Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Complicated Feelings That Accompany Scientific Progress

For me, personally, one of the worst aspects of the emerging consensus that some races are superior to others is that it has injected a feeling of burning shame into my relationship with my parents.  The shame, I think, comes from a toxic combination of my thoughts and my feelings:

1.  Rationally, I know the racial supremacists must be right, and so I am ashamed to come from inferior stock.  (My parents have Irish blood, and so of course do I.) And even though I don't want to blame my parents—can't blame them—I also can't escape the awareness that I am inferior because they are inferior. For a long time, maybe to comfort myself, I refused to believe in a racial hierarchy, but as Will Saletan cogently argues (in the linked article), refusing to acknowledge that some races are better than others is like denying the theory of evolution. Since I believe in evolution, it follows that, if I am intellectually honest, I must accept that some races are better than others.

2.  Acknowledging our racial inferiority feels like a betrayal, though, and my emotions rebel against it.  In a hypothetical argument between my parents and skinheads who are yelling at them, I badly want to take my parents' side, even though I know the skinheads are, per Saletan, (A) right about racial supremacy and (B) genetically superior to me and my parents (so long as the skinheads are not, themselves, Irish).  I find my temper rising (such a typical Irish reaction) and I want to shout, "No, it can't be!  These skinheads are bigots!"

But if anything, I am the bigot.  My parents are doctors and I am a lawyer, and so I look down at poorly-educated skinheads, despite the scientific validity of their claims.  This is class bias, plain and simple, and of course it is wrong to indulge in it (as well as being highly self-serving).

And  this just redoubles my shame, because I know that this emotional need to believe that my parents and I aren't racial scum, racial vermin, is just like the emotional, anti-scientific response of creationists in the face of overwhelming evidence for evolution by natural selection.  The need to resort to slurs like "bigot" demonstrates how incapable I am of assessing the evidence coolly and accepting it regardless of its implications.  In short, my overheated, under-supported argument against racial supremacy is self-refuting.

And all of these feelings well up whenever I talk to my parents about the books they are reading, the beer they are brewing, the trips they are planning, the pride and love they feel for their new grandchild (my nephew).  Pinkt vi menschen, you might say.  Just like people.

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