Saturday, March 19, 2005

I AM A RACIST. AND SO ARE YOU

I am being accused of racism, by someone called Alex Harrowell at the "Euroblog Review". Check out his comments here

If you can't be bothered to read his drear and humourless remarks (and I don't blame you) the gist of his accusations rest on my outrageous Holocaust riff of last month, and my calling an anonymous blog-commenter a 'snaggle-toothed, football-faced, Metallica-guitarist-haired kike scriptwriter'.

I can defend myself on both counts. For a specific defense of the Holocaust riff see the post that followed the Holocaust thing. As for the kike remark, Alex Harrowell has obviously failed to see the personal venom in my words. They are aimed at one of my best friends, Sacha Gervasi, as it was he (as I well knew) who left the derisively sarcastic comments on my blog. The whole point of my remarks is their truth. Sacha Gervasi IS a snaggle-toothed, football-faced, Metallica-guitarist-haired kike scriptwriter, and a very successful one at that (he wrote The Terminal). And as a close friend of his I feel free to point this out. Just as he feels free to call me 'a cunt with a hat' and 'a little known Cornish novelist with a nodule'. In other words, this is how Sacha and I talk to each other, we roundly abuse each other and it means nothing. That's how mates talk. It's not racism, it's mutually amusing badinage.

So Alex Harrowell is wrong, as well as being a leftie nerd. Nonetheless his remarks have got me thinking about myself, and my attitudes. And I have come to the conclusion that I am indeed a racist. And so are you.

Before you all ask for my blog to be closed down, let me explain.

I hate racism. I abhor it. Whenever I hear someone being openly racist in the street (usually to a black traffic warden) I feel nauseous, almost dizzy. The social ugliness of racism, the sheer bad manners, is enough for me to abjure it. But I also hate the injustice and unfairness of racism, just as I shudder and get angry at open snobbery. Racism and snobbery are both ways of treating people badly simply because of their birth circumstances. Racism and snobbery are grotesque and illogical and they suck.

Yet years of maundering self analysis (I have a lot of spare time) have also taught me the melancholy truth - that I am racist, too.

This comes in two forms. First, I am intellectually intrigued by scientific ideas about race. Over the past decade I have written a number of articles about ethnicity, genetics, IQ (and all that). My motives in writing these pieces might be suspect in themselves (actually I think I write them just to annoy my Left wing friends. And enemies), nonetheless they did oblige me to read dozens of thick text books on these subjects, written by scientists of all political persuasions, and this research in turn has led me to certain conclusions.

Here's a few. I believe races do exist - that there are measurable genetic differences that allow us talk of 'extended families', of 'peoples' (however blurred at the edges). Recent advances in medicine (hypertension drugs aimed at black people, for example) are proving this.

More concretely, and much more contentiously, I believe there are PROBABLY differences in AVERAGE IQ between the races. Though I know many scientists also reject this. Another thing I have come to believe is that things like personality and criminality MIGHT be complexly linked to race. Chinese people are relatively passive, scrupulous at parenting and commit little crime, black people tend to be more extrovert, more impulsive, and less attentive as parents; there is a theory that explains all this. It's called the r/K evolutionary theory, and it's very controversial and it's all to do with hormones and reproductive strategies etc - but to me it makes some sense.

Here is where my scientific interest in 'race' shades into something approaching real 'racism'.

I am happy to defend my scientific beliefs. I don't think humanity is going to get very far if we all go around lying to each other about something as fundamental as genetics. I am confident that science will prove my intimations right in the next few decades; I am also relaxed about being proved wrong - that's science. I also strongly divide my ethical and moral beliefs from this scientific stuff - i.e. I believe that human beings are valuable because they are human, not because of the particular position of genetic code in their DNA. I firmly and totally believe we should treat each other with equal respect, as brothers. This is partly because I believe in God - and God won't let you do anything else. He's funny like that.

Yet there are moments when my scientific opinions lead me into something much uglier. I now have a theory that, to me at least, explains some troubling sociological truths (like black criminality. I mean I just don't buy the idea that black people commit more crime solely because of white racism. Nor do I believe that blacks are inherently more wicked. Do you?). But sometimes I find these theories reinforcing an underlying prejudice.

The other day my fiancee was mugged (not badly). I asked her the colour of her assailant. Black, she said. I nodded quietly, but inside me there was a small nasty voice saying - 'there, I told you so, blacks are genetically more impulsive- more criminal!' It was pure prejudice, nothing to do with sociological insight.

And this is where we come to the real racism that seems to inhabit my overstuffed head. Somewhere deep down in me lurks a bigot, a skinhead, a Klansman. He makes an appearance when I'm stressed or over-excited or, for instance, when I am driving. If someone cuts me up in the street - and that person is black - a stream of unspoken racist abuse can be triggered in my mind ('stupid black bastard why don't you..' etc etc).

I realised this about myself years ago. I also realised, over the years, that I am not alone. Close observation of my friends, of acquaintances, of anyone, has taught me that we are ALL THE SAME. I strongly believe that we are all racist, in some way, that the skinhead lurks in all of us. There is, it seems, a base, subconsious bigotry hard wired into all humans - hard wired into black people, white people, Scottish people, Japanese people, Eskimaux, you name it.

