A Familiar Scene And An All-Too-Familiar Question: The Supreme Court Returns To The Question Of Race [UPDATED]

The U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court
This morning I will be in front of the Supreme Court to discuss the expected rulings on same-sex marriage, voting rights, and racial diversity in college admissions.  It is the last ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas Austin that brings back many personal memories for me.  I will be with Jake Tapper giving legal analysis from virtually the identical place I was standing in 1977 when Regents of the University of California v. Bakke was argued before the Court.  I was a 16 year old congressional page during the large protests for and against affirnative action.  I remember walking out of the House of Representatives where I was a leadership page and getting swept away by the crowds.  I found a spot near today’s CNN site to watch this passionate display of free speech.  What is most striking is that 36 years later little has truly been resolved in how race can be considered by universities — or the struggle of the Court to find a consistent approach to the question. Update below: The Court ruled 7-1 to impose a higher standard for review under strict scrutiny.
With Fisher, the Supreme Court will again face the question of the use of race in higher education. It is question that the Court failed to definitively answer in 1978 and then again in 2003. Now in 2013, Fisher v. University of Texas Austin could create a bright-line rule that bars the use of race as a factor . . . or not.While the Court has repeatedly allowed the limited use of race for the purposes of achieving diversity in classes, the record of these programs suggests that this one factor is difficult to confine and tends to overwhelm other considerations. The Court now appears to have the votes to adopt a bright-line rule that ends decades of experimentation with this controversial factor.

While many defend race-conscious admissions in terms of the need for affirmative action to correct historic discrimination, the Supreme Court barred such affirmative action in 1978 in Bakke. Justice Lewis Powell allowed for only a limited use of race for the purpose of achieving “diversity” in classes. Notably, in Bakke, the Medical School at the University of California at Davis had a more modest program over all by setting aside 16 of the 100 seats for “Blacks,” “Chicanos,” “Asians,” and “American Indians.” Those slots were justified as a matter of diversity, but found unconstitutional by the Court. However, the Court was deeply fractured. Five justices Powell and the plurality found that Bakke had to be admitted and that the weight given race was unconstitutional.

The exception however soon swallowed the rule as schools fought to maintain levels of minority students as a diversity rather than an affirmative action program. Many academics privately admit that the real purpose of these programs remains the original affirmative action rationale to ensure greater numbers of minorities in higher education.

The fact that the case continues to be referred to as the “affirmative action case” shows how little has changed since Bakke when the Court supposedly closed the door on affirmative action in admissions. By allowing race to still be used for diversity, educators sought to achieve the same numerical goals as a matter of diversity and achieving a racial “critical mass.”

I am convinced that my classes are greatly improved from an educational perspective by a more racially diverse class of students. I also see similar benefits from diversity in religion and socio-economic backgrounds. Moreover, race is not always a good criteria for bringing in different social and cultural experiences since many minority students come from elite schools and backgrounds.

The main concern however remains the natural gravitation of diversity programs into de facto quota systems. These cases reflect a tendency to weigh race more and more heavily to achieve greater numbers of minority students rather than spend the money and time to attract more competitive minority students.

The gap in scores among students at Texas will be at the heart of this case. The Texas data on the freshmen (not admitted under the Top Ten Percent Law) show that Asian students had a mean SAT score of 467 points and white students a mean of 390 points above the mean for black students (on a maximum score of 2400). This meant that Asian students scored in the 93rd percentile and whites in the 80th percentile nationally while black students scored in the 52nd percentile. These scores are a verboten subject among academics since they highlight the unfairness to students rejected with much higher scores due to their race.

With race-conscious systems, the concern is that white students are denied any ability to compete on this criteria for admission and must overcome the weight given to it with even higher scores. The discomfort with race-based criteria in educational admissions is reflected on the Court itself. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court divided 5-4 on the question in upholding the admissions criteria for Michigan Law School. However, even the author of the 2003 majority opinion, Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, stated that she did not believe the use of race would be acceptable for more than a couple decades more. The Court ruled that it “expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.” O’Connor’s statement was ridiculed by other justices (and others) since the constitutionality of affirmative action should not have an expiration date like one-percent milk. Yet, even under O’Connor’s view, affirmative action would only have an expected life of roughly 15 more years of constitutionality.

What is interesting is that the University of Texas-Austin achieved remarkable levels of minority students under the earlier race-neutral system of admissions. In the year before the school changed to a race-conscious system, Hispanic and African American students constituted a total 21.4% of the entering freshman class. Asian students made up another roughly 18% of the class. This impressive success was achieved in large part by the Texas legislature enacting the 10% Law, which required the University of Texas to admit all Texas high school seniors ranking in the top 10% of their classes. That law not only achieved racial diversity but geographic and economic diversity at the university. For those of us uneasy with the use of race-conscious criteria, that record was encouraging and suggested that it is indeed possible to achieve considerable diversity without the use of race.

However, the university said that this roughly 40% minority rate was not sufficient because it wanted to see a greater percentage in individual programs and classes – requiring an even higher percentage. The school turned back to race-conscious admissions and the federal appellate court upheld the change. The race conscious rules are also likely to result in further discrimination on the basis of race. For example, while Asian Americans are indeed a minority and presumably would bring diversity to a class, they outperform blacks and Hispanics in scores by a significant degree. Their scores are also higher than white students. Thus, there is a growing trend to count the race of Asian students against their admission at some universities. Thus, if you are white or Asian, your performance in school and tests may be effectively negated by the color of your skin.

Under the current system, a student’s race is displayed on the front of their application. Significant numbers of minorities are still admitted under the Top 10 Percent law, but minority students are then given a preference if they do not make that cut based on their race. The result has been to increase minority admissions to over 50 percent of the entering class at UT. The goal and result are the same as the pre-Bakke affirmative action programs. Indeed, in a statement that likely had his lawyers wincing, the UT’s President proudly announced that his incoming classes achievement of 52 percent minority students would finally “reflect[] the changing demographics of the state” – an apparent reference to the affirmative action rationale.

Universities were given the opportunity to show how race can be used as a limited factor to achieve diversity. If a majority has finally solidified on the Court, schools would then have to seek diversity (as many law schools do) through scholarships and targeted recruitment. Fisher would become a tale of an opportunity lost and perhaps the start of a new chapter in the struggle of diversity in education.

UPDATE: The Kennedy decision does not rule out the use of race as a factor and appears to continue its support for race elements in diversity. However, it rejects the use of good faith as a showing. Instead, it wants proof that a race-nuetral approach is not possible. That could present a challenge since the top-ten-percent program in Texas achieved a far degree of diversity without using race as a factor.

Here is the ruling: Fisher decision

141 thoughts on “A Familiar Scene And An All-Too-Familiar Question: The Supreme Court Returns To The Question Of Race [UPDATED]

  1. I will bet that Justice Thomas will stay Unreconstructed on this issue in the Texas case. That word means that you as a lawyer or a judge do not agree with the tenants of the Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution passed after the Civil War. That would be the 13th, 14th and 15th. Each of those Amendments stated in a paragraph that Congress can pass legislation to effectuate the constitutional provisions and intent. Uncle Clarence had a Confederate Flag on the wall behind his desk when he was an assistant attorney general for the State of Missouri. It is said that he said that it demonstrated that he was Unreconstructed. This was brought up in his confirmation hearings but Congress was more concerned with his sexual behavior. It is pretty clear to me that Thomas is on the bench and particularly on he Supreme Court because of his race. There is some irony here. I never forget that he replaced Thurgood Marshall. This case on affirmative action in college admissions is not as important as the Voting Rights Act cases coming up. Is not the Shelby County case due this week? Perhaps tomorrow? If I had been asked to argue that case I would have asked the Justices the bubble question. i.e. How many bubbles in a bar of soap? That was the literacy test in some southern counties.

  2. The “human race” is more scientifically accurate than the “white race” or the “black race.”

    So, what is really being litigated is skin color in a social context, a national context.

    The struggle in the litigation and in the congressional lawmaking is with the extreme bias we have exhibited during the slavery holocaust.

    Thus, if you are white or Asian, your performance in school and tests may be effectively negated by the color of your skin.”

    That seems to be a form of reparation, like a class action lawsuit.

  3. I support reality. Whether that makes me a racist or not depends upon what you define as racist.

    To include a minority just because of his race, is just as racist as to exclude a minority because of his race.

    After that consideration, it only properly comes down to a meritocracy, who is the more deserving as an individual.

    If after that consideration we find that on the average Asians score higher than whites, and Ashkenazi Jews score higher than Asians then that is simply a reality we have to live with, and let all the accusations of racism lie where they may go. It should not be a matter of government policy.

  4. Personally, I like an extension of the 10% rule used in Texas: The classes get filled with the top X% they can get. Depending on the quality and size of the school, that may be the top 1%, top 20%, top 50%, whatever.

    If you have room for 1000 incoming freshmen, go through all the applications, offer the top 1000 “confirmed” admittance and the next 1000 “marginal” admittance, with a time limit on their acceptance. If only 800 of the top 1000 confirm (because, say, 200 got better offers elsewhere) then start processing the marginal admittance students that confirmed. When you reach 1000, inform the remaining marginal admittance students ASAP that the slots have been filled.

    As far as state colleges, we can mandate all of this happen on a schedule that gives students a week or so to consider their options and choose their school.

  5. This is a very complex decision and I would have wished that a more distinguished SCOTUS, made up of deeper thinkers would be deciding it. In my opinion we need to look at this issue in the contexts of certain parameters.

    1. Systemic prejudice against people of color is generally rife throughout this country.

    2. Black, Latino and Native American students generally are still confined to segregated schooling via the mechanism of poverty, rather than the overtness of years past.

    3. The implementation of the SCOTUS ruling in Brown v. Board of ED was not only a failure, but directly led to the voucher and Charter School schemes that followed, effectively re-segregating education.

    4. The law of unintended consequences, aided by the “clever” implementation of de-segregation actually increased racial hostility between “races” since only middle and lower middle class schools were affected by the silly busing solution.

