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View Diary: Cherokee Nation chief condemns Scott Brown staff for 'downright racist' actions (164 comments)

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  •  It's true. Race is a social construct. (10+ / 0-)

    I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves. -John Wayne (-9.00,-8.86)

    by Jonathan Hoag on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:34:52 AM PDT

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    •  Well, it is and it isn't (and gentic variations (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gorette, LSophia

      are an important part of the evolutionary success of humans). There are obvious differences in groups of humans, but as long as "races" can produce offspring together the differences are not fundamental, and many, like pigmentation, can change slowly over time even among an isolated group (consider Inuits and Aboriginal development). Even nazis implicitly recognized the fallacy of race by trying to bring up thousands of slavic Poles as little nazis.

      "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

      by TofG on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:58:19 AM PDT

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      •  Race isn't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jonathan Hoag

        Genetics is genetics.

        Race is a social construct.

        •  No (0+ / 0-)

          To say it's not about genetics is incorrect, although it appears that some fields may tilt the definition towards nongenetic factors.

          From Wikipedia entry Race (Human Classification):

          Race is a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by heritable phenotypic characteristics, geographic ancestry, physical appearance, ethnicity, and social status. ...  [T]he racial paradigms employed in different disciplines vary in their emphasis on biological reduction as contrasted with societal construction.

          My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.—Carl Schurz
          Give 'em hell, Barry—Me

          by KingBolete on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 12:04:03 PM PDT

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          •  Existential fallacy (0+ / 0-)

            I can say "all men are mortals" and conclude that there exists at least one man who is a mortal (pick anyone you please). But if I say "All fairies are supernatural beings," I can't conclude "there exists at least one fairy who is a supernatural  beings", because there aren't any fairies at all.  

            Having a concept of "fairy" doesn't necessarily mean there are any examples of a fairy.  Having a concept of  "genetic race" doesn't necessarily mean there are any examples of a genetically distinct race.

            Here's what the 1902 Britannica says about race (emphasis mine):

            The classification of mankind into a number of permanent varieties or races, rests on grounds which are within limits not only obvious but definite. Whether from a popular or a scientific point of view, it would be admitted that a Negro, a Chinese, and an Australia, belong to three such permanent varieties of men, all plainly distinguishable from one another and from any European. Moreover, such a division takes for granted the idea which is involved in the word race, that each of these varieties is due to special ancestry, each race thus representing an ancient breed or stock, however these breeds or stocks may have had their origin.
            Genetic race looks simple at first, but when you start looking at the actual genes of populations the whole concept of distinctive "special ancestry" falls apart. It turns out that people interbreed like crazy (a fact that makes me unaccountably cheerful).  When you look you find African genes all over Europe. There are genes that are shared only by Finns and pre-Columbian Indian populations in North America, although how that happened is a mystery. Well, not the mechanics of how that happened, mind you. It's the circumstances that are mysterious.

            This offends our common sense. African people have dark skin and wiry hair. Our eyes tell us that Sub-Saharan Africans must be a distinct race, but genetic studies show that Africans are more genetically diverse than other populations. In fact there are African ethnic groups that have as much genetic diversity as the rest of humanity put together.  So if race equals distinct gene lines, people in that ethnic group must comprise as many races as there are in the rest of the world.  It makes no sense to lump them in genetically with everyone else in Africa.

            The fact that there exists systems for categorizing humans by genetic ancestry doesn't mean those systems have any biological reality. Since the presumed genetic basis for the concept of "race" has proved false, it seems to me that attempts to revive, rehabilitate or adapt the concept are misguided. Better give it up as a lost cause.

            This doesn't mean there isn't such a thing as racial identity, but it's a social convention with no genetic or biological basis.

            I've lost my faith in nihilism

            by grumpynerd on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:04:18 PM PDT

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        •  Race is geographical (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is my favorite way of identifying it.

          Geography can isolate a group and influence genetic variation.

          It also influences social constructs, as in the people who live in a certain place and having enough common physical characteristics that are different from the common characteristics of a group in another place deciding they are superior to that other group. Typically to justify treating that other group badly, as in invading their land and stealing their wealth and resources.

          Racial identification is often tied to a place name, right?

    •  That's what Melissa whatever was saying (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      last night in her long-winded way...........(sheesh, love her but sometimes she gets to me).

      It's all that we perceive that makes us believe someone is of a certain race. Makes a lot of sense, and peoples are so intermingled now, their dna, that it's downright crazy! You never know what to expect if you have your DNA analyzed. It's been so enlightening.

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 11:06:32 AM PDT

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    •  Then why are races identified? (1+ / 0-)
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      Back in the olden days when I went to school, I was taught that there are three races: Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid. And there are clear, identifying traits. Is that no longer the case? If not, it makes racism even more stupid.

      Your left is my right---Mort Sahl

      by HappyinNM on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 11:13:59 AM PDT

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      •  There is ONE "race", or species. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HappyinNM, nellgwen, mayim, Jonathan Hoag

        Homo sapiens sapiens.  The things we call races are geographically adapted variants, evolved in place.  The race idea we throw around is indeed a social construct.

        I would recommend the excellent PBS series "Race: the Power of an Illusion" for more information on how the US got so fucking "racist".

      •  Many Scientific theories or explanations (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nellgwen, HappyinNM, mayim, Jonathan Hoag

        believed to have solid enough evidence at the time to be widely taught in popular culture get discredited over time as we collect more and better (more objective) information using better tools.

        The ability to analyze DNA gives us far more accurate information than human observation that is colored by bias and societal assumptions and limitations. From DNA, we can determine that a European American can be more closely related to someone direct from Ethiopia in their neighborhood than to another European American on the same block where they live. And that, yes, homo sapiens currently living seem to have descended from one "Eve" who in Africa survived a major near extinction event many thousands of years ago (and who probably started out "Black" and didn't get turned that color as a curse by a vengeful deity.)

    •  I knew I despised John Wayne. (4+ / 0-)

      Your sig line just reminded me why.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 11:26:05 AM PDT

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    •  Absolutely. A social construct. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Not biological. There is no DNA unit or specific combination that seals the deal.  When you consider that there are about 3.2 billion base pairs in human DNA alone (i.e., not including RNA, etc.), the picture gets a tad more complicated than "black, white, red, yellow" (or whatever).  But what clinches the argument is this: race, regional heritage, skin tone -- however one tries to define it -- accounts for only a small fraction of the genetic similarities or differences between any two randomly chosen individuals.  This makes sense because the human population has always been highly interconnected, with few and relatively short-spanned exceptions.  Interconnection: in the sense of A-to-B, B-to-C, etc.  DNA gets around.  

      On the social side, however, people have used this bogus concept as a way to divide people, with very real consequences.  Even corporations were granted fourteenth amendment protection thirty-six years before Native Americans.  The people who get shafted are real families, and despite claims of the American dream (or similar bull in other countries), damage lingers over generations.

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