rebuttals to claims that are so racist as to seem to be beneath public discourse – means that he can play the role of victim of political correctness gone amok. Derbyshire claims that his ideas are backed up by “methodological inquiries in the human sciences,” and includes links to sites that provide all the negative sociological data about black people you’d ever need to justify your fear of them, including the claim that “blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.” So he can cast himself as someone who had the courage to tell it like it is – with all the sociological data backing him up – only to be punished for this by the reactionary hypocrites who control the public discourse. Once again, he can tell himself, those quick to cry “racism” have prevented an honest conversation about race.

If Derbyshire were a lone crank, none of it would matter much. But he’s not. No doubt a very large number of white Americans are sympathetic to the advice he gives in his column, and yet deeply resent any accusations of racism. They see such views not as racist but an acknowledgement of an unpleasant reality that they are not allowed to speak about in public because of dishonest social norms. Or they might admit, as Derbyshire once did, that they are “racist”: not in the full sense, the pejorative sense, but by the skewed standards of current public discourse. In other words, they see them selves as advocates of a sort of enlightened racism that doesn’t shrink from calling a spade a spade but isn’t inherently unjust.

Enlightened racism is meant to escape accusations of being racist in the pejorative sense via two avenues: the first is the appeal to data I have just described. The second is a loophole to the effect that exceptions are to be made for individuals. Or, to put it bluntly: it’s not black people that they hate, but black culture. Disliking black culture but making exceptions for individuals is the loophole that many whites believe inoculates them against charges of racism, and it’s the point of noting that they have black friends, or that they voted for Herman Cain or Barack Obama.

They could care less about skin color, they say; it really is the content of people’s characters that concerns them, and that content really does suffer more in blacks than whites. They are, they tell themselves, entirely open to the rare exceptions to this rule, and that openness is what acquits them of any charge of racism. Derbyshire’s column includes all the typical caveats to this effect: there are such things as “intelligent and well-socialized blacks” (a condescending designation made further dehumanizing by its abbreviation to “IWSBs,” as if he were branding livestock); and one should got out of one’s way to befriend them. And in general, “any individual black is entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to a nonblack citizen” (again, strange language that fails to hide its contempt), and there are black saints and geniuses just as there are black morons and psychopaths.

Because they are so widespread and aim to restore the respectability of interracial contempt, these attempts at an enlightened racism deserve a rebuttal. Especially in light of the fact that those who hold such views often see themselves as the champions of reasons over sentiment, when in fact their views are deeply irrational.

So here we go:

First, a history of slavery, segregation, and (yes) racism, means that African American communities suffer from some social problems at higher rates than whites. But that doesn’t change the fact that the majority of black people – statistically, and not just based on politically correct fuzzy thinking – are employed, not on welfare, have no criminal record, and so on and so forth. So the kind of thinking that enlightened racists see as their way of staring a hard reality right in the face turns out to be just a silly rationalization using weak statistical differences. In 2010, for instance, the violent crime rate was 403.6 per 100,000 people. Or .4 percent. And of course, those of us who don’t live in neighborhoods with high crime rates and don’t fit other high risk demographics have an annual chance of victimhood that is much less than .4 percent. And over an entire lifetime, our risk of being murdered is also about .4 percent. In other words, one’s chances of being a victim of violent crime is already so low, that even accounting  for higher crime rates among African Americans, one’s chance of being a victim of violent crime by an African American remains very low.

The argument that Derbyshire and those like him make is that we are justified in treating an entire population as a threat – in essentially shunning them in the most degrading way – because one’s chances of being harmed by any given member of that population, while very low, is not quite as low as one’s chances of being harmed by the general population. It’s an argument that starts out with sociological data and quickly collapses to reveal the obvious underlying motivation: unenlightened racism of the coarsest variety.

Second, there is the issue of character: because this, after all, is what really motivates these attempts at establishing an enlightened racism that gives individuals the benefit of the doubt while acknowledging the truth about general cultural differences. And here the idea is that black people generally have worse characters than white people: that they are more hostile, unintelligent, promiscuous, rude, and so on and so forth.

