Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies, New Zealand and the United States.
David Hackett Fischer
New York: Oxford University Press, xxv + 629 pages.
I have to start off by saying that David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America has shaped the way I see American history and much else. He provides a compelling account of how the four main British-derived groups (Puritans, distressed Cavaliers, Quakers, and Scots-Irish borderers) differed and their struggle for dominance in America. To me as an evolutionist, a big part of the attraction is that Fischer roots these cultural differences in the distant past—in English pre-history. Thus the tendencies of the two main groups, Puritans based in East Anglia and the Cavaliers in Southeast England, go back to the murky period of English pre-history. These types (Puritans relatively egalitarian, Cavaliers elitist and hierarchical) indicate very strong cultural differences and thus likely to be influenced by ethnic-genetic differences.
Fairness and Freedom continues his comparative approach, this time comparing two different British-derived societies, New Zealand and the United States. The basic thesis is that New Zealand political culture is much more infused with “an abiding concern for fairness” (p. 14), while the U.S. is more focused on an ideology of individual freedom.
Interestingly, until the mid-20th century and then doubtless because of Western influence, there are no words for fairness in languages apart from English, Danish, Norwegian, and Frisian. Moreover, the words for fair and fairness have no Greek or Latin roots, but are nevertheless traceable to an Indo-European origin where they appear only in the above group of Northern European languages (and notably excluding German). The original Indo-European word meant “to be content,” later giving rise to the Gothic fagrs, meaning pleasing to behold and often connoting blond hair and fair complexion. It eventually came to mean something that could be agreed on by most parties—e.g., a fair price.
Unlike Albion’s Seed, where the focus is on deep, long-lasting and quite possibly ethnic-genetic differences in explaining cultural variation, Fairness and Freedom provides an entirely cultural explanation for the development of a universalist sense of ethics in the West:
In early ethical usage, [words for fairness] tended to operate within tribes of Britons and Scandinavians, where they applied to freemen in good standing. Women, slaves, and strangers from other tribes were often excluded from fair treatment, and they bitterly resented it. The tribal uses of fair … were full of historical irony. These ideas flourished on the far fringes of northwestern Europe among groups of proud, strong, violent, and predatory people who lived in hard environments, fought to the death for the means to life, and sometimes preyed on their own kin. Ideas of fairness and fair play developed as a way of keeping some of these habitual troublemakers from slaughtering each other even to the extinction of the tribe. … Something fundamental changed in a second stage, when the folk cultures of Britain and Scandinavia began to grow into an ethic that embraced others beyond the tribe—and people of every rank and condition. This expansive tendency had its roots in universal values such as the Christian idea of the Gold Rule. That broader conception of fairness expanded again when it met the humanist ideas of the Renaissance, the universal spirit of the Enlightenment, the ecumenical spirit of the Evangelical Movement, and democratic revolutions in America and Europe. (pp. 16–17)
Thus, beginning in only a northern subset of Indo-European languages, the explanation is that there were then a series of completely cultural shifts beginning with Christianity and culminating (as Fischer later contends) in what I would see as the rather overwrought sense of fairness that now underlies the culture of Western suicide. In any case, saying that “something changed” is not so much an explanation as it is simply pointing to a set of proposed historical shifts. Fischer provides no further ideas on why these changes happened.
Fischer contends that fairness is much less important in American history compared to freedom. At present, fairness tends to be a buzzword among Democrats, while conservative thinkers at times reject the entire concept. Still, Fischer claims that “the frequency of the word fairness has been increasing in American usage during the twentieth century, though far below freedom and free. Even so, few Americans think of fairness as the organizing principle of their open society” p. 27). In England, the usage of fairness has been increasing steadily since 1800, while the usage of liberty has been in steady decline from a peak around 1780.
After briefly recounting the four main British-derived American groups described at length in Albion’s Seed (Puritans, Cavaliers, Quakers, and Borderers), Fischer describes the very different pattern in New Zealand. The immigrants to New Zealand came from various parts of England but without strong cultural differences. They tended to be at least of the middling rank, some with aristocratic connections; most came with assistance from organizations who were keen to select on the basis of moral character and other traits. For example, a typical program required a letter from the prospective immigrant’s vicar attesting that the immigrant was “among the most respectable of his class” (p. 57); the Scots who migrated to Otago on the South Island are described as “the better educated and religiously disposed of the lower and middle classes” (p. 60 Perhaps reflecting these processes, the IQ of White New Zealanders is slightly above the White average. Two large studies performed in 1989 and 1997 and included in Lynn and Van Hanen’s IQ and Global Inequality found that the IQ of White New Zealanders to be 101 and 102 respectively.
