Don’t Cut My Hyphen, S’Il Vous Plait

 French Sikh Boys Expelled From SchoolLike a lot of Americans, I’ve been keeping an astonished eye on the car-burning in Paris and France that is approaching the fortnight mark. Saurabh at Rhinocrisy has noted that a certain segment of the blogosphere, headed by Internment-Cheerleader-In-Chief Michelle Malkin, is having a field day.  What an opportunity to clumsily conflate France’s antipathy towards  certain war policies with imagined Gallic championship of any and every liberal cause as articulated in America. Just because the French have embraced the same notions of universal health care that some American liberals have, obviously they epitomize the multicultural state American liberals champion. Since Democrats like French bread and wine they must love French cultural policies.  /sarcasm.  But as those of us who actually pay attention to identity politics in France know, the French model is not quite the California-cuisine tossed diversity salad that American cultural purists love to hate on. Saurabh and the Francophilic Phoebe Maltz call a spade a spade:

I hate to be trite, but this picture is simply at odds with reality. France has been anything but multiculturalist, and in fact has been quite uniform in demanding that its Muslim minority conform, damnit, to the standards of French culture.(Link.)

Despite its shunning of hyphenated identity and insistence that all of its citizens are equally–and nothing butFrench, France has a problem: whenever a minority group in country is involved in a conflict–one its members started, of which its members are victims, or a combination–the possibility of that group up and leaving is immediately brought up.(Link)

(It is, of course, as absurd to lump together all of France as to lump together all of India–the land that gives us LePen also gave us Zola.) Many observers  warn that it is a mistake to view these (so far relatively non-injurious) rioters as Islamic or Arab or Brown or Immigrant so much as poor  and unemployed. But I have to wonder if, by shunning the hyphen, France has forced the French children of immigrants to make an overly stressful choice. We affiliates of Sepia Industries might be considered connoisseurs of the hyphenated life-style. A hyphen is a useful prop, like a towel, that you can move about and rework as the situation demands. Sometimes you want it out, front and center, and sometimes it can stay in your purse. Immigration is hard, and tools can help. It was Hyphen Magazine’s blog which reminded me of the South Asian connection to the Parisian riots.

Hyphen Magazine styles itself Asian America Unabridged, and to steal a lovely phrase from Cicatrix, its pages are often soaked in Darjeeling and Orange Pekoe as well as Green tea. (Note echoes of Shah Rukh?) One of its bloggers, Neela, has shouted out to Sepia Mutiny before, and a few days ago she noted a recent Bay Area Sikh protest of the French policy of banning turbans in public schools.

Bay Area Sikhs said Thursday there is no evidence to suggest that French core values are threatened by anyone expressing their religious faith. Union City resident Sarabjit Cheema said she took the day off from her job at the California Department of Transportation, and brought her two youngest sons from Cesar Chavez Middle School to join the protest. If American schools were to adopt similar laws, Cheema said she’d pull her children out of school permanently and home-school them. “I took the day off work to support a cause that is very dear to me,” Cheema said. “All kids should enjoy the freedoms that my sons have.” (Link.)

After the rioting, some Indo-French are worried:

Shingara Singh Mann runs an internet cafe in Paris. He has been living in the suburbs with his family since 1978.Even though he holds a French passport, he says that he has had to struggle to get his due in the country.He is worried that the rioting will make his day to day life hard as people will get suspicious of all minority communities in general.(Link.)

Many commentators couldn’t help but compare this month’s Parisian riots with last month’s Birmingham riots. Cultural community defined around geographic ghetto just doesn’t seem to work so well.   The majority can’t wall off and forget a minority that’s integrated inside itself, and a minority can’t systematically attack a majority it’s surrounded by and lives with. To be clear, I’m not saying that America is peaches and cream–Neela’s other link was to a recent SF Chronicle profile of the California Sikh community, showing that sometimes the mixture is a bit too tart:

Didar Singh Bains, who came to the United States with $8 in his pocket in 1958 to join his father and grandfather who were working orchards, is now the biggest peach grower in the state and one of the richest people in Northern California. . . .Ram Singh and other members of the Fremont gurdwara tell a tale rich with irony about their experience giving blankets and food to victims of Hurricane Katrina staying in one of Baton Rouge’s largest shelters. “We asked if they knew who we are,” Ram Singh recalled with a sigh. “Almost everyone said, ‘You’re from the Middle East and are here for the oil.‘ (Link.)

