John McWhorter is “a cranky liberal Democrat” who supported Barack Obama, reviles the War on Drugs, supports gay marriage, and never voted for George Bush. In what timeline would a liberal Democrat who supported Obama be writing for the National Review? This one. It all makes perfect sense when you learn that he’s Black and he’s got something to say about how White folks should not think about or discuss racial issues.
On matters of race and identity, National Review eagerly defers to the enlightened opinion of the nearest Black man. McWhorter is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. His piece is too honest for a liberal Democrat publication. It could only be published at National Review because this Black man, a respected academic, defies liberal orthodoxy by coming out and saying what only a Black man would be allowed to say in our popular press; that the data confirming racial differences is pretty damn credible.
McWhorter hedges and dodges around, though the way he bobs and weaves around the subject is familiar to anybody who’s familiar with how the HBD conversation plays out in popular discourse. He’s woke on HBD, even if he can’t admit it to himself or his audience. In his piece, Race & IQ: Debate Serves No Purpose, he explains that even if it’s true (coyly stepping over the issue itself), only the malicious and immoral could possibly arrive at any constructive conclusions from that revelation and any subsequent conclusions.
Suppose it’s true.
Suppose that, at the end of the day, people of African descent have lower IQs on average than do other groups of humans, and that this gap is caused, at least in part, by genetic differences.
About a decade ago, all the right people agreed that we need to have a “conversation about race.” By the conclusion of Barack Obama’s historic term, all the right people have arrived at the exact opposite conclusion. For the radical left, even liberal Whites who wish to support minority empowerment projects are angrily implored to sit down, shut up, and listen to non-white voices without speaking. For the radical left, it’s to be a monologue. For the “centrists,” both sides are told to shut up. The common factor is that White folks are not to speak up. There must be no dialogue, only either a monologue or awkward civic nationalist silence.
I do question why those calling attention to possible evidence for such a gap feel that it is such an important topic to discuss. That is, let’s suppose that black people actually are, on the average, lower in g than others. Why, exactly, is it so urgent that this be openly “acknowledged”?
I can see exactly three rationales [see below] as to why we must be “honest” about the IQ gap, if it exists. None offers anything we could call progressive or constructive.
1. The first is that the IQ gap delegitimizes policy devoted to redressing the injustices that black people have suffered.
It actually does delegitimize it. Our country’s zero-sum policy devoted to punishing marginal White Americans by handing their seats, sinecures, and savings to Black Americans is illegitimate. The notion that Black American failure is my fault is a pernicious myth, a blood libel, a racket, and an injustice. The wealth of psychometric and anthropological surveys confirm that there are congenital racial differences and that the Black American is actually outperforming just about every other Black population in the world.
Before accusing White Americans of structural injustice, ask where else you would rather be than in America. The whole thing doesn’t hold water. If Whites treated Blacks poorly, impoverishing and humiliating them, then we wouldn’t have so much pressure to include Blacks in our neighborhoods, our schools, our communities, our civic organizations, our White countries, and our daily lives. The fact that the most offensive thing a White American man can say to a Black man is that he wishes to be away from him exposes the racket.
Our “conversation about race” is predicated on a bullshit narrative of White Guilt and White Punishment for Black underperformance. We must pay up because it is our fault, allegedly. The last shackle fell off of the last American slave well over a century ago, the last segregated water fountain rusted out before either of us were born, and the case that there’s still oppression by cops or within the prison system or whatever simply isn’t compelling enough to explain the persistent gap.
America’s racial conversation amounts to pointing at the ghettoes, crime, and dysfunction in the Black American community and demanding answers and solutions. If the genetic answer is disallowed, then a scapegoat is in order. Some Black conservatives can point to alleged cultural, linguistic, or economic factors, but the trend lines don’t allow it. White kids in Appalachian trailer parks perform better, on average, on the IQ test than Black kids in Beltway McMansions.