    5. Finally the racial divide in this country, while fueled by bigotry, is essentially one of economics and economic opportunity. While there is a minor advantage given to White students from lower economic backgrounds they too ar disadvantages by a country where the economic divide between rich and poor is growing rapidly.

    6. Beyond the purpose of giving children the knowledge needed to assume the citizenship roles of adulthood, education in this country functions primarily as an opportunity for one to have social mobility. Yet in the last 40 years America has become one of the most stratified countries in the Industrial World in terms of lack of social mobility, this despite attempts to assist students coming from poverty.

    In that context this coming decision will have little effect on the issues of race and of poverty. Those issues and the reality that drives them are the important ones. I write this even though I’m aware that those who would end quotas represent a regressive and somewhat bigoted element in our society.

    As to the direct issue of the equity involved in this case I also see a mixed bag. The entire admissions process to higher education is farcical and I illustrate this by legacy programs at Yale, Harvard and the Ivy League. Getting a degree from schools such as this practically guarantee economic success. If Universities already use criteria to the advantage of children of privilege than where is the inequity in giving assistance to children of dis-advantage?
    There will no doubt be some who respond here with the personal complaint that the opportunity of themselves, or someone they know who was white was limited by preferential treatment for someone of color. This happened to me actually during my career. While I was disappointed, I was also aware that in most careers opportunities are given not on the basis of qualification, but via other factors like nepotism. The intellectual disconnect is that there is a myth of this society being open to opportunity for every one if they just work hard enough. The myth is untrue and pernicious because it covers up the reality that connections, or social situation trump hard work and intellectual capacity. That is what really needs to be addressed to attain equity on our society, but we are sidetracked by issues such as this that truly have minor effect in either direction.

  6. Since Fisher was not accepted under the top ten percent as her class rank was below the top 10%, she applied through another program that generally admits students from high schools that do not rank. Fisher’s scores, grades and leadership qualities were not outstanding enough to be admitted through that avenue either so she sued. It is not as if she was an exceptional student that was turned down in favor of a minority. Texas does not have enough quality universities to serve the growing population so the flagship UT Austin is extremely difficult to get in these days.

  7. “After that consideration, it only properly comes down to a meritocracy, who is the more deserving as an individual.”

    Gary T.,

    This would be the ideal I agree. Seriously Gary do you really think a meritocracy currently exists in this country, or that those who really benefit from the lack of a merit system would ever let it be put in place. Granted there are some fields where merit is the rule. Where it isn’t though is in the higher reaches of the corporations that control our economy. For every Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs you quote me (and a strong case can be made that both were advantaged) I will give you two Donald Trumps and David Koch’s. My argument with libertarian philosophy is not that it would be a bad system, in fact I rather like it, but its flaw is that it is a Utopian system that doesn’t take into account the current state of human nature.

  8. “legacy programs at Yale, Harvard and the Ivy League” (Mike S.)

    I agree with the opinions expressed in your post @9:01am and have always refused to take seriously the opinion of any university admitting “legacy” students.

  9. Another unvoiced part of this problem is someone like me. In High School I finished 78th in a class of 93. However, my SAT’s put me in the top percentile and a standardized State test awarded me a full tuition scholarship. I finished so low because I never studied until the standardized State mandated finals called the NYS Regents Exams, rarely did homework, had a terrible disciplinary record, but boy could I ace standardized tests. Was this meritocracy, or even fair to the students who worked so hard for their grades. I think not, but it sure advantaged me. It was decidedly unfair and that is why too most standardized testing and college admissions are hardly based on merit. In cases such as this, the discussion of the underlying reality of the problems of the U.S. educational system are rarely dealt with and that is where change needs to come. My academic “success” was unfair, but that was also true of G.W. Bush, Nelson Rockefeller (who literally bought his professors) or JFK. In an inequitable system is it really so terribly unfair that some from underprivileged backgrounds have some advantages thrown their way?

  10. Fisher had the option to gain admission through another route that many students take. They choose to go to one of UT’s other campuses such as UTA or UTD and transfer in after a year of academic success. They make it relatively easy to do this. Instead she chose to go to LSU.

  11. Mike S: Was this meritocracy, or even fair to the students who worked so hard for their grades.

    That depends entirely on what you define as having merit. Is it brains, memory, problem solving talent and the ability to employ those under pressure, or is it “hard work?”

    Does genius warrant “merit”?

    That is not a rhetorical question, I really do not know the answer. Most modern advances (that I see) are made by the highly intelligent. There is an element of work, but some of the most stunning insights are not a result of hard plodding work, but a result of genius inspiration, and seeing the problem in a different light. The hardest part is verifying them and writing them up (tasks that can be delegated to graduate students). Should we deny geniuses a college education because they did not demonstrate to us a committed work ethic?

    What is the unit of merit, is it success, or is it effort?

  12. Mike Spindell:

    Well then you can just call me a starry-eyed idealist, a Utopian dreamer and a pollyanna.

    The thing is, libertarianism doesn’t expect the best out of people at all, in fact it is a harsher mistress than most, but it is a fair one as well.

    We haven’t had a clean libertarian system in place, but whenever it manages to creep into existing governing systems, suddenly there is huge prosperity and overall satisfaction, except from special interests.

    What will be proof positive, is when the Free State Project institutes a full blown libertarian domestic governing rule in NH. Then we will all see how successful it is, or isn’t.

  13. “With Fisher, the Supreme Court will again face the question of the use of race in higher education. It is question that the Court failed to definitively answer in 1978 and then again in 2003. Now in 2013, Fisher v. University of Texas Austin could create a bright-line rule that bars the use of race as a factor”

    Professor Turley the reason settling the question of race is so difficult is because the word race has no scientific standing. I would get a panel of scientists to testify to this fact.

    Using a bogus senseless word for a 1000 years does not change the bogusness, factless, meaninglessness of the word. … I must pause now, my computer warning light for being low on esses just came on. LOL.

    How about recognizing that the term race is a vestige of the bogus term Creationism. The courts have tackled that word, I have yet to see the courts, or liberals, or conservatives discuss the complete fallacy of the term race. …. We are all Africans, we are all one species, we are all human.
    Race is a tool word for White supremacy. It has no other purpose.
    …. or a tool word for whatever the common dominant amount of melanin the average ruling population consists of.

    If anyone can counter this statement with scientific fact that I am wrong
    … PLEASE PROCEED.

  14. Mike S: I also do not think anybody’s academic success is unfair (presuming no cheating was involved).

    Some of us are inherently (either because of genetics or instilled by culture) better academic performers than others. Just as some are better singers, actors, athletes, musicians, negotiators, sales men, mechanics, artists, chess players or businessmen.

    I do not consider it an “unfair” advantage to be naturally suited to some task; even if that task is academic achievement.

  15. Jake Tapper and Mr. Turley are a good team. Tapper has evolved into my favorite MSM reporter.

    Since it’s been made clear in this forum Scalia is a “racist,” shouldn’t he recuse himself here. Just quoting an august member of our Guest Blogger lineup.

  16. Re: Gary T.

    The government is definitely too big in some areas but the worst possible option is no government at all.

    James Madison and many of the Framers did want to protect minority groups. In less than 30 years the minority group will be European Americans and the roles may reverse.

    Madison warned about the “tyranny of the majority” or pure democracy – where the majority group has too much representation. Today immigration, gay marriage, warrantless surveillance, etc. are good examples of the minority issues being under-represented or ignored.

    American government was designed to a “constitutional democratic republic” where citizens vote (democracy) for “representatives” (republic) and Congress/state legislature is restrained by the U.S. Constitution.

    Like any law, the U.S. Constitution is interpreted by both the “letter” and “spirit” of the amendments, articles and preamble. It is designed for equal opportunity NOT equal outcomes. It gets complicated when you have Supreme Court rulings like “Brown v. Board of Education” – denying equal opportunity (childhood education) can have consequences that last over 50 years. An African-American child that lost his education is at a life-long disadvantage making less income over his life-time in most cases.
    For example: On Affirmative Action it depends on whether you view a 5 year context versus a 50 year context – very complicated issues.

  17. Race is not a meaningless word.
    Firstly even if it is just based upon perceptions, and the reactions that people have to those perceptions, it is meaningful in a policy anticipation way.

    But I would go further, and say that human races are much like dog breeds.
    In both cases there should be no question that the breeds come with common traits respectively. What those traits are is another question, but to simply deny them as existent is head-in-sand mentality.

    TaySachs, Sicklecell, are just examples that are race related, on the bad end.
    There are race related benefits on the good end too, but it is not PC for discussions like that in polite conversation.

  18. Ross:
    “The government is definitely too big in some areas but the worst possible option is no government at all.”

    Yeah, so what is your point?

    How many times to I have to correct the misconception that libertarianism is “no government at all”?

    Government exists quite effectively under libertarianism, there is absolutely a government in place by libertarian fundamentals.

    Libertarianism is NOT Anarchism.

  19. As Swarthmore suggested earlier, this is a bogus case. Ms. Fisher was not denied access due to any race related program. That being said, the poor, whether black or white or Hispanic or Asian, are disadvantaged on a daily basis. How do they get ahead if universities do not have some leeway in deciding how to obtain diversity in their students? Doesn’t diversity help the students, the university and the country as a whole?

  20. “Diversity”, a really charged newspeak word, is just another form of racism.

    However you pretty it up, and package it as being “fair”, it is what it is, the preferential treatment of someone for reasons other than merit.

  21. I don’t think that Scalia is a “racist” in your classic sense. He is an American of Italian background and that is big. Italians put themselves on center stage. They get dissed for being Italian. And then there are Sicilians who get dissed for being Italian and Sicilian. In Saint Louis there was discrimination by Northern Italians against Southern Italians especially Sicilians. There was a community called The Hill. It was populated mostly by Northern Italians. They did not want Sicilians living there. The Mafia come mostly from Sicily. So, here you have a guy like Scalia who has had great advantages in America, born here, done that, goes to good schools, put on honors lists. But deep in his head there is a hierarchy. And by god or Dog, if those Northern Italians are going to dis the southern Italians then he has to have some upstream advantage over somebody and it might be the African Americans.

