I was watching a speech given by Steven Pinker recently, and was struck by something he said: “When we read in the Declaration that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ we are not reading, ‘We hold this truth to be self-evident: that all men are clones.'”
It’s self-evident to anyone with eyes that race exists. It’s also obvious to anyone with friends (or a significant other) of a different race that we’re all equally capable of coexisting in the same moral universe.
The Declaration sowed the seeds for the demise of slavery. Lincoln, a master of logical syllogisms, exposed the incoherence of supposing that skin color, intelligence, or self-interest could justify disparate treatment under the law. He did this while invoking the first principles contained in the Declaration – and without any need for social construct mythology.
The modern left, by contrast, assumes that even the possibility of slight biological differences between races would entail moral conclusions. It attacks studies that account for race as “dangerous science,” unless these studies are meant to support the existence of injustice and social disparities.
A quick search on Google reveals a snippet-explanation, “programmatically” selected from the New York Times, of the politically correct way of thinking:
Apparently, there’s no reason to believe that two Asian parents will give birth to a child with Asian features. Race is not biological!
Spurred by its own endless certainty about climate change, the left fancies itself as the movement that champions science. Yet it is obsessed with denying the role of biology in human life. Race, gender, IQ – all of these it writes off as social constructs.
Studies that make conclusions at odds with the leftist narrative are instantly written off as racist, sexist, heteronormative, transphobic, etc. The left would prefer science to be an exercise in affirming its own narratives rather than an open-ended exploration of the natural world. Nature seems to have an endless supply of transgressions against leftist ideology.
Here’s a contradiction for you: Race is both biologically nonexistent and morally profound. Ever since it failed to galvanize people around socialism for the sake of the poor, the left has transitioned into using race instead – even while it denies that race exists as an objective entity.
Unfortunately, the white intellectuals responsible for this nonsense have forgotten to send their memo on race to the objects of their patronizing concern.
According to the narrative, a black person cannot be racist – just as a woman cannot be sexist. Therefore, black writers need not abide by the same strict thought-policing that white writers do.
And when white liberal writers attempt to make sense of the matter, they immediately fall into incoherence. When Bill Nye comes out and tells us that “race is a human construct” – but that “there’s different tribes” (sic) – we can sense the denial of reality in his fumbling over semantics.
My point is this: ideological narratives are poor substitutes for scientific inquiry. They don’t protect anyone from anything. First principles – i.e., moral truths that the left also insists are social constructs – are the best weapons against, say, eugenicists – who would use science to violate people’s rights.
Eugenics is wrong because it would involve the use of force against individuals who haven’t committed any crime. The sanctity of human life is a first principle that transcends racial boundaries. So is freedom, which liberals write off as a “Western construct.”
Human nature eclipses racial identity, and only the former has moral implications. The concepts of rights, consent, and equality under the law necessarily apply to all creatures that possess free will and access to the laws of logic through reason. No amount of science can invalidate first principles.
Of course, social constructs do exist. Social life can produce illusions of the mind. Skin color is not a social construct, but racism (where it exists) certainly is.
When you see concepts wantonly written off by angry people as social constructs, there’s a good chance that objective terms are being redefined to fit a particular agenda. False narratives – when enough people believe them – are the ultimate social constructs.