The R-word

My post on Keith Windschuttle’s statements defending the White Australia policy drew an interesting response. No-one, as far I can see, was prepared to defend Windschuttle outright, but there was a sudden and startling outbreak of caution. Maybe Windschuttle had been misquoted. Maybe the interview gave a misleading picture of his book and we should all wait to read it. Maybe the term “White Australia policy” was never used officially. Maybe the dictation test was administered so as to admit educated Indians. Maybe my links were inaccurate.

All of this is very uncharacteristic of the blogosphere. The nature of blogging lends itself to summary judgements based on limited evidence, not waiting for years until all the evidence is in. You read the papers, make a judgement and (at least among the better class of bloggers) if you turn out to be wrong, you admit it with good grace. Why has the response in this case been so different ?

I think it’s because of the R-word racism. There is only one real instance of political correctness in Australia today and that is that you are never, ever allowed to call anyone a racist. It’s OK to say that Adolf Hitler was a racist, and that apartheid was racist, but the idea that any actual Australian could be a racist is utterly taboo. Even I can’t resist the Zeitgeist on this one. In my post, I called Windschuttle “a consistent apologist for racism, happy to use racist arguments in support of his cause”.

It’s obvious why this taboo has emerged. Racism is an evil, bloodstained ideology and no one wants to admit association with it. Hence, almost no-one is silly enough to come out with a clear-cut statement like “white people are inherently superior to black people, and should be able to use them as they see fit”.

In this respect, racism is very similar to Communism. But while few people were willing to endorse Soviet Communism openly, particularly after the purges and the exposures of Kruschchev’s secret speech, there were plenty who were always willing to make excuses for the communists along the lines of “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” and so on. With his characteristic turn of phrase, Lenin called people of this type “fellow travellers” to their faces and “useful idiots” behind their backs.

Since his (still unexplained) swing from far left to far right about a decade ago, Windschuttle has consistently sought to excuse racist actions by whites (or, more precisely, British whites) by the usual range of strategies including denial of the facts, quibbling about irrelevant details, denunciation of witnesses and attacks on the victims as subhumans responsible for their own demise[1]. But, in politically correct Australia, that’s not enough reason to call him a racist. So, I’ll just call him a fellow-traveller.

fn1. There’s an obvious model for this kind of thing in the recent historical literature, but I’ll leave the identification as an exercise for readers.

In case people have forgotten Windschuttle’s track record on matters of this kind let’s look at a couple of examples of blatant inconsistency, invariably operating to put whites who might be accused of racism in a good light, and blacks in a bad one. In his book on Tasmania, Windschuttle denies that Aborigines resisting white occupation could be viewed as displaying humanity or compassion on the basis of claims (for which he had almost zero evidence) that they had no words for these concepts. On the other hand, in claiming that the Aborigines were responsible for their own extinction, he accuses them of prostituting their women, a concept that is meaningless in a society without money or formal concepts of trade (leaving aside the well-documented and widespread incidence of rape).

In the interview promoting his new book on White Australia, Windschuttle supports the view, often stated by apologists for the policy, that it was the product of economic incentives. By contrast, in this New Criterion piece on the history of the British Empire, Windschuttle defends the view that the British abolition of slavery was due to moral revulsion rather than economic motives. In other words, when the British (taken here to include white Australians) do the right thing, this is evidence of the moral superiority of British/Christian civilisation. When they do the wrong thing, it’s a “rational and, in a number of ways, progressive, product” of economic circumstances.

If you want to confirm all this, I have a long essay here or you can search the site for chapter and verse.

197 thoughts on “The R-word

  1. Gerard Henderson correctly faults Windschuttle for his lack of empathy. I suspect that Gerry is reluctantly going into bat for his side in the culture wars here.

    Speaking of going into bat, I wonder if Michael Kasprowicz is the bowler at now that we’ve hit a century in comments on this thread!

  2. “I see the most hate here coming from lefties against racists… not by racists against other races.”

    So this thread proves that, what? More leftists than racists read Quiggin? Are you sure it is only leftists who “hate” racists?

  3. Strocchi supports the Racial Vilification Act, thinks racism is a problem and agrees with just about every other reasonable point made on this thread but will continue to split hairs with anybody saying the same things that he perceives as belonging to the left. It’s an obsession.

  4. Jack,

    I think you’re confusing the instinctive behaviour of animals with the moral/immoral behaviour of humans. Can we really say that a wasp is acting morally or imorally if she is simply behaving on instinct? Where is the moral content in a behaviour if there is no choice?

    There may be an argument that human morality is the product of evolutionary processes, but I’m not aware of any proof of this. The evolutionary psychology movement seems (at least to me) to lack empirical evidence and intellectual rigour at this stage to be credible.

    Congrats to Prof. Q on his double century.

  5. My grandfather was born in 1890. When I was a child in the 60s, he would read to us, with a great deal of emotion, from an old book of poetry about “the heathen Chinee”.

    In the late 70s I shared a house with a woman who had been adopted. She had a job at Telstra (Telecom then) and if she did anything slightly wrong, like being a few minutes late for work, she was derided as a ‘boong’ by her workmates. About five years later she found her birth mother and discovered she was aboriginal.