    For those of you who have never been a: dog, and Italian, a Sicilian, or a lower ranked person on Earth then this little comment might give some context to a guy like Scalia. There is no such thing as an Italian Dog so don’t give me apCray about that.

  22. “Does genius warrant “merit”?
    That is not a rhetorical question, I really do not know the answer. Most modern advances (that I see) are made by the highly intelligent.”

    Tony,

    It’s a fair question for which I don’t have the answers. I do know that my career didn’t really take off until I flunked out of law school after 2 1/2 years at night. I approached Law School in the same way I succeeded in H.S. and College, did little work through the year and used my reading speed and comprehension to “learn” enough to ace the finals. Law School doesn’t work like that and it caught up to me, or rather NYState Property Law did. BTW I only got into a good law school because I aced the LSAT’s. I passed through University with a “gentlemanly C”. I finally learned the lesson from that failure that I needed to also put hard work into the mix and when I got a scholarship for my Masters it was because I outworked the competition. Any success I achieved in my career no doubt while in part came from an innate intelligence, was certainly aided by the fact that I was intense about putting in the effort I needed to produce excellent work.

    This returns us though to the topic at hand. Students who arrive at the University by benefit of admissions preference still have to work to get through. No one is claiming, right now at least, that once admitted via affirmative action these student get degrees without deserving them. They need to be able to do the work. I believe this is true in the affirmative action described in this case which is merely academically based. Of course scions of wealthy families and athletes on scholarship can pass because of other factors. Nelson Rockefeller for instance had Henry Kissinger as a Professor at Yale and lo and behold hired Henry for a large salary after he graduated.
    Rockefeller was known to pay for term papers and other methods to get him through, he was not adept academically, nor do I think G.W. Bush was either.
    Then again I don’t think Einstein was any great student, but his brilliance did shine through to people putting him in a position to produce what he did early on. It’s a Hobson’s choice.

  23. Mike,

    If it took you that much effort to make a simple answer, then I see your agenda getting in the way of your realism.

    The simple answer is “yes”, genius does warrant merit.

  24. “Since it’s been made clear in this forum Scalia is a “racist,” shouldn’t he recuse himself here. Just quoting an august member of our Guest Blogger lineup.”

    And your point regarding this topic……….is?

  25. The decision is out – 7 to 1… not a bad decision for those that favor affirmative action. Very pro-affirmative action Ginsberg dissents. Kagan recuses.

  26. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has sent a Texas case on race-based college admissions back to a lower court for another look.

    The court’s 7-1 decision Monday leaves unsettled many of the basic questions about the continued use of race as a factor in college admissions.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, says a federal appeals court needs to subject the University of Texas admission plan to the highest level of judicial scrutiny.

  27. Gary T 1, June 24, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Race is not a meaningless word.
    Firstly even if it is just based upon perceptions, and the reactions that people have to those perceptions, it is meaningful in a policy anticipation way.

    But I would go further, and say that human races are much like dog breeds.
    ==================================
    You need not go any further, because you have dropped off the edge of scientific reality:

    Thus arose the question of the efficacy of doing race-based research in humans. In order for this kind of research to have any scientific basis, each individually defined or self-declared race would have to have a 100% pure gene pool, and the data show that the gene pool among whites, blacks and Hispanics in America is very heterogeneous. This makes for far greater similarities among U.S. citizens than any perceived differences, and genomic science has failed to support the concept of racial categories in medicine. Scientists involved with the first mapping of the human genome have noted that there is no basis in the genetic code for race. That being the case, there appears to be no justification for race-based research among human beings.

    (PubMed). About 98-99% of the human genome is microbial, and a tiny 1-2% is non-microbial.

    Your concept of race is something that comes from your bridge too far which does not reach to the other side.

  28. rafflaw: How do they get ahead if universities do not have some leeway in deciding how to obtain diversity in their students?

    The first problem is that leeway cuts both ways, the leeway to include based upon race is the leeway to exclude based upon race.

    The second problem is that race is increasingly less correlated with “disadvantaged circumstances,” so perverse decisions are increasingly made; like admitting the son of a black millionaire instead of the son of a white janitor, when the former has a 3.0 GPA and the latter has a 3.1 GPA.

    If we want to make some attempt to level the playing field in admissions with regard to unequal opportunity, then we should stop looking at proxies for unequal opportunity (race) and start looking at the relative achievements made instead.

    One way of doing that is as Texas did it with their top 10% rule: How did students do relative to others in the same schools, or at least in the same school districts? Something like that can removes biases introduced by wealth and school quality, and schools cannot game that system very easily because their students are competing with each other for relative rank (for example, inflating grades or making tests easier doesn’t get more of their students into colleges).

    If we want to address disadvantage, we should look for that, we should not assume that the color of somebody’s skin can determine the quality of their K-12 education. That was once true, and may still be partially true, but it is no longer true enough to be the basis of a decision that can have significant and lifelong ramifications for a child’s life.

  29. Barkindog, Firstly, You just gave a superb and concise history of Italian Americans. I’m quite familiar w/ The Hill, having friends in STL. Played my share of bocce ball up there while drinking some dago red and then a good peasant meal. You nailed the regional pecking order, that was an important factor in JoeD’s life. He was a poor Sicilian growing up in a city comprised of many northern Italians. A northern Italian started the Bank of America in SF.

    Getting on bigotry, it’s always the group JUST above the lower class that is so bigoted. That’s why the Irish hated Italians so much, and the list goes on. You can trace the lowest class people in the US by seeing who were the boxing champs during the different eras. So, while the ugly dynamic you described did exist[Do The Right Thing, covered it well], it has waned quite a bit. The more positive aspect of being shit on for being Italian is it also stoked the empathy gene, which is strong in the Italian culture. Vince Lombardi had the most black players and even supported a player marrying a white woman in the 60’s which was a HUGE taboo. Ralph Branca was one of Jackie Robinson’s empathetic teammates.

    Finally, understand, there are people here who routinely have called Scalia a “racist”, and they gave no nuanced qualifiers..just shoot from the hip, “racist.”

  30. My point is those who are certain he is a racist, and have called him that numerous times, should now be calling for his recusal since this is about race. Pretty simple.

  31. “We haven’t had a clean libertarian system in place, but whenever it manages to creep into existing governing systems, suddenly there is huge prosperity and overall satisfaction, except from special interests.”

    Gary T,

    What examples can you provide?

    “If it took you that much effort to make a simple answer, then I see your agenda getting in the way of your realism.

    The simple answer is “yes”, genius does warrant merit.”

    The effort was minimal. The necessity to clearly state my opinion required more than the simple “yes” that satisfies you. The problem is the definition of genius is not so easy. Some here define Von Mises as a “genius”, others define him as a fraud. From an academic standpoint, which is what this is about, genius is never that apparent. From an economic standpoint genius does not always garner merit and one person’s genius is another’s dim bulb.

    “However you pretty it up, and package it as being “fair”, it is what it is, the preferential treatment of someone for reasons other than merit.”

    I understand that is where you are coming from in your perspective, but I disagree. The element of fairness is a worthy topic when one discusses how a society should be organized. I know of no society that has ever existed that was based on merit, but will grant that I know of no society that has ever been fair. Perhaps we are both Utopians, but envision it somewhat differently.

    “But I would go further, and say that human races are much like dog breeds.
    In both cases there should be no question that the breeds come with common traits respectively. What those traits are is another question, but to simply deny them as existent is head-in-sand mentality.”

    While I agree with your first premise that the idea of “race” is meaningless, I reject the notion of “breeds” as it might currently be formulated. I don’t doubt there are human “breeds”, but I do doubt and see no evidence that they are based on the melanin content of the skin. I don’t believe we have the knowledge yet to define breeds genetically and I think the “science” is equal to the 19th Century “science” of Eugenics. The problem exists in measurement of characteristics that gets polluted by pre-conception and pre-judgement. What were called “traits” in many cases then were really socio-economic judgments. I fear that is still the case today in genetics. Even scientists are guilty of pre-judgments of which the are consciously unaware and thus design and conclusions of their data may be skewed.

    I’m away for the day now and will respond to any of your responses tomorrow.

  32. shared witnessed participated in the birth of my two daughters. I’m glad I was the one standing up!!!
    Anyone that thinks women are not tough has never seen women giving birth and the look in their eyes.

    I have stood twice in front of the maternity ward and beamed at my child. Both times I found myself beaming at the other newborns.
    Both times I saw the other new Dads beaming at their newborns, We Dads also beamed at each other. There is no BMW dealership anywhere ever that had better beamers than that small area with New Dads beaming at their Newborns.

    There was no distinction for melanin content listed on the little cradles these precious infants were nestled. There was no distinction of the care they were given by the goodly nurses attending them. …. And there was NO distinction between the Beams of the Beaming Fathers.

    No we wait to get the newborns home before we and society start to mold and fill these precious new ones with hate and ignorance. The fickleness of DNA coupling of melanin content has morphed into a purposeful excuse to promote the superiority or inferiority of skin color. I call BULL LONEY on this.

    The falseness of race is a convenient excuse for the continuance of tribalism.
    I hope the enlightenment of the human species continues and we grow beyond this primitive vestige of tribalism still deeply embedded in our caveman brain.

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/brain4.htm

    We humans perform these functions as well, and so have a “reptilian” brain built into us. That means we have the same parts of the brain found in reptiles, namely the brain stem and the cerebellum.

    We will never lose the reptilian part (caveman part) but we sure can work on the higher human areas. We the human species can raise ourselves higher.
    We can start by recognizing which reptilian emotions (or adrenalin releases) we don’t need anymore.

  33. “My point is those who are certain he is a racist, and have called him that numerous times, should now be calling for his recusal since this is about race. Pretty simple.”

    And who might those be? Beyond that though since he won’t recuse himself what point are you really making? It would be nice to add any of your points of view to the topics at hand on this thread.

  34. Mike: Then again I don’t think Einstein was any great student, but his brilliance did shine through to people putting him in a position to produce what he did early on.

    I do not believe that is true; Einstein was a poor student (in the view of his professors) and his job in the patent office was not the result of merit, but a favor from a relative. I believe the Wikipedia entry is accurate.

