It’s an old meme based on a comedy sketch that gave me my introduction to this question. But it raises a perfectly serious, important point. Namely, it gets right to the heart of why the supposed ideal of “equality” is nothing but a misdirection and a myth. If men and women are equal, then how come women have never successfully oppressed an entire gender? Seriously, what are the possible answers we could imagine giving in response to that question?
If we’re trying to explain why women have achieved different outcomes in society on average than men, then we’re met with just two possibilities: either men are superior in certain abilities compared to women, or else women have never used their abilities in the evil ways men have because they are morally superior to men. To put it another way: either men are uniquely capable, or else they’re uniquely evil. If men and women were truly equal in both ability and virtue, then disproportionate success or oppression of one by the other would never be possible.
Either way, “equality” is a ruse. The options, quite literally, are between what the far-leftist would term “male supremacy” and what anyone else might reasonably call “female supremacy.” Either men are superior in skill or in drive or in talent, or else women are superior in virtue. But if one seeks to explain the facts before them, then there is no way to avoid the fact that the answer will necessarily render some group “superior” to the others by some metric or other. It’s either men or women and it’s either skill or virtue, but “equality” isn’t an option.
Of course, we see this hypocrisy come out when, for example, liberals argue that if the world had more female politicians, there would be less war. Even while in one breath they preach equality, in the next they are perfectly willing to make claims involving female superiority. Any honest liberal willing to introspect sincerely would have to eventually admit that he really isn’t afraid of making claims about “superiority” on the basis of things like race or gender after all.
Similar questions come to mind when applying this dynamic to matters of race: if whites and native Americans are equal, then how come native Americans never successfully sailed into white continents to conquer them and take them as their own? If blacks and whites are equal, then how come blacks never repeatedly colonized vast portions of the white Western world to exploit for their resources? How come blacks never successfully managed to enslave vast portions of the white Western world — even though they did enslave each other?
If one believes that whites have historically committed disproportionate amounts of these kinds of sins, then there are only two possible explanations for why that is so: either it happened because white people were in fact better at things like colonizing and enslaving, or at least at building up the kinds of societies that allowed those evils to occur, or else white people merely engaged in these acts more often because they are more evil.
If whites did in fact commit more historical evils, then this can be because they were uniquely effective at committing such acts, or it can be because they are uniquely tempted to commit them by some evil uniquely contained within the white man, and only the white man’s soul. But there is no middle ground between these two possibilities.
One can be a male supremacist, and accept that men are uniquely capable of certain feats; or one can be a female supremacist, and accept that women are uniquely good and moral and virtuous. “Equality” isn’t in the cards. Likewise, one can be a white supremacist, and accept that whites are uniquely capable of certain feats; or one can be a non–white supremacist, and accept that Native Americans and blacks and all the rest are uniquely good and moral and virtuous whereas whites are uniquely more evil than everyone else. In this case too, “equality” just isn’t in the cards.
One can try to argue that historical coincidences are all that are needed to explain why whites achieved disproportionate success throughout history. But this is purely an academic exercise — for everyone involved. No one really believes it. Precisely one author has committed to print a defense of this thesis: Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel. Does Jared Diamond believe the human races are equal?
Why, no. Though little has been made of this part of the book, Diamond very literally argues that the indigenous races in Australia are more intelligent than everyone else:
From the very beginning of my work with New Guineans, they impressed me as being on the average more intelligent, more alert, more expressive, and more interested in things and people around them than the average European or American is. At some tasks that one might reasonably suppose to reflect aspects of brain function, such as the ability to form a mental map of unfamiliar surroundings, they appear considerably more adept than Westerners.
Surely Diamond thinks that this “intelligence” is merely a transient result of the New Guineans’ environment, though? In the very same paragraph, he even talks about how the New Guineans are “trained since childhood” in these abilities.
