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Paul O
Paul O
5 months ago

Reminds me very much of Arthur Miller’s superb play “Focus” , which was made into a movie in 2001 starring William H. Macy, Laura Dern, David Paymer and Meat Loaf. It is about ‘Jews’ rather than ‘blacks’ , but demonstrates how ridiculous it is to judge people based on physical characteristics.

Alas, we now live in a time where skin colour seems to count far more than the character of a person, and having different sexual preferences seems to get one a certain kudos, and if you identify as a gender other than the one you were born with you are now treated as a minor celebrity and a person worthy of special attention.

Hopefully one day the world can get back to trying to treat all people as equals, no matter what their skin colour, sexual or gender preferences, which is what many of us have been trying to do for decades.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

what does ” treat all people as equals” actually mean? Why cant I be a rock star? a Premiership footballer? a brain surgeon? .. Surely not because I do not have the skills, and never will have?

Tendentious D
Tendentious D
5 months ago

Agreed but equity is not equality.
One is a guarantee of outcome; a sham, a lie and the cause of today’s divisiveness.
Equality is a guarantee of opportunity; the basis of human liberty.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
5 months ago
Reply to  Tendentious D

I interpret treated people equally is treating them as equally valuable, NOT as if they all have equal abilities.
I can treat a person with Downs Syndrome equally to the way I treat a person who’s a rocket scientist, but that does not mean I treat them the same. They are of equal value and equally deserving of respect, but to treat them as the same would be absurd and unhelpful.

Mark Lilly
Mark Lilly
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

People are NOT “equally valuable” (cf. Adolf Hitler and Dr M L King). The phrase “people are equal” means – as used for example by political philosophers – “everyone should be treated as if they were of equal value.”

Walter Koehler
Walter Koehler
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark Lilly

No that’s not what it means.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
4 months ago
Reply to  Walter Koehler

All human beings are equal in that they are superior in intelligence to the beasts and inferior in intelligence to the gods.

harold whitney
harold whitney
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark Lilly

The original democrats, the Greeks, didn’t allow slaves or women to vote, believing them to be less able to understand issues of the state. They considered land and business owners as more able to debate intelligently and come to valid conclusions regarding the state. Their voting “registration” criteria included only “significant”, or in another way, “productive” citizens.
We in America IMHO have given equal vote to incompetents, we allow welfare recipients “equal status” as compared to productive citizens. Women ? I won’t opine…since I’m married and may wish to eat dinner !

Claire D
Claire D
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I wonder if our confusion over equality and what that should mean in the modern world stems from the secular having taken over from the sacred, that is, in the sacred God loves each one of us equally, we are all beloved by God; whereas “equal rights” seem to have become a sort of secular replacement for this, the state trying to be God-like, imposing this on the population via legislation.

This was meant to be in reply to Tendentious D, apologies.

Last edited 5 months ago by Claire D
Russ W
Russ W
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Penny, yes. We are human. We take for granted our awareness of ourselves, of time, and our ability to sacrifice for the future. We forget that science does not fundamentally understand how consciousness works much less why — we are each quite literally walking miracles. Even the slowest among us are biological marvels no computer even comes close to replicating. The religious call this our spark of the divine or our embodiment of God. This is why from the least to the most gifted of us we deserve respect and dignity.

Equality of opportunity means that your parents, your race, your class, the law, should not determine what you are allowed to accomplish — only your abilities should determine that.

Enforced equality of outcome is tyrannical and unachievable because we each have different strengths, weaknesses, talents and desires. To deny that is to deny the true diversity that enables the human race to survive. Enforced equality of outcome would see Einstein, Newton, Martin Luther King neutered to being “average” thus not to offend or make anyone else feel lesser.

Equality of opportunity is hard. It depends on generations of self sacrifice, overcoming our human flaws, fears and resentments. We have to work hard on ourselves and support each other. We don’t always get it right. And sometimes we are born into unfair circumstances that make it very hard to progress.

America and the West have been symbols of opportunity because if you work hard, have good morals, you can rise above poor circumstances because of equality of opportunity.

Thanks to ClaireD and TendentiousD for the inspiration.

Last edited 5 months ago by Russ W
Steven Somsen
Steven Somsen
5 months ago
Reply to  Tendentious D

“Equality is a guarantee of opportunity; the basis of human liberty” It is impossible. What about this fact: “He gave five talents to one, two to another, and one to still another.” Matthew 25:15. It is not about rights but what you do with what is given to you.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
5 months ago
Reply to  Steven Somsen

Verily, verily, nowadays the wicked and slothful servant who buries his talent in the ground is meanwhile overheard loudly blaming the patriarchy or systemic racism or his parents or some such nonsense. What happens next? “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
5 months ago

Equality of opportunity
Equal access to basic education and healthcare
Equality in the eyes of the law

All achieved in large parts of the world, and has never been an issue in Britain for decades

It’s basically victim groups who scream equality, mean “equity” and actually just want to preferred treatment.

Women footballers and blacks in education being third rate = problem

Women dominating education and blacks in the football premier league= celebrated.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
5 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Quite right.

Walter Koehler
Walter Koehler
5 months ago

Therefore there’s no reason to treat people as equals?

Tendentious D
Tendentious D
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

BEEN doing forever.

