The Dreadful Concept

Edward Green (
6 Dec 1996 19:17:08 -0500

I just something to put on the table, which I know is probably old
hat, and may cause a few "Oh no, why did he have to bring that up"
reactions, but just once, ok??

Forming a model of the implicit content of the R-concept (you know,
the one which forms compounds typically ending in 'tension',
'prejudice', 'quota', and so forth) from the popular US culture,
one might conclude two things:

1) That in America there is a monolithic W-R and B-R (I am spelling
out things to avoid attracting the attention of the children).

2) That the dichotomy into W-R and B-R Americans in the only
significant or problematic discrimination between members of the human
population on the planet. (note technical usage of d-word)

Both of these are obviously nonsense, or course. First of all let
me say I am familiar with the concept of a statistical cluster in
n-space, and that if you plotted the human population on suitable
scales, or almost any scales, you would see a number of blobs at
various locations in the space. Some of these might be fairly
discrete, and obvious "objects" to the casual observer. Some might
be joined together like Siamese twins, or n-tuplets, and some
regions might be full of low rolling hills that could only
be divided into separate ground by arbitrary fiat. Furthermore, if
you watched a film of this picture in time you would see the peaks
drifting, diverging, merging, and generally carrying on like a
petri-dish full of amoeba at an orgy.

This is obvious to anyone who has a liberal education.

This does not mean that naming some of these peaks, for example
"Harry", is a foolish thing to do. It just means we have to keep the
whole picture in mind. Now if I actually knew something beyond
having a liberal education, I might be able to say "the variation
between the various African R-blobs that might be identified by taking
a snapshot at some point in the 19th century is as great or greater than
the variation between most points in the 20th century American
W-rolling range of hills and the 20th century B-rolling range of
hills. Something like this will be true.

It's just CFS (common-emphatic-sense).

I hardly think I need say more about the parochialism inherent in the
second point.

Ed Green