But Is It True? Connect the Dots
Apr 13th, 2012 by Unamused
I could have written a long essay spelling out every connection between the following nine items, but it just isn’t necessary. The connections are obvious, and so is the conclusion: that the state of racial discourse in this country has never been more dismal.
Item (1): “Free speech covers all, even the primitive” (Charlotte Observer, February 2011)
Item (1a) (my emphasis):
This racist, irrelevant individual [AmRen editor Jared Taylor] stands in Charlotte’s blustery cold, spewing trash about blacks’ lack of intelligence. It’s the kind of idiocy that disappears into the wind, unheard, at Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park or on a New York City street corner.
See item (5), and supplement it with item (6).
Item (1b) (my emphasis):
Taylor’s comment about free expression is about the only thing he said Monday that made sense.
Ashkenazi Jews are the most intelligent people on earth, Taylor said, followed by north Asians, followed by Caucasians. Blacks are somewhere far down the list, he said.
Check out items (4) and (5).
Item (1c) (my emphasis):
Rather than stand in the cold and listen to these ramblings, we recommend a visit to Discovery Place and its Race exhibit, which opens Saturday. This nationally renowned project reveals surprising truths about our similarities and differences, including the fact that you cannot tell someone’s race from their DNA.
Hop on over to item (2).
Item (2): “Foxx learns his African roots” (Charlotte Observer, August 2010)
We just saw item (1c), about the “fact” that “you cannot tell someone’s race from their DNA.” Now consider item (2a), from the same newspaper, six months earlier:
For years, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx could trace his ancestors no further than a mid-19th century slave auction in Moore County.
Until Thursday night.
That’s when he learned that a DNA test reveals he’s descended from the Fulani people of northern Nigeria, a tribe of nomads, herdsmen and warriors almost 6,000 miles away.
The disclosure came courtesy of African Ancestry, a company that specializes in genetic genealogy of black Americans.
But don’t forget item (2b) (they tried to sneak it past us):
Black genealogy was popularized by author Alex Haley’s 1976 publication of “Roots.” The best-selling book and subsequent mini-series traced his ancestry to a village in the modern-day West African country of Gambia.
The basis of his research almost four decades ago lay largely in piecing together stories passed down in his family.
“Even Alex could not have imagined the dramatic changes that we’ve witnessed. His connection, as was the case in most black families, was in the oral tradition and the stories passed down from generation to generation. In Alex’s case, it was his aunts who would gather at family reunions and talk about Kunta Kinte and Chicken George.”
Go directly to item (3) and collect $200!
Item (3): “Before Dreams, There Was Roots“ (American Thinker, 2009)
You may recall item (2b), about how Black genealogy was popularized by Roots, in which author Alex Haley “traced his ancestry to a village in the modern-day West African country of Gambia.” Consider item (3), which tells a different story.
There is no better case study of a literary cover-up than that surrounding the publishing phenomenon known as Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The book, first published in 1976, generated extraordinary reviews and spectacular sales. The mini-series based on the book captured more viewers than any series before it. 130 million Americans watched the final episode alone. And its author, Alex Haley, won a special Pulitzer Prize for telling the true story of a black family.
Despite the book’s easy-going tone, Haley is quietly laying out an indictment against the United States that is always loaded and often gratuitous. In Haley’s tale, it is the whites who enter the forest and enslave the blacks, not Arab slave traders, not other blacks. Since [Kunta] Kinte is unconscious through the period of transaction, the reader has no picture of African participation in the slave market, nor of any Portuguese or Hispanic involvement in the slave trade.
Fraud is the means Haley uses to indulge his bias, and this he does in an extraordinarily reckless fashion. Unfortunately for Haley, at least one person in the cultural establishment was not about to give him a pass because of race or agenda.
Approaching seventy when Roots debuted, Harold Courlander was shocked to read it. Courlander, who himself was white, was well-recognized in the field of cultural anthropology since 1947 when he coauthored The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories. In 1967, he wrote a more conventional novel titled The African. He earned $14,000 for it. Less than ten years later, Haley flagrantly rewrote large sections of his book and made $2.6 million in hardcover royalties alone. Courlander was not a happy camper.
