Re: Fred Reed - The Dave Barry of Racists

From: Greg Burch (
Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 09:25:24 MDT

At the risk of prolonging a discussion that has had much in the way of
unproductive "talking past each other", I thought I'd put in some belated
comments regarding the "race" threads.

First, some personal comments. I grew up in the U.S. South during the
climax of the era of desegregation and what I saw during that time has had a
deep impact on my thinking and sentiments on the subject of race in general
and the history of slavery and its aftermath in particular. As long-time
subscribers will also know, I'm very interested in the history of the
Enlightenment and what I consider to be one of its supreme achievements, the
founding of the secular, limited American republic. Very much a part of the
study of that time has been an interest in "the peculiar institution" and
its role in both the biographies of the Founders (especially Jefferson) and
its effect on the initial conditions of the Revolution and its aftermath
through the Civil War and into our own time and beyond. Finally, as a
libertarian, I've been keen to find alternatives to state action as remedies
for the lingering effects of slavery in the U.S. and the phenomenon of
racism in general. This is both a matter of theoretical interest to me and
also one of immediate personal importance, since as a partner in a business
that is based on "people power", I am keen to find talent wherever I can,
including among the descendants of slaves and recent immigrants.

With all that said, I'll comment that I found the article that prompted this
discussion to be a bit of ham-fisted rhetoric. Taken entirely by itself, I
found it to be in poor taste and to have a strongly implied and very thinly
disguised racist undertone. Beyond this, though, the folks who've followed
the author's links to other pieces on his own site and beyond have made a
very legitimate job of contextualization. I think it's both entirely fair
and quite important to find out where an author is "coming from". Sure, it'
s important to judge ideas on their own merits but, as I've pointed out in
the case of Jeremy Rifkin, taking one piece of writing out of context can
make someone seem far more reasonable than they really are. In the case of
the fellow in question here, we see that the item offered sits within a
context of clear and open racism. The old-fashioned white-power, "Aryan
Nation" crap this Reed person feeds on and himself feeds is the lowest form
of low-brow brownshirt ideology.

As I've written in the FAQ item on extropianism and racism I offered here
the other day, it is fundamentally important that we distinguish our
thinking and values from those of the kind we see exhibited by Reed and his
cronies. For better or worse, it is all too common for the uninformed to
equate transhumanism with eugenics and, from that false equation, to then
tar us with the brush of racism. Making sure this doesn't happen MATTERS,
since we see before us in the news this week what bad thinking about human
biotechnology can result in. It's one thing to be a curmudgeon about
"political correctness" (something I myself enjoy); it's quite another to
play into the hands of racist morons in the cultural struggle in which we
find ourselves embroiled.

Greg Burch

Vice-president, Extropy Institute

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:40:01 MDT