This is not a pat on my own back. Just a reality for anyone raised in a home that taught self-reliance, personal responsibility and respect.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

I certainly don’t treat people as equals. We are manifestly not equal. Equal opportunity as an ideal is another thing.

What I object to and consider stupid is treating people differently based on the colour of their skin, whether that is by the bigot who thinks they are superior because their skin is light or the bigot who thinks I have no right to talk about the subject because my skin is not dark and I must be prejudiced against those with a dark skin because mine is light.

Diversity is simply another objectionable institutional skin colour fetishisation.

Last edited 5 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Paul O
Paul O
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Excellent points Jeremy.

Russ W
Russ W
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Well and concisely stated. Nice!

Pat Q
Pat Q
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Amen to that, Jeremy. The corollary to the skin color prejudice is the current feminist attitude of “sit down and shut up” based on internal or external plumbing. I’m both cases I believe it’s a lack of a cogent, reasonable, well thought out argument for their position. I long for an anti-racism and/or a modern day feminist conversation that isn’t simply “you hurt my feelings because you’re not the right color, age and plumbing to have a respectful exchange with”.

Mark Lilly
Mark Lilly
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

re. “Hopefully one day the world can get back to trying to treat all people as equals, no matter what their skin colour, sexual or gender preferences …”
Get back? So when exactly was this golden age Paul talks of? My experience of the past 72 years is one of unremitting hate directed at lgbt people and people of colour.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark Lilly

Mark, how does your assertion about 72 years of unremitting hate match the changes in laws and attitudes over that time? We had decriminalisation, apologies, anti-discrimination laws and most recently same-sex marriage. When you were growing up 60 years ago, how many coloured TV presenters, doctors, professors, senior government ministers were there? The change in attitudes has been stunning.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark Lilly

Our world is completely different than 72 years ago! Oppressed have become oppressors – the news (beyond NYT and WaPo) is filled with stories of open and unashamed discrimination and violence against whites in all our institutions – the hate mostly flows the other way now. In the US from mid 70s to Obama’s first term there appeared to be wide consensus for equal rights for all and the not-so-open reverse discrimination by governments and other institutions somewhat balanced remaining white bias. Therefore there was once such a time but there is no way to get back there from here.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

Very true, I too wished life could go back to a more balanced attitude to ‘race’! I went to boarding schools in Germany and Switzerland in the 1960s, we were pupils from many countries and ‘races or colours’ there. Some students were known to us to be homosexual. One was a Jewish school. I honestly cannot recall any discriminations or problems at all between us pupils or from teachers relating to our looks or religions. Racial and religious backgrounds were incidental facts of our identities to us, no more. No teaching of ‘proper thought’ (PC) was required for that! I am not denying that injustices existed then but I think in many ways it is worse now!

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
5 months ago

The trouble is that America gets to define these debates to begin with. I knew a self identified African American while living in South Africa who was enraged that I thought he was white.

In South Africa, race is constructed very differently to how it is in the USA. The “one drop” racial construct simply does not apply. American rules would make large proportion of Afrikaners black despite the fact that they are culturally of dutch descent. Apartheid would likely not even have been possible if 1/3rd of its would-be allies were classified as the enemy.
The very same American friend later recounted to me with incredulity how a car full of Congolese people had burst out laughing when he referred to himself as “African American”.
But experiences like this appeared not to change his mind. His belief to this day is that the whole of South Africa has got race wrong and that people there need to be educated about what “blackness” really is (ie, adopt his definition of it).

Sadly, the USA’s cultural hegemony means that it increasingly defines racial terms with its absurd ‘pencil tests’ globally, with often unpleasant outcomes.

Last edited 5 months ago by hayden eastwood
Lord Rochester
Lord Rochester
5 months ago

Hear, hear.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
5 months ago

Yes, and Hispanics too. Plenty of South America is white. Most of the population is mostly white, most of the culture is derived from the Iberian peninsula. Americans throw everybody into the brown category.

The exported idea of whiteness doesnt work either. In the US the idea was that the different ethnic groups in the US merged into whiteness. This doesnt work in europe. It cant explain Brexit, Scottish or Irish nationalism, Catalonia, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or anything really.

Aaron James
Aaron James
5 months ago

Great article by this Chicago, Jewish, writer. Still, I wonder what he is thinking when he is in his native city and is in one neighborhood, and then another, and yet a third……how does he tie what he is observing on the ground to what revelations he is sharing from this book?

I wish he would give us a guide to real life, on the ground real life, based on his thoughts; that we may make best choices in Chicago and elsewhere.

Last edited 5 months ago by Aaron James
Arkadian X
Arkadian X
5 months ago

How is race constructed in South Africa, then? I am not quite clear what you mean. Is it cultural heritage?

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
5 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

It’s a complicated thing – in part to do with visual queues, but also to do with mannerisms and culture. As recently as the 1940s the SA press, for example, would refer to marriages between Dutch and English settlers as “inter-racial” marriages. During the Boer War hatred between the groups was such that each side considered the “other” to be fundamentally different beneath the skin.
In the modern era I find myself classifying people as “coloured” in my mind (ie the mixed-race classification tag in Southern Africa) if they have certain mannerisms, even if they look entirely black to the eye.
I more or less immediately, based on these cues, know whether they will speak English, Afrikaans or some Bantu language in advance of them opening their mouths.
When I first visited South Africa from Zimbabwe in 1998 I vividly recall a conversation with my coloured taxi driver from Cape Town international airport. “Are you happy with the new South Africa? I asked him.