    A quote: After graduating, Einstein spent almost two frustrating years searching for a teaching post, but Marcel Grossmann’s father helped him secure a job in Bern,[37] at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property, the patent office, as an assistant examiner.[38] He evaluated patent applications for electromagnetic devices. In 1903, Einstein’s position at the Swiss Patent Office became permanent, although he was passed over for promotion until he “fully mastered machine technology”.

    Nobody put him in a “position,” in school he learned to write a paper and submit it for publication, which is essentially all he did. Fortunately for Einstein, hard work was not a necessity of academic publication (and still is not), peer review (which is something I am both subject to and participate in) evaluates the originality and merit of the ideas and arguments presented, not the person or the amount of work that went into them.

  35. “What is the unit of merit, is it success, or is it effort?” (Tony C.)

    What a great question and perfectly placed in context!

    I wish some genius would come up with a test or series of admittance tests that measures effort rather than success. The semantics/shading between those two words when placed within the context of the question is fascinating. If one could measure the effort on either end of the scale (low to high) one could identify not only the determined but also the talented. Fascinating

  36. Bron, I picked up some special antiseptic chapstick which should protect me from fecal bacteria. You would believe this, but I truly don’t EVER remember being called an ass kisser by ANYONE. I’m called a bully, alpha, hateful, mean, and ass kisser by the same person. I guess I am one of the very rare people that could play every position on the baseball field..NOT!.

  37. Blouise: Sometimes it is results that matter; as in your own profession. If one person practices every waking moment but still cannot avoid mistakes, they will lose out to somebody that can party all night, sleep in, practice for an hour and play perfectly.

  38. Gary T 1, June 24, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Mike,

    If it took you that much effort to make a simple answer, then I see your agenda getting in the way of your realism.

    The simple answer is “yes”, genius does warrant merit.
    =============================================
    Once again Gary T, you adhere to the old science books in the second hand store.

    They look good on the shelf, but they are only empty space holders.

    There is competent evidence that genius is actually a lethal mutation, and lesser degrees of cognition may be too:

    I’LL BEGIN with an interesting debate that took place some years ago between Carl Sagan, the well-known astrophysicist, and Ernst Mayr, the grand old man of American biology. They were debating the possibility of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. And Sagan, speaking from the point of view of an astrophysicist, pointed out that there are innumerable planets just like ours. There is no reason they shouldn’t have developed intelligent life. Mayr, from the point of view of a biologist, argued that it’s very unlikely that we’ll find any. And his reason was, he said, we have exactly one example: Earth. So let’s take a look at Earth.

    And what he basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation … you’re just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won’t find it here for very long either because it’s just a lethal mutation … With the environmental crisis, we’re now in a situation where we can decide whether Mayr was right or not. If nothing significant is done about it, and pretty quickly, then he will have been correct: human intelligence is indeed a lethal mutation. Maybe some humans will survive, but it will be scattered and nothing like a decent existence, and we’ll take a lot of the rest of the living world along with us.

    (What Kind of Intelligence Is A Lethal Mutation?). The source of that material is several scientists who have genius and merit.

    “There are many here among us who feel life is but a joke”, but some among us will live long enough to see whether the hypothesis can be falsified or not.

  39. Don’t want to dispel any myths but this case will turn out to be a death nail to those in favor of Affirmtive Action…. What he Sct really said….is we really don’t want to decide this….. So…. Until… You have such a valid proposal in place…. You all can do wht you want….. But, if you dont like it you can come back….. And in 2 years…. The reality will be is that the minority races will mo longer be the minorities…. And there will be no case to decide…..

  40. Blouise, Having coached baseball for decades I totally agree w/ you. I’ll take the effort kid who loves the game. That love will propel him/her past the cavalier talented player every time because they’ll play the game all day. Now, let me put on some more butt chapstick. I’ve got a lot more ass kissing to do today.

  41. Dredd:

    You had a little prima facie credibility with the argument that there are no human breeds, that we are all the same. Not that I agree with that at all, as the evidence clearly shows otherwise in so many examples, but it is a viable premise at least to oppose.

    But really, genius is a fatal genetic defect?
    Now who sounds like the fatalist conspiracy nut.

    Not something I addressed anyway – I said genius warrants merit . . . even if it is a fatal defect :^))

  42. Sure none of you meant it in a harmful way but history has tragic examples of why humans should NEVER be compared to animals like breeds of dogs. One of the best books out there is “Medical Apartheid” by Harriet A. Washington where the U.S. government hired Nazi scientists following World War Two, then tortured and murdered U.S. citizens (primarily African-Americans) because using the dog breed analogy they were inferior human beings. To this day most of the doctors have never been criminally prosecuted.

    It can affect things like voters perceptions of programs like Head Start to rebuilding our inner cities and poor rural areas. If some citizens are viewed as inferior to others it has consequences large and small.

  43. Blouise,
    I think that effort plays a big part in any academic setting, as well as in life and in athletics. In high school, I was a lot like Mike S. in that I just played sports and did not give the effort that I really needed in order to succeed. Once I learned the hard way that I could not get by merely on the merits of my good looks :), I was able to succeed by working as hard as I could. I may not have the inherent talents of some, but I got the job done.

  44. SWM, I’m merely more cautious in throwing out, “racist”, “homophobe.” “sexist”, etc. I was called a sexist once for making a blonde joke. I have quit my jobs, jobs I loved twice, to help advance my wife’s career, moving from KC to Chicago and Chicago to Madison. I have supported and motivated my wife in writing her book. But, I tell a blonde joke in the People’s Republic of Madison and I’m a sexist. I don’t suffer fools or foolishness well.

  45. Tony C.,

    Results always matter for any talent must be molded, refined, trained etc.

    What I found fascinating within your question was “What is the unit of merit”. If we are going to attempt to measure merit for admission purposes (and this would be admission into any number of fields from academia through the arts and even into apprenticeships such as Tool and Die), what is the unit of merit (effort or success) to measure and how. There are many nuances within that simple question.

  46. raff, nick, et al,

    Any adult worth their salt emphasizes effort when advising a young person but what about the genius or uniquely talented who experience success with very little effort (you know raff, all those dam math whiz kids) … the beauty of Tony’s question lies within the unspoken.

  47. My mothers heritage is Irish, my Fathers German. I have freckles.
    What race am I. I am of the human race PERIOD.
    Anything beyond that is prejudicial BS. socially molded, typical human weakness need, to feel different or superior, or inferior.
    WHITE RACE !!! what the heck is that? BLACK RACE !!! you got to be kidding. Skin color is a natural evolutionary response to sunlight. Put all of Europe in Africa for 10,000 years and Euros will be Melanin enhanced.
    (Dredd I might need help on this one) ….

    The black slaves were ruled 3/5 human by our unenlightened bigoted low ethic (in significant ways) ruling class. What was the purpose of this?
    Economic enhancement for one…….. OR

    A conscious soothing, “look away”, from the monstrous actions of the ruling societal powers inhuman reptilian treatment of others.

    And to assuage guilty consciencenesses we even used the Bible to justify horribly mistreating equal human beings.

    If I claim to be White, if I claim my skin color somehow makes me physiologically different from differently melanized people…..
    THEN I AM A RACIST. ….AND SO ARE YOU ALL.

    I ain’t white I am a human being. I see no fallacy in my statement.

    As someone stated earlier race is a perception. Yes it is, that is all it is. A stupid, divisive, ignorant, self centered, BullCrap perception.

    Again Professor Turley, this is my reasoning why the courts will never reach a just decision on Race.

  48. “Ginsburg drew some laughter in the courtroom Monday when she said those who consider the 10-percent system “race-neutral” are kidding themselves.

    “But for de facto racial segregation in Texas’ neighborhoods and schools, there would be no ‘top 10 percent’ law,” she said, before reading a quote from Harvard law professor Thomas Reed Powell.

    “If you think that you can think about a think inextricably attached to something else without thinking about the thing which it is attached to, then you have a legal mind,” Powell said, prompting Ginsburg to add, “Only that kind of legal mind could conclude that an admissions plan specifically designed to produce racial diversity is not race conscious.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/supreme-court-affirmative-action-ruling-fisher-university-of-texas-93237.html#ixzz2X9KGdL3j

  49. rafflaw: I think that effort plays a big part in any academic setting,

    For most people, but not all. It certainly wasn’t true for me; all formal classes for my bachelor’s degree were a piece of cake. (and I graduated with a 4.0 GPA).

  50. Gary T 1, June 24, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Dredd:

    You had a little prima facie credibility with the argument that there are no human breeds, that we are all the same. Not that I agree with that at all, as the evidence clearly shows otherwise in so many examples, but it is a viable premise at least to oppose.

    But really, genius is a fatal genetic defect?
    Now who sounds like the fatalist conspiracy nut.

    Not something I addressed anyway – I said genius warrants merit . . . even if it is a fatal defect :^))
    ===============================
    Quoting yourself with no back-up is unavailing.

    Whether there is merit to your position would depend on your intelligence or genius.

    “Trust me” I am a genius or “trust me” I am intelligent is also unavailing.

    If humanity destroys itself or its civilization by either nuclear weapons or pollution, which remains to be seen, will determine the merit of human intelligence and genius.

    You seem to thnk that spouting off opinion, your opinion, is tantamount to proof of both the notion of race and of the notion of intelligence, including the highest level, genius.

    That is quite a feeble position without merit.

  51. Gary T claims “Not that I agree with that at all, as the evidence clearly shows otherwise in so many examples, but it is a viable premise at least to oppose.”

    Please produce this evidence. As Dredd suggested, please reference texts written within the last 10 years while doing so.

    Things are not nearly as nice and tidy as you would like them to be.

  52. No everyone loves a genius. Those related to me by blood still call them “those egg-head types tellin us what to eat!”

  53. David Blauw 1, June 24, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Race does not exist,.. Racism does.
    ===============================
    What we call “racism” is deep-seated, learned bias which is perpetuated by the culture and social environment a person comes from.

    The focus is skin color, nationality, ethnicity, and the like.

    Disproving the old myth of “race” did not dampen the flames of hatred that “racism” starts and then expands into discrimination and violence.

