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Harden Our Hearts—or Let the Third World In. Is There Another Option?
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[Excerpted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively through]

My colleague Allan Wall just posted something about illegal aliens who die trying to cross our southern border. They drown crossing the river, they die from thirst or exposure, they fall when trying to scale border barriers, they suffocate in smugglers’ crowded, unventilated trucks, and so on.

Allan doesn’t offer much sympathy:

Yes, the U.S.-Mexico border is a humanitarian disaster. The solution is not an open border. The solution is to get control of the border. That, of course, is not the policy of the Biden Administration.

Allan won’t get any arguments from me about what he says in that piece. I’m on board with him a hundred percent.

I will, though, warn him that he’s setting himself up there to be portrayed by Open-Borders Progressives as a hard-hearted monster.

How do I know this? Back in February 2006 I was having some exchanges with Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online. One of my exchanges included the following:

In between our last two posts I went to Drudge to see what was happening in the world. The lead story was about a ship disaster in the Red Sea. From the headline picture, it looked like a cruise ship. I therefore assumed that some people very much like the Americans I went cruising with last year were the victims. I went to the news story. A couple of sentences in, I learned that the ship was in fact a ferry, the victims all Egyptians. I lost interest at once, and stopped reading. I don’t care about Egyptians.

Re: Yearning For Freedom, National Review’s Corner, February 3, 2006

That earned me a spell of infamy. Commentators all over were gasping in horror at what a shameless brute I was for not caring about Egyptians.

It was quite a spell. Five years later, save-the-world neocon Peter Wehner [Tweet him] brought it up in an argument about U.S. aid to Africa [Responding to John Derbyshire (Again), Commentary Magazine, December 8, 2010] Gentry liberals of course went nuts [Derbyshire Award Nominee, by Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish, February 4, 2006]. For a while there I was the poster boy for Callous Conservatism, the guy who didn’t care about dead Egyptians.

Although responses weren’t all negative: Daniel Larison in American Conservative wrote a good supportive piece:

We usually consider it normal to be fairly unconcerned about the fate of strangers even in our own metropolitan areas, which might be less justifiable, but modern humanitarian politics dictate that we must be deeply moved and compelled by the suffering of people, with whom we have no connections, on other continents. Derb’s reaction is perfectly natural and normal, and confirms what Dr. Fleming has had to say about natural affinities, charity and the “pornography of compassion.”

Derb Makes an Unexpected Paleo Point, February 3, 2006

(The “Dr. Fleming” there is veteran paleocon Thomas Fleming, formerly editor of Chronicles magazine, now President of the Fleming Foundation).

Reflecting on all that sixteen years later, on the rights and wrongs of it, the furthest I’ll walk back what I wrote is to admit I was tactless.

Social harmony, in any society, requires a certain seasoning of hypocrisy, so long as we all understand that’s what it is. When a perfect stranger greets me with “How are you?” I understand that he most likely doesn’t care at all how I am; and he understands that I understand, and I understand that he understands that I understand, and so on.

It’s a tiny, harmless hypocrisy that just makes our social interaction softer and smoother.

Reading a news item about Egyptians being drowned and murmuring, “How dreadful! Those poor people,” is another one of these little excusable hypocrisies. Saying out loud that you don’t care about dead Egyptians is a breach of the code, although a tiny one. Some truths are best left unspoken, so long as they are understood.

So, what about these people dying while trying to cross into our country illegally? I have to say I don’t think polite hypocrisies are totally appropriate here. These people are dying in the course of committing a crime, like a burglar in your house falling down your stairs and breaking his neck.

Yes, I know: some of those dying are little kids who don’t know they’re involved in a crime. For them, the little hypocrisies of concern are appropriate, and I’ll nod along with them. They’re still hypocrisies, though.

We all know those lines from the Elizabethan poet John Donne:

Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

For whom the Bell Tolls, 1624

It’s a noble sentiment, but not a true one.

We are of course all going to die, and each death is a sad loss for family, friends, and colleagues. The death of a child is especially distressing to those who knew him. Beyond that small circle, though, who feels diminished?

