Friday, 20 November 2015

What does science tell us about race and racism?

This was the title of an event at the Royal Institution on Thursday 19th November 2015, in which Radio 4's Inside Science presenter, Adam Rutherford, "hosted a panel of experts including Kenan Malik, Aoife McLysaght and Heidi Mirza for an evidence-based discussion of an always controversial subject".

I sent this email to the organisers, prior to the event, to which I received no response:

Dear Organisers,

Before we can have a meaningful discussion of “racism” we must clarify what we mean by it.

When it means racial hatred, as practiced by the Nazis, or racial supremacism, as practiced not just by the Nazis, but also under Jim Crow and Apartheid, then clearly it is an evil that all right-minded people are opposed to.

However, “racism” is now also equated with racial prejudice, which is absurd, because as human beings we are ALL prejudiced about EVERYONE and EVERYTHING, including race. We wouldn’t be human if we were free of prejudice. And anyone claiming to be so is either a scoundrel (a “moral supremacist”) or deluding themselves.

We have a natural, surely evolved and inherent, inclination to identify with and favour those most like ourselves and our own family members. This doesn’t mean that we hate, or think ourselves superior to anyone who isn’t like ourselves, but it does tend to make us prejudiced in favour of our own family, tribe, ethnic group and - dare I say it? - race.

The question is, WHY have natural human prejudices been equated with the evil of racism?

The answer, I suggest, is political, power-political. It is a modern manifestation of the age-old strategy of “divide and rule”, dividing society into a morally superior, now "colour-blind", elite (supposedly free of racial prejudice) and the morally inferior, naturally (human nature being what it is) less colour-blind, masses, who must submit to the authority of and domination by their "moral superiors”.

The biological basis of race is not unimportant (especially in respect to medicine), but has very little bearing on racial prejudice. We are an inherently and intensely tribal animal, so whenever ethnic differences are perceived (and clearly, we all do perceive them) there is bound to be prejudice.

If politicians want to demonise and exploit this in pursuit of political advantage, that (sadly) is their business, but it is not - or shouldn’t be - the business of scientists and academics, whose business it is to understand things (in this instance, human nature and the prejudices that go with it), so that we are better able to deal with them in a rational and civilised fashion.

I look forward to hearing what your speakers have to say about “race and racism” on Thursday of next week.

Best regards

Roger Hicks

The discussion was disappointing, although pretty much what I had expected. The "experts" dedicated themselves to defending state racial ideology (as their jobs in academia and the media, of course, oblige them to), which dismisses race as a "social construct", despite all the evidence suggesting that it is real and important. 

Racism wasn't discussed at all, but simply used, as usual, to demonise anyone who disagrees with state racial ideology or admits to perfectly natural and healthy racial prejudices, which, if we are honest with ourselves (which the "experts" clearly aren't), we ALL have.

Link to BLOGS in which I elaborate further on my "racist" ideas.