Franz Boas Discredited
Franz Boas (1858–1942) is regarded as the father of modern (liberal) anthropology that denies the significance of race. As chairman of the anthropology department at Columbia University, he trained an influential cadre of scholars who went on to reorient American anthropology in the direction of egalitarianism and environmental determinism. Ruth Benedict, Ashley Montague, Margaret Mead, Melville Herskovits, and many of his other students spread the message that human nature and mental abilities are largely the product of environmental influences and little affected by genes.
In 1911, Boas published an influential paper called Changes in Bodily Form of Descendants of Immigrants, in which he claimed that the children of European immigrants to the United States no longer had the distinctive head shapes of their parents, and were rapidly converging towards a common type. After measuring the heads of 13,000 European immigrants and their children, he concluded that the environmental effect was dramatic:
“The shape of the head undergoes far-reaching changes coincident with the transfer of the people from European to American soil. For instance, the east European Hebrew, who has a very round head, becomes long-headed; the south Italian, who in Italy has an exceedingly long head, becomes more short-headed; so that in this country both approach a uniform style, as far as the roundness of the head is concerned.”
“We are compelled to conclude,” he went on, “that when these features of the body change, the bodily and mental make-up of the immigrant may change.” He assumed that mental function changed as readily under environmental influence as head shape, and went on to posit “a great plasticity of the mental make-up of human types.” In other words, with the right environment, all races and ethnic groups converge towards a common humanity.
These data and conclusions — outlandish on their face — were taken seriously at the time, and are used by some anthropologists even today to support the egalitarian view. “I have used Boas’s study to fight what I guess could be considered racist approaches to anthropology,” says Dr. David Thomas, curator of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Now, in a study just published in Proceedings of the National Science Academy, two anthropologists have concluded that Boas’s data by no means support his conclusions. Dr. Richard Jantz of the University of Tennessee says that the differences in skull measurements between the immigrants and their American-born children were “negligible,” and stops just short of saying the famous report was a deliberate fraud. Boas, he says, “was intent on showing that the scientific racism of the day had no basis, but he did have to shade his data some to make it work that way.”
It is enormously significant that this early and influential study has been found to be, at the very least, mistaken. After decades of destructive nonsense about infinite malleability, science is coming around to a much more realistic understanding of the significance and persistence of genetic and even racial differences. [Nicholas Wade, A New Look at Old Data May Discredit a Theory on Race, New York Times, Oct. 8, 2002.]
New York Welcomes Pres. Mugabe
On September 12, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, giving a spirited defense of his government’s policy of driving white farmers off their land. He conceded the policy had opponents: “Europe said no, but Africa said yes. Who do we listen to? The whites in Europe or the blacks in Africa? We listen to our own blacks and their judgment.”
Mr. Mugabe is not joking about the blacks in Africa. He is immensely popular in the two neighboring countries that still have white commercial farmers: South Africa and Namibia. At the recent UN conference on sustainable development in Johannesburg, he was met with such joy and so large a forest of Zimbabwean flags that many South Africans reportedly wondered if the Zimbabwean Central Intelligence Organization had orchestrated the welcome. South African President Thabo Mbeki recognized Mr. Mugabe’s popularity and implicitly endorsed his policies by giving the Zimbabwean president twice as much time at the podium as any other speaker. US Secretary of State Colin Powell was practically booed off the stage when he criticized the seizure of white farms.
Mr. Mugabe is an unqualified hero to black South Africans. There have been thousands of squatters in the town of Hout Bay, just outside Cape Town, whom even the black government wants out of the way. Whites insist that what is happening in Zimbabwe could never happen to them — despite the 1,500 or so murders of South African farmers since black rule — and got a bit of a shock when radicals representing the Hout Bay squatters stormed the Cape High Court, brandishing Zimbabwean flags. Natasha deBoer, a Cape Town-based executive who holds both British and South African citizenship, has no illusions about what Mr. Mugabe’s popularity means: “The whites in Cape Town live in a dream world. They have but a few years left of their fantasy of a normal life under communist black rule.”
Sam Nujoma, who has run Namibia since independence in 1990, has also noticed Mr. Mugabe’s popularity. He has started attacking “arrogant” commercial farmers who he says are obstacles to land reform. He has his eye on 192 farms, mostly owned by Germans and South Africans, and says that unless the owners agree to forced sales the government will seize them. At the Johannesburg meeting he joined in the ovation for Mr. Mugabe, and blamed Britain for Zimbabwe’s troubles. [Anthony LoBaido, Zimbabwe-style Land Grab in South Africa? WorldNet Daily. com, Sept. 15, 2002.]
