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James Michael Brodie On March - 24 - 2014


Paul Ryan

Have you ever asked yourself why someone would decide that it was somehow important to conduct comparatives studies on the intellectual outcomes of human beings based solely on skin color? What’s the end goal of these types of studies? What is it they wish to accomplish? And what do they plan to do with the results?

These are questions I have been pondering in the wake of Rep. Paul Ryan’s referencing of Charles Murray’s 1994 book, The Bell Curve.

The book Murray co-authored with the Richard Herrnstein argued that lower IQ scores of African Americans and Latinos are genetic. In other words, they made a case for genetic inferiority of Blacks and Latinos people when compared to Whites and Asians.

In addition to low IQ, the duo claimed that IQ is largely hereditary, that lower IQ means Blacks and Latinos are more likely to commit crime and drop out of school, and have illegitimate — and lower IQ — babies and live in poverty.

Their conclusion:  There was not much government or any other entity could do to do to help those poor unfortunates of nature groups rise above their lowly status. In fact, Murray and Herrnstein went on to say that American welfare policies that provide aid to women with children “inadvertently social-engineer who has babies, and it is encouraging the wrong women.”

They went further to add that the US should limit immigration because today’s arrivals are coming from countries with a lower national IQs that those who came before.

These are the researchers Rep. Ryan cited when he spoke on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America March 12  broadcast about poverty in the inner city.

“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” Ryan said.

Ryan went on to say that poverty remains a national problem because “a lot of poor people are born lazy.”

That Mr. Ryan drew upon was a long history of belief that says that a race that has been conquered and held in subjection is proof that it has an inferior culture to that of the conqueror. Conquerors historically have relied on this notion of being better than in order to excuse crimes committed against those they enslaved.

In his treatise Airs, Waters, Places, Hippocrates claimed that dark people “are rather of a dark than of a light complexion, and are less likely to be phlegmatic than bilious; courage and laborious enterprise are not naturally in them, but may be engendered in them by means of their institutions.”

According to the Biblical story, Ham, the supposed ancestor of the Negro people, was condemned by the curse of his father, Noah, to be a “servant of servants” to his brothers, Sem and Japheth. The Bible Defense of Slavery, published in Kentucky in 1852 by Josiah Priest, used the story of Ham to justify the enslavement of Africans.


Adolf Hitler’s persecution of Jews was based on a theory of the superiority of the “Aryans,” that the Nordics were the rightful even other sections of the white race, is an application of this theory of superiority.

And have you ever noticed that the folks who have historically conducted these “studies” have always concluded that what they are is always superior to what they are not?

Taking a cue from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, some scholars misapplied his findings to humans. French aristocrat Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau had already come up with notions of supremacy before Darwin’s theories had started to gain traction. Gobineau’s ideas “explained” what he was seeing around him at the time — people from these other races that had not succeeded in the same way his own race had.

Gobineau’s theory of the Aryan master race in his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races in 1853 set the tone for theories of racial demography, and are the basis for the modern concept of scientific racism.

Colonial Britain justified its actions by arguing that it had the power to take over therefore had the right to mistreat others.

This is the tradition that informs much of what we are hearing from the likes of Mr. Ryan. What he espouses is White superiority. Like Murray, he falls back on the tired and easy stereotype, even when faced with proof that the stereotype has no merit. Poor people don’t do as well on any test. Black. White. Otherwise. Kids with access to resources do better. Black. White. Otherwise.

These folks will press on, arguing that there are a “few good ones” among our ranks — Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio. Finally, they will posit that Blacks are much better athletes, subscribing to the “strong Black buck” ideal and noting that the NFL and NBA are mostly Black. Of course, the fact that most other sports are essentially not majority Black gets lost on them.

While slumming at HP (I know, I know…), I was hit with a gentleman who cites Thomas Jefferson as a source of wisdom on Black intelligence.

“They seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labor through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. . .”

Jefferson. A man who fathered children with a Black enslaved women (Sally Hemmings), even while he had a wife and children by her as well. The former president would hardly be a reliable observer when the only Blacks he saw were servants.

So, at the end of the day, are we are not all created equal? Are some are more equal than others? And as a society, what do we do with this information? Do we deny Blacks and Latinos admission into college because they are just too dumb? Do we deny Whites access to sports because they are just too slow?

Mr. Ryan, perhaps it is time that we acknowledge why these studies were created in the first place, and do with them what we must do with other relics of a past that has no place in a modern, enlightened world.

