Racial Character

 

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Fri Apr 23, 2004 7:56 pm
Subject: racial character

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

And if you're a biologist, ethnologist or medical doctor, you explain it by reference to the actual racial character of Native Americans themselves and by claiming that they had to die out.

I suppose this is racist as well?

Yes, of course it is racist to say that the near-genocide of the native populations of North America was a result of the "racial character" of Native Americans themselves, and that Native Americans "had to die out". If you have heard a biologist, ethnologist, or medical doctor spout this nonsense, perhaps you could give specifics. (You may have noted that the Atlantic Monthly bit you posted earlier says nothing about "racial character" or about races that "had to die out"). In the meantime, I urge you to acquaint yourself with contemporary scholarship on the notion of "racial character" and its relation to disease. Two good places to start, from somewhat different perspectives, are the work of Troy Duster and the work of Alan Goodman. Duster's classic book Backdoor to Eugenics was just re-published last year. You can find some of Goodman's work online:

http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-01.htm


http://new.aaanet.org/press/an/0401ab-news4.htm

I also highly recommend Goodman's article on race and disease in the American Journal of Public Health, Novemeber 2000, as well as his article on racial classification in The Sciences, April 1997. These are no far-out PC ideologues, by the way. Duster is President of the American Sociological Association, and Goodman is President of the American Anthropological Association (he's also a biological anthropologist, not a cultural anthropologist). I further recommend Sylvia Tesh's 1988 book Hidden Arguments: Political Ideology and Disease Prevention Policy. Last, a quick peek at summary statements on this question might do you some good. Here is the position statement of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists on biological aspects of race:

http://www.physanth.org/positions/race.html

And here is the American Anthropological Association statement on "race":

http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm

Peter

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From: at
Date: Sat Apr 24, 2004 8:39 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] racial character

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

And if you're a biologist, ethnologist or medical doctor, you explain it by reference to the actual racial character of Native Americans themselves and by claiming that they had to die out.

I suppose this is racist as well?

Yes, of course it is racist to say that the near-genocide of the native populations of North America was a result of the "racial character" of Native Americans themselves, and that Native Americans "had to die out".

Daniel:

Well, in case you haven't been following, that is the consensus view of the primary causes of the decline in native population of the Americas between 1492 and 1800. Try reading the article, you might find it interesting.

1491 - by Charles C. Mann (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2002)
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2002/03/mann.htm

Peter Staudenmaier:

If you have heard a biologist, ethnologist, or medical doctor spout this nonsense, perhaps you could give specifics. (You may have noted that the Atlantic Monthly bit you posted earlier says nothing about "racial character" or about races that "had to die out").

Daniel:

Indeed. Those exact words were not used. Instead words like "inevitable" and "genetic makup" were used. It is a pity you don't ever read past words to look at concepts. It explains why you are so lost with Steiner.

Peter Staudenmaier:

In the meantime, I urge you to acquaint yourself with contemporary scholarship on the notion of "racial character" and its relation to disease. Two good places to start, from somewhat different perspectives, are the work of Troy Duster and the work of Alan Goodman. Duster's classic book Backdoor to Eugenics was just re-published last year.

Daniel:

Handy with the card catalogue, I see. And you probably used google too. Maybe one day you might even learn to think. Inundating me with weeks worth or reading is hardly the way to make a point. For one, I have found that the sources you cite often do not support the argument for which you are using them. Second, for an anarchist, you rely quite heavily on outside authorities. And finally, since you cite so much without ever referencing the actual content, I suspect that you have not actually read most of the things you recommend others read. For example, in this post you have said nothing that cannot be gleaned from the dust jacket of said books (or their amazon.com description). Any high school teacher leans to look out for the tricks students use to appear to have read a book without having done so. Some such students get quite good, and can talk intelligently and at length about a book - without spending more than a few minutes reading about it. You appear to match this pattern quite well. In this case you are posing as an expert on biology of race and have recommended an entire syllabus on the subject. But you have not said a thing that can't be surmised by looking at the back covers of the books. Nor have you explained how all this reading will actually contradict Mann's article in the Atlantic. You just throw it around, smoothly playing the expert with the skill of a master con man. Next time try making an argument rather than assigning a reading list.

