09 May 2019

Being a Progressive, Yesterday: Race

(We are offline due to a much-needed research period this winter/spring, so we've decided to re-publish some earlier pieces you might have missed the first time.)

Votes for women-- white women only, please

'The Conservative is afraid of the future,' goes the old trope, 'and the Progressive is afraid of the past.'

What the Progressive especially fears is his own past—that is, his fellow travelers of yesteryear. As Joe Biden is learning, what passed for 'leftist thought' 30 or 40 or 100 years ago can turn a modern-day liberal's ears scarlet. We hope you find this stroll down memory lane as fascinating as we did.

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[Re-post, original post here.]

Slate ran a series a few years back, 'Liberal Creationism,' after the brouhaha over James Watson's remark that Afros were less intelligent than other groups.  In this prescient piece, the author warns that many of the old 'racialist' tropes are likely to soon be proved true, and that the average progressive should mentally steel himself for it:

If this suggestion makes you angry—if you find the idea of genetic racial advantages outrageous, socially corrosive, and unthinkable—you're not the first to feel that way. Many Christians are going through a similar struggle over evolution. Their faith in human dignity rests on a literal belief in Genesis. To them, evolution isn't just another fact; it's a threat to their whole value system. 
The same values—equality, hope, and brotherhood—are under scientific threat today. But this time, the threat is racial genetics, and the people struggling with it are liberals. ... You can try to reconcile evidence of racial differences with a more sophisticated understanding of equality and opportunity. Or you can fight the evidence and hope it doesn't break your faith.

The proof is at this point hard to ignore, even if thought leaders are doing their level best to conceal it. As blogger JayMan asks from atop his mountain of scientific data, How much hard evidence do you need?  It is likely that in the next several years some lab finding will 'clinch' the question once and for all, pushing HBD into the mainstream as it has germ theory or heliocentrism.

Microbes and Planets: The skeptics had to be convinced

At that point, what is a sincere progressive to do?  The notion of cognitive or behavioral differences between ethnic groups is, for him, deeply repugnant.

One is tempted to hand him the same 'deal with it' doled out by his ilk to those who found the monkey-to-man mythos unpalatable:

But it may be more kind to invite such folks to spend some time with their own forebears--the Progressives of the late 19th / early 20th centuries.  People who like themselves were born with a desire to make the world a better place, but who unlike themselves did not shy away from the realities of human biodiversity.

So who is this creature, the Progressive?  What did he once believe and may believe again?

I. What they are: Born this way?

We would do well to remember that the very definition of a 'progressive' or a 'conservative' is itself becoming ever more visible in the laboratory.

Twin studies going back to 1986 have shown likely genetic links to political beliefs.

More recent studies, such as Hatemi and McDermott (2012), have tried to break down the nature and nurture of ideology. In this graph, they claim that 'overall ideology' (liberal-conservative) is almost 60% genetic:
(click to enlarge)

Image source

In the following graph pink is identical twins, blue is fraternal.  We see how closely the two types of twins' political views sync up throughout life (click to enlarge):

(See also JayMan's discussion of Hatemi et al.'s 2010 paper.)

Mother Jones has followed closely the emerging genetic science on the different wiring between leftists and rightists:
Hibbing and his colleagues ... think that humans have core preferences for how societies ought to be structured: Some of us are more hierarchical, as opposed to egalitarian; some of us prefer harsher punishments for rule breakers, whereas some of us would be more inclined to forgive; some of us find outsiders or out-groups intriguing and enticing, whereas others find them threatening. Hibbing and his team have even found that preferences on such matters appear to have a genetic basis.

There are now studies showing that lefties and righties don't show the same disgust response, activate different parts of the brain during risk-taking, may have different levels of a variety of hormones as well as the 'novelty-seeking gene' DRD4, and that lefties have a larger anterior cingulate cortex and righties bigger amygdalae.

We may presume that today's liberal is cognitively similar to his forebears, for example on the 'Big 5' personality traits:

If we've been born with these differences for centuries or millennia, it's not a stretch that the way we express them would vary widely according to the era.