I think it suffices to respond in the following way: people tend to mistake their discomfort with the cultural differences of a group with that group’s inferiority. (They also tend to conflate their political and economic advantages with psychological superiority). But they should reflect on whether that discomfort really provides them with the evidence of inferiority they think it does. If they respond with sociological data about education and birth rates and all the rest, we only have to respond that like crime rates, they’re exactly the sort of consequences one would expect from a history of oppression and even then fail to justify racist stereotypes. For example, in 2009 for Americans 25 years and older, 81.4 percent of African Americans and 90.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites had a high school diploma; and 17.6 percent and 31.1 percent respectively had bachelor’s degrees. Hardly the kind of statistical differences that will allow us to determine the education level of a randomly picked individual based on race alone.

The fact is, that where we pick a white person or black person at random, the same truths hold: they very likely have a high school diploma, and probably do not have a bachelor’s degree. They’re probably employed and not on welfare. They’ve probably never been to prison, and they almost certainly are not going to harm you. These are the broad statistical truths that simply do not vary enough between races to justify the usual stereotypes.

So here is the hard truth that advocates of enlightened racism need to face: their sociological data and ideas about black character, intelligence and morality are post-hoc rationalizations of their discomfort with average cultural differences between whites and blacks. The fact that they have black friends and political heroes, or give individuals the benefit of the doubt as long as they are “well-socialized” and “intelligent” just means that they can suppress that discomfort if the cultural differences are themselves lessened to a tolerable degree. And so they need to disabuse themselves of the idea that true, unenlightened racism is a term very narrowly defined: that it requires a personal hatred of individual black people based on their skin color despite evidence of redeeming personal qualities. What they think of as redeeming personal qualities are just qualities that tend to make them less uncomfortable. But the hatred of black culture and post-hoc rationalizations of this hatred using sociological data are just what racism is.

This is not to say that mere discomfort with cultural difference is the same thing as racism (or xenophobia). Such discomfort is unavoidable: You’d have this sort of discomfort if you tried live in a foreign country for a while, and you’d be tempted by the same sorts of ideas about how stupid and mean people are for not doing things the way you’re used to. They’re too emotional, or not emotional enough; they’re less intelligent, or no fun; they’re lazy, or all they do is work. In these circumstances, strange customs become “stupid” because they reflect less of ourselves back to us than we’re used to. That lack of reflection is felt not only as a distressing deprivation of social oxygen, but as an affront, a positive discourtesy. The mature way to deal with such discomfort is to treat it as of a kind with social anxiety in general: people are strange, when you’re a stranger. Give it some time, and that changes. But it won’t change if you develop hefty rationalizations about the inferiority and dangerousness of others and treat these rationalizations as good reasons for cultural paranoia.

In the mean time, the consequences of that paranoia is profound: many white Americans seem to have difficulty engaging in the required reflective empathy, and imagining how they would feel if they knew that every time they walked into a public space a large number of a dominant racial majority looked at them with fear and loathing. They might, under such circumstances, have a bad day.

– Wes Alwan

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  35 Responses to “America’s Epidemic of Enlightened Racism”

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  1. Yes, this is an issue of amazing statistical double-standards: the high end of one group being compared to the median of another, which is of course, a typical majority against minority move. There are some deeper issues with enlightened racism not addressed here, particularly problematic uses of racial IQ and ignoring the Flynn effect as well as unjustified biological hyper-determinism being applied to one group but not another.

  2. There’s also the problem that many white Americans today were raised being told to go out and take the things their parents and grandparents had a much easier time with taking from others lacking some of the civil rights that people have today. They see their formerly white empire crumbling around them and they are wondering what to do about it. However it’s not just a race issue, it’s a class issue too. No matter how open and cosmopolitan they might feel they’re being, they are usually still encouraging their children to lead the kind of viciously competitive lives that allows for a racist culture in the first place. I just don’t think it’s very effective to try and meet deliberately disempowering slogans with lengthy theoretic discourse. There is no data you can present that is going to change their mind about a future without white people in power being less ideal for themselves.