    A few weeks ago I went to my high school reunion in Sydney’s western suburbs. One of my classmates had a daughter who is at the same school. Someone asked her what the school is like nowadays. Her reply was “There are too many Asians. You hardly see any white faces”.

    Tip of the iceberg…

  6. The largest and best organised gangs in Australia are almost entirely anglo/celtic. They are of course the outlaw bikie gangs.

  7. Katz said:
    “But to argue that there are classes of human beings who are inferior at their moment of conception and thereby merit discriminatory treatment is a most regrettable point of view and one that cannot be justified emperically.”

    This is the very premise under which Aboriginal Affairs policy has been based for at least the last 30 years. The empirical evidence is that it has been a policy, fiscal and human disaster of immense proportions. Worse still there are those who wish to see the policy countiued and in fact expanded.

  8. There is a continuum of ethical potential ranging from less moral – natural-instinctive (the mad Lorenzian minute) – through more moral – nurtural-intuitive – onto most moral – cultural-intellective (the full Kantian nine yards) – behaviours.
    I acknowledge that fully instinctive behaviours are non-moral. A person must be of sound body, mind and soul – posessed of the capacity for spiritual experience (subjective consciousness), moral valence (good-will), volitional agence (free-will), intellectual cogence (sound mind) and physical potence (sound body) – to have the existential attributes required for ethical action.
    The ethical continuum exists between and within organisms. There are plenty of animals – not all humans and some non-humans – that can wrestle with their consciences and use intuitive or intellective morals to override instinctive modes.

    There may be an argument that human morality is the product of evolutionary processes, but I’m not aware of any proof of this. The evolutionary psychology movement seems (at least to me) to lack empirical evidence and intellectual rigour at this stage to be credible.

    Evolutionary biology may or may not be convincing to Fyodor. It sometimes comes accross as a little unsypathetic towards cultural progressives (a fault that is in fairness sometims due to its more enthusiastic and polemic propagators.) Note that evolutionary theorists are bio-conservative but also techno-progressive.
    But its the only intellectual game in town that at least tries to get a scientific handle on the natural history, and by implication philosophical ontology, of ethics. So the evo-psychos and socio-bios are more or less winning by default.
    This google directory is the tip of the vast Evo-Psycho intellectual iceberg. Darwin, Hamilton and Axelord provide the canonical texts.
    The “Blank Slate” Freudians and Marxians have bitten the dust, the “Noble Savage” po-mo pee-cee cultural theorists are beyond parody and The “Ghost in the Machine” Intelligent Designers are “not even wrong”.
    Ths intellectual writing is already on the wall for the genealogy of morality. And once the HGP, and related physical and physiological sci-tech projects, start to yield up their secrets it will be Game Over for the Social Constructionists and Scriptural Literalists.

  9. “at least the last 30 years”

    Closer to the last 230 years.

    It may surprise you, Amortiser, to hear that I agree with your assertion, if not your periodisation.

    The first 100 years’ discrimination was motivated by the desire to marginalise and dispossess

    The next 80 years’ discrimination was based on the hope and/or expectation that Darwinian processes would terminate the “Aboriginal problem”.

    The last 35 years’ discrimination have been motivated by misguided idealism, crude statism, greedy careerism and outright graft and corruption.

    After this sorry history there is nothing but pain every way you look.

  10. PS I did not insist that the Wasp was actually being Moral, or Immoral, for that matter. I picked Darwin’s famous example to illustrate the Relativist conclusion that different populations will operate under different codes of behaviour, which can range from instinctive to intellective.
    These codes are surely different from each other in time and place ie relatively, not absolutely, valid for the occasion of action. And no less justified for that reason. Hence impossible to Absolutely condemn or condone.
    Perhaps some Wasps are more moral than others from the pov of the typical Wasp in the Street. Until we achieve telepathy with Wasps it will be difficult to say what end of the continuum they experience. At a wild guess I would say that Wasps are probably robots and tending to amorality. But this is a philosophical thought, not zoological lab, experiment.

  11. James Farrell,

    Thank you, but despite your claim that my question was an easy one you did not answer it. All nations, races

    and creeds have nice people, others who are not so nice and some who dance to either tune when the mood

    takes them. At least that has been my experience. So what?

    As to “a person’s true qualities”, these are not considered on application for immigration. And neither are they

    relevant to answering my general question.

    You ask if I am a bigot by any chance. It is kind of you to enquire. But it is an interesting question, definitional

    niceties aside. A bigot in your terms might consider you a bigot in his, with you being against him, his views,

    his values and presumably his kind. So, in turn, may I ask you if you are a bigot by any chance? I am sure you

    will appreciate my concern. But when all the name calling is done the question remains: why (for most

    participants here) is it wrong…?

    Let me be clear. I regard the question of who is or who is not allowed to immigrate as quintessentially a

    political one. In my view it is the fundamental question for a democracy – namely, who constitute the demos?

    As such it should be subject to the normal democratic process. However, some ‘theocrats’ have attempted,

    with some success, to paint it as primarily a moral question and to force their version of a moral code on

    others, implicitly pushing the line that moral claims take precedence over political ones and thereby attempting

    to close down what should be a free and open debate. Leaving aside the precedence issue, I wish to know what

    their moral basis is. I suspect it is a sham. Can you convince me otherwise?

