Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ethnic Cleansing, Other Horrors, and the Racial IQ Controversy

In the discussion set off by my post on the Watson controversy, one person writes:

""It is never too much to remember how much ethnic cleansing was made in the past based on "scientific evidence" that some races were "not as intelligent as ours"...""

I think claims of this sort are often made, but I'm not sure there is any basis for them. Ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, so far as I can tell, had nothing to do with any scientific evidence, real or bogus, about the relative intelligence of races. In some cases the cleansers and their victims differed only in whether their ancestors had or had not converted to Islam in the distant past. In others, the justification offered for the cleansing was "it's historically our land, and they have taken it over by immigrating and having more babies than we did."

What about the Holocaust? I believe some Nazis made claims about Jewish inferiority of one sort or another. But the basis for their anti-semitism, so far as I can tell, was the idea that Jews were race enemies--in which case the more intelligent they were, the more dangerous. One can see that pretty clearly in Henry Ford's (less malevolent) version of anti-semitism. I don't know what justifications were offered for killing Gypsies, who were the other main "racial" target.

In the post-war period, I think the largest scale race killing has been the Hutu/Tutsi conflicts in southern Africa. It's hard to believe that any significant amount of it was motivated by evidence of IQ differences between the two groups.

If we move from killing to enslaving, the case becomes a little stronger. My impression is that one argument used against freeing black slaves was that they were less intelligent and so unable to run their lives themselves--although it's hard to see that as a plausible argument for enslaving them in the first place. But I thought the main justification offered--insofar as any was needed beyond the usefulness of slavery to slave owners--was biblical, the "sons of Ham" argument. And in any case, all of this predates the invention if IQ and scientific literature on it.

In the case of classical antiquity, slavery frequently involved slaves of the same ethnic stock as the slave owners. So although philosophers might make arguments about some sorts of people being natural slaves, it's hard to see how any such arguments could have explained the actual practices.

So here is my challenge: Can anyone offer an actual historical example of genocide, ethnic cleansing, or slavery where either the main reason for it, or the main justification offered, was scientific or pseudo-scientific evidence that the victims were, on average, less intelligent than the perpetrators?

39 Comments:

At 12:09 PM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Jonathan said...

Throughout human history until the 19th century, slavery was as far as I know widespread in the world and required no justification. Africans who enslaved other Africans were surely delighted to enslave anyone they were capable of enslaving, regardless of intelligence.

Europeans who went to Africa were not, again as far as I know, responsible for enslaving anyone. They landed on the coast and someone asked (across the language barrier), "Would you like to buy this bunch of fine, useful slaves?" Having no moral objections at the time, they probably haggled over the price and eventually accepted the deal.

I think it was a very simple commercial transaction and there's no need to look for complicated explanations.

 
At 12:54 PM, October 24, 2007, Blogger TAYLOR said...

Hi David,

In the ancient times, much slavery was a result of military conquest. I'm not sure why, exactly, ancient societies viewed this practice as "just," but it was very common throughout the world for the conquerers to enslave the conquered after a successful military campaign, most often executing the males and specifically enslaving women and children. (Specifically in Africa in the 19th century this was a common practice and the very reason slaves were so widely available for European traders to purchase, as Jonathan hinted at).

I do believe you're correct in your post that rarely, if ever, has relative intelligences been used as a "reason" for genocide/bloodshed.

Oh and prior to the Hutu/Tutsi conflict (which was rooted in class/political conflict hailing back several centuries) but still post-War was the Armenian genocide by the Turkish government. It's hard to consider any of those statistics comparable because these things are usually covered up to an extent, but they're probably comparable in terms of demographic and political impacts in the two countries.

 
At 2:21 PM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Sciencebzzt said...

I don't think there are any examples of 'hard data' being the reason for ethnic cleansing or any of that similar badness, its usually just superior technology or convenience, in the form of a group thats easily identifiable, (looks different, has different rituals or dress, or keeps separate from the rest of society); but even if all the cases of genocide and enslavement throughout history were based on some perceived inferiority evidenced by some type of hard data, does that matter? Is that a good reason to stop all research into human intelligence?

Do scientists and intellectuals have a responsibility to filter their theories or facts if the things they say might influence bad people to do bad things?

 
At 3:06 PM, October 24, 2007, Anonymous Tom Crispin said...