  3. One- Derbyshire’s premise to befriend “Intelligent and Well Socialized Blacks” (IWSB) to “…gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice” is the most blatant form of “protective tokenism”. (“I’m not racist for telling racist jokes, i have black friends.” Pulls black friend out of pocket, “See?”)

    Two- Your first point concerning the institutional nature of racism, it’s historical roots in severly unequal treatment, is far more relevant since it speaks to the continuity of the American black experience as one of systematic discrimination (it is even worse , statistically speaking, for the Indigenous population in the U.S. and abroad). It also reveals the arguments being made in Derbyshires defense on right leaning websites (or the comments section of Yahoo news) to be the empty rhetoric of “reverse racism.” The fact that this systematic discrimination is overlooked and that the general effects of this discrimination is essentialized as part of the “black character”, where a statistical minority within the black population is used to as a representative of the general black population at large, allows white commentators to cry “double standard” and to use “facts” without context to justify their own prejudices, all without having to acknowledge the existence of white privilege (conferred unto them because of their “whiteness.”)

    None of this means that people do not actively engage in their own physical and mental oppression or that institutional racism means that individuals can abdicate their own moral/ethcial responsibilites for the decisions they make but it does suggest that there continues to be a culture of “blaming the victim for their victimization” in the U.S. when it comes to race. This allows people to claim that the only REAL discrimination left in the U.S. is against whites (all while denouncing the “left” for “whining” about the above discussion concerning historical “victimization”, since the left is obsessed with “white man’s burden”, while crying about being “victims” themselves. I do enjoy the interesting intellectual gymnastics involved.)

    Personally, i find that the term “enlightened racism” is embodied by people like Charles Murray . From Losing Ground (Welfare killed the initiative of the poor to work, so let’s kill the welfare system. An argument that does not seem to hold for the rich when they receive assistance), to The Bell Curve ( Of course, the book was almost unanimously condemned for it’s faulty use of statistics and for the misuse of IQ as a predictor of various outcomes, not to mention the specious arguments about race and genetics) to his current work Coming Apart (which perfectly illustrates the frustrating nature of Murray’s work. He begins with the premise that there is a growing economic divide in the United States but then abandons this premise with a series of digressions about religiosity, marriage, and honesty that do nothing to illustrate his original point. He also typifies the kind of arguments i have discussed above, ignoring systemic issues for individualistic explanations, a recurring theme in almost any discussion of race in the U.S.) I know that this small point is unnecessary but if we want to discuss how data is used to justify appeals to prejudice, i see no better representative of this than Murray.

  4. A very good post and interesting points raised by both sides of the argument.

    I was surprised that an out-spoken skeptic of scientism chose to employ scientific data from unreferenced sources to rebut an argument that is likewise supported by unspecified data sources presumably from the same branch of science.

  5. Burl- Who are you referring to, exactly?

  6. Wes’ OP

  7. Being a “skeptic of scientism” does not, in any way, mean (or imply) that one is a skeptic of science in all forms and uses. Surely that is clear in the podcast and various related postings.

    -Dylan

    • Scientism:

      Today the term is used with pejorative intent to dismiss substantive arguments that appeal to scientific authority in contexts where science might not apply. This over commitment to science can be seen in epistemological distortions and abuse of public policy.

      Yet whwn an outspoken critic of scientism employs it just so…

      BTW, Dylan, if only you had studied _ Process and Reality_ you would know why I never, ever suggested anyone should do so. And, I am heartily sorry for ever having offended thee by asking your opinion about a subject that interests me.

      Could you find it in your heart tio ever forgive me?

  8. I am with Dylan here. Arguing against “Scientism”, the assertion that the ONLY way to know the world in any legitimate way is through science, is not an argument against science itself.

    As too Wes’s sources, it would have been good for him to provide them in his piece but i say this being an obsessive provider of reference material (it’s part of denying the myth of the single author).

  9. Yes I thought I had given enough caveats in the past to avoid charges of being anti-science. And some of the more vocal critics of scientism are working scientists with a side interest in philosophy, like Massimo Pigliucci: http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/.

