Those who remarked upon racial differences in the past, we've been promised, did so for one reason: They were European Supremacists. Anyone who attempted to quantify such differences was driven by the need to prove his own group's superiority. 'Don't read those books,' we're told as youngsters, 'they're a lot of racist nonsense.'
So we don't. And they molder on library shelves, relics to forget about.
Until we do.
And see we've been deceived.
An author of European descent looking to paint in the worst light possible all groups other than his own would be advised to refrain from making observations of the following type.
'[...] from the [Hawaiian] community's standpoint the importation of Chinese has been a conspicuously successful experiment. There is no question in anybody's mind regarding their thrift and industriousness and their dependability. Lacking any marked tendency to collective ambition, or "race solidarity" as it is sometimes expressed, they are the less liable to form troublesome political "blocs" and are unlikely to scheme too deeply for the advancement of their group. [...] The Chinese is an almost ideal immigrant. He possesses all the virtues of a useful citizen without the embarrassing ambition to become one. [...] He is therefore an ideal resident of another man's country.'
Thus spake S.D. Porteus in 1926 in his study on the ethnicities of Hawaii, Temperament and Race.
E.B. Reuter, writing on 'Mixed-Blood Races' in 1919, has this to say of Chinese in the Philippines:
'The vigorous, thrifty, entreprising Chinese share with the Chinese half-breeds the monopoly of the trade in the [Philippine] Islands. [...] The quiet, industrious Chinese half-breed is perhaps the best man on the Islands.'
He goes on to cite Friedrich Ratzel who asserts in his 1898 History of Mankind that
'the Chinese half-breed in the Philippines is superior to the European half-breed.'
A.E. Jenks passes along this anecdote in his 1914 article 'Assimilation in the Philippines':
'During the latter days of my residence in the Islands in 1905 Governor-General Wright one day told me that he had recently personally received from one of the most distinguished Filipinos of the time, and a member of the Insular Civil Commission, the statement "that there was not a single prominent and dominant family among the christianized Filipinos which did not possess Chinese blood." The voice and the will of the Filipinos today is the voice and the will of these brainy, industrious, rapidly developing men whose judgment in time the world is bound to respect..."'
T.R. Garth in 1931 undertook an exhaustive survey of all racial group studies conducted up to that point (1880-1930) in which, after averaging dozens of test samples taken over the decades, he reported:
'The racial I.Q.s as found are, by way of résumé: whites, 100; Chinese, 99; Japanese, 99; Mexicans, 78; southern Negroes, 75; northern Negroes, 85; American Indians, full blood, 70. If one says that what is fair for one is fair for another, then regardless of environmental difficulties, the Chinese and Japanese score so nearly like the white that the difference is negligible.'
[Those familiar with the Flynn Effect will not be mystified to see that today, tests show Chinese and Japanese slightly above Europeans on such a scale.]
Garth also admits that, on a range of mental process tests,
'these groups were found to be inferior to the whites, except the Chinese, who were slightly better than the whites in rote memory only.'
Porteus in 1926 led a detailed sociological study in Hawaii observing different ethnic groups' character traits (relying on the judgement of plantation owners, schoolteachers, doctors, and social workers). Studying Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Porto Ricans, Filipinos and native Hawaiians, he found that the Chinese cleanly outscored every other group in Prudence, Self-Determination, and Dependability, and were second only to the Japanese in Planning Capacity, Resolution, Stability, and Self-Control.
W.A. Bonger, in his detailed 1943 comparative study Race and Crime, claims to be unable to find elevated criminal activity in Chinese populations in North America. On the contrary, N.S. Hayner in 1937 reports that:
'None of these Oriental groups presents a problem when compared with whites, but they do show interesting variations in the extent of criminality when compared with one another. A study of 1,944 Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino male arrests in Seattle for the five-year period 1928-32 shows that when these arrests are compared with the estimated number of Oriental males fifteen years of age and over, the average annual rate is 5.7 percent. The rate for white males of the same age is 11.1 percent. When considered separately the Japanese men have a rate of 2.6 percent, the Chinese of 9.6, and the Filipino of 11.8.
[...] Judge Helen Gregory MacGill of the Vancouver Juvenile Court found that during the ten-year period from 1926 to 1935 the rate for white juvenile delinquency in the city of Vancouver was thirteen times as great as that for Orientals.'
Could it be, despite the assurances of our schoolteachers, that most who examined ethnic differences in days of yore did it out of pure scientific curiosity, and not out of nefarious race-boosterism?
When one sees that one has been lied to about some things--however well-intentioned those lies may have been--it begins to make one wonder how long and deep the lies go.
We'll just have to keep peering behind those musty old book covers.
As long as they remain on the shelves.