Racial Correctness: The Case Of Malvina Hoffman


Condemning
the Bush Administration`s strong stance against Iraq`s
attempt to create a nuclear arsenal, Nelson Mandela
recently

asked
:

"Why should there be one standard for one country
[Iraq], especially because it is black, and another one
for another country, Israel, that is white?”

 The Nobel
Laureate went on,

"In fact, many people say quietly, but they don`t have
the courage to stand up and say publicly, that when
there were white Secretary Generals you didn`t find this
question of the United States and Britain going out of
the United Nations. But now that you`ve had black
Secretary Generals like

Boutros Boutros-Ghali
, like Kofi Annan, they do not
respect the United Nations. They have contempt for it.
This is not my view, but that is what is being said by
many people."

In reality,
of course, the Egyptian

Boutros-Ghali
and the people of

Iraq
are about as black as

Al Pacino
.

"Mandela`s
statement reflect a Manichean division of the world
between white and non-white, oppressor and oppressed,
that simply doesn`t

reflect reality
anymore,"

commented
  the pseudonymous "Razib," one of the
consortium of mostly South and East Asian young bloggers
at

Gene Expression
, a human biodiversity realist
website.

Razib, who
was born in Bangladesh and raised in Oregon, has brown
skin, straight black hair and (what to my eye are)
Caucasian features. He went on to make an intriguing
point,

"The irony is that Left-wing identity politics and
small-town ignorance converge, as both groups often
downplay differences between `people of color.` I know
of this from personal experience, since in eastern
Oregon people would often refer to me as `colored` or
`black` because of my dark skin… Things like this might
not seem like a big deal, but before we can deal with
our differences, we need to be clear and rigorous as can
be as to what they are. Obscuring the issues only put
off the eventual reckonings…."

Despite all
the talk about celebrating diversity, nobody these days
is supposed to notice diversity. There is almost no way
for the public to look up in a modern reference work
what people of various geographic origins look like.
There is a natural human curiosity about what people
from around the globe look like. Yet organized ways to
study this fascinating subject have largely been shut
down. This important knowledge has become something you
just have to pick up as you go through life.

Personally, I`ve become pretty discerning due to thirty
years of girl-watching. For example, I`ve observed so
many waitresses in both Thai and Vietnamese restaurants
that by now I can tell Thais and Vietnamese apart.

Many
prominent scientists today, however, are far more
ignorant about human biodiversity that their
predecessors were. That`s not how science should work —
knowledge is supposed to accumulate, not dissipate.

I recently
spent a couple of hours discussing race with two very
famous evolutionary psychologists who have written a
number of often-quoted articles on how evolution has

nothing to do
with race. (This would have come as a
huge surprise to Charles Darwin, who entitled his most
famous

book
: On the Origin of Species by Means of
Natural Selection, Or the Preservation of Favoured Races
in the Struggle for Life
,
and who devoted about
half his second most important book, The Descent
of Man
, to a theory of
the evolutionary

causes
of racial variation.)

I`d always
assumed that their pooh-poohing the relationship between
Darwinism and race was a calculated effort to keep their
politically incorrect studies of sex differences from
getting them thrown off campus. That`s not terribly
brave, but it`s certainly prudent. I could hardly
criticize them for it.

But I found
they weren`t being Machiavellian. They were simply
ignorant of the

basic knowledge
that you`d expect in anybody who
pronounced judgment so confidently on the topic of race.
They didn`t seem to know anything at all about physical
anthropology. They were surprised, for example, to learn
that the Indians of the Andean highlands, where the

air is thin
, had evolved bigger chests and bigger
lungs than the Indians of the Amazonian jungle. They had
weird

Lamarckian


Boasian
ideas to explain human biodiversity–such as
that if an English child were raised in East Africa,
he`d grow up with longer, thinner limbs like a

Kenyan
.

They had
clearly never discussed human physical variation with
anybody who knew anything about it.

I was
embarrassed for them.

In the past,
there were resources to educate Americans on what the
rest of humanity looked like. Right now, I`m looking at
my copy of Evolution, the 1962 Time-Life Book
that I read as a child. It has a chapter called "Man and
His Genes." It includes three pages devoted to pictures
of representatives from 23 different racial groups.

Similarly,
the great

physical anthropologist
Carleton Coon`s 1965

Living Races of Man
has 128 pages of portraits
organized by racial groups, several of them
near-masterpieces of photo portraiture. His picture of a
bare-chested Samoan chieftain reflects as much innate
dignity and sense of command as the best photos of FDR.
(If you know of a more recent photo book, please tell

me
.)

America`s
most spectacular trove of human biodiversity depictions
is badly abused today. One of the most impressive
American female artists remains in obscurity, in an age
which dredges up forgotten women artists as role models,
because of her sins against racial correctness.

Malvina
Hoffman has been called "the greatest American artist
you`ve never heard of" and "the
American Rodin
." She studied under Auguste Rodin,
the greatest sculptor since Bernini, and Gutzon Borglum,
creator of Mt. Rushmore. Her style was more realistic
than Rodin`s, which helped drive her out of fashion in a
20th Century art world obsessed with abstraction.

In 1930, the
Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago commissioned
her to create 91 full size

bronzes
and 13 marbles depicting in exquisite detail
the "The
Races of Mankind
." She traveled the world to
complete this most titanic sculptural project undertaken
by any American woman ever. (Here`s her

Bushman woman and baby.
)

In 1933, the
Hoffman exhibit opened in the Field Museum`s spectacular
custom-built "Hall
of Man
." It was a major part of the Chicago World`s
Fair and remained a popular institution for decades
afterwards. But it was shut down in 1968 because, well,
because it was 1968.

Hoffman`s
collection was broken up. A  quarter of it is now in
Cedar Rapids. When I last visited the Field Museum in
1999, only about half the statues were on display, and
many of those were pushed into dark corners, often
without labels. The magnificent 6`8" Nilotic Nuer

warrior
, with proportional masculine endowment, was
down in the basement next to the dusty souvenir-making
Mold-o-Vac and Penny Squeezer machines.

I asked a
curator about this neglect. She told me the sculptures
deserved to be treated with disdain because they weren`t
realistic. [Contact the Field Museum

here
]

But Ms.
Hoffman published photos of many of her subjects in her
autobiography. The only thing unrealistic about them is
that Hoffman, Rodin`s pupil, no doubt made them all a
little healthier, handsomer, and more heroic looking. Is
that so bad?  

The real reason her
great accomplishment is treated with disdain is that it
vividly and memorably demonstrates

human biodiversity.

And that`s what the
museum`s social anthropologists fear and loathe.


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]

October 20, 2002