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Further Down The Road (Paved With Good Intentions)
[Peter Brimelow writes: We've said repeatedly that VDARE.COM is not a White Nationalist webzine—but that we do publish White Nationalists because we regard their focus on white interests as at least as legitimate as Black Nationalism, Hispanic Nationalism, Zionism, etc…and as an inevitable development in the Brave New America created by mass immigration.
Jared Taylor, Editor of American Renaissance, is perhaps the most brilliant and accomplished figure among White Nationalists. We post here a shortened version of his Preface to the new edition of his 1992 book Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure Of Race Relations In Contemporary America, which has been out of print since 2001.
As Taylor says, he did not make his full position clear in 1992. But his demonstration that whites could not really be blamed for the plight of blacks was still radical. More than a decade later, he feels the debate has moved significantly his way.
This appears to contrast with the pessimism Steve Sailer and I expressed last year on the tenth anniversary of The Bell Curve. We felt the scandalous treatment of Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein has had a real chilling effect on discussions of race, even—especially—in "conservative" publications.
I think that Taylor is right about what might be called the "esoteric" debate—among colleagues, in the technical literature. Indeed, Clint Bolick, one of Taylor's Establishment conservative critics made this point to me, ruefully, with regard to Taylor's influence on the movement to which we then both thought we belonged, within months of writing a negative review.
The public debate has become more constrained, if anything. But then, there is no public debate anymore. Even liberals don't make Kerner Commission-type arguments about the effects of "white racism" today. They don't make any arguments at all.
It almost seems to me—and I've been following this subject since doing American Studies at college in England several hundred years ago—that everybody in the U.S., left and right, has just plain flat-out gotten bored with African Americans and their problems. That's why no-one except VDARE.COM's Ed Rubenstein has pointed out that black unemployment has actually risen during this recovery. It's why immigrants in general, and Hispanics in particular, are now the cause of choice.
Why read a book that first appeared in 1992? I believe there are two reasons.
- First, it is still an eye-opening account of a series of terrible mistakes we have made with regard to one of the most sensitive and difficult aspects of our nation's history. Some of the characters in America's continuing racial drama have changed since 1992, but a surprising number have not, and the empty sloganeering that passes for public discourse has slackened only a little.
I made a number of compromises in order to have this book published, but the compromises lie mainly in what I did not write. I think most of what I did write stands up well more than a decade later.
Many readers of this book have told me it angered them, enlightened them, and in some cases shifted their thinking substantially. I would like to think it still has that power.
- The second reason: In its own modest way, Paved With Good Intentions was part of a steady evolution in what it is permitted to say about race in the American "mainstream."
When it appeared in 1992, the obligatory "mainstream" view was that white "racism" causes black failure. If blacks are poor, commit crimes, have children out of wedlock, drop out of school, or take drugs, it is due to the accumulated oppression of slavery, lynching, segregation, and "institutional racism."
I wrote this book to refute this view, to show that American society as a whole does not oppress blacks and that, indeed, it often offers them race-based benefits of the kind that go under the name of "affirmative action."
The method I used to make this argument was simple: compare like with like. How does society treat similar populations of blacks and whites?
For many people, for example, it is an article of faith that blacks are more likely than whites to be in jail because the criminal justice system is "racist."
However, black robbers with three prior convictions do not get longer sentences than white robbers with three prior convictions. Black murderers do not get the death sentence more often than white murderers. [Black murderers do not get the death sentence more often than white murderers. They get the death sentence considerably less often because they are more likely than whites to commit murder as a result of an argument or fight. Whites, though they commit far fewer murders on a per capita basis than blacks, are more likely to kill deliberately and coldly, and premeditation is usually a requirement for the death sentence.]
Nor do the police arrest blacks in unjustifiably large numbers. The proportion of blacks arrested for robbery, for example (about half of all such arrests), is almost exactly equal to the proportion of robbers identified by crime victims as black.
Other comparisons of like with like give the same results.
Blacks and whites who graduate from similar universities with similar grades and degrees get a similar number of job offers—blacks may actually get more. Blacks and whites with equivalent employment records make about the same amount of money—blacks often make more. Similarly-qualified blacks and whites are equally likely to be granted home mortgages. Equally deserving black and white candidates for organ transplants are equally likely to get them.
In fact, whenever it is possible to study outcomes for similarly situated groups of black and whites, the independent effect of race is almost always vanishingly small and may well favor blacks.
The reason blacks and whites do not enjoy similar outcomes despite similar treatment by society is that the black and white populations are not equivalent. Although I expressed myself as gently and sympathetically as possible, my conclusion was that black outcomes reflect black behavior rather than oppression by whites.
A systematic, scholarly search for discernable effects of "racism" should not have been controversial, but it was.
No matter what the evidence may tell us, most whites are almost as deeply convinced as blacks that "racism" oppresses blacks and holds them back.