The basic difference between the U.S. and NZ is that the American colonists were treated horribly by the British (“six generations of American colonists were challenged by the British to fight for their rights” [p.76]). Fischer notes that the Bill of Rights is a list of specific grievances against things the British had done to the American colonists from 1760–1775. Moreover, the economic model for the American colonies was designed to benefit England rather than the colonies. All this resulted in a powerful ideology of freedom and liberty.
On the other hand, New Zealand encountered the kinder, gentler British Empire of the mid-19th century and later. The “Second Empire” as it developed in New Zealand was “highly principled and deeply Christian, with an elaborately developed sense of justice and equity. … Their acts often fell short of their ideals. But there was a constancy of striving in their lives, and they planted the seeds of an ethical system that kept growing long after they were gone” (p. 93).
Unlike in the American colonies, the British encouraged self-government in New Zealand and tried to protect the Maoris. New Zealand did not have slavery, indentured servants, or plantation economies; there was no significant number of distressed cavaliers who shaped the culture of the American South. By the 19th century, the British Empire rejected the mercantilism aimed at benefiting England in favor of free trade. But the most important characteristic of the British Empire at the time of New Zealand colonization beginning in 1840 was a greater emphasis on social justice. Colonial administrators like Captain William Hobson (“a leader of high probity … [who] recruited able and honorable men to serve in the colony” [p. 84]) were concerned about justice and fairness—self-consciously trying to uphold a universalist morality. A major result was that the Maoris were treated much better than American Indians.
Thus already in the 19th century we see a strong sense of “high-mindedness” (p. 87) and crusading moral universalism taking hold in New Zealand. Bishop George Augustus Selwyn, who became Anglican Bishop of New Zealand in 1841, was “a high-principled idealist” with a “broad ecumenical version of Christianity which in New Zealand became linked to an idea of racial equality between Pakeha [i.e., Whites] and Maoris” ; Selwyn was “a fierce defender of Maori rights” [p. 87]).
Whereas Christian missionaries seem to have been in the forefront of idealizing the (cannibalistic, very warlike) Maoris in the 19th century, these trends have become exaggerated in the contemporary culture of White guilt and idealization of non-Whites. College campuses have become hotbeds of positive attitudes toward Maoris. A military officer refers with contempt to contemporary academic “maoriolatry” (p. 96). On the other hand, the Maoris themselves have realized that their culture left something to be desired. A 19th-century chief asked, “What did we do before the Pakeha came? We fought, we fought continuously.” In the end, a great many Maoris doubtless viewed the coming of the White man in positive terms.
This high-mindedness and commitment to fairness can be seen in a much stronger tradition of socialist tendencies in New Zealand. For example, “New Zealand after 1891 began a sustained program to redistribute its lands” (p. 106), not by confiscating large estates but by government purchases when they came on the market. Fischer documents a stronger concern in New Zealand for fairness for all citizens—not without a struggle, of course, but easier than in the U.S. “In general, New Zealand had remarkably little in the way of hard-right, hard-core conservatism that was stronger in Britain, the United States, and Canada. … [Even the most conservative elements] supported women’s suffrage and other Progressive measures” (p. 324). New Zealand’s response to the Great Depression was far more in the direction of promoting welfare benefits, while the U.S. focused on programs to “help people help themselves.”
On the other hand, notions of individual liberty are relatively weak in New Zealand. A Bill of Rights was finally adopted in 1990, but unlike the U.S. Bill of Rights, it incorporated “human rights” (including “natural justice” and explicit assertions of procedural and institutional fairness) rather than, as in the U.S., rights against state power that were so much on the mind of the U.S. founding fathers. Most New Zealanders are hardly aware of their Bill of Rights, while in the U.S., the Bill of Rights has high psychological salience to most Americans.
Scandinavian Roots of Western Egalitarianism and Sense of Fairness
In general, Fischer seems more inclined to value fairness than liberty (“On the subject of fairness, no nation in the world has more to teach than New Zealand; and no country has more to learn than the United States” (p. 403). However, he does see weaknesses in the emphasis on fairness. Most centrally, he describes the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” (envy and resentment of people who are “conspicuously successful, exceptionally gifted, or unusually creative”) (p. 386) that is characteristic of New Zealand. “It sometimes became a more general attitude of outright hostility to any sort of excellence, distinction, or high achievement—especially achievement that requires mental effort, sustained industry, or applied intelligence. … The possession of extraordinary gifts is perceived as unfair by others who lack them” (pp. 486–487).
