Why We Do Have Statues of St. Peter in the Church

Yesterday we talked about why we don’t have statues of Judas Iscariot in Church–and why statues of Confederate soldiers need to be torn down for the same reason.

Serendipitously, a reader writes in reply:

I agree with you about the Confederacy and some statues. I’ve always been a bit of an iconoclast anyway. Unfortunately, our “woke” culture won’t stop with statues. They want to topple historical landmarks. They want to rename streets and cities and states. Do you have any suggestions in mind for your state of Washington? Get ready for it. It may be just a symbolic war but it’s one that will further divide the nation. We Americans love our monuments.

Funny you should ask. Because today I want to discuss why we do have statues of Peter and other sinners in Churches–and why I think statues of certain morally ambiguous figures from our past are worth keeping and honoring in our public squares.

Peter’s sin should not be whitewashed. After specifically promising the one he loved most in the world that he would never deny him even if everybody else did and declaring that he was ready to follow him to death, the Big Fisherman famously denied him three times. One of his denials was to a serving maid, a young girl. He denied him within sight–and very possibly earshot–of the trial where Jesus was condemned to death. We know he was within sight because when the cock crowed Jesus turned and looked at Peter and it killed Peter with shame. It is *the* defining trauma of Peter’s life. Moreover, it is a trauma and betrayal that neither he nor the entire Church would ever be permitted to forget–and that by his own preaching.

It’s remarkable when you think about it. All four gospels go out of their way to preserve the memory of the cowardice of the apostles, but while most of them get off with the quick summary that they all abandoned him, the details of the story of Peter’s betrayal are etched in acid in a way that makes clear that his betrayal, clearly the memories of the trauma victim himself, become part of the Church’s patrimony in a unique way. Peter’s betrayal of Jesus is preserved in the way that the eyewitness to a murder keeps seeing the murder over and over in his memory. There is a clarity and unanimity of detail to it in the four gospels that makes plain that what we are reading is not a story told about Peter by others, but a story told by Peter, again and again and again, that the Church remembers him telling.

That matters, because Peter is the Rock the Church is founded on. But the Church does not remember him in a golden haze of perfection. She is not permitted to, by Peter himself. The gospels are not a Soviet whitewash in which the imperfections of the Dear Leader are airbrushed out. And indeed, John 21 will triple underscore Peter’s shameful behavior by recording the exchange between Peter and the Risen Jesus where the Lord asks him three times “Do you love me?” The point is clear enough: the forgiven Peter is given a penance in which he affirms three times what he denied three times. And he is given not only full pardon, but a mission: “Feed my sheep”. The sin is placed firmly in the past and he is given a future. But the sin is remembered, lest we forget that we are saved by grace and not by our own awesomeness.

In short, precisely why Peter is our first and archetypal pope is to remind us of the fact of our sinful weakness–and of the fact that Christ will forgive any sin, even the sin of abandoning him to crucifixion. Peter is therefore held up to us as an icon and model, not in spite of, but because of, his sins–and because of the still greater mercy of Christ that forgives and redeems him. If he can be forgiven, so can you and I. If he can find redemption and purpose, so can you and I As Chesterton remarks:

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”

Which brings us back to the issue of non-sacred statues.

Statues, as we mentioned yesterday, are one of the ways a civilization declares that someone or something is worthy of being honored. As my reader above notes, there are those arguing for something more or less like a general iconoclasm since it is mighty hard to find any historical figure without sins. In addition to calls for tearing down statues of slaveowners like Washington or Jefferson, there have been pushes in Britain to tear down statues of Gandhi (who voiced bigoted sentiments toward Africans) and Churchill (whose record with respect to colonial subjects–including Gandhi ironically–is, shall we say, not spotless). We can go on and on with this, of course. In the words of Shakespeare (whose unpleasant portrayal of Shylock the moneylender is disquieting in a post-Holocaust world), “Use every man after his desert and who shall ‘scape whipping?” If we are to honor only the sinless, then get used to a world filled only with statues of Jesus and Mary. And then expect protests because the people who carved them were sinners unworthy to do so.