In 1978, Courlander sued Haley in a U.S. District Court for copyright infringement. Throughout the six weeks of testimony, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Ward listened in disbelief to denial after denial by Haley. On one occasion, he noted that Haley used “Yoo-hooo-ah-hoo” as a slave field call with exactly the same spelling as Courlander had and wondered how that could have happened by chance. It couldn’t, and it didn’t.
Haley’s defense fell apart when, during discovery, the plaintiff’s lawyers found three quotes from The African among typed notes that he had neglected to destroy. The last thing Judge Ward wanted to do was to undermine a newly ascendant black hero. Midway through the trial, he counseled Haley and his attorneys that he would have to contemplate a perjury charge unless they settled with Courlander. They did just that to the tune of $650,000, or more than $2 million by 2009 standards.
In the late 1970s, unaware of the plagiarism rap, two leading genealogists, Gary Mills and Elizabeth Shown Mills, decided to follow up on Haley’s work through the relevant archives in Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. They found that Haley’s transgressions went well beyond mere mistakes. “We expected ineptitude, but not subterfuge,” observed Elizabeth, herself the editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.
In fact, as the Millses discovered, the man that Haley identifies as Kunta Kinte, a slave by the name of Toby, could not have been Kunta Kinte or Haley’s ancestor. Toby was in America as early as 1762, five years before his ship was alleged to arrive. Worse for Haley, Toby died eight years before his presumed daughter Kizzy was born.
In 1993, a year after Haley’s death, writer Philip Nobile did his best to expose what he calls “one of the great literary hoaxes of modern times.” In February of that year, he published “Uncovering Roots” in the influential alternative publication, The Village Voice. The article brought to a larger public the story of the Courlander suit and the Mills’s genealogy work. Nobile also revealed that Haley’s editor at Playboy magazine, the very white and Jewish Murray Fisher, did much of the book’s writing.
Haley’s unsuspecting archivists had given Nobile access to the various letters, diaries, drafts, notes, and audiotapes that Haley had kept. They were a veritable gold mine, theretofore unexplored. In working his way trough them, Nobile came to understand the depths of Haley’s “elegant and complex make-it-up-as-you-go-along scam.”
Apparently, when Haley first conceived a family research project in 1964, he had no plans to find an African ancestor. That thought did not occur to him until much later when he met an exchange student from the Gambia. Together, they shared key phrases like “Kamby Bolongo” that Haley could pretend to trace.
The student’s African contacts arranged for Haley to meet a “griot,” who had been coached in advance to say what Haley wanted to hear. “It was sort of like Piltdown Man,” says Nobile. “Haley would plant the evidence and then find it.”
… “There was no Kunta Kinte,” says Nobile bluntly.
Not surprisingly, the Pulitzer people did not ask for their award back, and the book and video have remained a staple in history classes across America. Nobile blames Roots’s seeming immunity on his progressive colleagues. “They were all too scared, or dishonest,” he writes, “to admit to the public that the most famous black writer had lied about his ancestry.”
It gets worse.
Item (4): “Did Discrimination Enhance Intelligence of Jews?” (National Geographic News, July 2005)
Remember item (1b), about a “man from another century” rambling in the cold, making no sense, claiming that “Ashkenazi Jews are the most intelligent people on earth”? I present, for your consideration, item (4), from the very reputable, very much of-this-century National Geographic:
Ashkenazim have the highest average IQ of any ethnic group, scoring 12 to 15 points above the European average. They are also strongly represented in fields and occupations requiring high cognitive ability. For instance, European-origin Jews account for 27 percent of U.S. Nobel science prize winners but make up only about 3 percent of the U.S. population.
As the gratuitous French girls say, très intéressant. More IQ “racism” below.
Item (5): “Closing the Black/White IQ Gap?” (Reason magazine, December 2006)
Think back to items (1a) and (1b), about Jared Taylor being “racist” and “irrelevant” for “spewing trash about blacks’ lack of intelligence.” Now consider item (5), by Reason magazine’s science correspondent, which considers Mr. Taylor’s “idiocy” an established, uncontroversial fact:
On November 28 the American Enterprise Institute held a symposium on the persistent gap between the average IQ test scores of black and non-Hispanic white Americans. The question: Is the gap closing? The presenters at AEI were James Flynn, a philosopher who taught at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and Charles Murray, a scholar at AEI and the co-author of The Bell Curve.
