Race is a Myth?

The left distorts science for political purposes.

by Michael Rienzi

Racial egalitarianism has failed to produce the "fair and just" society promised by social engineers. At the same time, there has been a marked reawakening of racial and ethnic identity in the post-Cold War world. In response, the left has adopted a new strategy: Deny the very existence of race! This is why we so frequently hear that "race is a social construct, with no biological validity" and that "science proves we are all the same." Ironically, it is in connection with progress in understanding the human genome-progress in the very field that will definitively prove the biological reality of race-that we most often hear that race is nothing more than "superficial" surface characteristics.

Against this view, there are first of all the obvious physical differences between human population groups that everyone recognizes. There is also genetic evidence that can be used independently of traditional methods to classify different human populations into racial groups that are virtually identical to those based on the allegedly "superficial" traits studied by traditional physical anthropology. As Professor Glayde Whitney has written in these pages:

"These data are therefore a virtually irrefutable demonstration of the reality of race-a purely statistical analysis of allele frequencies [genetic differences from one group to another] gives results that are essentially identical to the racial groupings established by traditional anthropology."

An honest evaluation of the data confirms the reality of race. But let us look at the arguments on the other side.

"We are 99.9 percent (or some other number) genetically identical; so there can be no race differences and no races."

Although it is true that human populations share roughly 99.9 percent of their genes, it is also true that humans share over 98 percent of their genes with chimpanzees, and a very high amount with animals like mice and dogs. Many of these genes produce basic body structures all mammals have in common; differences between organisms are caused by very small genetic differences.

Current evidence suggests that all the sex differences between men and women are the result of just one genetic difference-one gene (the Testes Determining Factor) out of an estimated 50,000-100,000! This would mean men and women are 99.998 to 99.999 percent genetically identical, yet no one suggests that sex is a mere "social construct." In like manner, the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees, which no one denies, can be described as 12 to 20 times the genetic differences between racial groups.

Tiny genetic differences can have huge phenotypic consequences because genes are ordered in a hierarchical fashion. Some genes are "master genes," and control the expression of a number of other genes, each of which may further control several other genes. Also, the expression of each gene is controlled by regions called "promoters" and "enhancers," usually located in front of the functional part of the gene. A small change in the promoter region of gene "X" can alter its expression. X may control genes A, B, C, D, E, F. Gene A in turn may control its own set of genes. Even if all of the genes other than "X" are identical between two groups, the one difference in "X" would be sufficient to produce large group differences.

It is not the quantity of genetic difference that is important, but the nature of the differences: which genes are different, in what ways they differ, and the consequences of these differences. Breeds of dogs are analogous to human races. It is likely that different breeds are as close genetically as different races of humans, but there is no doubt that these subtle variations result in significant differences in appearance, intelligence, and behavior.

It is also worth considering that a butterfly and the caterpillar from which it developed are 100 percent genetically identical! The genes do not change; the enormous differences between caterpillar and butterfly result from the activation of different genes at different times. This should give some pause to those who think a 0.1 percent difference in tens of thousands of human genes "makes no difference."

"There is more genetic variation within human groups than between groups; therefore, group differences are invalid."

This is another very popular argument that, although true, does not at all mean that race is of no significance. The flaw in this argument is the same as in the "99.9 percent argument," in that it stresses quantity-genetic "bean counting"-rather than the importance of genetic differences and their consequences. Indeed, there is more genetic variation within groups than between groups, but if this variation does not influence the expression of important genes, it is not of much consequence. There is considerable genetic variation between siblings and between parents and children, but this does not alter the fact that they are more closely related to each other than to strangers.

Once again Prof. Whitney has demonstrated the absurdity of the "variation" argument. He points out that one could take the total genetic diversity contained within the population of Belfast and a troop of macaque monkeys and give it an index of 100 percent. Surprising as it may seem, more than half of that diversity will be found both in the population of Belfast and in the monkey troop. There is great genetic diversity even between two individuals who are very similar to each other. This does not, of course, mean that Irishmen are more like macaques than they are like their neighbors, though this is precisely the way the there-are-no-races advocates use the argument when they apply it to humans.

Prof. Whitney explains that just as in the case of the genetic differences between men and women, "the meaningful question about racial differences is not the percentage of total diversity, but rather how the diversity is distributed among the races, what traits it influences, and how it is patterned." Small genetic differences can translate into important physical and behavioral differences.

"Population variation is continuous and human traits vary across a spectrum, so discrete racial entities do not exist."

This is a scientific way of saying that since hybrids (racially or ethnically mixed populations) exist, no single race exists. This is an amazingly popular argument, even though it is easily refuted. No one has ever thought the existence of hybrid populations of animals means these animals cannot be classified into distinct groups. This is self-evident. Your dog may be a mix of German Shepherd and Great Dane, but this does not mean there are no German Shepherds or Great Danes. The existence of dog hybrids means only that different breeds of dog can mate and produce offspring. Dogs and wolves-separate species-can mate and produce offspring but it is still easy to tell a dog from a wolf.

There are certainly places in which there has been much human mixing and where there are racial gradients-Central Asia, Latin America, North Africa. The existence of hybrid populations in these areas in no way disproves the existence of other populations that are genetically more differentiated-in Europe, the Far East, and sub-Saharan Africa.

This "continuous variation" argument is so illogical it is a wonder anyone takes it seriously. The existence of mixtures does not invalidate the existence of the original components of mixtures. The fact that red and yellow can be mixed to produce orange hardly means that red and yellow are illusions or do not exist. Although racial gradation is far from being a perfect and continuous gradient, even those variations in nature that do lie along such a gradient can be classified into distinct groups. The continuous variation of light frequencies in the rainbow, for example, are easily grouped into the distinct colors that virtually all people recognize.

