Storified by Brian Empric· Sun, Mar 17 2013 08:26:26
"A hundred years ago, the factthat people from different racial backgrounds had very different rates ofsuccess in education, in the economy and in other endeavors, was taken as proofthat some races were genetically superior to others.
"Some races were considered to be so genetically inferior that eugenicswas proposed to reduce their reproduction, and FrancisGalton urged 'the gradual extinction of an inferior race.'"
"The leading crusaders fortheories of genetic superiority and inferiority were iconic figures on theleft, on both sides of the Atlantic."John Maynard Keynes helped create the CambridgeEugenics Society. Fabian socialist intellectuals H.G.Wells and George Bernard Shaw were among many other leftistsupporters of eugenics.
"It was much the same story on this side of the Atlantic. President WoodrowWilson, like many other Progressives, was solidly behind notions ofracial superiority and inferiority. He showed the movie 'Birth of aNation,' glorifying the Ku Klux Klan, at the White House, andinvited various dignitaries to view it with him."
"Now, instead of genes beingthe overriding reason for differences in outcomes, racism became theone-size-fits-all explanation. But the dogmatism was the same. Those who daredto disagree, or even to question the prevailing dogma in either era weredismissed -- as 'sentimentalists' in the Progressive era and as 'racists' inthe multicultural era."
"Among the many reasons for different levels of achievement is somethingas simple as age. The median age in Germany and Japan is over 40, while the medianage in Afghanistan and Yemen is under 20. Even if the people in all four ofthese countries had the same mental potential, the same history, the sameculture -- and the countries themselves had the same geographic features -- thefact that people in some countries have 20 years more experience than people inother countries would still be enough to make equal economic and other outcomesvirtually impossible.""Once we recognize that large differences in achievement among races,nations and civilizations have been the rule, not the exception, throughoutrecorded history, there is at least some hope of rational thought -- andperhaps even some constructive efforts to help everyone advance.""History has many dramatic examples of the rise and fall of peoples andnations, for a wide range of known and unknown reasons. What history does nothave is what is so often assumed as a norm today, equality of groupachievements at a given point in time.""[T]oday we have bean counters in Washington turning out statistics thatare solemnly presented in courts of law to claim that, if the numbers are notmore or less the same for everybody, that proves that somebody did somebodyelse wrong.""The desire of intellectuals for some grand theory that will explain complexpatterns with some solitary and simple factor has produced many ideas that donot stand up under scrutiny, but which have nevertheless had widespreadacceptance -- and sometimes catastrophic consequences -- in countries aroundthe world."The theory of genetic determinism which dominated the early 20th centuryled to many harmful consequences, ranging from racial segregation anddiscrimination up to and including the Holocaust. The currently prevailingtheory is that malice of one sort or another explains group differences inoutcomes...""Groups that lag behind have often blamed their lags on wrong-doing bygroups that are more successful. Since sainthood is not common in any branch ofthe human race, there is seldom a lack of sins to cite, including haughtinessby those who happen to be on top for the moment. But the real question iswhether these sins -- real or imagined -- are actually the reason for differentlevels of achievement.
"Intellectuals, whom we might expect to counter mass hysteria with rationalanalysis, have all too often been in the vanguard of those promoting envy andresentment of the successful."
"Both the intellectuals' theoryof genetic determinism as the reason for group differences in outcomes andtheir opposite theory of discrimination as the reason have created racial andethnic polarization. So has the idea that it must be one or the other.
"The false dichotomy that it must be one or the other leaves moresuccessful groups with a choice between arrogance and guilt. It leaves lesssuccessful groups with the choice of believing that they are inherentlyinferior for all time or else that they are victims of the unconscionablemalice of others."
"Among the many irrational ideas about racial and ethnic groups that havepolarized societies over the centuries and around the world, few have been moreirrational and counterproductive than the current dogmas ofmulticulturalism.""Multiculturalism is a tempting quick fix for groups that lag by simplypronouncing their cultures to be equal, or 'equally valid,' in some vague andlofty sense. Cultural features are just different, not better or worse,according to this dogma.""In other words, members of minority groups that lag educationally,economically or otherwise are to continue to behave in the future as they havein the past -- and, if they do not get the same outcomes as others, it issociety's fault. That is the bottom line message of multiculturalism.""[I]ntellectuals see themselves as friends, allies and defenders of racialminorities, even as they paint them into a corner of cultural stagnation. Thisallows the intelligentsia to flatter themselves that they are on the side ofthe angels against the forces of evil that are conspiring to keep minoritiesdown.""Multiculturalism, like the caste system, paints people into the cornerwhere they happened to have been born... Multiculturalism not only serves theego interests of intellectuals, it serves the political interests of electedofficials, who have every incentive to promote a sense of victimhood, and evenparanoia, among groups whose votes they want, in exchange for both material andpsychic support.""The biggest losers in all this are those members of racial minorities whoallow themselves to be led into the blind alley of resentment and rage, evenwhen there are broad avenues of opportunity available. And we all lose whensociety is polarized."