Enlightened noblesse oblige

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Please make sure to scroll down and read the next entry on genes & IQ if you haven’t!

Ruben Narvarette is angry at what he sees as liberal racism. He notes:

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had appeared on the show moments before Mr. Lieberman. Asked her view of affirmative action, Dr. Rice said she thought that colleges should be able to consider race as one factor in an applicant’s portfolio but that the Michigan program – which includes a point system – might have gone too far.

When he got his turn, Mr. Lieberman disagreed. He said that the Michigan program was perfectly fine and that minority applicants simply are given a hand up.

In fact, Mr. Lieberman insisted, “it is exactly programs like the Michigan program that helped a star like Condi Rice get to where she is today.”

Does Lieberman assume that society is so racist that no competent black American could reach the commanding heights of success and prestige without affirmative action? I doubt it, but the stain is strong enough to smear the mighty as well the meek of the darker persuasion. I wonder how he would feel if someone asserted that if he was not a religious Jew his pious and sanctimonious lectures to the rest of us not backed up by the teeth of any legislation would be ignored as moral belching rather than considered as some point holding great Talmudic gravitas (he talks a conservative game, but votes a liberal score-in the same mold as politicians that promise more services and fewer taxes. They deserve nothing but our contempt).

[The Condi/Lieberman quotes seem to be out of context-so it doesn't support my general point-I guess it points out the weakness in relying on secondary material and not checking the primary]

As John McWhorter recounts in Losing the Race, affirmative action taints all blacks who achieve success. Any black American that speaks up against it is automatically open to accusations of hypocrisy. Well yes, true enough, some black conservatives would probably be obscure academics without any platform to speak from if not for affirmative action. And yet, there is no doubt in my mind that there would still be a reasonable number of black Americans in prominent places without affirmative action. But it is hard to judge who is who, and so the stain adheres to all. I think it is highly plausible that affirmative action has benefited black Americans as a group in many ways. It has surely helped many individual black Americans materially [1]. But, who would deny that on the individual scale it has leeched some of the sense of accomplishment that one might feel, and also added a discounting factor in the esteem of their white “peers”.

I know this personally as someone who is an Asian-American according to the Census. Many of my friends in high school with lower grade point averages and SAT scores would casually assert that I had it easy as far as scholarships and college admission went because of my race. This is highly debatable, Asian-Americans are not an “underrepresented” minority as far as academics, and are overrepresented in elite universities and rigorous majors (I also never checked any of the race boxes, though I suspect anyone could surmise that I was of non-European extraction by my name). I suspect it was a way for some to make themselves feel superior-for they had to live up to a different, shall we say higher, standard, and so could be forgiven their milder successes. I saw the same thing in college where a friend of mine of half-Asian heritage racked up a sizeable number of scholarships after his freshmen year. A very liberal (a self-described “radical feminist”) friend of his commented off-hand that Tom (not his real name) was lucky, because as a minority he had a lower standard for scholarships (both had the same majors, but Tom had a far higher freshmen GPA than my radical feminist friend, perhaps explaining the differential in scholarship yield. But some see race as the root of all differences!). Of course, Tom became incensed at this because he was convinced that being Asian-American had disadvantaged him. He had taken the precaution of checking his race as “white” (he could pass as white on appearance alone) to any college he applied to where Asian-Americans were wildly out of proportion during his senior year in high school (which generally meant schools in California). Additionally, I remember a Korean-American acquaintance of mine becoming red-faced when telling the story of a girl he knew who dismissed his acceptance to MIT as being eased by affirmative action (Korean-Americans are about 10% of MIT’s undergraduate class according to some friends of mine who were in the Korean American Christian Fellowship with me). The skeptic of my friend’s credentials herself had been rejected from all the elite engineering schools she applied to, so he felt she was using his race as a way to level the playing field and boost her self esteem (He also recalled that he almost blurted , “Well you’re a woman, so you had it easy too!”. He was too much the gentlemen to point this out).

Affirmative action exists. Any minority (depending on context) can benefit, so any minority who achieves anything might have benefited. So any minority that objects to it might be a hypocrite (in circumstance if not intent). The insinuation of might quickly becomes the certainty of is in the minds of many.