  12. Len Dripping seems to be serious in his question. My answer would be along the lines that a
    non-race discriminatory immigration policy is best politically regardless of questions of morality.

    The reason is that for Australia to offer offense to certain peoples by refusing them entry would be done at great cost for very little gain. We do not have a severe problem with any particular racial group in Australia, so to fine tune our immigration policy to exclude a particular group because of some slight perceived gain in social harmony would be entirely uneconomic. The offense taken by the target nation and similarly racially constituted nations would be large. In fact we are still paying for the White Australia Policy in some corners of SE Asia. Time heals, but to mark ourselves out again as a nation that sees itself as racially separate from Asia would be a mistake. We rely on Asian workers to a huge degree. We would not have an IT industry, for example, if Asians were subtracted.

    Australia has a non-race discriminatory immigration policy and the immigration department is as hard-headed as they come. They do as they do not for soft morality concerns.

    If Len only wants an answer based on morality, then he should read the bible.
    “.. and then God created man etc.”

  13. Jack,

    I’m thoroughly convinced by evolutionary biology, but I see little evidence that human morality has been influenced by evolutionary processes.

    That’s not to say the evidence isn’t out there to be found, or that the effort isn’t worthwhile, but I didn’t find it in your links (thanks for which, btw).

    If natural history has some insight into morality, I’m curious to examine it, but so far we seem to have produced little insight on that score. Furthermore, I don’t see that “Morality, as proven by Evolution, is Relative, not Absolute.”

  14. “OK spacehamster if you are an asian why arent you using an asian name like Won Hung Lo? By using the obviously anglo name spacehamster you are compromising my Aussie sense of identity and culture – sob!!”
    Posted by rog at December 6, 2004 08:42 PM

    Rog, comments like these are exactly the reason why I use an anonymous name most of the time. There are very few forums I would use my real name – it’s just not worth the racial abuse or the hassle. I find that some people (particularly on unmoderated forums) treat me differently or ignore me if I use my real name. It’s much easier if I use the pseudonym “Spacehamster”, as it describes how I look in real life. Pardon me if I’m overreacting – I found a strong undercurrent of racism in your comment. Unless you put [sarcasm] tags I can’t tell whether you’re serious or not.

  15. ‘As to “a person’s true qualities”, these are not considered on application for immigration.’

    I didn’t say they were. You implied that immigration should be based on what ‘kind’ of people the applicants were, whether they are of the host people’s ‘own kind’ or ‘other’. My point is that these are not useful designations.

    But from your next paragraph I gather this doesn’t matter, as long as the policy has majority support. I wonder if you’d be bold enough to suggest a wording for the referendum.

  16. I see little evidence that human morality has been influenced by evolutionary processes.

    This is obviously false if one believes evolutionary biology affects human neurology. The existence of a hypertophic neo-cortex is a product of human bio-evolution. An evolved neural structure is obviously a necessary, although not sufficient, condition for intensive and extensive spiritual empathy. ie hypothalamus is the organic seat of consciousness. Lacking this we would be zombies, or perhaps sociopaths, devoid of moral sentiments.
    The extraordinary human capacities for “valentive”, intellective and volitive calculation and operation are also, somehow, coded into our neural structures. No other species, except dolphins perhaps, has anything like these powers. Therefore it is fair to assume these attributes are bio-heritable, which is the paradigmatic assumption of the evo-pyschos.
    (Unless one is prepared to buy Jaynes theory that consciousness, and other human moral attributes, are contingent products of recent civilisation ie social, not natural, historical in origin. This does not appear to be plausible to me, given that pre-historical natives show real moral agency, albeit sometimes barbaric.)
    More broadly, evolution is a general theory of world-historical change which encompasses cosmology, geology, biology, neurology and sociology. The evolution of human moral agency is, as the socio-bio and evo-psycho portmanteaus suggest, clearly embedded in the psycho-sociological, as well as biological, evolutionary process.
    It is true that sociologically acquired
    “memes” are not biologically heritable, like genes. The moral memes are culturally heritable, and that – operating through fundamental process of generation, conservation/variation, propagation/extinction – is all that evolutionary brachiation requires.
    Clearly the evolution of the hominid neural biology is necessary to explain intra-species human cognitive universals. It is also necessary to explain inter-species cognitive differentials between humans and non-humans. Evo-psycho may also be necessary to explain intra-human species cognitive differentials between races. Plenty of suggestive physiological and psychological evidence to work on there. I urge scientific students of humanity to have a go at this evidence, without fear or favour.
    Evo-psycho is, however, not sufficient to explain much of the sub-special human diversity of moral and mental behaviours, either through time or accross space. Post-Deakinite Australians and post-Whitlamite Australians are biologically familiar but morally somewhat alien, in the same geographic place. Communist Jews in Russia, Capitalist Jews in America and Nationalist Jews in Israel were all biologically familiar yet morally alien, at the same historiographic time. North West Caucasians and North East Asians are biologically alien but getting morally familiar, anwhere you go these days.
    Hominid biological factors are therefore necessary, but not sufficient, to explain the natural and social evolution of human morality.

  17. Jack ‘Gobineau’ Strocchi urges us to greater endevours to understand the bio basis of intra-human differences. It has in fact all been already done. Endlessly. From about 1875 until about 1935. The result was that scientific racism was found to be dry creek.