Mr. Mugabe has fans in the United States, too. On the afternoon of the day he addressed the UN, he accepted an invitation to speak at New York’s City Council chamber, where he gave a long talk about his land policies to a dozen or so members of the City Council’s Black and Hispanic Caucus. Charles Barron, a City Council member from Brooklyn and a former Black Panther who had invited Mr. Mugabe to City Hall, hugged him and held his hand aloft.
Mr. Barron no doubt sees in Mr. Mugabe a kindred spirit. Since joining the City Council in February, the councilman has called for city hall portraits of white historical figures to be replaced with pictures of blacks, and has said Thomas Jefferson was a “pedophile.” At a rally for reparations for slavery, Mr. Barron once said that sometimes he wants to go up to a white person, say, “You can’t understand this, it’s a black thing,” and then “slap him just for my mental health.” Even the New York Times expressed mild surprise that although most City Council members did not attend the Mugabe speech, few criticized Mr. Barron for arranging it. [Joyce Purnick, Mugabe’s Visit Has Council Speechless, New York Times, Sept. 16, 2002. Council Extends Welcome Mat — And Also Steps on a Few Toes, Washington Post, Sept. 15, 2002.]
Last month we reported on the sudden arrival of more than 1,000 Somali refugees in Lewiston, Maine. The new residents consume 46 percent of the city’s welfare budget, and the cost of educating 230 non- or limited-English speaking students is eating away at the public school budget. The assault on the city’s finances finally prompted Mayor Laurier “Larry” Raymond to write a letter to the Somalis, asking them to stop coming.
“The Somali community must exercise some discipline and reduce the stress on our limited finances and our generosity,” he wrote, asking them to “please pass the word: We have been overwhelmed and have responded valiantly. Now we need breathing room. Our city is maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally.”
The Somalis wrote back, with feelings “ranging from dismay, astonishment and anger,” and called the letter “inflammatory” and “disturbing.” They also explained the fine things they have done for Lewiston: “For your information, therefore, our coming to Lewiston and living here have revitalized this city in certain ways. Our presence has turned Lewiston into a multi-ethnic, multi-racial city, which has embraced diversity and change. A city of thirty-six thousand people, in the middle of the ‘whitest’ state in the country, has suddenly become an international city . . . Our presence here have [sic] also attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal funds to boost existing social services for all residents of Lewiston.”
The mayor shouldn’t be concerned with Somali indigence, because “[O]ut of the 416 able-bodied men and women 215 persons are currently employed. This is over 50% of adults who could work.”
They also pointed out that they are in the country legally and have the right to live anywhere they like. The Somalis conclude by calling the mayor a bigot who is trying to “agitate” and “incite” the people of Lewiston into violence. They said they would hold the mayor responsible “if any harm in form [sic] of an attack happens to any Somali-American man, woman or child.”
Somalis are already mixing it up with the natives. On Oct. 3, a drunken brawl broke out between Lewistonians and Somalis, during which, one or more Somalis slashed 21-year-old Troy Berry. Police aren’t sure what prompted the fight, but arrested three young Somalis for aggravated assault, and two Lewistonians for disorderly conduct. The fight was just the latest in a series of violent confrontations in downtown Lewiston in recent weeks. [Lisa Chmelecki, Immigrants Say Letter a Bigoted Act, Lewiston Sun Journal, Oct. 8, 2002. Text of Letter from Somali Community, Lewiston Sun Journal, Oct. 8, 2002. Mark LaFlamme, Supporters and Critics Alike Say the Issue Won’t Go Away, Lewiston Sun Journal, Oct. 8, 2002. Scott Taylor, Mayor Appeals to Somalis to Stem Migration, Lewiston Sun Journal, Oct. 4, 2002. Lewiston Mayor’s Letter to Somali Community, Lewiston Sun Journal, Oct. 4, 2002. Mark LaFlamme, Lewiston Man Knifed in Brawl; 5 Charged, Lewiston Sun Journal, Oct. 4, 2002.]
Other white communities are not keen on a big dose of Somalis either. The city council of Holyoke, Massachusetts, voted 12-2 on Oct. 1 to oppose a plan to resettle 300 of them. Noting that Holyoke, the Bay State’s poorest city, cannot house or educate them, the city council asked the federal government to rescind a $320,000 resettlement grant made to local church groups. [Holyoke Council Rejects Somali Immigrants, AP, Oct. 2, 2002.]
