Steve Sailer and the RPI: Even Homer Nods

See 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 particular, riot with 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 Hispanics simply 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.

There cannot be racial equality in outcome because the races are not equal in ability. Any policy based on the assumption of equality will have perverse consequences.

Mr. Sailer supports the Racial Privacy Initiative because he believes that if the government stops collecting racial data, it will make it more 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 public sector.

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 promote "diversity," 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 like best.

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 propaganda, injustice, and bad faith, all of which are based on the fantasy of racial equality.

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.

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.)