Egalitarian Orthodoxy: “Noble Fiction”—Or Noxious Poison?
There has been a fuss over at
reminds me of what a
Victorian lady said when she first heard of
Darwin`s theory of evolution: "Let us hope that
it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will
not become generally known". The fuss, needless to
say, was about
race differences in IQ, and the issue was not so
much whether the differences are real but whether we
even talk about them.
John Zmirak—who also contributes to VDARE.COM—was
worried that, if racial differences
were ever accepted, people might be sent to camps.
claimed there were certain truths any regime
"must suppress", and suggested that an official
endorsement of racial equality may be a "necessary
Really? I can`t think of a single
truth it should be our government`s job to suppress. And
it is precisely because the question of
race in America is
so vexed that we need candor rather than evasions.
For the record, I will make my own
position clear: I think a substantial genetic
contribution to racial differences in average IQ is
about as close to proven as anything ever is in the
Some day, as
James Watson pointed out in a moment of candor he
now regrets, the
genes that interact to raise or lower intelligence will
be identified, and the question will be laid to
merciful rest. When that day comes, would you be
prepared to bet the next dozen house payments that those
genes will be found to be equally distributed in all
I didn`t think so. We should be
preparing for what is almost certain to be true—rather
than clinging to something almost certain to be false.
These folks at Takimag tell us we
should cling to what may be false because the truth
would be cruel. Let me improve on their arguments for
- Any discussion of IQ is a crushing
insult to blacks, and if differences were widely
acknowledged it would drive them to despair or even
- Mean-spirited whites will use IQ data as an
excuse to hurt blacks.
- Racial differences have no
legitimate implications for
public policy, so any investigation will yield only
useless, harmful knowledge.
Wrong on all counts.
Let`s look at (1). Surely blacks
will be furious if we talk about race differences, won`t
they? All whites think so, so they never talk to blacks
about IQ—and so they don`t know the answer to that
question. They just think they do.
I will never forget the first time I
gave a lecture on race and IQ to a mixed audience of
blacks and whites. As I was being introduced, I looked
out over that
university crowd and I wasn`t sure my legs would
carry me to the podium. My heart sank to think how
wounded the blacks would be by what I was about to say.
I swallowed hard and gave my talk.
When I finished, a black man shot
shouted about "racism," and stormed out.
Another did the same. The rest of the black students
kept me on my feet for an hour answering questions.
Afterwards, at half dozen blacks
came up to speak to me. They smiled, complimented me on
my talk, shook my hand warmly, and wanted to talk for as
long as I was willing.
The same pattern repeated itself on
other campuses: an outburst or two followed by keen
interest and genuine cordiality.
After several lectures, I figured
out what was happening. First, the subject of race and
IQ is taboo, and blacks are just as curious about taboos
as whites. I know a lot about the subject, and do not
patronize people. I give a
rattling good talk about race and IQ, and people
appreciate a good talk.
Second, blacks are not stupid. They
see the miserable state of
Africa and Haiti. They see how so many blacks fail
opportunities given them. Racial differences in
intelligence are as plausible to them as to anyone else
as an explanation for the world as they find it.
But what about the warmth and
cordiality? I believe it was because many of those
students felt that for the first time in their lives
they had had a
totally honest conversation about race with a white
man. Maybe it was their first totally honest
conversation about anything with a white man. I
think they appreciated deeply being spoken to like
adults rather than children.
I suspect most blacks are no more
afraid of race differences in IQ than whites are afraid
of the possibility that Chinese and Japanese are smarter
than they are. For years, at
heavily-Asian schools like Berkeley and UCLA, the
rule for whites has been to see how
many Asians are in a science course before they
enroll. Does the possibility that
Asians are smarter than they are reduce whites to
hopelessness and misery? Not at all, though sometimes it
reduces them to
Let us not forget that until perhaps
60 years ago, almost all Americans
took it for granted that blacks were not as smart as
whites. Did blacks take drugs,
kill people, get each other pregnant, or riot as a
result? No. Many lived stabler, more wholesome lives
than they do today. Whites are
patronizing blacks disgracefully when they
assume—without evidence, I might add—that blacks can`t
handle the truth.
What about (2)—the claim that whites
might use IQ data as an excuse to mistreat blacks,
either individually or as a group?
First, it is worth recalling that
freed the slaves were all, by today`s standards,
foaming-at-the-mouth white supremacists. Whatever
whites have historically thought of blacks, there has
never been a time when anyone seriously proposed
internment or extermination or whatever other lurid
fantasies Mr. Zmirak may have.
Second, the tiny number of whites
who do deliberately hurt blacks (and I mean
tiny—see below) don`t do it for abstract reasons.
John King dragged James Byrd to death behind a
pickup truck in Jasper, Texas, he didn`t have
Raven`s Progressive Matrices on his mind. I would
bet he was thinking about the blacks who
gang-buggered him in prison. [See
Becoming A Devil,
www.uexpress.com ,By Joseph Sobran, March 22, 1999]
There will always be a few sadists
and psychopaths in any population. If some of them
decide to hate blacks (or
homosexuals) it will have nothing to do with IQ. No
one is going to read The g Factor
and then to
go out and
burn a cross.