  10. If science is reproachable, do not substitute its data for logical argumentation as was done here. The OP resorted to scientific data analysis to make his case, as did the person he rebuts.

    But in reality, both were only self-justified in personal preference, and we are no less enlightened.

    • Burl- Critiquing scientism does not mean that science, as a methodology itself, is “reproachable”, it merely addresses the notion, which i stated above, that science is the only way to obtain knowledge about the world. There are many reasons to reject this notion and one can do so without rejecting science itself.

      Using competing data is a standard practice in science. The question then becomes ‘how was the data used obtained?’ Questions around methodology become relevant, as is questioning whether the conclusions reached using the data in question are substantiated by the data itself. If we refer back to Charles Murray, a theme running through everyone of his books by critics is his highly questionable use of statistics in his books, particularly when it came to The Bell Curve. Of course, social scientists ripped Murray apart for his use of blatantly racist sources and his highly selective use of information. The thing of it is, it required careful thinking and critical analysis to expose Murray’s use of data but it also required competing information since that is the lingua franca of popular science writing (and, again, a necessary corrective measure in science itself).

      Of course, people are going to be predisposed to a given argument and most will not take steps to insure against confirmation bias. Alas, we still have to try to fight the good fight.

  11. and we are left no more enlightened.

  12. Oh Burl, you adorable curmudgeon.

  13. Eesh the cited article was bad. For as much as people lament the intelligent design types, I can’t get over just how ghoulish Ayn Rand, John Derbyshire, Charles Murray, and others on the evolution-acknowledging Right were/are in comparison =P

  14. Chris Mullen :
    Burl- Critiquing scientism does not mean that science, as a methodology itself, is “reproachable”, it merely addresses the notion, which i stated above, that science is the only way to obtain knowledge about the world. There are many reasons to reject this notion and one can do so without rejecting science itself.

    Agreed. My first thought is to mention intuition.

  15. Interesting article in The Atlantic on changing conservative demographics, and the readership National Review now wants to claim, as opposed to the readership Derbyshire was probably taking for granted. Helps to explain why the NR is only now shocked, shocked! that Derbyshire holds these kinds of views.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/04/how-john-derbyshire-perceived-racial-attitudes-at-national-review/255598/

  16. Just went through the original article and all I can say is ‘Wow!’. The author took what is generally good advice (Don’t always stop to talk to random people that approach you on the street, stay out of bad neighborhoods, and generally don’t put yourself into a situation that could turn bad) and given it probably the most racist tone that was possible. This article does not even pretend to not be racist. In fact it can by definition be considered as a racist piece of writing just for the fact that it took the above commonsense advice and gave it an explicitly racial content. Honestly calling this ‘Enlightened Racism’ is wrong and I believe that an ‘enlightened racist’ would have a prettier topcoat of crap on their views.

  17. So I’ve been thinking a lot about this post and subsequent comments…whenever there is a discussion about racism I automatically think about women. Why? Well, first I guess because I’m a woman and even though any form of racism, enlightened or not, horrifies me, I know that even the most “enlightened” (pardon my use of the word) non-racist or racist, male or female, any age–I believe are prejudiced against women. Now, I’m not pointing fingers because I think this thought process is so deeply ingrained into the psyche of this society that it is really understood as the norm, in fact, not unlike Enlightened Racism–this oppression I cite, is one none of us are aware of:
    Of note:
    I hope she lost the presidential nomination based on her ideas and abilities (or perceived lack)-but we have a black male president, not a white female president

    a 2001 study found of the five highest paid executives in a sample of large US firms, women represent only 2.5% of the sample and earn 45% less than their male counterparts

    Not only were Rush Limbaugh’s words against Ms. Fluke egregious, harmful and based on incorrect knowledge of the facts–it was shocking to me the Republican candidates made such a weak, empty response to Limbaugh’s comments…particularly since women make up 53% of the voting public……

    Although teen pregnancies throughout the US are falling, who do you think pays for an elected abortion when a teenage girl gets pregnant and needs to terminate it…who? And who do you think pays for, arranges and uses contraception? Being a woman, I’ll tell you and its too often not the man.

