Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Are you a racist?
Been thinking about being a racist. Not whether I should become one, but whether I am one. Part of the problem is that "racist" is a created category, like noir movies, and not a category that is inherent in existence. Thus, a racist is what the definers say it is. F'rinstance, there might not even be such a thing as race according to some thinkers. Humans are so closely linked genetically that suggesting some sort of division based on physical characteristics is specious. There is some merit to this. On the other hand, we are nearly identical to chimps genetically, but I wouldn't want my daughter to marry one. If the random hand of evolution has shaped some people with noses different from mine, and color different from mine, I am willing to accept that it has also shaped people with brains different from mine. Would that make me a racist? And that's the crunch. For although it is allowable to talk about genetic differences in color and dentition (because you can't ignore them), it is verboten to even breathe that there might be genetically determined differences in intellectual or spiritual makeup. This is an article of faith, not an empirically derived, data-driven stance. Any genetic difference in any intellectual capacity whatever (even a heightened ability in spatial consciousness) always carries with it the possibility that some people are (gasp) better than others. But what if it's true? What if some genetic groups are better at finding their way in the wilderness than others? What do we do if it's so? And does considering the possibility make me a racist?