Wow. Yet reading these articles–or hanging out at Sepia Mutiny–it’s obvious that for most of us, the notion of up and leaving is simply absurd, hyphenated or not. I’m as American as the next girl, and I’ll keep both my history and American future long and intact, thank you very much. Unabridged, like a young boy’s uncut hair. I’ve railed against the prevalence of the balancing act metaphor–everything in the immigrant’s life is not a dichotomy. The hyphen doesn’t need to be a fence to stand on precariously. It makes much more sense as a link in a chain, winding into the past, reaching out into the future. We don’t need to cut off our past to embrace our future. We can if we want to.   If anyone’s going to cut their hair off, they should do it by choice, not under pressure. Wouldn’t we really rather that they get over a little difference as children, than that they are isolated all their childhoods only to fight over much bigger differences as adults? If you force people to conform, they’re probably going to self-isolate more. A little bit of freedom is like the detergent that mixes up the oil and the water, and intolerance is like the salt that drives them apart.*

I don’t have the answers. I wish France and the French–all of them–good luck and godspeed in figuring out how to get along and get on with the real work of life.  I’m not talking about endorsing honor killings here, I’m talking about being allowed to keep what you don’t have to get rid of. Humanity’s differences and nuances are like the shimmer and shine of a ruby–their very ephemeral variance makes clear the hard vivid crystal that’s sparkling. Drink in everyone else, but it’s okay to just be yourself. Maybe I watched too much Sesame Street as a child, but this still seems better than any other model. 

*Brimful, I put that in for you. I apologize if I got mixed up!

91 thoughts on “Don’t Cut My Hyphen, S’Il Vous Plait

  1. Simran: my point was not to essentialize some countries as nations of immigrants, and others not so, but to address precisely the self-image of some countries. And on the latter front a distinction can be drawn: Germans don’t appear to see themselves as a nation of immigrants, and neither do Indians, whereas Americans do to a much greater extent.

    One other distinction: if the Celtic and other peoples migrated to what is today FRance from somewhere else, the region was not “France” as we know it. That is, France today– in terms of its reigning ideology, its institutions/ establishment– is not equally the product of its Arab and African immigrants and it is of those who consider themselves French in some originary sense (in fact the riots reveal great anger on the part of the recent immigrants from being excluded). To put it another way: while I am the last person to endorse any kind of superiority/inferiority based on immigration (as I am the most recent of recent immigrants myself, having been naturalized very recently), I think an analytical distinction may usefully be drawn between those whose arrival is so “past” as to be part of mythology almost, and those whose arrival post-dates the establishment of the contemporary political horizon of the (in this case French) nation state. IF one were USING this distinction to argue that recent immigrants should be denied rights, or should be ill-treated, then I would agree that one would be falling prey to the philosophically problematic position (how ghastly, three “p”s…) of regarding “culture” as not only discrete and knowable, but as an object clearly demarcated from other objects around it.

  2. libertae is it, right?

    And I find post-modernism completely and utterly strange. I refuse to acknowledge such a thing exists. Why not?

  3. Germans don’t appear to see themselves as a nation of immigrants, and neither do Indians

    and remember the myths people make. circa 1700 berlin was a 25% french protestant city smack damn in the middle of traditional west slavic (sorb) lands.

  4. Re: comment 55: completely agree. For instance, how many Arabs today stop to think that a pretty large % of Baghdad’s population was Jewish in the 1930s? Or how many Pakistanis stop to think that 50% of Lahoris were non-Muslim on August 14, 1947? Or which Sanghis stop to think, when they criticize Urdu for using a “foreign” script, that Devanagari is itself adapted from a Semitic script system? The list is endless. Simran’s point makes sense on a factual level, but doesn’t address the politics/ideologies…

  5. “because it wouldn’t fit our national myth to have just one face represent us”

    MD

    How about the Gibson Girl.

    And the Norman Rockwell early paintings with no minorities in them.

  6. I don’t know how taboo this is here, but almost nowhere do I see a discussion of IQ differences in causing the inequalities in France. If Moroccans and Algerians have an average IQ of around 85 and French have an average of around 100, then assimilation would be difficult.

    If this is a taboo topic here then please ignore my comment. Thank you.

  7. Saheli, you say: DonÂ’t Cut My Hyphen

    I’m afraid thats not how it works in France, and for a good reason. I was there a week before the riots, and found out that the seperation between the church and the state goes to the extent that the govt looks after the outside upkeep of the beautiful churches, while the Catholic church has to look after the inside of the churches.

    Anyway, there are good reasons why the french reject hyphented identities. According to their ideology everyone is part of the state and there is officially no distinction between people because of their race, religion or anything else.

    Now America has always been an immigrant nation, but its binding ideology is the immigrant dream to make money. That binds people together, so you can have the multiple identities no problems.

    In France what binds them together is the psychological assertion that everyone is part of the country and has an equal right.

    This is also very important. Unfortunately Britain has neither. Now we’re trying to figure out what exactly binds people together ourselves.

