The “Race” Problem

Recently, I came across an article in New Scientist dealing with genetics and race, which pointed out that there is no single gene or even a group of genes that could define “race.” Then someone called my attention to white supremacist propaganda ranting about how certain groups are trying to destroy “the white race” by supporting unlimited immigration to the United States.

While human beings come in a range of skin, hair, and eye colors, regardless of those traits, they’re all biologically compatible and can have offspring together, and in a few generations it’s often difficult, if not impossible, to tell their origins. The descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings range in color and complexion from apparently “pure Caucasian” to “pure African” [not that either genetically pure Caucasians or pure Africans exist, because everyone is mix of genes whose origins go back at least hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions, albeit with occasional mutations, e.g., blue eyes and red hair, cropping up along the way].

Test after test has shown that, while there are ranges of physical and mental characteristics among any set or group of people, all groups of all colors, given adequate nutrition and nurture, have the same general ranges of abilities and intelligences, with minor variations. History shows that there have been great empires built by people of every color and that there have been great geniuses of every color.

So why the hell do so many people get upset about “race”?

Because most people are most comfortable with others like themselves, and they’re wary, if not fearful, of people of a different color or a different culture. And when times are troubled, or people have a hard time making ends meet, it’s far easier to blame those who are different.

Right now, there’s a whole group of former middle-class workers in the United States who feel disenfranchised, and who have certainly been hurt economically, by off-shoring, by automation, and the global economy… and most of the white supremacists come from this group.

Yet the problems these people face weren’t created by minorities of color or by migrants; they were created by, if you will, money-grubbing white Caucasian males looking to maximize their profits in a capitalistic society that currently permits all manner of economic excesses.

So why aren’t the white supremacists blaming those who really caused their problems? Why are they fervently supporting a blond, blue-eyed white male who personifies all those who’ve created their problems?

11 thoughts on “The “Race” Problem”

  1. JakeB says:

    You mean a blond, blue-eyed orange male, don’t you?

    More seriously, as I slather on sunscreen every day this time of year, I reflect on how physically unfortunate this lack of melanin is, except for what it has done, generally speaking, for my income and place in society. Three generations back, everyone on both sides of my family was dirt-poor, but at least they didn’t have to worry about other people trying to keep them in their place . . .

    1. Lourain says:

      Then they weren’t Irish?

  2. R. Hamilton says:

    I don’t give a rat’s rear about “race”; how much sunlight someone reflects just isn’t interesting. However, I think a greater-than-assimilable number of immigrants, or those of CULTURES less than compatible with western capitalism, could be a problem.

    If people wish to bring other cultures here, they should expect to conform to us and to our needs and expectations where theirs differ from ours. They need us more than we need them, so the onus is on them to adapt.

    We should not attempt to be the refuge of all that are at hazard or in need. There are not less than tens of millions (one survey suggests 40 million from Central and South America alone, that want to come here), and more likely hundreds of millions worldwide, that would come if they could. They’d overwhelm our infrastructure, fill our nice empty spaces with more cities and sprawl, and would overall be insufficiently useful to be an asset, however much some individuals might be. Unless we ONLY choose those that are in the best interests of ALL existing citizens (not simply the best interests of unions or parties seeking members, or others seeking to use the influx to manipulate power or profit in their favor, or those seeking to bring in relatives), we’re consenting to an invasion…which, whether it’s ever been successfully done before or not, we CAN stop, even if by force if nothing else works. I have no problem with flying an AC-130 along the border (along both borders, except the simple fact is that the volume of illegals across the northern border is tiny, so again, it’s NOT about skin tone); it’d kill less than the desert and the traffickers do. Individual illegals may be committing a misdemeanor, but quantities of them are simply enemy invaders, even if that is not the intent of the vast majority.

    1. Hanna says:

      “I don’t give a rat’s rear about “race”…”

      Utter BS. Of course you do. All the time. Everything else from you is hypocrisy masked as rationale-speak & logic.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        Don’t tell me what I think or feel; you’re not me.