“Ah, no”, he said, “it’s terrible. More and more blacks are moving into our neighbourhood, and we always know when that happens that things get bad. That’s why when we see them at our beaches, we chase them away with guns.”
This from a man that would be considered entirely black in America.

Last edited 5 months ago by hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
5 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

I responded to your question in depth but sadly moderators removed it. Unherd appears to be quite trigger-happy with its sensibilities these days.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
5 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Both my comments in response were removed by admin, including the one complaining that my response had been removed…

Elizabeth dSJ
Elizabeth dSJ
5 months ago

Race is a delusion until you need a blood transfusion or bone marrow transplant.
Claiming that race isn’t real is mostly a device to manipulate whites into surrendering political and demographic standing to non-whites.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
5 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth dSJ

Your post I think confuses geographical genetic racial differences with socially defined racial differences.
The American socially defined “black” bears little correlation to the genetics of “blackness”.
How can it be that someone like Colin Powell is classified as black despite being obviously more than 50% white?
If we use the American system to decide what “black” is, then we commit, in the example of your bone marrow transplant, to rejecting a potentially suitable bone marrow donor who is socially labelled as black but genetically mostly white.
Imagine that all people decided they fell into only one of two categories, “Irish” or “non-Irish” depending on some arbitrary rule of how many distant ancestors of theirs were born in Ireland. That would be crazy.
But American constructs do this and much more: they classify someone from Papa New Guinea as “black” even when that person has more genetically in common with a Russian than someone from the Congo.
I have no doubt that race exists on some biological level, and that it came into existence through geographical separation of peoples over long time periods.
The likelihood, however, that this genetic reality corresponds to shifting cultural whims on race is exceedingly unlikely.

Last edited 5 months ago by hayden eastwood
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
5 months ago

Very good exposition of genetic actuality versus social construct. When people say loosely that there is no such thing as race, what they are speaking of is the social perception of race. There are certainly some differences genetically between the races, the very obvious one is the amount, type, and distribution of melanin in our bodies, however, even this can differ within groups who are all classified as one race. Our day to day interactions with each other is rarely based on our genetics, but upon our behaviours, and our character, and in that genetic race iseems to have little relevance.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
5 months ago

I would have thought the inability of negroes to swim at any competitive level was the most obvious genetic difference.
Otherwise surely they would dominate world swimming under the flag of the USA?
I gather after the 1936 Olympics there was some animated discussion about this subject, and had WWII not intervened, the proposed 1940 Tokyo Games would effectively have been two Games, one black, one white.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago

You must be a relation of Bill, Pete and the Irish?.. or is it a ” nom de plume”? You appear far too erudite and educated?!!!!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
5 months ago

Inadvertent duplication.

Last edited 5 months ago by stanhopecharles344
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth dSJ

hear hear… but uttering the truth is now a criminal offence in the pipls republictoylitte of nu britn

D Walsh
D Walsh
5 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth dSJ

Most of the lies white people believe about race comes from Jewish activists, the activists don’t believe the lies themselves. you only need to see it once, then you can’t miss it

Tony Price
Tony Price
5 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

I am no shrinking violet, but that rather sounds like an anti-semitic ‘trope’ (right word?) to me.

D Walsh
D Walsh
5 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

But some tropes or stereotypes are true/real, in fact it seems to me that something couldn’t become a stereotype unless it has some basis in reality

Have a go at proving me wrong, seriously, dig deep into the subject and you will notice the race is not real crowd is mainly Jewish activism

Start with Franz Boas and work out from there, you would have to be blind not to see the pattern

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

what about the… and yes, wait for the word… FACT that Jewish peoples outperform every other race on the planet in every field they turn their minds and efforts to?

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
5 months ago

Really? Even IQ tests?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
5 months ago

Even the great WSC proclaimed that the “Jews were the aristocracy of the human race”.
However there maybe a touch of bias here as some have said his mother was Jewish and not a WASP, as sometimes claimed.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
5 months ago

But how have ‘they’ achieved this extraordinary feat? Selective breeding, eugenics or simply divine choice? Has anyone an answer?

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
5 months ago

The 10,000 Year Explosion (Harpending and Cochran 2009) is the book to read on this.
It describes selective pressures on the Ashkenazi population for 8 or 9 centuries. This is offered as part of a general claim that all societies are selecting for something.
It expands on an acceptance of recent findings that every human trait, behaviour and preference is heritable to a significant degree. (cf Polderman et al 2016.)

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
5 months ago
Reply to  Christian Moon

Thank you so much.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago

does it matter? it is simply true!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
5 months ago

Yes it does matter, but NOT on UnHerd sadly.

D Walsh
D Walsh
5 months ago

If you run a group strategy while telling everyone else to play as individuals, then yes of course it helps you reach the top
When somebody notices the group strategy, you call them names
Telling people race is a delusion is all part of the strategy

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
5 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The effectiveness of such a group strategy wouldn’t explain higher Ashkenazi IQ.
Once you allow for that higher IQ, do you still need a theory about group strategy?