One other point to remember about leftists 100 years ago was their largely religious roots. As Robert Crunden reminds us, many of them came from devout Protestant families whose parents wished them in the clergy. An increasingly skeptical age left them ill at ease:

John Dewey, Jane Addams, George Mead found outlets for their missionary impulse
From its birth in the Middle West, a generation of intelligent youth, though remaining devoted to their parents, resisted efforts to compel them into the ministry or missionary work. Despite tension, uncertainty, and an occasional breakdown, these young progressives channeled their urges to help people into professions that had not existed for their mothers and fathers.  
Men and women found that settlement work, higher education, law, and journalism all offered possibilities for preaching without pulpits. Over the long term, their goal was an educated democracy that would create laws that would, in turn, produce a moral democracy. The place for Christianity was in this world.  (4)

This religious or 'missionary' impulse will not be lost on those familiar with today's Social Justice Warrior, a young progressive intent on bringing about positive change but unmoored from any organized religion.

Cultural influence being what it is, we can be confident today's leftist, had he been born one hundred years ago, would have held the same beliefs as his peers.  Those beliefs, we would gently remind him, include the reality of ethnic differences in behavior and cognition.

And when genetic science pushes this reality into his lap--which it will in the very near future--he may do well to acquaint himself with a way of thinking about it which will not seem totally foreign.

So let us meet our long-ago Progressive and ask him what he thinks about the race question.  We may even find that he can help us more than we can help him...

II. What they thought: Leftism in the age of Race realism

David Southern took a trip down memory lane to see what yesterday's Progressives thought about race. On his quest for Mr Goodbar, he sought out even one major Progressive figure who wasn't racialist--almost entirely in vain.


Most distressing for him were the race realists who'd begun life as integrationists (the 'multiculturalists' of their day), but on whom the cold water of reality had splashed:
During Reconstruction, the Reverend Lyman Abbott favored black suffrage and integrated schools and proclaimed that the progress blacks had made since the Civil War had refuted “slavery’s accusations of idleness and incapacity.” 
By the 1890s, though,...  He characterized blacks as a dependent and inferior people who could rise slowly, if at all, through hard work, improved morality, and industrial education. Nothing alarmed Abbott more than the specter of race-mixing. “For my part,” he announced, “I thoroughly and heartily sympathize with the passionate resolve of the Southern people that this intermarriage shall not go on in their borders. …”   (1)

Anti-slavery President John Quincy Adams, whose grandson lost hope

Ditto one of the North's preeminent abolitionists:
One of Boston’s finest citizens was Charles Francis Adams, Jr. a railroad executive in the Gilded Age, the grandson of the antislavery advocate John Quincy Adams. Adams viewed the Civil War as a humanitarian crusade. A colonel in the United States Army, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., led black cavalry troops into Richmond in 1865.

By 1900, however, the Boston Brahmin’s view of blacks had been transformed. After a trip to Africa, he expressed his complete disillusionment with African Americans in a 1906 article in the Century Magazine. In it, he expressed his regret that Reconstruction had been carried out “in utter ignorance of ethnological law and total disregard of unalterable fact.” At the sight of Africa, he declared, “the scales fell from my eyes.”   (1)


Like 'Methodist,' 'Whig,' or 'Suffragette,' the word 'Muckraker' began life as an insult. Reporters digging into social scandals of the day earned this slur from none other than Teddy Roosevelt--but it stuck.  These activist journalists were not, however, the best friend of the Afro-American.

As for the famous founder of McClure's Magazine, Southern asserts that

S. S. McClure, the owner of the most popular muckraking magazine, McClure’s, was a white supremacist who believed that eastern and southern Europeans and blacks caused all the major problems in the United States. (1)

Reporter Ray Stannard Baker was sent from Michigan down South by American Magazine for an exposé on lynching, where he was horrified by what he saw:

But Baker’s articles also accented the “animal-like ferocity” of African Americans and the large and growing black criminal class. He charged that most blacks were “still densely ignorant, and have little or no appreciation for the duties of citizenship.” He attributed the achievements of mulattoes to their infusion of white blood, and he showed strong distaste for the militant “New Negro.” In the end, Baker favored disfranchisement and segregation. ...