    Anyway, coming back to the point. The French don’t know how many non-whites are in the country because they don’t do any sort of racial or religious profiling. On paper its a beautiful idea but unfortunately it allows secret discrimnation to go on unchallenged (because of a lack of data).

    That’s why the riots exploded. My hope is that rather than go down the British route of community leaders appeasement, the French instead look to integrate these people more than give them more space.

  8. Why “asinine,” Priyanka? I think Razib might disagree.

    I also think it goes a long way toward explaining the problems in France.

  9. Simran’s point makes sense on a factual level, but doesn’t address the politics/ideologies…

    But that’s exactly what I’m saying. Not to get anarchist on you, but — if you say you want to get beyond ideology, then get beyond all of it, starting with the nation-state — and with the “national myths” that MD refers to in post 50, and which you and Razib also reference.

    MD wrote:

    The US is a very young country. Talking about land masses and migration of native americans thousands of years ago in this context is silly. Is it the national myth of the United States not that this is a country of immigrants, that we all came from somewhere else?

    Actually, it’s debatable whether this is the American national myth. Certainly it wasn’t much in circulation where I grew up (mostly white, middle America). Childhood inculcation, but I’m still surprised and refreshed when I hear it represented as so ubiquitously embraced at my university. I think if I did a poll in my hometown, it wouldn’t even register. Instead, you’d find the majority would describe the national myth as “freedom, individuality, equal opportunity: everyone gets a shot if they just work hard.” This is similar, but NOT identical to, the “nation of immigrants” idea. A lot of my friends back there are “mutts” and have no clue where their ancestors might have come from. Maybe had I grown up in a big city I would have met more white Americans who saw themselves as hyphenated or who conceived of themselves as immigrant-descended. However, since there are so many “mutts” who don’t have a clue where they come from, I suppose this awareness is useful only insofar as it disposes the person to tolerance of new immigrants. This might explain why the “nation of immigrants” discourse thrives in big cities, places that do receive far more immigrants than middle American towns!

    if the Celtic and other peoples migrated to what is today FRance from somewhere else, the region was not “France” as we know it. That is, France today– in terms of its reigning ideology, its institutions/ establishment– is not equally the product of its Arab and African immigrants and it is of those who consider themselves French in some originary sense

    To relay an anecdote which harkens back to this “founding of the nation” qualification — I got told once by someone that they WEREN’T children of immigrants because their family had been here since the founding of the country. And by your logic, their argument is unproblematic. Hmm.

    Anyway, the national myths thing creeps me out. If we start classifying nation-types based on the stories those nations tell themselves, then we cede any sort of claim to objective analysis; and certainly we cede the right to claim we’re “getting beyond ideology.” Ultimately, as someone alluded to when invoking the idea of the Celt settlers and the state, everything IS wrapped up in (the ideological construction that we call) the nation-state, but that in itself calls back into question the idea of culture. Are the boundaries of the state the place from which we start assigning historical definitions of cultural identity? This is a problem a lot of Sindhis and Punjabis seem to wrestle with. Is that land right over the Indian border home to a different culture? How can it be, if it wasn’t always?

    Okay, major tangent, I will now stop. But I really appreciate the responses to my post! This is a hard subject to be articulate about.

  10. Actually, it’s debatable whether this is the American national myth.

    i agree. it might be appropriate to say it is the myth now. but the iconic 1890-1924 “great wave” was not necessarily typical.

  11. Simran: With all due respect we might be talking past each other. I am not saying that French (or any other) notions that privilege “native-ness”, and an authenticity predicated on being”native”, are unproblematic. I also do agree that all notions of national identity are problematic, because all serve to exclude others in the final analysis, the force of which exclusion is felt most acutely in “border”-regions (whether literal or figurative). However, if I read you correctly, you appear to be saying that because all such ideologies are problematic, we should reject all of them. But that all such ideologies are problematic is a rather different issue than whether all such ideologies are equally problematic, or problematic in the same way. For instance, French “nativity” is a problem from my perspective, but I see it as unquestionably less problematic than, for instance, apartheid South Africa, and the exclusions instituted and legitimized, and indeed incentivized, by that system. Thus, I would argue, radically progressive causes would be better served by an acute sensitivity to just what is being propounded in the name of national mythology (precisely because the latter is problematic), rather than a rejectionism that ignores nuance in favor of an abstraction.