And there is science to back this up. Racism makes sense in evolutionary terms, for a start - wariness of the outgroup, the potentially antagonistic outsider, was probably a beneficial fear in caveman days. And one of the best ways of spotting the outsider must have been skin colour. Similarly, studies have shown that babies react from an early age to differently coloured faces. Hence our instinctive reactions, especially when driving (there have been studies that have shown that driving involves deep, old, reptilian structures in the brain; hence perhaps our atavistic aggression when we climb behind the wheel).

But we don't really need science to tell us that we are all racist. It's blatant, everywhere, albeit in different forms. Many of my leftwing friends are racist about Americans, for instance. They claim their feelings are justifiable because Americans have power (unlike, say, blacks or Muslims), but there's no doubting what is in their minds when you hear them spewing on about 'fat, stupid Yanks'. It's not the American capitalist system they subconsciously loathe, its Americans themselves. Its Jo Dole in Des Moines, it's individuals. Its racism.

Similarly with anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, hatred of Germans, etc etc. How many people can you name who don't harbour any of these bigotries in any form whatsoever? Really? Think again. What about people who hate their own country? I think many bien pensant pro-Europeans in the United Kingdom fall into this category. Somewhere deep down they hate themselves, they are ashamed. So they try to change their own identity, by changing the identity of their country. Have a long chat with a British pro-European, get her drunk, then ask her what she really thinks about the working classes of her own country (you can do this by asking them about referendums). Cue: bile. These people are the saddest racists of all.

So we are all racist? I fear it's true. I think it's just part of the human condition, like flatulence. Indeed the analogy with flatulence is quite good. Farting is something we all indulge in when we are alone, or with old friends, but it's simply bad manners to let rip right in someone's face. This is where political correctness has, to my mind, done good (and I usually don't say that). PC has taught us the sheer discourtesy that racism constitutes - the social effrontery, the rudeness. Anyone shouting 'nigger' in the street is now regarded as an oik, a tosser, a lout. And rightly so.

If all this makes me sound like I am treating racism lightly, believe me I'm not. I've been to Auschwitz. I know what racism can do. But it's because I know what racism can do that I believe we have to be honest about it. And part of that honesty might be admitting: Yes, we are all a little racist (some a lot), now let's move on, now let's deal with it.

Because I don't think this is a hopeless situation. I think we are put on this earth to try and rise above our instinctive ways. And we can; and we are. As Martin Amis put it: 'I am less racist than my father, and my children will be less racist than me.'

One final thought. I have come to the conclusion that I am probably less racist than most people. This may seem paradoxical when I have just admitted to being a stupid racist, but, the thing is - at least I HAVE thought about it. At least I have fessed up (if only to myself, and now to you). Put it another way: I have drained the gastank of my mind and looked at the silt at the bottom. OK, it's not pretty, but neither is it Nazi. And I'm working on myself. Can you say the same? Have you ever truly analysed your real feelings? Eh, Mr Alex 'Euroblog' Harrowell? Fucking Welsh git.*

*Only joking. I have no idea if he's Welsh.

3 comments:

Caz said...

More concretely, and much more contentiously, I believe there are PROBABLY differences in AVERAGE IQ between the races. That, on average, Jews are smarter than whites who are smarter than blacks.

IQ is such an unreliable tool, though, Sean, and only identifies a portion of an individual's "smarts," that being one's inclinations towards pure academic understandings. And variant nationalities have varying degrees of accessibility and depth to academic pursuit. Which would skew the results; there can be no pure measure through IQ. Nevermind that IQ is a very Western tool. And what about EQ and AQ? The triangulate reveals a person's whole scope, as it were.

But we don't really need science to tell us that we are all racist. It's blatant, everywhere, albeit in different forms. Many of my leftwing friends are racist about Americans, for instance. They claim their feelings are justifiable because Americans have power (unlike, say, blacks or Muslims), but there's no doubting what is in their minds when you hear them spewing on about 'fat, stupid Yanks'. It's not the American capitalist system they subconsciously loathe, its Americans themselves. Its Jo Dole in Des Moines, it's individuals. Its racism.

I think many bien pensant pro-Europeans in the United Kingdom fall into this category. Somewhere deep down they hate themselves, they are ashamed. So they try to change their own identity, by changing the identity of their country. Have a long chat with a British pro-European, get her drunk, then ask her what she really thinks about the working classes of her own country (you can do this by asking them about referendums). Cue: bile. These people are the saddest racists of all.

Hmmmm. That all sounds more akin to elitism than racism, no? If you're referring to elitist attitudes and persuasions, I'll agree with you that all of us hold a measure of that.

As for racism, as it is in demonstration, it comes from our nurture more than our nature, IMHO. Attitudes are developed by input, not output... leastways, that's what I think.

And I hate this edit box, because I can't see your whole post, nor can I see what I've typed beyond the last several lines. Most irritating.

sean said...

Fair points Caz. Though I disagree with you about pro-Europeans just being elitist. You probly haven't met many of these otiose dudes, being Canadian and all. But they aren't just snobbish, they don't just sneer - they actively HATE the white British working classes, the same way racists hate other races. Why are they like this? Possibly because they were themselves until very recently white British working class. Hope the icicles are thawing in Kitchener. x

Anonymous said...

Do you really have to be a dick to be pro-europe?!

I take the long view with these things, and in 500 years i find it kind of inconceivable that Earth is not going to be more united than it is now.

Just because you've met a lot of knobs who think something, doesn't mean there aren't other reasons for thinking that. And you do seem to hang out with a fair few tossers.