...  at the Sagamore Sociological Conference in 1909, he admitted that “most of us in the north do not believe in any real democracy between white and colored men.”  (1)

Like the abolitionists before them, muckrakers tended to lose their illusions about Blacks when they had to deal with them up close:
In 1904, James Boyle, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, expressed in The Arena an attitude about blacks that was typical of the muckraking journals. “They gave the members of the inferior race a fair trial, and then disfranchised them,” Boyle said. “They were found unfit, even after years of freedom to participate in the administrations of the high functions of a republican form of government.”   (1)

Not a muckraker per se but a seminal leftist journal, the New Republic had founders who expressed views on Afros which may surprise today's readers:
An examination of Herbert Croly, Walter Lippmann, and Walter Weyl is revealing in this regard. In 1914 these cerebral men established the New Republic (a weathervane for liberalism for decades to come), advised Presidents Roosevelt and Wilson, and wrote many influential political works. 
... Yet [Croly] spoke only fleetingly of African Americans, and then only while discussing the Civil War. As an afterthought, Croly noted that blacks constituted “a race possessed of moral and intellectual qualities inferior to those of the white man.”  (1)


Social workers were a new breed of urban volunteer, largely feminine, who yet seemed to focus far more attention on European immigrants than on Afros.

The original 'community activist,' Jane Addams, created Chicago's Hull House as a neighborhood resource center for recent immigrants.
Jane Addams thought that blacks were “unique and spontaneous” and naturally humorous and rhythmic, but she also believed that blacks were uniquely inferior to other groups in their lack of social control and family stability.  ...  Addams spoke of the “lack of inherited control” by blacks.   ... [Social worker] Frederick Bushee, for instance, described the typical Boston black as “low and coarse, revealing much more of the animal qualities than the spiritual.”  (1)
'Excessive emotionalism,' the mainstay of minstrel acts: Powell and King, two famous Afro minstrels

John Daniels, a Boston settlement house worker and Harvard-educated Iowan, in his study of Boston blacks, In Freedom’s Birthplace (1914), stressed black cultural deficiencies such as excessive emotionalism that allegedly stemmed from “a shortage in the power of restraint and self-control.” He contended that the black man lacked “fundamental moral stamina” and had “an intrinsic weakness or flabbiness at the very root and core of his make-up.” Indeed, he argued that self-induced black failings explained white prejudice.  (1)


MLK Jr. called Sunday at 11:00 'the most segregated hour in this nation.'  This was true in the Progressive Age too, from Catholics (who segregated seminaries, schools, and churches) down through nearly all the Protestant sects.

Far from the Calvinists of yore, preachers of the 'Social Gospel' sought to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth via social reform. Their icon, Congregationalist Washington Gladden, was in fact a champion of Negro rights. But his fellow travellers held a dim view of the 'equality' of the Negro.
Edgar Gardner Murphy  [advisor to Teddy Roosevelt], an Episcopal minister and a member of the Social Gospel movement, typified the southern moderate.  ... Murphy not only supported disenfranchisement of blacks, but he also favored the repeal of the Fifteenth Amendment. Portraying blacks as “a backward and essentially unassimilable people,” he heartily approved legal segregation. (1)
Washington Gladden, 'Social gospel' icon

The Episcopalian minister Percy Stickney Grant, in his Socialism and Christianity (1910), said equal rights for Afros was a pipe dream:
...  the Negro was not entitled to equal rights, because he had not yet developed sufficiently to share fully in the privileges of the more advanced race. This did not mean, however, that blacks should be neglected or oppressed.  If inequality between the races authorized differences in privilege, it also imposed duties on the higher races and invited "the missionary and pedagogical spirit."  (2)

The American Missionary Society, those old abolitionist crusaders, published a pamphlet in 1904 by the Reverend John R. Rogers where he spoke of
 "...a sense of disappointment that after the expenditure of millions and millions of dollars and hundreds of devoted lives, the typical negro is still lazy and shiftless ... In the light of common sense, can we expect the Negro to traverse the steps from savagery to civilization in a generation when it took the Anglo-Saxon a thousand years to climb?" Rogers argued that ... it behooved the whites to be patient and to continue with the slow and expensive process of education and uplift.  (2)


The first feminists nearly all held views their sisters of today might find hard to stomach.