    There is another reason why one ought to be sensitive to these distinctions, and that is tactical. That is, one needs to calibrate one’s strategy to the ideology one is seeking to disturb or subvert. Thus, for the French citizens who are of Arab/African descent, the strategy would be different depending on the nature of the “story” told by the nation-state. I submit that it wouldn’t be particularly useful for one to say “You are no more native than I am”, IF the nation-state does not recognize such a claim. In the case of France, it would be a much better tactic to say “I was promised there was no distinction between different kinds of French citizens, yet the promise is not being fulfilled”. The latter claim, implicating as it does a certain national myth– France as repository of the Rights of Man, of a universal Enlightenment principle– is the sort of claim it would be far more difficult for the French national idea to resist.

  12. BG: the problem with the IQ reference is it assumes that IQ (as measured by tests of various sorts) is itself a given, that is, that it isn’t itself a product of a certain sort of social process. Put another way, I doubt a really brainy person from remote village x in Ladakh is going to be able to ace the relevant test the way a Parisian brought up in the culture, and schooled therein, might.

  13. that it isn’t itself a product of a certain sort of social process

    oh, but did BG assume any such thing? certainly the comment implied a relative inelasticity to the metric, but being as that maybe, some groups do seem to have a more felicitous social matrix for expressing this important character in the modern economy. the state of a given social matrix is due to many interacting variables, but operationally to some extent it is pretty hard to budge. i believe the best route with immigrants is to make ph.d.s work at coffee shops like they do in canada, they resent it, but their skillset is broad enough that they might find a more appropriate job, and at least their acculturated children can leverage the capital that is transmitted through family and community (sound familiar to anyone here?). i have heard a common complaint from the more educated muslims in europe is that many of the european islamic communities are selected from the more conservative and rural segments of the native land. in other words, the selection biasing is towards those with fewer accumulated capital necessary for the modern economy. i recently read a book about turks, where the author, who was a journalist based in instanbul, noted quizzically that many of the older generation of “german turks” dress and speak in ways that reflect a bygone 1960s peasant anatolia….

    p.s. in case you guys care, there were differential levels of selection for the pre-1776 european settler colonies. new england specifically prevented the settlement of the poor, illiterate and nobility, while the lowland south tend to be bimodal, while middling southwest english nobility and the rural poor retainers being transferred en masse. i think to some extent these old legacies have left a centuries long impact on the character of both of these regions.

  14. certainly the comment implied a relative inelasticity to the metric…

    which is what my comment was reacting to.

    …but being as that maybe, some groups do seem to have a more felicitous social matrix for expressing this important character in the modern economy. the state of a given social matrix is due to many interacting variables, but operationally to some extent it is pretty hard to budge.

    Referring back to the example at hand– France, and other European countries in general– I am skeptical the other “interacting variables” have been accounted for. That is, your comment appears to assume that the biggest problem is the “social matrix” of the immigrants in question; how do we know (institutional) bias against Arabs/Africans isn’t the real problem?

    And by the way, BG said a whole lot more than merely “impl[y]” a “relative inelasticity”: he in fact asserted that the real problem in France was that the IQ of the average Moroccan etc. was lower than that of the average Frenchman, that this IQ-differential went a “long way” toward explaining the difficulty. No reason was given as to why IQ should be deemed the principal determinant (as opposed to other factors), and as I argued previously, that IQ as a neutral, objective given is not a notion I find persuasive. One is reminded of the nineteenth century orientalist claim that Indians were intellectually inferior to whites (“…else, why would we be ruling them?”). Some of us can think of other reasons.

    On selective immigration: if the interest of countries like France, Germany and others was cheap labor, it seems obvious that they would draw disproportionate numbers of poor, relatively ill-educated people (referring to economic migrants; obviously this has no bearing on artists, dissidents, etc. fleeing repression). The average Moroccan affluent doctor or business man is doing well enough that I presume that a smaller % of them might wish to emigrate. Just referring to my family: for the most part (there are certainly exceptions) the financially most secure have not emigrated to the West.

  15. your comment appears to assume that the biggest problem is the “social matrix” of the immigrants in question; how do we know (institutional) bias against Arabs/Africans isn’t the real problem?

    shrug surely part of it, but the bias does not emerge de novo. if the french are racist, it really would have been best if they kept colored immigrants out. it seems best to solve one problem at a time, not assume that a solution will arise on the fly. i am skeptical that the french are more racist than americans, and arab americans are actually very affluent. they are 1 generation ahead of the french-arabs, and they were predominantly christian. so social variables probably are at work too.

    so yeah, racism matters, but i don’t it is the principle component of variation, because, for instance, i don’t think that the british are more racist against the typical pakistani muslim than they are against the ismailis. or, frankly, that they are less structurally biased against hindu gujaratis of east african origin.

    my point is no matter what structural racism you have, you can’t solve it by passing laws, let alone a kulturkampf. it will be a work of generations (and often, intermarriage and loss of cultural distinctiveness, i.e., most descendents of irish catholics in america do not live in boston and new york, and are now often protestant, and part irish). not having an immigration policy that is biased toward lower skill levels is the best because even if high skilled immigrants have to drop in SES and occupational bracket, they have capital, whether you want to call it genetic, social, cultural or a combination.

    and different groups can come for different reasons. many korean americans with educations come to the USA because they think there are good opportunities here. and we all know that african countries are being brain drained.

    i would suggest that people in the western world are better off taking out the trash and doing gardening themselves rather than having to comb the countrysides of third world nations for warm bodies. not only does it build character, what we lose in capitalist efficiency (even ignoring long term externalities) we gain in egalitarian sense of citizenship where color is not correlated with class.