I do not deny that most white males of the liberal political inclination have altruistic motives in mind when promoting affirmative action-on the conscious level. But one certainly can’t deny that one side effect is a subtle reinforcement of the idea that white males stand uppermost in the great chain of being, possessed of such a generous nature that they allow others to live by lower standards and more bestial morals [2]. Just as Jim Crow or apartheid allowed the least among whites to be more than the highest of “niggers” or “kaffirs”-affirmative action allows the least among white males to remember that even the mightiest of folk of color are held to a lower standard than they (and to be fair, the best will always be safe, so they can support affirmative action without worrying about the negative consequences on them individually-while basking in the added moral legitimacy). In the back of their minds, “But for affirmative action go I….”

“The difference between us is this: you think of yourself as a black man, I think of myself as a man….”

– Sidney Poitier’s character in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

[1] Of course, there goes the argument that affirmative action acts as a discounted variable. For instance, John McWhorter has argued that the low grades of blacks in their undergraduate years is partially attributable to the fact they expect to get into graduate school with lower grades. But someone supporting affirmative action will ignore this “what if” and simply assert that blacks get low grades, so affirmative action is necessary to create diversity (they will explain low grades of course, but generally assign the blame to poverty & societal racism rather than the individual’s ability to make rationale decisions. If a 3.8 is not necessary to get you into med school, but rather a 3.0 would be sufficient, one might conclude that the 0.8 grade-point average difference can be converted into many extra hours that can be reallocated to personal activities)

[2] The mildly genocidal Milosevic is hauled before the War Crimes Tribunal, while the maniacal Mugabe is invited by the government of France to come to a conference. Ah, but he is but black….

Update: From the message board….

The following is a post I made earlier, but I feel it’s of great importance concerning the nature of race as it relates to affirmative action:

Hmm… all this talk of affirmative action in college campuses has got me wondering…

According to the last census, 13% of Canada’ population now consists of visible minorities. Yet, interestingly, not a single University in Canada has adopted a race-based affirmative action policy in its college admissions process.

This may be due to the fact that most of Canada’s visible minorities consist of high-performing Asians – Chinese and Indians who don’t require affirmative action to get into the elite colleges like the University of Toronto or Unviersity of Waterloo. There was actuallyl national outcry here recently over a federal MP who bemoaned that university spots in Canada were being swallowed up by an “Asian invasion”.

Of a total population of about 31 million, Chinese now number close to 1.1 million and South Asians about 0.9 million. There are few Blacks (in relation to the American or British Black population) and hardly any Latinos. The link to the Statistics Canada Census Bureau.

I just read in the last American census that Hispanics have now surpassed African-Americans as the largest minority group. This means that 25% of America is now Black/Latino. If immigration is the future, this could pose some deep and unsettling problems for our neighbours to the south. If America’s progress becomes stunted by a growing population of underperforming minorities, then America may very well soon be overtaken by nations that attract and accept industrious East and South Asians, such as Canada and Australia.

19 Comments

  1. Additionally, I remember a Korean-American acquaintance of mine becoming red-faced

    That was racist, Razib. Not everyone can become red-faced, and it was racially insensitive of you to point out that some races are red-faced challenged.

    Shame on you.

  2. The following is a post I made earlier, but I feel it’s of great importance concerning the nature of race as it relates to affirmative action:

    Hmm… all this talk of affirmative action in college campuses has got me wondering…

    According to the last census, 13% of Canada’ population now consists of visible minorities. Yet, interestingly, not a single University in Canada has adopted a race-based affirmative action policy in its college admissions process.

    This may be due to the fact that most of Canada’s visible minorities consist of high-performing Asians – Chinese and Indians who don’t require affirmative action to get into the elite colleges like the University of Toronto or Unviersity of Waterloo. There was actuallyl national outcry here recently over a federal MP who bemoaned that university spots in Canada were being swallowed up by an “Asian invasion”.

