Good Look: Is race a social construct?

Updated

One of those You’ll Only See It On “MHP” segments aired last weekend, and in light of a recent event, it makes for a particularly salient Good Look this week. That event is the death this week in Canada of one of North America’s most notorious academic racists, Jean Phillippe Rushton.

Aside from funding projects around the world for “scientists” like himself, Rushton was notable for his genetic similarity theory – which posited, essentially, that you’re likely to be kinder and more altruistic towards people who more similar genetically to you – and another whopper about the correlation between genital size and intelligence (we can see where that’s going).

More on that from the Southern Poverty Law Center, via Salon:

Rushton’s infamous theory about race and intelligence can be summed up in two words: size matters.

He postulated that brain and genital size are inversely related, implying that whites are more intelligent than blacks and that Asians are the smartest of all.

It was clear that Rushton, for science or his own motivations, believed race to be a genetic, physical construct. But perhaps we should thank bozos like Rushton for strengthening another theory: that race is a social construct.

That’s the discussion Melissa opened up last week, spurred on by the Native American identification which Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has claimed from family anecdotes, and which her opponent – incumbent GOP Sen. Scott Brown – has tried to make into a thing. Much like “fetch” in “Mean Girls,” he’s failing; and his staff isn’t helping, whooping mock Native war chants and doing the asinine “tomahawk chop” gesture.

See below the incredibly compelling conversation which resulted from all that foolishness. The second part of the three-segment discussion is an interview with National Museum of the American Indian director Kevin Gover, of the Pawnee tribe. You can find the first segment above the jump; the rest, below. Join us today at 10am ET for more news analysis you won’t see anywhere else, only on msnbc.


Elizabeth Warren

Good Look: Is race a social construct?

Updated