My recollection is that Tom Sowell's "Race and Culture" lists many examples of racial slaughter that run the other way. Peoples were killed, in part, because they were too smart or too clever, or because being smart or clever made them relatively more wealthy.

 
At 3:13 PM, October 24, 2007, Anonymous Arthur B. said...

Something related is somehow the opposite behavior, the Khmer Rouges executing everyone wearing glasses as potentially literate people.

 
At 5:20 PM, October 24, 2007, Blogger fling93 said...

Possibly the cries of the carrots?

 
At 5:21 PM, October 24, 2007, Blogger HispanicPundit said...

I do remember reading that Hitler thought it morally just to send Slavs to the camps because they were 'inferior' to Germans. Whether this meant IQ or not, I can't tell. But when I think of ethnic cleansing as far as it relates to IQ, I think of Hitler and his view of Eastern Europeans.

 
At 5:50 PM, October 24, 2007, Anonymous Another Dave said...

The past eugenics programs in the US could be considered a form of "soft" ethnic cleansing and scientific arguments were certainly used as the main justification. At least to some extent, these programs were motivated by the idea that certain races were genetically inferior in terms of intelligence and should thus be discouraged from reproducing.

 
At 8:37 PM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Alan said...

Horses, dogs and chickens could be said to be enslaved by humans, and I think the very common (and reasonable) belief that they are less intelligent than us helps most people justify that enslavement-- though I don't know about hard scientific data or whether it's been used this way.

 
At 2:15 AM, October 25, 2007, Anonymous Paulo said...

Nazi Germany was an example in which science was used to "prove" race superiority.

For example:

http://hgs.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/21/1/55


"In the early twentieth century, German natural scientists carried out sophisticated studies based on empirical research methods. The Nazis sought to situate their racism in this tradition. They were supported by many scientists, who thereby conferred legitimacy on Nazi racism..."


Of course that you will not find in the "world history" many examples of "scientific evidence" partly because science, as we know it, dates not that far back (1600's on?). So your challenge might not be very appropriate.


"I believe some Nazis made claims about Jewish inferiority of one sort or another. But the basis for their anti-semitism, so far as I can tell, was the idea that Jews were race enemies--in which case the more intelligent they were, the more dangerous."


Unless you think that phrases like "of lower value" or "microbes infecting German society" are an acknowledgement of "more intelligent" people, I stick with the superiority claim.

The Eugenics movement in the USA, as cited by one of the posters, is also an example in which "science" was used to try to prove some racial superiority of some kind.

Interesting books about the topic are:

War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race, by Edwin Black


and aslo Deadly Medicine, Creating he Master Race (they have anice website here)


There is also this very nice article exposing some of the myths about the infamous IQ-tests and the Bell curve.

For Alan, I'll quote Mortimer Adler's How to Think about the Great Ideas:

"But suppose that humans were superior to other animals only in degree, that humans were higher animals and other animals were lower animals. Then if humans being higher animals and other animals being lower justifies humans treating other animals as means, then by the same principle of justice if there are superior races of humans, they would be justified by that difference in degree in treating inferior races as things, exploiting them, enslaving them, even killing them. In fact, if man differs from man only in degree and from animal only in degree, then by the principles of justice we have no defense against Hitler's doctrine of superior and inferior races..."

this is not politically correct talk, this is Logics...

 
At 2:52 AM, October 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole argument is quite stupid. I have higher (140) IQ than most of the people I know. Am I a Nazi leader just because of telling it?

What is wrong is telling that having a higher IQ gives someone the right to enslave the others.

IQ doesn't make people human beings, just the same as beeing out of the limb.

 
At 2:59 AM, October 25, 2007, Blogger Crosbie Fitch said...

They may not have been aware of the scientific evidence, but homo sapiens vs homo neanderthalensis may have been a struggle won on the basis of intelligence.

In other words homo sapiens' greater aggression and superior cooperative ability on the battlefield outclassed the superior intelligence of the more insular neanderthal.

And thus today we enjoy an evolutionary adaptation to protect our community/species from any threat from a potentially superior minority.

If we can find the bastards.

 
At 3:37 AM, October 25, 2007, Anonymous Paulo said...