        I care about _results_. If someone conducts themselves lawfully and courteously and is productive, they could be ANY color, or for that matter Martian green with purple polka-dots for all I care. CONDUCT matters; CULTURE matters insofar as it affect conduct. Race is BS, there’s simply no such thing except as a historical excuse for some choosing to mistreat others…which might entitle them to reparations from the _individuals_ who mistreated them, but not from entire groups or societies.

        I recognize and am slightly (knowing that I’m not supposed to claim to be able to understand what it’s really like to endure another’s struggles) aware of assorted historical (and to a degree, ongoing) group-based injustices. I have compassion for _individuals_ I know, and wish that their history were less of a burden (save that cautionary tales have their practical side). But _groups_ in general, I would prefer to see greatly de-emphasized, give or take groups defined by conduct. I’d love to see, rather than advocates on behalf of groups, advocates on behalf of decent (and except in response to conduct or qualifications, generally equal) treatment of all regardless of group that return that consideration…and yes, that implies a less friendly stance to those who persistently fail to return it.

        Carried to extremes, I have to admit to being very little concerned with the fate of any number of persons of any group (including groups I might be a part of, except for the specific group consisting of US citizens, which by _my_ background, I regard as special) that are total strangers that I haven’t even briefly met or interacted with. Let ’em eat cake, let ’em work for a living, or let ’em starve! Someone I’ve interacted with, I may assist, but the rest of the world needs to get its help from individuals that know the individuals in need, not from society or from everyone, and except for redressing specific acts with specific perpetrators, not from government! (which is not to say that I haven’t chipped in for disaster relief, on occasion; for domestic cases, typically 2/3 Salvation Army, 1/3 Red Cross, or thereabouts; that’s both an opinion on effectiveness, and a preference for associated baggage; you ought to listen to a sermon if you show up at a soup kitchen!)

        I’m just not a relativist that says that every belief and every culture and lifestyle is as good as any other. I believe in absolutes; although I may be reluctant to claim exceptional alignment with whatever the One True Way might be, I think that there _is_ a more nearly right vs more nearly wrong in most distinctions, it’s not all just however you want to be; and even to treat well those who differ, I have to try and discover what might give greater proximity to that One True Way. Yes, as long as people aren’t assaulting, threatening, intimidating, cheating, or stealing from one another (or violating contracts willingly made), in most matters they have a right to vary, but that doesn’t make all variations equal, not equally effective or courteous (I prefer courtesy to “tolerance”, because I can be courteous, even reasonably accommodating if not always per their wishes, to someone without implicitly endorsing their adherences, choices, or conduct! and courtesy is less prone to being made into a cult of coerced egalitarianism); and insofar as people adhere to different beliefs and cultures, their resulting choices and actions may contribute to them making themselves effectively less equal, regardless how theoretically equal (i.e. before the law) they might be; and whether background is on balance an asset or liability, adults are responsible for the consequences of their own choices and actions.

        Equality is overrated, at least in the present misunderstanding of it that supposes that outcomes should vary less regardless of backgrounds, context, preparedness, _conduct_.

        OTOH, “race” or more accurately ancestry (which contrasted with the 19th century pseudo-science of race can be traced by DNA and where not already homogenized, by linguistics)…if you raise an adopted infant in a different culture and among those of obviously different ancestry, insofar as those of the host culture don’t single them out on account of their appearance, and provided they weren’t malnourished prior to adoption, I’d expect that their ancestry is just about irrelevant to anything other than maybe high-end competitive athletics (where physical attributes do affect outcomes), and all other measures of productivity or decency would be pretty much identical without regard to ancestry. (which does not preclude medical personnel being aware of differences in risk factors, etc)

        Anyway, I resist being typecast; I think I’m a little more complicated than that. Not to mention verbose. 🙂

  3. R. Hamilton says:

    Oh, and caveat emptor applies to employment as much as it does to purchases at a flea market; it shouldn’t be on culture or government to compel fairness (who’s version of fair??) of outcomes. Anyone that lets themselves be “exploited”, deserves it, so long as alternatives exist. Not only laissez faire (too bad we’re not there), but law of the jungle, social Darwinism, just shoot rioters as needed; that’s freedom: not the false freedom from want or disappointment, but the genuine freedom to live or die, succeed or fail, feast or starve, from the consequences of your own actions, knowing that they actually matter, and that once no longer the responsibility of parents or guardians, your outcome is in your hands, not to be dependent on or leveled with anyone else’s.

