Mr. D’Souza might have reconsidered the title of his book, for he is not describing the end of racism. Glenn Loury recently observed a predilection for “end” themes in recent neoconservative tracts: Fukuyama with the end of history and D’Souza with the end of racism, Loury explains, have taken Hegelian (or pseudo-Hegelian) phrases to express their private visions. They confer historical inevitability on what they or their patrons would like to see happen. In D’Souza’s case, the talk about the end of racism betokens confusion more than wishful thinking.

In both The End of Racism and in a Washington Post article published on September 24, he depicts a reality at odds with his own happy talk. D’Souza complains about media and academic support of black nationalism and about resurgent scientific racialism on the right. Allowing here for the usual neoconservative hyperbole—namely, that “moderate conservatives” are being threatened by equally sinister forces on the right and the left—it seems that racial relations in the United States may be closer to Jared Taylor’s portrayal of them in Paved with Good Intentions than to D’Souza’s vision of racial harmony. Black hostility toward whites has demonstrably increased over the last 20 years, as evidenced by black reactions to the Simpson trial and racially motivated crimes by blacks against whites. On a recent Crossfire show, D’Souza stressed the need for interracial marriage as the ultimate solution to America’s race problems. By contrast, his opposite number, a black Howard University professor of history, emphasized the right of the black community to maintain its own “group integrity and pride.”

Partly, D’Souza means by the “end of racism” that race explains less and less about black underclass failures. Cultural pathologies, according to D’Souza, are at the root of these, and the government has exacerbated them by funding antisocial behavior. Meanwhile, the media have excused black male criminality in particular, and underclass violence in general. Here D’Souza, writing incisively and boldly, has angered his black colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute—including Loury—by speaking about underclass barbarism. And he discusses in grim detail a world he accuses the left of not condemning sufficiently. Noting that most nonintellectuals intuitively understand which people are most likely dangerous, he praises the cab driver who will not pick up young black males after dark.

These observations—or rather cliches—are far from indicating the end of racial hostility. Nor does the mounting evidence in regard to inherited group differences being accumulated by geneticists and statisticians; rather, it suggests the reverse. If social differences correspond to cognitive disparities, and if American blacks (as members of a distinctive gene pool) have significantly less inherited aptitude for abstract thinking than other groups, these facts will have certain probable results. Blacks on average will continue to fall below whites and Asians socioeconomically, and, proportionately, more blacks dian members of other races will find themselves at the bottom of a colorblind society—resentful of their fate.

D’Souza does not sufficiently consider this possibility, wanting to have his cake and to eat it too. He cites the research on cognitive disparities in The Bell Curve without raising noteworthy methodological objections, and he quotes approvingly Linda Gottfredson’s study of Labor Department statistics, which compares the expected level of representation of blacks and whites in various professions, given their cognitive abilities, to their present level of representation. D’Souza seems to believe that all that Gottfredson is demonstrating is that blacks, given their current intellectual achievements, are overrepresented in the professions. Gottfredson believes that the cognitive gap between American blacks and other groups will probably persist. Thus, absent quotas, blacks would be only minimally represented in the most respected and lucrative professions. D’Souza’s call for a miscegenated America may be an attempted solution to the tensions such a race-neutral society might release. But it is hard to see how this prescription can be implemented on a massive scale without totalitarian engineering—and without pulling down the cognitive elite.

In regard to the history of racial theory, D’Souza, quoting the great Scottish skeptic and agnostic David Hume who insisted from observations that Negroes are barely human, usefully explains that it was not the Enlightenment but Christianity that mounted the most passionate and persistent crusade against slavery and in favor of the humane treatment of blacks. He might also have mentioned that Hume debated this conclusion with the founder of Methodism, John Wesley; and that Wesley maintained, against the “atheist Enlightenment,” that Christians must stand united in their opposition to the enslavement and degradation of Negroes. D’Souza has no trouble lining up representatives of the Age of Reason—including Jefferson, Kant, Voltaire, and Franklin—among those who were convinced of the inherent primitiveness of the black race. He brings to light the well-hidden truth that the Enlightenment created, in addition to liberal politics, scientific racialism. And some of the most persuasive support for segregation in the South, D’Souza observes, came from the left: from social radicals like Tom Watson, and from political Progressives like Woodrow Wilson. D’Souza is methodical in digging up embarrassing facts for contemporary liberals, in particular, the doubtful scientific lineage of environmental social science.

