“Conversing” about Race


The “conversation” about race so devoutly wished by Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and their ilk (of all colors) doesn’t seem to be on the track that they have in mind. That track, as some have noted, is for Obama, Holder, et al. to tell us white folks how to think about black folks, and thenceforth to think and act accordingly.

It seems that it has become acceptable for commentators outside what are known as “racialist” circles to acknowledge openly certain facts of life that are strongly tied to race. Thus, on July 20, we have Ron Unz declaring that

if we examine the official FBI arrest statistics, we find that these seem to support the most straightforward interpretation of our racial crime correlations.  For example, blacks in America were over six times as likely to be arrested for homicide in 2011 as non-blacks and over eight times as likely to be arrested for robbery; the factors for previous years were usually in a similar range.  The accuracy of this racial pattern of arrests is generally confirmed by the corresponding racial pattern of victim-identification statements, also aggregated by the FBI.

This declaration of facts is especially noteworthy, coming from Unz, who is a firm disbeliever in the proposition that intelligence has a strong genetic component. (I have addressed Unz’s treatise at length — and negatively — in this post.)

Then, along came Victor Davis Hanson on July 25, writing at National Review Online — the organ whose editor had fired John Derbyshire for his infelicitous comments about race (in another venue). Among other tidbits about young black males and crime, Hanson offered this:

I suspect — and statistics would again support such supposition — that [Attorney General Eric ]Holder privately is more worried that his son is in greater danger of being attacked by other black youths than by either the police or a nation of white-Hispanic George Zimmermans on the loose.

Will Hanson go the way of Derbyshire and be fired by NRO? It seems unlikely. Hanson is far more temperate than Derbyshire, as Derbyshire gladly demonstrates in his commentary on Hanson’s column; for example:

The race issue in America is a tadpole, with black/nonblack the mighty head and everything else an inconsequential tail.

In per capita intensity of feeling, black hatred of nonblacks is about an 8 out of 10, nonblack dislike of blacks about a 3 or 4, and any other antagonism you care to name—Hispanic hostility to East Asians, Hmong feelings about Native Americans, whatever—well down below 1.

And in the sheer amount of sturm und drang generated, the conflict is, as I keep telling you, really just between two big blocs of white people who loathe each other, the liberal bloc recruiting nonwhites as not-much-trusted support troops—a Cold Civil War.  As Prof. Hanson said, the liberal bloc personally avoids the great mass of blacks as much as they can—except when a latrine trench needs digging.

That’s more like it. And there’s a lot more where that came from. (UPDATE: Derbyshire’s followup, in which he tackles Hanson’s distortions of his views, is here.)

Well, I can be as inflammatory as Mr. Derbyshire, and so I will quote a recent bit of advice about how to be stupid:

… Intelligence is largely potential and theoretical, but stupidity is practical….

The key ingredient in applied stupidity is lack of effort….

Teachers often blame poor educational performance on the home lives of their students, insisting that lack of parental involvement deprives the children of motivation, and keeps good study habits from taking root….

Stupid behavior correlates fairly well with childish behavior, because let’s face it, kids do a lot of silly things.  This is to be expected – they’re children, after all.  They have limited experience, they have trouble staying focused, and they can’t control their impulses.  An adult who displays these traits on a constant basis will reliably behave stupidly.  Acting in a mature manner – seeking information, staying focused, delaying immediate gratification, and remaining patient – is therefore a good strategy for avoiding stupidity.  Courteous behavior, the hallmark of adult communication, is a combination of these behaviors.  The acolyte of stupidity should therefore be short-tempered, rude, impatient, and hostile at all times.

Anyone can make mistakes, but consistency is the difference between error and folly.  Smart people make mistakes and learn from them.  Stupid people make the same mistakes over and over again.  That’s not necessarily because they can’t learn from their mistakes.  Sometimes they refuse to learn…..

Apathy is another sinkhole for energy.  Apathetic people don’t care, so they don’t try.  The result is functionally equivalent to stupidity.  A mind pumped full of despair, and convinced the world is hopelessly stacked against it, loses the enthusiasm necessary to process information and make good decisions.

The inability to express yourself clearly may lead others to conclude you are stupid.  This could be viewed as yet another manifestation of apathy and carelessness.  The basic rules of grammar and syntax are durable, fairly straightforward, and taught repeatedly to children during every year of their primary education.  Someone who doesn’t make the effort to express themselves using those basic rules of clear speech, knowing that listeners expect them to be followed, is either being lazy or arrogant, which for the purposes of stupidity engineering have similar practical results….

Most people have the neural capacity to conduct themselves in a reasonably intelligent and expressive manner, so if you want to be stupid, the key technique is to avoid putting any effort into thinking.  Tell yourself that you shouldn’t have to try hard, or that the rest of the world should accommodate your indolence.  Insist that it’s unfair to expect patience or diligence from you. Share your raw emotional reactions with the world around you, in the most crudely impassioned manner possible…. Rely on aggression instead of co-operation, demands instead of persuasion, and nihilism over optimism.  Focus on what you deserve, not what you have earned.  Accept responsibility for nothing, because that’s the first step in learning from your mistakes, and you can’t afford a single step in that direction, if you wish to remain stupid.

There’s plenty of such stupidity to go around, but too much of it seems to find its way into black communities. Thomas Sowell would say that this is mainly due to what he calls “black redneck” culture — a position that I have addressed by saying:

If “black redneck” culture is the cause of the inter-racial gap in IQ, and if blacks choose to perpetuate the “black redneck” culture, then the perpetuation of the IQ gap might as well be genetic. For, it will be the result of blacks’ self-imposed servitude to the forces of ignorance.

That is the kind of “conversation” about race which Obama, Holder, and their ilk ought to initiate. Bill Cosby tried, and for his pains has been vilified, and his message has been ignored by spineless, race-baiting politicians — black and “liberal” white, alike.

UPDATE — Related reading: Bill Vallicella, “Cleveland Heights Coventry Art Fair Canceled Again,” Maverick Philosopher, August 4, 2013

Related posts:
Putting Hate Crimes in Perspective
The Cost of Affirmative Action
The Face of America
Race and Acceptance
Affirmative Action: A Modest Proposal
Race, Intelligence, and Affirmative Action
Affirmative Action: Two Views from the Academy
Affirmative Action, One More Time
A Contrarian View of Segregation
Much Food for Thought
A Law Professor to Admire
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
After the Bell Curve
A Footnote . . .
Schelling and Segregation
A Black Bigot Speaks
More Anti-Black Bigotry from the Left
Societal Suicide
A “Taste” for Segregation
Black Terrorists and “White Flight”
Affirmative Action: Two Views from the Academy, Revisited

It’s the Little Things That Count
A Footnote to a Footnote
Let Me Be Perfectly Clear…
Racism among the Deracinated
Crime, Explained
Lock ‘Em Up
Conspicuous Consumption and Race
I Want My Country Back
A Declaration and Defense of My Prejudices about Governance (item 3)
Legislating Morality
Legislating Morality (II)
Obama’s Latest Act of Racism
Free Will, Crime, and Punishment
Race and Reason: The Derbyshire Debacle
Race and Reason: The Victims of Affirmative Action
Not-So-Random Thoughts (III) (second item)
Race and Reason: The Achievement Gap — Causes and Implications
The Hidden Tragedy of the Assassination of Lincoln
Left-Libertarians, Obama, and the Zimmerman Case