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Posts Tagged ‘racism’

To the best of my knowledge, there exists absolutely no scientific evidence today in favor of any statistically significant genetic difference in mental abilities across races. Yet, I do not think we understand genetics well enough to absolutely rule out such a possibility. So I do not rule out the possibility that African Americans, are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. In fact, I do not rule out this possibility for any race — Whites, South Asians, Mongoloids, Eskimos.

My position on the matter is identical to Eugene Volokh’s. “Whether there are genetic differences among racial and ethnic groups in intelligence is a question of scientific fact. Either there are, or there aren’t (or, more precisely, either there are such differences under some plausible definitions of the relevant groups and of intelligence, or there aren’t). The question is not the moral question about what we should do about those differences, if they exist. It’s not a question about what we would like the facts to be. The facts are what they are, whether we like them or not.”

The same is true for other group classifications, such as gender. In fact, according to noted Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker and many other experts, there is fairly good evidence of differences in mental abilities between males and females. For certain mental tasks it appears that males, on average, are genetically better equipped; for certain others, females are.

What is important is this: Even if some differences in mental ability exists across groups, given the extremely large variation between individuals in any group, these differences are irrelevant from a  moral or legal standpoint. It is not racist or sexist to suggest or believe that differences exist on average; it is racist and sexist to suggest we should treat people differently purely because they belong to a certain group.

What is even more important is this: The culture of pervasive political correctness today that makes is impossible to ask such questions without facing a huge backlash and social ostracization is stifling to intellectual curiousity, degrading to our intelligence and speaks only ill of our open-mindedness; in short like everything else associated with political correctness it is evil.

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So apparently there is a raging controversy about Prince Harry’s use of politically insensitive terms during his military stint (he jokingly called a friend a ‘raghead’ and referred to another of Pakistani origin as a ‘our little Paki friend’). The army has announced it will commence an inquiry and newspapers are calling for Harry to be severely disciplined.

Ah well. I cannot help but agree with this blogger at Samizdata:

Sounds like a great guy to me. Sure, I am all for abominating racism like any other form of odious collectivism (like socialism for example, which is tyranny for all rather than just tyranny for certain racial groups), but this hypersensitivity to any politically incorrect use of language is really annoying.

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Farmers tell their stories.

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Soumya Bhattacharya in a Cricinfo article says that Indians are racist.

I broadly agree with the contention, however I find his examples rather weak. There are several issues that interplay here and it is disappointing to see them mussed up haphazardly – an aesthetic preference for lighter skin tones cannot, for instance, be equated with a moral belief in white supremacy. 

He also mandates, with the cliched rationale of this being a ‘global village’ , that Indians should modify their speech and idioms so that they align with current Western European and American standards of politically correct expression. Careless choice of words and a truly racist attitude are not the same and the world would be a sorrier place indeed if more nations were to jump onto the political correctness bandwagon.

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Eugene Volokh has a great post about the Hindley affair. Yet another example of political correctness taken too far in America.

Someone once said that the greatest American ideal isn’t democracy or mobility or justice or equality, but freedom. Apropos of nothing, I remember the song –

“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone.”

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The poor umpiring and Harbhajan Singh’s three match ban for alleged racist remarks to Andrew Symonds have marred what was otherwise an excellent test match.

Even if it is true that Bhajji is guilty (which does not seem to have been unambiguously proved) I feel that the three match ban is unreasonably harsh. Harbhajan is alleged to have retaliated against Aussie taunts by calling Symonds a ‘monkey’. It would be a laughing matter except that the Aussies didn’t think so. The remark was interpreted as a racist slur, a complaint was made and the sentence subsequently passed by the match referee.

I believe that sledging is a part of the game and players should be allowed to say whatever they wish as long as they don’t get physical. And that includes racially motivated remarks. Test cricket is a contest for grown ups, not a stage for mollycoddling the thin-skinned. Cricketers who cannot deal with verbal attacks on the field should consider other careers.

However, even those who do not agree with me that sledging should go unpunished will perhaps concur that a bit of balance is in order. The trouble is that racism is such a politically sensitive issue that we tend to lose perspective when discussing it. In my opinion, the current scenario, where a pernicious comment to another player about his family, personal life or non-racial physical characteristics receives no more than a routine reprimand whereas the simple act of calling another cricketer a ‘monkey’ in the heat of the moment is punished with a three test-match ban, is a good example of this lack of perspective.

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