D Walsh
D Walsh
5 months ago
Reply to  Christian Moon

Yes of course, What is the number of Ashkenazi Jews with a 120+ IQ, then ask the question what is the number of Europeans with a 120+ IQ
There are clearly vastly more white Europeans with 120+ IQ, its not even close
So it has to be the group strategy

Also BTW Jewish academic performance in the US has fallen off a cliff in recent decades, but the group strategy remains

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
5 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Well said.

Tony Price
Tony Price
5 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth dSJ

You certainly have me genuinely confused here (I am English btw).
What has race got to do with needing a blood transfusion etc? Is this some sort of US cultural obsession?
And isn’t that rather a device to equalise political and demographic standing rather than reverse the hegemony?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
5 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

There are some differences within the bloods of African and European peoples, for example in the haematocrit and haemoglobin levels, and the lymphocyte count; there may be others, but these are the ones that I know about.

Last edited 5 months ago by Linda Hutchinson
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago

But African countries and peoples dominate the world industry, commerce, finance, medicine, the academe, and manufacturing, have the most sophisticated agricultural sector in the world, and the greatest number of democracies, and the lowest crime rates of any continent and no civil war or Islamic extremism whatsoever.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
5 months ago

A non sequitur, don’t you think??

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago

I could not possibly comment… but interestingly, no one else has ‘ bitten the hook via the bait’….To even dare to suggest that my observations may just be a tad innacurate, and perhaps ill-researched?… It is straight out of Orwell double speak, where we now live…

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
5 months ago

I doubt that holds for all African peoples. I suspect when people talk about “African”, what they really mean is Bantu African, which is a particular genetic lineage that moved down from Cameroon/Congo to populate East, West and Southern Africa about 700 years ago.

North Africa is pretty Arab, and Morocco is complicated by the history of white slavery, in which millions of Europeans were taken from Southern Europe and inevitably injected into that region’s genetic lineage.

Last edited 5 months ago by hayden eastwood
Mo Brown
Mo Brown
5 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

A US cultural obsession?? Yes. Everyone in the US is obsessed with the potential inherent risks of interracial blood transfusions. Just turn on the news. It’s all they talk about.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
5 months ago

David Mamet has put his finger on the nature of Jim Crow and the contemporary diversity scam when he talks of race as a delusion. The idea that someone would have particular characteristics because of the shade of their skin is inherently absurd and should be treated as such in a sane world.

Unfortunately, we tend to build fictional characteristic sets about those we don’t mix with often whatever the differences consist of. I recall being in a group of conservatives and as a conservative myself the conversation flowed enjoyably. However, the subject got on to Mayors of our city and the group cheerfully lambasted the series of Labour Mayors as universally uncultured and inarticulate. What they didn’t know was that my wife’s grandfather was a former Labour Mayor and I was friendly with two former Labour Mayors who were all civilised, intelligent and articulate individuals. No doubt I should have pointed out the folly of their happy delusion but I preferred to maintain the pleasant mood rather than point out the absurdity of their stereotyping of all Labour Mayors. Such delusions are, of course, maintained on the “never kissed a Tory” left where all Tory’s are ignorant racist bigots as well. It is in our nature to build stereotypes and to be deluded as to how valid they are.
The Trollope sentence “When one knew he was a Jew one saw he was a Jew” brilliantly captures the delusion of such stereotypes. The stereotype only fits if you know the category someone falls into.

Last edited 5 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Anthony Trollope is one of the most perspicacious, and humane, writers ever.

Elizabeth dSJ
Elizabeth dSJ
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

because of the shade of their skin”
Evolution doesn’t stop at skin color.
The fact ‘racial egalitarians’ repeatedly resort to this misrepresentation of reality shows your ‘lofty ideals’ are not rooted in truth.
Besides, it was leftist who started the trope that ‘race is just skin deep’ and it is telling of where we are that a self-described “conservative” parrots 20th Century cant.

Tendentious D
Tendentious D
5 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth dSJ

If you are referring to intelligence racially, Oriental or Asian (the now preferred appellation) generally supercedes Caucasian which generally supercedes Negroid (or black as the current zeitgeist prefers) but the all-important behaviour of how you show respect regardless of “race” obviously is NOT determined by “race”.

Read White Liberals and Black Rednecks by the inestimable Thomas Sowell to get a taste.

C GB
C GB
5 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth dSJ

You saved me writing a similar comment. I notice that several comments seem to equate race with skin colour, or limit race to someone’s skin colour.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
5 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth dSJ

I am not a racial egalitarian because I believe the crude division by 18th century “scientists” of mankind into separate races is junk science. Nor do I harbour any lofty ideals.

This does not mean I don’t recognise that there are gene-pools with medical correlations that may also be correlated with skin colour. But skin colour is of little significance for most social purposes unless we want to construct such a relationship.

During the Jim Crow era in the US lots of whites did want to make skin colour socially significant and today many want to make it significant again through promoting diversity. I find both stupid and objectionable and would probably be regarded not simply as conservative but “far right” by many for my views on diversity today.

Unfortunately rational discussion of the subject is inhibited, so that, for example, Nicky Samengo-Turner posted drawing attention to the low level of development in Africa (although he didn’t name the continent) and suggested this in some way this indicated the views I had advanced above was delusional. Both his post and my response have been deleted, presumably because someone objected and moderation removed the posts.