"All human populations are mongrels, there is no such thing as a pure race; thus, there is no such thing as race."

This argument is related to the previous one, except that it says we are all hybrids, so there is no such thing as race. First, no scientists talk about "pure" races. What does racial "purity" mean, anyway? It is true that certain populations are more genetically differentiated and distinct than are other more hybridized groups. If we consider Englishmen, Central Asians, and Koreans, we can make the relative statement that Koreans and Englishmen are more genetically (and phenotypically) distinct and differentiated than Central Asians, who are in some respects intermediate between East Asians and Europeans.

This does not imply that either Koreans or Englishmen are "pure," which would presumably mean they can all trace their ancestries to a single population at a certain time. The English, for example, are a predominantly Nordic population made up of Anglo-Saxons, Celts, Normans/Vikings, Romans, and possibly early Mediterraneans. Many European groups are similarly composed of multiple related strains; if having an ancestry of different but relatively similar European groups makes someone a "mongrel," then indeed we are all mongrels. But this does not invalidate in any way the concept of race, or the fact that the various "mongrel" populations are still genetically and phenotypically distinct from each other and thus are separate races. Both genetically and physically, Englishmen clearly belong in the European group and Koreans in the Northeast Asian group.

The "we are all mongrels" arguments fails in two ways. First, the various stocks that have gone into producing many of today's ethnic groups were relatively similar to each other, so it stretches the definition of the word to call them "mongrels." How different were the Anglo-Saxons from the Celts? Likewise, would a person of mixed English and German ancestry be considered a "mongrel?" French-Italian? Do we call the millions of white Americans of mixed European stock "mongrels?"

Second, mixtures of related stocks can stabilize over time, and form a new, unique, and separate ethnic group, race, or breed. Such is the case with the various European ethnic groups, formed by mixtures of related ethnic strains. Europeans could be bred for hundreds-perhaps thousands-of generations without producing offspring that look like Africans or Asians. The reverse is also true. Even if today's races are the result of ancient mixtures the mixtures are distinct and extremely stable.

"Population differences are superficial and only skin-deep."

This is simply not true. Many consistent group differences have been found in intelligence, behavior, brain size, resistance to disease, twinning rates, speed of maturation, etc. Prof. Arthur Jensen has gathered irrefutable proof of racial differences in average intelligence. In Race, Evolution and Behavior Prof. Philippe Rushton has not only documented the large number of other racial differences but shown how they fit the varying reproduction strategies followed by different racial groups. Sometimes the race-does-not-exist argument appears to be a desperate attempt to shut down the argument about racial differences that the left has clearly lost. Since egalitarians have nothing to say in the face of mountains of evidence for racial differences, they have suddenly shifted their ground and try to pretend that race itself does not exist.

Even the most anti-racist medical doctors recognize that transplant donors and recipients often have to be matched not just on the basis of race but on close ethnicity within race, because inter-racial transplants are likely to be rejected. They also know that people of different races react differently do the same drugs and suffer from different diseases. To say these differences are only "skin-deep" is completely at odds with reality.

"There has not been enough time for racial differences to have evolved."

This is an odd argument because there has clearly been enough time for physical differences to evolve. Pygmies and Norwegians presumably once had a common ancestor but are now so different from each other a biologist from another planet might well think them different species. This argument therefore is an attempt to deny differences in average intelligence or other mental traits. In Why Race Matters Professor Michael Levin shows that the IQ difference between Europeans and black Africans has had more than enough time to develop during the estimated 4,400 generations since the two groups split from a common ancestor. According to his calculation, it would have required a rate of selection per generation of 0.000106 against recessive genes, a very small rate of genetic change that is the equivalent to a change in 11 individuals per 100,000 per generation. In nature this is an extremely slow rate of evolutionary change.

"The white race-like all the others-is a social construct."

Here we begin to see the motivation behind all of the "there is no such thing as race" nonsense. If people of European descent can be convinced that race does not exist, in particular that their race does not really exist, there will be no resistance to the displacement of whites by the forces currently at work in America, Europe, and elsewhere. People will not defend something they have been convinced is not real.

If-against their own instincts and the clear evidence of their senses-whites can be made to think race is an illusion they can have no reason to oppose across-the-board integration, miscegenation, and massive non-white immigration. If whites are mixing with and being displaced by people who are really no different from themselves nothing is being lost.

The irony, of course, is that when it comes to "affirmative action"-policies that penalize whites-the very people who say race is a social construct insist that it is a valid basis for preferential treatment. People who say race is not biological somehow have no difficulty claiming to be "black" or "Asian" or "American Indian" if there is an advantage in doing so.

Nor in the vast majority of cases is there the slightest disagreement about who belongs in which race. Children can distinguish race unerringly by the age of two or three. Nature is parsimonious and does not often endow its creatures with senses to distinguish things that do not matter. An inborn ability, acquired at a very early age, of who are "our people" and who are not is essential to group survival. Any attempt to override or downplay that ability is a direct attack on the group itself.

Needless to say, it is only whites who parrot obviously absurd notions about race and who pretend that indifference or even disloyalty to race is a virtue. Non-whites have a healthy consciousness of race and know that it is a fundamental part of individual and group identity. They must be hugely amused by the potentially suicidal silliness they hear whites urging each other to believe.

The claims of certain demagogues notwithstanding, Europeans are both a cultural and a biological reality. Like all racial and ethnic groups they have the right to preserve that reality and to resist efforts to obfuscate science in an attempt to eliminate races in fact, as well as name.

Michael Rienzi is a biological scientist who lives in the Northeast of the United States.
This article appeared originally in the Dec. 2000 issue of American Renaissance.