Human beings have a knack for
Tamils and Sinhalese slit each others` throats in
Shiites and Sunnis blow each other up in
Iraq. Yes, they would probably tell you their
enemies are stupid. But they have a hundred other
far more visceral reasons for killing each other.
People do not hate each other because of overlapping
As for (3), the implications or lack
thereof for public policy, no one has ever suggested
that all whites are smarter than all blacks. As Marcus
Epstein, also a VDARE.COM contributor,
explained in the debate at Takimag, thanks to the
standard deviation, there are fearfully smart people
in all populations, even though the percentage of
fearfully smart people varies a great deal from race
to race. As a practical matter, if the black candidate
is the best qualified, then by all means let him run
General Motors—or be President for that matter. Common
sense about race and IQ need not be a barrier to any
individual getting ahead.
It is, instead, the dogma of
equality that makes real policy mischief, because it
requires identical racial outcomes. The notorious
No Child Left Behind Act brands schools as failures
cannot close the achievement gap between blacks (and
Hispanics) and whites (and
Asians). Because not one of the approximately 90,000
public schools in the country has managed to do
this, every "diverse" school in America would be
declared a failure—if the government followed its
The requirements keep being loosened
to avoid this absurd outcome. But that did not keep
snake oil salesmen from attending an
"Achievement Gap Summit" in
Sacramento last November. No fewer than 125
different panels were devoted to
various forms of hand-wringing over the fact that no
one, anywhere, no matter
how hard he tries, can get
Mexican-Americans to read or do math as well as
"Closing the gap" is a national priority;
it is a
futile and dangerous priority.
After all, there is a different
achievement gap that is far larger but gets no attention
at all: the gap between the
top ten percent and the bottom ten percent of white
students. It is a yawning gap; why does no one care
Because everyone knows that
some children are just plain smarter than others.
Everyone knows it would be crazy to try to make all
white students get the same grades. A few people
even know that every child does better school
work if he gets instruction
specifically tailored to his level of ability—but
that this makes the gap between the top and bottom
scores grow even wider. Everyone`s performance
rises with optimal, individualized teaching, but the
scores of the
brightest children rise more than the scores
of the dim children. The gap grows.
Just imagine what perverse
incentives would be built into a school system that was
under terrible pressure to make sure all the white
exactly the same grades. Is it possible that in
their zeal to pull up the low scores, some teachers
might skimp on their efforts to teach the high flyers?
Gifted classes are being cut back all around the
country. No one admits this is the reason, but whenever
a school stops offering special classes for bright
students—who are overwhelmingly white and Asian—the
effect is to narrow the racial achievement gap.
Narrowing this gap should not
be an end in itself. The goal should be the best
possible performance for everyone,
gap be damned.
If all students of every race were
getting the best possible education, everyone would
learn more but the racial gap would grow. So what? We
shouldn`t give the racial gap any more thought than we
do the gap between the top and bottom white scores. It
egalitarian dogma that has sent the country on this
fool`s errand of gap-closing.
But there is much worse. The
"noble fiction" of racial equality does terrible
damage to race relations. According to the fiction,
blacks, Hispanics, whites, and Asians are all equally
hard-working. They are precisely, mathematically,
geometrically equal. Even the
slightest deviation in outcomes has only one cause:
white racism, past and present. (The fact that
Asians do better than whites is conveniently omitted
from this argument.)
This means we are constantly telling
blacks that white people are cheating them. If blacks
are not as rich as whites, if they are more likely that
whites to be
in jail or
on drugs or have
AIDS or be
on welfare or get shot or
knocked up, it is because vicious, systematic racism
did it to them. They are responsible for none of it.
For all of us, a basic stage in
growing up is the realization that if we lose a race, it
is because we ran slower, not because someone cheated.
Sooner or later, all of us come to terms with the fact
that we are not the smartest, best-looking, most musical
person on earth (Bill Clinton may be an exception). We
accept our limitations, and make the best of them.
But according to the "noble
fiction," blacks are never allowed to grow up. If
they lost the race it was only because they were
cheated. We tell them that if they are behind as a
group, it is never their responsibility. It is
because—and only because—whitey hates them and holds
them down. If our goal were to
teach blacks to hate white people, it would be hard
to think of a better way to do it (along, of course,
with constant reminders of
According to the "noble fiction,"
the measure of black failure is the precise measure of
white viciousness, and that gives blacks an
inexhaustible reservoir of bitterness. No wonder
Jeremiah Wright preached the sermons he did, and no
wonder his congregation
danced in their pews.No wonder
rap lyrics are
so full of
anti-white vitriol. No wonder any given black is 40
more likely to do
violence to a white than the other way around.
Race relations in this country would
improve dramatically if blacks got an entirely different
message: that they sink or swim according to their own
efforts and abilities, that they are not the puppets of
white people, that they are adults who must be
responsible for their own lives rather than children at
the mercy of vicious, omnipotent strangers.
Recognizing the likelihood of racial
differences in IQ is
an important part of this.
Race Denial is not a "noble
fiction". It is a noxious poison. Let us have no
more of this silly talk.
The truth, we are informed on better
authority, shall set us free.
him) is editor of
American Renaissance and the author of Paved
With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in
Peter Brimelow`s review, click