Race is an Illusion, Racism is Not
July 21, 2004
Executive Summary: Race is an illusion, racism is not. Race is an illusion because all hominid species besides Homo sapiens died out 30,000 years ago. Therefore every human being alive today belongs to the same race. Racism unfortunately, is all too real, because racism lingers in the hearts of men.
A Man of the African Race. Standing behind him, author Spencer Wells, another Man of the African Race
"Racism is not only socially divisive, but also scientifically incorrect. We are all descendants of people who lived in Africa recently. We are all Africans under the skin. "
-- Spencer Wells, Population Geneticist
Out of Africa
Spencer Wells is a disciple of Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, famed pioneer of "genetic geography." In 2002 Wells produced a two-hour National Geographic documentary entitled "The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey," in which he demolished the myth of race. Only 60,000 years or 2,000 generations ago, the entire human race consisted of 10,000 black Africans living in central east Africa. Everyone alive today is descended from those individuals. This understanding of man's origin is known as "Out of Africa," and has been confirmed by the scientific evidence.
Atlas of the Human Journey - The Genographic Project
The Genographic Project - Human Migration, Population Genetics, Maps, DNA
The competing alternative to "Out of Africa" is "Multiregional Continuity." Multiregional Continuity, it must be noted, offers cold comfort to white supremacists. Multiregionalists agree that we are all Africans. Multiregionalists merely believe that man migrated out of Africa one million years ago in the form of Homo erectus, rather than 60,000 years ago in the form of Homo sapiens. Either way, the human race is still the African race, and we are still all Africans under the skin.
Race is an Illusion, Racism is Not
Races don't exist; they cannot be scientifically defined. [Cavalli-Sforza's] stance on race has drawn vicious attacks from white supremacists, but its scientific logic, echoed by most in his field, is difficult to rebut. People tend to fixate on external differences -- skin color, facial features, hair texture -- when in fact these are malleable characteristics that evolve relatively swiftly.
-- Mitchell Leslie, The History of Everyone and Everything, Stanford Magazine
"I know perfectly well that in the scientific sense there is no such thing as race. As a politician I need an idea which enables the order which has hitherto existed on a historic basis to be abolished and an entirely new order enforced and given an intellectual basis. And for this purpose the idea of race serves me well."
-- Adolf Hitler, quoted in John Toland's biography "Adolf Hitler"
Nelson Mandela and Charlize Theron
What do I mean when I say that race is an Illusion? I mean that the lingering perception among non-scientists that Nelson Mandela belongs to one race, while Charlize Theron belongs to another race, is scientifically incorrect.
Modern biology classifies all living organisms according to the Linnaeus system of taxonomy we first encountered in high school:
Every human being alive today belongs to the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Order Primata, Family Hominidae, Genus Homo, Species Sapiens.
Every human being alive today is a member of the same species. That species is Homo sapiens. There is no other hominid species to which one can belong.
For the record, this was not always the case. At one time earth was populated by more than one race. The extinction of Neanderthal man, aka Homo neanderthalensis, changed all that.
Nelson Mandela, as the entire world knows, is African.
But so is Charlize Theron.
I don't mean by nationality. I don't mean merely that Charlize Theron is a South African citizen who holds a South African passport.
I mean genetically. I mean that Charlize Theron's genetic roots go back to Africa, just like Nelson Mandela's. The only difference is Nelson Mandela's ancestors remained in Africa, while Charlize Theron's left Africa 30,000 years ago and settled in western Europe.
The same is true of me. As anyone surfing this website knows, I am Chinese. I therefore am the descendant of black Africans who left Africa 35,000 years ago and settled in eastern Asia.
Those who harbor irrational prejudice toward their fellow human beings in the belief they are "members of another race" are acting out of scientific ignorance. Racists may believe they are directing their hatred at "members of another race," but they aren't. There is no "other race" to direct their hatred at. The racists therefore are directing their hatred at members of their own race.
Ku Klux Klansmen and Neo-Nazis who demean fellow human beings with the contemptuous epithet, "niggers," are themselves the descendants of "niggers." Hell, they are "niggers." They are, in a kind of delicious irony, demeaning themselves.
One is tempted to joke that modern day racists were born too late. Thirty thousand years ago, racists would have had a biological pretext for their racial hatred. Neanderthals were indeed a separate species, i.e., "another race."
Please note that I said racists would have had a pretext for their hatred. I did not say they would have had any justification.