If the deceased was a public figure, admired or loved by millions, those millions may indeed feel themselves diminished. Public figures like that are, however, only a minuscule portion of those who leave this life every day.

And yes: strictly personal feelings aside, our natural tribal emotions can be stirred more when we hear of our own countrymen dying than when it’s foreigners. My emotions are stirred more thinking about the tens of thousands of deaths among Americans caused by fentanyl smuggled across the border than by Guatemalan illegals dying of thirst in the southwestern desert.

Still, the overwhelming majority of deaths go unnoticed by the overwhelming majority of us, their fellow human beings. How could it be otherwise?


There has been war going on in the Congo more or less continuously since the late 1990s, with a death toll so big it’s not known even to the nearest million [Review of Congo war halves death toll, NBC, January 20, 2010]. It’s barely been mentioned in our media.

Have you felt diminished by those untold millions of deaths? No, me neither … Oops, there I go again.

And the deaths of illegal aliens trying to gatecrash civilized countries is something we are going to see a lot more of in years to come; at our own borders and in Europe. Random headlines from the past few days:

Get ready for a lot more news stories like that—a lot more—these next few years, as more and more Third Worlders abandon their own hopeless countries and seek to enter ours.

We can harden our hearts, or we can let ’em all in. Is there a third option?

I don’t see one.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Immigration, Political Correctness 
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  1. lavoisier says:

    We can harden our hearts, or we can let ’em all in. Is there a third option?

    It is reasonable to care about suffering wherever it occurs, while acknowledging that not all suffering can or should influence one equally.

    I care about drowned Egyptians and Guatemalans dying in the desert.

    But I don’t want them coming here.

    That is the third option.

    • Replies: @pyrrhus
  2. ruralguy says:

    The years in Europe, between the 14h century and the 17th century are known as the Renaissance, but only about 180 men contributed to it. The rest, almost one billion Europeans, in those years, didn’t contribute anything meaningful to history, other than their progeny. The harsh reality, which few want to admit, is that most lives don’t matter.

    • Agree: Kratoklastes
  3. Bo Bo says:

    Let’s see. ALL of this illegal immigration over the Mexican border could have EASILY been stopped LONG, LONG ago by the MEXICAN GOVERNMENT!!! This had been completely ignored by Democrats, Republicans, and all the media. The US is giving billions to Ukraine, 6000 miles away to stop a Russian invasion of Ukraine. But NOTHING is being done to make the Mexican government STOP the illegal immigrant invasion of the US across the Mexican territory. Don’t believe anyone who says the illegal immigrants are doing it on their own. Their invasion of the US is organized and paid for by someone or groups. The US and Mexican governments can easily find out who is causing the invasion- both governments have intelligence resources that can pin point the perpetrators. The US government and Mexican government are guilty of stupendous crimes against the American people regarding the invasion of the US by illegal immigrants across Mexico. Oh, but let’s stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine instead!

  4. George says:

    “Harden Our Hearts—or Let the Third World In. Is There Another Option?”

    First break up the Dept of Homeland Security into it’s components. The Dept of Immigration would be a separate dept, that could not hide behind airport security to avoid immigration enforcement. Aka the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    Stop the wars, withdraw from NATO and direct US forgein policy to developing Mexico and S America.

    Replace most of High School with work, in part to replace the lost immigrant workforce.

    Not requiring and discouraging a 4 yr degree would become national policy.

  5. A third alternative: we can help them at the countries of their residence.
    In fact, we already do it, for example by sharing vaccines such as polio.
    Instead of gratitude, their default response is to blame the United States whenever they screw up.

  6. SafeNow says:

    This is yet another wrinkle on the famous, endlessly analyzed “Trolley Problem,” beloved of psych and philosophy majors everywhere.

  7. TG says:

    This is the biggest piece of rubbish ever.

    If a bunch of dirt-poor people try to invade the gated mansions and protected estates or private islands of the super-rich, they will be turned away by large unsmiling men with heavy truncheons, and if that doesn’t work, they will be shot and nobody will shed a tear.

    If people decide (or are tricked) into breeding like rodents, then they and their children will live and die like rodents. Having fouled their own nest, they now want to move in with us – and they bring with the them same thing they seek to escape.

