Did I Fall Asleep and Wake Up in 1939?

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There’s all kind of furor brewing over this woman named Stephanie Grace, a student at Harvard Law, who sent out an email that made it abundantly clear that she’s a racist. Here’s the money quote:

I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair. (Now on to the more controversial:) Women tend to perform less well in math due at least in part to prenatal levels of testosterone, which also account for variations in mathematics performance within genders.

Oh no she didn’t? Oh yes she did.

The whole brouhaha has been exhaustively covered by the brilliant people at racialicious and feministing, but from a Jewish perspective what’s so amazing about this is that Grace is explicitly citing eugenics, as if that’s, like, something it’s okay to do. Can I remind you about past situations where we may have encountered eugenics?

Grace is one martini away from saying something like, “Jews are probably genetically predisposed to be good doctors and lawyers. And cheaters. And have you seen their noses?”

As American Jews we have the privilege of generally passing as white, but when something like this comes out I think we have to be part of the discussion because it’s not just about being black or white when you start talking about eugenics. This is actually a substantial part of recent Jewish history and if there’s anything we can take from it, it’s that this kind of open-faced bigotry is bad and needs to be dealt with immediately, and not left to fester, or sent to work for the government (which is where Grace is headed after law school).

Posted on May 5, 2010

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One thought on “Did I Fall Asleep and Wake Up in 1939?

  1. Regina

    I understand racism can be divided in two different “actions”: the racist feeling (I think x are inferior) and the racist expression (I tell people I think x are inferior). Both should, of course, be condemned but the latter seems to me worse because: a) it is sort of propaganda. I am suggesting you follow my ideas; b) it assumes it is ok to say this in public and your entourage will take it naturally i.e. you feel your circle gives you the license to say that.
    Anyways, very sad episode (specially because it involves a Harvard student). Thanks for sharing your vision.

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