    The cultural myth of race is, nevertheless, as strong and blind as if race did genetically exist.

    Just read some of the Mike S guest posts about myth for some additional background as to the strength of myth in American culture.

  54. I think race exists in the minds of people. Claiming it does not exist because you cannot manufacture a precise definition that fits all circumstances is equivalent to claiming that love does not exist, friendship does not exist, “great songs” or “great writing” do not exist.

    All of those things DO exist; and there is no “scientific” definition for any of them. (If two people claim to be friends, no test can conclusively prove they are, or are not.) “Race” as it is used today is a way of using physical differences in the phenotypes of humans to distinguish groups of people.

  55. “My argument with libertarian philosophy is not that it would be a bad system, in fact I rather like it, but its flaw is that it is a Utopian system that doesn’t take into account the current state of human nature.”

    Bingo, Mike. No Utopian system will ever work and not just because of human nature. Because of mathematics. Nations, or to use the broadest samples space – humanity, operate on such a scale and with such complexity that as a mathematical certainty error is unavoidable. The best that can be done is mitigation to maintain a state as close to equilibrium as possible. That’s just the nature of complex systems. Those are ultimately the same reasons another famously Utopian system failed so miserably – Communism.

    On the issue of race as an admissions criteria, my real concern is this: if the goal is a color-blind society, doesn’t this perpetuate the opposite by not focusing solely upon academic merit? Diversity is a good thing for society, but the idea of race as an admissions factor seems counter-intuitive and possibly counterproductive to reaching a state in society where we meet Dr. King’s dream of a society where people are judged by the content of their character (or content of their intellect as it may be in the instant matter) rather than the color of their skin. Encouraging diversity is a good thing, but it’s truly counterproductive if any effort to that end lapses into simply a quota system. Like many things surrounding the issue of racism, there is no one single solution, but perhaps the focus here is at “the wrong end of the stick”. Perhaps the solution is to work to provide a social environment that creates an equal opportunity to perform well in the college admissions process by removing the barriers and causation that hinder that, like a lack of quality free public education, poverty, hunger and systemic racism where it exists and encouraging social support systems that promote a chance for greater success like public libraries, laws that find solutions for domestic issues that don’t simply tear families apart in trying to address troublesome domestic problems and stop jailing non-violent offenders.

    Just a thought.

  56. Blouise, When I had a gifted student or athlete the first thing I would say to myself, and I would often repeat it, “Don’t f@ck this kid up.” I had a kid w/ the most perfect and natural swing, he went on to play Division 1 baseball on a full scholarship. I went a bit further w/ that kid. I told him “Don’t ever let anyone f@ck w/ your swing.” Minor adjustment, ok..but no major changes. The Good Lord gave him perfect hand/eye coordination and a perfect swing..a blessed twofer.

    For the same kid, and for other very talented athletes and students I would constantly remind them they were currently swimming in a small pond. They were the biggest fish, but as they moved up the stream academically, athletically, or both[the aforementioned baseball player was a National Honor Society student] that there was ALWAYS..ALWAYS going to be someone smarter or better than them. That was usually all the motivation needed because they were smart enough to understand that they needed to continue to improve. I would also say sometimes, “One of the saddest things in this world is wasted talent.”

    This is a good discussion, I hope I don’t f@ck it up.

  57. Swarthmore: I do not advocate the Texas system to produce racial diversity; if it does I am fine with that.

    I advocate it because it seems more fair (to me) to measure relative performance within an environment than absolute performance. I don’t care if the winners are green or blue, I think that if you have a hundred high schools in a wide distribution of economic circumstance, skimming the cream that rose to the top within each is a good idea, some recipe of natural intelligence, work and dedication got certain students to the top of their little hill. Perhaps the mix is very different in each, but to me their academic accomplishment is at least one reasonable measure of “merit.”

  58. Also, any conclusion that genius is a fatal mutation is an appeal to probability, the conjunction fallacy, the existential fallacy, circular reasoning (possibly circular cause and consequence), cum hoc ergo propter hoc and not the least of which the fallacy of single cause.

    We don’t know if intelligence is a lethal mutation for another reason: we have a fairly minimal grasp scientifically on what constitutes intelligence in our own species let alone others. There is some evidence that other terrestrial creatures are quite intelligent problem solvers with memory, self-awareness and forethought but because of differences in their biology and environment our current understanding of the scope of their intelligence is limited. I’m thinking specifically of dolphins and octopi.

    Many things we do that are bad for us as a species, we have the knowledge to know better, but simply lack the collective (and in particular instances – individual) willpower and/or wisdom to refrain.

  59. Tony c, Overall it works well but I also think admitting a small number of students that do not fall into the top 10 percent category is also a good idea. That group includes out of state students, students with special talents and students from schools that don’t rank. A more holisitic approach is used with this group and many end up in the honors colleges. I think keeping that door is important.

  60. Before we judge others we should try to empathize (not sympathize) with them, put ourselves in their shoes.

    What would it be like as a grade school student in Harlem or Detroit or Appalachia? What if you didn’t have good parents or good role models? What would it be like fearing death walking to school everyday as an elementary school student? What if your school didn’t own enough textbooks so teachers couldn’t assign homework?

    Even though some may succeed, when most do not that is a systemic problem not a race problem. Great documentary “Waiting On Superman” proves that it is primarily an investment and educational problem.

    Let’s try not to judge until we know all of the facts!

  61. President Encouraged by the Supreme Court’s Ruling
    Published: June 24

    Following is a statement from University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers regarding today’s Supreme Court ruling in the case of Fisher versus University of Texas. The ruling relates to the use of ethnicity as one factor in determining college admissions.

    “We’re encouraged by the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case.

    We will continue to defend the University’s admission policy on remand in the lower court under the strict standards that the Court first articulated in the Bakke case, reaffirmed in the Grutter case, and laid out again today. We believe the University’s policy fully satisfies those standards.

    We remain committed to assembling a student body at The University of Texas at Austin that provides the educational benefits of diversity on campus while respecting the rights of all students and acting within the constitutional framework established by the Court.

    Today’s ruling will have no impact on admissions decisions we have already made or any immediate impact on our holistic admissions policies.”

  62. Rick Perry is always trying to run UT president Bill Powers off. So far he hasn’t succeeded, thankfully.

  63. Gene reflects, “Many things we do that are bad for us as a species, we have the knowledge to know better, but simply lack the collective (and in particular instances – individual) willpower and/or wisdom to refrain.”

    I think a critical mass of this has to be learned behavior, which then suggests we need better teachers, teaching from relevant texts. It is hard to fault the intent of affirmative action since at the core of it, it’s about people seeking better teachers.

    We would do well to get out of their way.

  64. James K.,

    I’d agree with that but with a caveat. Some human behaviors are pathological and in some cases no amount of education can prevent/repair that. And as you note, it’s hard to fault the intent of AA, but I do question the methodology in light of the ultimate goal of a color blind society.

  65. “currently swimming in a small pond” (nick)

    I have used that metaphor over and over and in many different contexts. Any increase in diversity widens and deepens the pond and is of benefit to all who swim in it.

  66. After 37 years in education I can honestly say that affirmative action not only is wrong due to the discrimination of those do not get in due to their color of skin but it has dumbed down our education. What is sad is if the only reason I got into college was my skin color then what does that say about me as a human being?

  67. Tony C.
    “I think race exists in the minds of people.

    “Race” as it is used today is a way of using physical differences in the phenotypes of humans to distinguish groups of people.”

    True and true. Also love exists, friendship exists. One chooses who to love, who to befriend. One can leave a lover, unfriend a friend.
    I can choose to be a White Aryan Racist, the reasoning and definition would be totally false, the immense denial of the value of non whites would overwhelm me. I would be false soul justifying my falseness, with falseness.
    My melanin content is an accident of fate. has no intrinsic baring on my worth, and over time phenotypes are simply a measure of immediate hereditary couplings.
    There are no biological “Do not enter” signs that phenotypes can’t cross. …. This true statement alone proves the worthlessness of accepting phenotypes as some form of significant evaluation of human worth.

    Race exists in the minds of people,…It sure does. Same as Status, Same as Royalty. It just depends how much BS one is willingly to believe in. Racism exists because it is accepted and taught. Today it was even bandied about the supreme court. No One looked at the Big Elephant, no one sees the big elephant. It is the minds of we humans that insist race is real, it is the conditioning of a racist philosophy we breathe in with every breath. Race is not in our genes, nor a factor in individual ability (ask science) it is a construct so powerfully structured in our racist society that few recognize it.
    What did people think when black slaves were ruled 3/5 humans, ….Oh it must be true the supreme court allows it?
    Tony I would like to see the Supreme court RULE on what race is, and detail its significance as a physical manifestation of worth and value,….. before they make any rulings on it. Or is this the premise for arguments today.

    ” I CAN’T DESCRIBE WHAT RACE IS, BUT I KNOW IT WHEN I SEE IT”

  68. Tony C. 1, June 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I think race exists in the minds of people …
    ===================================
    Indeed.

    So is reparation.

    Like giving the Jewish “race” a “homeland” in the wake of the German “purity” holocaust.

    Or, like giving the African American “race” a “homeland” in the wake of the American slavery holocaust.

    Like Mike S said, when discussing the disgusting slave addiction of George Washington, and other forefathers of Heavenly-White Amuka:

    … historians nowadays tend to be interested in different facets of memory, especially “collective memory” and its mirror image, forgetting. Among other things, we want to know how a society or community’s memory of important events changes over time. Those changes often involve forgetting what we once knew — or thought we knew.

    For example, the Yale historian, David Blight, has shown that during the first 50 years after the Civil War, the majority of white Americans largely forgot the harshness of slavery and came to remember the institution as relatively benign. A southern, romanticized version of slavery took shape thanks to a proliferation local Civil War museums and the desire of political and cultural elites to forge reconciliation between the North and the South.

    (Remodelling Memory For Life’s Sake). The context of a holocaust is one form of “race existing in the minds of people”, and it was just boys being boys is another form of “race existing in the minds of people.”