    I say turn them away at the border. If necessary, machine gun them en masse. It’s what we would do if they dared to invade the sacred property of Zuckerberg et al., yes? If we want the third world to do better, we should make it clear that Milton Friedman and Julian Simon et al. were lying whores, and that that the Iron Law of Development is that FIRST people have fewer children than the physical maximum, and only then – if everything else goes halfway right – they can slowly accumulate real per-capita wealth. Never the other way around.

    • Agree: Realist, WSG
    • Replies: @Anonymous
  8. We should have had a moratorium on immigration for no less than five years after 9/11. And it has nothing to do with hardening one’ heart.

    The ability to improve the environments on Latin American countries is in their hands. They should either embrace benign feudal systems or allow a sincere capital markets plan to develop so the wealth is released among their citizens.

  9. It’s over. UK or US, Anglos lost it.

    • Replies: @Gary Sudder
  10. “My emotions are stirred more thinking about the tens of thousands of deaths among Americans caused by fentanyl smuggled across the border than by Guatemalan illegals dying of thirst in the southwestern desert.” I feel more familiar to middle class illegal migrants than to junkies from my own country.

  11. Emma S. says:

    The left believes Europeans must let in the entire world into their nations, so it can become like the nations they left as a way of racial retribution.

    • Agree: Kat Grey
  12. Derb’s is not strong on the elephant in the room — most elites want immigration (legal or not). Dems = future voters (& Lib voters now). Rep’s =
    cheap labour & swelling of the reserve army of the unemployed.
    So, good luck changing things (maybe trump in 2024 may make a bit of an effort…. if he even gets the chance to run, of course).

    • Replies: @Realist
  13. Anonymous[421] • Disclaimer says:

    Many years ago I used to know an auto mechanic who specialized in old Volvos and Rolls Royces. He was a convicted felon and well-read guy. When I’d tell him news about an airliner crash or an earthquake he wouldn’t even look up while working on an engine and say, “Good, more food for you and me.”

  14. Reflecting on all that sixteen years later, on the rights and wrongs of it, the furthest I’ll walk back what I wrote is to admit I was tactless.

    Sung to the tune of “(You Gotta Have) Heart” from the Broadway musical Damn Yankees:

    You had to have tact
    That’s the only thing you lacked
    When you got the sack from Nash’nal Review
    The reason that you got sacked
    Was you didn’t have tact


  15. Unit472 says:

    That very ” hypocrisy ” you mention that is supposed to make our lives smoother is in fact the root of the problem. Would a hundred Sub Saharan Africans who cannot swim and quite likely have never even seen a large body of water much less a sea still jump into a rubber boat and try and cross the Mediterranean were there no chance of rescue or political asylum? If the only thing a Guatemalan migrant could expect to find once he stepped into the SW American desert was one hundred miles of sand, heat and no water would he really attempt to walk to Phoenix? Of course not. His only hope of survival is to be found, rescued and pitied. Problem now is these people expect to be treated sympathetically even if they violently attack border guards or even do worse. Ever notice how there are only men sitting on the capsized bottom of the boats when rescuers arrive? Where are the women, the children, the babies? They were on the boat when it set sail but they are nowhere to be found when the survivors are rescued. No women and children first on the refugee boat. No mercy either.

    Growing up I was a big fan of the BBC World Service. The news readers ( for that was all they were back then) were these English ladies with soft elegant British accents who simply read the news. They could report that 10,000 were dead in some remote Central Asian earthquake or that the dictator of Equatorial Guinea had put to death a dozen opposition leaders in the nations soccer stadium in the same matter of fact tone as they gave the sports results. No emoting allowed. Now the BBC news has its reporters practically weep when the story is in their view sad and celebrate if its another Donald Trump about to be indicted story. Refugee stories are by their very nature sad even if the refugees are doing reckless and irresponsible things that put their own children lives at risk. I see the same reportorial emoting when the story is a teenage negro thug being shot to death. To me, OTOH, it is good news. A quick and brutal end to what promised to be a long and dysfunctional life that would create many victims and allow the dead hoodlum to father many children who would become as dangerous to others as their baby daddy.