Remand them to the scrap heap of history, where they belong, and not as part of our modern dialogue.


Written by James Michael Brodie

Writer/author -- I am a journalist who has written about education and other issues. I am also a former teacher in Baltimore City School System, grew up in Colorado. Have written a few books on Black history, and have 20 years experience as a journalist. As for politics, I guess I am a liberal-leaning Independent. I prefer conversation over shouting matches -- and feel free to call me on that when I fall out of line.

44 Responses so far.

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  1. Nirek says:

    Jim, I was on the weekend music thread and put this up. Then I thought this song by father and daughter is proof positive that intelligence has no boundaries between races.

    These folks have talent that is off the charts. I love the music and the people.

  2. jjgravitas says:

    Intelligence, etc., has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with the individual, but it also has a lot to do with culture. Which is why you have brilliant people from across the human spectrum -- Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Mahatma Gandhi, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, etc. And then you have black holes of ignorance like the American Midwest and South where they throw money at rich people that they have just taken from the hands of poor people, where they currently want to try women for murder for having miscarried a baby, where they want to limit the right to vote rather than run on their own merits.
    Real brilliant.

    • monicaangela says:

      Exactly jj, however, we all know exactly why those that try to promote this misinformation about intelligence do it, it is for exactly the reasons you say, to enrich themselves and those they work for, mainly the wealthy who have always looked for ways to steal from the poor and the unsuspecting. Divide and conquer and slight of hand is the name of their game, they don’t really care what women do with their bodies or their unborn children, they only use the issue to keep those who enjoy judging others off guard. It is really sad that divide and conquer, even though most know of the tactic, still works in the 21st century.

      • jjgravitas says:

        Divide & conquer still works for them, but not as well as it used to. Social media is helping the little guy to get his word out, & network with all the other little guys. The corporations are dumping billions into this campaign, almost entirely for the GOP, to dominate the airwaves with TV, radio ads & FOX News programming. But that won’t affect social media. Net neutrality now!

        @jjgravitas (My Twitter handle)


    • Nirek says:

      JJ, you hit the “nail on the head”!

      I wish I could express my thoughts as clearly as you did.

  3. Dbos says:

    Bill Bennet’s name alone elicits retching ; a secretary of education whose one and only goal was to destroy public education ; Ryan should investigate his family tree’s history Im betting there are some of his low intelligent poverty people in it ; the man is a sycophantic money grubber playing to the UN American right wing Koch brothers.

  4. pinkpantheroz says:

    If you think that it is only in the US that folk have drunk the Far-Right Koolaid, check this out. The current Attorney-General of Australia, one George Brandis ( ‘Liberal Party’ = GOP = Conservative), introduced a Bill to water down Australia’s strong race vilification laws. He has been forced to pull back some, but the main story is right here:


    I’m also posting this on Time Out/OT but I think it needs to be read here as well under the circumstances.

    • Nirek says:

      PPO, it seems that hatred of people who are different than the hater is not just found in the USA but it is everywhere.
      Russia is anti gay so are the Muslim countries. It just seems that here in America we have some of the worst who are in the public eye.

      Peace, my friend.

  5. Kalima says:

    Wonderful article J.M. And it tears apart Ryan’s feeble argument superbly with undeniable facts.

    The GOP are weak-kneed cowards who hide behind disproven studies and proven lies, and a man who professes to admire someone like Ayn Rand, can never be trusted to tell the truth because by that admission, we know exactly who he is and where he is coming from.

    Thoroughly enjoyed your well informed slap-down of him and the rest of the rabid racists who do this frequently to enrage their base of fools, and thank you for posting it here.

    Sorry that I’m so unfashionably late.

  6. Nirek says:

    Jim, I know it is not the same but the way I and my fellow Vietnam Veterans were treated is reminiscent of the way blacks were treated. We returned after serving in a war (I didn’t believe was right) to be spit on and mistreated. As a draftee with a Dad who was a WWII and Korean War vet I could not disgrace his name.

    We vets are from all races and religions and were all greeted as if we were the enemy.
    That is why I for one respect our vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (wars just as stupid as Vietnam). I don’t want them to be treated as badly as we were.

    Even though I’m against war I thank our troops for serving. After all now they are all volunteers (unlike many of us from the Vietnam era.)

    I guess my point is that prejudice of all kinds is bad.


