Wednesday, July 05, 2017


Robert VerBruggen's National Review essay, explaining that he is forced by his intellectual honesty to (disinterestedly, of course) champion Charles Murray’s theory that black people are his intellectual inferiors, is every bit as horrible as you’d imagine. VerBruggen says he got into neo-eugenics as a way of answering back libtards like his college classmates and Eric Alterman. As to Murray’s theories, “The evidence doesn’t justify a verdict one way or the other” but “there’s no reason this can’t be the case” — yes, it’s the old Just Asking Questions routine. Also, if smart and really good-hearted guys like VerBruggen didn’t engage in race science, curious citizens might feel the need to read “fringe websites whose proprietors don’t feel bound by society’s norms,” rather than respected sites like National Review, publisher of William F. Buckley’s racist diatribes.

In other words, VerBruggen is a living troll. He even does the liberals-are-the-real-racist shtick (“Some on the left would no doubt continue to treat racial gaps as a moral emergency even if such inequalities narrowed to the point where they reflected only genetic differences”).

But in a way the National Review writer he’s answering — John McWhorter, who says he’d rather we didn’t do the Bell Curve thing — is as bad.

McWhorter declares himself all for "free speech" (meaning, in his case, the wingnut variation, which applies only to conservative speakers on liberal campuses who are opposed by the “social-justice-warrior philosophy,” and certainly not to other citizens fired for their use of social-media speech); but he doesn't see what point is served by the focus on black folks' IQs: "What, precisely, would we gain from discussing this particular issue?"

There are two problems here: First of all, one could argue that it doesn't matter whether there's a point -- if somebody wants to discuss unicorns romping on the moon, why should he be shushed on the grounds that you don't see a point? It's not the pointlessness that's at issue, but the point.

Here's the other: McWhorter lists three "rationales" for this obsession-feeding, and it's telling his defense of the least overtly (but still) racist of these is so gentle:
Finally, some advocates of “honesty” about race and IQ have argued that we must acknowledge that black people have lower IQs but must also “progress” toward an ability to celebrate individuals for a range of talents beyond intelligence. I consider those making this argument sincere — and quixotic.

“Smarts,” as they drive civilization forward, will always occupy a privileged place in our evaluation of human beings. The Duke Ellingtons and the Michael Jordans will be our kings, but the Albert Einsteins and the Stephen Hawkings will be our gods.
It would seem this nicer group of race obsessives think black people are only good at sports and the arts, while whites do math and launch rockets, and that's "quixotic." (McWhorter, an African-American, refers to his own training as a linguist and he still can't get mad at this obviously insult.)

Oh, and the other two rationales are 1.) that black people being inferior means we should give them more welfare and 2.) black people being inferior means they should get less.

McWhorter seems to me less obnoxious than VerBruggen, but they have this in common: They both write for, and must account for the prejudices of, National Review subscribers.  And I guess when your audience is crypto-racist at the high end and full Klansman at the other, you can't just admit the truth: the main reason anyone's interested in this “honesty” is that they think blacks are inferior and, like climate-change denialists who cling to their little cluster of contrarian Galileos, they really, really want to be able to say that science proves it.

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