Facing Reality

Two Truths about Race in America

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This new, short, book by Charles Murray is a plea for Americans to accept a couple of uncomfortable facts. Succinctly laid out early on:

The first is that American Whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians, as groups, have different means and distributions of cognitive ability The second is that American Whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians, as groups, have different rates of violent crime.

The "as groups" caveat is vital. Group differences imply nothing about any given individual.

Murray meticulously lays out the evidence for these two truths. Convincingly, in my mind. And he doesn't speculate on the underlying causes of those racial differences; the causes simply don't matter much to his argument. He points out that the cognitive differences are not susceptible to easy fixes; they are not simply due to poor schools, or poverty, or environmental factors, or anything else held out by naysayers.

Science is real, in other words.

(The uncomfortable truth about group cognitive differences is becoming more widely accepted. See, for example, the recent book by self-admitted Marxist Fredrik deBoer, The Cult of Smart, which comes to the same conclusion. His proposed remedies are, of course, somewhat different than Murray's. Unfortunately, Murray doesn't reference deBoer here, just as deBoer ignored Murray in his book. I really think these two could have a productive discussion.)

Murray uses the "two truths" to point out the false and damaging foundations of today's "progressive" ideology as it applies to racial matters: identity politics, with its accusations of "systemic racism", "white privilege", etc. to explain racial statistical disparities. That's a dagger aimed at the heart of the American ideal of treating people as individuals. Think it's bad now? Just wait until white people discover the advantages of playing the I'm-racially-oppressed card.

Murray advocates two "solutions", one he sees politically infeasible, the other possible. The infeasible one: get rid of government-sponsored race-based preferential treatment. That's a worthy goal, but Murray is probably correct that (like walking away empty-handed on 25 Words or Less) it ain't gonna happen.

The possible solution: we should all embrace the "American creed" of treating people as individuals, rather than pigeonholing them by their genetics. And we should do that loudly and affirmatively. Repudiate the "extremists" (on both ends of the political spectrum) who claim otherwise.

Another good idea, and easy for people to do. But I'm still pulling for that impossible remedy myself.

Last Modified 2024-01-20 5:21 AM EDT