Why (American) Liberals Aren’t
umair haque
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I begged my way into an epistemology seminar when I was an undergraduate sophomore back in the Late Pleistocene. The professor at one point made the comment that he believed that racism in America would cure itself as African-Americans (nobody spoke publicly about “Latinos” or “Mexicans” or even “Asians” — the other white meats — as “minorities” in those days) obtained higher levels of education and thusly took higher-paying jobs and moved into nicer neighborhoods and thereby demonstrated their responsibility and similarity to “white” people. I had to bite my tongue. As an admissions exception to the normally seniors-only seminar, I didn’t want to contradict the professor in the first week of class. What I wanted to tell him was that even if an educated black man could get himself into a high-paying job, his upscale neighbors would still secretly hate him and live in fear that his sons would try to seduce their daughters.

Evolution has equipped our neural systems with reflexive distinctions between “us” and “others.” This precedes and transcends wealth and poverty, and it is true of all HomoSapiensSapiens. In part, it is one of the simple and brutal reasons why we have fought our way to the top of the food chain. The problem is that we have reached a level of complexity in our exo-somatic transfer of information (culture) where these reflexive behaviors impair our capacity to adapt and have thus become potentially lethal evolutionary traits. Evolution works slowly, but we are running out of time as a species. This makes the task of curbing now defective behaviors like “racism” and tribalism a matter of individual self-control: it is basically a resistance to hedonistic self-indulgence.

Unfortunately, humans have never been particularly good at self-discipline.

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