Monday, May 13, 2013

Racist study targets Latinos

I just had to post this, given that, last week, I noted a Pew report showing that Hispanic high school graduates were attending college at a higher rate than white kids. Funny, huh?

But this kind of thing really isn't so funny. These racist IQ-based attacks - which aren't actually valid, not according to the experts - are nothing less than eugenics. But right-wingers like them, because if everything's genetic, then there's no reason to educate disadvantaged populations. Obviously, it's just God's will, right?

And, of course, the overwhelming majority of right-wingers are white, and who doesn't like to think they're just naturally smarter than everyone else?

But there's more to it than that, since Jason Richwine was the co-author of a recent, and very controversial, immigration report by the right-wing Heritage Foundation. That report wasn't about IQ, but was very much anti-immigrant, so this discovery of Richwine's dissertation is certainly pertinent.

Here's ThinkProgress:
The Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the economic consequences of immigration reform uses absurd methodology to come to conclusions entirely at odds with the organization’s own findings in 2006. Perhaps one explanation for this incoherence is that one of the paper’s coauthors, a new hire, opposes Hispanic immigration because he thinks Latinos are stupid.

Jason Richwine joined Heritage in 2010, after finishing his PhD in Public Policy in 2009. The Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews dug up Richwine’s dissertation, which was titled “IQ And Immigration.” In it, Richwine argues that Hispanics have and will always have lower IQs than whites. Matthews summarizes:
Richwine’s dissertation asserts that there are deep-set differentials in intelligence between races. While it’s clear he thinks it is partly due to genetics — ‘the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ’ — he argues the most important thing is that the differences in group IQs are persistent, for whatever reason. He writes, ‘No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.

... The study of race and intelligence has long been a problematic area for conservatives. In 1994, conservative pundit Charles Murray wrote a book called The Bell Curve, whose argument that blacks are on-average less intelligent than whites kicked off a critical firestorm. Conservatives since have generally defended Murray (who currently works at the American Enterprise Institute), occasionally citing him to get to some unsavory conclusions. Recently published research does not support the idea that there is an identifiably racial IQ gap, and the difficulty in defining “race” as a biological term makes it hard to pin down an appropriate methodology for studying the question in the first place.

Richwine is not the only author of the Heritage report with questionable views. Robert Rector, the paper’s lead author, was the source for then candidate Romney’s racially charged attack on President Obama’s welfare policy, and has spent his career dismissing the idea that poverty hurts people. On Tuesday, Rector admitted he hadn’t read the whole immigration bill before coauthoring his analysis of it with Richwine.

I just want to make a couple of points here. First, the whole issue of race-based IQ differences is nonsensical for any number of different reasons, starting with the fact that we don't really know what we're measuring.

Or how about the fact that the average IQ of any group is meaningless, since there are always variations within the group? (Your own 'race' may average anything at all, but what does that have to do with you?)

But the stupidest thing about it might be that any genetic effect on intelligence is already part of the equation. You can't do anything about that, even if you are limited genetically. We've already got what we've got (and that applies even when it comes to immigrants, since millions are already here).

On the other hand, the genetic contribution to your intelligence is, at best, only a contributing factor, so that doesn't indicate what intelligence you'll actually have. We already know of many environmental factors which affect intelligence quite strongly, both positively and negatively. So if we were actually concerned about having smart citizens, we could do something about it.

But that would take spending on social programs - early childhood education, nutrition, etc. - which these same right-wingers adamantly oppose. Therefore, it's abundantly clear that they're not actually concerned about raising our average IQ,... so, what's the whole point about these race-based IQ claims? They don't seem to make any sense at all, unless they're just being racist for racism's sake.

Are you concerned about IQ or not? If you are, let's do something about it. There's plenty we could do, though it will cost tax dollars (and there's nothing we can do about our genetic potential for intelligence, whether it's race-based or not). But are these right-wingers going to put their money where their mouth is? Let's see them put up or shut up.

The second thing I want to point out is that this is apparently the conservative response to hugely losing the Hispanic vote in last November's election. Remember the soul-searching Republicans were going to do? They just couldn't figure out why they were losing Latinos like this.

They knew why they'd already lost African Americans. Obviously, that's a result of their notorious 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing white racists. Well, Republicans, guess what? You've still got a party filled with white racists, and they don't like Hispanics any better than they like blacks.

And when your think tanks hire racists to create studies attacking immigration,... do you actually think that Hispanics are too dumb to notice? I think they're going to prove you wrong about that. (Maybe you should have noticed their rising college-enrollment numbers before trying something like this.)

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