  16. One is reminded of the nineteenth century orientalist claim that Indians were intellectually inferior to whites (“…else, why would we be ruling them?”). Some of us can think of other reasons.

    like what? indians might not have been innately dumber (though i suspect south asians probably are a bit dumber than whites on average), but you gotta be kind of dumb to be conquered by a bunch of people from a tiny island across the world. the romans thought the native britons were pretty dumb too when they showed up. and they were, they were conquered.

  17. i suspect south asians probably are a bit dumber than whites on average

    Ahh, that’s helpful– in the sense that now that I have a better sense of where you are coming from, there really isn’t anything to discuss.

  18. Umair,

    Not saying IQ is the only cause of the difference, or even >50% of it, but I think it’s significant, and may well be the largest cause.

    “IQ doesn’t exist”-type stuff is pretty weak tea nowadays. If you need to, simply define IQ as the ability to learn and apply the skills needed to build and sustain a modern society. Some groups can do this better than others. I think this explains much of the problem we see over in France.

  19. BG: nowhere did I say something like IQ “doesn’t exist” (unless by “-type stuff” you mean to include what it was that I did say). By accepting a provisional definition of IQ “as the ability to learn and apply the skills needed to build and sustain a modern society”, you appear to concede the social construction of IQ– but push the definitional issue one step back, to “the skills needed to build and sustain a modern society.” Yet what constitutes a “modern” society is hardly above debate– I take it from your comment that you might just mean an advanced industrialized capitalist economy, in which case the definition of IQ you are prepared to concede reads a lot like cultural assimilation. Which sort of “social” metric is precisely the issue I started out with.

    As for “weak tea”, I don’t know, I personally found Stephen Jay Gould’s scientific skepticism of the concept of IQ (among others), reproduced in The Mismeasure of Man, quite persuasive.

  20. in which case the definition of IQ you are prepared to concede reads a lot like cultural assimilation. Which sort of “social” metric is precisely the issue I started out with.

    CORRECTION: I should have written “…is precisely the issue SAHELI started out with”, with her post on different models of citizenship/nationalism, etc. I read her argument in favor of the hyphen as precisely “softening” the difficulties and dislocations inherent in the immigration process. On such a view, then, “IQ as the ability to learn and apply the skills needed to build and sustain a modern society” is directly dependent on what kind of society is being sustained, and what kind of demands society is making on the immigrant. If American society is making less absolute demands, that could go a long way toward explaining why Sikhs and Arabs in the USA have fewer problems in developing the sorts of skills you reference; French society appears to be making rather absolute demands– not surprisingly, the miniscule number of Sikhs there are concerned (personally I don’t consider it adequate to simply say in response to their concerns that their unwillingness to give up the turban is evidence of an inability “to learn and apply the skills needed to build and sustain a modern society”), and Arab/African concerns are rather well known in this respect.

    [Of course in theory France is free to do what its citizens deem fit; but by voluntarily accepting millions of immigrants as cheap labor and permitting such ghettoization and lack of economic opportunity, may we say that France lacks IQ, because it hasn't displayed "the ability to learn and apply the skills needed to build and sustain a modern society"?]

  21. Sorry guys, I have to jump in with a tangentally-related response regarding Razib’s following comment:

    you gotta be kind of dumb to be conquered by a bunch of people from a tiny island across the world.

    It wasn’t about being “dumb”, it was due to the lack of a united front and the fact that the subcontinent at the time was involved in an unofficial civil war after the collapse of the Mughal Empire.

    If the British had decided to conquer India during the time of the Mughal Empire at its height (eg. during Jahangir’s time, or before Aurangzeb got carried away with his religious fanaticism and wasted resources in attempting to bring the Deccan under control), and had successfully achieved this, then your assertion may have had some validity.

    However, there were also some cultural factors at work too, of course — internal corruption, passivity on the part of huge numbers of the population (the fact that, except for places like Punjab, the percentage of men who were semi-professional soldiers was relatively small), and so on. If, for example, the culture and social structure had been such that every adult man was essentially a soldier (in addition to whatever his every-day occupation would have been), then the situation could well have been very different.