    Of a total population of about 31 million, Chinese now number close to 1.1 million and South Asians about 0.9 million. There are few Blacks (in relation to the American or British Black population) and hardly any Latinos. The link to the Statistics Canada Census Bureau is below.

    http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/products/standard/themes/RetrieveProductTable.cfm?Temporal=2001&PID=62912&APATH=3&GID=431515&METH=1&PTYPE=55440&THEME=44&FOCUS=0&AID=0&PLACENAME=0&PROVINCE=0&SEARCH=0&GC=99&GK=NA&VID=0&FL=0&RL=0&FREE=0

    I just read in the last American census that Hispanics have now surpassed African-Americans as the largest minority group. This means that 25% of America is now Black/Latino. If immigration is the future, this could pose some deep and unsettling problems for our neighbours to the south. If America’s progress becomes stunted by a growing population of underperforming minorities, then America may very well soon be overtaken by nations that attract and accept industrious East and South Asians, such as Canada and Australia.

  3. Sen wrote:
    “If America’s progress becomes stunted by a growing population of underperforming minorities, then America may very well soon be overtaken by nations that attract and accept industrious East and South Asians, such as Canada and Australia. “

    I am not denying that this is plausible. However, there are so many factors that will play a role in a nation’s future economic productivity, it makes it difficult to say exactly what will actually occur. For instance, both of the countries you cite (to my knowledge) have below replacement levels for their White populations.

    So, despite the US also losing a disproportionate amt of white people, it may be that there is still enough intellectual capital to sustain our economy relative to the rest of the world. Due to the many social and economic freedoms found here, I can still see the elite S & E Asian immigrants choosing the US as their first priority for a new home. This may be enough 20-40 ys from now to compensate for the numerical decline of the majority.

    I’ve read that Hispanics have an IQ between Whites and Blacks. So, finally, if this becomes a more Latin nation and assuming there is a non- trivial/ significant genetic component to ‘g’, will this addition to the population really adversely affect this nation’s output to the degree some suggest? Somebody has to be the mayor, the doctor, the lawyer … etc. If there aren’t enough White people to do it, the job may go to a Latin immigrant’s son/ daughter. It is plausible that these individuals will still be competitive enough to do the task and sustain this nation’s productivity.

    IMO, the biggest threat to this hypothesis comes not from Canada, Australia or the EU becoming more productive than us- but China (1 billion people with IQ of about 100 or so) losing its governmental restraints and unleashing itself upon the world. Even at below replacement fertility levels, it has so much population momentum to keep a large, high IQ population for decades.

  4. Canada has experienced a “Brain Drain” to the US. Many of our best and brightest(and most distinguished)go to the US. I read the data on this a few years ago and the counter arguments as well. The counter arguments against a “Brain Drain” (put out by our current Prime Minister)were not convincing and polictically motivated. If anyone has a link to a site that covers this topic, please post it. I suspect “The Fraser Institute” would have the info, but I’m kind of busy right now and haven’t the time to search for it.

    It seems the US has always been able to attract the “Einsteins” and Von Brauns of the world in addition to keeping their home grown talent. I think this would be sufficient to keep America ahead of the other G7 countries. Most of my former classmates, including me, would jump at a chance to work in the US. Those that had a chance, have already done so.

  5. The other question, one which is an obvious one but is way too un-hip to come up in these discussions (“thaaaatt agaaaaaiin? get hip, man!”) is why the U.S. and Canada are not replacing their white populations. It is due at least in large part to federal government policies, such as tax policies and other socially disastrous ones, which could be reversed in the twinkling of an eye but for purely political obstacles. China, India, Japan, Mexico and other nations too numerous to mention refuse immigration. Only Western Europe and the Anglosphere are expected to continue to commit ethno-cultural suicide through the combination of the government-mandated stifling of native birth-rates on the one hand, with excessive levels of incompatible immigration together with a policy of “preferred minorities” (which applies to immigrants the minute they get off the plane) on the other. (It’s extremely un-hip to bring this stuff up, I know.)

