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THE EQUALITARIAN DOGMA HENRYE. GARRETT* Up to World War I, it is probable that American scientists who gave the matter any thought at all believed the Negro race to be natively less gifted than the white. Thus, the Negro was generally considered to be less intelligent and more indolent than the white, and to be somewhat lacking in the fundamental traits of honesty and reliability. This judgment was concurred in by most white Americans. Social scientists today do not often accept these onetime common-sense judgments. Instead, they hold that racial differences are skin deep: that whereas the black African differs from the white European in the breadth and depth ofhis civilization, there are no genetic or native factors to account for these differences; that all races are potentially equal in ability and differ only in their opportunity to achieve. Usually the social scientist will include motivation as a cause ofracial differences, together with discrimination and prejudice. This view that, except for environmental differences, all races are potentially equal has been called the equalitarian dogma.1 It has spread through many of our colleges and universities and is widely accepted by sincere humanitarians, social reformers, crusaders, sentimentalists, and (ostensibly) politicians. Many ministers ofreligion, convinced that the concept ofthe "equality ofman" is in keeping with the ideals ofChristian brotherhood and democracy, have joined the social scientists. Last, but by no means least, the Communists vigorously defend the equalitarian dogma. Only the man in the street, uninstructed in social anthropology, remains puzzled and reluctant. *The Curry Memorial School ofEducation, University ofVirginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. 1 Use ofthe word "equalitarian" in this paper is limited to the meaning indicated above. I do not intend the broader meaning: that ofbeliefthat all men should have equal political and sodai rights, a concept not debated here. 480 Henry E. Garrett · The Equalitarian Dogma Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Summer 1961 Equalitarianism (or egalitarianism, as it is sometimes called) finds its chief support from at least two clearly identifiable sources: the allegedly scientific group who have "proved" equality, and thereligious groups who accept this proofand, on the basis ofit, assert that beliefin racial differences implies "superiority" and "inferiority" and is unchristian, shameful, and blameworthy. Each camp supplements the other. The social scientists turn to moral denunciation when their evidence is feeble, and the religious fall back on "science" to bolster up their ethical preachments. From these two directions the American people have for more than thirty years been subjected to a barrage of propaganda unrivaled in its intensity and selfrighteousness . Today in many departments ofpsychology, anthropology, and even genetics, the equalitarian dogma has been installed as a major premise not to be questioned. Budding young scientists of independent mind jeopardize their careers by challenging the dogma and may be silenced by strong disapproval. Many college students have been indoctrinatedandparrot the equalitarian arguments without competentfamiliarity with the evidence, shifting from the "scientific" to the moralistic position as the occasion requires. The northern press and many influential magazines , together with radio and TV programs, confidently proclaim equalitarianism . How can we account for today's shift from a general belief in native racial differences to acceptance of the equalitarian dogma? There are, I believe, five sources which have stimulated and directed the propaganda barrage mentioned above. Let us examine these in order. Influence of"Modern" Anthropology By far the most potent assault upon native racial differences from the scientific side has come from the work ofFranzBoas, who may be thought ofas the "father" ofthe equalitarian movement. Boas came to this country from Germany in 1886 and for thirty-seven years (1899-1936) was professor of anthropology at Columbia University. Boas and his followers actively and aggressively championed equalitarianism, discounting any evidence tending to show that Negro-white differences may not be environmentally determined. But the cultural anthropologists rarely use objective measures recognized as valid forjudging the comparative abilities ofracial groups. Hence their conclusions, though confidently announced, are often subjective and unconvincing. 481 The view presented here is that psychological tests offer the best—i.e., most valid—quantitative data for the determination ofracial differences. The best recent survey ofthe comparative standing ofAmerican Negroes and American whites onanumber ofmental tests may be...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 480-484
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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