    • James Michael Brodie says:

      Hey, man, I have much love for you. Two of my uncles served in Nam, and my father was a hair close to going as well. I agree. We treated our men and women badly. It was a terrible wrong and a terrible injustice to those who put their lives on the line for us.

      Nirek, I will never forget you. And I will always be grateful…

  7. Fergie1 says:

    Thank you for an excellent article J.M.
    Those who have the gall to make such utterances are dangerous morons and a poor excuse for human beings.

  8. monicaangela says:

    Good Morning Jim,

    Excellent article regarding the subject of Ryan and the republican attempt at reverting back to the antics of the 1980’s and before. Lee Atwater apologized for his part in steering the party to this coded language that Ryan is using, but it seems the republican party didn’t get his message or didn’t realize he was repentant..who knows, maybe he wasn’t, but at least Atwater did attempt to apologize before his death.

    Thank you for adding the historic basis behind this ongoing attempt for some to oppress others through these coded messages. Hopefully someday, maybe sometime in the near future we will be spared this two faced attempt at deception and have a world where people actually express their true feeling (unveiled) and honor the way they think and the theories they support honestly rather than in this cowardly manner that Representative Ryan has chosen to use.

    Thanks again for this well written article.

  9. Hey Jim, long time no see! Thank you for this article. This travesty of social justice must be brought to light in every way possible. This is proof positive of the conservative’s real attitudes toward black people and Hispanics. That attitude is rooted in pure evil. The resulting intent of such belief is rooted in evil, as well.

    After reading your fine article, I found this;

    Paul Ryan’s Race Flap Even Worse Than it Looks

    (excerpt) “In his 1984 book “The Two Party South,” political scientist Alexander Lamis quoted a conservative operative later revealed to be Ronald Reagan confidant Lee Atwater, who traced the evolution.

    ”You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N—-r, n—-r, n—-r,’” Atwater explained. “By 1968 you can’t say ‘n—-r’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘N—-r, n—-r.”’

    Treating intergenerational laziness of inner-city men as established truth, and bemoaning the ways social spending programs supposedly nurture that “culture,” blends seamlessly into Atwater’s framework.”


    • monicaangela says:

      Hi KillgoreTrout!

      Very interesting response to this article, I totally agree, however, I do have to say that this not only proves the disrespect and hatred the republicans have for Hispanics and African Americans, it is also proof of the disrespect and hatred they have for a large part of their base. I feel this message is the message that needs to be disseminated.

      Republicans are very good at causing the public to overlook and forget the fact that they could care less about any of the citizens of this nation if they are not in the rich, white, and male category, their actions do not try to cover up the fact.

      Forgive me for calling it the way I see it, but the republican attitude is that of the founding fathers, they appear to believe we should go back to the white male land owner, not to mention slave and indentured servant owner as the only important opinion in this nation. When I look at their policies and the absolutely asinine things they promote as a way to appease their base, this is the only conclusion I can draw. Imagine not supporting extended unemployment benefits or cutting Snap benefits etc., does anyone believe their base does not benefit from these programs?

      • You nailed it Monica. The GOP absolutely cares nothing for their working class and poor base. They represent rich white men only. And you are correct about our founders. Many of them were brilliant men, products of The Enlightenment, but when it came to issues of race, they were ignorant and cruel. There is little to be said in defense of their attitudes toward non-whites. Very little indeed.

        All I can say is enlightenment is never ending and always progressive. They were products of their time, and unfortunately not as enlightened in areas of race relations as many of us are today. I always thought it a shame that enlightenment does not come to us all and at the same time.

        Thanks for your well received reply.

    • James Michael Brodie says:

      It does indeed, my friend. Great to chat with you again. These folks have known what they were doing from the beginning. What bothers me is how well it continues to work.

  10. AdLib says:

    Great article, James! Really pulls the curtain back on the core belief system here of White Superiority. “The Bell Curve” has been broadly discredited by all but the white extremist set (read GOP).

    In this era where our President is Barack Obama, to trot out again the old racist rhetoric of those with darker skins being genetically inferior to those with the same light skin as those professing superiority is asinine.

    Wonder how McCain, Romney Rove, Palin, Murdoch, Ailes…and of course Ryan feel at “an inferior” kicking their “superior” asses in two elections.

    Clearly, the goal here is all about building a case to make non-whites “The Others”, “The Takers”, “The Animals” who are undeserving of compassion, economic aid and support and instead deserving targets of spite and disgust.