So ingrained is this conviction in the publishing industry that this book almost failed to appear. My literary agent Theron Raines spent almost two years trying to sell the book, and continued long after I would have given up. He finally got a contract with Carroll & Graf, a small New York publisher that has since been bought by the Avalon Publishing Group.
Carroll & Graf publicized the book as best it could, but the press largely ignored it. With the exception of the Wall Street Journal and the Baltimore Sun (whose black reviewer called it "the most scurrilous work about American blacks since Thomas Dixon's The Clansman"), [Blame It All On Blacks, November 23, 1992, Gregory P. Kane] not one major newspaper reviewed it.
Probably the book's single most important boost came from a favorable notice in National Review by Peter Brimelow, back when NR still welcomed contributions from the now-banned Mr. Brimelow (his work continues on the Internet at VDARE.COM).
Paved With Good Intentions also became a selection of the Conservative Book Club—but only after considerable agonizing. Their publicists called it "the most outspoken book the club has ever offered. And the most painful."
Talk radio also kept the book alive, with Carroll & Graf arranging as many as three or four programs a day during the summer of 1993.
This was exhausting work for me—not physically but morally. At that time, radio audiences were not prepared to hear that blacks had any responsibility for their own failure. My book was a perfect example of "blaming the victim," and hosts and callers heaped worse abuse on me than they do for the considerably more subversive things I am now inclined to say.
Times—and attitudes—are changing.
The question that remains with me, however, is why whites so desperately want to believe that it is they, rather than blacks themselves, who are to blame for black failure.
It is understandable why blacks profess to believe this; it relieves them of responsibility and gives them a very effective club with which to beat guilt-ridden whites. The entire racial preferences industry is based on the assumption that whites are guilty and must atone for their sins. The benefits for blacks are both psychological and material.
But what is in it for whites? Why are they so desperate to believe the worst about their own group?
I have theorized elsewhere that whites have an unusual inclination towards principles of reciprocity and equality, and that this gave rise to peculiarly Western phenomena such as rule of law, rights for women, freedom of the press, and democracy. Everyone, including blacks and other non-whites, has a point of view that deserves a serious hearing. White guilt and racial preferences are an unhealthy exaggeration of an otherwise laudable sense of fair play. [See The Real American Dilemma: Race, Immigration, and the Future of America, page 51]
Ian Jobling has added the complementary view that whites are particularly devoted to "competitive altruism," or the appearance of generosity and philanthropy. There is much prestige in publicly ministering to the unsuccessful, and non-whites are the most obvious examples.
These theories are plausible but not sufficient. Nothing entirely explains the savage joy of the liberal with a "racist" (or a "xenophobe" or "sexist") in his sights. People who think only moral inferiors could enjoy fox hunting or bullfighting take a different view when the quarry is human, as they bay for the blood of "bigots" like hounds on the scent. It is wearying, on the radio or off, to play the fox to liberal hounds.
I think it likely, though, that this book nudged the debate about race ever so slightly in the direction of sanity. A dozen years later, fewer whites are quite so eager to take the blame for black problems that refuse to go away.
A steady stream of other books has battered away at the conventional view of race: The Bell Curve (1994) by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, The End of Racism (1995) by Dinesh D'Souza, Race, Evolution and Behavior (1995) by Philippe Rushton, Why Race Matters (1997) by Michael Levin, and The g Factor (1998) by Arthur Jensen. In 2000 Jon Entine wrote frankly in Taboo about the physiological differences that explain black dominance of certain sports, and by 2003, when Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom wrote in No Excuses about the persistent racial gap in academic achievement, their systematic refutation of the usual whites-are-responsible arguments met with some objection but little outrage.
Since I wrote Paved With Good Intentions it is has become possible to criticize "affirmative action" not only for the treacly, liberal reason that it hurts blacks by discrediting the accomplishments of whose who can succeed without preferences, but for the straightforward reason that it is unfair to whites.
In 1995 the Board of Regents of the University of California voted to abolish racial preferences, and two years later California voters approved Proposition 209, which forbids the state to practice race or sex preferences.
Similar bans have been put to the vote in other states, and although in June 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court failed to find racial preferences in college admissions unconstitutional, many universities are scaling back and even eliminating preference policies. Some progress is being made.
However, taboos and hypocrisies remain, and Paved With Good Intentions afforded me opportunities to witness them.
In 1995, on the strength of the book, the famously conservative Hillsdale College invited me to participate in a series of lectures on welfare. My subject was to be "Race Relations and Welfare."
Bell Curve author Charles Murray was also a speaker, and the evening before my talk he and I participated in a long private conversation with several others about race and IQ, and the implications of racial differences for American society. Lissa Roche, daughter-in-law of Hillsdale president George Roche and one of the conference organizers, was present and joined actively in the conversation.