The expression ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ originated in Australia but seems to be more characteristic of New Zealand. Successful people are called ‘poppies’. This tendency is perhaps not as strong as it used to be, but, although some successful New Zealanders are accepted, “other bright and creative New Zealanders have been treated with cruelty by compatriots who appear to feel that there is something fundamentally unfair about better brains or creative gifts, and still more about a determination to use them” (p. 487). Doubtless because of the same egalitarian tendencies, the New Zealand system encourages laziness and lack of achievement—workers insist that others slow down and not work hard. “Done by lunchtime” is the motto of a great many New Zealand workers.
This egalitarianism enforced by shunning is entirely reminiscent of the Jante Laws of Scandinavia which “mandate” that no one can rise above the others in the group. In my experience, the 10 commandments of Jante Law are well-known among Scandinavians as an aspect of self-identity. From my perspective, they present the archetype of the individualist-egalitarian cultural strand of Western social organization: (see here, Discussion section)1. Don’t think you are anything; 2. Don’t think you are as good as us. 3. Don’t think you are smarter than us. 4. Don’t fancy yourself better than us. 5. Don’t think you know more than us. 6. Don’t think you are greater than us. 7. Don’t think you are good for anything. 8. Don’t laugh at us. 9. Don’t think that anyone cares about you. 10. Don’t think you can teach us anything.
Such egalitarian social practices are common in hunter-gatherer groups around the world and support the general view that the most powerful strand of European culture, especially apparent after it came to power post-1800, is the culture of Northern hunter-gatherers (see here, based on M. L. Burton, et al., Current Anthropology 37, 87–123, 1996);. Reflecting this pattern, Scandinavian society in general has a history of relatively small income and social class differences, including the absence of serfdom during the Middle Ages. A recent anthropological study of hunter-gatherers found that the economic inequality approximated that of modern Denmark (Eric A. Smith, et al., Current Anthropology.51(1),19–34, 2010).
Just as socialist economic practices (including national health care) and women’s rights came relatively easily to Scandinavia, they have come relatively easily in New Zealand (although Fischer notes that Scandinavian socialism was more radical than New Zealand’s). This suggests that New Zealand should be considered as having culture more typical of Scandinavia. It also suggests that these tendencies may be ethnically influenced rather than purely cultural as Fischer proposes. The ethnic argument emphasizes that two important British-derived American groups are notably missing from New Zealand, at least in sufficient numbers to influence the culture: the distressed Cavaliers and the Borderers. (The Quakers are also missing, but they are relatively unimportant in the U.S. as well.) As noted above, the distressed cavaliers are characterized by hierarchical, aristocratic, anti-egalitarian values that resulted in the slave culture of the Old South —values that are quite the opposite of any important tendencies to be found in New Zealand culture or in Scandinavian culture. And the borderers, who have had a major influence on what one might term the country music culture of rural, working class White America, have a very strong identity as Americans that has not been destroyed by the post-1960s rise of the culture of Western suicide. To an extent far greater than their Puritan co-ethnics, the borderers have a history of being more involved in clan relationships of extended families rather than merely lineal descent. In Albion’s Seed, Fischer notes that among them, “marriage ties were weaker than blood ties,” and there was a tendency to marry within the extended family—both markers of greater collectivism doubtless brought about by the centuries of wars characteristic of the border region of England and Scotland.
Unlike other British-derived groups, the Borderers have retained a strong religious commitment. In the 19th century, they showed “intense hostility to organized churches and established clergy on the one hand and [an] abiding interest in religion on the other.” They rejected the Anglican Church, religious taxes and established clergy, but for all that, they were intensely and emotionally religious. Indeed, this group is the main force behind the culture of the American Bible Belt —the religious fundamentalism that is such an important aspect of contemporary American politics. They are indeed socially conservative and a great many of them are involved in the angry protests of the Tea Party movement. They are the epitome of implicit Whiteness, flocking to implicitly White cultural events like NASCAR racing and gun shows. It’s fair to say that New Zealand has no comparable cultural influence. There appears to be no similar group with a detectable influence on New Zealand culture.