Legendary suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt had many opponents in giving women the vote, including White Southerners.  She argued before them that
 "White supremacy will be strengthened, not weakened, by women's suffrage," primarily because statistics showed more white women than black women would vote. In another section of the book, she argued that "there are vast groups of totally illiterate, and others of gross ignorance, groups of men of all nations of Europe, uneducated Indians and Negroes" who were enfranchised, while intelligent, well-educated, prosperous women were among the disenfranchised.  (3)

Birth control pioneer and feminist icon Margaret Sanger broke down barriers by daring to open clinics in Afro neighborhoods.  But even she was not immune to the racial hierarchizing of her time. From 1912's 'What Every Girl Should Know,' a pamphlet on sexual impulse:
The lower down in the scale of human development we go the less sexual control we find. It is said that the aboriginal Australian, the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development, has so little sexual control that police authority alone prevents him from obtaining sexual satisfaction on the streets.

Frances Willard, founder of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, believed that backward, immoral blacks hindered the push for Prohibition and lectured that alcohol increased the black man’s tendency toward rape.

Northerners Frances Willard and Charlotte P. Gilman, like Southerners, feared Black rape

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, one of the most radical feminists of the era, also accepted southern beliefs about rape and said that African Americans were so “dissimilar and in many respects inferior” that their “present status is to us a social injury. …” (1)


Literary legend Jack London, namesake of so many U.S. public schools, was a life-long socialist. In a private letter from 1899, he admits:
"Socialism is not an ideal system, devised by man for the happiness of a life; nor for the happiness of all men; but it is devised for the happiness of certain kindred races. It is devised so as to give more strength to those certain kindred favored races so that they may survive and inherit the earth to the extinction of the lesser weaker races. The very men who advocate socialism may tell you of the brotherhood of all men, and I know they are sincere, but that does not alter the law." 
A later letters states simply: “I do not believe in the universal brotherhood of man. I think I have said so before. I believe my race is the salt of the earth. I am a scientific socialist, not a utopian . . .”

Avowed socialist and champion of the working class, Upton Sinclair nonetheless manages to shock modern audiences with his tales of southern Blacks brought in to break the strike at the meat-packing plant:
"The ancestors of these black people had been savages in Africa;" ... Pulled from their conservative rural milieu, they were now "free to gratify every passion, free to wreck themselves. ... hell was let loose in the yards. Every night there were stabbings and shootings; ... They lodged men and women on the same floor; and with the night there began a saturnalia of debauchery—scenes such as never before had been witnessed in America. ... [It became] the camping place of an army of fifteen or twenty thousand human beasts."


Booker T. Washington's famous Tuskegee Institute was based on The Hampton Institute, which was founded by a white man, Samuel Chapman Armstrong, for the American Missionary Association.  A Civil War general who had led the 9th Colored Regiment and then promoted black welfare via the Freedmen's Bureau, Chapman was a loyal 'friend of the race' who sought their betterment. And yet:

Booker T. Washington on Armstrong: 'the most perfect specimen of a man,
 the most Christ-like...'
And he did not have a high regard for the intelligence of African Americans. The black race, he declared, “will act up to its light, but its best light is dim.” As for black suffrage, Armstrong advised the freedmen to abandon political activity. He in fact believed that most blacks were incapable of higher education and needed to be trained for menial jobs in the South.
The 'lazy coon' trope was believed by Progressives too

Despite the many problems facing blacks, Armstrong thought that their main problem was not so much their incapacity for government or intellectual pursuits as their lack of “the right instincts” about “morals and hard work.” What blacks needed most, he insisted, was the discipline of hard work and strong moral training.  (1)


The Black vote was not something that kept turn-of-the-century politicians up at night--not even progressive ones.  Southern leftists, who'd had long and close acquaintance with the Negro, were segregationist to a man.