"The whole argument is quite stupid. I have higher (140) IQ than most of the people I know. Am I a Nazi leader just because of telling it?"

Anonymous, one of most basic rhetorical tricks is to create an imaginary enemy and defend yourself against it.

Since you have an IQ (whatever that means) of 140, I think you understand it...

 
At 11:24 AM, October 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is also this very nice article exposing some of the myths about the infamous IQ-tests and the Bell curve."

Dude... 'very nice' in what sense? Confirming your bias?

 
At 11:50 AM, October 25, 2007, Blogger David Friedman said...

Paulo writes:

"Nazi Germany was an example in which science was used to "prove" race superiority."

Your original claim, however, was:

"It is never too much to remember how much ethnic cleansing was made in the past based on "scientific evidence" that some races were "not as intelligent as ours"..."

I took it that "made based on" meant more than "that assertion among others was made by the people doing the ethnic cleansing." That's why I put my challenge in my later post as I did.

So I don't think you have yet provided support for your original claim. What reason do you have to believe that the Holocaust wouldn't have happened without that particular "scientific evidence?" Anti-semitism, after all, long predates both IQ tests and modern science. So does mass killing. And your claim ("how much") surely implied more than a single example.

I don't think the eugenics movement--in the U.S. and elsewhere--was based on the idea of racial superiority. So far as I know, nobody tried to sterilize people on racial grounds. The argument was about individual superiority/inferiority--that some people were inferior and so should not be permitted to reproduce. Hence the famous "three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Taylor mentions the Turkish/Armenian case. My Hutu/Tutsi point was specifically about post-war events, thus doesn't include that.

 
At 1:25 PM, October 25, 2007, Anonymous Paulo said...

"So I don't think you have yet provided support for your original claim"

Well, that might or might not be true (I still disagree with you in the sense that science was indeed used in Nazi Germany to prove race superiority).

I wish you would have the same standards regarding Watson's points...

As for the anonymous "dude", well, "buddy" "very nice", as IQ, seem to be subjective definitions...

 
At 1:30 PM, October 25, 2007, Anonymous Paulo said...

By the way, a very nice (yes "dude") article on Nature looking at the two sides of the story and confirming my previous point that Watson's remarks do more damage than good to science


http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v449/n7165/full/449948a.html

 
At 2:52 PM, October 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As for the anonymous "dude", well, "buddy" "very nice", as IQ, seem to be subjective definitions..."

How can a definition be subjective? A definition is just that: a definition.

IQ is defined as the outcome of an IQ test. To claim triumphantly that all IQ measures is the outcome of an IQ test, is greedy reductionism. You might just aswell claim that all a ruler measures is the location of two marks on a ruler. No, our experiences tell us it has implications beyond that.

 
At 6:57 AM, October 26, 2007, Anonymous sportember said...

The calculation of IQ has some hidden information about the nature of intelligence. Classically it is said, that IQ is one's mental age divided by one's biological age multiplied by 100. So when a three years old acts like a four years old, she has an IQ of 133. The normal for mental age is defined by an average, say, how 90 of 100 four years old child act, that is defined as IQ 100 for four years olds. The actual "official" numbers may differ from mine, the point is the method, not the data.

I see two reasons why a three years old may act like other four year olds. Maybe she is living in love, understanded well, and has an existential background making it possible for her to develop optimally. This is great, and we don't have to deal more with this kind of intelligence.

The other possible reason why a three years old acts like other four years olds is that she is misunderstood, traumatized, and has to act like olders to survive. For example when a small child is hungry, and therefore cries, and she is misunderstood and taken to a doctor instead of being fed, than she has to develop higher communication skills faster, or she dies. However, this kind of forced development inspired by traumatization has major drawbacks on other sides of the personality.

Such personalities may develop shyness, depression, mania, and other serious personald disorders beside their intelligence. And some of them develop a cruel nature.

It is in the common sense, that some of the German nazis of WWII, leaders and "scientists", had quite high intelligence. I'm pretty sure, that those people were of this last kind of early traumatized personalities. Their intelligence was not the basis of their cruelty, instead both their cruelty and intelligence was the effect of their serious traumatization that happend prolonged early in their lifetime.

