Elephants in the room

A friend once said of me that I was the person always pointing out the elephant in the room, the moose under the table, the large obvious fact that everyone was pretending not to notice. Rather like that story of Beatrice Webb talking to the wife of Bernard Shaw, who both pointedly ignored the fact that a dog had shitted on the carpet quite deliberately in front of them. Too genteel to notice, I suppose.

I have often asked myself why  people put themselves in a social bind of this nature? What gain do they make in not noticing the elephant? Do they believe they will lose status as a result of ignoring the fact which everyone knows but no one mentions? What is the gain by drawing attention to the obvious? Very little. But the loss of social stature occasioned by drawing attention to large obvious facts can be huge.

Consider, for instance, Mr. Gregory Hood, who wrote the following linked article on race in America. Is he a “racist” in a morally depraved sense for noticing the facts he writes about? Is he a “race realist”? Should we jail him or have him for dinner? One thing we know for sure, however, is that it takes uncommon clarity and courage to dare to notice in a public way the things he is talking about.

Americans live by lies. Or they are ignorant. Or they deliberately refuse to think. There may even be conscious deception, borne out of a sense of noblesse oblige or misplaced morality. Whatever the reason, race has been removed from any serious policy discussion.

The result is a society dependent on ignoring reality. Sure, we pretend to debate issues. We pay billions to support a huge bureaucracy supposedly designed to solve our problems. Our leaders attend prestigious schools for years and commission dozens of studies. All the while, we explicitly ignore the one thing that would make it possible to understand our problems. The result is policy by comedy. White advocates know our political leaders are either lying or stupid when they announce “solutions” to policy dilemmas.

Take education. Just as race realists would predict, white American students perform at levels roughly equivalent to other First-World nations. Just as race realists would predict, the achievement gap between racial groups persists across all geographic regions and economic levels. And yet, with tiresome predictability, television will give us a parade of supposed experts, liberal and conservative, all with new ways to help us ignore what is right in front of our eyes. Be it Head Start, small class sizes or “school choice,” we’ll do anything rather than acknowledge the reality of race….

Race is at the center of all of this. Race is not just a social construct. It is a biological fact that exists no matter how much people pretend otherwise. There is no issue in American life, be it crime, health care, the environment, education, defense, or even public transportation that can be addressed intelligently without confronting the central role of race.

Read the whole article. Do you disagree with him? Discuss.

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