Teens and Race

“Race is the last refuge of a scoundrel” Since history isn’t taught well in our schools today, most teens (and, to be fair, most of today’s parents) won’t catch the historical reference.
In the late 18th century the hot topic was royalty and one’s right, indeed some said responsibility, to rebel against it. In 1775 the American colonies were just beginning their rebellion and the British monarchy was under assault from both within and abroad. Ironically, one of the monarchy’s supporters had a political conflict with one of the other supporters of King George and he penned the immortal line: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.  That quotesmith was Samuel Johnson and he was so prolific that if one goes to samueljohnson.com you’ll find 35 quotes starting with A-words alone.  Indeed “race” is the lightning rod of our new century, just as “patriotism” was for the 18th and perhaps, with all its great wars, the 20th century as well.  Politicians on all sides invoke this shibboleth when they want to end the discussion to avoid losing a more complex argument.  I find it particularly amusing when this is raised by a leftist who typically elevates “science” to a level just short of divinity, or, in some cases, even replacing divinity!

The concept of race belongs back in the 18th century with Samuel Johnson and alongside such ideas as phrenology and bleeding as a cure for illness.  My 14 year old and I frequently play Scrabble and consult Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, so I did it here and found 11 definitions but the first one really says it all, “a group of persons related by common descent or heredity”.  This is probably close to the American consensus definition, but when we look at science, it is clear that “race” should be replaced by “ethnicity”-a much less psychologically and politically charged term and one which covers billions of people who don’t fit easily into racial boxes: Indians, Pakistanis, Indonesians, Arabs, Latin Americans, etc.

What little science there is behind race can be reduced to two simple scientific concepts: genotype and phenotype.  The former is the sum total of genes transmitted from parent to offspring.  The latter, again according to Webster, is “the appearance of an organism resulting from the interaction of the genotype and the environment. Thus, each of us is simply an elaborate combination of phenotype and genotype and probably a wild combination of ethnicities-as seen in the Ancestry.com TV ads.

In conclusion, to really prove that race doesn’t matter let’s look at homicide in the last century:

*In the last 100 years “whites” killed over 100 million of their fellow “whites”, mostly in the two world wars.

*In the last 60 years it was mostly Asian killing Asians, 80 million in China, Cambodia and North Korea: as verification for China, I highly recommend Dikotter’s “Mao’s Great Famine”, which documents how he killed 45 million alone from 1958-1962 while the world turned its collective head away.

*In the last 30 years it has been Africans killing Africans, at least 20 million in civil wars of Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Liberia, Algeria, Burundi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Mozambique, again, mostly ignored by the media and non-Africans.

I guess “race” really wasn’t so important in any of those places!



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