James Watson: racism alive and well in the USA

I've spent the last 24 hours reading as the fires ignited by Nobel laureate James Watson have spurred hundreds of racist comments on message boards across the world. The racial views espoused by Watson are not simply pernicious, they are unamerican.

The premise that you could walk out your door in the United States and make the claim, with a straight face and in a public place, that you presume that someone is less intelligent than you because of the color of their skin or ethnic background is abhorrent.

Watson claims that everyone with Black employees “knows that they are not the equals of Whites” and, somehow, that is supposed to be acceptable? We are supposed to take him seriously…as a scientist?

I don’t think so.

Watson is about to lose his job and what was left of his reputation.

The equality of every citizen, respect for each other including our differences and a sense of the potential inherent in each and every citizen, especially our children, is essential to what it means to be American citizen. We all know this. It is the premise of our entire nation.

If we give that up, we might as well erase the Declaration and the Constitution. Our history, while rife with racism and bigotry, is the story of how many have become, however imperfectly, one. That is who we are, the meaning of our national history.

We are much better than this. It sickens me to think that some online would coddle sentiments that we opposed as a nation in WWII, that some would forget so quickly. Racial supremacy is a vile sentiment that has no place in our public life whatever its source; the legacy of racism in our national history is clear.

To those Americans indulging arguments in favor of genetic bigotry in the name of some kind of intellectual flirtation with what can only be called "acceptable Nazism" I’d say this: men and women of color have risked their lives to defend our freedom and build this nation.

This link, telling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen who faced the exact same arguments that Watson makes, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Watson's views wouldn't be acceptable anywhere in public in America. That should mean something. Have we lost touch with something essential about who we are as American citizens?

I don't think so.


&y said…
Jeez, k/o. I knew Watson had said a lot of stupid things in the past (see the second page here, for a brief recap), but I'd completely missed this latest idiocy.

Thanks for the tip.
Anonymous said…
What is shocking is that in this modern age, that you some one like Dr watson saying something like this.

it doesnt suprises me that the IQ of white person would be higher than that of a black person. how convient'. the idea of this IQ theory is made to promote the idea that white is superior to the black race.

Dr Watson is a bitter sad old man. God have mercy on his poor soul.
Anonymous said…
Look, I agree with you, the comments are racist, but I don't find your counterarguments compelling. The distinction should be--has to be!--that it doesn't matter what your genetic legacy is, we all need to be treated equal.

The fact is that no one, including James Watson, has the necessary access to the information that would allow us to make such a determination. I don't want it to be true, but I choose to follow a path of intellectual integrity that let's me say the truth, not what I want the truth to be: I don't know. It is possible. I don't want it to be true. But it is still possible.

And frankly, all the objections to Dr. Watson's comments I've seen (bar one), have been based on people not wanting it to be true.

And that's wrong too.

The problem is that everyone's responding as though it mattered. The point is not whether or not he's wrong, the point is it shouldn't matter. Because what if he's right (and if you say you KNOW he's not right, then you're either one of about four scientists in the world, or you're lying to yourself).

Again, I want us all to be equal in terms of genetic potential, but if we're not, I'm not willing to lie about it just to satisfy my own egalitarian cravings.

That would be bad science.
Anonymous said…
Watson deserves two things:

1 - A "Nobel of Racism" for his new discovery that melanin has something to do with intelligence (which is by itself a dubious concept since there is no universal definition of intelligence)

2- A retirement from work because it seems to me that he has an onset of a brain disease.

The reason is that I cannot believe that a scientist can make such stupids comments as the sex drive is linked to the DNA, homosexuality is linked to the DNA, stupidity is DNA related, melanin and intelligence are related etc.....

I can even challenge Watson right now: let's bring him to Central Africa, to a Pygmie's tribe in the forest with nothing on him, not even his clothes and let's bring a pygmie from the forest to a city with nothing on him and see how long each of the two are going to survive in their new environments.
I can tell you for sure that Watson won't survive the Cobra attacks in the forest for even one day and the pygmie might even live the remaining of his live in the city since he has nothing to fight..

I am just trying to show that intelligence is a relative concept and depends on the environment you live in. I also challenge Watson to show me the device that he uses to measure intelligence.

Another point that should not be forgotten is that the Eugenics movement is the US went underground and it seems to me that Watson is their figurehead in high places.
Sam D said…
Watson has always been a small minded piece of shit. He stole the work (secretly looking at her X-Ray micrographs thanks to the jealous Maurice Wilkins) but then he and Crick had to ask Rosalind to come and look at their model to see if it was correct before they rushed to publish.

Watson's little book about the discovery dissed Rosalind Franklin so badly that Crick refused to be a coauthor. Watson has had problems with intelligent females all the time. cites to Wikapedia -go deep, and a better article.



As far as IQ tests go, they are slanted to white America. I usually ace them so I sort have time to think about the type of questions. They are most definitely NOT values free.

Jim Wason is a very bright, advantaged from the get go, scumbag.

