Reviewed: Facing Reality: Two Truths About Race in America, Encounter Books, 168 pages, June 15, 2021
By Darrell Dow
Give Charles Murray credit for one thing: He’s unafraid to tackle taboos. One of the foremost social scientists of the past four decades and author of more than a dozen books, Murray invited big troubles with Losing Ground in 1984 and The Bell Curve 10 years later. But his infamy reached its zenith in 2017. Enraged over his conclusions about race and IQ in that second data-driven book, unhinged leftists shouted him down during a speech at Middlebury College, then attacked him after he delivered it remotely.
Now, after race riots that convulsed America in 2020, Murray has returned with Facing Reality: Two Truths About Race in America, that challenges assumptions central to Critical Race Theory.
CRT is the view that social and political institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, rather than a biological and natural reality, is a social construct created by whites as a weapon to further their collective economic and political interests. Accordingly, racial inequities emerge solely as a result of power differentials between whites and “people of color” rather than arising organically from inherent group differences.
The uncritical acceptance of this narrative by the news media, corporate chieftains and other cultural gatekeepers justified the pillaging of American cities last summer after the “murder” of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The subsequent Great Awokening took on the fervor of a religious revival combined with revolutionary violence, sparking riots across America and an outpouring of white guilt from the American Elite. Broadsides against white privilege and systemic racism along with proposals to defund police departments and pay reparations to “marginalized” groups increasingly drive public policy and corporate governance.
Murray summarizes a trove of evidence that proves significant racial differences in cognitive ability and violent crime rates. Murray’s fear is that suppression of these facts undermines the “American Creed,” the meritocratic ideal that we should be judged as individuals, not by our social caste, religion or race, and allows CRT to flourish unchecked.
“I am also aware of a paradox,” writes Murray:
I want America to return to the ideal of treating people as individuals, so I have to write a book that treats Americans as groups. But there’s no way around it. Those of us who want to defend the American creed have been unwilling to say openly that races have significant group differences. Since we have been unwilling to say that, we have been defenseless against claims that racism is to blame for unequal outcomes. What else could it be? We have been afraid to answer candidly.
Differences in Cognitive Ability
In his discussion of differences in cognitive ability, Murray ably defends three contentions:
- When blacks, Asians, whites and Hispanics take cognitive ability tests, group results have different means.
- Race differences between blacks and whites in cognitive test scores narrowed during the 1970s and 1980s, but since that time differences have remained consistent and persistent.
- Widely used standardized tests of cognitive ability and academic achievement do not underpredict the performance of lower-scoring groups in the classroom or on the job.
Racial differences in test scores are a long established fact. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 required the Office of Education to conduct a survey investigating the lack of educational opportunities for minorities in public schools. The sample size of the study was remarkably comprehensive–645,000 students in 4,000 schools. The report of the results, the so-called “Coleman Report,” found that black-white differences were 15 points for ninth-graders and 18 points for 12th-graders (one standard deviation or more). But the report’s most controversial contention was that the quality of a school played no role in explaining the performance of black students.
Murray also demonstrates why blacks and Hispanics are “underrepresented” among high-powered occupations. For intellectually demanding jobs, increases in IQ scores are statistically associated with increases in productivity at every level of cognitive ability.
According to Murray’s calculations, few blacks and Hispanics are endowed with IQs above 140.
Among people of the four races with IQs of 100, 70 percent are European or Asian. For IQs of 115, 85 percent. For IQs of 125, 90 percent. For IQs of 140, 96 percent.
Since the most prestigious, powerful, and highest paying jobs are so concentrated among people on the right-hand side of the distribution, a variety of important social and economic consequences are not just possible. They are inevitable.
Together, Blacks (13 percent) and Hispanics (18 percent) make up 31 percent of the population, but only 4 percent of those in the highest IQ strata. Therefore, the absence of blacks and Hispanics in high-prestige occupations is not a result of systemic racism but a reflection of cognitive differences at a broad level.
The propensity of violent crime also differs across racial groups. FBI data pertaining to race and crime covers the entire country and also flattens distinctions between Latinos and whites.
Murray found arrest statistics from the Open Data Initiative by race and type of crime for 13 cities representing different parts of the country.
Below is a list of arrests for violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, assault, etc.) by race. In our nation’s capital between 2013 and 2019, blacks were 19.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for violent crimes while Hispanics were 6.4 times more likely. In New York City between 2006 and 2019 the multiples were 11.6 and 4.1. For the thirteen cities as a whole weighted by population, blask were 11.2 times more likely to be arrested than whites.
Critics often argue that higher arrest rates merely reflect biased, racist cops. So Murray provides other “triangulating” measures. Arrests for murder, for example, provide credible data. Such arrests are far more highly scrutinized than other crimes and demand significant attention not merely from a detective but entire departments. A murder arrest occurs only after serious investigation by highly-trained and skilled professionals.
Again the data show significantly higher arrest rates for blacks and Hispanics. In Washington, D.C., blacks were 84.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested and Hispanics were 10.4 times more likely to be arrested. Across all the jurisdictions tabulated by Murray, the multiples were 21.0 and 4.9
The black “arrest rate for violent crime was usually around 9 to 11 times the European rate and the Latin arrest rate for violent crime was usually around 2 to 3 times the European rate,” Murray wrote. “These are huge differences. Triangulating data indicates that the arrest rates reflect, and perhaps understate, race differences in violent criminal activity.”
What does Murray propose as the solution to our woes? Civic nationalism and classical liberalism. “The nature of the assault is not by liberals on conservatives, it is by the illiberal extremes on the right and the left assaulting the liberal project. … I’m talking about the Enlightenment project,” he told Glenn Loury.
Murray admits that “identity politics” is the norm and that individualism is the exception:
Treating our fellow human beings as individuals instead of treating them as members of groups is unnatural. Our brains evolved to think of people as members of groups; to trust and care for people who are like us and to be suspicious of people who are unlike us.
But Murray also believes that the fundamental problem would be whites acting like every other group. “If Whites adopt identity politics, disaster follows.”
Murray’s book is thus a species of “bravery signalling.” He admits what is happening; he knows it is bad. It provides the chimera of open public debate and thus acts as a safety valve to let off pressure. At the same time, it condemns anything that might overturn the system. In effect, it upholds existing arrangements and structures while appearing to oppose them.
For his entire career, Murray has ignored the consequences of mass immigration and open borders that have systematically uprooted communities and demographically overwhelmed the historic American nation. Murray suffers from the same delusion that afflicts so many “conservatives;” that we can have the country of 1955 with the demographics of 2021.
Darrell Dow, the author of Who Is My Neighbor: An Anthology In Natural Relations with Thomas Achord, is a contributor to American Remnant.