Scientific racism is only half-right — it is racism, anyway

Erin Kane notes that the campus at Ohio State has been plastered with alt-right, racist posters. I’m going to show you a few of them — they are offensively wrong.

This is an implied comparison of Australian aboriginal and white European skulls.


It apparently is saying that “race is a social construct” sarcastically, but whoever created this poster doesn’t seem to understand the point. There are physical and genetic differences between individuals, and some of those traits are correlated with specific populations. The point about race being a social construct is that the other associations imposed on those populations are fictitious and not based on biology or even reality. Showing me that Australian aboriginals have more prominent brows than I do does not justify oppression, nor does it support the claim that they are less intelligent or less human than me.

This one doesn’t make much sense.


Yes, we should all be happy with who we are. No one is going to deny that there is a range of skin colors, and that light-skinned people exist and have a right to exist, but what does “white people have the right to exist as white people” even mean? What does it mean to “be white”, and why is that even an interesting goal? You could have a similar poster exhorting some of us to “be brown-haired!” or “be a tongue-roller!” and it would be as useful.

The message here isn’t that we should be proud of the fact that every one of us is the end result of a long line of genetic bad-asses who won in the competition for survival — it is instead implying that being a member of the pale-skinned group makes you better than those others. And that is simply false. Everyone has different strengths and weakness, which is why the next poster claiming that “diversity sucks” gets it so wrong.

There is such a thing as discrediting your point with a bad source.


Stefan Molyneux? Seriously? You simply cannot accept anything from this amateur “philosopher” and scientific ignoramus, but there you go. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are other posters going up around college campuses praising Alex Jones.


  1. pipefighter says

    We like to think we’re progressive north of the border but now they want to screen for canadian values.

  2. says

    Call me crazy, but a lot of this pseudo-biological arguments for racism and misogyny have been very tacitly propagated by a bunch of rather rancid-ly obtuse right wing nutjobs holding some very senior positions in some very prestigious universities. Steven Pinker is one name that comes readily to mind. They misrepresent facts, as Pinker did in his debate with Elizabeth Spelke (accusing her of being on the extreme-nurture side of the nature-nurture debate, even though she is well-known for being a proponent of the other side), twist their stories, and cherry pick facts to suite their own political agendas. For instance, Pinker uses the tabula rasa non-argument in the acquisition of Language to push some rather dicey evolutionary psychology propaganda down people’s throat. He would begin by claiming that without an innate pre-specified structure for possible human languages, acquisition would be impossible (an argument that was pioneered by Chomsky), and then go on to claim that “a blank slate does not do anything”. So far, so good. But then there is that magnificent leap from a logical position to the absurd claim that since innate predispositions exist, therefore opposing gender-inequality, racism, heritability of IQ etc. also amount to tabula rasa and a “modern denial of human nature”. This is also, more or less, his style of arguing about violence, and then using cherry-picked statistics to argue for inaction in the face of inequality and oppression.

    What is most shocking though, to me, is that people like PInker deliberately fail to make clear that Sociobiology, as Trivers himself has said, is a study of what “IS”, and what “IS” is not necessarily what “OUGHT” to be. I would have thought that knowing that there are innate factors that cause negative impulses would mean trying to work towards containment more actively. But no! Apparently innate factors are now a justification of (loathsome) behaviour. How does the fact that humans may have an evolutionary need for “reward” translate into a justification for income inequality and corporate-capitalism, instead of prompting more equitable distribution of “rewards”, is beyond me! But try and point out that out, try and tell them that biological claims about social inequalities derived from empirical data collected from a society that does not guarantee all the data points (concerned individuals and their biological dispositions and qualities) identical environments (equal opportunity) is akin to comparing a leopard with three legs to a normal one, and immidiately you are a tenure-less historian who thinks Science is his enemy.

    If only putting a graph beside an absurd claim made it Science… *sigh*

    But I guess, if one follows this line of non-logic then “white people have the right to exist as white people” is actually code for “I demand the right to be a xenophobic, misogynist, superstitious little twerp with an invisible sky-daddy who has authorised me to rule over one and all”. :-/ When you have “intellectuals” like these you know you will end up with a generation for whom “social justice” is a dirty word, and SJWs are horrible villains who get in the way of their games and television just because they demean women, perpetuate stereotypes and implicitly try to trivialise and undo everything we have achieved through civil movements since the 1960s!

  3. inflection says

    One thing I’ve been thinking about in this conversation is that we’re asking for a pair of positions that put together add up to something fairly unpleasant, and we should admit that.

    We want to remove whiteness as the “default” race from images of power, wealth, justice, safety, and other constructs. When we talk about these things, when we discuss the American Dream or other such goals, the whiteness of the actors has long been assumed to be well-defined and present in the discussion unless an other-raceness of the actors is explicitly called out. Removing this presumption is a good thing; making an overtly nonracial ideological construct truly race-neutral benefits our social conversation and the clarity of our thought as well as the fairness of our society. Well and good.

