Saturday, 14 November 2009

Genocide is as Genocide does...

Related (and brilliant!):

From part four of Alex Kurtagic’s review essay of Channel 4’s Race and Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo:

Having heard from Jones and Nisbett, Omaar positions the ball before the goal, “It seems to me race is not a useful scientific category at all. A view shared by neuroscientist Steven Rose.” Steven Rose’s visage then fills the screen. He asserts:

The social definitions of race — black, white, for example — don’t match the biological definitions. I mean, if you look at gene frequencies, for example, there are differences, on average, between North Welsh and Southern Welsh people, but you wouldn’t call the North Welsh a different race from the Southern Welsh people. There are differences between different groups of people in Africa, and yet what racist language does is group all Black Africans as if they are one group. That makes no sense in biological terms, in genetic terms at all.

While it is right and proper to point out that there is a mismatch between social and biological definitions of race, the ensuing analogy is preposterous. Saying that it would be wrong to mislabel two subcategories as categories does not discredit categorization: It discredits the person misapplying the labels.

Rose’s claim that “racist language” lumps all kinds of different groups into one is an exact inversion of the truth: The language of race seeks to differentiate groups. Leftist ideologues like Rose are the ones doing the lumping, by saying, for example, that there is no race but the human race, when humans are, in fact, racially diverse.


Funny how it goes sometimes. Immediately after reading these words I picked up a book, What is Genocide? by Martin Shaw, and read the following on the competing definitions of genocide:

The answer to the misuse of classification is not, therefore, to abandon classification. We simply cannot do this: classification is an inescapable part of human cognition and social life. Social scientists’ classifications - like those of genocidists - are particular versions of this general human activity. Classification’s danger is always, as Nigel Eltringham suggested, that ‘we “misplace concreteness” and set out to “prove” that our abstract concepts ... really do correspond to reality, rather than being contingent approximations.’ Genocidists go a big step further in trying to enforce their social classifications, making reality correspond at the cost of lives. [p.12]

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