    2012–53%–and someone is still calling a woman who speaks in support of free contraception a slut…and female ceos make 45% of their male counterparts? For the same work?
    Christ…
    I posit that the most oppressed individual in this society is a transgender, disabled, black…female.

    • Hi Laura:

      I agree with you. Women are often left out of the discussion, that is why I love to dialogue with Womanist thinkers.

      To generalize some, Black men deal with race and class. White women deal with class and Sexism. Black Women, Womanists argue, deal with the unholy trinity: race, sexism, and class.

      It is so important the we not lose sight of women while discussing race–as the civil rights leaders in the 60s tended to do.

      Check out an old post on PEL about Womanism: I recommended Bell Hooks as a starting point–if you have not already read her. She also touches on LGBT issues.

  18. Few muslims are terrorists, but many terrorists are muslims. Statistically, a woman is unlikely to be raped in her lifetime, and about 8 times more likely to be assaulted in her lifetime. Yet we don’t say to women, “Well, the absolute chance of being you raped are so insignificant that you should not bother to think about men being a greater threat at all”.

    Is it not true that men are more violent than women? Teens are more violent than the elderly? Blacks are more violent than Whites? We take these unfortunate statistical facts into account when inhabiting particularly dangerous circumstances, no? Are you unacquainted with Bayesian reasoning? A yearly rate of 0.4% victimization is conditional on people living their lives normally(and acting upon their “racist” beliefs). Conditional on the unique circumstances that Derbyshire referenced (such as being in an area with a large number of blacks), those odds change! Derbyshire was not saying “never interact with blacks, they are garbage” rather he was saying “be careful in certain circumstances involving blacks because they are more violent as a group” This is the same sort of advice that we give to women about men.

  19. Unfortunately, your position stated here just promotes racism which runs underneath this society dripping and pulsating with an unexpressed hatred resulting in the enlightened racism Derbyshire furthers in his tirade.

    Is it really true men are more violent than women? Well, they’re often biologically and anatomically stronger and given that the majority of violent felons imprisoned in the U.S. are male and that studies have generally concluded this fact, then yes, I will grant that men are more violent than women. But not always. It is dangerous to generalize or rather, it is dangerous to base your beliefs on generalizations. For every truism there is and equal and opposite truism. Always be a skeptic.

    Are blacks truly and honestly more dangerous than whites? Or are the circumstances Derbyshire refers to more dangerous? Oh, because those “circumstances” are populated by more blacks than whites? Well than why are those “circumstances” the way they are-more oppressed, poorer, flowing under generations of welfare?

    I don’t disagree that some of these conditions exist but to continue to address them as if they are a part of an “other”, are part of a dangerous rodent that must be tamed or extinguished or worst of all, ignored is far worse than malevolent, its stupid.

    But–was I talking about any of this? No…my point merely was that although racism is a huge historical and current problem in this culture, as a woman I always find it overshadows sexism–which infuriates me. As I said, I am thrilled we have a black president in America.

    Call me when we have a black female president.

    If we’re still alive.

  20. “I think it suffices to respond in the following way: people tend to mistake their discomfort with the cultural differences of a group with that group’s inferiority”

    Ad hominems dressed in psychoanalytic garb are still ad hominems. This response doesn’t suffice because it doesn’t address the argument, which is that, given the disparities in criminality and given a desire to avoid injury, it’s only rational, knowing nothing else, to avoid African-Americans.

    The counter-argument which you have offered is that the absolute rate of crime is low, therefore the probability of injury is low, therefore it’s irrational to avoid members of any population on the account of concern for injury. But the rationality, understood in basic economic terms, of such a decision
    depends not on just the probability of injury but also on one’s estimate of the cost of injury, and on the cost involved in avoiding the potential for injury. For example, hoisting a steal pole while outside during a lightning storm might increase your chances of being electrocuted by 1 in a trillion. The trivialness of this increase doesn’t imply that avoiding this act is irrational, however, as you might place a high premium on not being electrocuted (or on feeling that you are less likely to be) and as avoiding this act might have trivial costs for you. Replace the steal pole with a metal umbrella and the cost/benefit equation might change. So pointing out that the absolute probability of injury by African-Americans is low is not a sufficient counter-argument. You have to show that the cost of avoiding (knowing nothing else as stipulated by Derb) is higher than the cost of not.