Thus the main influences on New Zealand culture would appear to be much more similar to the Puritan influence on American culture as well as the other American group highly committed to egalitarian universalism, the (relatively less important) Quakers. As Fischer notes in Albion’s Seed, the Puritans and Quakers both originated mainly from groups that had immigrated from Scandinavia in pre-historic times, and their cultures reflect the strong egalitarian universalist tendencies of Scandinavia.
The Puritan Intellectual Legacy: Fairness as a Theme in American Culture
It is noteworthy that in Fairness and Freedom, Fischer does not emphasize the strong strand of moral universalism and concern with fairness apparent in the Puritan-descended intellectuals who dominated American intellectual life in the 19th century and continued as a dominant group until being displaced by Jews in the mid-20th century. In the 19th century, these intellectuals placed a high value on fairness—for example, strongly opposing slavery on moral grounds. They tended to pursue utopian causes framed as moral issues, with opposing sides painted in stark contrasts of good versus evil. Whereas in the Puritan settlements of Massachusetts the moral fervor was directed at keeping fellow Puritans in line, in the nineteenth century it was directed at the entire country and focused on the evils of slavery and capitalism. For example:
- An important 19-century intellectual and orator, Orestes Brownson (1803–1876) admired the Universalists’ belief in the inherent dignity of all people and the promise of eventual universal salvation for all believers. He argued for the unity of races and the inherent dignity of each person, and he was fiercely opposed to Southerners for trying to enlarge their political base.” Like many New Englanders, he was morally outraged by the Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case that required authorities in the North to return fugitive slaves to their owners in the South. For Brownson the Civil War was a moral crusade waged to emancipate the slaves. Writing in 1840, Brownson claimed that we should “realize in our social arrangements and in the actual conditions of all men that equality of man and man” that God had established but which had been destroyed by capitalism (pp. 138–39). According to Brownson, Christians had to bring down the high, and bring up the low; to break the fetters of the bound and set the captive free; to destroy all oppression, establish the reign of justice, which is the reign of equality, between man and man; to introduce new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, wherein all shall be as brothers, loving one another, and no one possessing what another lacketh.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson and other Transcendentalists were outraged by the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. For Emerson, “the very landscape seemed robbed of its beauty, and he even had trouble breathing because of the ‘infamy’ in the air.” After the militant abolitionist John Brown failed in his violent uprising to free the slaves, Emerson was “glad to see that the terror at disunion and anarchy is disappearing,” for the price of slaves’ freedom might demand it. This is a paradigmatic example of what evolutionists label ‘altruistic punishment’—the willingness to right perceived wrongs even at enormous cost to self. No cost was too high to free the slaves. In the event, recent estimates of the Civil War dead put the figure at 750,000 men.
- Both Emerson and Henry David Thoreau commented on John Brown’s New England Puritan heritage. Emerson lobbied Lincoln on slavery, and when Lincoln emancipated the slaves, he said “Our hurts are healed; the health of the nation is repaired.” He thought the war worth fighting because of it.
Thus the high-minded moralism of New Zealand was certainly not absent from America, but in the U.S. it had to contend with other strong currents of American culture, whereas there was no counter-trend in New Zealand. This interpretation is compatible with viewing the tendencies of New Zealand culture to be influenced by their ethnic heritage. Immigrant selection focused on upstanding citizenship and moral character, as described above, would seem to have preferentially favored the Northern European hunter-gatherer ethos apparent in New Zealand culture since its origins in the 19th century.
It must be said that the high-mindedness strand of the British ethnic mix that became dominant in the 19th century in England, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, in America is proving to be a failure in terms of protecting the legitimate ethnic interests of the British-derived peoples. These attitudes have permeated the White elites of those countries and are thus more important than the attitudes, say, of the borderers or even the Southern aristocrats after the Civil War. Such attitudes are entirely appropriate when dealing within homogeneously White societies, or even within societies such as New Zealand where the Maoris do not constitute any real threat to the White majority. In such societies, high-mindedness would lead to caring for all citizens and having a sense of allegiance even to the weaker members of the society, such as the White working class and small, relatively powerless non-White minorities.
However, since the 1960s throughout the Western world, the powerful strand of high-mindedness has resulted in Western elites being complicit in the onslaught of massive non-White immigration to all countries that are dominated by Whites, including the Western European homeland. White elites have been defenseless against intellectual movements that have been framed in terms of moral critiques of the West—most importantly the Jewish-dominated movements that are the subject of The Culture of Critique. This has led to a situation where Whites will eventually become a minority in societies they have dominated for hundreds and, in the case of Europe, many thousands of years. There are many other costs as well, as established by sociologist Robert Putnam whose work indicates that multiculturalism is associated with unwillingness to contribute to public goods, lack of trust, and political alienation, as well as increased levels of conflict that even in the contemporary world is a cause of civil war in many nations.