Now I don’t think really think that the problem is some sort of imminent iconoclast movement. I disagree with my reader that the demands to tear down and eliminate all references to Washington et al are likely to gain much traction. Rather, I think the breathless panic in bulletins like this…

Far left extremists tore down the historic statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond tonight. They set the statue on fire and threw it in the lake in Byrd Park.

How much longer will the people of Virginia tolerate an extreme minority of far left radicals destroying our State’s public monuments and historical sites?

Image may contain: outdoor
In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
In the year of our Lord Two Thousand Twenty
Columbus drank from Lake Byrd plenty. – Mark Shea, Poet Laureate of Stumbling Toward Heaven

…are largely the hyperventilation of white conservative bullies who perpetually feel themselves to be victims and who are much more worried about some iron slag than they are about the denied screams for justice that have been silenced for 400 years. If a couple of statues wind up in the drink in all the hubbub of seeing to it that that systemic racism of police departments across the US cannot abuse and murder people with impunity, then that’s fine with me. We can fish Columbus out of the lake if need be and he’ll be fine. It just a hunk of metal after all. We’ll never be able get Breonna Taylor or George Floyd back.

Ah! But should we fish ol’ Chris out of the drink? Or to put it more simply, given that sinners are the only kinds of human we can honor as a general rule (especially in the public square as distinct from St. Peter’s Square) what sort of sinners should we honor and which ones can get along without a statue in their honor?

Let’s return for a moment to the question of Confederate statues. As I argued yesterday, the reason they should not be honored is that the entire raison d’etre of the Confederacy was, root and branch, devoted to the preservation of slavery and to the doctrine of white supremacy.

That’s not me talking. That’s Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. 

Pay very close attention to the first ten words of that paragraph. What precisely is Stephens opposing here?

He is opposing the great founding document of the American Revolution and its creedal claim:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Confederacy, with malice aforethought and clear eyes, set out to deny with blood and violence that claim and to assert the direct opposite: that whites were the Master Race and that they had the perfect right to subject black human beings to slavery, degradation, and murder whenever and however they pleased. That and no other was the reason the Confederacy existed. It was not a good thing with some flaws. It was a bad thing with no redeeming value.

Now here’s the thing: the author of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson, Virginia statesman, Sage, Natural Historian, Third President, Passionate Advocate of Equality–and Slaveowning Hypocrite. So should we tear down his statues too?

I would argue not. Not because his sinful hypocrisy was not gravely evil, but because what is being honored by the statue is not the slave-owning or the hypocrisy, but the fact that the overall trajectory of his life was a drive toward, not away from, the advancement of human dignity and the common good. In short, Jefferson–given where he started and what he was handed by the structures of sin into which he was born–advanced the ball down the field in the right direction. He did not do so sinlessly any more than St. Peter did. But he tried, on the whole, to move in the right direction. That is worthy of honor. And one of the measures of that is precisely that the Confederacy, which is worthy of nothing but contempt, gauged its own goals precisely by their defiance to Jefferson.

“How far did he advance the ball down the field?” seems to me to be a very good way of looking at figures born in times and cultures very different from our own. It is easy to see where our ancestors erred. And the easier it is, the harder it often is to see where we err. The wise thing is to see both where they erred and where they were wise. The biblical tradition does this, both commanding us to “Honor your father and your mother” but also warning Israel of the fact that “we have sinned like our fathers”. Indeed, Old Testament literature is unique in antiquity by the excoriating stance it takes toward the “sins of the fathers.”

So scripture, for instance conserves both praise for biblical figures who “advanced the ball down the field” while in no way pretending they were sinless. All you have to do is read the stories of the patriarchs–Abraham the coward, Jacob the liar, Moses the murderer, the horror show of Israel under the Judges, David the adulterer and murderer and on and on–and you see the story of a people whose only boast is that God keeps saving them no matter how often they fail. And yet those figures are not simply sinners. That is not all they are. And so scripture does not indulge in the single most odious moral habit of the Righteous these days. It does not “cancel” them, focusing on some sin of theirs and writing off everything else they ever did. At the heart of the biblical narrative is the desire for (and promise of) redemption.

