May 16, 2008

Since Justin showed me the courtesy of responding to my objections to his statements about Hillary-voters in West Virginia, I am herewith returning the favor. Because of the brevity of my blog retort to his commentary, it seemed necessary to add these words in order to make my views explicit. Like Justin I find those white “€œracists”€ who voted for Hillary in the Democratic primaries to be silly, whatever their IQs happen to be. How the Hell can they believe that Senator Clinton, who has passionately supported affirmative action and every accredited form of victimology, represents the “€œwhite race,”€ even in a contest with Jeremiah Wright’s longtime parishioner! Hillary is a whacko leftist like Obama, granting a few insignificant discrepancies in their senatorial voting records.

What bothered me about Justin’s attacks on rural white Americans, however, is that it was so damned PC. It was the kind of thing I would expect of my leftist colleagues, who are always raging against hillbilly Fundamentalists while going into religious ecstasy at the mere mention of inner-city blacks. Although Justin did not go quite so far as doing the PC cringe for victimized blacks, he seemed to be taking a page out of the white liberal book of etiquette when he dumped on poor whites.

Let us imagine, however, that Justin had added to his invective something to the effect that blacks show lower IQs and far higher crime rates than West Virginia hillbillies. Such a piece, no matter how well documented, would have been enough to damage his professional standing as a journalist. Of course Justin might be allowed, without sacrificing his standing, to make a slightly different assertion, one that liberals seem willing to tolerate, about how much higher the native intelligence of Ashkenazic Jews is than that of white-bread goyim. But if Justin also claimed that Jews were smarter than blacks (which the aforesaid comparison would strongly suggest), he would still be destroying himself professionally and socially. Justin understands these realities and has discussed with me and others the parlous state of intellectual liberty in the “€œliberal democratic”€ West. Given this situation, I am not at all impressed when I notice him going after what Sam Francis used to call “€œeasy targets.”€ Why should she we applaud when he vents contempt on the favorite whipping boy of white liberals and Senator Obama, namely, small-town and rural whites?

Quite frankly, I don”€™t know whether social conditions have much to do with raising native intelligence, a position that Justin assumes that I took in my response to him. Two factors lead me to believe that the emphasis on nurture over Nature may be overstated, and often for ideological reasons. One, studies on identical twins and adopted children suggest that the level of cognitive ability is often the same for siblings who are raised in different circumstances. This finding is not entirely conclusive, and the tested intelligence of some groups, such as Jews and Chinese, vary greatly depending on the societies in which they are found. Still, there is a large body of research that confirms that intellectual potential is largely innate and, beyond the acquisition of literacy, only minimally affected by changing social conditions. Two, it is likely that those who are intellectually gifted make sure their children enjoy a mentally stimulating environment. But not all children will take to that environment equally. As the father of five children, I discovered that not all of my offspring were equally apt learners or took advantage of “€œenriching opportunities”€™ to an equal degree.

As someone who has taught at a college where the students are overwhelmingly affluent but seem averse to books, I am forced to believe that while their parents have amassed money, they are probably not especially intelligent. But such a deficiency, as the psychologist Christopher Jenks demonstrated in the 1970s, does not have to hinder those seeking the accumulation of wealth from achieving their goal.  And while the children of not very bright, wealth-accumulating parents often live with amenities that would have been inconceivable to my generation, they are certainly not interested in sharpening their ideational skills. But none of this should be surprising. Like the eagerness to provide one’s children with intellectual stimulation, intellectual curiosity betokens inborn intelligence.  


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