As a matter of fact, though, he doesn’t do this at all. Look what he says in the following paragraphs:
It’s easy to recognize two reasons why my impression that New Guineans are smarter than Westerners may be correct. First, Europeans have for thousands of years been living in densely populated societies [where] infectious epidemic diseases of dense populations (such as smallpox) were historically the major cause of death, while murders were relatively uncommon and a state of war was the exception rather than the rule. Most Europeans who escaped fatal infections also escaped other potential causes of death and proceeded to pass on their genes. … In contrast, New Guineans have been living in societies where human numbers were too low for epidemic diseases of dense populations to evolve. Instead, traditional New Guineans suffered high mortality from murder, chronic tribal warfare, accidents, and problems in procuring food.
Intelligent people are likelier than less intelligent ones to escape those causes of high mortality in traditional New Guinea societies. However, the differential mortality from epidemic diseases in traditional European societies had little to do with intelligence, and instead involved genetic resistance dependent on details of body chemistry. For example, people with blood group B or O have a greater resistance to smallpox than do people with blood group A. That is, natural selection promoting genes for intelligence has probably been far more ruthless in New Guinea than in more densely populated, politically complex societies, where natural selection for body chemistry was instead more potent.
And if that didn’t make things clear, the kicker:
… in mental ability New Guineans are probably genetically superior to Westerners …
Once again: the minute we begin to pry beneath the surface, the supposed ideal of equality reveals itself to be nothing more than a ruse. As it turns out, even Jared Diamond isn’t afraid of making literal claims of “genetic superiority.” He even uses those words! About a racial group, no less. Has Jared Diamond’s career suffered the same way anyone else’s would if they claimed that “in mental ability whites are probably genetically superior to blacks?” Of course not.
James Watson was forced to sell the Nobel Prize he earned discovering the double-helical structure of DNA because of lost income after he said, in 2007, that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really.”
But Jared Diamond’s life and career will continue without a hitch. Without so much as a blip on the public radar.
As long as one makes a claim of genetic superiority about non–whites, or about women, then everything is A–OK.
Absolutely none of this is about “equality.”
* * *
It’s as if you were a student in an enormous classroom, and after taking a test, you found that you received a higher grade than the rest of your classmates. And then your classmates turned to you and said, “We’re exactly as smart as you. We studied exactly as hard as you. And the teacher likes us exactly as much as he likes you.”
Those students would not be putting forward some tolerant kumbaya olive branch of scholastic camaraderie.
They would be leveling an accusation: “You cheater!!!”
How could you respond?
If you spoke up meekly in your own polite defense and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not a cheater,” they would say: “What — so you think we’re stupid, then? Are you saying we’re lazy?” You would have no peaceful way out. You would have no way to deflect the accusation being made towards you without thereby leveling an insult against them which they consider fighting words. Whether you felt even the slightest contempt or dislike for your classmates or not, the options would be: either you’re a cheater, or else they are either more stupid or lazy than you (or both, at least in this context).
You might not have the slightest desire in the tiniest sliver of your soul to insult your classmates, or rub their failures in their face, or start fights with them. You might sincerely wish them the best, or you might simply be too focused on your own schooling to really care how smart or lazy they are or what kind of grades they’re getting altogether.
But the fact remains that if you ended up in this situation, there would be no “equality” option, because the objective fact of the situation is, you did better on the test than them. You either did that legitimately or illegitimately. One is an insult to you — the other is an insult to them. So there’s no way for the situation to end without someone taking an insult.
This is exactly analogous to the situation we find ourselves in today, where the objective fact of the matter is that throughout history and across societies, men have achieved more success than women, and whites have achieved more success than blacks. Either we did that legitimately by working harder, or being more intelligent, or something similar — or else we did that illegitimately by being more rotten and evil. One is an insult to us — the other is an insult to them.
It’s not our fault that we’re in a situation where deflecting unfair and simply inaccurate accusations which are leveled against us inherently means insulting other people. But what the Left does today is gaslight us all by claiming that we’re the ones starting the classroom conflict if we don’t sit down, shut up, take the insult, and be nice about it.
And that’s something that they don’t expect anyone else to do.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World & Me
An American Storm Before the Storm
The Worst Week Yet: January 10-16, 2021
Are You a Racist?
The Truth about Systemic Racism in America
On Žižek, Nothingness, & Original Sin
The European Idea of Progress Supersedes the Axial Age, Part I
A Conversation with Ricardo Duchesne, Part 3