What a feeling

“Race? It is a feeling, not a reality. Ninety-five per cent, at least. Nothing will ever make me believe that biologically pure races can be shown to exist today.”

That was Benito Mussolini in 1932.    I suppose that the idea that some races are superior to others has never gone away.  Just today, for instance, the New York Times seems to have hired a science columnist who thinks such a proposition worth pursuing.  Here’s Gawker’s take:

Khan’s writing elsewhere hardly rejects the doctrines on which these outlets are based. He merely treats what white racists taken for granted—that non-whites, and especially blacks, are intellectually inferior—as an open question worth exploring in the name of scientific inquiry. Still, Khan is careful with his actual words; he never says black people are less intelligent. But his willingness to treat black intelligence as a matter of debate has not hampered his career in the slightest. He’s written for Slate, The Daily Telegraph, and The Guardian. Indeed, he’s already placed twoop-eds, about the evolution of cats and abortion politics, in The New York Times.

The accusation here is that Khan iron mans racist science: it’s worth looking into whether these (historically inferior) “races” are inferior because inquiry, or science.

I guess I thought we were beyond this (in part for the reasons Mussolini mentions), but then again, I’ve had more than one student who basically affirms old-fashioned racial theory.

2 thoughts on “What a feeling”

  1. As several people have noted over the years, isn’t it remarkable how these bold intellectuals merely asking about inherent racial superiority so rarely if ever posit that non-whites might be smarter than whites? That their questions really only cut in one direction? (Allowing some variation for cover.) That, in an amazing coincidence, the questions they ask just happen to assume that that the dominant culture is inherently superior and/or some minority group is inherently inferior? That the ‘hard scientific truths’ we must face just happen to coincide with their own biases or those of their employers and political allies?

    Alas, there’s not much difference between this stuff and the openly racist pronouncements of National Review back in the 1950s besides the style the pitch. (National Review’s gotten more subtle, too, although they finally had to fire Derbyshire and another writer for being more candid elsewhere.)

  2. That’s right Batocchio. This might also be a variation on the thought that the religion of one’s parents, region, or country happens also to be the one, true religion.

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