Re: Race, Science, & Political Correctness
27 Nov 1996 13:52:18 GMT

>Race didn't originate in the 18th century. The 18th century scientists
>were trying to explain an observable difference.

The operative word here is "trying". "Aether" , "animal magnetism" and a
host of other explanatory concepts also had currency in the eighteenth
century and were later discarded as lacking sufficient explanatory power.
I suspect that if any of them meshed with your own rather transparent
political motives, you would champion them as well.

>Anthropological Perspective? You? Be real. If race is not a biological
>category, then it is at least a cultural one. In fact, race represents
>kin groupings. It is only since the Darwinists came along that it has
>meant anything else. Anthropologically, the ideology of race is an
>ideology of society based on kinship.

So the "White Race" is a kin grouping, eh? You mean that all "White
People" can trace themselves to a common ancestor? I haven't heard this
one before. This shows imagination! So if I went to 1800 (before the
Darwinists spoiled things) and asked a German, a Frenchman from the Midi,
and an Irish Catholic to name the people in their "kin" grouping, they
would name each other?

Or maybe that isn't what you mean. Maybe you mean that the Irish would
refer to themselves as the "Irish Race" (you see this in the literature of
the time)? But what does that do to your "white" race? Isn't there talk
in this period of the "German Race", the "Slavic Race", etc? This looks
like a pseudo-biological justification for nationalism to me, not kinship.

I know what kinship is, both as an anthropologist who studies it and as a
member of a family I am proud of. Five generations of my family were
still alive when I was twelve, and we have a frim grasp of where we came
from. I have an actual heritage and have no need for a mythical one that
places me in the same "kin group" as Edison, Darwin, Goebles, or anyone
else to give me self worth. For that matter, it seemes to me that
self-worth should come from ones own accomplishments, not from riding on
the coat tails of their "race".

You know, the Natchez Indians traced their lineage to the Sun. That
doesn't make it true.

--Greg Keyes