Conservatives Love Those Racist IQ Arguments, Don’t They?

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, May 10, 2013 10:49 EDT
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I hope you all have been following the entire kerfuffle over the Heritage Foundation’s “researchers”, a man named Jason Richwine, who has been outed as a proponent of the idea that Hispanics are genetically inferior people born with a hardwired low IQ. The Heritage Foundation is playing the “how could we have ever known?!” card, but no one of any IQ is buying it, since he’s been on about this belief for a long time. Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress has a post up analyzing why conservatives keep circling back to this IQ horseshit, even though it’s unscientific and racist as all get-out. Well worth reading the whole thing, but an excerpt:

These spats don’t generally endear conservatism to the general public, so it’s not like this is a political move. So why is it that the right-of-center intelligentsia keeps coming back to this topic? I’d suggest two reasons: first, a link between race and IQ moots the moral imperative for public policy aimed at addressing systemic poverty; second, it allows conservatives to take up the mantle of disinterested, dispassionate intellectual they so love.

A chance to be disingenuous, preening fuckwits while also justifying the persistence of poverty? That shit attracts conservative blowhards like it was a half-off sale on relaxed fit pleated khakis.

My take on the whole thing is simple: It’s the only way out of the corner that conservatives have backed themselves into when it comes to persistent social inequalities. Like Zack says, conservatives start from the premise that the existence of poverty and the way that people of color suffer from it much more than white people cannot, by any means, be attributed to social pressures and public policy, because that would imply that we should change public policy to change these inequities. Nor can they just come out and say they like having an underclass to exploit for cheap labor, because that (still) sounds un-American. So they’re left with only one option: Blaming people of color themselves for these problems, by saying they somehow just aren’t hacking it in our totally fair meritocracy.

In other words, the only thing left is a blatantly racist argument. I know this causes all sorts of defensive whining and fussing, but stating that group X is inherently inferior to group Y is racism distilled. The usual defense of this is, “It’s not racist if it’s true!” Enter the IQ debate, an attempt to create some impressive-sounding psuedo-science they can pass off as facts. It’s not actually facts or science, but it sounds enough like it to bamboozle people. Or so they hope, anyway. Going after Hispanics this way really exposes this, because “Hispanic” has only been understood by Americans as a racial category for a few decades. Are they willing to state on the record that there’s a low-IQ gene that originated in Spain and that only Spanish people and those people worldwide who have Spanish heritage somewhere back there have it? I kind of hope they do, because if you’re being an asshole, why not go whole hog on it?

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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