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.