To try to pin that on cultural factors rather than the consistent and parsimonious conclusion wrought by over a century of repeated, reliable, and reproducible psychometric research is intellectually irresponsible. I know you feel there’s a grave moral imperative to not arrive at the conclusion that White policy can’t fix Black problems, no matter what. But your moral posturing is at the expense of my people, marginal White folks, who you and your wealthy White liberal and Jewish friends will continue holding accountable for Black Failure. And you’ll keep doing it even as the data confirms that our own people are coming unglued.
You don’t care about White people. Your work on the topic is among the most thoughtful and self-aware work from the Black perspective in contemporary America. You speak out against the culture of victimhood and on the need for personal and community accountability. I get that and I respect that. You’re not full Hotep, but you’re relatively woke. Unfortunately, by insisting that we not challenge the lies we’ve been told about Black performance, you’re co-signing on the Big Lie at the heart of the White Guilt industry.
When there’s a man who’s not standing up, and we’re not allowed to propose that he’s disabled, feeble, or sitting on his own accord, we must necessarily begin the search for the man who’s holding him down.
2. A second purpose of being “honest” about a racial IQ gap would be the opposite of the first: We might take the gap as a reason for giving not less but more attention to redressing race-based inequities.
Back in the real world, White Americans are proving that they’re certainly not in the mood for more expensive social engineering bullshit which makes a moral crusade out of disadvantaging and disempowering their own children. The big problem with all this is the circles you’re surely limited to. You’re only around the elite Whites who are oh so glad to cut another pound of flesh from the White working poor to hand over to the Black community. They speak for us, on behalf of White people, claiming that “we” owe it to your community, are so glad to offer it, and will keep shoveling over more and more until all of the achievement gaps have been filled in and paved over.
The rise of the AltRight, the election victory of Donald Trump, and the rumblings abroad suggest that the White liberals may not actually be speaking for the majority of White Americans. Ask yourself who that backlash is going to land on. On the White limousine liberals and Jewish cosmopolitans actually accountable? Or on the most marginal of your own people? As a gifted and thoughtful Black man with a healthy spirit of stewardship for your own people, you would do well to begin reflecting on this iceberg heading for your ship.
The contemporary American blood libel answer blaming White Americans that you’re trying to keep a lid on will only build with more and more pressure as there are relatively fewer White families to squeeze, more non-whites demanding their cut of the action, and quite possibly less prosperity to go around. Nobody wants to hear the White working class’s thoughts on race. They just want what we supposedly owe everybody else, and for us to shut up.
3. Finally, some advocates of “honesty” about race and IQ have argued that we must acknowledge that black people have lower IQs but must also “progress” toward an ability to celebrate individuals for a range of talents beyond intelligence.
I’m actually a bit more optimistic than you about the prospects for Blacks achieving dignity and respect in a world where we stop pretending they’re generally as intelligent as Whites. While intelligence will always be valuable and valued, creativity, dynamism, and extraversion is in some important ways approaching the importance of engineering and intellect. Blacks are set to hold their own in the emerging global market of attention, entertainment, mindshare, and music. Where’s the Michael Jackson, Dave Chappelle, or Oprah of the other races?
Unlike many White Nationalists, I believe a Black Nationalist future could hold plenty of hope, opportunity, progress, and even prosperity. There are nations like Jamaica, Botswana, and Kenya which are plugging forward at a steady clip, while Africa in general has been steadily developing and rising over the course of my lifetime. As an anecdote, it was often imagined that Africa would be suffering a grave humanitarian crisis propelling immigration into Europe while it’s actually been a more ambitious, mobile, and rapidly growing African middle class attempting to flood in.
We still don’t want those immigrants, of course. And your dream of finding that one weird trick to close the achievement gap isn’t going to happen. But Africans being less intelligent, on average, than Europeans, isn’t the end of the world for Africans. I wouldn’t even go out of my way to bring it up routinely if I weren’t required to in order to disprove the blood libel of White Guilt. Africa’s starting to find its footing by muddling through African solutions to African problems. Black America will find its own footing when it stops scapegoating Whites and starts muddling through Black solutions to their Black problems.