Speech for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, 2006
January 16, 2006

[Note: I did submit this to the Huron Valley Martin Luther King Day Committee, but I did not have an opportunity to actually deliver the following speech. Interestingly, about 30 miles down the Huron River, in Ann Arbor, the theme of the University of Michigan's MLK celebration was "a time to break silence." Yeah, right. Like they've ever stopped their yakking.]

George Orwell gave us the concept of "doublthink." That's when you hold two contradictory ideas in your mind and believe in both of them at the same time. In the dystopian society described in his book 1984, "doublethink" was considered a virtue.

It is considered a virtue in our own society. We are supposed to believe that "diversity is our strength" and, at the same time, that there are no essential differences, other than physical appearance, between racial groups.

I believe that racial differences are real. Going along with obvious physical differences are statistical differences. For example, physically, the natives of Kenya do not look anything at all like the natives of Iceland. Statistically, the Kenyans are faster runners. That does not mean that Icelanders can't run. That does not mean that every Kenyan is faster than every Icelander. It means that the Kenyans are, on the average, faster than the Icelanders.

There are similar differences in academic skills and academic potential between black people and white people here in America. In any occupation or program of education that requires exceptional academic skill or potential, black Americans will be noticably "underrepresented." Non-Jewish white people will be slightly "underrepresented." Jews and East Asians will be "overrepresented."

Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he had a dream. Well, so did Samuel Taylor Collerige, but, guess what? We are not living in Xanadu. We are living in a real world where real differences have real consequences. If we try to pretend those differences away, we end up hurting people who have done nothing wrong.

Any time we see statistical differences, we can wonder if they are caused by heredity or environment. But when we, as a society, have been doing just about everything imaginable to alter environmental factors and we still see profound statistical differences, then we have to admit, maybe we are looking at hereditary differences. Maybe "white racism" isn't the real problem. Maybe all these "gaps" we are supposed to feel guilty about cannot be remedied. Maybe the underlying issue is not 400 years of slavery or even 40 years of welfare state liberalism, but rather 40,000 years of evolution.

Intellectual diversity, which I truly believe in, is all about differences of opinion, so I thank the Diversity Committee for letting me offer these contrarian thoughts to you, and I thank all of you for listening.

 
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