From an evolutionary perspective, massive non-White immigration is deeply unfair to the legitimate interests of the Whites who established these societies. Because of the importance of establishing moral legitimacy among high-minded Whites, developing a sense that these immigration policies are unfair is a critical step in getting such people to reverse their course and begin to reassert their legitimate ethnic interests. In turn, that depends on establishing the intellectual legitimacy of the ethnic interests of Whites (see Frank Salter’s On Genetic Interests)—that races are not interchangeable and that cultures are often radically incompatible with the deep undercurrents of Western culture.
Professorial Liberalism Has Its Blind Spots: Race, Immigration, and the First Amendment
Finally, Fischer has the typical liberal blind spots typical of contemporary academic historians. Thus he ignores race when dealing with issues like crime. For example, in comparing murder and assault rates, he ignores the very disproportionate role of Black crime in America. He notes that rates of homicide are about the same when comparing New England with New Zealand, but notes that Louisiana has a murder rate 5 times higher than both without discussing the relative importance of Black crime between Louisiana (32.4% Black) and New England (where Connecticut has the largest Black population, 11.1%; Massachusetts: 7.6%; Rhode Island: 7.2%; Vermont: 1.1% Black; Maine: 1.3% Black; New Hampshire: 1.3%; see here). Louisiana has had the highest murder rate in the U.S. in every year from 1989 to 2010, and in 2005 78.7% of the victims were Black. Given that Blacks commit around 51% of all murders in the U.S. (see AmRen’s The Color of Crime), and correcting for the relatively large percentage of Blacks in Louisiana compared to the U.S. as a whole (32.4% vs. 13.1%) and the rarity of White on Black homicide, one must conclude that vast majority of murders in Louisiana are committed by Blacks.
Further, when discussing the history of immigration to the U.S., Fischer never mentions the very large role of Jewish organizations pursuing their ethnic interests in creating a majority non-White America (See Hugh Davis Graham, Collision Course: The Strange Course of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique Chapter 7.) For both countries, Fischer makes only vague pronouncements, attributing fluctuations in immigration levels to the effects of “world wars, economic trends, political events, and social conditions. An even more powerful factor was the role of government. In both countries policy decisions explained many twists and turns in the flow if immigration. These broad trends flowed primarily from choices by policy makers, and by migrants themselves. It has always been so, from the earliest great migrations to our own time” (p. 207).
The emphasis on the role of government is a hint that policy making on immigration has been a top-down process shaped by elite policy makers. This is correct, but there is no discussion of ethnic conflict over immigration policy acting to shape those choices, no discussion of the critical role of Jewish influence in shaping U.S. policy, and no discussion of the attitudes of White majorities toward non-White immigration during the decades when massive non-White immigration has become a reality in both countries. (Brenton Sanderson has similarly provided details on the decisive role of Jewish activists and Jewish activist organizations in shaping immigration policy in Australia in the complete absence of a popular mandate for rejecting the traditional White Australia policy. As in both countries, policy was made by elites and not a reaction to public opinion.)
In both New Zealand and the U.S., the 1920s marked the high point of concern that immigrants be White. In the U.S., there was the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 which biased immigration to Northwest Europe on the basis of ethnic fairness (the quota for different groups depended on their proportion of the U.S. population in 1890). In New Zealand, the goal of the Restriction Act of 1920 was “a white New Zealand (p. 219)” in the words of the Prime Minister at the time, William Massey. Not long after the sea change in U.S. immigration policy inaugurated by the 1965 immigration act, in 1974 New Zealand changed its law to avoid criteria of race or nationality. Immigration surged beginning in the 1990s, with most immigrants coming from Asia. Prior to 1975, the vast majority of immigrants were from the U.K. or Ireland, and were only accepted on the basis of “character” and “bearing” (p. 221).
When discussing the racialist past of both America and the relatively mild forms of racial conflict in New Zealand, Fischer is blunt and unsparing in his indictments of Whites. And in discussing the post-1980 waves of immigration, he sees nothing but utopian harmony in American ethnic pluralism. Americans of different ethnic groups are “rapidly intermarrying,” they borrow freely form each other’s cultures, and “nearly all share a common allegiance to the founding ideas of the republic—and most of all to liberty and freedom. … Ethnic pluralism operates within a consensual republican frame, and it arises from the conditions of a free society.” Fischer is obviously unaware of the work of Robert Putnam showing a variety of costs to multiculturalism noted above (see here).
