Charles Murray’s just-published Facing Reality: Two Truths About Race in America is an elegantly brief (168 pages) essay devoted to summarizing the great mass of evidence for the existence and persistence of significant racial differences in two areas:
- cognitive ability, aka intelligence, and
- violent crime rates.
Taken together, this evidence is irrefutable, and informed experts have pretty well given up contesting it.
In dramatic contrast, public debate has actually gone backward since Murray co-authored The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life in 1994. He hopes his politely rational arguments can change that — or that the Ruling Class will heed his warning about a white backlash. Too bad he’s wrong.
Facing Reality was inspired by the slogans of “systemic racism” and “white privilege” popularized by the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020. It is Murray’s patient attempt to explain to anyone who will listen just why such incendiary charges “float free of reality,” in the words of the front jacket flap. …
Our ruling class persistently denies these realities, and has created an unholy mess as a result:
There is plenty of [racial discrimination in hiring], as Murray recognizes:
The American job market systematically discriminates in favor of racial minorities other than Asians…A detached observer might even call it systemic racism.
Perhaps the real reason for all the empty chatter about “white privilege” is that if no such thing exists, our current system of racial discrimination becomes indefensible.
Tribalism doesn’t come as easily to whites, which is why nominally white countries host most of the world’s multiracial societies:
[Murray points out that] racial identity politics has strong evolutionary roots:
“Treating our fellow human beings as individuals instead of treating them as members of groups is unnatural. Our brains evolved to think of people as members of groups; to trust and care for people who are like us and to be suspicious of people who are unlike us. Those traits had great survival value for human beings throughout millions of years. People who were trusting of outsiders were less likely to pass on their genes.”
Yet a few countries, pre-1965 America conspicuous among them, successfully developed high levels of trust independent of kinship bonds. Such countries have fostered historically exceptional levels of human achievement and prosperity.
Murray himself is a typical product of such a society in that thinking in racial terms does not come naturally to him: he invariably treats races as collections of individuals among whom non-random patterns happen to be observable rather than as (roughly) constant gene pools which perpetuate themselves across the generations.
Where does this individualistic mindset come from? Murray attributes it to the American Founders, who enshrined as in “The American Creed.”
He might have profited by considering Kevin MacDonald’s argument that northern Europeans (such as our Founders) are the product of an unusual evolutionary environment in which the ability to cooperate with non-kin, including the careful maintenance of a personal reputation for fair dealing with them, was of greater importance than kinship bonds. This is inherently more plausible than seeing American individualism as the invention of a group of Enlightenment-era political savants.
So what happens when whites have to go tribal because everyone else does and picks on them, as under the new creed of the Left?
One powerful reason to suspect our individualism and tendency to de-emphasize race and kinship has deeper roots is the slowness of American whites to adopt racial identity politics for themselves. Murray approves of such reluctance. He may not like minority racial politics, yet his principal fear appears to be that Whites may begin to develop something similar.
In other words, he believes the current double standard forbidding Whites (and only Whites) from pursuing their group interests — while permitting or encouraging such behavior in other groups — is a lesser evil than Whites starting to behave like everybody else and fight fire with fire. In his own words: “If Whites adopt identity politics, disaster follows.”
But disaster for whom? Not for Whites themselves, apparently. Murray acknowledges:
If a minority consisting of 13 percent of the population can generate as much political energy and solidarity as America’s Blacks have, what happens when a large proportion of the 60 percent of the population that is White begins to use the same playbook?
Maybe they start winning for a change?
But no, that is definitely not the conclusion Murray wishes us to draw. Instead, his fear is that the American government will lose legitimacy:
The federal government has enacted thousands of laws and regulations [that] apply to every family and business in the nation. They cannot possibly be enforced by the police or courts without almost universal voluntary compliance. When a government is seen as legitimate, most citizens voluntarily comply because they believe it is their duty. When people see laws as products of the illegitimate use of power, the sense of obligation fades.
This, then, is the disaster which Charles Murray fears will result from the growth of white identity politics: Non-elite white Trump-voters with American flags on their pickup trucks may stop cooperating with the sanctimonious elite whites and resentful nonwhites who rule over them! They must not stand up for themselves because it could prove to be a disaster to their enemies!
Strange time ahead perhaps.