Daniel Hindes

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sun Apr 25, 2004 4:18 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] racial character

At 05:39 25.04.2004, Daniel wrote to PS:

Handy with the card catalogue, I see. And you probably used google too. Maybe one day you might even learn to think. Inundating me with weeks worth or reading is hardly the way to make a point. For one, I have found that the sources you cite often do not support the argument for which you are using them. Second, for an anarchist, you rely quite heavily on outside authorities. And finally, since you cite so much without ever referencing the actual content, I suspect that you have not actually read most of the things you recommend others read. For example, in this post you have said nothing that cannot be gleaned from the dust jacket of said books (or their amazon.com description). Any high school teacher leans to look out for the tricks students use to appear to have read a book without having done so. Some such students get quite good, and can talk intelligently and at length about a book - without spending more than a few minutes reading about it. You appear to match this pattern quite well. In this case you are posing as an expert on biology of race and have recommended an entire syllabus on the subject. But you have not said a thing that can't be surmised by looking at the back covers of the books.

Perhaps this is why we're waiting in vain for PS to produce an anti-Semitic quote by Friedrich Rittelmeyer.

Tarjei

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Apr 25, 2004 11:03 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] racial character

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

Well, in case you haven't been following, that is the consensus view of the primary causes of the decline in native population of the Americas between 1492 and 1800. Try reading the article, you might find it interesting.

I have read the article. In fact I've used it in a class I teach on the idea of wilderness. The article says absolutely nothing about racial character or about how Native Americans had to die out, just as the sentence from Steiner that you quoted says absolutely nothing about immunology or disease.

Indeed. Those exact words were not used. Instead words like "inevitable" and "genetic makup" were used.

Aha, you think that "racial character" and "genetic makeup" are the same thing. If I had more time, maybe we could try to get to the bottom of that peculiar identification. By the way, I can't find any instance of the phrase "genetic makeup" in Mann's article, or even of the word "genetic", and the sole reference to genes discusses lactose intolerance, not known as a leading cause of mass death. The only instance of the word "inevitable" that I found has nothing to do with the decimation of the native populations of the Americas (the sentence reads in full: "The dispute grew bitter and personal; inevitable in a contemporary academic context, it has featured vituperative references to colonialism, elitism, and employment by the CIA."). Is the control-find function on my computer not working today? Or perhaps you could clarify where you think Mann uses "inevitable" and "genetic makeup" to explain the near-genocide of Native Americans?

It is a pity you don't ever read past words to look at concepts.

Mann does not use the concepts of genetic makeup or of inevitability anywhere in his discussion of the epidemics that devastated native populations. He does not use any analogues of these concepts. He says nothing whatsoever about either of these phenomena. If you disagree, could you quote the passage or passages where you think he does say something along those lines?

And while we're at it, could you maybe say more about the logic you're applying here? Do you think that epidemics alone account just for the demographic crash, or also for the subsequent lack of demographic recovery as well? (Or do you believe that populations typically do not recover after the introduction of new microbes and resulting epidemics?) And do you think that deliberate European practices, such as distributing smallpox-infested blankets to native communities, played no appreciable role in the calamity? Do you, in other words, think that the ostensible "racial character" of Native Americans trumped the usual course of both immune response development and colonization?

Inundating me with weeks worth or reading is hardly the way to make a point.

Why not? Don't like reading?

And finally, since you cite so much without ever referencing the actual content, I suspect that you have not actually read most of the things you recommend others read.

Yes, I have noted that suspicion on your part. I find it very entertaining.

Any high school teacher leans to look out for the tricks students use to appear to have read a book without having done so.

Yes indeed. If you were my teacher on this topic, it would make for a very interesting classroom situation.

In this case you are posing as an expert on biology of race and have recommended an entire syllabus on the subject.

Yep. I've got lots more recommendations where those came from, too. But you'd probably do better to start with some of the ones I've already given you. The several position papers I linked to won't take you long to read, and they'll give you lots of reasons to re-think your stance on race, genetics, and so forth.

Happy reading,

Peter

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From: at
Date: Tue Apr 27, 2004 7:00 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] racial character

This was interesting. Peter, what do you think are the ten most important books for understanding the issue of race and the history of racism - the ten books you would recommend everyone read to consider themselves knowledgeable in the area?

Daniel Hindes

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Staudenmaier
Sent: Friday, April 23, 2004 10:56 PM
Subject: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] racial character

In the meantime, I urge you to acquaint yourself with contemporary scholarship on the notion of "racial character" and its relation to disease. Two good places to start, from somewhat different perspectives, are the work of Troy Duster and the work of Alan Goodman. Duster's classic book Backdoor to Eugenics was just re-published last year. You can find some of Goodman's work online:

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