8a) Southern Progressives

There were two types of Southern Progressive--'moderate' and 'radical'.

Ben Tillman typifies the latter.  South Carolina governor then U.S. senator, he championed small farmers against big finance, built the state's first women's college, fought for railroad regulation, and the first campaign finance bill nixing corporate donations bears his name.

Yet he was a virulent segregationist, blocked the black vote, and stated that Afros "must remain subordinate or be exterminated.”  His known sympathy for lynchers came from a fear of interracial rape, expressed thusly:
"I have three daughters, but, so help me God, I had rather find either one of them killed by a tiger or a bear than to have her crawl to me and tell me the horrid story that she had been robbed of the jewel of her womanhood by a black fiend."
As for the 'moderates'? They were
...mostly professionals who earned their living as ministers, professors, and journalists, strongly supported segregation and disfranchisement. They differed from radicals primarily in arguing that blacks were educable and in condemning the justice system and lynching. In contrast to the philippics of the Vardamans and Tillmans, moderates spoke in polite, paternalistic language and supported Booker T. Washington.  (1)

8b) Socialists

One might think the U.S. Socialists, few though they were, would support Black causes.   Such was not the case.  Their leader Eugene Debs was neutral on the question:

We have nothing special to offer the Negro,” Debs declared, “and we cannot make separate appeals to all races.”  Others were overtly racialist, such as Socialist Congressman Victor Berger who stated in 1902, “There can be no doubt that the negroes and mulattoes constitute a lower race—that the Caucasian and indeed even the Mongolian have the start on them in civilization by many thousand years.”   (1)

8c) Republicans / Democrats

Both Republicans and Democrats with a progressive bent reached the highest office in the land. Yet Black rights were seldom on the menu.

Teddy Roosevelt, having lost the Republican ticket to William Taft in 1912, launched the Progressive Party and mustered up 27% of the popular vote.  Known as a fighter for the 'little man,' he busted trusts and brought a bevy of new regulation including the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act (precursor to the FDA).  His views on Afros are less well-known:
In the North American Review in 1895, the future president stated “that a perfectly stupid race can never rise to a very high plane.” He asserted that the black man “has been kept down as much by lack of intellectual development as by anything else.”

In 1901 he wrote to the former abolitionist Albion Tourgée, “I have not been able to think out any solution of the terrible problem offered by the presence of the negro on this continent…” Roosevelt only knew “that inasmuch as he is here and can neither be killed nor driven away,” whites had to treat him in an honorable and Christian way.
In his Lincoln Day speech in February of 1905, Roosevelt expressed his wish that the “backward race” would conduct its search for freedom in such a way that the “forward race” could “preserve its civilization unharmed.” And the president emphatically added, “Race purity must be preserved.”  (1)

On the Democrat side, many Afros in 1912 placed their hope in Woodrow Wilson to lead them out of the 'nadir of race relations' they were living. They hoped in vain.
One day after Wilson spoke at Gettysburg [in 1913], the Post Office began to segregate its employees by race. A week later the Treasury Department directed whites and blacks to use separate toilets. Although some segregation of the federal bureaucracy had occurred under Roosevelt and Taft, [Virginian] Wilson essentially southernized the racial practices of the capital city. (1)

When 'Birth of a Nation' came out to thundering criticism from the NAACP, Wilson organised a private screening of it at the White House.  His verdict? 'It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.'


Our author David Southern, in true 21st century style, thinks anyone who makes a generalization about an ethnicity is 'racist.' This led him to the bitter discovery that even some of his civil rights heroes from the Progressive Era were tainted.