I also has to mention, that personality disorders - depression, mania, shyness and cruelty - can be turned into personality advantages, although it's a long and hard work. There are different, tried and working methodologies for that: ancients had faith, eastern cultures has meditation, martial arts and such things, and modern western culture offers psychotherapy and such. All these methodologies transform the personality in a way mostly desired both by the individual and society.

Who has eyes to read, should understand.

 
At 11:14 PM, October 26, 2007, Anonymous William H. Stoddard said...

Classically it is said, that IQ is one's mental age divided by one's biological age multiplied by 100. So when a three years old acts like a four years old, she has an IQ of 133.

Classically, yes, that was true, back in the days of Binet. But that concept of IQ has not been in use for quite a few decades; it survives only in handwaving popularizations. IQ is the measure of how many standard deviations you are above or below the arithmetic mean score on the first or "general" factor extracted for the statistical variation of a bunch of tests of things related to cognition. If, for example, you have an IQ of 133, you're about two and a bit standard deviations out, which puts you, I believe, in the top 2.5% of the population. But that doesn't translate to your being cognitively the equal of someone some specified number of years older. For one thing, because human cognitive capacity stops increasing in late adolescence (as opposed to knowledge, which keeps growing), you can't meaningfully say that an 18-year-old with IQ 133 has the abilities of a 24-year-old, and still less that a 57-year-old like me has the cognitive abilities of a 76-year-old. And most of the debate over racial IQ differences seems to be about adult intelligence.

The whole statistical machinery involved, called factor analysis (it's actually based on finding the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a matrix, which makes it applied linear algebra), was in fact mostly worked out by the second generation of IQ researchers, as a by-product of trying to pin down the elusive idea of "general intelligence."

 
At 7:18 PM, October 27, 2007, Anonymous scientist said...

"IQ is defined as the outcome of an IQ test. To claim triumphantly that all IQ measures is the outcome of an IQ test, is greedy reductionism. You might just aswell claim that all a ruler measures is the location of two marks on a ruler. No, our experiences tell us it has implications beyond that."

The issue, however, is what those implications are and what they mean. This is an area that is not clear at all.

 
At 4:43 PM, October 28, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The issue, however, is what those implications are and what they mean. This is an area that is not clear at all."

To you perhaps: the rabbid nurturist has multiple lines of defence, this being one of them. If a person does not acknowledge IQ test have any meaning whatsoever, discussing their implications with them is pretty pointless.

 
At 3:38 AM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Paulo said...

As another example of how "science" can be used to mass murder, I point the readers to Paul Johnson's Moder Times. In the very first chapter, he writes:


"Far from formulating his theories with a high degree of specific content which invited empirical testing and refutation, Freud made them all-embracing and difficult to test at all. And, like Marx's followers,, when evidence did turn up which appeared to refute them, he modified the theories to accommodate it"

"Freud betrayed signs, in fact, of the twentieth-century messianic ideologue at his worst - namely, a persistent tendency to regard those who diverged from him as themselves unstable and in need of treatment..."

"...'My inclination', he wrote to Jung just before their break, 'is to treat those colleagues who offer resistance exactly as we treat patients in the same situation'. Two decades later, the notion of regarding dissent as a form of mental sickness, suitable to compulsory hospitalization, was to blossom in the Soviet Union into a new form of political repression" .

 
At 10:25 AM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

Mr. Friedman's challenge, as I find it, is still not met with adequate proof. He is right to say it is far from obvious, contrary to what pundits claim.

I think I remember though, without being able to tell where I took that, that Nazi "scientists" did try to prove the supremacy of the Aryans by taking measurements of the heads of various "races", and comparing them with each other. Still, that does not explain the Holocaust in terms of superiority of intelligence.

Again from memory, I think that another of the claims of the Nazis concerning the superiority of the Aryans were their "conquest" of the ancient world. The Nazis used a theory of the dispersal of the Indo-Europeans (based on the Vedas) that was already obsolete in their time to show that the Aryans were "superior" to the people they conquered. I don't remember that "superior" was explicitly defined as "with higher intelligence", but I think it was pretty clearly implied.

In that sense, then, and with all the disclaimers I put to it, one can see the Holocaust as at least partly based on a claim of intelligence superiority.

Just my two cents...