Taiwan Independence Fascism and Ethnic Cleansing
Jet Li, a Man of the African Race, and the late Aliyah, a Woman of the African Race
Romeo Must Die (2000, directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, written by Mitchell Kapner, Eric Bernt)
These findings of modern science, predictably, have so-called "scientific racists'" panties in a bunch. Websites such as Peter Brimelow's VDARE and Jared Taylor's American Renaissance have posted long-winded, self-contradictory rants purporting to "refute" Cavalli-Sforza and Wells.
Unfortunately for these bush league bigots, their "refutations" are in vain. As the quotation from Hitler illustrates, racist demagogues far more charismatic and persuasive than Brimelow and Taylor have already given away the game. Race, as der Furhrer himself admitted in a rare moment of candour, is a political, not scientific construct. Belated efforts by Brimelow and Taylor to apply a scientific gloss to their ugly bigotry are a day late and a dollar short.
That, alas, is not the end of the story.
The sad fact remains that appeals to "racial identity" work. They work because they pander to man's basest, most atavistic instincts.
That was why Adolph Hitler appealed to a fictitious, concocted, ahistorical "Aryan" racial identity.
That is why Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, and Annette Lu appeal to a fictitious, concocted, ahistorical "Taiwanese" racial identity, and why their appeals have become shriller and more blatant since Chen and Lu's so-called "reelection" on 3/20/2004.
Annette Lu is the Taiwan independence movement's enfant terrible. Lu is notorious for saying out loud what other members of the Taiwan independence nomenklatura are thinking but don't have the guts to make explicit.
Lu recently scapegoated Taiwan's Aborigines, blaming them for overdevelopment, deforestation, soil erosion, and flooding in Taiwan's central mountain range. Aboriginal victims of Tropical Storm Mindulle, Lu declared, deserved no sympathy. They should be shipped off to Central and South America for damaging Taiwan's ecology.
Annette Lu is not the first Taiwan independence leader to play the race card. That distinction belongs to Lee Teng-hui. During the 90s, Lee began suggesting that "mainlanders," so-called, be expelled from Taiwan and sent back to "China," the Taiwan independence Quislings' idiosyncratic term for mainland China.
Annette Lu however, has upped the ante. Lu has recommended that Aborigines be relocated en masse to Central and South America, leaving the island in the hands of those whom Taiwan independence fascists designate as real "Taiwanese," i.e., themselves.
Does the term "ethnic cleansing" ring a bell? It should. It describes perfectly what Lu and her fellow Taiwan independence fascists have in mind for anyone not one of them.
Race: The Final Frontier
"What is race? It is a biologically meaningless category. It is a cultural term that Americans use to describe what a person's ancestry is. But biologically the human species does not have categories. It just has variations as one travels around the world.''
-- Jefferson Fish, psychologist, St. John's University, New York
"Effectively, we're all cousins separated by, at most, a couple of thousand generations. So the next time you're sitting in traffic... try to remember that the driver in front is one of the family."
-- Spencer Wells, Population Geneticist
Frank Gorshin as Bele, and Lou Antonio as Lokai
Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 70: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (1969, created by Gene Roddenberry )
Synopsis: Bele and Lokai, alien humanoids from the planet Cheron, are mortal enemies. Their hatred for each other leaves Captain Kirk bewildered. Bele and Lokai, after all, look the same. Each is black on one side and white on the other. What reason, Kirk asks, could they have to hate each other? An indignant Bele snarls: "Are you blind? We're nothing alike! I'm black on my right side and white on my left side. He's white on his right side and black on his left side!" When the Starship Enterprise arrives at Cheron, they discover a lifeless planet, annihilated by racial armageddon. Bele and Lokai however have learned nothing. They beam down to Cheron, fighting each other to the death.
Heavy-handed? Preachy? Didactic?
Perhaps. But if any morality tale ever deserved to be told, loudly and repeatedly, this is it.
Consider the following horrific crimes committed long after that Star Trek episode first aired in 1969.
On December 7, 1993, black racist Colin Ferguson boarded a Long Island Rail Road commuter train, drew his 9mm semi-automatic pistol and began shooting white and Asian passengers. By the time three male passengers managed to tackle him, Ferguson had shot 25 people, killing six and seriously wounding 19.
On June 7, 1998, white racists Lawrence Russell Brewer, John William King, and Shawn Allen Berry chained black hitchhiker James Byrd Jr. to the back of a pickup truck and dragged him three miles down a rural Jasper, Texas dirt road. By the time their truck rolled to a halt, Byrd's head and one arm had been torn from his body.
The Star Trek episode "Let This Be Your Final Battlefield" was set in Stardate: 5730.2. Let us pray that when Stardate 5730.2 eventually rolls around, the human race is no longer behaving like Bele and Lokai, or Ferguson, Brewer, King, and Berry.