    We need to look at the world with the same detached POV as those long ago BBC World Service news readers. Its not bad news or happy news its reality and bad news can have a happier ending for our countrymen than the rescue of a boatload of migrants

    • Agree: 3g4me
  16. How does making the US a third world country help third world countries?

    The southern border is an attractive nuisience.

    When .01% have everything and the rest have nothing will equity then be achieved?

    The WEF is at war against the human race. Root for Xi and Putin.

  17. Yes. Part of the left’s moral conceit is that they say they care about the “fate of strangers” while the rest of us do not.

  18. We definitely need to harden our hearts. As hard as possible. AND we need to stop ALL nonWhite immigration, line our southern border with troops who are given orders to shoot to kill anyone attempting to cross the border, AND we need to deport all nonWhites from the U.S. and Europe. All of them, including our horrible, horrible domestic Blacks and their Jew paymasters. That is the only way to save civilization in the U.S. (and Europe).

  19. Why are Hindu LEGAL IMMIGRANTS coming to Our America?

    Answer: To vote the Native Born White American Working Class Historic Majority into an ever dwindling violently persecuted white racial minority within the borders of post-1965 cesspool America…

    And among the very nasty consequences of Hindu LEGAL IMMIGRATION :Hindus in Virginia are voting to take away the guns and hunting rifles of the White Southern Men of Virginia…….and if these White Men resist…..The US born Hindu geneline of Hindu Legal Immigrants who are Federal Judges…..will sentence these Southern White Men to jail for a very long time…….HINDU RACE POWER IN AMERICA ON FULL DISPLAY!!!….

    The very nasty consequences of the passage of the 1965 Nonwhite LEGAL Immigrant Increase Act…

    1965…..1965….1965…..1965…NEVER FORGET!!!!

  20. Realist says:

    So, good luck changing things (maybe trump in 2024 may make a bit of an effort…. if he even gets the chance to run, of course).

    Like he did before??? LOL Trump is an asshole…a minion of the Deep State.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  21. pyrrhus says:

    Spare me the fake sympathies of neocons, who think nothing of bombing civilians in 3d world countries like Iraq, Libya and Serbia for completely evil reasons, killing hundreds of thousands of women and children….Especially Jewish Zionists supporting a country which continually murders civilians as part of its “Greater Israel” project…Unskilled, uneducated 3d worlders want to get into advanced countries for completely sensible reasons…better wages, great welfare, and free medical care…..If we let them do so, we will eventually lose all that and become a 3d world country, which is currently well under progress…..

  22. If the RN torpedoed every primitive darky-in-a-dingy in the Dover Strait, they’d stop invading!

  23. @War for Blair Mountain

    If the Modi Goverment race-replaced India’s Male Hindu population in engineering schools across India…and in India’s Medical schools across India….there would be blood flowing in the streets the next day all over India..…….Everyone in China knows this…every one in India knows this……

    But since the Modi Goverment is openly Fascist and Nazi….there is not a snowballs chance in hell that this will every happen….

    If you voted for Ronnie Reagan…you voted for 1965 race-replacement legal immigrant policy….Ronnie Reagan’s Homosexual Pederast Log Cabin Republican Federal Judges enforced post-1965 race-replacement policy….

    How will it all end in American?…Very likely America implode into a massive coast to coast reeking stinking rancid toilet bowl of a sinkhole…..The Endgame for the Blessings of Diversity LEGAL IMMIGRANT POLICY_____God only knows what new Life-Forms will be spawned in this giant toilet…..

  24. @War for Blair Mountain

    How does India deal with Muslim Immigration from Pakistan?

    Answer:An Army of 250 thousand Hindu-Sikh Soldiers at the India-Pakistan border……

  25. Spare me the whining from the very folks who have spent the last quarter-century sticking their national dick in any nation that took their fancy.

    Spare me the whining about ‘Guatemalans’ from the nation whose Peak Cunts decided that they get to decide the development choices of the whole of Latin America.

    Spare me the whining about Egyptians, from the world’s biggest supporters of the EuroTrash cancer that was deliberately implanted in the Levant (by the British) to deliberately foment discord.

    Reap what you sow, motherfuckers.