 
At 3:47 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about Manifest Destiny (and the related European idea of the White Man's Burden)? Both concepts were rooted in the idea of White superiority to the various non-white indigenous people of the world. While such ideas might not have been the basis for a dedicated Genocide, they were the basis for all kinds of horrible behavior including slavery or indenturehood, murder, theft of land and resources and that particular crime that people now call "Cultural genocide."

What do you think?

 
At 4:19 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous scientist said...

"To you perhaps: the rabbid nurturist has multiple lines of defence, this being one of them. If a person does not acknowledge IQ test have any meaning whatsoever, discussing their implications with them is pretty pointless."

Ahhhh, but I never said it has no meaning whatsoever - obviously it does. The question is what meaning does it have? That part isn't obvious.

 
At 9:45 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


scientist said...

"To you perhaps: the rabbid nurturist has multiple lines of defence, this being one of them. If a person does not acknowledge IQ test have any meaning whatsoever, discussing their implications with them is pretty pointless."

Ahhhh, but I never said it has no meaning whatsoever - obviously it does. The question is what meaning does it have? That part isn't obvious.

4:19 PM, October 29, 2007


Yes, of course, IQ test results have meaning. Rushton proved quite nicely that IQ tests measure penis length. For those who might say that this [mis]characterization of Rushton's work is defamatory: it is impossible to defame Rusthton.

 
At 11:37 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous tobbic said...

I'd say pseudo-scientific evidence or scientifically unjustified beliefs for greater intelligence formed a part of the justification for:
1) Nazi Germany genocide (race superiority)
2) Enslavement of Africans (justification for its continuation)

It seems there's no time where actual scientific evidence was used to justify genocide/slavery.. I think what the ppl trying to warn of classifying groups of people by intelligence measure such as IQ are afraid of is that scientific evidence offers a more robust basis for oppression (and might lead to even more horrendous results than in the past). So, even if it (racial/group differences in intelligence) were true, no such result is desirable.

How do we react in individual level when someone is has a lesser cognitive abilities? I'd say we give them extra aid and understanding. This is far from any systematic oppression. (However, I come from the social democracies of Northern Europe which might give me a biased view.)

 
At 7:00 AM, October 30, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

I agree with you Tobbic: when someone wanted to do atrocities, they didn't bother with ACTUAL evidence: they MADE UP some.

Whether it was the obsolete theories of Indo-European dispersal or the "scientific" communisme of Lenin, real science was not at all implied.

It may be different with democracy, though. Given the (more or less) free market of ideas in their midst, perhaps they need the imprematur of actual scientific institutions to carry their mischiefs. So that could be why one reacts so strongly when it comes from real science and not so strongly when it comes from cranks.

 
At 9:26 AM, October 30, 2007, Blogger montestruc said...

jonathan --

I can agree that in the vast majority of cases Africans were enslaved by other Africans.

However to assert that Europeans who went to Africa for the explicit purpose of buying slaves for sale in the new world are "not responsible for enslaving anyone" is about as big of a streach as I can imagine.

That is like you hiring me to murder someone, then claiming you are not guilty of murder.

I will agree that degrees of guilt exist, but to assert that the people who brought the trade goods to Africa to pay for the slaves and took them from Africa to the Americas and sold them (most to places that would work them to death in a few years)are not responsible is absurd.

If anything the money men that financed this are far more responsible than most of the end users or the slave catchers employed by African slave dealers.

One of the most responsible persons for the slave trade is King James, who invested hevily in the trade and had chattle slavery legalized in British possessions in the New World.

 
At 2:57 PM, October 30, 2007, Anonymous Paulo said...

"However to assert that Europeans who went to Africa for the explicit purpose of buying slaves for sale in the new world are "not responsible for enslaving anyone" is about as big of a streach as I can imagine."


A confused African of that time who thought just like James Watson would say:

"Europeans who come here and buy our slaves assume that their intelligence is the same as ours, while all our data show it is not"...


By the way, of course "real science" was never used to mass murder or ethnic cleansing. But pseudo-science and pseudo-scientists did. Nazy germany and Freudian Soviets are two examples.

Watson's comments, NOT being based on science, do not deserve to be categorized as such.

And one should be held accountable by ones opinions, whether one is a Nobel laureate or not.

All in all, I think it was a nice publicity stunt for his retirement. As John Milton's last words in Devil's Advocate:

- Vanity is definetly my favorite sin

 
At 7:37 AM, October 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"when someone wanted to do atrocities, they didn't bother with ACTUAL evidence: they MADE UP some."