Civil rights icon W.E.B. Du Bois did not, sadly, believe 'race is a social construct':
Race went beyond mere physical qualities, Du Bois said, and entailed “spiritual and psychic differences.” He declared that “the history of the world is the history, not of individuals, but of groups, not of nations, but of races, and he who ignores or seeks to override the race idea in human history ignores and overrides the central thought of all history.” 
Du Bois further explained that each race had a certain genius and something important to contribute to the world. In 1903 in The Souls of Black Folk he singled out the black “gifts” of music, humor, and religion, describing the Negro as a “religious animal.” (1)
Even Afros believed they were 'religious animals'

In keeping with his call for blacks to “unflinchingly and bravely face the truth” about themselves, he argued before the academy “that the first and greatest step toward the settlement of the present friction between the races lies in the correction of the immorality, crime and laziness among Negroes. …” 
He warned, “Unless we conquer our present vices they will conquer us.” In addition to the vices of “loafing, gambling, and crime,” he judged that “an alarmingly large percentage of our men and women are sexually impure.” Given the shortcomings of his race, Du Bois conceded that demands for “social equality” were unworkable at the time.  (1)

'Little fat black man' and 'Mulatto monstrosity'--Garvey and Du Bois 
were no strangers to racial epithets

Marcus Garvey, the fiery Jamaican who called for black separatism, famously said 'I regard the Klan ... as better friends of the race than all other groups of hypocritical whites put together. I like honesty.' He championed re-patriation of Afro-Americans to Africa, and launched the famous 'Black Star Line' in order to do so.  He and Du Bois did not get on, mocking each other's skin color among other things:
Garvey suspected that Du Bois was prejudiced against him because he was a Caribbean native with darker skin. Du Bois once described Garvey as "a little, fat black man; ugly, but with intelligent eyes and a big head". Garvey called Du Bois "purely and simply a white man's nigger" and "a little Dutch, a little French, a little Negro ... a mulatto ... a monstrosity".


We come at last to David Southern's holy grail--the only major Progressive-era figure he found to be a true blank-slatist was none other than the 'Father of Anthropology' himself, Franz Boas. Born into a secular Jewish family in Prussia, Boas was a brilliant polyglot who took a doctorate in physics but ended up devoting his life to ethnology.  He was a dogged empiricist who refuted some of the fringiest race-science tropes of his time. But on the subject of ethnic gaps in intelligence, he was dead wrong.

In 1931 at age 73, culminating a life's work of researching human groups, he stated:
While individuals differ, biological differences between races are small. There is no reason to believe that one race is by nature so much more intelligent, endowed with great will power, or emotionally more stable than another, that the difference would materially influence its culture.  (Race and Progress)

That particularly male impulse to hierarchize seems to have been missing from Boas.  He was a true son of the Enlightenment, bound to a belief in the equality of all mankind despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Franz Boas demonstrating ritual dance of Kwakwaka'wakw Indians

Which leads us to...

III.  What They Lost: The Road away from Reason

A reminder, for those benumbed by the above litany, that everyone quoted is a self-described 'progressive' or 'socialist.'  These are not conservatives speaking.  They are those born with the famous leftist wiring.

While it is true a great many progressives had religious roots, it is important not to overstate the links between modern leftism and colonial-era Calvinism.  The former is not a 'religion,' though it does seem to have filled the God-shaped hole in the chests of many a young 19th century man and woman.

The reason these good-hearted young people were, despite their urge to help victim groups, such real-talkers on race is because the subject had not yet become taboo. The Late 20th Century Delusion was far in the future.  They looked around and saw the statistics on Black crime and dysfunction, they saw the failures of governance in Haiti and Liberia, they saw the primitive state of civilization in Africa on Europeans' arrival.  Contrary to popular belief, none of these people needed IQ tests or skull measurements to come to such conclusions.  Simple observation of real life sufficed.

Self-ruled since 1804, Haiti did not impress late 19th c. observers. (Cap Haitien riverside, today.)