  69. raff,

    I felt your pain as I, the lone female in a class of 10 exceptionally bright male whiz kids, cheated my way, with help from all 10 guys, to a spectacular “C”. The teacher, after writing the test problem on the board, would exit the room with these words .. “A gentleman always helps a lady.” (No false feminism for me where geometry was concerned even knowing that you wouldn’t have gotten the same treatment. Life’s a beetch. ;) )

  70. Blouise, I have used “small pond” here in Madison quite often. It’s a very provincial city. Although a state capital, Madison is really a fairly small pond. I’ve worked in KC and Chicago and know the difference. But, for too many people their immediate environs constitutes their “world.” You see it in this forum, hell you see it everywhere. Travel is the best education for so many reasons, not the least of which being it helps you realize just how insignificant we all are. Well, maybe not for narcissists. How many narcissists does it take to screw in a light bulb? One..they just reach up w/ the new bulb and the world revolves around them.

  71. George 1, June 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    … if the only reason I got into college was my skin color then what does that say about me as a human being?
    ==================================
    If you are of the Jewish “race” it says “you were wronged by a holocaust, so accept this Mideast Land Area [Israel] as a form of reparation.”

    If you are of the African American “race” it says “you were wronged by a holocaust so accept this chance for an education as a form of reparation.”

    Your anecdotal guilt or innocence is irrelevant, as are the abstractions (void of context) you advanced as arguments.

  72. I’m mystified why you would want a call for recusal of the racist Scalia, since the decision on this case is today? Another example of your famously unfunny ball busting?

    Secondly, most bullies are also analingually inclined. That’s why they’re bullies in the first place.

  73. Tony C et al

    I am a 99.99% atheist, I could add an infinite # of nines with the last one being followed by -1. I am comfortable with this because it leaves me an easy out with true believers, “okay maybe you’re right”. This actually saves a lot of time. :o).

    Anyways, my atheist leanings began in my youth. Reasons are many and varied for all that are atheists, but foremost I believe it is curiosity and questioning.
    Seeking truth perhaps as opposed to accepting boxed answers.
    Society and environment has multiple formulas of ready made acceptable brands of lazy brain cereal for those that wish to sleep through life, or not be bothered, or have been smothered with insignificance of self, being ingrained on their unique soul.. Certainly not always true but it does have some weight to it.

    How many God fearing lifelong devoted 60 yr old Christians suddenly throw away their lifetime belief and declare themselves atheist? I submit If any do there must have been doubt within them for many years prior.
    Once someone has believed something for 60 years it is hard to admit they’re wrong. Religion even in all it’s 1000s of forms gets discussed and disputed. It is challenged often.

    Race is not even questioned, the belief that Race is real and significant is more BS and more etheral than any BS Religious belief, AND IT IS ACCEPTED AS TRUE.

    My point of this ramble is,; This is how I see race. I submit every human in our country and or world is raised in the “Church” of Race is Real.
    After people believe this for 60 years and never doubt or question it, I understand how so many people have no ability to grasp “RACE DOES NOT EXIST”

    Never the less I stand by my point, my statement, and my logic.

    Tony C, you have made some of the strongest arguments on this Blog over time, You and about 50 others, . ….. However IMO, Phenotypes is one of your weaker ones. :o)

    Bring it on, Ladies and Gentlemen, though I do suggest you each leave the word “Breeds” out of it. I think it will only make those that use it seem foolish.

  74. Dredd

    Both of your points forget the point of being judged on who you are and not what you look like. The fourteenth amendment is supposed to prevent discrimination and yet trying to help one race only to discriminate against another is not a solution. The are many African Americans and Jews who have done quite well without affirmative action which only proves it is not necessary. Secondly, allowing students to attend college who are not college material has dumbed down our education system. I have over 37 years in college teaching to back that statement up.

  75. Gene H. 1, June 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm


    Many things we do that are bad for us as a species, we have the knowledge to know better, but simply lack the collective (and in particular instances – individual) willpower and/or wisdom to refrain.
    =============================
    the knowledge to know better … lack … collective … willpower … lack individual willpower … lack collective … wisdom … lack individual wisdom …

    … any conclusion that genius is a fatal mutation is …

    We don’t know if intelligence is a lethal mutation for another reason: we have a fairly minimal grasp scientifically on what constitutes intelligence in our own species let alone others.

    Some of the things we don’t know, don’t exercise will-POWER over, and don’t exercise wisdom over …

    an appeal to probability, the conjunction fallacy, the existential fallacy, circular reasoning (possibly circular cause and consequence), cum hoc ergo propter hoc and not the least of which the fallacy of single cause …

    Glad you said that … I was mystified until then.

  76. George 1, June 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Dredd

    Both of your points forget the point of being judged on who you are and not what you look like. The fourteenth amendment is supposed to prevent discrimination and yet trying to help one race only to discriminate against another is not a solution. The are many African Americans and Jews who have done quite well without affirmative action which only proves it is not necessary. Secondly, allowing students to attend college who are not college material has dumbed down our education system. I have over 37 years in college teaching to back that statement up.
    ==========================================
    Forget that the American slavery holocaust happened, forget that the German Jewish holocaust happened.

    One happened before the 14th Amendment and one after.

    Many Jews did well before and after the German holocaust.

    Many whites did well before the American slavery holocaust.

    But those holocausts happened anyway.

    So.

    Forget.

    Forget.

    Forget.

    Now you feel better George.

    Because reality was dumped on you.

    A reality bigger than all your anecdotes put together.

    Self.

    Selflish.

    Forget.

    Forgetting is not intellectual, justified, or anything else –other than forgetfulness.

    The Germans were punished for their holocaust.

    Not by forgetting it.

  77. “Some of the things we don’t know, don’t exercise will-POWER over, and don’t exercise wisdom over” . . .

    Then to assert we don’t know but some suppose – like “intelligence is a lethal mutation” – is at best asserting an unproven hypothesis as fact without sufficient evidence.

    The notion doesn’t even pass casual scrutiny.

    Simply not enough evidence.

  78. Gene H. 1, June 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    “Some of the things we don’t know, don’t exercise will-POWER over, and don’t exercise wisdom over” . . .

    Then to assert we don’t know but some suppose – like “intelligence is a lethal mutation” – is at best asserting an unproven hypothesis as fact without sufficient evidence.

    The notion doesn’t even pass casual scrutiny.

    Simply not enough evidence.
    ==================================
    Science says we are on the eve of destruction of civilization and or life on Earth.

    That is evidence of a fatal mutation.

    But I digress from the topic.

  79. Dredd,

    No, it’s not. You are mistaking correlation with causation. Not all of our problems trace directly to intelligence. Just because individuals are intelligent doesn’t mean we as a species are particularly intelligent. That we know better and still do the contrary seems to indicate that a lack of intelligence in application is actually a larger driver than intelligence itself could be. Consider that we know carbon changes the chemical composition of the atmosphere in ways that destabilize the environment and yet we avoid any substantive pursuit of alternative carbon free energy and keep using fossil fuels and other carbon heavy methods of energy production. Consider that overpopulation, a huge problem, is driven by a biological imperative to breed when if it was a process governed by intellect we’d limit population growth until (as Bill Hicks noted) “we get that whole food, air, water thing figured out”. Cum hoc ergo propter hoc isn’t just for breakfast anymore. A correlation between intelligence and our headlong pursuit of activities that may end the species is not causation nor is that issue as simple as a single cause.

  80. Gene H. 1, June 24, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    James K.,

    Yep. Some people even react with hostility toward those more intelligent than they are.
    ===============================
    “We don’t know if intelligence is a lethal mutation”

    That (“Some people even react with hostility toward those more intelligent than they are”) must be anecdotal then?

  81. Dredd,

    No, not really. Do you think a movie like “Revenge of the Nerds” would have ever been made if aggression toward the intelligent by the less intelligent were not a real social phenomena ripe for lampooning? People tend to fear what they don’t understand and they tend to attack that which they fear. That’s your primitive semi-aquatic plains ape brain at work.

  82. Gene H. 1, June 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Dredd,

    No, it’s not. You are mistaking correlation with causation. Not all of our problems trace directly to intelligence. Just because individuals are intelligent doesn’t mean we as a species are particularly intelligent. That we know better and still do the contrary seems to indicate that a lack of intelligence in application is actually a larger driver than intelligence itself could be. Consider that we know carbon changes the chemical composition of the atmosphere in ways that destabilize the environment and yet we avoid any substantive pursuit of alternative carbon free energy and keep using fossil fuels and other carbon heavy methods of energy production. Consider that overpopulation, a huge problem, is driven by a biological imperative to breed when if it was a process governed by intellect we’d limit population growth until (as Bill Hicks noted) “we get that whole food, air, water thing figured out”. Cum hoc ergo propter hoc isn’t just for breakfast anymore. A correlation between intelligence and our headlong pursuit of activities that may end the species is not causation nor is that issue as simple as a single cause.
    ======================================
    Distinction without a beer’s worth of difference.

    A group killing itself (even with one or more intelligent idiots within them) is perfunctory at best.

    Even if they have no race, Race, or RACE.

    As a species and as individuals, in the cosmic sense we have not yet even begun to touch upon what we think is “intelligence.”

  83. Gene H. 1, June 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Dredd,

    No, not really. Do you think a movie like “Revenge of the Nerds” would have ever been made if aggression toward the intelligent by the less intelligent were not a real social phenomena ripe for lampooning? People tend to fear what they don’t understand and they tend to attack that which they fear. That’s your primitive semi-aquatic plains ape brain at work.
    ===============================
    I prefer to cast it as .999 brain dead vs .990 brain dead.

    Not worth gambling over.

    Especially with that primative aquatic foggy rape brain of yours.

  84. “Especially with that primative aquatic foggy rape brain of yours.”

    OOPS!

    I meant “Especially with that primative aquatic foggy race brain of yours.”

  85. David: What? “Phenotypes” is not an argument; it is a fact; the phenotype is the body, it is the expression of genes, as influenced by a particular growth environment that can cause alteration in gene expression.

