The Directorate of Lies

Professor Anthony Pagden published a book review in the March/April 2010 National Interest.
Here is an excerpt from Professor Pagden’s review,
with my comments interspersed in this font and color,
and some emphasis added to the original text:

Modern genetics has demonstrated conclusively that
no such thing as race exists.

Thanks to the mapping of the human genome,
we now know that each person
shares 99.99 percent of his or her genetic material with everyone else.
We all know that people have differences in a number of ways,
whether their genetic pattern is 99.99 or 99.999999999 percent identical.
Whatever the extent of the genetic difference is,
that significant consequences follow from that difference
seems unarguable.
So why did Professor Pagden bring up the extent of the genetic similarity?
It seems like a distractor or red herring.]

Similarly, skin color and physiognomy are now no longer regarded as
the most obvious ways of classifying peoples by the scientific community.
[What is obvious is a subjective decision.
Further, even if you accept what Professor Pagden just asserted,
how would that prove that “no such thing as race exists”?]

There are more significant indicators of human difference,
and these tell quite another story
than the one narrated through the Greco-Roman model.
[Again, “significance” is a highly context-sensitive concept.
Significant in what context?
And again, even if you accept what Professor Pagden just asserted,
how would that prove that “no such thing as race exists”?]

Fingerprints link Europeans, black Africans and East Asians
together in one group;
Mongolians and Australian Aborigines in another.
Cerumen (earwax) is of two types—
wet and sticky, controlled by a recessive gene.
This connects most Europeans and most Africans (who have the sticky variety),
but distinguishes both from most Asians,
while body-hair types link Europeans to Australian Aborigines
and to the Ainu people of northern Japan.
And as for blood:
the A/B/O system (in any case now thought to be rather primitive)
links the English to the Icelanders to the Sami to the Melanesians.
It also seems that
greater blood variations occur within human populations
than between them.

[There certainly are a number of genetically determined or influenced characteristics
which are independent of race.
Sex or gender is the most obvious one
(although scientific professionals might argue, too obvious.)
Height is not totally determined by ones genes, but is affected by them.
Height is also not totally determined by race,
as we see height variations in all races.
(There may be difference in average height between racial groups.
This is affected by difference in diet, so may not be genetically determined.)

In any case, the indisputable fact that
race does not determine all of one’s characteristics
clearly does not imply that
race determines none of one’s characteristics.]

There is also, of course,
no evidence linking any of these things to behavior—or intelligence.

[It seems to me that
Professor Pagden has totally failed to substantiate
the sweeping generalization of his opening sentence.

Can any fair-minded person disagree?

Here are some counter-examples to the claim:

While fingerprints, earwax, and body-hair type may be independent of
the customary and evident racial characteristics,
at least some other characteristics have been linked to
specific genes which are indeed identified with race.
Consider, for example, the Nicholas Wade New York Times article
“East Asian Physical Traits Linked to 35,000-Year-Old Mutation”,
which begins with the paragraph
Gaining a deep insight into human evolution,
researchers have identified
a mutation in a critical human gene
as the source of
several distinctive traits that make
East Asians different from other races.
The article continues with
A Chinese member of the team, Sijia Wang,
then tested people in China and discovered that they, too,
had more numerous sweat glands, evidently another effect of the gene.

Another surprise was that the engineered mice had less breast tissue,
meaning that EDAR could be the reason that
East Asian women have generally smaller breasts.

East Asians have distinctively shaped teeth for which
their version of EDAR is probably responsible.
The researchers cited in the article are at the Broad Institute,
which certainly qualifies as a scientific institute.

Demonstrably, anyone who says "race does not exist"
or "race is merely a cultural construct"
is either a liar or an ignoramus.
It is hard for me to understand how university professors
can get away with deceiving their students and the general public.
PC is indeed a culture of lies and deceit
for the benefit of certain groups.

Also, even predating Pagden's misguided article,
there had been numerous articles in the scientific literature
asserting racial differences in the pattern of disease,
differences which do not seem to be correlated with
environment or level and quality of care.

Even the black community seems to acknowledge that
there are genetically-determined racial differences.
For example, Google "Gabby Douglas hair".
I never have heard a white person being told his or hair was "nappy."
While many people no doubt regard that as an insignificant difference,
still it is a genetically-determined racial difference
recognized within the black community.]