But blank-slatism, as preached by Franz Boas, was already making inroads in academia as early as the 1910s.
...it is clear that the environmentalist orientation became dominant by the end of the 1920s. By the end of the decade most of the social scientists who had supported or made racist arguments about the inherent mental abilities of Negroes and immigrants recanted and reversed their views.  (5)

The pendulum, having swung all the way to hereditarianism, was now going back:
It was really in the 1930s and 1940s that a significant and powerful group of scientists ... argued instead that culture, and not some natural essence, was the most significant determinant of human behavior and capabilities. Exemplifying this shift were scholarly works such as Ruth Benedict's Race: Science and Politics (1940), Ashley Montagu's Race: Man's Most Dangerous Myth (1942), and especially Gunnar Myrdal's landmark An American Dilemma (1944), all of which gained a wide, popular audience during the war years.  (6)
When the Nazis removed Jewish scholars from the schools and universities in 1933 and later, the movement of many of these men and women to America, and especially New York, intensified the determination of anthropologists and other scholars to launch a scholarly counterattack against the racist propaganda of the fascists.   (7)

Though blank-slatism predates Hitler, we shouldn't downplay the effect the latter had on popular and scientific thought. He piggybacked on race science to single out Slavs, Gypsies, and Jews as 'inferior' groups targeted for exclusion or murder. The world was justly horrified, and overreaction began:
This shift in scientific race thinking culminated in the early 1950s with the publication of UNESCO's The Race Concept. A series of statements written by leading scientists from all over the world, it simply restated, reinforced, and lent great legitimacy to the fact that ... no evidence suggested that race was connected in any way to intelligence, psychology, culture, or character; and that “pure” races did not exist.  (6)

At the end of the 20th century, the pendulum swung all the way over.  From the 1998 American Anthropology Association's Statement on "Race" (quotes in original):
Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called "racial" groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances.

From the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2001:
Evolutionary biologist Joseph Graves (2001) claims, "Today, the majority of geneticists, evolutionary biologists, and anthropologists agree that there are no biological races in the human species," and reports that two American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) panels of philosophers, biologists, and social scientists have reached the same conclusion.  (8)

From total acceptance to total rejection in just one hundred years... but one can sense the pendulum is starting to swing back. Which leads the honest progressive where?

IV. What They Can Teach Us: All that's old is new

Today's liberal, once he is faced with ironclad proof of mental gaps between ethnic groups, will have to change his way of thinking. Won't he?

If we look closely at the quotes above, we see that far from hatred, anger, or indifference, the leftists of yesteryear often had paternal feelings toward 'backward groups.' Not so different, perhaps, from those of today.

1) Facing up to inequality in education

The Reverend P.S. Grant said that race differences necessitated 'the missionary and pedagogical spirit.' ... Grant wrote that 'a democracy of inequality and of education is more humane than a democracy of equality and laissez-faire.In other words, identical standards for everyone aren't fair.

...Which is exactly what we see in the race-realist testing goals recently set by the Virginia Board of Education:

The Reverend J.R. Rogers said that Afros resembled 'a growing boy who is a trial to his parents.' It behooved the whites to 'be patient and to continue with the slow and expensive process of education and uplift.'

How is this different from the leftist of today who argues, 50 years after the end of Jim Crow, that Blacks' lower test scores will improve any day now...but we must be patient?

We thus see a certain coherence, on this issue, between leftists of yesterday and today.

2) Admitting the need for behavior constraints

Educator (and good friend of Booker T. Washington) S.C. Armstrong thought Afros lacked 'the right instincts' about 'morals and hard work.' What blacks needed most, he insisted, was the discipline of hard work and strong moral training. To keep black students out of trouble and avoid scandal, Armstrong kept his charges busy during every wakeful hour.  (1)

We find an echo of this in the modern-day KIPP charter school program, one of the most successful at educating disadvantaged black children:

Even during school breaks, KIPP kids get homework. ... The intensity of KIPP schools has caused some kids to withdraw. Others have been dismissed for failing to live up to expectations. ... KIPP provides a structured environment — students walk down halls in straight lines, looking forward. Its brand of discipline has become a bone of contention for critics ...  Selah Hampton, who went to KIPP South Fulton Academy, said one time her entire class was punished when a student talked as they lined up for lunch. But Hampton, now a junior at Exeter, liked that approach. “They teach you the discipline and focus you need to take elsewhere.”
Once again, not such a gulf in thinking as may be believed.