    I was going to let it slide, but both you and Dredd fail to comprehend my post. Race does exist, even if we cannot pin it down. You want to wander into emotionalism and poetry, feel free, I am not being poetic or emotional.

    The typical American, shown a photograph of Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman standing together, do not have difficulty with the question “Which one of these men is an African American?”

    The typical American does have an understanding of “race” that transcends their ability to articulate a hard line “rule,” but they do indeed “know it when they see it.” The typical American recognizes that there are indeed phenotype differences between blacks, whites, and Asians, that include commonalities highly prevalent in one group that are seldom found in the other groups.

    That is not to say any of these commonalities are negative, affect cognition or morality or character; they are phenotypical (by which I mean purely physical) adaptations leftover from acclimation in isolation to a stable survival environment. Or genetic drift (non-adaptive but non-harmful phenotype changes) that can result from the same isolation.

    Race exists. There are people with phenotypes displaying characteristics of multiple races, and those gray-line instances probably make any bright line rule impossible, but nobody has any trouble identifying Bill Cosby as an African American and Julia Roberts as a Caucasian.

  86. Gene H. 1, June 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Actually, there is a big difference between individual and social psychology.

    Certainly more than a beer’s worth.
    =============================
    Means nothing without distinction.

    You always leave out the Brady v Maryland thingy … it is the proprietorial race I suppose.

  87. “I prefer to cast it as .999 brain dead vs .990 brain dead.

    Not worth gambling over.

    Especially with that primative aquatic foggy rape brain of yours.”

    Weak ad hominem argument and non-responsive on the merits.

    That’ll get you nowhere fast, Dredd.

    Or you could get some hard causal evidence that intelligence as a lethal mutation is science fact instead of hypothetical supposition.

    Just a suggestion.

  88. Your refusal to understand or admit that social psychology is a real science and different from general psychology as applied to individuals does not mean that it is not a real thing and distinct from individual psychology.

    After all, what kind of scientist or field of science would dare think to give something a different name for being a different thing?

    That’s just crazy talk.

  89. Gene: That’s your primitive semi-aquatic plains ape brain at work.
    Dredd: that primative aquatic foggy race brain of yours.
    Gene: ad hominem argument and non-responsive on the merits.

    This post is about race.

    You lose biggie.

  90. Are you now trying to say race has something to do with intelligence, Dredd?

    I thought you were talking about intelligence as a lethal mutation.

    Race is a social construct based on minor differences in phenotypes, intelligence is a major component of our whole species genetic makeup that in fact is part of what makes us a distinct species from other hominids.

    Are you even sure of what you are saying?

  91. The American holocaust.

    After being brutally kidnapped, and on their way to the holy land, where they would serve the holy white people, millions of the kidnapped mothers, fathers, and children slaves were thrown overboard into the deep ocean because they became sick because they were stacked like sardines.

    Once they got here to heaven, the white folk exorcised the demons out of them for a century.

    When the exorcism failed, they were tortured to death, or if unlucky, they were slaves for life free of demons.

    Those who survived eventually began the slave church system, and other forms of asking someone for help (“blues”),  from their decade after decade of horrors.

    Like the Jews did for several years in Germany.

    If only the Germans had as weak a memory as Amurkans what to have … this Affirmative Action crap could go away and …

    we could all be whites once again.

  92. Dredd

    No one ever said that those events did not happen. Two wrongs do not make a right. Discrimination is discrimination plain and simple. Many want to go to college but are not college gifted. I want to go to the moon but I am not cut out to be in that field. If I were let in for affirmative action reasons I would only hurt the program which is what is happening to our colleges and universities.

  93. The gap in scores among students at Texas will be at the heart of this case. The Texas data on the freshmen (not admitted under the Top Ten Percent Law) show that Asian students had a mean SAT score of 467 points and white students a mean of 390 points above the mean for black students (on a maximum score of 2400). This meant that Asian students scored in the 93rd percentile and whites in the 80th percentile nationally while black students scored in the 52nd percentile. These scores are a verboten subject among academics since they highlight the unfairness to students rejected with much higher scores due to their race.

    Could this be due to the fact that in the suburban areas the students receive a education far better then those in the urban areas not only scholastically but they receive classes and programs urban students can only dream about.. suburban schools get science rooms urban schools barely get a science class in the auditorium. suburban schools get far more educational materials ex books, supplies, etc while the urban schools have to share the books between the students. the racial divide was done on a deliberate basis im sure most of us can agree and if not then i’ll assume you have not read the

    The Destruction of American Education.

    http://www.hermes-press.com/education_index.htm

    “The ruling class in the United States is intensifying its campaign to dismantle public education.

    “With the new fiscal year that began yesterday [7/1/2011], states throughout the country are slashing education funding, leading to the layoff of tens of thousands of teachers and the closure of hundreds of schools.

    “Both the Democratic and Republican parties are using the fiscal crisis–the outcome of decades of tax cuts to the rich, the bailout of the banks, and an economic crash caused by rampant speculation–as an opportunity to undermine and eliminate public education.”

    It’s no accident that America’s schools have slowly eroded and that the intelligence of the average American has become so debilitated. American learning has plummeted and public school performance has nose-dived ever since the middle of the twentieth century because it was planned that way.

    Some thirty million adults in the U.S. do not have the skills to perform even the most basic tasks such as adding numbers on a bank slip, identifying a place on a map, or reading directions for taking a medication. Eleven million Americans are totally illiterate in English.

    Only twenty-nine percent of Americans have basic reading and computing skills. One out of every twenty Americans lacks the ability to understand what is going on in the world or to develop an informed opinion for voting.

    and thats just in the first 2 paragraphs.

    to find out how and why also the true purpose of charter schools and what they are really doing to and in the colleges is a must read. and please read the school to prison pipeline. There is a reason for it all and the above is literally for show. if nothing has changed since 1977 it will not change now unless we fight for that change. and that means that equal education is afforded and given to all the same. not one over the other. to keep one suppressed while keeping the other distracted as to what is really going on

  94. OH Man. I just read all of the comments above. The only thing that I can say is” Where The White Women at?

    Blazing Saddles.

    The discussion above is almost goofy.

  95. Tony C, I saw a picture of Maureen O’Hara and Marilyn Monroe standing together. Some one asked me which one was redhead and which one was blonde. I knew right away. What I didn’t know was which one was going to be lessened by societal acceptance of dumbass think.

  96. Gene H.

    “Race is a social construct based on minor differences in phenotypes”,

    Did the supreme court say that today?

    What is a social construct, …. Perhaps a Phoney Placebo Putting Pale People Perpetually Perched …. darn it i ran out of bhhs…. on a higher status rung than melanin enhanced humans.

    By all means Gene H, I think the Supreme court should spend all their time debating Minor social constructs.

    This is my point, phenotypes are minor and interchangable. Race is a social construct that only exists in the minds of Racist. The validity of race, the falseness of race, is only accepted by Racists.

    Phenotypes my BUTT. Minor differences okay…maybe.

    You are slave and 3/5 human because of your phenotypes….
    I don’t think so. You just made an argument against race.
    Are you a dumb blonde Gene? phenotypes ARE minor.
    Race is phony if it is based on phenotypes.
    Racism is a reflection on the idiocy of the racist.

    Did the Supreme Gods of the court mention that today?

  97. BarkinDog
    1, June 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    “The discussion above is almost goofy.”

    What breed is goofy? What color phenotypes does your dog pack consider to be a lesser color. Are spots good on a dog or bad?. ..I don’t know.
    Do you have a supreme Dog court that decides which phenotypes make a dog a lesser dog? I thought dogs were too smart and diverse to be Racists.

  98. Robin H, since the long handle spoon I have been trying to stir the pot with must have broken off, I will take a break from my sisyphusian effort and say … Thank you for your post. Education is the equalizer for all youth. The differences of available opportunity for children is deplorable, and a significant reason for all this denial that is going on …on this thread tonight.
    IM Humble O.

  99. David Blauw,

    In reading what I wrote, I think you mistake that I’m saying the social construct of racism for being minor. Racism is a huge pain in the ass and a wedge that the unscrupulous of the world use to keep a wedge between people. It’s not even close to a minor problem. It’s a major problem, but a social construct based on minor differences. Perhaps I should have been more explicit, but from the majority of your post, I’d say we’re more on the same page than not.

  100. David Blau: It is time for dogs to be admitted to colleges. We can start with guide dogs for blind guys.

  101. BarkinDog: FYI, Service animals are already “admitted” to college; not only is it the law, it is the right and humane thing to do. Not only for blind persons, but for any disability that requires it; for example students subject to seizures can have service animals trained to detect the imminent onset of a seizure. Some disabled students so disabled they cannot operate a joystick have large dogs trained to pull their wheelchair for them on voice command.

    Service animals cannot be refused admittance to a classroom based on allergies, phobias or disapproval of other occupants of the room; the most a professor can do in accommodation is seat people and animals on different sides of the room.

  102. “The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court.

    The 5-4 ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, found that “things have changed dramatically” in the South nearly 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed.

    The court’s opinion said it did not strike down the act of Congress “lightly,” and said it “took care to avoid ruling on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act” in a separate case back in 2009. “Congress could have updated the coverage formula at that time, but did not do so. Its failure to act leaves us today with no choice but to declare [Section 4] unconstitutional. The formula in that section can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance.”

    Congress, the court ruled, “may draft another formula based on current conditions.” ”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/25/voting-rights-act-supreme-court_n_3429810.html

    I feel so much better knowing Congress is there to protect voting rights and is free to act….

  103. Yes she did, thanks for the link SWM. The only problem with the list (considering that the the Republicans have been suppressing the vote for the last few years) is that it wasn’t long enough. The next couple of years on the voting laws front is going to be interesting.