Other cities are going to have to face this problem. The US government plans to resettle the entire 12,000-member Somali Bantu tribe, since they are said to suffer persecution at the hands of non-Bantus. Among the quaint customs practiced by these Somalis is ritual female circumcision. When they learned that mutilating the genitals of girls was illegal in the United States, many families rushed to have their daughters cut before they left for America. Some of the girls were as young as two years old. A spokesman for the US embassy in Kenya, where the Somalis are being held in refugee camps, says any family found to have mutilated daughters in the last few months would be investigated and probably kept out of the country. The rest of the 12,000 are scheduled to start arriving in a few months. [Andrew Harding, US May Ban Genital Mutilation Parents, BBC Online, Oct. 1, 2002.]
Leprosy in America
William R. Levis at Bellevue Hospital in New York is the foremost American expert on leprosy. He helped pioneer multiple-drug therapy, which has been successful in reducing the world’s total number of cases of leprosy from 18 million 20 years ago to two million today. Dr. Levis explains that in the United States, however, leprosy is on the rise. He has 382 patients, almost all of them immigrants from such leprosy hot spots as India, the Caribbean, and Brazil. Most probably came to the United States not knowing they were infected; it can take 10 years for the disease to produce symptoms. Although no one knows exactly how leprosy spreads — whether through skin contact, insect bite, inhalation, ingestion, or sexual contact — a few Americans appear to be getting it from the immigrants. One of Dr. Levis’s patients has never left the United States, but appears to have got the disease from a heavily-Asian church he attends.
Most doctors have never seen a case of leprosy and most labs do not know how to detect it. Patients have symptoms that appear at first to be arthritis or lupus, and many of Dr. Levis’s patients come to him only after futile treatment for other diseases. Dr. Levis estimates there are at least several thousand people in this country with leprosy, with as many as nine out of ten undiagnosed. [Tom Hollon, The Leprosy Watcher, The Scientist, June, 2002, p.15.]
In October, the government of Barbados hosted the “African and African Descendants’ World Conference Against Racism.” High on the agenda were denunciations of slavery, and a proposal by Caribbean and North American blacks to sue France for making Haiti, a former French colony, pay millions of dollars to gain its independence in the early 19th Century.
On the opening day, 200 delegates voted to expel all non-blacks. Conference chairman Jewel Crawford of the US says, “There are a number of black people who have been traumatized by white people and they suffered psychologically and emotionally and, as a result of that trauma, some of them did not care to discuss their issues in front of them.” Garadina Gamba of the British delegation added, “This is an African family occasion and therefore they [whites] should not be allowed to sit down and talk with us.” The dozen or so whites and Asians, mostly interpreters and members of non-governmental organizations, left without protest. [Bert Wilkinson, Conference Against Racism Expels Non-Blacks, Says Too Traumatic to Discuss Slavery Before Whites, AP, Oct. 2, 2002.]
Break With the Past
The Oregon constitution, adopted in 1857, still has a clause that reads as follows: “No free Negro, or mulatto, not residing in this state at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall come, reside, or be within this State, or hold any real estate.” This provision, like the discriminatory language contained in many state constitutions, was rendered unenforceable by federal laws, but on Nov. 5 the people of Oregon will vote on whether to remove the language completely. The state will not spend any money to promote removal because it assumes the measure will pass overwhelmingly. Only 56,000 blacks live in Oregon, and are just two percent of the population.
Likewise in November, voters in New Mexico will decide whether to remove an “alien land statute” from the constitution that barred Asian immigrants from owning property. Last year, the Wyoming legislature repealed a similar law from 1943 that prohibited Japanese from buying property, and Kansas repealed a similar law in May. In 1998 and 2000 voters removed prohibitions on interracial marriage from the constitutions of South Carolina and Alabama, respectively. In South Carolina, 40 percent of the voters voted to keep the language banning miscegenation. A similar number of Alabamans voted to keep the language — although shortly before the vote only 19 percent told pollsters they would vote against the change. [Peter Prengaman, Oregon’s Racist Language Faces Vote, AP, Sept. 27, 2002.]
Pot and Kettle
Dwight Burch, a dark-skinned black, started working as a waiter at an Atlanta Applebee’s restaurant in December 2000. A month later a new general manager took over the restaurant. He was a light-skinned black and reportedly made insulting comments about Mr. Burch’s dark skin. Mr. Burch says he asked the manager to stop but he would not. Mr. Burch then called Applebee’s corporate headquarters in Kansas to complain, and allegedly got no response. The manager found out about the call and told Mr. Burch he would “write him up” if he made another call. A week later, Mr. Burch started getting reprimands for what he says were minor infractions, and was fired soon after.