Which brings us back to statuary. There are different ways redemption can happen, and our attempts can have varying mileage since the meaning of such attempts can vary with different ages. Case in point: Christopher Columbus.

Here is a snapshot of American bigotry c 1888:

No photo description available.

A century and a half ago and well into the 20th century, the MAGA morons who now hate Latinos as foreign invaders were spending their white rage on Italians instead. They were brown. They were papists. They spoke a funny language. They were taking our jobs. They were bringing drugs known as “alcohol”. They were bringing crime know as the Mob. The usual argle-bargle of American nativism spoken by the usual American bigots who now constitute the backbone of our current Racist-in-Chief’s base.

Meanwhile, decent Americans who opposed this nativist bigotry were trying to figure out ways to welcome Italian immigrants as they are trying to figure out ways to welcome Latino immigrants today. They sought some point of commonality by which Italians could claim a toehold in an American tradition chockablock with English, Dutch, French, and related northern Europeans, but pretty sparse on Schiaparellis at Plymouth Rock or or DiNunzios at the signing of the Declaration, Yorktown, or Independence Hall.

Solution: Christopher Columbus! And so, suddenly in the late 19th century, Columbus Day, and the Knights of Columbus and Columbus statues busted out everywhere.

And it worked so well that now the white MAGA morons cheering for caging Honduran kids are shrieking that the “liberals” (who set up the statues to fight the anti-Italian bigotry of MAGA morons a century ago) are “attacking America”.

(It is a curious fact all it takes to make MAGA morons venerate the work of liberals is to do that work before they were born.)

The point is that the original purpose of the Columbus statues was not really about Columbus, but about welcoming Italian immigrants in a time when bigotry was directed against them.

So why the hostility to them now? And is it justified? To answer that, we need to look at the way in which the Universe of Discourse in the United States has widened since those statues went up. Because now questions are being asked that never occurred to the people who erected them in good faith and out of an honorable desire to welcome Italians to our shores.

And thereby hangs a tale. Of which more tomorrow.


56 Responses

  1. All great points. I’m glad you pointed out the fact that Columbus Day had less to do with honoring the explorer than it did finding a way to apologize and welcome Italian Americans. If the time has come to nix Columbus, I’m not going to squawk about it, but let’s not rob our Italian American brothers and sisters their appreciation day. So the question then becomes: Who replaces Columbus?

    Frank Sinatra has his own moral failings that people will squawk about. Same with the Cuomos, the Travoltas, Guiliani, and Stallone. I suspect even Francis Ford Coppola might have a skeleton or two in his closet. And I’ll become Canadian before I celebrate Jon Bon Jovi Day.

    How about Frank Frazetta Day? In the parade, everyone must dress as Conan or Tarzan.

    Or John Romita Day? Everyone dresses as Marvel super heroes.

    Personally, my top pick would be Arthur Fonzarelli Day. The fact that the Fonz still doesn’t have his own holiday ain’t cool.

  2. Columbus intended to bring war, slavery, and conquest to the new world. His only redeeming qualities appear to be that he was a great sailor and a great salesman – since he convinced wealthy investors to fund his voyage of exploration. It should be obvious that his sins drastically outweigh his redeeming qualities.
    (BTW, I don’t take seriously those who claim Columbus was stupid because he underestimated the size of the Earth. It’s more likely that he knew better, but *said* the Earth was smaller to better sell his chances of success to investors and crew. He kept two logs during his voyage: an accurate one, which he kept hidden, and another in which he deliberately shorted the distance covered so that the crew wouldn’t be afraid.)

    1. So what were Columbus’s thoughts?
      “It will take us one and a half years to cross the great ocean between Europe and India but we’ll pretend that having four months of supplies will be enough.”
      Columbus was not the first one to come up with the idea that Earth is smaller than it actually is. He followed the writings of Marinus of Tyre. Next, he believed that the Eurasian landmass occupied a much greater extent than it actually does.