And if it's obviously ridiculous to claim that a certain group is stupid, then you can alternatively claim that they're dangerous because they're smart and efficient - e.g., that Jews somehow controlled everything.

Even with American blacks, when racists encountered one that was obviously hard-working and intelligent, then he was "uppity", and likely to be lynched first. Under slavery and Jim Crow alike, blacks learned to act stupid, inefficient, and sometimes lazy, because it was safer than the "uppity" label. They seem to have trouble unlearning that lesson now...

markm

 
At 9:13 PM, October 31, 2007, Anonymous tggp said...

Gene Expression has a long and detailed post on the science and politics of Watson's gaffe here.

This is translated from German, but it discusses what the Nazis thought of IQ testing.

 
At 7:35 AM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Patrick R. Sullivan said...

Off topic, but Anna J Schwartz and Edward Nelson have just throttled Paul Krugman over his disingenuous treatment of David's father last Spring in the New York Review of Books.

They conclude with:

Paul Krugman is a respected trade theorist. But he does not speak authoritatively on
subjects on which he has no expertise. Monetary economics is not his field of expertise.
Krugman’s research background does not qualify him as an authority on Milton Friedman’s
work. Krugman’s scholarly publications rarely mentioned Friedman and, when they did, they
acknowledged the contributions of Friedman and monetarism in a way that contradicts his
(2007a) essay on Friedman. Friedman’s reputation is intact despite Krugman’s deplorable
efforts to denigrate him and his contributions.

 
At 9:58 AM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Unnr said...

Excuse the bandwidth, but I think this is important.

I read through the link tggp provided. It does not address any of the issues about the relationship between one gene and another.

The original comments as posted there _are_ outside of what can be argued on a genetic basis, really only applying to a correlation between CURRENT scores on a test (validity asside, the test could be perfect and the statemtn woudl still not say anything about genes at all) and an arbitrary categorization based on GEOGRAPHY AND VISIBLE FEATURES.

So his genetic experience is a non-sequiter.

Hoping I get to shut up now & continuing to point out that I am not an expert,
-Unnr

 
At 8:40 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Mike Hammock said...

I could not help but think of this blog entry when I read
this.

 
At 3:17 PM, November 05, 2007, Blogger David Friedman said...

Unnr writes:

"It does not address any of the issues about the relationship between one gene and another."

So far as I know, none of the arguments on this subject has anything to do with a relationship between the genes, merely with a correlation in gene frequency.

There are correlations that come from an actual relation among the genes--between resistance to malaria and sickle cell anemia, for instance.

But arguments about racial IQ, at least the ones I have seen, don't claim that a gene for black skin makes you stupid, merely that the people who have black skin (in most contexts limited to either sub-saharan Africans or those descended fairly recently from them)also have, on average, other genes that result in a lower IQ.

That might be true or not, but it doesn't depend on any relationship among the genes. The obvious explanation if it is true is that the correlated characteristics are due to (different) adaptations to the same environment.

Thus, to take a reasonably non-controversial version, the sickle cell gene and dark skin are two different adaptations to a sub-saharan environment, hence it isn't surprising that they correlate.

 
At 9:21 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

"How about Manifest Destiny (and the related European idea of the White Man's Burden)? Both concepts were rooted in the idea of White superiority to the various non-white indigenous people of the world."

I believe the term "White Man's Burden" was coined by Kipling. The poem with that title makes it pretty clear that the superiority he is describing is cultural, not genetic, since the argument is that it's the white man's job to bring other people's to the light--i.e. educate them in the direction of the superior modern, European civilization.

And, of course, it's clear if one reads Kipling that he didn't believe in any innate superiority of the British or of Europeans. In Kim, the attractive characters are mostly non-European, the English largely portrayed as people who don't understand those they rule. And in two of his historical short stories, the British are the colonized, the colonizers being the Romans.

[I'm adding this comment long after the original thread because I noticed the "White Man's Burden" comment.]

 
At 2:24 PM, March 26, 2011, Blogger Ed said...

The killings of disabled people in Nazi Germany has been called a genocide by some (e.g. Donald Niewyk and Francis Nicosia). Does that not count?

 

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