Last edited 5 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

what a surprise.. censorship on an ostensibly free speech medium, when it comes to the dreaded word ‘ race’ and all I did was quote empirical fact… I am going to now have to seriously consider my membership and use of unherd, sadly.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
5 months ago

Join the club. It happens all the time, sadly!
There are any number of ‘Linda Snells’ on this site just itching to be ‘outraged’ and whinge accordingly.

Last edited 5 months ago by stanhopecharles344
Claire D
Claire D
5 months ago

It happened repeatedly to me on the Joan of Arc article comment thread but as it was a weekday the moderators replaced my comments quite quickly, the comment I posted in the evening disappeared until the following morning.
I’m not sure that the moderators work over the weekend at all.
Frustrating.

Russ W
Russ W
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yeah, the meaningful difference is culture and not race.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

What utter deluded nonsense? look at the list of countries with lowest GNP/GDP?… with lowest industrial output?… with lowest level of financial industries?…. with lowest penetration of democracies?.. with least infrastructure development of roads, transport and housing? … with lowest educational levels?….. Go on, list them…? What does the list look like and who are their population? ohhh… I hear you say?.. how ” racist”?….

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
5 months ago

What I said was that it was absurd to assume that someone with a particular shade of skin should have particular characteristics.

I agree that Africa is less developed in many of the ways you describe but the problem is not that their skins are blacker than Europeans but that cultural factors coupled with geography have not promoted the institutions and practices that have enabled and encouraged innovation etc that have resulted in relative prosperity elsewhere.

African immigrants to the US have on the whole been more successful than African Americans because of cultural factors. Just as Dr Thomas Sowell is a more intelligent and admirable man than the majority white academics so skin colour gives much less insight into character than culture does.

Of course informal selective breading may promote some characteristics in a population but the idea that Africa is one homogeneous breeding pool is simply not consistent with the facts, so it is most unlikely particulate character traits will have been uniformly spread over the continent.

Of course I have my prejudices and have no lofty ideals about “race” attributed to me by another poster. Of course as individuals we are manifestly not equal, but I do think we need to discard 18th century junk science about race based on skin colour.

Last edited 5 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Steven Carr
Steven Carr
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

African immigrants to the US have on the whole been more successful than African Americans because of cultural factors’

Would that be Nigerians from Biafra or Somalians who were more successful?

‘… but the idea that Africa is one homogeneous breeding pool is simply not consistent with the facts’

The only people claiming Africa is one homogenous breeding pool are the people claiming that race is a delusion.

Tendentious D
Tendentious D
5 months ago

It is still wrong to generalize as it pigeonholes individuals based on a….generalization.

If you think black conservatives Carol Swain, Shelby Steele, Larry Elder and Tim Scott to name but a few are inherently inferior to racist liberals like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and the divisively unctuous Chuck Schumer ignorant white authoritarians all, I pity that outlook.

William Hickey
William Hickey
5 months ago

Race is a delusion. It’s all culture. So we are told.

What is the source of a particular culture?

Does it descend from above, an afflatus?

Is it an emanation of the environment, the rivers, soil and hills?

Or is it the product of a specific people, their predilections, talents, foibles and flaws?

I say it’s the third explanation. Culture is downstream from the people, the nation, the race.

I also assert my answer can be empirically tested. Here’s how.

Over a relatively short span of time import into a homogeneous nation with an impressive cultural heritage large numbers of people from different races and radically varying nations.

Some of the imports will blend in to the host culture. But individuals are not the ground on which to judge. It’s the culture and the nation which safeguards it that are the criteria.

Does the host culture bloom or wither? Are its standards strengthened or weakened by the diversity? Do its old certainties — such as its belief in God, the rituals it practices, its understanding of basic truths (like what is a woman) — remain? Or does doubt grow ubiquitous?

Which cultural trends — there are always competing tendencies of growth and decay in a culture — rise to predominance? Is the old culture invigorated or damaged, elevated or degraded?

Does the host population, the native race, flourish and multiply, or do they suddenly find reasons to withdraw and to focus on the here and now, the future, which for eons had seemed so bright, having suddenly become unimportant?

Do the people of the old homogeneous population find their own country becoming more and more foreign to them and almost incomprehensible?

In sum: Can the culture of one race be preserved by the children of another race?

Answer for yourselves, from your own life and experiences, not from what “experts say” and “studies show.”

Claire D
Claire D
5 months ago
Reply to  William Hickey

I think landscape or environment if you like is more important than you give it credit for. For settled people, as opposed to nomads, love of their land, of place, has a powerful effect on who they are and therefore their culture. Scotland is a good example.

gary cruse
gary cruse
5 months ago

Meet another Sinclair Lewis fanatic. I came to Kingsblood Royal late, but enjoyed it. Of all his work, I like how Babbitt portrayed the Twenties in granular clarity. I have read so many books about that era, the mental images I formed became memories as if I had been there. It makes me feel over a hundred years old.

Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright
5 months ago

If race is a delusion, in what sense is David Mamet a Jew? Or Paul Newman, for that matter?

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
5 months ago
Reply to  Oliver Wright

Apart from anything else, Mamet is a Jew by religion.

Aaron James
Aaron James
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Although a Secular Jewish Woman still has Jewish Children by the definition, and a Non-Jewish Women does not.