    Maybe if a couple of hundred thousand Libyans or Yemenis moved into Martha’s Vineyard, the US’s Peak Cunt class would give a second thought to deliberately fucking other peoples’ countries.

  26. @the one they call Desanex

    You don’t care about Egyptians?
    That’s not something I’d admit
    Take a dose of my prescription
    Just pretend to give a s**t
    (If you don’t feel it, don’t reveal it)

    You gotta have tact
    Practice putting on an act
    Everyone will think you’re right in the groove,
    Mister ’cause you’ve got tact

  27. @Priss Factor

    Another AUSUK. Anglo Saxon clown shows

  28. “We can harden our hearts, or we can let ’em all in.”
    Embrace the power of “and”!
    Let ’em all in, but the males leave their balls behind at the border. All of them.

  29. There is another choice:

    Be as RACISTS!!! as the Chinese in China…

    Be as RACISTS!!! as the Hindus in India….

    Be as RACIST!!! as the Mexicans in Mexico…

    Be as RACISTS!!! as the Koreans in Korea…

    Now, that’s the ticket!!!

  30. martin_2 says:

    If Mr Derbyshire had to press one of two buttons:

    The White button, and fifty Egyptians would not drown,

    or, the Black button, and fifty Egyptians would drown.

    It seems to me that he is saying that he would be indifferent to the one he pressed.

  31. You can’t see the obvious, Derb? Yes, there is a third option. All those people love their home countries and would love to be back. So, reverse America’s impoverishing of those countries. Reverse the Economic Hit Man process. Help their home countries to deprivatize all the former goverment assets that Vulture America forced them to privatize so the vultures, American, could grab them. Help those countries to become socialist. Then all those people will rush back home.

    • Replies: @Ann Nonny Mouse
  32. @Ann Nonny Mouse

    So the third option is: Soften Our Hearts.

  33. @Realist

    “Like he did before??? LOL Trump is an asshole…a minion of the Deep State.”
    Like I’d argue with that — except to say that the D.S hate him.

  34. Anonymous[727] • Disclaimer says:

    Somewhat related to this point, I read in the newspaper that around 750 odd Indians were killed by lightening strikes in the month of April of this year alone (!).

    If you want a gauge of just how ridiculously overpopulated India is, here it is.

    (Lightening strikes at any one time actually hit a vanishingly small portion of the earth’s surface – but in India the implication is that more or less every square inch of land is occupied by a person).

    • Replies: @Daniel H
  35. “… tens of thousands of deaths among Americans caused by fentanyl smuggled across the border …”

    To be honest, I found death by thirst or drowning much more honorable (at least those immigrants are trying) that death by overdose.

  36. Sir,

    JFK showed the third option. i hope this is not why they took him out … or maybe only trying to stem the tide of communism? doing the right thing for whatever reason is still doing the right thing. R.I.P.

  37. Kat Grey says:

    We are facing a mulatto future. The only people who wil benefit from this demographic catastrophe are the manufacturers of Afro hair straightening products.

  38. JackOH says:

    Derb, I have a half-assed understanding–that may be totally wrong–that NAFTA greatly reduced Mexican subsidies for Mexican farmers, which greatly hurt smaller, near-subsistence Mexican farmers, essentially making them non-competitive with American farm products.

    Does anyone know anything about that?

  39. gT says:

    Don’t know why John is not mentioning the obvious. The West has bombed and undermined nearly every country out there since WW2. Each time some third world country tries to make some progress it gets bombed or coup’ed. Now of course the West has turned on its own people, and has sent their jobs overseas and is curtailing their food and energy production, while importing all and sundry into the West, usually those of the worst type.

    Looks like the plan was to prevent others from developing, and then to destroy their own development and populations. New World Order with a greatly reduced population here we come.

    • Agree: Ann Nonny Mouse
  40. Anon[716] • Disclaimer says:

    There is no third option, Africans and other people of colour ALWAYS outbreed their resources, an example is here in South Africa viz;
    Whites 2,300,000
    Asians 1,200,000
    Coloured (half caste) 2,600,000
    Black 4,500,000
    Whites 4,600,000
    Asians 2,800,000
    Coloured 5,400,000
    Black 54,000,000\
    Not exact figures but the proportions are correct.
    There in a nutshell is the “third worlds” problem.