The EEOC is now suing Applebee’s because of color discrimination. Companies can be held liable for discrimination if they are aware of the problem but do not correct it. Atlanta’s last known case of color bias went to court in 1990, when a light-skinned IRS employee sued her dark-skinned boss. The court awarded damages. Applebee’s, a white-owned company, could therefore be made to pay because of a skin-color argument between two blacks. [Tammy Joiner, Workplace Suit Alleges Black-on-black Bigotry, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 14, 2002.]
For more than 25 years, Cambodian refugees who committed crimes could not be repatriated because the US did not have a deportation agreement with Cambodia. That changed this spring, and now thousands of criminal Cambodians face the prospect of being sent back. Cambodian ethnic lobbyists aren’t happy. “Outraged would be a good word,” says T. C. Duong of the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center, who regards deportation of immigrant criminals as double punishment. “Not only did they have to stay in jail, but they have to be sent back on top of that.” INS policy is clear, says spokesman Karen Kraushaar. “These individuals who have violated the criminal code have sacrificed their right to be here.”
So far, six Cambodians have been deported, and another 92 are in the process of being kicked out. The INS says there are 1,400 more who could face deportation because of convictions for felony assault, burglary, rape, homicide, attempted murder, robbery, theft and narcotics trafficking. Cambodians here illegally are not being deported, since the INS considers visa violations an administrative — not criminal — matter. The US now has deportation agreements with every country in the world except Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. [Thomas Ginsberg, Cambodians Now Face Deportation, Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 14, 2002.]
Back to Africa
David Robinson is the son of Jackie Robinson who, in 1947, became the first black to play major-league baseball. The younger Robinson gave up on America years ago. He went to Africa to return to his racial and cultural roots, and in 1986 bought a farm in Tanzania. He married a Tanzanian, has nine children, and grows coffee on 120 acres in the mountainous, northern part of the country. Mr. Robinson thinks America consciously oppresses black men. “One needs only to look at the American prisons, American substance abuse programs and the number of premature deaths, and you can see that society is successfully eliminating the African American male,” he says. [Ann Simmons, Coming Home to Africa, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 10, 2002.]
A Poem Too Far
Amiri Baraka, originally known as LeRoi Jones, is one of America’s most famous and well-regarded black poets. His work is brimming with anti-white animus as in these lines from “Black Dada Nihilismus:” “Come up, black dada nihilismus. Rape the white girls. Rape their fathers. Cut the mothers’ throats.”
In “Leroy” he wrote: “When I die, the consciousness I carry I will to black people. May they pick me apart and take the useful parts, the sweet meat of my feelings. And leave the bitter bullshit rotten white parts alone.”
This sort of thing has earned him the gratitude and admiration of the people of New Jersey, who named him poet laureate in July. However, in a poem written last October about the events of Sept. 11, he wrote: “Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers to stay home that day? Why did Sharon stay away?” The Anti-Defamation League calls these lines “offensive,” and has called for Mr. Baraka to resign as poet laureate. He refuses. James McGreevey, governor of New Jersey is now seeking legislation that would give him the power to fire Mr. Baraka. [John McAlpin, N.J. Gov. Seeks Authority to Fire Poet, AP, Oct. 6, 2002.]
The Baby Market
Most international adoptions send a child from a poor country to a rich country. Surprisingly, the United States is sixth on the list of sending countries, just behind Vietnam and ahead of Guatemala. The receiving couples are almost all Canadians, and the children are almost all black. For Canadians, adopting from the United States is quick and cheap. An American baby can be had for about $10,000 and the process takes about nine months. It can cost twice that and take years to get a Russian baby.
The bargain, however, is only in black children. At The Open Door of Thomasville, Georgia, a Christian anti-abortion group that became an adoption agency, white babies cost about three times as much to adopt as blacks. Parents must also attend a training session in Georgia, whereas The Open Door will fly black babies to an airport near you. The agency has sent more than 150 children to Canada and has an excellent reputation.