Anonymous said…
Well, as much as I wish it weren't true,, if you lived in the south-eastern part of the U.S., you might agree with Dr. Watson. I'm not saying there aren't any intelligent Blacks, far from the truth but, even the test results from K-12 public schools reflect this fact; consistently below average results compared to other ethnic groups. It's sad but, I don't think it's so much the schools that are failing them as much as it is their ability to grasp concepts and formulate solutions, basically to learn.
janinsanfran said…
Goodness you've got some cowardly racist trolls here (some of the anonymouses). If folks were so sure of themselves, they would use their names.

And thanks to sam for reminding us of Rosalind Franklin -- ah, the history of science...
kid oakland said…

Thanks for that comment.

In this case, I feel pretty strongly that the arguments, and their implications, need to be left posted for all to see. This conversation is not going away.

When anonymous writes: "if you lived in the south-eastern part of the U.S., you might agree with Dr. Watson."

That statement has more in common with the rank bigotry of the now retried Dr. Watson...and the history of justifications of white racism in the United States and around the world...than anything to be found in scientific journals. (ie. supposed white superiority/black inferiority, which is what we are REALLY talking about, is always "obvious" or "self-evident")

I find, when dealing with bigots and racists, that the exposure of their true views, which are, at core, pretty unchanged from the days of slavery and segregation, is the best disinfectant.

White racists when pressed will admit that they are opposed to inter-marriage between "races". They also are usually adamant about making "genetic distinctions" between different ethnicities that others may view as "white." (ie. Jews and Eastern Europeans and Europeans of Muslim descent.) They also can be engaged in extended conversations about why "whites" should band together politically and form "white" political parties.

Racists also don't have good answers for questions about active and ongoing effects of racism in the United States as well.

Does the fact that Black Americans older than 42 were born in a nation that had legal segregation and Jim Crow have anything to do with the current status of Black Americans in the United States? I guess that legacy was just erased in 10 or 15 years, right?

The same people who argued in FAVOR of legal segregation and Jim Crow now want to argue as if that history does not exist.

This is all much more recent than people think; our current Vice President, Dick Cheney, voted against sanctions against the racist Apartheid government in South Africa in the 1980s; Condoleezza Rice, our Secretary of State, was a childhood friend of the Black schoolgirls killed by white supremacist domestic terrorists in Alabama in the 1960s.

Jim Watson's comments are not surprising.

I will write more on this.
Anonymous said…
African Immigrants Smartest?

African-born blacks comprise 16 percent of the U.S. foreign-born black population and are considerably more educated than other black immigrants (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). The vast majority comes from minority white countries in East and West Africa (e.g. Kenya and Nigeria), and less than 2 percent originate from North or South Africa (World Factbook 2004; Yearbook of immigration Statistics 2003).

In an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Journal of Blacks in higher education African immigrants to the United States were found more likely to be college educated than any other immigrant group. African immigrants to the U.S. are also more highly educated than any native-born ethnic group including white Americans (Logan & Deane, 2003; Dixon, 2006; Journal of Blacks in higher education, 1999-2000; Onwudiwe, 2006; Otiso and Smith, 2005; The Economist, 1996). Some 48.9 percent of all African immigrants hold a college diploma. This is slightly more than the percentage of Asian immigrants to the U.S., nearly double the rate of native-born white Americans, and nearly four times the rate of native-born African Americans (The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 26 (Winter, 1999-2000), pp. 60-61).

In 1997, 19.4 percent of all adult African immigrants in the United States held a graduate degree, compared to 8.1 percent of adult whites and 3.8 percent of adult blacks in the United States, respectively (The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 26 (Winter, 1999-2000), pp. 60-61). This information suggests that America has an equally large achievement gap between whites and African immigrants as there is between white and black Americans.

The Canadian sociological literature on immigrants also paints a similar picture, however, less stark. All visible-minority immigrant groups whether from the Caribbean or India do better academically than their native born (non-visible) cohorts, on average. Both foreign-born and Canadian-born blacks have graduation rates that exceed those of other Canadians. Similar patters of educational over-achievements are reached with years of schooling and with data from the 1994 Statistics Canada survey. (Guppy and Davies, 1998; Boyd, 2002).

In the UK, 1988, the Commission for Racial Equality conducted an investigation on the admissions practices of St. George's, and other medical colleges, who set aside a certain number of places for minority students. This informal quota system reflected the percentage of minorities in the general population. However, minority students with Chinese, Indian, or black African heritage had higher academic qualifications for university admission than did whites (Blacks in Britain from the West Indies had far lower academic credentials than did whites). In fact, blacks with African origins over the age of 30 had the highest educational qualifications of any ethnic group in the British Isles. Thus, the evidence pointed to the fact that minority quotas for University admissions were actually working against students from these ethnic groups who were on average more qualified for higher education than their white peers (Cross, 1994; Also see, C, Dustmann, N, Theodoropoulos, 2006).

According to the report The State of Working Britain, published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the highly regarded London School of Economics, 21 % of adult blacks in Britain with African origins have a university degree. Only 14 percent of adult white Britons are college educated. It has also been shown that black immigrants from Africa earn more money than do native born white Britons (C, Dustmann, N, Theodoropoulos, 2006):

Of the African-born population in the United States age 25 and older 86.4% reported having a high school degree or higher, compared with 78. 9% of Asian born immigrants and 76.5% of European born immigrants, respectively. These figures contrast with 61.8% percent of the total foreign-born population. Immigrants groups in general tend to have higher high school graduation rates than the native-born general American population.