But his presentation also lapses into sloppy error and reckless generalization; the book abounds in misquotations from Jared Taylor and Samuel Francis that are particularly inexcusable given that both authors complained about distortions of their statements which they encountered in the galleys. Most of the Enlightenment figures D’Souza mentions had no social theories at all. Kant and Hegel were merely registering observations about the inhabitants of a society more backward than their own, a point that D’Souza first concedes but then ignores. His indignant comments about lynchings in the American South in the early years of the century assume an enormity of wickedness that is not borne out by the facts. Black violence in Southern cities m the 1880’s and 1890’s approached levels associated with the underclass of today, and was a matter of concern even to the black radical W.E.B. Du Bois. Summary justice was the means of dealing with this problem, and, as Dwight Murphey suggests in Conservative Review (Summer 1995), it is hard to demonstrate that most of the executions for murder and rape carried out in the South or elsewhere were motivated primarily by race. Rather, they usually corresponded to the incidence of violent crime among the races, and Murphey adduces documented cases in which Southern courts absolved blacks who had lynched white murderers. Blacks often lynched other blacks in the frontier situation that characterized much of the post-Civil War South, and whites were susceptible to the same vigilante justice. Murphey cites the work of a 60’s liberal to show that lynchings in the South were less numerous than one might infer from current historiography. One might cite the same sources against D’Souza’s two-page diatribe.

The most troubling generalization in The End of Racism is the assertion that the “ancient and early Christian societies of the West cannot be rightly accused of racism.” D’Souza qualifies this otherwise puzzling observation by stating that Greeks, Romans, and Christians “made crucial distinctions—between nature and custom, between civilization and barbarism, between salvation and damnation—that would later be invoked to justify racism.” While it is true that neither classical antiquity nor medieval Christendom developed any full-blown scientific racialism, this is only a partial truth. Aristotle did believe in inherited ethnic differences between Greeks and barbarians; in his remarks to Alexander the Great regarding the inadvisability of intermarriage between Greeks and Persians, he cites genetic as well as customary differences. His criticism of “conventional slavery,” which Straussians and D’Souza read as a veiled call for abolition, is actually an appeal to Hellenic solidarity made in the Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle declaims against the practice of Greeks taking other Greeks as war captives and enslaving them, but barbarians, he believed, were accustomed to despotic control. Both references to barbarians in the Nicomachean Ethics stress their physical and moral degeneracy.

It is naive to think that the Greek sense of ethnicity and repugnance toward foreigners was based entirely on cultural pride. Or, that the distinctions drawn between Normans and Anglo-Saxons in 11th-century England, or between Frankish noblemen and Celtic peasants in pre-revolutionary France, were free of racialist attitudes. And how does D’Souza explain the Spanish Inquisition, which persecuted Jewish conversos for their genealogical shortcomings, as three leading scholars of Spanish Jewry—Americo Castro, M.D. Ortiz, and Benzion Netanyahu—argue? To ascribe this persecution to theological scrupulousness or mere political envy is to overlook the reaction against foreigners and impure blood in 16th-century Spain.

The most glaring error in D’Souza’s book, however, is the Utopian belief that keeps popping up—amid evidence to the contrary—that ethnic and racial tensions are only a passing phase of human existence. Only bad people, like scientific racialists, anti-Christian skeptics, and black nationalists, have kept this phase from ending in the United States, but the march of history presumably will soon bring about a “multiracial society.” I for one shall bet on the continuation of friend-enemy groupings, as opposed to D’Souza’s confected paradise. I shall also wager on the persistence of racial and “gender” quotas, a policy that D’Souza believes is ending, unless the American political class is severely shaken. There is no reason for American administrators and judges to notice the popular will, unless it can prevail against them.

A final point: like other neoconservatives, D’Souza divides the civil rights movement into separate phases that do not overlap. This enables him to argue that Jack Kemp “spoke wisely” when he deplored the failure of Republicans to “have been there on the freedom marches and bus rides.” D’Souza indicates his own support for such activities, but devotes much of the rest of the book to lamenting the subsequent turns of the civil rights movement. Liberals are right, however, to insist upon the continuity in civil rights leadership and goals—and also the use of incremental strategy in empowering blacks, and the state as their protector. To maintain the illusion of discontinuity in the civil rights program, D’Souza presents two Martin Luther Kings: the good King who advocated a color-blind society, and the bad one, the embittered crusader who by the late 60’s was groping toward quotas. But this biographical disjunction is fictitious. King had called for white reparations to blacks by the early 60’s, before he proclaimed his “dream” on the Washington march in 1964. And inasmuch as King was a socialist influenced by liberation theology, it is also misleading to associate him with a capitalist meritocracy that he consistently opposed.


[The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society, by Dinesh D’Souza (New York: The Free Press) 724 pp., $30.00]