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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Razib Khan and Bloomberg Opinion Columnist Noah Smith

Someone on Twitter recommended this article by Bloomberg Opinion Columnist Noah Smith. I was a Twitter follower of Smith, so I checked it out and was shocked to see Smith promoting none other than race science hawker and rightwing media contributor (including Quillette) Razib Khan, with a link to Khan's Substack:

Over at his Substack, Razib Khan interviews Richard Hanania, a scholar who studies partisanship and ideology. Hanania still thinks civil war is unlikely in the U.S., echoing the verdict of Paul Staniland, whom I interviewed before the coup went down.

So I immediately asked Smith about it on Twitter, and he immediately blocked me.

My assumption had been that Smith did not know about Khan's background in race science, but after doing some research I discovered that was not the case at all, and in fact Smith has actually referred to Khan as an "academic-racist blogger."
And indeed, the American scientist who is the driving intellectual force behind the Chinese project is Steve Hsu, a Michigan State physicist who has written a fair amount of academic-racist and pro-eugenics stuff on the web defended the notion of "race" as a biological classification, raised questions about "group differences" in abilities between races, and argued vocally against affirmative action (and here is academic-racist blogger Razib Khan defending and praising Hsu). (Note: See update below.)
Pinkerite has mentioned Hsu before.

So what happened between 2013 to 2021 to make Noah Smith go from calling Razib Khan a racist to promoting his Substack account?

It's not as if Khan's race obsession has changed. Although I was surprised to see him discussing African American history, since I'd noted Khan's desire to erase that history, when he wrote:

So I have to take issue when The New York Times posts articles with headlines such as White? Black? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier. What genetics is showing is that in fact white Americans are shockingly European to an incredibly high degree for a population with roots on this continent for 400 years. If we removed all the history that we take for granted we’d be amazed that the indigenous peoples had so little demographic impact, and, that the larger numbers of people of partial African ancestry did not move into the general “white” population. 

The tortured history of black Americans, the descendants of Africans enslaved and brought to the New World, is well known. Much of American history is an engagement with this founding sin of slavery, and the unreconciled nature of racial relations in this country. Black Americans are in many ways the most American of our citizens but also the most alienated from our history. By the Revolutionary War, the enslaved population of the United States was already Christian and English-speaking, with few retaining any deep knowledge of Africa. 

But even within this paragraph Khan's ridiculous right-wing extremism is apparent in his equating "Christian and English-speaking" with "the most American of our citizens."

And then in the very next paragraph Khan puts quotes around systemic racism. As if, because there are country of origin and class distinctions among white Americans (in spite of being so "shockingly European to an incredibly high degree*,") that somehow makes systemic racism a theology rather than an empirical, demonstrable fact.

Black Americans represent the most prominent and well-known bloc of Old Stock Americans, but they are not the most numerous. Speaking about “white Americans'' artificially brackets many different types of Americans together. In the process, we erase a tense history of conflict and a fruitful synthesis of folkways. When headlines trumpet the fact that “most white voters voted for Trump” they collapse the essential distinctions and local histories that drive these social and political decisions. The cultural and social distance between a white roofer in southern Mississippi and a white lawyer in Connecticut is vast. And yet both are just “white” beneficiaries of “systemic racism” in our present-day secular theology.

Infamous racist John Derbyshire recently noted a tweet by Khan, which also puts systemic racism in quotes, but which seems to have since been deleted:

I think Razib Khan got much closer to the truth in a December 23rd tweet, tweet:

the west had the lord god on high.
india had dharma
china had the dao

awokeners have "systemic racism"

the universal principle. the ground of being

End tweet.

And of course Khan has to snipe at Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the 1619 project. 

If there is a white supremacy, who are these white people? My wife? Nikole Hannah-Jones’ Czech and English-origin mother in Iowa? Does the out-of-work mill worker in North Carolina truly share in the same patrimony of privilege as the scion of Upper-East-Side old money? Do they really both inherit a privilege that oppresses the children of Indian doctors and Mexican construction workers? The results of the 2020 election, where white suburbs shifted against Trump, and Latino and Asian precincts drove Republican victories down-ballot, illustrate that the theory of racial polarization where “communities of color” are arrayed against “white supremacy” is ridiculously reductive. Americans vote as individuals based on their own interests and values, not as racial blocs.

I see no evidence on Khan's substack that the 1/6 attack on the Capitol has pushed him closer to admitting that systemic racism is real, but then Khan goes back a ways with Gavin McInnes, a year before he founded the Proud Boys, appearing on The Gavin McInnes Show in 2015.

I've seen the claim that the Proud Boys can't really be a racist organization because some Proud Boys are not white.

This article in the New Yorker should clear that right up.

On Constitution Avenue, the Proud Boys encountered an unsuspecting Black man coming up the sidewalk. They began shoving and jeering at him. As the man ran away, several of them chased him, swinging punches at his back.

Officers had cordoned off Black Lives Matter Plaza, but the group soon reached Farragut Square, where half a dozen counter-protesters—two men and four women—stood outside the Army and Navy Club, dressed in black clothes marked with medic crosses made from red tape. They were smaller and younger than most of the Proud Boys, and visibly unnerved. As Schwetz and others closed in on them, the medics retreated until they were pressed against a waist-high hedge. “Fucking pussies!” Schwetz barked, hitting two of the women. Other Proud Boys took his cue, assailing the activists, who disappeared into the hedge under a barrage of boots and fists. Policemen stopped the beating by deploying pepper spray, but they did not arrest any Proud Boys, who staggered off in search of a new target.

They promptly found one: another Black man, passing through on his bicycle. He wore Lycra exercise gear and looked perplexed by what was happening on the streets. He said nothing to anybody, but “Black Lives Matter” was written in small letters on his helmet. The Proud Boys surrounded him. Pointing at some officers watching from a few feet away, a man in a bulletproof vest, carrying a cane, said, “They’re here now, but eventually they won’t be. And we’re gonna take this country back—believe that shit. Fuck Black Lives Matter.” Before walking off, he added, “What y’all need to do is take your sorry asses to the ghetto.”

This was the tenor of the next eight hours, as hundreds of Proud Boys, groypers, militia members, and other Trump supporters openly marauded on the streets around the White House, becoming more inebriated and belligerent as the night wore on, hunting for people to harass and assault. “Fight for Trump!” they chanted. At one point, Proud Boys outside Harry’s Pub ganged up on another Black man, Philip Johnson, who took out a knife in self-defense, wounding four of them. Police intervened and rushed Johnson to the hospital, where he was arrested. The charges were later dropped. Outside Harry’s, I heard a Proud Boy joking about Johnson’s injuries: “He’s going to look different tomorrow.”

There's absolutely no reason for somebody from Bloomberg to promote the systemic-racism-denying career of Razib Khan. Quillette and the plutocrat-supported wingnut welfare system is available to give Khan's career all the help it needs. And of course Steven Pinker.

* In addition to being a race science promoter, Khan is a terrible writer, especially when writing about science, especially for someone who apparently gets paid to write. But I guess that's the wingnut welfare system for you. You don't have to be clever or good, you just have to promote right-wing beliefs. As we see with the laughably oafish James Lindsay.

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