    “intra-human species cognitive differentials between races” was unresearchable because we could never quite define what the hell “race” was.

    Pigment, skull shape, nose, lips, hair – all were tried but each time human classification collapsed into an amorphous gooey sludge in which everybody could be assigned to any race you like depending on the criteria chosen.

  18. Jack,

    All you seem to be saying is that evolution produced human biology/neurology. There’s little controversy in that, and it doesn’t necessarily mean morality is the result of evolution. Yes, we have consciousness as a result of evolution, but we have yet to prove that evolution drives how we apply that consciousness in moral decisions.

  19. Christ, Jack, I’m a fan of Dawkins and Pinker myself but will you stop giving evolutionary psychology a bad name by projecting your hot air about ‘pee cee’ into it? It’s got nothing to do with the current discussion.

  20. Wbb, Fyodor and Jason: Can’t you see that you’re butting in on a private conversation Jack is having with himself. Have some manners.

  21. we have yet to prove that evolution drives how we apply that consciousness in moral decisions.

    Fyodor is making a category mistake, confusing ontological with historical matters. The concept of “evolutionary drivers” is metaphysical and I do not recognise it. There is only the world system and its tendency to change or stasis through time, as desribed by the general theory of evolution.
    The theory evolution, addressing the (physical) history of the World, describes all material variations through time, including those performed (or chosen) by moral agents. However the theory of evolution, by itself, must be silent on the (metaphysical) ontology of the Mind, which attempts to correlate the material to mental worlds.
    The question of whether the biological or sociological evolution of the human mind is causal, or consequential, to individual moral agency is therefor vexed. At least and until a physical theory of “hard problem of consciousness” exists, which at the moment is not the case. We have an irreducibly subjective component (consciousness) to the equation, whose nature is not yet known.
    I acknowledge that the fundamentally chaotic contingencies of the World condition the course of evolution and this includes the course of individual moral choice. This boils down to the old libertarian v determinist argument which involves quantum physics etc and is beyond the scope of this thread and too difficult for my head.
    Any person seeking to inquire on the course of individuals moral choice through time and accross space must rely on assumptions about how the material world is organised in place and how it might change accross space. You need a theory of evolution for that. Since the human mind is a product of evolution this implies that you will get further down the explanatory track with some kind of evo-pyscho knowledge.
    At a minimum this is very useful for classification. Evolution can operate at extra- or intra-agent scales. ie micro-mutations within the individual or macro-variations within the environment. Clearly, since the evolution of the world – cosmological, biological, sociological – conditions material factors it will influence moral choice. Carrots and Sticks.
    This establishes that the evo-pyscho theory is necessary to explaining the distribution and direction of moral agency, encompassing material and mental aspects. I acknowledge that evo-psycho is not sufficient to fully explain moral choices, for ontological reasons given above. Also for methodological reasons, given the extreme complexity of nerurological and sociological systems.
    I insist that, without knowledge of the theory of (bio-, psycho-, socio-) evolution, the historical analyst of moral agency will not get far off the intellectual launch pad. Darwin hit traditional natural and social historians of for six. You only have to look at the seismic shock Darwins work inflicted on European culture’s self-understanding to see that. Of course Nietzche was faster, and got further, in figuring this out. All he got for his troubles was a bad press and then a bad head.

  22. wbb at December 7, 2004 03:24 PM proves my point that Pee-Cee matrons are continually prone to ignorantly policing reasonable discussion of human biological difference:

    Jack ‘Gobineau’ Strocchi urges us to greater endevours to understand the bio basis of intra-human differences.

    Right off wbb invokes Godwins Law. Whilst wbb is at it, why doesnt he go right for Dr. Francis “Gobineau” Collin’s, jugular?

    “Race still remains a proxy that has some potential value,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health. “I would love to see that ended, but we are not there yet.” Supporters of the genome project say gene-based remedies should be tailored to genetically identifiable groups, to make sure no one is denied the benefits of genetic medicine.

    So wbb would rather let lots of people of colour die earlier for want of racial-gene specific medicine rather than give up some of his sacred Pee-Cee shibboleths? I wonder if Aboriginals dying in agony from their ethnic-related kidney failure will appreciate wbb’s anathematic denunciations on the science of ethnic differences – for their own good I’m sure.
    While we are at it, lets also supress any analysis of the natural strengths and weaknesses, both physiological and pyschological, of different human sub-specials. Even though this might help different people get a better fit in whatever niche they might find or seek. Because knowledge is useless and happiness is unworthy.
    As a purported humanitarian wbb should find that ostrich-like behaviour morally obscene. But perhaps boosting the sagging values of his ideological investment in bad science has a stronger claim on his moral resources.

  23. James Farrell at December 6, 2004 11:09 PM betrays his scientific philosophy:

    Anyone who thinks that a person’s true qualities can be predicted from surface characteristics is a bigot.

    Actually this is a pretty good working definition of a statistician, always assuming one can go from quantities to qualities. I am happy enough with a world of empirical mores or lesses rather than logical either/ors. But then Hume was always complaining that inductive reasoning was just a fancy way of rationalising prejudice.