  6. Unadorned -
    what government policies are you thinking of that stifle birth rates? Seems to me it’s mostly a side effect of affluence and cultural priorities (if you want to see some really stifled birth rates, look at Italy…).
    But that aside, I’m always bemused when I see this notion that white culture or the white race are somehow committing suicide or in danger of extinction (e.g. Buchanan ‘The Death of the West’). Numbering a billion or so, having conquered three and a half continents, possessing thousands of nuclear weapons, well-represented at the forefront of nearly every field of human endeavor… through what strange mirror are you looking when you see us imperiled? Maybe you should look at the Inuit, or the native peoples of America and Australia, for some perspective on what it means to have your culture and people driven towards extinction. Seems that the garment of victimhood fits us rather poorly, indeed!
    None of this means that I favor unlimited immigration. I just find the wailing and gnashing of teeth on the nativist side rather overdone…

  7. Bbartlog, no one’s talking about white victimhood, since it’s the whites who are doing it to themselves (unless the victims be the working-class whites who don’t like what’s going on but aren’t given any chance by the élites to protest it through, let’s say, a binding referendum — in which open borders would be soundly defeated, as everyone knows).

    I assume your non-support of the Bush-Fox Administration’s policy of infinite incompatible immigration into the United States, then, is based purely on, what … economic grounds such as the driving-down of unskilled wages (and in many cases, skilled wages as well, as in the fully-documented case of the U.S. meat-cutting industry)? That’s perfectly valid, if it is — I’m just curious about the grounds on which you oppose infinite immigration.

  8. I highly doubt that government policy is to blame for low white birthrates – in fact, I seem to remember reading about some attempts in European countries to subsidize births, which are having virtually no effect. The fact is, affluent white women would rather pursue careers than have kids, and if they do have kids, they don’t want more than 1 or 2. In fact, the current culture disapproves if they have more.

    A mere passing or repealing of a few laws won’t do anything. What has to happen is a fundamental shift in culture, back toward a patriarchcal family-based system. I don’t see any sign of this happening, but I could be wrong – shifts of this sort are virtually impossible to predict. No one in 1963 could have predicted the shift in societies basic morality that happened in the next 7 years. There are signs that 9/11 has started a similar kind of shift, but who knows where it will end up?

  9. i agree it is more complicated than government incentives, spain’s low birthrates are a recent thing. also, many third world countries have seen amazing drops without cocomittant economic grains & or change in policy.

  10. Reasons for opposing unlimited immigration:

    1) The economic reasons that you mention are not that compelling to me – obviously the benefits accrue to the holders of capital [e.g. the owners of the meatpacking company] while the costs are borne by those who provide the labor; but while the policy is functionally regressive there might still be an argument for overall economic benefits. In the case of highly skilled immigrants, the competing locals whose wages are driven down are already in the upper middle classes, so that the effect is not so regressive. But I assume you are thinking more of hispanic immigration.
    2) More compelling to me: in a community (whether a town or an entire nation) there is always some communal investment in infrastructure, through taxes or simply the work of the people. This can be regarded as the joint property of the natives, and there is no reason they should be expected to share it with someone who has not paid their share of the costs, unless they are given some reason to do so. This is the primary reason why I would prefer to restrict immigration to those who seem likely to provide a large benefit to the nation, and not just an additional pair of unskilled hands.

  11. I’m not into the actual academic literature of what makes women have more or fewer babies, except it is my impression that this domain of study as the question might apply to whites (instead of to black teen welfare moms, or whatever — an area which has been studied galore) has been neglected. My opinions are, to me, common-sense conclusions based on simple observation of the world around me, including my personal first-hand knowledge of what clearly are some of the factors motivating other couples’ choices in this regard — couples one spouse whereof I am in contact with single every day. One factor certainly is disposable income, which implicates federal tax policy — and, in the same sense in which “money is fungible,” this factor is indirectly equivalent to others which have major bearing on the issue, such as the partly high-tax-driven obligation on many married women to work for wages outside the home (making theirs into a two-earner couple very often against the wife’s preference), an obligation which thwarts for many the actualisation of plans for having babies, or plans for having more of them where they already have one or a few, and would like more. Other factors related directly or indirectly to the financial/birth-rate/federal-government-policy nexus include governmental policies, ultimately the fault of the feds, which have so destroyed the quality of public schools in this country that a couple planning to start — or to increase the size of — their family must also, in addition to other financial burdens, anticipate the cost of private elementary and high-schools for their offspring, and so on. These sorts of birth-rate-lowering influences springing ultimately from fed policy comprise a long list of culprits. Note these influences affect the established population more than the immigrant one. Not enough research has been done in this specific domain, which cries out to be studied and ought not to be a hard subject — it would probably be as hard as picking up gold nuggets off the ground, for some grad student who needs to augment his CV. This paper http://dieoff.org/page56.htm mentions the withholding of government subsidies as one birth-rate lowering factor. Clearly, the consequences of certain tax policies are the effective equivalent of “withholding subsidies,” though “subsidies” be not in involved. Von Mises and many others have shown how government has total control over the inflation rate and constantly fine tunes it for its own benefit. I believe it is self-evident that government also controls the birth rate and has within its power its fine-tuning.