    Because the 1%ers want to put an end to government spending on the people and have tax revenue and tax cuts shoved into their pockets. It is a win-win for Republicans, they can whip up their base with racism by demeaning and devaluing non-whites while maybe winning support for their plans to slash spending on poverty and low income programs as well as Medicare and Social Security.

    And the idiot Repub voters who jump on board with this, many of whom are poor or elderly, are blindly supporting the cutting of their own throats just to be able to hate on those who aren’t white.

    And just to be clear about the race breakdown on Welfare:

    Welfare Demographics
    Percent of recipients who are white 38.8 %
    Percent of recipients who are black 39.8 %
    Percent of recipients who are Hispanic 15.7 %
    Percent of recipients who are Asian 2.4 %
    Percent of recipients who are Other 3.3 %

    Hmm…if we’re going to compare races through poverty rates, sure looks like white people are far inferior to Hispanics, Asians and other races.

    As you mention James, though many in the White Superiority Party (GOP) want so desperately to sweep slavery under the rug, one would have to be blind not to see the impact of slavery and racism on poverty.

    These same White Superiority types are also intent on slashing education funding and support for minorities…and then they have the gall to attack them for being undereducated.

    Their agenda is clear, they want to declare non-whites to be inferior so they can claim justification in treating them like inferiors.

    50 million Americans out of 316 million are living in poverty in America. That’s a huge number, that’s people of all races in all states and all regions. If these racist Republicans ever got control of the WH and Congress and shoved through such draconian policies, they would finally learn in an unpleasant way just whose hereditary IQ is lower.

  11. pinkpantheroz says:

    I think this ditty sums it up quite nicely!

    • AdLib says:

      Great selection indeed, PPO! Really enjoyed it!

    • monicaangela says:


      • Nirek says:

        Monica, so good to see you here at the Planet. You and several others at HP have been missed by me since I left.

        PS, perfect is correct.

        • monicaangela says:

          Thanks Nirek, it is good to see you again. I left HP also and must say I haven’t missed it except for the exact same reason as you express. I miss friends like yourself, and the enlightening comments and information many of the posters shared. I’m looking forward to reading your comments again and am happy to be able to take the time to join you and the rest of the many friends I see here.

  12. Nirek says:

    J.M., I feel that there is no difference in intelligence or ethics or anything except the pigment of our skin. We are all human with human feelings. People who think they are superior are delusional.
    History is full of incidents of peoples being mistreated because someone thought they were superior to them. My ancestors (Irish) were looked down on, the Chinese (coolies), Africans and so many others.

    We have evolved but there are still some who think that they are superior. They , of course are wrong.

    Your article is interesting, thanks for posting it.

    • James Michael Brodie says:

      Thank you, Nirek. and that gets to the heart of what I was hoping to say. I only focused on one kind of ism research. There are so many others — too numerous to chronicle in one article. We need for all of them to go away.

  13. pinkpantheroz says:

    The usual zenphobic, arrogant, superiority-complexed invaders justification for subjugating those who stand between them and their rapaciousness for wealth, land and power. This gom should realise that his ‘civilisation’ was painting themselves blue less than 1000 years ago. Egyptians had everything of a civilisation 3-5000 years ago, the Persians likewise. And don’t even ask about the Chinese and Japanese! Then the Australian Aboriginals lived for 40,000 years on a continent with such harmony that their footprints are barely on the surface. Mahatma Ghandi was once asked what he thought about Western Civilisation and he replied that it would be rather a good idea. Enough said.

  14. escribacat says:

    It’s been my experience that the typical racist is an insecure sub-intellect trying desperately to find some broadly defined “other” to look down on. Society has evolved beyond the days when even the greatest minds in town somehow thought it was okay to “own” another human being, but not everyone has kept up with that process. Paul Ryan could better spend his time “analyzing” why there are so many deranged nutcases in his own party.

    • monicaangela says:

      Or a greedy business man, politician, or someone using racism as a strategy to further some sinister plot they have to keep the masses fighting among themselves so as not to notice what they are doing to enrich themselves. Divide and conquer has been the name of the game from the beginning, sad that those who are gullible enough to allow themselves to be blindsided by this tactic cannot or will not allow themselves to see this sinister plot. Why should Paul Ryan spend his time analyzing deranged nutcases? Wouldn’t that require self-exploration on his part?

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