The next day, in my talk, I spoke in some detail about black-white IQ differences, which I offered as one of the reasons blacks are more likely than whites to be on welfare.
To my astonishment, during the question-and-answer period, Mrs. Roche herself denounced me from the audience for bringing up the IQ question.
I now regret it, but out of deference to my hostess I did not describe from the podium the conversation of the previous evening, in which she had taken such a lively part.
The speeches given in that series were all published—except for mine—in a volume with the ironic title Champions of Freedom.
Of course, my own book could be accused of hypocrisy, or at least of a huge logical void.
My search for the effects of "racism" had turned up very little. If comparable black and white populations have similar social outcomes it must mean America does not usually treat people differently on account of race. What then explains black failure?
In conversations with my editor, Kent Carroll, I argued that the book implicitly but very clearly raised this question, and that it was disingenuous not to discuss racial differences in IQ. He was adamant that such a discussion would ensure that the book received no serious consideration.
I did not press him to the limit on this matter, but I suspect he would have refused to publish a book that discussed the 15-point average black-white difference in IQ. I was unhappy about remaining silent on such an important question, but in retrospect I think Mr. Carroll was right: A more explicit Paved With Good Intentions would have sunk without a bubble.
Because I could not remain completely silent about the causes of black failure, the book makes feeble arguments about the debilitating effect of conventional views of "racism." If, I asked, both blacks and whites are always telling blacks their troubles are caused by wicked whites, doesn't that mean there is nothing they can do to help themselves? Do not constant reminders of "racism" encourage blacks to give up because whites will thwart them no matter what they do?
This was another argument designed to appeal to liberals, and implied that if blacks could only throw off their obsession with white oppression they might achieve at the same level as whites.
This is an aspect of the book that troubled me in 1992 and continues to trouble me. Although it never says so plainly, it implies that if racial preferences could be abolished, if blacks could stop using "racism" to excuse their own fecklessness, and if whites would only stop encouraging this kind of excuse-making, race relations might perhaps enter a new era of harmony.
I did not believe this in 1992, and I do not believe it today. Neither Americans nor anyone else have managed to build a harmonious multiracial society, and I cannot foresee any policy or attitude changes that would make it possible.
At the same time, our government has permitted a huge influx of non-white immigrants who threaten to reduce whites to a minority by the middle of this century. In their bones, whites know this will not be a good thing. They know that an increasingly Third-World America will slip into Third-World habits of corruption, poverty, and violence.
And yet, whites rarely oppose their own dispossession in explicitly racial terms. They may complain about overcrowding and environmental degradation, or suggest that immigrants should be encouraged to assimilate, but it is still unacceptable to state openly that whites have the right to remain the majority in their own country, their own institutions, their own schools, or their own neighborhoods.
To take this position requires an unconventional understanding of the nature and importance of race, and views that reflect this understanding have been banished from public discourse.
Every other racial group can freely advance its interests at the expense of others, but whites are forbidden to organize and work for their own interests as whites.
When I wrote Paved With Good Intentions I did not attempt to challenge that ban. On page 356, for example, I warned that if blacks continue to use race as a weapon, to advance their interests as a race and not as Americans, there are "disquieting" signs whites will be tempted to forge racial weapons of their own.
Of course, given the demographic and cultural challenges they face, signs of racial awakening among whites are not "disquieting." They are essential to survival as a distinct people with a culture and heritage of their own.
I did not take this position in Paved With Good Intentions. I did not even propose it to my editor Kent Carroll because he would not have published a book that advocated racial consciousness for whites. He would have told me—no doubt correctly—that the country would not take such a book seriously.
Mr. Carroll took considerable criticism for publishing the relatively mild book that he did, and I do not fault him for his decisions. There are limits to what a publisher may publish and still retain the respect of his profession.
Since even before the appearance of Paved With Good Intentions I have been the editor of American Renaissance, a magazine that goes considerably further into forbidden territory. Some time after the book was published, I approached my agent Theron Raines with a proposal for a scholarly treatment of the subjects commonly raised in AR: the difficulties of integration, the disadvantages of "diversity," the challenge to whites of non-white immigration, and the long-term consequences if whites fail to act in their own interests.
Mr. Raines, who worked tirelessly to help this book see the light of day, spent more than two years before he finally gave up on the new project. Mainstream publishing is still not ready for open dissent from the myths of multiracialism and diversity.
It is not yet ready to hear what I really think about race. For that, readers must turn to American Renaissance.
Some day whites will throw off the self-imposed scruples that require them to work for the benefit of every group but their own.
Some day, there will be a just solution to the American race problem that preserves the cultures and respects the dignity of all races.
Those who bring it about will, I believe, have read and reflected on books like this one.
Jared Taylor (email him) is editor of American Renaissance and the author of Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America. (For Peter Brimelow's review, click here.)