Letter to the Editor: Arguing with Racists
The transformation of the Eugenics Education Society into the Galton Institute has not been as radical as the “political correction” of the Royal Anthropological Institute, let alone the Institute of Race Relations. Nevertheless, the latest issue of The Galton Review carries a surprisingly naïve endorsement of Adam Rutherford’s How to Argue with a Racist (2020), by Emeritus Professor Dallas Swallow of UCL, written with the BLM “demonstrations” in mind. It repeats the evasive semantic mantra that the “very concept” of “race” is a genetic “fallacy”, and states that every individual currently alive on earth shares ancestors in common with “all others” as recently as the 14th century.
Contextual clarity regarding umbrella words like “racism” and “racists” is urgently required, especially in view of a currently politicised focus on “definitions” confining responsibility to white-skinned people. The disputable allegation that “racial classification” arose as a superstructural “legitimisation” of Western imperialism is linked to the recent denunciation of (among others) James Watson, Tatu Vanhanen, Vincent Sarich, Garrett Hardin, Cyril Darlington, Carleton Coon, John Baker, Ruggles Gates, Ellsworth Huntington, Ronald Fisher, Joseph Deniker, Francis Galton, Thomas Malthus, Carl Linnaeus – and inevitably (notwithstanding his anti-slavery opinions) Charles Darwin himself.
The interfertile human species is composed of anatomically distinguishable clusters, for which the term “ethnic taxa” is sometimes preferred. Their characteristics and origins remain matters of legitimate research, which increasingly yield information for benign applications, from medical treatment to crime reduction. Both Adam Rutherford and Ewan Birney have specified local examples of genetic adaptation. Biological difference is presented in altitude accommodation by Andeans and Tibetans. Questions remain regarding the major population lineages in terms of natural and social selection, niche isolation and occasional hybridisation.
For several quite independent reflections, see Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Genes, Peoples and Languages (2001); Milford Wolpoff & Rachel Caspari, Race and Human Evolution (2002); Richard Dawkins & Yan Wong, The Ancestor’s Tale (2017); and David Reich, “How genetics is changing our understanding of ‘race’,” NY Times, March 23, 2018. Anyone interested in sampling the broadest range of material currently castigated as “scientific racism” should consult, at least: (1) Stanley M. Garn, Human Races (1971 ed); (2) Paul Colinvaux, The Fates of Nations: A Biological Theory of History (1980); (3) Nicholas Wade, Before the Dawn (2007); (4) J. H. Mielke, L. W. Konigsberg & J. H. Relethford, Human Biological Variation (2010 ed); (5) Michael Levin, Why Race Matters (2016 ed); and (6) Charles Murray, Human Diversity: The biology of gender, race, and class (2020).
History, from ancient Judea to modern Japan, is replete with ethnic conflict and with notions of racial supremacy, colonisation, genocide and bondage. Sadly, there is little point in arguing with supporters of “equality”, disruptive “diversity” and “inclusion”, least of all in their “direct action” phase of iconoclasm, looting and arson.
David Ashton, 15th September 2020