  24. If the costs of offending people through a discriminatory immigration policy were real, then Malaysia and Japan would be regional “pariahs”. That they are not is testament to the fact that this argument has always been bunk. Countries are not prepared to sacrifice bilateral trade relations over some quibble involving numbers of (generally) far less than 40,000 people per year.

    The costs of “offending people” are minimal because we were offending the very offenders themselves. This argument is simply a cover for the Left’s multicultural obsessions.

    The real utilitarian argument in favour of dismantling the WAP is that Australia was gratuitously locking out some very talented prospective immigrants. Of course, the Left can’t make that argument either, because the Left supported a bias towards family/humanitarian migration sources, and away from the very skilled criteria that would justify a dismantling of the WAP.

    Happily, the Howard government has rejected the multicultural fantasies of the Left, and has constructed a skills-intensive immigration programme that is biased towards people who can speak English.

  25. “The real utilitarian argument in favour of dismantling the WAP is that Australia was gratuitously locking out some very talented prospective immigrants. Of course, the Left can’t make that argument either, because the Left supported a bias towards family/humanitarian migration sources, and away from the very skilled criteria that would justify a dismantling of the WAP.”

    Somewhat mystifing choice of tense here: “utilitarian argument in favour of dismntling the WAP is’ …

    Newsflash! the WAP was dismantled during the 1960s. Harold Holt (Australian Prime Minister at the time) discovered it to be grossly embarrassing while he was trying for the first time to talk to some bits of Asia (Malaysia, Japan, Philippines) and at the same time bombing another part of Asia (Vietnam) as part of an earlier Coalition of the Willing. Macro-economic theory had nothing to do with it. “Couldn’t be beastly to the Little Yellow Johnnies any more, don’t you know?”

    So, it seems that those appalling Leftists weren’t alone in their culpable failure to act on the “right” (economic) motive for dismantling the WAP.

    Is the fantasy of the continuous present a common condition among anti-Leftists? If so, how long has it been a common conditiion? (Unfortunately, if it is common, the answer to the second question won’t be of much use to them.)

  26. Spacehamster you prefer to use a non asian nick to seek greater attention?

    (sorry to hear you look like a spacehamster, I’ve never actually seen one so can only imagine what they look like, do they lack gravity?)

  27. So wbb would rather let lots of people of colour die earlier for want of racial-gene specific medicine rather than give up some of his sacred Pee-Cee shibboleths? I wonder if Aboriginals dying in agony from their ethnic-related kidney failure will appreciate wbb’s anathematic denunciations on the science of ethnic differences – for their own good I’m sure. – Strocchi

    Trouble is – we were discussing, or at least Jack himself was, as James Farrell pointed out to my lol amusement, discussing – now how does this go – oh yes, valentive, intellective and volitive results of racially differentiated evolution. Whatever we were discussing it is a lazy dog who tries to bring in some question relating to “ethnic-related kidney failure”.

    No doubt Jack has half a textbook stuffed in his head about the renal system too, but even someone as matronly and doltish as myself can spot a red herring as big and as dubious as that one.

    Still Jack had to throw a bit of dust in the air while he quickly runs away from the dangerous ice he was skating on when he ended up writing about the biological determinants of intra-human moral deltas.

    (My Gobineau crack was no more over OTT as the off the top of the head Strocchi discursion that provoked it. But withdrawn for the sake of not jeapardising the Quiggin longest comment thread attempt.)

  28. Before this week…73? But most of the comments were insults. Someone needs to design a quality-weighted measure before any awards are made.

  29. An interesting methodological challenge, James!

    Interesting to go back and look at that earlier post and see the remarkable stability among commenters here – though I haven’t seen Dave Ricardo around for a while.

    And where’s Homer? or observa?

  30. Perhaps all Windscuttle is really pointing out, is that we should be a bit more careful about viewing the past through the lens of conventional wisdom. A paralell with the shock, horror, how could they, retrospective moralising over asbestos use or smoking immediately comes to mind. The willingness of the PC moral tub thumpers to visit the sins of the past vis a vis asbestos use, on the current workers, management and shareholders of James Hardie is a case in point. Mike Carleton wringing his hands in anger over the diseased plight of a 52yr old roofer was typical. Yes a JH at the time could well be culpable, but so too could the roofer’s many clients who absconded with cheap rooves, without paying him the true cost of his labours. Of course it’s too hard for the morally righteous ambulance chasers to claim compensation from all these beneficiaries and their heirs, anymore than they could from the motor traders and repairers who legally supplied and fitted asbestos brake linings to out cars until Jan1 this year. JH wisely stopped dealing in asbestos products in 1978, but the conventional wisdom via our govts didn’t, until the beginning of this year. The truth is that epidemiological risk like asbestos and smoking can sneak up on you like history can over 30 or 40 yrs. Let he who is without sin currently cast the first stone at our ancestors, bearing in mind that we now have the computing power to crunch the numbers to prevent another asbestos or smoking disaster. eg Viox problems detected over 3yrs. Interesting to ponder how the grandkids might judge my generation on global warming though.

