”Is Steve Sailer A Racist?”
05/19/2024
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A reader writes:

Is Steve Sailer a Racist?

If Steve Sailer is a racist, then so is Thomas Sowell, the legendary American economist, social philosopher, and political commentator. In 1983, when Steve was still early in his marketing career, Sowell published The Economics and Politics of Race. In it he asked and answered the following question: When various ethnic groups move to places far from their home soil, do the results they achieve in their new homes mostly represent how well they are treated by their hosts, or by traits and behaviors they bring with them from the old country? The answer, backed by extensive research and analysis, was the latter. Wherever the Chinese go, or Ashkenazi Jews, or Germans, or Sub-Saharan Africans, or Japanese, they take with them traits and behaviors that decide how their lives will unfold in their new home, regardless of whether they are well-treated there or not (absent force majeure, such as slavery). Long before Steve Sailer, Sowell was noticing truths about human nature that society, then as now, was very uncomfortable hearing. Steve writes in that tradition.

But what is a racist, anyway? I think that the best analog to racism is caste. In a caste system, everyone has a permanent distinguishing qualitative character in relation to others—a superiority or inferiority, or simply a station in life—that arises exclusively from his or her parents’ caste. This character cannot be proven or disproven by any measurement or other observation, and so it is irrefutable. One can neither rise nor fall in social standing by dint of individual merit or its lack. Caste is an indelible mark. Writ large over entire ethnic groups this system of understanding human nature is what justifiably can be called racism.

The key difference between a racist and a non-racist is that the latter views caste as a fiction that disregards the reality of individual merit and is therefore unjust. Racism isn’t a matter of malice. It’s a matter of not recognizing individuals as such.

The window created by this definition of racism is pretty small, and should be, because good people like Dr. Sowell and Steve Sailer should be free to make honest observations about the human world around them without being called names.

It is important to distinguish broad-brush statements (“all X are Y”) and statements of tendency (“X’s are on average more Y than most”). The former is typical of racism. The latter isn’t. When discussions of ethnicity come up, the challenge for many listeners and readers is to accept that different groups (including sexes, actually) really do have many measurably different traits on average, and these differences are often largely out of their control. Steve thinks, talks, and writes in the language of these tendencies. And with benevolence, not malice.

Is Steve Sailer a racist? No. And you, dear reader, probably aren’t either.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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