Nor does he comment on the racialization of American politics, as indicated by over 90% of Republican votes coming from Whites and around 40% of Whites voting Democrat, compared to around 80% of non-Whites voting Democrat. Non-White immigrants, 80% of whom voted for Obama in 2008, have become part of the non-White coalition that is central to the electoral success of the Democratic Party, with ominous implications for the future. Nor does he mention the much commented on anger of a great many Whites exhibited in the inchoate Tea Party movement—a movement that in my view is an implicitly White movement motivated by about concern about a future minority-White America.
An interesting tidbit that I was quite unaware of: Fischer suggests that anti-Semitism was behind the 1929 Wall Street stock market crash. He notes that the Bank of the United States, which was owned by Jews and served Jewish immigrants, suffered heavy losses. “Anti-Semitic ‘white shoe’ bankers contemptuously called it the ‘Pants Pressers Bank’ and showed no interest in supporting it. The Fed did nothing helpful, and strong financial institutions watched complacently as weaker ones went under. It was a fatal mistake. The fall of the ‘Pants Pressers Bank’ brought down others, and the dominos began to drop across the country: 659 bank failures in 1929 to 1352 in 1930 and 2294 in 1931” (p. 377).
Finally, Fischer complains about Southerners stifling free speech during the 1850s in attempting to defend the cause of slavery, but he ignores Lincoln’s assaults on free speech in the North during the Civil War. Lincoln closed down hundreds of newspapers in the North and jailed the editors as well as many politicians who opposed the war (see M. E. Bradford, Remembering Who We Are). Nor are First Amendment freedoms an inevitable aspect of the American society. In the contemporary U.S., only a slim majority of the Supreme Court is committed to rejecting “hate crime” laws that would curtail what can be said in public discussions of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Justice Elena Kagan is on record supporting a shift in majority opinion in the direction of supporting laws that would ban “hate speech.”
Further, and relevant to Fairness and Freedom, there are strong voices in the legal community clamoring for restrictions on race-related speech. A prominent example is Jeremy Waldron, a law professor who holds a professorship at New York University and an adjunct faculty appointment at Victoria University in New Zealand. Waldron, who was born in New Zealand, argues that free speech fundamentally collides with fairness in contemporary societies, and therefore advocates getting rid of First Amendment protections in the U.S. Waldron focuses solely on the hurt feelings of the targets of speech, arguing that some examples of racially tinged speech impinge on the ability of racial and sexual minorities to live dignified lives.
Waldron would ban statements about group characteristics that I would regard as well-supported by empirical data. Waldron claims that any departure from liberal orthodoxy—e.g., that races do not have the same talents and abilities or that multiculturalism has costs to White majorities—are so obviously false that they can easily be banned without any loss to legitimate debate. Waldron claims that “In fact, the fundamental debate about race is over—won; finished.” Race is “no longer a live issue.”
This sounds more like the pronouncements of a Chief Inquisitor than someone interested in the truth about human differences.
In fact, the debate about race is not over, although the academic world can accurately be characterized as a moral community of the left in the sense of Jonathan Haidt that rigorously polices research conflicting with racial egalitarianism. Researchers such as Arthur Jensen, Richard Lynn, and J. Philippe Rushton who attempt to publish findings on race differences find themselves socially shunned and they quickly learn that there are steep barriers to publication in mainstream academic journals and no mainstream grant support for their research. Thus Waldron’s consensus on race is maintained by intensive policing rather than by free inquiry.
Research on racial differences is relevant to fairness because it may well be argued, as many have, that affirmative action policies that discriminate against Whites are inherently unfair because they do not take into account real differences in ability between the races. From this perspective, banning free speech on race on the basis of fairness to minorities fails to consider unfairness to the White majority.
In a way, Waldron’s call to ban free speech in the name of fairness reinforces Fischer’s thesis, since it may well be no accident that Waldron is from New Zealand and therefore values what he thinks of as fairness far more than individual freedom. But it also illustrates the point that in some cases at least there is a very real conflict between fairness and freedom which continues to play out in the contemporary world. There is indeed a strong tradition of free speech in the U.S., but, as in the past, there is no reason to suppose that this will continue into the future, particularly as the non-White majority assumes ever more power.