Facing Reality: Two Truths About Race In America – A Book Review

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Facing Reality: Two Truths About Race In American
Charles Murray, Encounter Books


There is likely no other intellectual today willing to write on the controversies in social science concerning human achievement with the courage and wisdom of Charles Murray.

Universities used to be the place where anything could be discussed and reasonable people could work out their disagreements with each other.

But the universities are now failed institutions and have become a crude  echo chamber for left wing views. They in fact became the conduit to inject discord into the greater society.

And outside of the university, the freedom to express controversial ideas has narrowed in the public square. Media monopolies routinely utilize shaming, book banning, boycotting and ‘canceling’ against those they disagree with. On the ground there is harassment and even physical assaults on those that disagree with the leftist narrative. Murray himself has been a victim of this. Hence, we regard him as courageous.

While this short book touches on Murray’s previous works such as the Bell Curve and Losing Ground, the implications of the book are available to non-specialists in the field.

Although it has been some years since I studied statistics, Murray made it understandable.

His basic theme is that ruling elites who are pushing what they call “equity”, identity politics and critical race theory are playing with fire. Whether they intend to divide the country, invite a severe backlash or dismantle and transform the United States as it currently exists, this is what they are doing.

Further, he contends, what they are attempting to do simply flies in the face of reality itself.

He borrows a neat definition of reality from the novelist Philip Dick. How does Dick define reality?

“Reality is that, which when you quit believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Murray starts by noting that IQ and achievement tests, while not perfect, do deliver valid information to university recruiters, employers, the armed forces, and other institutions, that want to place people in jobs best suited to them.

To reject the possibility of human differences in intelligence is unscientific and discriminatory. He is careful to note that differences in levels of intelligence do not mean necessarily people of higher intelligence are nicer, wiser, more hard working, or more diligent. It also does not mean those of lesser intelligent are not entitled to all rights and respect due all human beings.

Blinding intelligence is not always required rather just being smart enough to do the job is sufficient. Personality traits such as punctuality, dependability, honesty, and a willingness to listen, may arguably be more important.

It is just that some can process information faster and better than others.

Income levels, job performance, and other outcomes are highly correlated to intelligence. That is reality.

To reject the evidence of variances in human achievement and expect equal outcomes is denying reality. And to subscribe these difference to “racism” is simplistic, stupid and un-American.

Or as economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, if members of families that share the same genetic and environmental backgrounds, can come out so differently, why would we expect whole groups of racial and ethnic groups, that share neither of those common factors, to come out the same?

Today’s Progressives want to ignore the data and force the same outcome, even though the underlying complexity of human achievement will not permit it.

Progressives says the tests are biased – Murray shows they are not. Progressives want to use the force monopoly granted the state to ram through equality of outcome when the natural variances of people will not permit it.

Murray gives a stout defense of the more traditional American view, that is, equality before God and equality before the law, but not to force equality of outcome. Freedom allows people to rise to whatever level of achievements they can obtain with their God given talents, and celebrate the differences.

Progressives, have turned against equality before the law and instead to a racial and sexual spoils system. In so doing they undermine a core principle of American freedom and invite a backlash against their policies.

This backlash is likely to be severe. As Conservatives we all need to be aware that a backlash is coming and we must do our best to see it is channeled in the correct direction.

What is the correct direction? It is the American creed and the Constitution.

We must all be aware of political charlatans of many sorts that emerge during revolutions and counter revolutions. Seen repeatedly in history, a society can take a turn away from freedom and respect for the individual and his differences from others.

The book is filled with data that needs to be widely known in order to keep political charlatans from gaining support.

Besides his discussion on group intelligence,  he notes that blacks are about 11 times more likely (again as a group) to commit violent crimes than white people and that violent crime among Asians is virtually nonexistent.

By the nature of the numbers, police are frequently in contact with black criminals.

Critics says that is because the police are racist and so is society.

Murray simply destroys them with facts and logic.

The facts are that violent crimes are overwhelmingly committed against family members and acquaintances. When those crimes are reported or 911 calls are made for help, data is collected in the process that can be used to verify data on arrests and incarceration rates. Thus, it is the members of that same community that are producing the corroborating data.

How could the data be racist?

It isn’t racist data, it is reality.

The data Murray produces is applicable to so many hot button issues today that it should be on every bookshelf across the land. For example, self segregation in housing is likely caused by crime. It is not skin color but behavior that divides communities.

While Murray spends little time to consider so called “gun crime, the data clearly informs the current debate. ”Progressives like Joe Biden contend the prevalence of guns “cause” crime.

If blacks as a group, are eleven times more likely to commit crimes of violence, and about 21 times more likely to commit homicide, then they should be more heavily armed than the rest of the population?

But in fact, rural areas of the country tend to have more guns and higher rates of gun ownership, yet crime levels are much much lower. If guns cause crimes, that logically can’t follow. It would be more likely that more guns mean less crime. Or, it could mean that people of different groups simply commit fewer crimes of all kinds regardless of the number of guns in society.

Asian Americans (a broad category to be sure) have both the highest intelligence and the lowest crime. Yet they live in a country that allows gun ownership.

So, Progressives that focus on guns simply don’t want to discuss the more complex and more uncomfortable data. And by avoiding the discussion and fabricating false narratives, they perpetuate terrible problems that need solution. Exactly how is this helpful to those they claim to help?

Near the end of the book, Murray gets into the political ramifications of the data.

Not only does he believe Progressives are wrong to force their notions of equality on everyone else because it is scientifically flawed, he also believes it is politically dangerous for the republic. 

He warns Progressives that in the end, you cannot insult people into agreeing with you.

Secondly, he notes that if roughly 13% of the population use identity politics to change the system, what happens when 60% or more of the population flip it around and start to use the same political playbook?

That is where the Conservative movement must start playing a larger role because you can feel the backlash starting, even down at the level of the local school board.

We stand by the American creed: treat people as individuals, treat all equally before the law and do not expect equal outcomes. There are too many human variables from genes, attitude, grit and just sheer luck to expect uniformity in people.

We stand by the idea of limited, Constitutional government, and equal treatment before the law.

That is what is so strange about Progressives. If they really feel we in America have created a systemically racist and unjust society, why do they stay here? Is life good here in America because it was created by racists of the most vile kind?  Do immigrants from all over the world want to come here because the American people are awful?

It is an open question as to whether Progressives want to subvert reality itself or just this country, but it doesn’t matter whether it is one or both. They need to be resisted with all the might we can muster.

In that effort, you must read and absorb Charles Murray’s recent and excellent treatise, Facing Reality: Two Truths About Race In America.


Neland D. Nobel is the Editor-at-Large of The Prickly Pear.


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