    • Chuck: this is not an ad hominem. It’s simply a theory, one that I think explains the view that black people are inferior. If I had meant to prove that black people are not inferior by personally attacking the those who think so, then I’d be guilty as charged. But I make no pretense to a deductive proof about whether black people are inferior; I take it for granted that my opponents cannot prove that they are, because such proofs are so complex as to be impossible (first, they require operationalizing “inferior,” “intelligence,” and so on, which is just the tip of the iceberg). I know it’s now popular to accuse interlocutors of logical fallacies in online debates, but the results are typically as embarrassing as your comment.

      Second, you ignore the fact that indeed there are costs to shunning black people, so that the absolute probability is relevant. Those costs are moral: as in, I’d prefer not to mistreat other human beings, because being an asshole is damaging to my character and not who I want to be. Shunning people is a subtle form of social harm. And most of our victims wouldn’t deserve it.

      Besides, we all know how to avoid crime without ever thinking about black people. If our ability to distinguish white people from black people were eliminated tomorrow, do you think we’d really be worse at avoiding dangerous situations. We avoid bad neighborhoods at night (and if they’re that bad, during the day); and we avoid other obviously dangerous situations. We can do this without ever taking notice of race, and so without becoming the kind of asshole that it is so costly to be. Further, the crime data shows that most violent crimes occur between people who are familiar with each other; which, if avoiding harm were an absolute good that trumps all other considerations, would require you avoid everyone you know long before you went through the trouble of avoiding black people. There are costs to avoidance, costs to yourself and costs to others.

      • Wes,

        Thanks for the reply and for the clarification concerning your argument. Your reasoning is still not completely clear to me, though. Could you explain how you came to the conclusion that “enlightened racists” believe that Black people are “inferior”? We can use myself as an example. Like Derb, I would, if pressed, point out that African Americans (Blacks, in my parlance) are intellectually — defined psychometrically — inferior to European Americans (Whites, in my parlance). Typically, I wouldn’t use the term “inferior” but if pressed I would in the conditional sense (i.e., in respect to trait X). And I use the term “intelligence” because that’s the term used, in the psychometric literature, to describe equivalent differences within the groups. (Though , sometimes, researchers refer to the trait as “general intelligence” or “g” or “general mental ability” or “general cognitive ability.”")

        Now, from this pointing things out, how possibly do you manage to draw the conclusion that I think “black people are inferior (in an unconditional sense)”? ( I agree that it’s rather difficult to prove that some group is inferior based on differing distributions in a trait. To do so, you have to make all sorts of epistemic and metaphysical leaps. But this leads me to the exact opposite conclusion:: that “enlightened racists” are not arguing that Black people are “inferior” in some unconditional sense, but that they are simply pointing to the established differences in distributions).

        As for crime. You say: “Second, you ignore the fact that indeed there are costs to shunning black people…”

        I did no such thing. I said: “You have to show that the cost of avoiding (knowing nothing else as stipulated by Derb) is higher than the cost of not.”
        To put this otherwise, to show that Derb’s logic doesn’t follow you have to show that the potential cost of avoiding Blacks, “knowing nothing else”, times the probability of incurring that cost is greater than the potential benefit time the probability of incurring that benefit. You did no such thing. As such, you have no grounds for concluding that Derb’s conclusion does not follow. No grounds for assuming, on this account, that Derb is secretly a unenlightened racist. And no grounds for your theory.

      • Wes, will you admit that your argument is unsound? (To refresh your memory, you said: “[Derb's argument] starts out with sociological data and quickly collapses to reveal the obvious underlying motivation.” You have shown no collapse. And you have offered no reason why, if Derb’s reasoning doesn’t follow, the error “obviously” must be due to latent racism of the unenlightened sort. But I guess that’s OK — don’t let logic get in the way of your moralizing with a hammer.

