Steve Sailer and the RPI: Even Homer Nods
also:Jared Taylor`s review of Hans-Herman Hoppe`s Democracy –The God That Failed
I have long been an admirer of
Steve Sailer, whose work I often find to be
nothing short of brilliant. However, in his recent
commentary on Ward Connerly`s
Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI), he takes a
number of positions with which I must disagree.
Mr. Sailer writes that his
opposition to affirmative action is increasingly based
not on moral but on “prudential grounds.”
I take this to mean that he
believes racial preferences should be abolished, not so
much because they are wrong, but because whites will
eventually rise up against them.
This is a very dangerous argument.
If we operate on the basis of a fear of riots rather
than on a judgment of right and wrong, policy loses all
coherence, and the nation can be blackmailed.
"Prudential grounds” would suggest
that racial preferences be expanded—not
abolished. After all, the beneficiaries have an
impressive record of riot and violence. Blacks, in
little provocation. If policy becomes nothing more
than pacification, blacks can demand ever-greater levels
of preference based on the very real threat of violence.
At the same time, whites are
extremely unlikely to riot over the continuation of
racial preferences. It has been
50 years since they lost the capacity to riot for
explicitly racial reasons. Despite constant
demographic displacement by non-whites,
official racial discrimination against them in
hiring and college admissions, and widespread
denigration of their
history and culture, they show no signs of
rekindling that ability. Of course, whites are to be
congratulated on this – but it is also true that their
elected representatives show no sign of
defending their interests in this debate.
Opposition to racial preferences
should not be "prudential" but logical and moral.
The data on racial differences in
intelligence are now overwhelming. Blacks and
cannot be expected to achieve at the same level as
whites and Asians. To insist that current differences in
achievement are proof of discrimination by wicked whites
is to persist in what must be one of the most successful
and damaging propaganda campaigns in history.
Mr. Sailer supports the Racial
Privacy Initiative because he believes that if the
government stops collecting racial data, it will make it
difficult to enforce racial preference quotas. There
are several things wrong with this argument.
First, as he himself points out,
companies and universities now impose racial quotas upon
themselves. Just because the state of California stops
counting noses will not prevent others from doing so.
Second, Mr. Sailer suggests at the
very end of his essay, that it is the market rather than
the law that should punish irrational discrimination.
That is certainly true. A company should be free to hire
only left-handed, Korean duck-hunters if it wants, and
if this peculiar hiring policy means it is not always
able to hire the most productive employees, the market
will punish it by reducing its profits.
Private discrimination is, in fact,
the essence of choice. The
Civil Rights Act of 1964, which stripped Americans
of the right to make free decisions about whom to hire,
serve, accommodate, or choose as neighbors and
classmates, was a staggering expansion of government
power and loss of individual freedom. The "refusal
to deal," as
private discrimination is technically called, cannot
be considered a wrong because such a refusal does not
leave anyone worse off than he was before. If you don`t
hire me or sell me your house, I may be disappointed,
but I am not materially harmed.
Today, however, discrimination
against whites goes largely unpunished in the market for
two reasons: many discriminators are government bodies
not subject to market forces; large private companies
must discriminate against whites so as to have racially
proportionate workforces, which are the only legally
acceptable proof of non-discrimination. As all must do
this, all are equally handicapped.
The solution, therefore, is not
something like the Racial Privacy Initiative, which does
nothing but reduce the quality of racial data. The
solution is to abolish all anti-discrimination laws.
They should be retained, if at all, in the monopoly
If Ford then decides to hire large
numbers of underqualified blacks and Hispanics while GM
insists on across-the-board standards, the market really
will pass verdict on which is the better policy.
Likewise, if Harvard lowers standards in order to
while Yale is free to discriminate in order to promote
"homogeneity" (unlikely but theoretically possible), let
high school seniors decide which sort of campus they
An end to
anti-discrimination law in the private sector would,
of course, highlight race, sex, and ethnic differences
in ability. This would pave the way to broad recognition
of racial reality, and lead to realistic policies-
rather than our current miasma of
bad faith, all of which are based on the fantasy of
The RPI is a strictly cosmetic
measure that will have no effect on the abuses it is
designed to cure.
Let there be more
information about race rather than less.
And let us be free to consider this
information when we hire employees, buy a house, or
choose a school.
him) is editor of
and the author of
Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race
Relations in Contemporary America.
(For Peter Brimelow`s review, click