    Anyway, I’m digressing from this thread’s main topic, but I had to make this point.

    Corruption, arrogance and selfishness — definitely factors in many cases, both historically and in the present day. Simply being “dumb” — No.

  22. I personally found Stephen Jay Gould’s scientific skepticism of the concept of IQ (among others), reproduced in The Mismeasure of Man, quite persuasive.

    I’ve read Mismeasure of Man, and Landes’s Wealth of Nations, and Guns, Germs & Steel, and all the other books that ignore IQ, or claim it doesn’t exist meaningfully, and that it can’t have anything to do with the differences in wealth between nations. But unlike you and all the others who cite Gould, I’ve also read this, and its case for IQ contributing strongly to wealth differentials is way more convincing than Diamond.

    If you don’t want to shell out $90 for a book you can’t understand the world without reading, at least read this.

  23. its case for IQ contributing strongly to wealth differentials is way more convincing than Diamond. If you don’t want to shell out $90 for a book you can’t understand the world without reading, at least read this.

    I actually did– and don’t find it to account adequately for the philosophical objections/problems I raised in my other comments.

  24. India was ahead of China economically in the fifties. Now they’ve surged ahead. The Neo-Darwinians cite “IQ” as an apparent reason for this, when it has everything to do with policy.

    The Neo-Darwinians rationalize Indian success in the United States (and the fast growth of the Indian economy) by claiming that everyone here (and those few in knowledege industries back home) has a high IQ, and those left behind or left out are all below average.

    Anyone who has been to school in India knows this soooo not true. There are plenty of second stringers here who sqeaked by in donation engineering and medical colleges who can still do their job as well as any white guy. And the IT companies in India are NOT filling their seats with IIT guys, they are filling their seats with the best second string guys, and there are PLENTY of them. They even said Punjabis were incapable of IT–didn’t have the brains–but now that IT centers are springing up by the dozen around Chandigarh, they’ve shut up.

    Initially, they claimed the only smart ones were the Brahmins, then, when other castes started catching up, they started claiming that those castes too displayed a high IQ but the “second string” was rather dumb. When its pointed out that the economically forward southern states are over 98% non-Brahmin, they don’t have an answer.

    Give an Indian of whatever caste or creed a proper education and he can compete with any white guy.

  25. Corruption, arrogance and selfishness — definitely factors in many cases, both historically and in the present day. Simply being “dumb” — No.

    point taken. my point is that if you define “intelligence” as something elastic and socially constructed to the extremis, only evaluatable by the fruit of your works, well, i’m going to start stretching the definition of dumb.

  26. I actually did– and don’t find it to account adequately for the philosophical objections/problems I raised in my other comments.

    You don’t find it at least interesting that average national IQ correlates very well (0.73) with per capita income by country? Well, how does .91 grab you?

    This is such a strong (and intuitively logical) correlation that those who deny it outright — that there is no possibility that mean IQ plays even a small role in determining a country’s wealth — are showing themselves to be more ideologically than scientifically driven. Indeed, the only reaction Blank Slaters have been able to come up with in response to Lynn and Vanhanen’s book since its publication in 2002 is to suppress/ignore it.

    India was ahead of China economically in the fifties. Now they’ve surged ahead. The Neo-Darwinians cite “IQ” as an apparent reason for this, when it has everything to do with policy.

    Well, China had a totally centrally-planned economy then, and frankly, neither China nor India had much of an economy period in the 1950s, so saying one was ahead of the other isn’t saying much.

    High average IQ alone isn’t enough to make a country rich. You also need a free-market economy, rule of law, and democracy helps, too. But high average IQ appears to be one of several sine qua nons for a country to be rich.

    Getting back to the topic at hand, then, if Moroccans and Algerians in France have an average IQ of around 85, then that’s not really enough for the entire group to assimilate into the larger populace.

  27. Well, China had a totally centrally-planned economy then, and frankly, neither China nor India had much of an economy period in the 1950s, so saying one was ahead of the other isn’t saying much.

    India had a higher percentage of world GDP in the 50s than it does today.

  28. That may be so, Mark, but country’s wealth fluctuations over time don’t show that IQ has no bearing. Policies matter — no one’s saying they don’t. But my point is that there appear to be four or five things that a country needs to have in order to be wealthy: sound capitalist economic policy, rule of law to protect assets and settle disputes, democracy, and high average IQ. I might also throw “a culture of entrepreneurship” in there, but you get the idea — remove any one of these four or five, and you’re not rich. China has the law & order and the high IQ, but (until recent years) horrific economic policy, ergo not rich.