  41. This whole business is a conjuring trick. That is, we are encouraged to look in certain directions and discouraged from looking in others. We are encouraged to look at those poor people striving to get here, while we are discouraged from looking at the havoc and mayhem they cause. Think of those girls trafficked in Rotherham. This episode happened not in some hellhole like Guatemala, but in Britain, a supposedly enlightened country that has fully absorbed feminist ideology. Yet, the trafficking went on for a decade and a half. Where were the feminists? They were nowhere. It was the far right that kept insisting that something bad was happening.

    So, our elites want us to think of them as wonderful people who allow in these immigrants, while people like me are hard-hearted, but in fact they are hard-hearted toward anyone who suffers from the presence of these immigrants.

    I prefer to be soft-hearted toward native Westerners and hard-hearted toward immigrants from countries whose cultures don’t mesh easily with ours.

    • Replies: @martin_2
  42. Daniel H says:

    (Lightening strikes at any one time actually hit a vanishingly small portion of the earth’s surface – but in India the implication is that more or less every square inch of land is occupied by a person).

    And brace yourself for this, New Jersey has 3 times the population density of India. And the cucks wish to continue with immigration until the entire nation resembles New Jersey.

  43. bert33 says:

    How about proactive repatriation, take the people home and dump them off and be 100% consistent in the message thus being sent. Slap the blue sky liberals around a bit and explain the modern realities of soon 8 billion people in the world directly to their faces until they have their ‘aha’ moment on the subject.

  44. martin_2 says:
    @John Pepple

    Think of those girls trafficked in Rotherham.

    For the umpteenth time. It is not just Rotherham. It is the whole of the UK.

  45. Anonymous[245] • Disclaimer says:

    We can harden our hearts, or we can let ’em all in. Is there a third option?

    Is there a reason I am missing as to why The Camp of the Saints has gone unremarked thus far? Is it held in such low esteem that it is not widely known in 2022?

    Anyway, I thought the takeaway from Jean Raspail’s book was that a third option does not exist. Wasn’t the entire point of the book that the West had a difficult decision to make and needed to decide one way or the other, right now, before the rest of the world turned up and made the decision for it?

    Perhaps the question that ought to be asked is: if the countries all of these refugees are coming from were threatened by a vast influx of Western refugees, what would their reaction likely be?

    I doubt very much they would share the West’s concern about being “nice.” “Niceness” seems to be a peculiarly Western affliction.

    • Agree: 3g4me
    • Replies: @MEH 0910
  46. MEH 0910 says:

    Washington Watcher II:

    He endorsed Jean Raspail’s Camp of the Saints for showing “the spiritual developments underlying the West’s inability to defend itself.”

    Orbán is also the first head of state ever to endorse Raspail’s dystopian novel—the last copies of which are available at

  47. MEH 0910 says:

    • Replies: @MEH 0910
  48. MEH 0910 says:
    @MEH 0910

    In all that mass of stuff I read, there’s often one piece that stands way above the rest. This week that one was Michael Anton’s essay “They Can’t Let Him Back In” at a website named, previously unknown to me.

    Anton is the guy who wrote “The Flight 93 Election” back in 2016, one of the most politically influential opinion columns ever published. He subsequently served in the Trump administration.

    This new essay, “They Can’t Let Him Back In,” is a must-read. The “Him” there is of course Donald Trump. Anton lays out likely scenarios for the next 2½ years, based on the hypothesis that the regime will do anything at all, up to and including a military coup, to prevent another Trump presidency.

    I’ll say no more except: Read that article. It’s brilliant.

  49. MEH 0910 says:

    Did An Ancient Pathogen Reshape Our Cells?

    There is one – and only one – group of mammals that doesn’t have alpha-gal: the catarrhine primates, which are the monkeys of Africa and Asia, the apes, and us.

    The single most important genetic divide in the human race is between sub-Saharans and everybody else.

    An ethnic bioweapon (or a biogenetic weapon) is a hypothetical type of bioweapon which could preferentially target people of specific ethnicities or people with specific genotypes.

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