    (Ok, I’m not _quite_ crazy; I don’t entirely despise OSHA or even the FAA or FCC within minimal limits needed for some consideration of safety and effectiveness, but that’s about the limit of it, although of course no level of government should discriminate on the basis of (negotiable list of categories, although IMO those that clearly impact qualifications, shouldn’t be on the list; is someone with special needs really qualified for combat? I don’t think so; and I think state and local governments have some latitude regarding community norms, not of ancestry but of CONDUCT; the Bill of Rights specifies some protected areas of conduct, but leaves it – 10th Amendment – somewhat to the states otherwise), nor should publicly traded companies or those providing life-essential services; but other small privately held businesses or organizations IMO should have every right to be bigoted that the individual has, no matter how odious I or anyone might find that, as long as they don’t assault, threaten, intimidate, or commit any other act that would likely be criminal regardless of motive.)

    None of which requires any lack of mercy, btw. You want to provide mercy, pay for it yourself. I even do that sometimes; but I don’t think it should be compulsory (like taxes and regulations), merely encouraged.

  4. Lourain says:

    You have some concerns that need to be addressed, but the sheer hubris…
    “However, I think a greater-than-assimilable number of immigrants, or those of CULTURES less than compatible with western capitalism, could be a problem.” This statement sounds like something out of the 19th century. That would have eliminated the Irish, Italians, Scandinavians…in fact, anyone who wasn’t English or Dutch (who wanted to get rid of the Germans because they were so ignorant and stupid).

    “…the genuine freedom to live or die, succeed or fail, feast or starve, from the consequences of your own actions, knowing that they actually matter, and that once no longer the responsibility of parents or guardians, your outcome is in your hands, not to be dependent on or leveled with anyone else’s.”
    That statement is so far from reality it is almost laughable. From the moment of conception part of your life history is dependent on your genes. Other parts of your life depend on other people’s actions..honest or dishonest, competent or incompetent (Ex.: food safety, properly maintained infrastructure). Chance plays a role (Ex.: weather events, having a tree branch fall, exposure to transmissible illnesses). So, no, your outcome is only partly in your hands.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      “That ye may be the children of your
      Father which is in heaven: for he maketh
      his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
      and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Mt5:45)

      Good choices are no guarantee of good outcomes. The universe offers no guarantees of fairness. While we can certainly offer individual voluntary acts of mercy or generosity, we should not presume that that’s a design flaw in the universe. Different people will encounter different challenges, it’s their totally unfair burden to overcome them. Without that, we’d all be weak, or so knowing of a safe and coddled future, that we’d be not only weak, but pathetic.

      Whoever first decided that fairness and equal outcomes should replace God Almighty, should be hunted down, and a time machine sent back to wipe them out. (Ok, over the top, but y’all know I enjoy going over the top a little, not that I totally mean it, not that I totally don’t, either.)

      And yes, I _like_ hubris, insofar as I (and all conservative/libertarians with at least a little inclination to voluntary charity) are indeed the reference standard for rightness. 🙂 It’s about liberty and what you do with it, even given that we all die in the end, some comfortably, some miserably; some with more toys, some with less; some with unearned advantages prolonging our days, and others with our days cruelly shortened by malice.

      I think just maybe we’re even supposed to challenge God Himself (let alone any mere human consensus), at least until we learn better the hard way. 🙂 Which is, after all, the only sort of lesson that sticks.

      1. Lourain says:

        My biggest objection to your philosophy is the worship of ‘liberty’ without any sense of responsibility to others (except members of your tribe, of course).