    The reality is, there are a lot of countries well below the 90 average IQ threshold estimated by Lynn and Vanhanen needed to build and sustain a technological economy. It’s probably more like 95. At any rate, lots of countries just won’t be able to reach this anytime in the foreseeable future if the IQ theory is right (and it is).

    Similarly, all the discussions you’re seeing now in the papers about why many Moroccans and Algerians are having a hard time climbing the ladder in France simply ignore this partial explanation, focusing only on discrimination or cultural differences. I don’t discount the effects of those two, but without IQ, it’s mostly moot anyway.

  29. WHAT WENT WRONG ?

    Muslims of the world are among the poorest of the poor by Dr Farrukh Saleem

    http://www.jang-group.com/thenew…ped/o6.htm

    The combined annual GDP of 57 Muslim countries remains under $2 trillion. America, just by herself, produces goods and services worth $10.4 trillion; China $5.7 trillion, Japan $3.5 trillion and Germany $2.1 trillion. Even India’s GDP is estimated at over $3 trillion (purchasing power parity basis).

    Oil rich Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Kuwait and Qatar collectively produce goods and services (mostly oil) worth $430 billion; Netherlands alone has a higher annual GDP while Buddhist Thailand produces goods and services worth $429 billion.

    Muslims are 22 percent of the world population and produce less than five percent of global GDP. Even more worrying is that the Muslim countries’ GDP as a percent of the global GDP is going down over time. The Arabs, it seems, are particularly worse off. According to the United Nations’ Arab Development Report: “Half of Arab women cannot read; One in five Arabs live on less than $2 per day; Only 1 percent of the Arab population has a personal computer, and only half of 1 percent use the Internet; Fifteen percent of the Arab workforce is unemployed, and this number could double by 2010; The average growth rate of the per capita income during the preceding 20 years in the Arab world was only one-half of 1 percent per annum, worse than anywhere but sub-Saharan Africa.”

    The planet’s poorest countries include Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Mozambique. At least six of the poorest of the poor are countries with a Muslim majority.

    Conclusion: Muslims of the world are among the poorest of the poor.

    Fifty-seven Muslim majority countries have an average of ten universities each for a total of less than 600 universities for 1.4 billion people; India has 8,407 universities, the U.S. has 5,758. From within 1.4 billion Muslims Abdus Salam and Ahmed Zewail are the only two Muslim men who won a Nobel Prize in physics and chemistry (Salam pursued his scientific work in Italy and the UK, Zewail at California Institute of Technology). Dr Salam in his home country is not even considered a Muslim.

    Over the past 105 years, 1.4 billion Muslims have produced eight Nobel Laureates while a mere 14 million Jews have produced 167 Nobel Laureates. Of the 1.4 billion Muslims less than 300,000 qualify as ‘scientists’, and that converts to a ratio of 230 scientists per one million Muslims. The United States of America has 1.1 million scientists (4,099 per million); Japan has 700,000 (5,095 per million).

    Fact: Of the 1.4 billion Muslims 800 million are illiterate (6 out of 10 Muslims cannot read). In Christendom, adult literacy rate stands at 78 percent.

    Consider, for instance, that Muslims constitute 22 percent of world population with a 1 percent share of Nobel Prizes. Jews constitute 0.23 percent of world population with a 22 percent share of Nobel Prizes.

    What really went wrong? Muslims are poor, illiterate and weak. What went wrong? Arriving at the right diagnosis is extremely critical because the prescription depends on it. Consider this:

    Diagnosis 1: Muslims are poor, illiterate and weak because they have ‘abandoned the divine heritage of Islam’. Prescription: We must return to our real or imagined past.

    Diagnosis 2: Muslims are poor, illiterate and weak because we have refused to change with time.

    I presume BG would throw in “low IQ” as diagnosis 3 :-)

  30. BG: you misunderstand me. The problem for me is definitional: if IQ is correlated to high GDP, yet IQ is in turn defined as that which leads to high GDP (or “the ability to learn and apply the skills needed to build and sustain a modern society” as you put it in an earlier comment), then I find there to be a circularity that is not adequately addressed. Especially since many of the proponents of IQ (perhaps not you based on your provisional definition) appear to ground this in the biological. Before one can analyze the correlation of IQ with anything one would need to come up with an adequate definition of what IQ is. To the extent this is asserted to be an objective measurement (akin to distance, or height), I submit that a socially constructed and culturally specific test is not sufficient. To the extent it is (as you provisionally offered) an indicator of the skills needed to adapt to a modern society, it is circular.

    I obviously see and acknowledge that we have foundational disagreements here– your insinuation that the IQ explanation is so self-evident that those refusing to accept it must be acting in bad faith or out of sheer dogma is unfair. Because my foundational criticism has not been addressed.

