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Genomics

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Superstitions about race never seem to die, in large part because those who peddle racial pseudo-science get funding and publicity from the U.S. government.

The Public Broadcasting System has just finished airing a three-part wallow in brainwash called “Race: The Power of an Illusion,” which purports, as an academic it interviews spouts, that “Race is a human invention.” The truth is that the illusion—”propaganda” would probably be a better word—is what PBS has served up to the taxpayers who finance it.

Produced by Larry Adelman and funded by the Ford Foundation as well as the taxpayers, the first part of the series concentrates on the “race doesn’t exist” theme, generously larded with shots of Adolf Hitler, lynchings of blacks, and the appropriate dirge music to make sure you’re in right mood for the message the series is sending.

The series interviews such heavies as the late Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard, geneticist Richard Lewontin, anthropologist Alan Goodman, and various black academics like biologist Joseph Graves and historian Evelyn Hammond (the source of the quote cited above).

Not one single scientist who believes that race really does exist is interviewed, though half a dozen could be named.

But bias isn’t the heart of the series’ problem. Plain untruthfulness is. The whole series is framed by a discussion in what’s supposed to be a high school science class, where students of various racial backgrounds are asked to select other students to whom they are probably most closely related genetically. Predictably, each student picks someone of the same or similar racial background. Predictably also, that turns out to be wrong—at least according to the program.

The class then took DNA samples form each other and analyzed them, and lo and behold, if it didn’t turn out that the racial “identities” the kids had picked were all wet.

The DNA tests supposedly show, as one pathetic kid named “Noah,” who looks like a teenage Woody Allen, blurts, that “we’re all just mongrels.”

The problem is that the test the students conduct proves nothing, as biologist Michael Rienzi points out in a blistering critique of the series in the June issue of American Renaissance, the monthly newsletter on racial realities.

As the program notes, the DNA the students are testing is what’s called “mitochondrial DNA,” stuff from the cells that is inherited exclusively from the maternal line. As Dr. Rienzi notes, “all mitochondrial DNA can tell any individual is the possible place of origin of one out of thousands of ancestors. It is impossible to determine race this way, and for the ‘experts’ to imply that this test somehow invalidates the concept of race is outright deception.”

In fact, as Dr. Rienzi also notes, a genetic test that does reveal ancestry and genetic relatedness (and therefore race) is readily available to any high school class, and indeed is accessible on the web. Its latest version, he tells us, “determines the proportion of ancestry that is Indo-European (Caucasian), African (sub-Saharan African; i.e., Negro), Native American (Amerindian), or East Asian (Mongolid/Oriental/Pacific Islander).” It’s produced by a company that specializes in identifying criminal suspects for law enforcement through DNA samples.

The PBS propaganda makes much of the claim that “there is no single gene unique to any particular racial group.” But so what? The implication the series insists on drawing is that members of any given “race” may differ from each other more than each does from a member of another “race”; therefore, race doesn’t really exist.

But as Dr. Rienzi points out, by the same argument, one could claim that, if, “for any particular genes or traits, two family members are less like each other than to a complete stranger, then ‘family does not exist, and family is an illusion.’”

A man with hair color different from that of his own brother would be said to be “more closely related” to a non-relative who has the same hair color.

The argument the PBS series is making is absurd on its face.

There’s a good deal more in Dr. Rienzi’s critique that’s a bit too complicated to discuss, but falsehood by falsehood he takes the PBS series apart at its seams.

PBS’s lies about race are worth exposing, not only because it’s not true that we’re all mongrels but also because those lies help perpetuate the anti-white claims that whites and their whole civilization are inherently “racist” and based on the repression and exploitation of other races.

Showing that it’s the anti-white crusaders who are doing the lying and perpetrating the pseudo-science—and who just possibly might like to do a bit of repressing and exploiting themselves—tells us a few truths, not only about race itself but also about how Americans of all races are being deceived about it.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity, Science • Tags: Genomics, Race 
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When the Human Genome Project (the vast plan to decode and map all the genes of the human body) was completed last year, the first pronouncement about it from many scientists was that it proved “race doesn’t exist.”

The claim was not new. The notion that race is merely a “social construct” and a “biologically meaningless” concept as the New England Journal of Medicine editorialized had prevailed among most biological and social scientists for decades.

Now, however, the scientists have made yet another discovery: Race exists.

One scientist who says race exists is Dr. Neil Risch of Stanford University. His claims were surveyed in the New York Times Science section last month, and a good many of his colleagues are agreeing with him. Dr. Risch points out that some variations in human genetic endowment largely correspond to common ethnic and racial categories and, most importantly for his purposes, that the variations have immense medical significance.

In fact, that has long been known. As the Times article points out, Africans tend to have a genetic mutation that causes sickle cell anemia, while another that causes a certain metabolic disorder is rare among Chinese and Indians but present among Swedes. There are similar racial variations for such disorders or diseases as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs syndrome and the ability to digest milk. Put simply, different racial groups inherit certain diseases or tendencies to contract them, and therefore there are genetic differences between the races. Race exists.

Dr. Risch isn’t the only one saying this these days. As the Times notes,

“Many population geneticists … say it is essential to take race and ethnicity into account to understand each group’s specific pattern of disease and to ensure that everyone shares equally in the expected benefits of genomic medicine.”

Dr. Risch argues that race

“has arisen because of the numerous small genetic differences that have developed in populations around the world,”

and he points to studies showing that

“these differences cluster into five major groups, which are simply the world’s major continental areas.”

Dr. Risch is not using his claim to justify donning a bedsheet, and so far nobody seems to have accused him of that (give them a little time, though).

His point is simply that denying the existence of race, largely for ideological reasons, is not only scientifically false but also medically harmful.

Knowing that racial variations in diseases exist is immensely helpful to doctors and researchers trying to cure or prevent the diseases.

Denying the reality of race doesn’t advance such efforts. It’s a little like trying to develop a space program if you assume the earth is flat and rests on the back of giant turtle.

The “race doesn’t exist” school of thought, of course, has been invoked to discredit segregation, white supremacy and apartheid (though all of those institutions developed well before any scientific concept of race existed at all). But challenging and abandoning the very concept of race when white racial power was the target was not exactly consistent with programs like affirmative action that counted by race.

Nor were the supposed racial egalitarians able to do without the concept of race when they wanted to dole out special privileges and treatment for the races they favored.

In short, when whites used race to justify and entrench their privileges, race didn’t exist; when non-whites used race to justify and entrench theirs, it did.

Denying that race exists, therefore, doesn’t mean that it can’t be used to serve a particular group’s political agenda, nor does affirming that race does exist necessarily imply that it will or should be used to serve another group’s agenda.

It does mean that scientists, of all people, ought to face the truth about what they study.

And it also means that race may mean more than differences in diseases. If race “has arisen because of the numerous small genetic differences that have developed in populations around the world,” then there logically ought to be other differences between the races than merely their proclivity to different health problems.

Each race, developing in a different environment, came into existence because of the need to adapt to such environments. It makes sense to believe that there may be many other differences between the races in addition to those we are—painfully—finally acknowledging as real.

Now that we know that race is real, the thing for serious scientists to do is to stop denying its existence and get on with finding out what else is real about it.

Once we know what race really means—not just for disease and health but also for intelligence, temperament and behavior—we’ll be able to forget about some agendas and pursue others that are based on something closer to scientific reality than to racial and political ideology.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity, Science • Tags: Genomics, Race 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”