    There is another thread in Windscuttles critique of the progressive liberal left with regards bringing a sense of perspective to their holier than thou attitude to past WAP. Essentially the leftist in them believes all men are equal and if you follow their progressive liberal views you will all be enlightened like them. Here the progressive is immediately impaled on the horns of a dilemma. You see if we are all progressing happily along the path like them, then it stands to reason that some are more progressed than others. Well that’s easy I hear you say. We just look for all the empirical signs of such progress and Bobs your uncle, we adopt those ways. Ah, but that might mean following the ways of a particular culture or God forbid, a particular race that espouses that culture. The answer to being hoisted on this petard is of course, that all men are equal and if they’re not then they’re victims. Of course the corollary is that if any men are more equal, then they are obviously oppressors and you can write them off as racists.

    Hey did you catch the Dynasties show on ABC tonight? It was about the Bing Lee family. What a ripper as dad tried to fight the good fight against the slack, younger assimilationist generation.

  31. To the casual reader who might have just popped in and is wondering what the horns of a moral dilemma and progressive enlightenment is all about, just consider this. While we droll conservatives are arguing about whether phonics is better than whole language to learn to read and write blogs(and read Jack Strochi’s comments), poor old ProfQ and Co are wondering whether we should be culturally opressing aboriginal kids with an oral tradition, by teaching them to read and write at all.

  32. Jack’s problem is he wants everyone to agree with his conclusions on his own terms.


    “…the past through the lens of conventional wisdom…”

    Define “coventional wisdom” That is one of the most slippery issues since the Bible ended up with four seperate accounts of a a divinity’s life and work.

  33. Racist encounters:

    I’ve witnessed many from all sides. From rural whites against blacks, my palestinian friends against jews, urban blacks against whites. When I worked in the college computer science lab, there were ongoing tensions between the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi students, between the Tawainese, Chinese and Malaysian students. It’s all been quite fascinating and disconcerting but nothing terribly traumatic came of it that I noticed, well beside the yard brawl at the yearly international student union party in which my 60 year old mother had to coax my biker friends to pull the Palestinians and Jordanians off the Jews.

    As for personal racism:

    I had my jaw broken by two teenage or young adult black girls when I lived in Baltimore. Riots broke out when Martin Luther King was killed. The girls approached me, grabbed my hair at the back of my head and repeatedly banged my face into the curb. In the same incident, my sister had a large chunk or hair pulled out of her head when she ran. I was 4 years old. My sister was 6.

    While I lived in Baltimore we attended public school, which had a high rate of blacks as opposed to whites. I was quite comfortable among my black peers. I was too young to know anyone cared about such things as skin color. When I moved to Tennessee and gravitated toward a few black girls who lived in my neighborhood, that was the first time I heard the term nigger lover. I was in 2nd grade at the time.

    The first instance hurt me physically, the second hurt my spirit. A third instance hurt my economy and ideology.

    I had just turned 18 was ready to apply for a real full time job. Our company town offered an ad for typists. I went to apply. While waiting for my typing test I learned that if I were black I only had to type 35 words per minute. But as a white woman I had to type 55 words per minute. It infuriated me at the time, as I reasoned that my friends who were black are certainly no less dextrous or intelligent than myself. I walked out of the interview.

    Certainly racism can be very ugly. However, I do find in my observation it is much more acceptible to accuse depending on one’s politics or ethnicity. Where I’m from, white liberals (US definition) have no problem throwing racist accusations around, nor do black race baiters. The notion that racism travels in all directions is overlooked or denied. The least objection with affirmative action is automatically deemed racist. A discussion of racism is a good thing. However, in what would seem physically impossible, the term seems to expanded and contract simultaneously. Expanding to include that which is not racist and contracting to exclude much that is.


  34. “Spacehamster you prefer to use a non asian nick to seek greater attention?

    (sorry to hear you look like a spacehamster, I’ve never actually seen one so can only imagine what they look like, do they lack gravity?)
    Posted by rog at December 7, 2004 10:11 PM”

    Rog, at no time did I make this statement – you’re twisting my words. It’s pretty obvious now that my presence on these boards offends you – your racist comments are exactly the reason why I don’t use my real name on any message boards I participate in. Life’s too short to waste in petty arguments with racist individuals like yourself – I have better things to do.

    It’s ironic that the only person to openly declare themselves to be of Asian extraction is racially abused. And before you argue “well, you were asking for it”, read my original post. I wasn’t “calling attention to myself”, I was simply using my family’s personal experiences as an example of how successful migrant families can be. If you find this offensive in some way, that’s your problem, not mine.

  35. Great comment CBK… and a shocking story from when you were 4!

    Though, of course, you would only type that comment if you were an evil bigotted racist who eats babbies and clubs penguins. Shame… shame… 😉

  36. Posted by: cbk at December 8, 2004 03:05 AM hits the nail right on the head:

    Where I’m from, white liberals (US definition) have no problem throwing racist accusations around, nor do black race baiters. The notion that racism travels in all directions is overlooked or denied.
    However, in what would seem physically impossible, the term seems to expanded and contract simultaneously. Expanding to include that which is not racist and contracting to exclude much that is.