        Let’s look at some of your recent points: 1. (a) “Those costs are moral .. Shunning people is a subtle form of social harm.” BUT (b) “Besides, we all know how to avoid crime without ever thinking about black people.” So it’s OK to avoid criminal types (b) unless those types are defined by race (a)? I guess that the key difference between you an me is that I’m an equal opportunity asshole. I feel quite fine shunning “Black people,” “knowing nothing else,” if the “non moral” cost/benefit analysis dictates that I should. (I just can’t figure out if it does.) You continue: 2. “Further, the crime data shows … which, if avoiding harm were an absolute good …. would require you avoid everyone you know.” What part of cost/benefit analysis do you not get? And what part of “knowing nothing else” do you not understand? (Derb’s phrasing was very clever, in this regards.)

  21. If you’re referring to my response, I wasn’t addressing the argument “that, given the disparities in criminality and given a desire to avoid injury, it’s only rational, knowing nothing else, to avoid African-Americans.”

    I was expanding the discussion to look at the human reality not the mathematical assessment. And as such, this problem is too huge and too profound to be trivialized the way Derb has. It was correct to remove him from his position. Its that kind of thinking and reductionist perspective that finds this society in the state it is where, despite an African-American president, and despite freedom of speech, that someone can still promote clearly racist rhetoric today and disguise it as he does.

    Unfortunately you are diminishing the reality of Derbyshire’s argument…its the color of their skin that matters to him not the content of their character. And certainly not the cost/benefit of who is standing next to you.

  22. Laura.I wasn’t referring to your response. But since you rejoined :(1) I don’t know what “clearly racist rhetoric” means. (2) And I probably don’t have a problem with “racism” in many of the senses that you do. (3) And I am interested in determining whether or not Derb’s conclusion rationally follows. (4) And I’m also interested in assessing Wes’ argument; And to do so more fully I need to determine (3). (5) And I don’t know what you mean by “diminishing Derb’s argument” — after all, I’ve been trying to elaborate on it. (6) As for your point about “disguise it as he does,” like Wes, you’re inferring latent animosity and yet showing no evidence in support. But, amazingly, you go a step further and argue that investigating this inference is, itself, bad because doing so trivializes the badness which you are inferring.

  23. A rather worthless, data-free discussion. This is an empirical issue, and your anti-racist sentimentality doesn’t change how one should respond to genuine threats and differences in behavior by race.

    The insistence on biological equality is like creationism for a leftist religion. Go ahead, show me how you’re holier than the hateful difference-acknowledgers.

    Someday, I’d encourage you to make a good-faith effort to engage with some of this material.

    Human Biological Diversity

  24. Lemon,
    Could you elaborate on “your anti-racist sentimentality doesn’t change how one should respond to genuine threats and differences in behavior by race,” in the sense of who “your” (or “you”) is in your thinking–the person who was just before your comment (Chuck), the interaction of of all concerned, Wes Alwan (who posted the blog), or all the above.

    And also could you elaborate on “your anti-racist sentimentality doesn’t change how one should respond to genuine threats and differences in behavior by race” and who you are referring to specifically. Thanks Lemon.

    I am not questioning your statements, but am interested in what you mean specifically.

    P.S. Thanks for your expression of something gone wrong, which seems clearly problematic–Wayne.

  25. Lemon–
    I’m sure PEL would look forward to dialoging with you about your concerns.

    • I don’t know about Wes (who wrote the article), but I find it highly strange that someone would think that the factual existence of race and racial differences are so important as to create the massive bibliography that Lemon’s comment linked to. Surely there have to be positions (like that there are morally significant differences between the so-called human “races”) that one doesn’t find credible enough to warrant the necessary research to dispute them in detail, else we would all be obliged to follow the lunacy of every crackpot conspiracy theorist. So no, I don’t “look forward to dialoging” with this guy, though if you (Wayne) have the patience to sift through his links and see if there’s any gravy there to report back to us, by all means go for it.

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