  3. Everyone knew that Italians were white. I’m sure there was some bigotry concerning them, but there is a difference between Italian and Guatemalan immigrants today. I doubt Italians had a murder rate ten times that of the US in 1900 or that they had an illegitimacy rate approaching 70% as Guatemalans do.

    1. Quite the contrary, Italians were not known to be white, except, perhaps, Among themselves.

      Like most of south and central America, Guatemala was a veritable stew pot of exploitation for nearly 400 years. That is why most of the countries are corrupt, and most are barely functional. Our country is as guilty as of explode in south and central America as were the Spanish and everyone else who colonialized them.

      1. Immigration laws considered Italians whites.

        I feel sorry for the problems of South America and some of their problems have to do with the US (the war on drugs, among other things). But the problems these people have are fairly ingrained and don’t seem to go away when they come to the USA.

      2. Are you trying to say that they’re not sending us our best, but sending us murderers and rapists? Because that’s what it sounds like you’re saying. Personally, I have no problem with immigration, as long as the people that immigrated here are willing to work and live in peace with their neighbors. If they’re not, I’m happy to send them back. Unfortunately, some of the people that are born here, white people, seem to be intent on bringing their problems into the general society. white people who are not willing to work. White people who have their guns and want to threaten other people with them.

        Maybe our concerns should be about bad people, rather than where the bad people are good people come from

      3. My point is that El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico are high crime countries. It’s inevitable that allowing immigration from these countries will increase crime. Somalis bring Islam, which is a big problem for a civilized society.

        Life is to a large extent a question of averages.

      4. Spain did not colonize America per se. They incorporated the conquered lands into Spain. New World Spanish possessions *were* Spain. This is of utmost importance, because it meant that Native Americans were treated as Spanish subjects and were officially protected by Spain.
        That is *not* to say that there were no atrocities committed by Spain, but it did mean that their treatment of natives was on a whole different level than colonial powers.

        A lot of the problems in Central and South America arose during the Cold War when USA did not want Soviet Union to establish a foothold in America’s backyard. Latin America had a choice between allying with North Americans or the Soviets, and neither option was a true partnership.

    2. But with the issue of race realism, you do get a lot of big name thinkers (Arthur Jensen, David Reich, Charles Murray, Richard Haier, etc) who are widely respect by those who disagree with them.

      If the evolutionary story is correct, you’d expect at least a moderate genetic component to various IQ gaps. Just about everyone believes that the high IQ of Ashkenazi Jews is hard to explain on purely cultural grounds

      1. Oh, my.

        Let’s do a thought experiment. Let us suppose for just a moment thAt actual race – based disparities exist between the various white, black, brown, and yellow races. We won’t go into how you defined race, or how you defined the race based Disparities. Will just say that whatever “ curves“ that you are using and wish to apply to prove the “disparities“ only overlap, and don’t coincide. for the record, I think it’s nonsense, but will make the assumption just for the sake of argument.

        Exactly what is your proposal to do about it? Do we take the portion of black people Whose curves fall below white people whose position on the curve is well below that of other white people- do we take them out and shoot them for being inferior? Do we enslave them? Do we develop a caste system? And likewise, what do we do about the white people who fall well below the curves of the majority of white people? What do we do about the white people who fall well below the curves of the black people who are superior to them? and what do we do with the Chinese people whose curves fall well above those of the white people who fall well below them? Shirley, you were not arguing that Chinese and Indians make for a better Drs. than white people do, even though They seem to be represented in those fields for more than white people, and with far greater renown.

        I don’t think I’ve read the authors you have cited, though I might have. But I am willing to bet that while they are trying to prove that the superior white people are superior not because of culture, but because of genetics, I am just as sure that they are ignoring that what we think affects our brains. This is well known in all kinds of fields, not just psychology, but linguistics, for example. Being able to use words and concepts gave us an evolutionary advantage over even our closest relatives.