3) Focusing on strengths

W.E.B. Du Bois, in 1903's The Souls of Black Folk, singled out the black gifts of 'music, humor, and religion,' describing the Negro as 'a religious animal.'
Modern author David Southern sees this as 'racism,' but the intervening century has hardly proved Du Bois wrong. Afro omnipresence in comedyactingsinging, and music cannot be denied. Black Protestants also have the distinction of being the only group in America whose church services are legitimate international tourist attractions. One may also add Afro dominance in certain professional sports.

Never more than 13% of the population, Afros are from 18% to 58% of the Billboard Hot 100 in any given year.

If the modern leftist believes that different ethnic groups really do bring different strengths to the table, he will only be echoing many progressive Afro thinkers of yesterday.

These few examples--we could've pulled dozens--show just some of the ways in which today's liberal does not have to look far to find a realist but humane viewpoint on ethnic groups' cognitive differences.

*     *     *

The idea that man came from monkeys was deeply disturbing to many conservatives.  The reaction from a certain kind of leftist was mockery.

In the near future, when genetic discoveries force leftists to re-learn what they once knew about ethnic groups and cognition, let us be compassionate. As Saletan wisely noted in Slate, this reality is 'a threat to their whole values system.' We'd go further--it's a threat to their very identity. The average progressive is only able to get out of bed in the morning and face the world by believing in a sort of brotherhood of equals on Planet Earth. For him this is non-negotiable.

Pull it out from under him and there is no telling how he will react. 'Traumatism' is not too light a word to describe the process.  We want him to get there--sane public policy, be it on education, immigration, or affirmative action, depends on it--but let's not beat him up too badly about it when he does. Yesterday's progressives wouldn't have.


(1) Southern, David W.,  The Progressive Era and Race: Reaction and Reform, 1900-1917.   Wheeling: Harlan Davidson, 2005. 
(2) Fredrickson, George M., The Black Image in the White Mind. NY: Harper & Row, 1971. 
(3) Gay, Kathlyn, American Dissidents: An Encyclopedia of Activists, Subversives, and Prisoners of Conscience, Volume 1.  ABC-CLIO, 2012.
(4) Crunden, Robert M.  Ministers of Reform: The Progressives' Achievement in American Civilization, 1889-1920.  NY: Basic Books, 1982.
(5) Wacker, Fred R., Ethnicity, Pluralism, and Race: Race Relations Theory in America before Myrdal.  Westport: Greenwood Press, 1983.
(6) Baylor, Ronald H., Race and Ethnicity in America: A Concise History. NY: Columbia U. Press,  2003.
(7) Gossett, Thomas F., Race: The History of an Idea in America. NY: Oxford University Press, 1963.
(8) Morning, Ann, ''Everyone Knows It's a Social Construct': Contemporary Science and the Nature of Race", Sociological Focus. 40:4, 2007. 


kikz said...

excellent as usual. however; "Indeed, he argued that self-induced black failings explained white prejudice. (1)"...

as this argument rests on empirical observation, the term should be.... postjudice, no?

Anonymous said...

Post-slavery and post-colonial occupation, the Alt Right is obsessed with protecting their property known as their womenfolk as a supposed last stand against what they have "lost". The hypocrisy, of course, is what white men wrote publicly in 19th century about refraining from the vices of heir wenches or the native girls--but in private will sink their teeth into it and not look back. The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice. Call it the Strom Thurmond Syndrome.

So while the Alt Right calls race mixing a fad, the reality is that many of his adherents are smitten with it. Paging John Derbyshire? White men will cross racial lines because when their biological urges need to be sated, whether it be for pleasure or for family formation--it is coded in our DNA.

The reality is that the actions of my fellow brethren--white men--are based on the notion that the future will belong who show up for it.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately these kind of facts, while historically interesting, are not likely to be persuasive to anybody. It is just license for the “conservatives “ to decry “racism” once again as a leftist legacy (the Dems R the real ones, don’t you know), while the ever-browner leftist section of society will use it as an excuse to have another three minutes hate against white people(even the “good” white people are racist, you can never sacrifice enough, make penance for your original sin, etc.)

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