Nevertheless, Flynn noted, in the US the tendency is for the black/white IQ score gap to widen with age. According to Flynn, the average IQ for black four-year olds is 95.4, which drops to 89.4 at age 14 and widens further to 83.4 by age 24. …
When his turn came, Charles Murray noted that the black/white IQ score gap did close somewhat during the 20th century, but that the data show that the narrowing stalled sometime in the 1970s. “The remaining gap will be with us indefinitely,” he concluded. Murray argued that a lot the earlier narrowing of the gap occurred as more educational and job opportunities opened and better health and nutrition became available for blacks as state-enforced segregation ended. Once a “merely adequate” environment is provided, there are diminishing marginal returns for increasing IQ scores. He noted that the programs established by the No Child Left Behind Act have had almost no effect on the black/white educational achievement gap. …
Both Flynn and Murray agree that a gap between average black and white scores on IQ tests remains…
No matter who turns out to be right in the nature versus nurture debate over why there is a gap in black/white IQ scores, the idea that we must strive to treat every person as an individual, not as a representative of some group or other, seems right to me.
Please consult item (6), which should arrive any s—
Item (6): “Sorry Strivers: Talent Matters” (New York Times, November 2011)
In case anyone out there believes IQ and intelligence are two different things, I present this gem, from the legendarily leftist New York Times, of all places:
Research has shown that intellectual ability [paragraph 3: “the trait that an I.Q. score reflects”] matters for success in many fields — and not just up to a point.
Exhibit A is a landmark study of intellectually precocious youths directed by the Vanderbilt University researchers David Lubinski and Camilla Benbow. They and their colleagues tracked the educational and occupational accomplishments of more than 2,000 people who as part of a youth talent search scored in the top 1 percent on the SAT by the age of 13. (Scores on the SAT correlate so highly with I.Q. that the psychologist Howard Gardner described it as a “thinly disguised” intelligence test.) The remarkable finding of their study is that, compared with the participants who were “only” in the 99.1 percentile for intellectual ability at age 12, those who were in the 99.9 percentile — the profoundly gifted — were between three and five times more likely to go on to earn a doctorate, secure a patent, publish an article in a scientific journal or publish a literary work. A high level of intellectual ability gives you an enormous real-world advantage.
What was that about the SAT? See item (7).
Item (7): “Why Family Income Differences Don’t Explain the Racial Gap in SAT Scores” (The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Winter 2008–2009)
This one speaks for itself. You can find it here. See also item (9).
On page 12 of “Why Family Income Differences Don’t Explain the Racial Gap in SAT Scores,” we find much ado about “racial stereotype vulnerability,” better known as “stereotype threat.” But see item (8).
Item (8): “Stereotype threat and the cognitive test performance of African Americans” (Wicherts and de Haan, University of Amsterdam)
Remember “stereotype threat” from item (7)? Turns out it doesn’t exist. The abstract of item (8) is available here.
Numerous laboratory experiments have been conducted to show that African Americans’ cognitive test performance suffers under stereotype threat, i.e., the fear of confirming negative stereotypes concerning one’s group. A meta-analysis of 55 published and unpublished studies of this effect shows clear signs of publication bias. The effect varies widely across studies, and is generally small. Although elite university undergraduates may underperform on cognitive tests due to stereotype threat, this effect does not generalize to non-adapted standardized tests, high-stakes settings, and less academically gifted test-takers. Stereotype threat cannot explain the difference in mean cognitive test performance between African Americans and European Americans.
Bonus: it looks like Wicherts and de Haan take Mr. Taylor’s “idiocy” from items (1a) and (1b) as an established fact, as did Reason magazine in item (5).
Item (9): the Black-White SAT gap (various)
Remember the Black-White gap in SAT scores from item (7)? You can more about it on page 32 of “Races, Genes and I.Q.: An Apologia” (The New Republic, 1994) by Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein of The Bell Curve fame. The gap does indeed remain at every level of parental socioeconomic status.
For more SAT data, see Appendix B of “Standardized Tests: the Interpretation of Racial and Ethnic Gaps” (La Griffe du Lion, March 2000) for the 1995 scores, and “Updated Race-SAT-SES graph” (Chuck, December 2010) for the 2008 scores.
I hope you enjoyed this little exercise in media studies. You could, if you were very brave, print out all of these articles and play Connect the Dots with your friends…