From ‘The Jerusalem Post’:

”According to traditional Jewish law, a Jew is someone whose mother is Jewish or a person who was born non-Jewish, but converted according to Jewish law.”

It does not mention religion as far as the mother, just the convert.

Last edited 5 months ago by Aaron James
Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Yes, but he’s talking about it in the context of race. And Newman was avowedly irreligious, yet quite assertive about being Jewish (despite his mother not being).

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago

It is interesting, even fascinating, that the same adages are never applied or used, for example about white people in African countries, not least Zimbabwe, certain parts of South Africa, in Pakistan?

Where are the ” inclusive/diverse” advances in these parts of the globe? Where are the white people on TV adverts, reading the news, in politics, in any form of government?

Will someone have the honesty, backbone and courage to provide a truthful answer?

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
5 months ago

You raise fair points but they are tangential to the article, which is about the madness of how we define outgroups and not about whether or not affirmative action is a good idea or applied logically.

Tendentious D
Tendentious D
5 months ago

The truth was discarded when it became acceptable nay necessary in some circles to say only one “race” can be “racist”.

It is the underpinning of today’s accepted systemic racism…by blacks on non-blacks.

David Owsley
David Owsley
5 months ago

“I will not suggest you read them, in the hope that you may.”
Damn! Mission accomplished. Funnily enough I came across ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ last year when blogging about the ludicrous reaction to the Capitol ‘invasion’.  
“...warped into absurdity“, again, applause. Unfortunately many are fooled into tagging along with the race-hustlers and liberal (in the US sense) do-gooders.

Tendentious D
Tendentious D
5 months ago
Reply to  David Owsley

d**k Cheney’s daughter got caught up in that big time.

Voted 93% with Trump while in office but not one word about crime, borders, absurd gender and race theories or peace since catching the chronic TDS.

Russ W
Russ W
5 months ago
Reply to  David Owsley

Yeah, the guy can WRITE!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
5 months ago

The end, therefore, which perhaps did not need further clarification, would have been that race is a delusion. As indeed it is.”
Earlier in the piece the writer claimed that no book except Ivanhoe represented Jews correctly – so is he saying his view of his own race, Jews, is also deluded?
And in passing….”The construction was cheap, and the style Talentless Architect, Friday Afternoon” A talentless architect would be a bonus for the occupants, since lauded architects in the 20th century have been responsible for the most awful monstrosities to live in.

David B
David B
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Many talentless architects have been lauded. The two descriptors define intersecting sets.

Benjamin Holm
Benjamin Holm
5 months ago

It’s really sad how obsessed so many people are today by race. They want it to be emphasized, and I can only imagine this is because there is something in it to gain.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
5 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Holm

There is much to gain being the ethnic underdog in today’s society!
A well rehearsed professional victim mentality gains sympathies, political advantages and money.

ralph bell
ralph bell
5 months ago

Fascinating article that whilst highlighting the treasures of the past, illustrates perfectly the hypocrisy of today woke intolerants.

Richard Maslen
Richard Maslen
5 months ago
Reply to  ralph bell

Intolerance – see the Mother of :Parliaments, where party label indicates worthy or scum. Our system of government is confrontational rather than co-operational, even if it is becoming less colour-blind.

Graham Strugnell
Graham Strugnell
5 months ago

Equality is also the right to tell someone who is rude or antisocial the truth even if they are ethnically different. You should be able to do so without the fear you will be called a racist. At the moment people back off from the person causing offence for fear of cussing offence.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
5 months ago

I remember hearing a black academic (I think) many, many years ago say that he knows when a person is not racist if during a heated argument thy call him a stupid b*st*rd and not a stupid black b*st*rd.

Javier Quinones
Javier Quinones
5 months ago

Dismissing so-called race as delusional is delusional.

Janine Econ
Janine Econ
5 months ago

One more modern version one might consider is Dave Chappelle’s character, Clayton Bigsby, a blind black man whom nobody ever told he was black, who became a leader in the white-supremacy movement. Character inspired by Dave’s blind grandfather and his experiences. He, interestingly, was born to a white woman and adopted by a black family. Chappelle’s modern routines and cancellations surely fit somewhere into this article’s subject as well.

Last edited 5 months ago by [email protected]
Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
5 months ago

What this world needs is an alien invasion. Something to show just how small our differences are in a different context. There are differences in what you see. There are a very few differences in biology, i.e. a few diseases that only, or almost only, happen with people of a certain extraction. But that’s it. And that all has nothing to do with who they are.
We can probably all say that we like a specific look, if we were paging through the online dating world pictures, that we really like (without reading any more about them). Yet after a couple of minutes talking in the real world, what they look like generally stops to make any difference.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
5 months ago
Reply to  Diane Merriam

I also don’t see colour when talking to people.

gary cruse
gary cruse
5 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Such notion was carried to hilarity by George Costanza in an episode of Seinfeld. Trying to prove he didn’t see colour, at one point he says, “Oh. Is Sugar Ray Leonard black? I never noticed.”

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
5 months ago

“ Talentless Architect, Friday Afternoon”

Yes, but what time on a Friday?

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
5 months ago

poets time.

Curious Person
Curious Person
5 months ago

Thank-you to David Mamet for this fine essay, and to Unherd for inviting it. I will have to look up “Kingsblood Royal” now and read it.