    Ha! no doubt in my mind the governors in a dozen states made Anthony Weiner look like a piker when the decision was announced. LOL, NSA’s eyes must be bleeding. :-)

    just sayn’

  104. The first link is a web site with many scholars discussion of race.
    The second is an excerpt of one of the many papers here.
    I will read a little more, and either build a bigger slingshot or lay it down.
    YOU GOLIATHS YOU!!! :o)

    http://www.understandingrace.org/resources/papers_author.html

    http://www.understandingrace.org/resources/pdf/rethinking/hartigan.pdf

    Analyzing the Cultural Dimension
    There are two basic problems with asserting “race is socially constructed.”
    The first is that it butts up against peoples’ deeply engrained sensibility that race
    is actually very real and palpable, something that they both experience and can
    “see.” Obviously, this is something that we want to disrupt, but we must also
    recognize that the profundity of this challenge often leads to it being resisted
    entirely rather than taken seriously. This links to the second problem: though this
    basic claim invokes the “social,” generally it involves a fairly meager elaboration
    of what and how culture matters in such perceptions. Most often, the assertions
    of social construction lead directly to claims that race is really just a “myth,” a
    form of false consciousness, or that it is entirely a function of racism. When the
    “social” dimension of this formulation is equated completely with racism, many
    whites entirely shut out this important message.

  105. Christopher Hayes ‏@chrislhayes 2m

    Lefties who say that “both parties are the same” should look at how each party responds to VRA decision. It will not be the same.

  106. http://www.understandingrace.org/resources/pdf/rethinking/thompson.pdf

    Leroi’s defense is that race is “a
    shorthand that seems to be needed.” But in fact, there are better, more useful,
    more accurate ways to talk about our genetic inheritance than race; and ones
    that do not necessarily have “the problematic, even vicious, history of the word
    ‘race.’”
    An Alternative Line of Thinking
    Where needed, a term and concept such as “lineage” would be preferable
    to “race.” I am not so naïve to believe that lineage could not be put to many of the
    same socially divisive and inhumane purposes that have haunted the history of
    the concept of race. A change in terminology is not going to fundamentally
    change all the conditions and impulses that accompany the horrors of race,
    ethnicity, nationalism and similar ideological schemes. But to me, lineage offers
    to be more useful than race for all of the reasons that Leroi outlines—descriptive,
    utilitarian and aesthetic.
    First and foremost, lineage is descriptively better than race. Race implies
    that everyone belongs to one and only one group. Everyone has two immediate
    lineages—from one’s mother and from one’s father. And one’s lineage multiplies
    with each receding generation. Considered in this way, one’s lineages
    emphasize the plural inheritances that make up each of us as an individual.
    Fractions (or rather, multiples) make sense in terms of lineage in a way that they
    do not in terms of race.

  107. Yeah, neither of them play to the bases they see as responsible for them being elected. If a particular stand just happens to be either Constitutional and/or principled, it’s happy coincidence. It’s all just an illusion. The illusion of distinction and the illusion of choice.

  108. http://www.understandingrace.org/about/statement.html

    AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION STATEMENT ON “RACE” (May 17, 1998)
    The following statement was adopted by the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association, acting on a draft prepared by a committee of representative American anthropologists. It does not reflect a consensus of all members of the AAA, as individuals vary in their approaches to the study of “race.” We believe that it represents generally the contemporary thinking and scholarly positions of a majority of anthropologists.

    In the United States both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences. With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic “racial” groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within “racial” groups than between them. In neighboring populations there is much overlapping of genes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species.

    Physical variations in any given trait tend to occur gradually rather than abruptly over geographic areas. And because physical traits are inherited independently of one another, knowing the range of one trait does not predict the presence of others. For example, skin color varies largely from light in the temperate areas in the north to dark in the tropical areas in the south; its intensity is not related to nose shape or hair texture. Dark skin may be associated with frizzy or kinky hair or curly or wavy or straight hair, all of which are found among different indigenous peoples in tropical regions. These facts render any attempt to establish lines of division among biological populations both arbitrary and subjective.

    Historical research has shown that the idea of “race” has always carried more meanings than mere physical differences; indeed, physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them. Today scholars in many fields argue that “race” as it is understood in the United States of America was a social mechanism invented during the 18th century to refer to those populations brought together in colonial America: the English and other European settlers, the conquered Indian peoples, and those peoples of Africa brought in to provide slave labor.

    From its inception, this modern concept of “race” was modeled after an ancient theorem of the Great Chain of Being, which posited natural categories on a hierarchy established by God or nature. Thus “race” was a mode of classification linked specifically to peoples in the colonial situation. It subsumed a growing ideology of inequality devised to rationalize European attitudes and treatment of the conquered and enslaved peoples. Proponents of slavery in particular during the 19th century used “race” to justify the retention of slavery. The ideology magnified the differences among Europeans, Africans, and Indians, established a rigid hierarchy of socially exclusive categories underscored and bolstered unequal rank and status differences, and provided the rationalization that the inequality was natural or God-given. The different physical traits of African-Americans and Indians became markers or symbols of their status differences.

    As they were constructing US society, leaders among European-Americans fabricated the cultural/behavioral characteristics associated with each “race,” linking superior traits with Europeans and negative and inferior ones to blacks and Indians. Numerous arbitrary and fictitious beliefs about the different peoples were institutionalized and deeply embedded in American thought.

    Early in the 19th century the growing fields of science began to reflect the public consciousness about human differences. Differences among the “racial” categories were projected to their greatest extreme when the argument was posed that Africans, Indians, and Europeans were separate species, with Africans the least human and closer taxonomically to apes.

    Ultimately “race” as an ideology about human differences was subsequently spread to other areas of the world. It became a strategy for dividing, ranking, and controlling colonized people used by colonial powers everywhere. But it was not limited to the colonial situation. In the latter part of the 19th century it was employed by Europeans to rank one another and to justify social, economic, and political inequalities among their peoples. During World War II, the Nazis under Adolf Hitler enjoined the expanded ideology of “race” and “racial” differences and took them to a logical end: the extermination of 11 million people of “inferior races” (e.g., Jews, Gypsies, Africans, homosexuals, and so forth) and other unspeakable brutalities of the Holocaust.

    “Race” thus evolved as a worldview, a body of prejudgments that distorts our ideas about human differences and group behavior. Racial beliefs constitute myths about the diversity in the human species and about the abilities and behavior of people homogenized into “racial” categories. The myths fused behavior and physical features together in the public mind, impeding our comprehension of both biological variations and cultural behavior, implying that both are genetically determined. Racial myths bear no relationship to the reality of human capabilities or behavior. Scientists today find that reliance on such folk beliefs about human differences in research has led to countless errors.

    At the end of the 20th century, we now understand that human cultural behavior is learned, conditioned into infants beginning at birth, and always subject to modification. No human is born with a built-in culture or language. Our temperaments, dispositions, and personalities, regardless of genetic propensities, are developed within sets of meanings and values that we call “culture.” Studies of infant and early childhood learning and behavior attest to the reality of our cultures in forming who we are.

    It is a basic tenet of anthropological knowledge that all normal human beings have the capacity to learn any cultural behavior. The American experience with immigrants from hundreds of different language and cultural backgrounds who have acquired some version of American culture traits and behavior is the clearest evidence of this fact. Moreover, people of all physical variations have learned different cultural behaviors and continue to do so as modern transportation moves millions of immigrants around the world.

    How people have been accepted and treated within the context of a given society or culture has a direct impact on how they perform in that society. The “racial” worldview was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status, while others were permitted access to privilege, power, and wealth. The tragedy in the United States has been that the policies and practices stemming from this worldview succeeded all too well in constructing unequal populations among Europeans, Native Americans, and peoples of African descent. Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called “racial” groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances.

    [Note: For further information on human biological variations, see the statement prepared and issued by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 1996 (AJPA 101:569-570).]

    AAA POSITION PAPER ON “RACE”: COMMENTS?

    As a result of public confusion about the meaning of “race,” claims as to major biological differences among “races” continue to be advanced. Stemming from past AAA actions designed to address public misconceptions on race and intelligence, the need was apparent for a clear AAA statement on the biology and politics of race that would be educational and informational. Rather than wait for each spurious claim to be raised, the AAA Executive Board determined that the Association should prepare a statement for approval by the Association and elicit member input.

    Commissioned by the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association, a position paper on race was authored by Audrey Smedley (Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview, 1993) and thrice reviewed by a working group of prominent anthropologists: George Armelagos, Michael Blakey, C. Loring Brace, Alan Goodman, Faye Harrison, Jonathan Marks, Yolanda Moses, and Carol Mukhopadhyay. A draft of the current paper was published in the September 1997 Anthropology Newsletter and posted ont the AAA website http://www.aaanet.org for a number of months, and member comments were requested. While Smedley assumed authorship of the final draft, she received comments not only from the working group but also from the AAA membership and other interested readers. The paper above was adopted by the AAA Executive Board on May 17, 1998, as an official statement of AAA’s position on “race.”

    As the paper is considered a living statement, AAA members’, other anthropologists’, and public comments are invited. Your comments may be sent via mail or e-mail to Damon Dozier, Director of Public Affairs, American Anthropological Association, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201, ddozier@aaanet.org.

  109. Racism has as it’s root word Race. 100 years ago their was a popular logic, based on accepted human ignorance and lack of scientific knowledge, that Race was significant and therefore the word Racism, was a logical conjugation to justify injustice, hatred, inferiority, superiority, between and among perceived racial differences. This is no longer true.

    Six hundred years ago we thought the sun revolved around the earth. The church and science supported this belief.
    Earth-Centrist or “Earthist” were in denial when Galileo challenged “Earthism” with science. Galileo and 1000s more continued on and proved the earth revolves around the sun. …. The Earth-Centrics (Earthist) had to admit and accept scientific proof, “Earthism” no longer exists.

    Science has proven today that Race is zero factor in the present development of the Human species. The ease of sharing alleles and phenotypes between all humans, obliterates any significance of human worth based on the melanin content of each individual.

    RACISM NO LONGER REVOLVES AROUND RACE. It revolves around ignorance. (as in PERIOD)

    Modern day scientific study has destroyed the “caveman” definition of Race. Racism with it’s roots are still embedded in this false caveman definition. The word Race, the modern scientific definition of Race, has no accurate nor logical reason to be associated with the word Racism. I suggest we change the word Racism to Stupidism, and we call Racist …Stupidist.
    The root word for racism no longer exists as a justification for racism. I would like to see the Supreme Court rule on that…..

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