        I think there is a case to be made that centuries of disadvantagement and oppression Have slightly rewired the brains of some black people, just like it appears to have rewired the brains of white people in Appalachia. Did I say something horrible about white people as a class? Sorry about that. I hate to make generalized statements about the inferiority of all classes of people based upon my own prejudices.

        I’m not the person to make that argument however, because it’s not my field of study. But I know, having studied psychology and sociology to the point of two masters degrees, that what we think affects who we are in the world. And that can be passed down to our children and their children, making it appear that there is a genetic difference when in fact is simply a sociological, cultural, anthropological, and psychological difference that has been passed down. Not through genetics, but through basic sociology and psychology.

      2. @Ben We’re compelled to speak in terms of race because racialist ideology has had profound, prolonged effects in reality and is recognized in law, but as you’ve acknowledged there’s no such thing as race.

        The question arises why so many racists, neo-Nazis, authoritarians, and sundry bigots are attracted to the Catholic blogosphere. What is it about the One True Church they find so alluring? A rhetorical question.

      3. @ Neko

        First, I agree. The obsession with race over much of the history of the western world, but especially America, has had and continues to have a profound effect on how we think.

        I don’t think the problem lies so much with the question of why these people are so attracted to the Catholic blogosphere. As I have often pointed out, not all bigotry is hate. So much of it is simply despite. “You are lower on my imaginary totem pole than I am. Therefore I am better than you. Therefore I can do whatever I want to you, and it will be justified because I am better than you. And if I can get the law to agree with me, so much the better. And if I can use hermeneutics to make the Bible say That God says that I am better than you, then it really is a lot better. Practically divine!“

        It is worth noting, but hardly news, that the south is overwhelmingly protestant. The KKK hated Catholics and Jews just as much as they hated Negroes. Now they hate gay people. So it really isn’t a question of Catholicism.

        But it might possibly be a question of Christianity and its foundational principles, which posits that there are two classes of people: those who are saved and going to heaven, and everyone else. Jew hatred fit quite nicely into that for 1900 years, as Christianity told itself that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, even though the death of Jesus was the whole plan all the way along, and it wasn’t the Jews, it was the Romans. When did the text of the Bible ever deter anyone from being the kind of as shole they already were? It merely justified the assholery.

        As far as black people are concerned, that Christian foundational principle fit quite nicely into the slave trade.“ We’re going to save those darkies from themselves, and give them the benefits of Christianity. Look at how good we are.” I came of age in Hawaii. Even a casual reading of Hawaiian history, rather than a polemical view of Hawaiian history, shows the same mental gymnastics to justify the theft of Hawaii from native Hawaiians. The “revolutionaries” Weren’t Hawaiian, thPugh many of them were Hawaiian citizens of American extraction. They were also the children and grandchildren of the missionaries who came to Hawaii to save the Hawaiians from themselves. The old Joke goes thusly. In the beginning, the Hawaiians had the land in the missionaries had the Bible. In the end, the missionaries had the land and the Hawaiians had the Bible.

        A shorter version is what I’ve also said many times. God is what some people used to justify what cannot be justified by any other means. If I have time a little later, I’m going to take Mr. Cavanaugh’s assertions and put them into the context of gay people.

      4. If the differences in intelligence are entirely cultural and some groups don’t do well, then the claim is always “racism.” But if gaps have a genetic component (as is likely the case) then we will be more realistic about, for example, the ways we fund education. We’d want everyone to rise to their natural level but we’d be realist about, say, Head Start. We wouldn’t expect miracles.

        I don’t consider myself inferior to Einstein because he had genes for high intelligence; likewise I don’t consider myself inferior to Ashkenazi Jews because they have genes for higher intelligence than my ethnic group.

      5. @Ben Well, I said it was a rhetorical question. I think it’s fairly obvious why racists and neo-fascists dance with the Catholic Church. The institutional church is hierarchical, authoritarian, anti-democratic, essentialist and teleological. Then there’s always the Church’s ignominious anti-Semitic past (and for some, present). The Church teaches spiritual egalitarianism (‘neither Jew nor Gentile”), but legal equality, not so much.