Delia Barkley-Delieu
Delia Barkley-Delieu
5 months ago

Thank goodness the world has moved on. Inequality still exists but most people don’t judge others unfairly because of their skin colour.
We all bleed, feel, suffer.
With reference to ‘Kingsblood Royal’ what distinguishes people is their behaviour, their moral code, their decency, their respect for themselves and others and the way in which they live their lives, no matter their circumstances. The white people in his circle on learning their friend had ‘negro blood’ demonstrated their intolerance and racism. That sort of reaction still exists, and really shouldn’t.
We’re lucky if we are born healthy and into stable family circumstances with elders who bring us up to respect one another. Those who do their best to ‘love one another’ without resentment, bitterness, envy, dislike… well, they are the role models the world needs. Perhaps we should all reflect upon ‘walking in the shoes of others,’ facing the daily trials many less fortunate face, no matter their race, skin colour. I am guilty, as are most of us, of snap judgements, blanket assessments, based on behaviour. I am reminded ‘white trash’ exist alongside the problem, a black one (?) of knife crime and gangs.
If we think more about equal opportunities for all then we are on the right path. The current diversity tick-box trend of tokenism and positive discrimination for black people is patronising, insulting to black people and creates more division than cohesion. Skill, dedication, merit and talent should be our markers, the way in which we ALL make progress.
Skin colour should mean nothing. Most of us are proud of our roots, heritage. We cannot change our origins.
Bad people are bad people, good people are good people, and I like to think (I may be deluded) that most people are inherently good.

Last edited 5 months ago by Delia Barkley-Delieu
Bella OConnell
Bella OConnell
5 months ago

“The current tick-box trend of tokenism” surely peaked when the Scottish Government recently employed a man to fulfil the ‘period awareness’ role in the Reproductive Health Team, since he was the “best qualified”. Sigh.

Kenneth Weene
Kenneth Weene
5 months ago

We cannot avoid the mental process of classification, Perhaps over time a particular classificatory process, say using race, may be discarded; but in the end anyone truly free of what we decry as prejudices would be unable to make decisions with sufficient speed and consistency to function. At the first choice, such a paragon of freedom would in fact become trapped in the minutiae of the situation as they desperately searched for a meaningful differentiation. What we need, then, is to recognize our prejudgements and to constantly evaluate them both in terms of their functionality and our own values.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
5 months ago

The story is about somebody coming out as Black?
Interesting.
As we saw recently with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, coming out as Black might be the only way to avoid being sacked.

David Yetter
David Yetter
5 months ago

Culture or genetics, it is an awkward fact that if one disaggregates murder statistics in America by the country/region of ancestry of the perpetrator, they track those in that place: there are very few Norwegian-American murderers, a bit more among those whose ancestors came from the British isles, yet more among Russian-Americans, while the statistics for folks whose ancestors hailed from Central America or West Africa look like those for Central America and West Africa: bad.

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
5 months ago
Reply to  David Yetter

However, race is not the same as culture, just as money is not the same as class.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
5 months ago

The modern version of Sinclair’s tale would involve a white young woman claiming Native American ancestry to advance first through academia and then politics to become one of the most powerful people in the world as a US Senator. Oh wait, I think someone wrote that book already.
You are no longer appressed if everyone wants to be in your club.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
5 months ago

Not to mention people like  Rachel Farrelly who as an Indigenous Australian , a Gunu Gunu woman, became a surgeon.
She looks Finnish…..

Bill Steigerwald
Bill Steigerwald
5 months ago

Race is not just a delusion. It’s an artificial (and insidious) ‘intellectual’ construct used by unsavory people and their governments to separate and rank humans into favored or disfavored categories. Sadly, Americans were pioneers in erecting a two-tiered society of un-equals: in the late 1800s about 17 states in the South began erecting an oppressive, petty, humiliating but legalized system of Jim Crow racial segregation that ultimately became a helpful guide for the Nazis’ anti-Jewish laws in the 1930s and the Afrikaners’ apartheid set-up in 1948. Mr. Mamet’s fine essay about the biological absurdities and moral iniquities of defining, ranking and judging human beings by the shade of their skin can be expanded by the discussion of another event that happened in the late 1940s: In 1948 a renowned Pittsburgh journalist named Ray Sprigle disguised himself as a black man and traveled through the Jim Crow South for a month to see for himself how 10 million American blacks were being treated. He was guided/hosted/protected by a ‘real black man,’ John Wesley Dobbs of Atlanta. Sprigle was no civil rights crusader. But by the time he was done living like a black man he was ashamed of being an American and not too fond of the ‘white race,’ either. Sprigle’s subsequent 21-part nationally syndicated newspaper series, ‘In the Land of Jim Crow,’ shocked the white North, pissed off the white South, pleased millions of blacks and, for a short time in the summer and fall of 1948, had much of the country talking about legal segregation and what to do about it. My modest 2017 history book ’30 Days a Black Man’ re-tells the story of Sprigle’s daring trip and the impact his powerful, passionate and persuasive first-person journalism had on the country — 13 years before ‘Black Like Me’ was published. I’d send Mr. Mamet a copy of my tragically obscure book, but I wouldn’t want to put him on the spot. If he or his readers seek more details of Sprigle’s largely forgotten undercover mission, they can start with https://clips.substack.com/p/exposing-old-jim-crow-1948

Last edited 5 months ago by xpaperboy
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
5 months ago

How was it that peoples of Africa did not colonise Europe?