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          I think I’ve suggested that there’s a huge role for responsibility: namely, much of what government does should be willingly and voluntarily done privately.

          Replace that with government, and you have an assured outcome alright: mediocre service (take the VA as an example), empire building, corruption, etc.

          I’ve also suggested that however much individuals and small business have an unalienable right to be bigots (so long as they don’t commit crimes or deprive anyone of access to life-essential services), the world would be a far better place if people chose otherwise (if not to quite the extreme degree of egalitarianism some might advocate, since there are credible arguments to be made that legitimate rights may come into conflict with one another), and that businesses are more likely to be profitable if they don’t turn away customers.

          (If the first clause of the previous paragraph sounds extreme, remember that in no acceptable world would it be possible to compel people to only think right thoughts (although many tyrants have tried); and without right thoughts, the fullness of right deeds will not occur. Moreover, approaching the attempt to compel right thoughts will tend to produce the opposite effect. Better to tolerate the incompleteness of right deeds than to go down that road, even if it means that some people behave in ways that are (short of violence) hateful.

          And I’ve certainly implied that being lawful and productive are responsibilities; not to mention, that while I deplore the modern mandatory volunteerism (oxymoron) such as seen in schools, I encourage and support various forms of voluntary service, and have engaged in some at times myself.

          There’s also a civic responsibility to listen to dissenting views, not to hide from them in a safe space like the cowards on campuses of late, and certainly not to engage in disorderly, borderline violent conduct, in response.

          Did I miss something? Does is REALLY take the corruption and authoritarianism of socialism to meet responsibilities? I don’t think so! Better that individuals practice (or not) virtues than that one attempts (and always fails!) to build institutions that let none slip through the safety net. And yes, I’ve even been hungry before (briefly); my own dang fault, and I didn’t get a government handout for it, either.

          Liberty and responsibility go hand in hand, and I’ve never said otherwise; but if you impose most of the responsibility rather than encouraging it, it’s not liberty any more. If it’s better to let 10 guilty go free than to convict 1 innocent, then it’s certainly better to let people be irresponsible, even up to just short of criminal, than to replace internally motivated virtue with the counterfeit of externally compelled cog-in-a-machine behavior. Not that you WANT people to behave irresponsibly, but that you can’t meaningfully choose right unless you’re allowed to choose wrong. Law and authority is ONLY to deter, redress, or punish substantial active acts of harm; if your needs or sensitivities are greater, that’s between you and people that know you, or those that act in voluntary free association to assist those beyond the circle of those they know.

          Was this reply even necessary? Couldn’t anyone see that, just as you can’t sustainably give everyone an unearned stipend however much AOC and ilk might wish, you can’t hang onto liberty unless there’s a certain overall level of responsibility? (and yes, I think that the pragmatism of hanging onto fragile liberty is more important than the misplaced and impossible idealism of saving every life, meeting every need, etc; the innocent suffer all the time, and no institution will ever totally prevent that this side of eternity)

          1. A great deal of what you say is true, but you’re missing one enormous point. The structure of society, any society, [and unscrupulous people taking advantage of that structure] creates evils and inequities, often great inequities, and the question facing any society is to what degree society should address those structural causes of such inequities, as well as to deal with the acts of those fortunate enough through genetics, family, and wealth to be able to legally exploit others to the point of misery for the gain of those with such advantages.

            Your argument carries the underlying and often false assumption that all those in poor situations are there because of their own faults and should therefore be able to remedy the situation without societal help. I fully grant you that there are many in such situations who did get there because they made bad choices, but the odds are enormously biased toward an uneducated or poorly educated child without enough to eat making bad long-term decisions, and while one could say, as you apparently do, that the child should know better, exactly how will any of those children know better without help? Your “solution” is voluntary charity, but that is clearly insufficient to meet the needs, and if those needs aren’t met, sooner or later, as history shows, change is forced on such a society, whether by revolt, rebellion, or economic collapse or decline.

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