    [That is, an opponent of IQ would say that the proponents of IQ are no-less ideologically driven than the opponents-- in their refusal to acknowledge the social construct that purports to measure an intelligence quotient, in their refusal to acknowledge the history and origins of the single number purporting to size up people, not to mention that in general the notion of science as utterly divorced from ideological considerations is simply not borne out by history.]

  31. Well Mark, would you at least grant that the extraordinary achievements of Jews are in part due to biology, i.e. very high mean IQ (about 115 for Ashkenazim?). Many of my Jewish friends have intimated, in a semi-ashamed, semi-proud way that they believe this is true…and I agree!

    Umair, I don’t suppose we can have the whole “what is IQ” debate here, but IQ — or smarts, or g, or intelligence, or whatever you want to call it, appears to exist quite clearly, and to be somewhere between 40 and 80% hereditary. See Charles Murray’s recent Commentary essay for the details.

    That’s it from me — thanks for the discussion.

  32. Well Mark, would you at least grant that the extraordinary achievements of Jews are in part due to biology, i.e. very high mean IQ (about 115 for Ashkenazim?). Many of my Jewish friends have intimated, in a semi-ashamed, semi-proud way that they believe this is true…and I agree!

    Well the book you cited to claims that Israelis have an average IQ of 94, below even Americans?! Are there too many Sephardics in Israel? :) . Wasnt Derrida a Sephardic Jew, he wuz one smart mother! :)

    It also shows that East Germans had an average IQ 10 POINTS below West Germans; this sounds ridiculously unlikely (if IQ is principally based on genetics).

    I do not believe the Indian figure at all and would like to see who they tested and how they came up with a representative sample, etc.

    When India produces more patents than America in twenty years – as an article in the economist recently predicted – we’ll see if this argument is still being bandied about :)

    So I am, like Umair, skeptical.

    And yes, I realize this is waay off thread.

    But thanks for the interesting perpsective.

  33. OK, one last reply!

    Israel’s 94 is quite low. This can be explained by, yes, a lot of Sephardim compared to Ashkenazim, or perhaps the test included a non-trivial number of Arabs (Israel is 20% Arab), or maybe the test was an outlier. As Steve Sailer has noted, regional numbers are more reliable than individual country numbers (assuming the regional populations are ethnically similar).

    India is a special case, and the 81 mean IQ in the book should be regarded with some suspicion.

    Here is a good article about the future competitiveness of India and China.

    In contrast, Lynn and Vanhanen found four studies of Indian IQ that average out to only 81.

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that the variance in IQ is greater in India than in China. There may be more geniuses in India than in China but the average level of competence seems lower.

    However, putting together a nationally-representative sample is harder in India than anywhere else on Earth. The caste system, by discouraging intermarriage, has in effect subdivided the Indian people into an incredible number of micro-races. In India, according to Cavalli-Sforza, “The total number of endogamous communities today is around 43,000Â…”

    So I would keep an open mind on just what the IQ of India is. And, of course, better nutrition, health care, education, and more outbreeding could all work to raise it.

  34. This isn’t related to the IQ discussion but I think it’s about time you all got some first-hand exposure to exactly the kind of anti-Western fundie thinking that’s now become a bane of society here in the UK, and what people like myself, Punjabi Boy, and BongBreaker have repeatedly been referring to.

    This is an on-going thread from the BBC Asian Network discussion forum, which was set up in few years ago to enable British South Asians to discuss various social, cultural and political issues affecting the various desi groups here. In recent years, this forum has been hijacked and essentially turned into a vehicle for Islamist theological propaganda, along with virulently anti-Western sentiment:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbasiannetwork/F2219693?thread=1410081

    It is quite a long thread (although most of the messages are relatively brief), but it is a prime example of the kind of stupidity, ignorance and fanaticism which we’re having to deal with on this side of the Atlantic. There are a couple of posts by me too later on in the thread, for all the good it did me. If you have some spare time, please take a look at this. The most disturbing thing is that a number of the “regular” commentors there are making statements almost identical to those in that video by one of the 7/7 bombers, along with the other video released last year by the 2 British Muslims who later conducted a suicide mission in (I think) Israel.

    I would be grateful if Manish, Abhi, Ennis, and Saheli in particular would please take some time out to go through this thread — you guys really need to get an idea of the sheer bukwaas we have to face. Feedback from other Mutineers would also be greatly appreciated, of course.

    It’s taken a little while for my blood pressure to come back down (unfortunately I’m only semi-joking), but having come “back home” to Sepia Mutiny — and comparing it to the nature of the opinions posted on that thread — I have to say that SM really is a beacon of light. God bless you all ;)