  12. bbartlog,getting knocked down to a lower socio-economic level would strike most ppl as extremely regressive.The next-big-thing in amrican politics is going to be the white identity movement,blue collars pissed about the meat packing industry and white collars pissed about H1-B abuse in hi-tech,the closing of hospitals due to the flood of illegals,hefty tax increases to support them,etc.

    -R,perhaps you can answer this,if California (for example)has a basically mexican population,why would it _not_soon look like the rest of mexico?Economic,social,political?What reason is there to presume that a fast shrinking white population could sustain Ca. as it is?Are there enough asians to pick up the slack or would they also rebel at being second class tax serfs?
    My opinion,Ca. has peaked ,we will see it grow progressively poorer as skilled wealth producers leave.

  13. actually M-the black & white working class is leaving california. the model seems to be young professionals living in the cities and upper-middle class families in gated/exclusive communities in a sea of brown menial help rather than more expensive and often unionized american workers. the model is latin america surely, but the economic productivity of the state might not suffer, but resemble more the profile of a fast developing nation rather than a mature country with few inputs to put in….

  14. Both government policy and cultural values, which are mutually supportive, and technological and economic progress, which is to a large degree autonomous, all contribute to low fertility. Low fertility amongst whites – or East Asian or any other high performing cognitive group – is not inevitable. Prosperous whites like the Mormons have a fertility rate well above replacement.

    As for the comment regarding the insignificance of white extinction, and the comparison with Aborigines and Intuits, the two later are the result of Paleolithic cultures that tragically but inevitably could not remain unchanged after white settlement, and especially with the aborigines, cognitively incapable of competing or adapting. I agree with Unadorned that whites themselves are committing cultural suicide, and this is only not a concern only if one has a nihilistic utilitarian view of culture. Unlike the Inuit and especially the aboriginal cultural demise, the white decline is not an inevitable and tragic clash between an advanced and primitive culture, but an ideological deconstruction of the Western racial and cultural identity through immigration and other means. Only the west has this contempt for its own culture, race and existence.

    I do think that Australia and Canada are in a better position than the US or Europe precisely because a lot of their immigrants are high IQ East Asians and Indians, with a low fertility rate not much different to the white majority.

    Although there is a lot of skilled immigration at present into the US, at some point in the future this may be reversed and US whites, and perhaps Asians, like South Africans at present, will migrate to Canada and especially Australia.

  15. “-R,perhaps you can answer this,if California (for example)has a basically mexican population,why would it _not_soon look like the rest of mexico?Economic,social,political?What reason is there to presume that a fast shrinking white population could sustain Ca. as it is?Are there enough asians to pick up the slack or would they also rebel at being second class tax serfs?
    My opinion,Ca. has peaked ,we will see it grow progressively poorer as skilled wealth producers leave.”

    Well, I think that Mexico has more endemic problems than the US including an educational system that is far worse, greater govt corruption and lingering problems with trying to privatize many state run enterprises that have hampered serious reforms. I don’t pretend to be an expert in this area, but this is my (albeit) limited understanding.

    The US would effectively have to support the poverty the illegal immigrants bring- with the hope that in a better environment their kids or grandkids could rise to be more productive than their ancestors.

