The scientific racism in Roof’s statement (can we get Wade and Murray on the record?)

Get it? Scientific racism.

Get it? Scientific racism.

The 2,400-word statement posted by Dylann Roof before he carried out the Charleston massacre — murdering nine Black people in an A.M.E. Church prayer meeting — is a clear statement of his terrorist political intentions (it’s described here, and archived here).

It also includes some very banal scientific racism which could, in slightly fancier language, have been written by Nicholas Wade or Charles Murray. Roof wrote:

Anyone who thinks that White and black people look as different as we do on the outside, but are somehow magically the same on the inside, is delusional. How could our faces, skin, hair, and body structure all be different, but our brains be exactly the same? This is the nonsense we are led to believe. Negroes have lower Iqs, lower impulse control, and higher testosterone levels in generals. These three things alone are a recipe for violent behavior. If a scientist publishes a paper on the differences between the races in Western Europe or Americans, he can expect to lose his job.

With regard to Roof’s first two sentences, you might compare them with Wade’s (all quotes found in my article):

It is reasonable to assume that if traits like skin color have evolved in a population, the same may be true of its social behavior, and hence the very different kinds of society seen in the various races and in the world’s great civilizations differ not just because of their received culture—in other words, in what is learned from birth—but also because of variations in the social behavior of their members, carried down in their genes.

On the second point — IQ, impulse control, and testosterone in Blacks — Roof is also in line with Wade. Wade inflates the weak case that the (rare) MAO-A “warrior gene” makes Blacks more violent than Whites, genetically. And then on the question of violence and impulse control, Wade explains that Africa remains poor because it is genetically stuck in tribalism (read: poor impulse control) despite the awesome helpfulness of the colonial powers on that continent (“Tribal behavior is more deeply ingrained than mere cultural prescriptions. Its longevity and stability point strongly to a genetic basis”). And also violent, as the higher-than-average homicide rate in Africa represents “a difference that does not prove but surely allows room for a genetic contribution to greater violence in the less developed world.”

On the claim of a forced silence about these (supposed) truths among the scientific community, Murray and Wade also are in agreement with Roof. This is a major theme for Wade. Instead of “expect to lose his job,” Murray says a scientist who focuses on the genetics of racial difference will face “professional isolation and stigma.” The point is the same. 

Given the closeness of his statements to their ideas, I think it would be helpful for Wade and Murray to explain how Roof is or is not accurate, and then explicitly denounce Roof’s associated actions. Of course Wade and Murray would never countenance racial murder of the kind perpetrated by Roof, and I would never put them in the same category — except insofar as their ideas are in fact similar. I would hate for Roof’s white supremacist friends to read the silence from Wade and Murray as endorsement of his view of racial genetics and its use as a rationale for violence.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “The scientific racism in Roof’s statement (can we get Wade and Murray on the record?)

  1. vijay

    This is essentially the worst hatchet job on Murray (or Wade ) written.

    Let us say, Person A, wrote:

    “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

    Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”

    Person B kills x Million people quoting Person A.

    Now, Person A has to apologize?

    We do not have free will? If someone quotes you on inequality and kills another, you are responsible?

    Please take this down. If this is the way academia thinks, I am really sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Martin

      I might have to re-read the post, but I did not see where Philip said that Murray or Wade are responsible for Roof’s actions. The post is simply asking them to explain the differences between their words and Roof’s manifesto (because they appear to share a similar line of reasoning). And, much like how every Muslim in the U.S. is expected to denounce any terrorist attack perpetrated by a Muslim, otherwise it is presumed that they are in agreement with the terrorist, maybe White Supremacists should be held to the same standard.

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      • Vijay

        I understand academic sociology = agitprop, and he is appeasing his gallery by throwing raw meat, but I will bite.

        First, conflating Wade and Murray, and then Roof; Murray is a social scientist; Wade is a journalist. Murray provided distributions on cognitive ability by race; Wade provided summaries. In india, we are desperate to lift the cognitive ability of the entire population by providing clean water, toilet facilities, removal of air and water-borne pathogens and antibiotics. Promotion of cognitive efforts among the entire spectrum of the population is the goal of governments of the world. Did either say shoot the poor?

        Next on introducing the Muslim issue; who is asking Muslims to apologize for terrorism, and which Muslim is? If anything, the Western media and society have been very accommodating to Islam and Muslims. Look at the growth of Islam an Muslims in EU in the last ten years-20 years. Who exactly from the among the Muslims have apologized, for what?

        I do not blame him; biology, maths and stats are absolute. I come here with the belief that his sociology ghas a negative predictive value. By assuming the exact opposite of what this author posits, you will never go wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Daniel

      [this commenter has been banned for racism]

      Like

  2. C.G.

    As an African-American, I find the white discussion of the “inferiority of other races” to be indicative of a pathology of the mainstream American psyche. That pathology is malignant narcissism. The narcissism was propped up for a while by the steps the U.S. took to make sure that five percent of the world’s population consumed or had access to between 25 and 40 percent of the world’s resources. Now that those arrangements are coming apart, the U.S. is entering a phase of “narcissistic decompensation.” Hence Dylann Roof, Nicholas Wade and Charles Murray, along with all the apparatus of the media empire of Rupert Murdoch, the Republican Party, and many elements of the American Religious Right.

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  3. NeutronGun

    I agree that this sounds like an attempt to create guilt by association. I am sure you can find statements supporting social Darwinism in the Nazi ‘literature’ that were similar to statements made by Charles Darwin. And yet I think we can reasonably assume that Darwin would have condemned Nazism in the strongest terms. There is no reason to suppose that Wade or Murray would have anything but the harshest words reserved for Roof. It’s silly to hold their feet to the fire just because they haven’t explicitly come forward condemning Roof.

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