(Back to comments by the author of this blog, in the normal type font.)
But enough about Professor Pagden’s argument, or lack thereof.
Another pseudo-argument from
those who argue that “there is no such thing as race”
is that
we are all a mixture of races, no one is racially pure,
so why bother to categorize by race?
(Or some variant on that argument.)
Of course, if that argument were true,
than how is it that
some people are favored by affirmative action on racial grounds
while others are not?
It seems that beneficiaries of affirmative action like to have it both ways:
When they worry about being characterized by race,
they argue that race does not exist,
or is only a figment of racist’s imagination.
But then, quick like a bunny, when they can use race to their advantage
(I deserve special treatment on account of my race),
they rush to be classified as one of the favored group.
Frankly, that methodology seems sick to me, wanting to have it both ways.
(I wonder what would happen to whites on college campuses who point that out.)

On the strength of the argument,
one might point out an analogous situation with respect to dogs.
Just because many dogs are of mixed breed (familiarly called “mutts”)
doesn’t mean that pure-bred dogs don’t exist.
Just ask the American Kennel Club about that.
With regard to people, I believe the situation is the same.
People come in a variety of racial purity levels,
from half and half to close to 100 percent pure
(examples: Bantu, Han Chinese.
I checked Wikipedia to see if I could find an analogous entry for, say, Aryans, but such, to Wikipedia,
is only an obsolete and probably dangerous concept.
To Wikipedia, the racial difference between, say, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is a figment of your imagination!
What a crock!
The racial similarity between, say, the first 43 Presidents of the United States
and its difference relative to the leaders of the African nations
does not exist in PC-land?)

But so much for trying to debunk
the arguments made by the “race does not exist” people.
What are the arguments, if any,that race does really exist and is genetically determined?

When a white man and a white woman conceive,
the resulting child may vary in a number of ways,
but it will be recognizably white, not black, not Han Chinese.
Go to Iceland and see
how many black or Asian-resembling children are born to the Nordic people.
The same would be true for a trip
to where Bantu people or Han Chinese people are the population.

The Wikipedia article on race, as of 2012-12-19, contains the following as the contents of its first primary heading Complications and various definitions of the concept.
I have inserted a few comments in this font and color.

It is demonstrated that race has no biological or genetic basis:
gross morphological features which traditionally ha[ve] been defined as races (e.g. skin color)
are determined by non-significant and superficial genetic alleles
with no link to any characteristics,
such as intelligence, talent, athletic ability, etc.
[It seems to me that anyone who sees a photo of the finish line of any track and field race involving the top athletes in the world
would have a hard time denying the racial homogeneity of the world's fastest runners.
Explain that as a social construct!]

Race has been socially and legally constructed despite the lack of any scientific evidence for dividing humanity into racial baskets with any generalized genetic meaning.[11][12][13][14]

When people define and talk about a particular conception of race, they create a social reality through which social categorization is achieved.[15] In this sense, races are said to be social constructs.[16] These constructs develop within various legal, economic, and sociopolitical contexts, and may be the effect, rather than the cause, of major social situations.[17] While race is understood to be a social construct by many, most scholars agree that race has real material effects in the lives of people through institutionalized practices of preference and discrimination.

Socioeconomic factors, in combination with early but enduring views of race, have led to considerable suffering within disadvantaged racial groups.[18] Racial discrimination often coincides with racist mindsets, whereby the individuals and ideologies of one group come to perceive the members of an outgroup as both racially defined and morally inferior.[19] As a result, racial groups possessing relatively little power often find themselves excluded or oppressed, while hegemonic individuals and institutions are charged with holding racist attitudes.[20] Racism has led to many instances of tragedy, including slavery and genocide.[21]

In some countries Law enforcement utilizes race in profiling suspects. These uses of racial categories are frequently criticized for perpetuating an outmoded understanding of human biological variation, and promoting stereotypes. Because in some societies racial groupings correspond closely with patterns of social stratification, for social scientists studying social inequality, race can be a significant variable. As sociological factors, racial categories may in part reflect subjective attributions, self-identities, and social institutions.[22][23]

Scholars continue to debate the degrees to which racial categories are biologically warranted and socially constructed, as well as the extent to which the realities of race must be acknowledged in order for society to comprehend and address racism adequately.[24] Accordingly, the racial paradigms employed in different disciplines vary in their emphasis on biological reduction as contrasted with societal construction.

In the social sciences theoretical frameworks such as Racial formation theory and Critical race theory investigate implications of race as social construction by exploring how the images, ideas and assumptions of race are expressed in everyday life. A large body of scholarship has traced the relationships between the historical, social production of race in legal and criminal language and their effects on the policing and disproportionate incarceration of certain groups.

A key point to note is that much of this
is not really an argument that race does not exist,
but rather that, in the past, racial thinking has led to
results harmful to some groups, notably blacks and Jews.
No one can dispute that argument.
But is that really an argument to abandon the recognition of racial differences,
or rather the need to avoid what everyone can agree is and was wrong, genocide and slavery?

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