    True. Progressive multiculturalists wink at intra-ethnic violence and whip up moral panics over the resurgence of the Country Party [sic]. Then they denounce race realists as racists, blissfully ignorant of the fact that the HGP (rotten racists like Watson, Collins – what scourges of humanity!) has settled this argument in favour of the realists.
    The “New Left” progressive attitude towards different races has been conditioned by the need for progressive whites to feel morally superior to non-progressive whites. That is why the New Left places so much store on symbolic politics eg Sorry Day etc. Thank goodness the vast majority of pragmatic non-racist (Aus Idol watching, Big Brother voting) Australians are so over this facile and superficial approach to politics.
    The “New Left” would prefer to maintain a ban on discussion of ethnic differences no matter how much pain and suffering this causes to the Aboriginal “underdog”. This attitude is doubly contemptible:
    morally: indifferent to suffering intellectually: anamathetic to knowledge.
    Result: mass misery for Aborigines. I’ve spent a bit of time up the Top End and I know what I am talking about.
    How pathetic is it that people (eg wbb) would rather strike moral poses to the political grandstand than actually face facts and do real good for their supposed concerns. Fred Hollows, notoriously un-Pee-Cee, is a good example of the latter attitude.
    Fortunately Howard, a Centrist, is not going to fall for this nonsense. I see that he is moving to promote conditional welfare and constraints on alcohol. What a rotten racist he is!
    People from different nations are different. Our lyin’ eyes suspected it. Darwin theorised this. The HGP has proved it.
    That does not mean that some are morally better or worse than others. It certainly does not entail subjugation, discrimination or white-washing (or black arm-banding) History.
    It does imply that we take differences into account where they are relevant to promoting effective citizenship. Lets just try to track the differences between people and help those in need of help. Knowledge is Good.

  37. Jack continues with his derailing of this post – and has turned it into a discussion about whether or not genetic variation occurs in the human family, to which no-one would ever disagree. And then claims that some here have somehow tried to cover up this scientific fact becuase it doesn’t accord with our “all humans are equal” ideology.

    James was right. It is a private conversation between Jack and himself. Jack’s obssessive contempt for those he imagines as “new left” is such that it conjures voices in his head with whom he could argue all day.

    His slipping back and forth between bio differences and cultural differences is Humpty Dumpty-esque in the extreme and impossible to engage with. You can start out decrying racist immigration policy and then be accused of denying that there exists health concerns particualr to certain social groups. It’s a breathtaking but ultimately unsatisfying intercourse. Well, in this instance anyway. He is usually fun.

  38. What this thread deomonstrates clearly is that there is no right way to be a racist. It can happen in many ways.

    I don’t accept that just because it exists racism is acceptable. There are serious issues in the Aboriginal communities. However the racism faced within the wider community which mocks and derides people because of factors that are caused through genetic factors is a causative factor which can be denied – (see above posts by Jack) or can be faced.

    Unfortunately those who deny the atrocities which have been perpetrated in the past will continue to deny evidence which is strong and compelling and compound the issues of despair caused by racism which affects us all.

  39. wbb at December 8, 2004 02:47 PM train of serial and paralell self-contradictions was starting to careen beyond parody, but pulls back from the brink:

    Jack continues with his derailing of this post – and has turned has turned it into a discussion about whether or not genetic variation occurs in the human family to which no-one would ever disagree.

    First of all, who died and made wbb (?) moderator?
    The subject of “genetic variation in the human family”, ie racial or bio-ethnic differences, IS the topic of this thread. Its the R-word, stupid!
    wbb started his slo-mo flip-flop by asserting that the science of bio-ethnicity as still bogged down at the 19th C phrenological stage classification:

    “Pigment, skull shape, nose, lips, hair – all were tried but each time human classification collapsed into an amorphous gooey sludge in which everybody could be assigned to any race you like depending on the criteria chosen.

    Its a relief, and a surprise, that wbb has now backtracked, or backed-off, his ridiculous(implied) denial that observed ethnic population differences are not grounded in the underlying genetics of human bio-diversity. Now wbb concedes that, yes, after all, there is “genetic variation in the human family”. (Only an idiot would deny the utility of nominalist statistical classification at super-individual scales.)
    Welcome to the 21 st C science of analysing and classifying individual, familial, racial and special genetic differences. It seem that Watson/Crick’s micro-biological labours were not in vain.
    Now all that remains for wbb’s rehabilitation to the land of intellectual sanity and moral decency is to repudiate his implied slur that Watson, Wilson, Collins et al are neo-Gobineau
    “racists”. Or are they modern day phrenologists? (If so then SNP code strings and the halotype map make a lame grist for the race caricaturist mill.)
    I think Windschuttle was wrong, and mischievous, to contrive denials of 19th C White racist violence and make apologetics for 20th C White racist policies. (But Windschuttle was dead right to refute the, oft-made Leftist, claim that AUS’s 19th C govts pursued a policy of genocide.)
    But I applaud Windschuttle for his polemical smack down of the multucultural race hustling and grievance industries. The multi-culti seperatists, under the guise of encouraging tolerance, institutionalise an evil policy of neo-tribalism and ethno-political racketeering that, unchecked, will lead to Balkanisation of this nation.
    The Old Left policy of ethnic integration is the morally correct one. Any other settlement policy, such as nativist exclusion or multiculturalist seperatism, is a stupid and wicked scam.
    I am heartily sick of listening to progressives engage in onanistic bouts of self-congratulation about the holier-than-thouness of their anti-racism. I seem to recall a certain Bronze Age prophet who warned against ostentatious displays of moral self-regard.
    The prosaic suburuban reality is a lot less morally uplifting. Progressive-liberals spend alot of money keeping their kin well away from contentious ethnic polyglots. The connection between real estate prices, quality school catchment areas and Doctors Wives political progressivism is particularly revealing. Lets have diversity alright, but NIMBY! (Uber-nerd Asian students and token refugees aside.)
    Rather than whipping up moral panics about a phony revival in right wing racism why dont wbb, and his ideological confrers, have the power to face unpleasant facts about progressive mischief in this area. In particular, when are progressives going to stop worrying away at the retro-nativist motes that occasionally float into conservative eyes and start yanking the proto-tribalist beam that forever juts out of the progressive eyes?