        I’m not saying there’s all there is to the Catholic Church, which is obviously a vast, diverse entity, or that the Church has an exclusive claim to reactionary ideology. I’m just saying it’s no mystery why some of these guys like the idea of divine vindication for their prejudices and are drawn to the Church’s authoritarianism, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ theology. I do get sick of it, but it will never go away. Still, I have schadenfreude that racists are feeling unloved these days.

      6. But this is exactly a proposition by meritocrats and elitists. Namely that democracy doesn’t work because a vote of an idiot is worth as much as a vote of a genius and there are more idiots, so geniuses, who have a better understanding of the world and how to improve it, have no meaningful way to realize their goals and ambitions.
        Therefore, as meritocrats argue, voting rights should be linked to intelligence and the lower quartile should have its voting rights rescinded outright. They should also be forbidden from procreating because they will perpetuate their inferior intellect through their genes and drag humanity down.

        How is that different from white supremacy (or any other expression of racism)?

  4. It’s a good question where all this will end. The statue of Frank Rizzo was taken down in Philadelphia. Apparently his police force was “anti gay.” Abraham Lincoln was by today’s standards a racist. He supported a voluntary plan to send blacks “back” to Africa. Charles Darwin was a racist and his evolutionary theory is the backbone of “race realism” and pretty much implies the racial inferiority of some groups. I’m sure there are statues of Darwin.

    1. Yes, there are statues of Darwin, in spite of the fact that his ideas about race were not much different from those of America’s founding fathers. Darwin gets statues because of the things he is mainly remembered for: his immense contributions to the advancement of science. He, more than anyone else, pulled the world out of the scientific cul-de-sac of creationism. The world is very much a better place because of Darwin, in spite of his ugly ideas about race.

      1. Until recent times (probably post world war 2), most people were what we’d today call “race realists.” It just seemed obvious that racial groups differed in behavior and ability and these differences had a biological component. The view seems to be making a comeback given some recent findings in genetics.

      2. Race realists, like creationists, are happy to use science to advance a non-scientific point of view. It reminds me of our late contributor, JD St. George who, in commenting on the dime-a-dozen Eucharistic “miracles”, Proclaimed that is a “international team of respected scientific atheists” proclaimed the “miracle” in Poland to be genuine. I couldn’t name a single one of those scientists, or point to their published findings on the reality of the “heart tissue in agony”.

        What you were really saying is what Lyndon Johnson said. Convince the lowest white man that he is better than the best black man, and he’ll not only give you money And vote for you, he’ll empty his pockets for you. We have a whole political movement that is based upon that idea, that is destroying our country, our place in the world, and our peace and domestic tranquility.

    2. Do you know which demographic group consistenlty polls high in anti-semitic and ant-LGBTQ sentiments? Hint: their lives matter.

      1. Oh, yes! I do know the answer to that one! Pick me! pick me!

        Conservative Christians, especially of the pro-life, bible believing evangelical breed, or the hyper-Catholic rad trads, are Consistently the most consistently anti Semitic, though they love Israel, and anti-gay, though they love EVERYONE! Love, love, love!

        Interesting that YOU went white to race, whereas I went To the Actual, the true demographic— conservative religionists, whether Christian, Orthodox Jew, Muslim, or Hindu.

        But I’ll give you this, it does rather amaze me the a certain proportion of the AA community cannot see the commonalities of the oppressions and prejudices that bind us, just like so many Orthodox Jews can’t see it. But as Lyndon Johnson observed in another context, people are always looking for someone to look down on. Tell someone that they’re better than someone else, no matter how Base the former and how noble the latter, and he’ll not only vote for you, he’ll empty his pockets for you.

        It’s just a part of a lot of people’s human nature.

        Well, some people’s human nature.

  5. Congratulations Mark. This is one of the best explanations of why we have statues of Jefferson and Washington, despite their flaws. I will remember it. You get a bingo for this one!

