RE: Fred Reed - The Dave Barry of Racists

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 12:09:08 MDT

Miriam writes

> There is plenty of evidence to show that the racial structure
> of poverty is the result of racism, not a result of any
> inherent inferiority or superiority.

Those are not the only possibilities. The separate histories,
traditions, and cultures of groups have a tremendous effect on
their wealth or poverty. See Thomas Sowell's "Migrations and
Cultures" for an extraordinarily complete list of examples.

Additionally, it also depends on what you mean by "inherent".
Do you mean inherent in the sense of an almost inescapable
attribute of something, such as "depending on photosynthesis
for energy is an inherent characteristic of plants", or do
you mean inherent in the sense of a statistical attribute
that happens in fact to show up in some people of a particular
description or location, e.g., "a greater incidence of sickle-cell
anemia is inherent in the U.S. black population than the population
at large"?

> I am disappointed that a racist thread has turned up on
> the extropians list.

I have said repeatedly that this should be looked upon as a
welcome challenge to be met, but there has been no response to
my statement. Of course, you don't mean "racist thread", you
mean a discussion of racism. I repeat, if extropians simply
cannot handle uncomfortable ideas, then how in the world can
we ever hope that non-extropians should come to grips with
cloning, uploading, immortality, or the Spike?

> The denials of racism by some of the (plonked) individuals here
> remind me of a statement by someone I knew years ago: "I'm not
> racist. I can't help that blacks are stupid." I was astonished,
> but no amount of explanation could convince him of the absurdity
> of what he said.

Wow! First, do you know that "plonked" means that someone
has engaged an automatic process by which (roughly speaking)
a certain person's posts never even get to his mailbox?
If this isn't a frightened tactic of self-censorship, then
I don't know what is. (I hasten to add, that quite often
experienced discussion list members employ plonking not to
prevent their eyes from meeting disagreeable points of view,
but rather because someone's posts over a great deal of time
have shown themselves to be without content, or too long, or
some other non-partisan cause.)

Second, what that person said

"I'm not racist. I can't help that blacks are stupid."

is *not* necessarily absurd, as you claim. It may be entirely
wrong; it may be a gross over-generalization; it may be so
utterly an unqualified assertion that it absolutely demands
refutation---but it's not absurd. As Jerry Mitchell has written,
we must very precisely face square-on those assertions with which
we disagree, if we are not to simply paper them over, and let
their inaccuracy fester. Evidently, you did not dismiss that
person's claim out of hand, but tried to reason very closely
(in a hopefully open-minded way, where your sincere desire for
the truth did not display undue disdain on your part). Good for you.


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