The Open Door’s director Walter Gilbert explains there are many more black babies available for adoption than white, and that the demand for white babies is higher. He says the actual cost of processing an adoption is the same for any child — about $14,000 — but by charging $22,000 for a white child and $8,000 for a black, he uses the income on whites to subsidize blacks. “We’re averaging out to cover our total cost,” he explains, pointing out that if his group did not charge more for high-demand white children it could not find homes for as many blacks. Adoption agencies all across the United States have similarly tiered pricing. White children are the most expensive, followed by Asians, Hispanics, and blacks, in that order. The usual people are fuming about this, saying it “devalues” black children. They want legislation to set equal prices for all races.
There is also a strong movement to ban international adoptions. The United States has signed the Hague Convention on the rights of children. Its terms will be implemented next year and require that adoption agencies certify there are no homes available within the domestic system before they can send children overseas. American agencies are worried because it is easier to find a good home for a black baby in Canada than in rural Georgia, for example. White Georgians won’t adopt black babies but white Canadians will. Adoption officials particularly like to send black children to British Columbia. There are few blacks in Western Canada, and correspondingly little “racism.” Blacks, of course, complain that whites are stifling black cultural identification. Roger Jones is president of the Black Cultural Association of British Columbia and acts as a consultant on “black heritage and culture” to white parents. He says whites end up with black children because of “a dollar thing” and many do not know how to rear a black child. [Peter Clough, Black Babies From U.S. Highly Sought in Canada, Chicago Sun-Times, June 30, 2002.]
Your Pizza or Your Life
When John Paulette bought the Domino’s Pizza shop in Tarpon Springs, Florida, in 1995, he learned the previous owner had a policy of not delivering pizzas after dark in a black part of town called Mango Circle. He reopened delivery, and two weeks later blacks attacked a 62-year-old driver and broke his nose and jaw. Mr. Paulette is still paying on a $250,000 workers compensation settlement. He stopped delivering to Mango Circle after dark.
Last November, three blacks held up a Pizza Hut driver making a delivery in another black part of town called Union Academy. They stole $100 and fired a pistol into the air. Pizza Hut stopped delivering to Union Academy after dark.
Blacks are now making the usual complaints. Former city commissioner Glenn Davis says “It’s racism plain and simple.” He wants the city to stop doing business with the two companies and, if possible, lift their licenses to operate. “We’re black people who like pizza too,” says a black Union Academy resident who wants delivery at all hours. “Our money is just like everyone else’s.”
The mayor, Frank DiDonato, appears to have as much backbone as most whites. In the face of complaints from blacks he says he will have the pizza companies meet with city officials to justify their policies. “I don’t think it’s right people are being denied service because of where they live,” he says. [Robert Farley, Pizza Delivery Policy Sparks Racism Talk, St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 18, 2002.]
A jury has ordered Delta College near Midland, Michigan to pay a white man $1.5 million because of hiring discrimination. After four hours of deliberation the all-white jury decided that Steven Buszek had been passed over for a full-time teaching job in criminal justice. He produced memos from the administration about “promoting diversity,” and the jury decided he had been unfairly held back in favor of women. Delta College will appeal. [Crystal Harmon, ‘White Male’ Wins Lawsuit Against Delta College, Bay City Times (Michigan), June 15, 2002.]
Scots Must Change
Scotland has begun a £1 million campaign to rid the country of “racism.” Prompting the campaign was a poll of 2,000 Scots, which revealed 52 percent don’t want the number of non-whites living in Scotland to increase. Sixty percent also said they thought non-whites should do more to adapt to life in Scotland. The campaign to correct these views will promote the theme, “One Scotland: Many Cultures” through radio, television, and billboard advertising. [Tom Peterkin, Quarter of Scots Say They Are Racists, Telegraph (London), Sept. 25, 2002.]
Too Many Whites
ABC is under attack for picking former Clinton advisor George Stephanopolous to anchor its This Week Sunday news program. Critics don’t complain about Mr. Stephanopolous’s lack of news credentials, but that he is white. They say the Sunday morning programs are an “all-white boys club.”
“Those shows are an opportunity to discuss a whole range of political issues, and it just makes sense that it should be a diverse conversation,” says Janine Jackson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Andrew Tyndall, of The Tyndall Report says hiring another white man “could be a problem for ABC.” “It would have been wise to name [black Nightline correspondent] Michel Martin,” he adds. Carl Gottlieb of the Project for Excellence in Journalism explains why TV needs more non-whites: “You’re giving viewers someone like themselves to watch. You’re presenting another view that perhaps somebody in the white middle class might not be familiar with.” [Gail Shister, Choice of Stephanopolous as Solo Anchor is Questioned, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 4, 2002, p. C5.]