    If whiteness is not the unracial default, then, whiteness is a conscious facet of identity. Are we, then, asking white people to be conscious of their whiteness? Of course. We want them to be aware of the privilege that whiteness grants in this society even as we seek to equalize that privilege away. We also encourage black people to be aware of and proud of their blackness, Latinxs to celebrate their heritage, Native Americans to embrace their ancestry, all such groups to integrate racial identity, to the degree that they wish to, as part of their whole human identity.

    Except, when we ask white people to be aware of their whiteness, we ask them to be aware of it as a negative thing, something to be wary of and try to overcome.

    Is it any wonder this dual prescription is unwelcome? Even perceived as unfair?

    What to do? Well, we can deconstruct the whiteness we constructed in the first place. Scandinavianness and Irishness aren’t as freighted with the sins of American white identity. This is still a bit unequal — not every Irish-Scot-German-etc mutt knows his breed, and if I ask a random black person in America the difference between the Igbo and the Dahomey I doubt I’ll get a wise answer, but we still encourage the celebration of blackness (in part to fill the void left by the willful destruction of the localized cultures of the people we forced over here to labor for us). But if we’re going to remove whiteness as the default image, then, perhaps one reasonable thing to do is encourage more granularity to replace someone’s desire for heritage with something more localized and meaningful than an artificial class construction.

  4. wzrd1 says

    That second poster is extraordinarily offensive! They cut off Italy and worse, Sicily.

    On a more serious note, all three posters engendered a common thought in my mind: “What a bunch of fucking assholes”.

    It makes me want to hunt down the poster plasterer and slap him or her in the face with a lasagna.
    Fortunately, I value my lunch far more than that, so I’d not so waste and abuse that food.
    But, I’m not beyond setting my cane down, quite forcefully, right upon the offender’s toes.

  5. jaybee says

    Last poster: Stefan Molyneux is lying to you with statistics

    However, I’m sure it is a good poster. I’ve seen many, many online comments falling for every one of these traps. Even when pointing out the error (eg, yes, most violent crime against black people is perpetrated by black people, but then again most violent crime against white people is perpetrated by white people; the conclusion should be that white people and black people in the US are largely segregated), I have yet to get a reply, huh, I guess that explains the data too. Nope, just stick with, but the statistics show that black people perpetrate crime against black people therefore BLM is a sham.

  6. anbheal says

    Golly gosh gumbucks, as an armchair phrenologist, that Australian brain looks as though it has a larger cerebellum capacity in its backside. So, um, they must be more coordinated and speak better. Tie me kangaroo down, sport.

  7. applehead says

    The “best” (“best” in very relative terms here) case scenario is the Trump administration proves to be an equally, if not bigger incompetent, destructive clusterfuck than Bush Jr’s and it will sink the mainstream respectability of the alt-reich.

    Or, as Charlie Stross and others suggest, we’re reliving the Weimar period and ACC-fueled mass migration and Putin’s machinations bring back fascism on the global stage…

  8. Zeppelin says

    What I want to know is: If races are objectively real (and obvious, as that poster seems to claim), how come no two societies can agree on what races there are? Is everyone except Americans just getting it wrong?
    (Yes, I know they may actually believe the latter…)

  9. shikko says

    @1 pipefighter said:

    We like to think we’re progressive north of the border but now they want to screen for canadian values.

    Can you define “they” here? The only media coverage I’ve seen of that position was from one leadership candidate for the Conservatives.

    I do agree that Canadians have a huge blind spot when it comes to their own bad behaviour. They see bad things defined as “how the US does them”, which often means that what Canadians do is therefore, by definition, not bad. E.g., “there’s no KKK in Canada, therefore Canadians aren’t racist.” The Dutch have the same problem; when you’re convinced of your own superiority, you become immune to criticism of all kinds.

  10. numerobis says

    “Love who you are” — sound advice.

    “Be white” — kind of contradicts the first part, doesn’t it?

  11. snuffcurry says

    @ inflection, 3

    Except, when we ask white people to be aware of their whiteness, we ask them to be aware of it as a negative thing, something to be wary of and try to overcome.

    No, white people are being asked to recognize their racial privilege, acknowledge the power it currently grants them, and use that power to create a more equitable society, at which point that power harmlessly dissipates (is, yes, “overcome”). Likewise, they are being reminded that it is other people who are wary of white wrath and that, far from whiteness being invisible, it is highly visible, often threatening, treated as the pinnacle of taste and achievement as well as the default to which all Others ought to blindingly conform. It is whiteness that glorifies colorblindness and wishes inconvenient individual and cultural differences to be stifled or ghetto-ized because those differences, when not actively cannibalized, make white people feel uncomfortable rather than dominant, inexpert rather than an authority. None of this has to be “negative” unless the goal is to never inconvenience white people with the reality of other people’s lived experiences. It’s literally impossible to bring white people into an anti-racist platform if they can’t acknowledge race in the first place.

  12. snuffcurry says

    use that power to create a more equitable society

    Rather, lend that power to cooperatively collaborate with others, listen quietly as a witness and secondary figure, rather than set the tone or dominate the discussion.