Bill Steigerwald
Bill Steigerwald
5 months ago

It’s got nothing to do with what Mamet or I were talking about, but they did kind of colonize Europe — about 100,000 to 150,000 years ago, when Africans migrated north and east from East Africa into Eastern Europe and Asia. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Early_human_migrations

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
5 months ago

I watched the film Gentleman’s Agreement last week, as it happened to be on the old movies channel and I was curious about the treatment of anti semitism, and the ‘calibration’ of offence back then.
I was rather surprised to see how similar the discussions of offensive comments and their calibration are to current times – but even more surprised that I got similarly worn down by the film’s presentation of offence as I do with current discussions of racism etc. It got so tedious I couldn’t watch it to the end.

Robert Pullman
Robert Pullman
5 months ago

Side note: Before establishing himself Sinclair Lewis made ends meet selling plot outlines to Jack London (e.g. $5 for ‘The Abysmal Brute’) and others.

itellu 3times
itellu 3times
5 months ago

Yes but sir, as an author and playwright, are we ever free of delusions? Or shouldn’t we just choose better ones?

Margaret TC
Margaret TC
5 months ago

Though Jacques Derrida is not beloved of readers here, it is worth recalling his “Pas de racisme sans une langue” (“no racism without a language”), and “le racisme trahit toujours la perversion d’un homme ‘animal parlant’” (“racism always betrays the perversion of a man ‘the talking animal’”). Claude Levi-Strauss before him observed that race is “an outcome rather than a presupposition of cultural practices.”

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
5 months ago
Reply to  Margaret TC

The blank slate lives I tell ‘ee, it’s alive!

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
5 months ago

‘Should he “confess his taint”, he and his entire family will be ruined.’
This is so correct, so true to life.
Ask Rachel Dolezal what happens to white people who start to claim they are Black. Their lives are ruined.
“When one knew he was a Jew one saw he was a Jew.” Which Trollope book is that from? I can’t find it in ‘The Way We Live Now’

Last edited 5 months ago by Steven Carr
Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
5 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

I suppose logically if it’s valid for a man to claim he is a woman then why shouldn’t a white woman claim to be black ( or a banana or anything else).

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
5 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

I think that the quote is from Orley Farm, but it’s been a long time since I read the novel, so I could be mis-remembering.

Last edited 5 months ago by Linda Hutchinson
Steven Carr
Steven Carr
5 months ago

You are quite correct. Thanks for the information.

Zaph Mann
Zaph Mann
5 months ago

Great article, thank you DM. I for one hold Sinclair Lewis’s books in high regard – Babbit, in particular, helped me to understand the US 20th century zeitgeist. I’ve recommended the same books to friends – i wonder if they were met with the same outcome.

H Smith
H Smith
5 months ago

In addition to Sinclair Lewis’ “Kingsblood Royal,” a similar ironic point was made by Mark Twain in “Puddn’head Wilson” (1894), where a black slave woman switches her light-skinned baby with the baby of a wealthy white family. Her birth baby grows up to be a vain, corrupt man who robs and murders his uncle, letting someone else take the blame. Likely due to self-hatred, she tells him the truth about his birthright, and claims it’s “the N—– in you” that made him that way. Meanwhile, the white boy raised as a slave is “given” back his “rights” by society when it’s determined he is really white, but he still finds it difficult to live anymore with blacks (who now reject him) AND whites (who he distrusted while living as a black person).

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
5 months ago

A very timely reminder that Sinclair Lewis bears re-reading. It Can’t Happen Here has come to mind quite recently here in the US. Even a cursory acquaintance with the developments of modern genetics lead me to the conclusion that everyone’s ancestry is much more mixed than we can ever really know. It seems that as soon as mankind found they could travel on water, then sailors did what sailors do.

Stevebva B.
Stevebva B.
5 months ago

Nice but one thing not mentioned anywhere is we’re all created as one race, the human race. That is always overlooked.

Last edited 5 months ago by Steve Bouchard
Steven Carr
Steven Carr
4 months ago
Reply to  Stevebva B.

Diversity does not exist.

John S
John S
5 months ago

Great piece. I’ve been a Lewis fan since the early 60’s. Loved Elmer Gantry and Arrowsmith as well. Wish I could get my boys to read him.

gary cruse
gary cruse
5 months ago
Reply to  John S

Since they’re boys, give them a choice between, say, Elmer Gantry, and Fitzgerald’s Bernice Bobs Her Hair. Heh.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
5 months ago

If race is a delusion, then why do Ashkenazi Jews have a median IQ of 117?
“When one knew he was a Jew one saw he was a Jew.” Which Trollope book is that from? I can’t find it in ‘The Way We Live Now’

Fanny Blancmange
Fanny Blancmange
5 months ago

I think ‘Dr Who’ said it best in a recent storyline where travelling back in time to give Rosa Parks some backup on that bus was the only way to save the Earth from total destruction.

Marco Furlano
Marco Furlano
5 months ago

Race is definitely a delusion. What about culture,
tradition and values?

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
5 months ago

Race is a delusion.
People are basically all the same. Differences are literally skin-deep.
Diversity definitely exists though.