Those Africans born from Zimbabwe (96.7 percent), Botswana (95.5 percent), and Malawi (95 percent) were the most likely to report having a high school degree or higher. Those born in Cape Verde (44.8 percent), Mauritania (60.8 percent), and Somalia (63.3 percent) were the least likely to report having completed a high school education (Dixon, D., 2006)..

Of the European born those born in Bulgaria (92.6 percent), Switzerland (90.5 percent), and Ireland (90.4 percent) were the most likely to report having a high school degree or higher. Those born in Portugal (42.9 percent), Italy (53.7 percent), and Greece (59.9 percent) were the least likely to report having completed a high school education (Dixon, D., 2006).

Of the Asian born Mongolia (94.8 percent), Kuwait (94.7 percent), the United Arab Emirates (94.5 percent), and Qatar (94.3 percent) were most likely to report having a high school degree or higher. Those born in Laos (48.1 percent), Cambodia (48.4 percent), and Yemen (49.9 percent) were the least likely to report having completed a high school education (Dixon, D., 2006).. (Most people think the Asian group includes Orientals exclusively, this is not true)

Dodoo (1997) finds that while African immigrants are indeed the most educated of black groups in the U.S., he finds a negative return on African immigrants’ education attainment for diplomas obtained outside the United States. However, the same does not hold true for Caribbean immigrants. Although he finds that among blacks – native and immigrants – Africans earn the most, when earning-related endowments such as educational attainments are included in the analysis, this expected African advantage disappears (Dodoo, 1997).

The African born and Employment:

The African born are concentrated in management or professional and sales or office-related occupations. Of the employed population age 16 and older in the civilian labor force, the African born were much more likely than the foreign born in general to work in management and professional occupations as well as sales and office occupations. Additionally, the African born were less likely to work in service, production, transportation, material moving, construction, and maintenance occupations than the foreign born in general.

Ethiopians, Sudanese and Somalis, who mostly immigrate as refugees, do not do as well as their counterparts from English speaking African countries such as Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya. The reason was because most people from the three countries immigrate to the United States as refugees and asylum seekers, following crises in their home countries (Otiso and Smith, 2005).

Source Materials:

African Immigrants in the United States are the Nation's Most Highly Educated Group. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 26 (Winter, 1999-2000), pp. 60-61doi:10.2307/2999156

African-Born Blacks in the United Kingdom Are Far More Likely than Whites to Hold a College Degree. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 34 (Winter, 2001-2002), pp. 29-31 doi:10.2307/3134095

African-Born U.S. Residents are the Most Highly Educated Group in American Society The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 13 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 33-34 doi:10.2307/2963153

Boyd, M. (2002). Educational Attainments of Immigrant Offspring: Success or Segmented Assimilation?

C, Dustmann, N, Theodoropoulos (2006): Ethnic Minority Immigrants and their Children in Britain. Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, Department of Economics, University College London

Cross, T. (1994). Black Africans Now the Most Educated Group in British Society. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 3 (spring, 1994), pp.92-93

Dixon, D. (2006). Characteristics of the European Born in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. February, 2005

Dixon, D. (2006). Characteristics of the African Born in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. January, 2006

Dixon, D. (2006). Characteristics of the Asian Born in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. April 2006

Dodoo, F. N-A (1997). Assimilation differences among Africans in America. Social Forces 76: 527-46

Gelatt, J. and Dixon, D. (2006). Detailed Characteristics of the Caribbean Born in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. July 2006.

Gelatt, J. and Dixon, D. (2006). Detailed Characteristics of the South American Born in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. May 2006.

Guppy, Neil and Scott Davies (1998). Education in Canada: Recent Trends and Future Challenges. Ottawa: Statistics Canada and the Minister of Industry.

Kefa M. Otiso and Bruce W. Smith, (2005). “Immigration and Economic Restructuring in Ohio’s Cities, 1940-2000”, Ohio Journal of Science, 105 (5): 133-137 December 2005

Logan, J.R, Deane, G (2003). “Black Diversity in Metropolitan America.” Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban Regional Research University Albany

Onwudiwe, E. (2006). “Reflections on African Brain Gain Movement.”

The Economist (1996). 339 (7965): 27-28

In Educational Attainment, Black Immigrants to the United States Outperform Native-Born White and Black Americans. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education © 2003 CH II Publishers
Anonymous said…
I just have some few remarks for Watson and for all others racist out there.
Can one of these people who think they are better or different than black people show me that:
- they don't eat?, they don't use the restroom, they don't get sick, they don't die?
- If white people are different than black people, how can a black man can pregnant a white woman?
my comment are very common, but they have to meditate on it and they will see that all that they think they are is vanity.
Anonymous said…
"Goodness you've got some cowardly racist trolls here (some of the anonymouses). If folks were so sure of themselves, they would use their names."

Ya, then get tracked down and murdered by an angry black mob? no thankyou.

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