"Scientific racism"?

mike salovesh (T20MXS1@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Wed, 19 Oct 1994 21:56:00 CDT

Whew. Something stinks here, and if it isn't "scientific" racism
then it will hve to do until that stuff comes along.

Never mind questions of brain size. Let's try the alleged breeding
isolates that get lumped under the terms "asiatic", "european", and
"african". Please indulge me for taking a eurocentric view - -

Once upon a time (the Second Punic Wars, to be more precise) there
was a general named Hannibal who led his troops through Spain, then
south France, then over the Alps into Italy. (Modern country names,
of course.) What made that famous was the fact that he brought some
elephants with him. Elephants, somebody once told me, come from
tropical Africa in places where the local population has dark skins,
dark eyes, kinky hair, and all those supposed indicia of "Negroid"
race. Somebody had to handle Hannibal's elephants: anybody want to
bet it was NOT people from the same places the elephants came from?
In any event, Hannibal's army was undeniably an AFRICAN army.

Once they started bouncing around Europe, Hannibal's army did what
all invading armies do: they grappled with, bought, raped, and other-
wise had sexual congress with the women of the territories they
marched through. And left a helluva lot of bastard children behind
when they moved on.

Once upon a time, there were several sets of hordes of inner asians,
led by such greats as Genghiz Khan. Effectively, they were invading
armies that penetrated deep into Europe. As usual, a large part of
that penetration was sexual. And they left a helluva lot of bastard
children behind when they moved on.

I said I would be Eurocentric, and I have been. But I might just as
well have talked of European invasons of Africa and Asia . . .

What's the point to this ancient history? The biggest point is that
if there ever were such a thing as a "pure" European race, nobody
who lives in Europe now or is descended from recent European emigrant
stock since Columbus is "free" of African or Asiatic genes. So if I
want to compare genetic Europeans with genetic Africans with genetic
Asians, in terms of IQ or anything else, where do I get me a pure
specimen? Or, for that matter, how do I tell how mixed any indivi-
dual may be?

Of course, in the U.S. we have a little more data. If you check
out the decennial censuses from their inception in 1790, you'll
notice an odd fact: there are more people labeled to indicate
alleged African origin born than are ever accounted for as dying.
There are fewer people labeled to indicate alleged European origin
being born or immigrating into the U.S. than are dying. The reason,
of course, is the well-known phenomenon of "passing": some folks
start life labeled as of African origin, but end life labeled as of
European origin. (Since we have only two SOCIAL categories here, I
suppose it even makes an odd kind of "sense": if most of your
ancestors are European-derived, I think you should be called
European derived even if some of your ancestors are African-derived.)

After the 1960 census, somebody (in the Ohio Journal of Science, as
reprinted in one of the many collections of intro anthro readings
that were published in the 1960's--I'll look it up only if forced
to) calculated that about a 60/40 majority of people with African
slave ancestors born in the U.S. are called "white" by everybody.
As I recall the 1960 figures, VERY approximately, there were on the
order of 30 million so-called "whites" with African slave ancestors
while there were only about 20 million or so so-called "blacks" in
the U.S. native-born population. (There were lots of articles back
then agreeing that something like 90% of people then called "Negroes"
born in the U.S. had "Caucasian" ancestors.)

Once more, how do I identify proportions of mixture in such a popu-
lation? I have known lots of people with blond hair and/or blue
eyes, for example, who called themselves "black" and were treated as
"black" by others, including other people called "black".

As for the crime question, Native Americans are usually classed as
Asia-derived populations by those who play the "race" game. I have
spent years working with Maya-speaking Indians in Chiapas, Mexico.
What's interesting is something about homicide rates: they are so
high that when I mentioned a fairly typical rate to a criminologist,
about an average of ten homicides per year in a town whose population
is about 1000, he tried to tell me that I must have meant that the
CITY had a population of 100,000. No, I said, and retreated from
the first community I mentioned to the one where I have now lived a
total of about five years since 1958. Within the Indian community
of 5000 when I arrived, an ordinary year might have seen 20 homicides
known to the community. (Not counting infanticide by neglect and/or
deliberate starvation.) Now one could count the community as around
10,000 and homicides at 40 to 50 a year. (Of course this municipio
has one of the highest homicide rates in all of Mexico, but that
doesn't vitiate my argument.) Calculated as homicides per hundred
thousand, I'm talking about places with rates ranging from 400 to
as high as 1000--and a population that racists would call American

(Don't bother me with the actual population history here. I accept
from the beginning that there are NO so-called Indian populations in
Chiapas that don't have some European ancestors. The demographic
collapse of the 16th century and the known prolific tendencies of the
conquistadores account for that. And, lest anybody forget, Spanish
immigrants to New Spain during the Colonial epoch brought with them
about five dark-skinned Africans for every six lighter-skinned
Europeans. As early as the 16th century, there were complaints by
Spanish conquistadores that the "native women" seemed to be more
attracted to negros than they were to blancos. So Chiapas Indians,
even the Lacandones, are the result of centuries of mixing among
populations derived ultimately from Asia, Europe, and Africa--in
direct parallel to what I was saying about "Europeans", above.)

Now if anybody wanted to attribute homicide rates to "race", I see
pretty good evidence here that what a racist would call an Asian
population is pretty high on the killing scale.

Talk about DUMB: It ain't race that causes the killings. It's
deliberate political policies, land shortages, internalization of
agression within the community in response to external (and well-
armed, violent, officially approved, and impossible to resist)
pressure and exploitation. And the homicide rate among the folks
locally called "Ladinos", whom a racist would see as "European", is
just about the same. (It has many of the same social causes, too.)

Oh, well. I think I have made clear why I think that racism falls of
its own weight--IN ITS OWN TERMS. Recourse to genetics, biological
science, statistics, or psychology isn't even necessary. Serious
genetics, biology, statistics, and psychology come up with the same
result by their own means.

The neatest thing you can do to a really dedicated, "white", "Euro-
pean", "caucasoid" racist is point out that he has dark-skinned
African ancestors just like the rest of us. Gets 'em every time.

mike salovesh <SALOVESH@NIU.EDU>

I'll go back to WAR tomorrow.