Saturday, November 04, 2017

Race-obsessed Razib Khan - still obsessed with race PART 2

I mentioned yesterday that in his Undark article Race, Science and Razib Khan, author Schulson compared the racism of Razib Khan to that of NYTimes columnist Nicholas Wade, and seemed to indicate that Wade was the most hard-core believer in "race" and racial essentialism.

I don't think Khan is any less racist though. I think the reason for this is because Wade, as Schulson indicates, is retired. Wade is 75 years old. As a commenter in Schulson's article notes:
Put more bluntly, I don’t believe that Razib truly disavows anything he’s said or done since 2008 or so. I think he’s a man who’s suffered a ton of professional damage by running in certain circles, and is now trying stop the bleeding.
Understandable? Yes, of course. He has a family to support, and he’s no longer on Unz’s teat. I’d do the same in his position. But I still think he’s lying.
It's not hard to find evidence that in spite of his ending his gig at Unz as a regular columnist, Razib Khan is still obsessed with race.

One of his concerns is making it clear that people from Southeast Asia are different from Africans as he discusses in Race is not just Skin Color (Khan's father is just as dark as some African Americans.)

And Khan's wrong-headedness on the subject of race can be clearly demonstrated in this September 2017 blog post from his Gene Expression site. He writes in Black Ancestry In White Americans Of Colonial Background:
I stumbled upon striking photographs of “white slaves” while reading The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing. The backstory here is that in the 19th century abolitionists realized that Northerners might be more horrified as to the nature of slavery if they could find children of mostly white ancestry, who nevertheless were born to slave mothers (and therefore were slaves themselves). So they found some children who had either been freed, or been emancipated, and dressed them up in more formal attire (a few more visibly black children were presented for contrast). 
This illustrates that the media and elites have been using this ploy for a long time. I am talking about the Afghan girl photograph, or the foregrounding of blonde and blue-eyed Yezidi children. Recently I expressed some irritation on Twitter when there was a prominent photograph of a hazel-eyed Rohingya child refugee being passed around. Something like 1 in 500 people in that region of the world has hazel eyes! That couldn’t be a coincidence. Race matters when it comes to compassion.
Several points to consider: Khan considers abolitionists to have been "elites" - the term elite is used at the present time by conservatives to refer to liberals. Who are always the Enemy. The media is also the enemy of the Right as Donald Trump's recent tweets have made clear. Razib Khan considers the elites - abolitionists, modern-day liberals and the media, to be three groups who use the same "ploy."

Khan describes a strategy by abolitionists to promote compassion - by showing pictures of slave children who looked white. And he confesses to find this irritating - and he compares it to the distribution of photos of hazel-eyed refuges on Twitter.

Khan seems to find it offensive that "elites" are aware that "race matters when it comes to compassion." But it is not a controversial view to hold that in general, people prefer those who look like themselves. My impression is that Khan is trying to smear "elites" for recognizing this reality.

But I think the more important source of Khan's agitation over the "ploy" is that abolitionists made an important point: that the concept of race itself was a social invention and not a biological one. A major justification for slavery was that blacks were innately inferior to whites - a belief that Razib Khan and his patrons hold and promote. And yet how could slave children who look exactly like superior white children be members of the inferior black group?

I don't think that Khan will continue to downplay his racial obsession for much longer. First because he can hardly help himself, that is who Razib Khan is, obsessed with demonstrating the inferiority of Africans - especially West Africans who were most heavily targeted in the slave trade for the Americas.

But also because blatant racism - especially racism that can pass itself off as science by employing STEM terms - is where the money is. 

And we know that's where the money is because we know that the very wealthy are bankrolling racism - the Koch brothers support Khan's intellectual hero Charles Murray, while Robert Mercer has been supporting Khan's admirers including, until recently Milo Yiannopoulous - although not to worry, Mercer sold his stake in Breitbart to his daughter Rebecca, she-wolf of MAGA.

And Khan seems to be building a case on Twitter to justify his association with right-wing racist moneybags - because it's hard to make money as a pure scientist:

But what about Razib Khan's idea that having ancestors directly out of Africa - instead of out of Africa and then through Europe or Asia -  contributes to reduced "aptitude"? I will talk about that next.