    “ Not because his sinful hypocrisy was not gravely evil, but because what is being honored by the statue is not the slave-owning or the hypocrisy, but the fact that the overall trajectory of his life was a drive toward, not away from, the advancement of human dignity and the common good. In short, Jefferson–given where he started and what he was handed by the structures of sin into which he was born–advanced the ball down the field in the right direction. He did not do so sinlessly any more than St. Peter did. But he tried, on the whole, to move in the right direction. That is worthy of honor. And one of the measures of that is precisely that the Confederacy, which is worthy of nothing but contempt, gauged its own goals precisely by their defiance to Jefferson.”

    1. Doesn’t matter because those tearing down statues are not making detailed analyses like this. They’re more like Mao’s Red Guards. The statues will be torn down.

  6. Ken Cavanaugh wrote: “It just seemed obvious that racial groups differed in behavior and ability and these differences had a biological component. The view seems to be making a comeback given some recent findings in genetics.”
    Bullsh*t. Here’s the statement from the ASHG:

    “Most human genetic variation is distributed as a gradient, so distinct boundaries between population groups cannot be accurately assigned. There is considerable genetic overlap among members of different populations. Such patterns of genome variation are explained by patterns of migration and mixing of different populations throughout human history. In this way, genetics exposes the concept of “racial purity” as scientifically meaningless.”

    It goes on to say “Race itself is a social construct.”

    But these are just geneticists. What do they know about genetics?


    1. I’d like to see a poll of geneticists about whether race is a social construct. Ask experts in the field of intelligence off the record what they think about group differences in IQ and you get a different answer from they say publicly. In Rinderman (2020), 80% of experts think there is a genetic component to the Black-White gap.

      1. How, exactly, do you know what “experts in the field of intelligence” say off the record?

        Or are you just lying?

      2. Heiner Rindermann (1966–) is a HBD pseudoscientist from Germany who currently sits on the Editorial Board of the controversial journal Intelligence and “whose work is often cited by racists seeking to prove that immigrants have low IQ”…

        Rindermann’s pseudoscience is popular among white nationalists since he argues immigrants from the Middle East and Africa have lower IQs than native ethnic groups from Europe and that these mean group differences (that he overestimates to begin with) are significantly the result of genetics.

        Rational Wiki

        My shocked face.

    2. This guy Ken Cavanaugh (hmm…) is a replica of the “race realists” who pop up at regular intervals at Patheos Catholic (especially during presidential election years!) for as far back as I can remember. “Why can’t we just have a reasonable discussion about race?” they always want to know before peddling their white supremacist bs.

      1. I think the Ashkenazi IQ is the highest and the East Asian IQ is higher than the European IQ because of genes. How does that make me a “white supremacist”?

      2. apparently Judeo-Asiatic supremacism is all the rage these days. The only ambition left is making sure blacks are on a lower rung.

      3. There hasn’t been a white cornerback in the NFL in about 20 years. I am quite comfortable in asserting that whites are inferior at pass coverage.

      4. …and I welcome the coming reign of president Saul Wong and our jink overlords!

  7. As I couldn’t seem to reply to Mr. Cavanaugh above – here it is. IQ a French idea originally, was created to attempt to determine who would benefit from traditional instruction – especially to determine kids who are intellectually disabled from kids who were “normal” but lazy. IQ is not a fixed concept there many definitions of IQ each with its own “drivers”. But the problem in comparing IQ across races us they”evil” old culture genie. No IQ test us culturally blind, each test is tied to the culture that predominates the landscape that gave birth to the test. Each culture values different facets of life. I would hazard a guess that we’re we in the US to take a test created in the Africa we would struggle.
    In the US our IQ tests measure traits we deem valuable for our culture. We value crystallized knowledge and we value fluid knowledge. crystallized knowledge we can measure as it mist typically consists of rights-Nero game answers. Fluid knowledge, which is problem solving is not easy to measure, as problem solving requires knowledge of the problem space, appropriate background knowledge and most frequently time.
    Historically IQ differences were the focus of the eugenics crowd – you know the Nazis, closer to home Goddard and Terman who argues that certain groups of people ought not to be allowed to produce. I will add that Hitler “outlawed” IQ as he deemed it to be Jewish in nature and Stalin did the same as he found it to be bourgeois.
    Jensen and Murray have been discredited numerous times. The work of Reich, though less obviously racially loaded is questionable for the same reasons – individual differences across groups are far greater than group differences statistically. The work of Haier is based on many studies, that by themselves were “supportive” of a genetic link, but could not be replicated.
    Finally most studies would suggest that genetics plays about a 50% role in intelligence; that means that 50% is other things.

