August 14, 2012
to be posted on (as off topic)

1200 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20005
When I saw the title Race, Monogamy and Other Lies They Told You (reviewed in Antoinette Jenkins On Our Biocultural Nature SCIENCE vol. 337 no. 6094 August 3, 2012 page 527) I thought, “What an aggressive title.  This person doesn’t even know me, much less what I have been told.”  Ambiguous, the title could name a volume that was a cesspool of “racist” and otherwise prejudiced screed or one that considered that to characterize the rest of us.  Since I found it in a respected source, one I would not suspect of heedlessly inflaming passions that predictably result in antisocial behavior, I read the review of a book I would otherwise not have glanced at, thinking perhaps there was an irony that I was blind to or at least to get an objective notion of what one would be getting into.

Instead I found myself reading autobiography, the antithesis of objectivity.  (Yes, yes, I know.  This letter is a personal view, also.  But you aren’t paying me.)  Specifically the reviewer describes amazement of people encountering a family of mixed background.  She certainly does not live in my part of the world.  Now that I think of it, the proportion of mixed couples I see casually in public is greater than the proportion of minorities hereabouts.  That might not stand up to analysis.  I may be looking at a self selected population perhaps because they are about more because of a greater joy in life or because they don’t have much of a social life.  If it is indeed the case that there are more, then I must tentatively agree with her remark that “racism is alive and well.”  For some, the word “racist” is just a hate word for “white,” so that prejudice against “whites” is “reverse racism.”  I would prefer to think that “racist” is somebody who believes in something called “race” and makes that the basis of important life decisions.  (A “scientist” believes in science and makes important decisions – like career choice – at least in part because of that belief.)  Under that definition then any excess of mixed couples over statistical expectation must be racism. 

If, the book is a voice of reconciliation I am sorry to say that this did not come out in the review.  The angry tone of the title remains. 


M. Linton Herbert 

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