    This isn’t to say that I support the rampant illegal immigration going on now. However, I just realistically don’t think Steve Sailer’s wall is going to be put up; I don’t think we will ever be able to muster our already meek politicians to deport illegal immigrants or their families. Our Republican president is already being cowed to temper his statements regarding AA. Is this the same Republican Party you think will put up a wall to prevent illegal immigration? Also remember, the US born babies of illegals are citizens- making it hard to deport their Moms/Dads.

    Moreover, I haven’t heard an effective answer for what to do about the numerical decline of Whites. We can always blame illegal immigration, but without addressing this issue, this country will still be facing serious economic problems with or without Mexicans coming here.

    The only way to preserve the cultural and economic way of life in America as we know it today, is for White people to start pumping kids out. I added the cultural part to this sentence b/c I think that we could easily preserve our economic way of life by allowing massive immigration of industious S/E Asians.

    Secondly, what do you think is going to happen to other nations as their native high IQ groups decline numerically? Examples, Japan, Taiwan, almost every EU country, Canada, and Australia…

    I am suggesting that in light of what is happening around the world with high IQ groups in numerical decline, our problems must be assesed relative to other countries’s problems. Maybe, in light of this, we will still be in better shape than any other country- as I said China is the big question mark, however.

  16. A little-mentioned reason for the decline in the white birthrate is our divorce culture. When wives anticipate, consciously or not, that they will one day be single mothers, they have fewer children than they otherwise would because they know that while raising two kids on their own would be difficult, raising four without a husband would be impossible. No-fault divorce must be reformed if American whites are expected to produce wealth and legitimate children.

  17. One issue about the original comment that started the whole thing off: I don’t see the insult to Condaleeza Rice. Lieberman was just repeating what she had said on the same show:

    Here’s a quote from that well known pinko rag the Washington Times.

    Miss Rice, the highest-ranking black in the White House, said she supports Mr. Bush’s decision to file a brief in opposition to Michigan’s program. She also acknowledged that there are “problems” with Michigan’s selection policy and cited the points system.
    But she said she believes it is important to consider race in the admissions process, if race-neutral means don’t achieve diversity.
    “I have said that I benefited at Stanford University from the fact they were trying to diversify their faculty,” Miss Rice, a former Stanford provost, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think there is nothing wrong with that in the United States. It does not mean that one has to go to people of lower quality.”

    Razib, your comment on Lieberman’s statement — as quoted — is a complete misreading of what he said on that show.

    What you quoted in bold: “In fact, Mr. Lieberman insisted, “it is exactly programs like the Michigan program that helped a star like Condi Rice get to where she is today.”

    Your comment: “Does Lieberman assume that society is so racist that no competent black American could reach the commanding heights of success and prestige without affirmative action?”

    You seem to have skipped over the word “helped”. You seem to have taken his specific statement about Rice — an echo of her own sentiments — as a hostile statement about the capabilities about all black Americans.

    I’m open to changing my mind about AA, but I hate getting distracted by sloppy or deliberately deceptive arguments. So which was it?

  18. Of course, the wild card in all this is the likely effect of genetic engineering and/or mental enhancement. Raising the average IQ of all groups to, say, 130 (or beyond – if you take the prospects of the singularity seriously, we could be looking at forms of intellegence that we literally can’t conceive of…) would solve a lot of problems. (It would most likely create a lot of problems, as well, but such is life…)

  19. To me, I think this issue comes down to some key issues:

    1) Will a high IQ country be better off with low birthrates of its native pop. and relatively limited immigration (even if it’s skilled)?

    2) Will a high IQ country be better off with low bithrates of its native pop. and high levels of immigration?

    I think the answer needs to take into account whether the immigrant groups are capable of assimilating culturally or not.

    In the EU, the answer is simple as the new immigrants and, likely, their progeny seem to be less amenable to assimilation. This is a disaster in the making.

    In America, I feel, for the reasons I’ve expounded upon previously, the future may be much more hopeful.

    The ideal solution to preserve the culture and economy of a high IQ country is for the native pop. to have adequate fertility levels to sustain itself. Any other option is obviously a less than ideal solution for accomplishing those ends.

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