  40. Jill Rush at December 8, 2004 10:16 PM stops making sense:

    However the racism faced within the wider community which mocks and derides people because of factors that are caused through genetic factors is a causative factor, which can be denied – (see above posts by Jack) or can be faced.

    I am genuinely puzzled by the scrambled syntax of this post. But I will, without wandering into deconstructionist swamps, try and make sense of it.
    I did not mock or deride Aboriginals on account of their greater propensity for suffering kidney diseases. I affirmed, rather than denied, that “genetic factors is [sic] a causative factor” in these areas. I noted that it was a problem which did not fit progressives dogmatic ideology of social constructionist race denial.
    Perhaps biological realism is the new kind of racism? Are Watson, Wilson Collins et al supposed to be a racist because they affirm the blatant (race-related) fact that the physiology of Aborigines makes them more prone to disease (exacerbated by a lower tolerance and a higher vulnerability for alcohol)? If so then we are all doomed.
    I have never denied that Aboriginals face individual, and no doubt institutional, forms of racism. FWIW, I support the Racial Vilification Act and positive discrimination in favour of Aboriginals (this is actually legislated benevolent racism, but one is not supposed to mention this for fear of setting off Pee-Cee cognitive dissonance alarms.)
    I am mocking and deriding progressives intellectual follies and political mischief alright. They always fall back on the dogma of comprehensive social constructionism which means that they are blind to the reality of human biological legacies.
    The constructionist philosophy claims to be progressive, but how is social progress possible if pertinent biological facts are going to be denied? I thought anti-racists are supposed to be urge helpful policies to different races that suffer from various disadvantages, whether grounded in biological or sociological factors. It would be helpful too know the bio-related strenghs and weaknesses of different ethnic groups if we are to help disadvantaged individuals, no?
    Apparently Ms Rush thinks that preening progressive moral vanity, and trying to bolster the slumping value of socio-constructionist ideological investments, is the true sign of anti-racism. This is a depressing conclusion, but it is the take home one from this thread.

  41. Jack, when will you stop inventing bizarre and useless jargon? It makes you sound like a hopeless old crank and does nothing for your credibility.

  42. Experimenting with words. Trying to give it up but its a habit thats hard to break.
    Any blog comments threads are the natural habitat of “hopeless [middle-aged] cranks”.

  43. Jack, it’s not that I have a problem with jargon per se. In fact, jargon can be useful as shorthand for complex ideas, as long as everyone participating in the discussion knows what it means. The difficulty arises when you create your own jargon. It is impossible to have a constructive discussion when one of the participants refuses to use the broadly accepted terms of the topic.

  44. Jack,

    The subject of this thread is racism, particularly in the context of Windschuttle’s work on the WAP.

    Let me short-circuit a great deal of waffle on biological and genetic research and obtain some binary answers from you on two very simple questions:

    1. Is there evidence of significant, non-superficial biological differences between human ethnic groups?

    2. If you answered “yes” to question 1. above, do these differences justify the WAP?

    If you answered “no” to the questions above you can stop arguing with yourself, and the rest of us.

    If you answered “yes” to 1., please name the supposed differences, and links to your emprirical evidence.

  45. I’ve just come in on the end of a long thread, but I have a couple of personal experiences with the WAP that may come as news to some.

    Some years ago I was working in Australian Archives in Brisbane (now the National Archives) and came across some 50 shelf metres of Immigration records that turned out to be file copies of Certificates of Exemption from the Dictation Test. These documents were issued to Australian citizens whose skin was a bit dark or whose eyes were a bit slanty and who were contemplating travel overseas. They included a 5×4 photograph of the citizen. A duplicate was returned to the citizen and enabled him or her to re-enter Australia. For you see, an Australian passport was not enough to gain entry if you were non-white. I have never heard any comment about this aspect of the WAP – that it made non-white Australian citizens into second-class citizens. This still applied in the mid-1960s, regardless of the revisionist history that elevates Harold Holt to the role of the leader who abolished the WAP. I can clearly recall waiting in 1966 for some hours at the airport with my increasingly distressed parents while a family friend argued his way past immigration. He was a fourth generation Australian of Chinese ancestry and our immigration officials weren’t about to let him in easily. The officials accused him of having a forged passport, among other indignities.

  46. Well, we’ve reached 150 comments with this one, and still getting some new and useful comments, as well as the usual back and forth. Harold Thornton is one of a number of commenters who’ve come in with direct personal experience, from which I’ve certainly learned a lot.

    And unlike the other big thread I haven’t had to step in and delete abusive comments – even the back and forth has been robust but civilised.

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