    1. @Andy

      A shorter version of your very accurate comment is that tests usually measure the ability to take TestS As much as they measure whatever it is they are supposed to be testing. I’m a perfect example of it. I have 3° and four fields. I was a straight a student from the ninth grade on, except for one very poor Mark from the professor who really hated me in my first round of graduate school. Other than that, straight days. But I did fairly poorly on the sat’s For my second stint in graduate school, simply because the test questions didn’t make an awful lot of sense to me.they were along the lines of “how does the fish resemble a bicycle? Fortunately, I made it in anyway, and continued on with my straight a tradition.

      1. Well … OK, I suppose – but now I am genuinely concerned. What is the correct answer to how a fish resembles a bicycle?

        I can tell this is going to keep me awake unless you or someone gives me the answer.

    2. IQ tests can be misused like anything else. The work of Murray hasn’t been refuted. After The Bell Curve came out the American Psychological Association created a task force. It issued a paper that said TBC was supported by the science. It disagreed that there was a genetic component to the B-W IQ gap, but it admitted the gap was persistent and hard to explain.

      1. The Bell Curve is a statistical creation to explain population variation, so yes the APA approves of the bell curve. The problem with “The Bell Curve” Is not the math, it appears correct; the problem, actually two problems is that Murray and his co-author Herrnstein ignore, note ignore data, on the interaction of socioeconomic status and achievement and measured IQ; a large piece I’d data to,ignore. Second, it ignores the FLynn Effect – this posits strongly that IQ increases/scores can be attributed to better education and better nutrition, which returns us to SES.

        In response by the way to your comment about APA – from the APA Task Force to examine this “text”:
        The cause of that differential is not known; it is apparently not due to any simple form of bias in the content or administration of the tests themselves. The Flynn effect shows that environmental factors can produce differences of at least this magnitude, but that effect is mysterious in its own right. Several culturally based explanations of the Black/White IQ differential have been proposed; some are plausible, but so far none has been conclusively supported. There is even less empirical support for a genetic interpretation. In short, no adequate explanation of the differential between the IQ means of Blacks and Whites is presently available.

        From Murray and Herrnstein:
        The technically precise description of America’s fertility policy is that it subsidizes births among poor women, who are also disproportionately at the low end of the intelligence distribution. We urge generally that these policies, represented by the extensive network of cash and services for low-income women who have babies, be ended. Sound pretty eugenicist/supremacist to me.

        Murray’s work has returned to be used by the trumponian crowd to “sanctify” their sense of White superiority.

  8. I don’t actually know the answer. It was 42 years ago, and they didn’t ask that question. But that is how the questions they did ask sounded.

    I’ll give you an easier one. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

    1. I would have done much better on my SAT if they had asked questions like that and I had had access to Google to look up the answers 🙂

      I work at Auckland University. There is a constant struggle between the examiners and the students to try to ensure they are testing actual learning and not Google skills.

    2. I especially liked this one from someone:

      “Because in French all the letters in bureau are contained in corbeau.”

      1. There is no difference between ravens and desks, When I look at either, there’s always a huge bill in front of me.

  9. Good analysis. Thank you.

    I would, however, respectfully suggest you find a charitable alternative to the epithet, “MAGA morons.” Remember the words of St. James:

    “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12)

    Remember, also, Christ Himself in Matthew 5:22:

    “But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.”

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