RE: Enoughness, was Re: Vicious Racism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Fri Aug 03 2001 - 19:43:19 MDT

Harvey Newstrom wrote

> We don't have list rules against uncomfortable subjects. We do
> have list rules against ad hominem. Stating that blacks cannot
> achieve as well as whites is ad hominem. It attacks the person
> as invalid rather than discussing any person's actions, topics,
> theories, actions, statements, etc. It was persuasive rather
> than objective.

Making a *statistical* statement concerning the ability of
different groups is not an ad hominem attack against anyone,
in my opinion. Facts, no matter how unpleasant, should not
in any way be proscribed from a discussion list: the intent
of the rule that you refer to, is to warn off one poster
from making a *personal* attack against another.

> If someone had attacked a particular list member by claiming
> [his or her] race was inferior instead of attacking their
> specific actions, statements or claims, this would violate
> the list rules.

Yes. It would be as if I were to attempt to rebut your
arguments by making some allusion to your I.Q., or to
your weight (gee, Harvey, hope you're not overweight :-),
or your nationality. Even though these might be factual,
they should violate any list's rules. But to make some
claim, for example, that "Californian Asian children are
as much smarter, statistically, than white children as
white children are smarter than black children", is
neither ad hominem nor against list rules.

> My analysis was objective, precise and complete.

Well, :-), that remains to be determined.

>> Now I notice, for the first time that I can recall, statements
>> such as these being made without any quoting of the original
>> sources. This is very peculiar. I think the explanation is
>> that the original source (Fred Reed's essay) is heavy on
>> innuendo and implication, and doesn't so easily yield up
>> quotable examples. But this just makes discussing it only
>> more difficult, not impossible. If we are to find the truth,
>> then such effort must be undertaken.

> However, for the sake of completeness of the record, let
> me clearly quote exact passages from the article:

> owe me for three bicycles. Maybe it's a small thing,
> but I'm tired of losing bicycles.

> "feemelkeebome" is stretching it. The errors were of this sort.[...]

> Without thinking, I asked, "What color is your teacher?"

> I can yell at an ignorant white teacher, but not at a black one.

> To expect blacks to meet standards is racist.

> People in, say, Switzerland can walk their streets
> after dark. We can't. Why?

> - they never caught the killers, but - what you reckon, Johnny?
> [were they old white people]?

> [White people invented positron-emission scanners... Air-conditioning.
> Roads. Writing. The wheel. Complicated stuff like that. Medicine.
> Tractors. Shoes. Houses.

> I'd love to see blacks study, earn degrees on their merits, prosper.

> These statements make these racist assumptions (in
> order of the above quotes):
> - unseen bicycle thieves are assumed to be black

Yes! (Then again, it's *possible* that Fred Reed was living at the
time in an area where the odds were overwhelming. But still...)

> - poor teachers are assumed to probably be black
Yes. But as I wrote before, there isn't anything necessarily
racist about this.

> - countries without crime problems are assumed to be so
> because of a lack of blacks

Yes. That is racist. Any such statement would have to be
enormously qualified not to be racist.

> - unsolved murders are assumed to be committed by blacks

> - all technology inventions are assumed to be made by
> whites and not blacks

No. That the vast majority of inventions did not occur in
tropical regions is factual. If Fred Reed implied "all", then
I think that his point has to be understood in the context of
the claim that he was making about the wisdom of reparations.
It has to be so understood, that is, if we wish to always use
the principle of charity, and read unclear passages in their
best light.

> - all [of] western civilization [is] assumed to be due
> to whites and not blacks

See preceding comment.

> - all value in Microsoft Word is assumed to be due to Microsoft's
> white employees and none of their black employees
> - basic tools such as roads, writing, the wheel, shoes, houses
> are assumed to have been invented by whites but not blacks
> - the wheel is assumed to have been invented by a white and not a black

No comment.

> - blacks are assumed to be incapable of study

Here is what Fred Reed wrote

> I don't wish stick houses on anyone. I'm glad you have the benefits of
> electricity, clothes, and daytime TV. I'd love to see blacks study, earn
> degrees on their merits, prosper.

See? He did not at all imply that they were incapable of study.
The worst that can be read into the paragraph is the assertion
that they do not in fact study. This would be silly and racist,
if taken literally. But if the implication is that black people
study less than whites, and too seldom at that, this is probably

Now I am *not* defending Fred's statements here: I am holding
up to criticism Harvey Newstrom's assertions about some of these
statements, namely, that they contained racist assumptions.\
To continue.

> - degrees earned by blacks are assumed to be given without merit

No. The implication is that too often, or sometimes, degrees
have been obtained by blacks without merit, or at least more
often than is the case with non-blacks. This is probably true.

> - blacks are assumed to be unable to prosper

No. You are stretching here.

Let me thank you again, Harvey, for having made so much that was
implicit and difficult, explicit and easy to see. At least three
times above, I gave an unqualified "yes". You could have restrained
yourself to making your best case; as Russell said, you were a bit
too elaborate. I know, once you get rolling, it's difficult not
to pile on---I've done it myself, and only weakened my point as
as consequence.

Jerry had written (not me)
>>> Well I grant you the post didn't contain anything on the
>>> order of: "All niggers are shiftless, lazy, criminals who
>>> have made no worthwhile contribution to society"

> But it did say this! A point-by-point analysis of your
> statement above shows that the article did exactly claim
> everything you said. It called them blacks for "niggers"...

Jerry's statement is factually true. Yours is a polemical
exaggeration. It *is* possible to not write like that.
(I do thank some readers who have caught me doing it, on

To summarize, citing only Harvey's *valid* assertions
about some claims in Fred Reed's piece being founded
on racist assumptions:

   - unseen bicycle thieves are assumed to be black
   - countries without crime problems are assumed to be so
     because of a lack of blacks
   - unsolved murders are assumed to be committed by blacks

All indeed do seem to be present in the piece and racist
(to me). Harvey's other assertions were highly questionable,
and often untrue. But again, thanks for the elucidation.


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