Charles Murray on retribution and the supremacy of Dead White Males

by Limbic on January 28, 2004

White males leave the others for dead – Sydney Morning Herald

According to Murray, the idea that no one culture or tradition can ever be judged objectively superior to another has led to a wilful and quite unjustified “trashing” of Dead White Males.

“In anthologies of literature now, women and black writers are represented out of all proportion to their merit, in order to promote equality,” he says. “Let’s not take Shakespeare – it’s too obvious. But, for example, why are pupils reading Toni Morrison instead of Joseph Conrad? Conrad is incomparably better than Morrison could ever dream of being. But if you say that you will be accused of male, white, Anglo-Saxon prejudice.”

…”You have a philosophical and theological culture in East Asia that states that this life is not that important,” Murray says. “This is one of a whole cycle of lives if you’re a Buddhist. Striving in this life is seen as a source of suffering rather than a source of pleasure. That’s explicit in Buddhism, but is also present in Daoism.”

By contrast, the development of the Christian notion of vocation, particularly from the 14th century onwards, saw a flowering of intellectual and artistic achievement, almost exclusively among men. “To express yourself, to create beauty, to discover the miracle of God’s works through science was seen as pleasing to God. That was extremely powerful in its effects.”

Thus, between 1400 and 1950, Murray’s method has found that 72 per cent of significant figures in arts and sciences came from Britain, France, Germany and Italy alone. Overall, male Europeans and North Americans are shown to be responsible for 97 per cent of scientific accomplishment from 800 BC to 1950. Statistically, when it comes to curing disease, building bridges, inventing glasses or devising new, better modes of transport, Western man is in a league of his own.

“What the human species is today,” he says, “it owes in astonishing degree to what was accomplished in just half a dozen centuries by the peoples of one small portion of the north-western Eurasian land mass.” MORE

Charles Murray on the appaling state of Britain’s Criminal Justice system:

No Justice – “Charles Murray, the celebrated American sociologist, challenges the British legal establishment to stop being kind to criminals”

The story was told by an American student named Valerie Ruppel who had returned from a term’s study in London. Two days after her group reached Britain, a policewoman came to South Kensington to brief them on how to keep themselves safe.

I pick up Valerie’s account in her own words: “Her first question was to the women, ‘How many of you brought Mace?’ Three girls raised their hands. She told us we couldn’t use it, shouldn’t even carry it, it was illegal.

“Had any of us brought any other type of weapon, such as a knife? Several of the men in our group indicated that they carried pocket knives. She told us to leave them at home too.”

“Then she instructed us on how to properly be a victim. If we were attacked, we were to assume a defensive posture, such as raising our hands to block an attack.”

“The reason (and she spelt it out in no uncertain terms) was that if a witness saw the incident and we were to attempt to defend ourselves by fighting back, the witness would be unable to tell who the aggressor was. However, if we rolled up in a ball it would be quite clear who the victim was.”

This is the police talking–the police, the ones who are supposed to line up on the side of the good guys. If Mace is illegal, why not tell the women what legal substances they could carry (pepper spray or perhaps a particularly irritating hairspray) and add helpfully, “It works best if you go for the eyes”?

Pocket knives are legal. Why tell the men to leave them at home? The truly puzzling advice was to roll up in a ball if attacked so that a witness could tell who the victim was. Are we to believe that when a man has been seen grappling with a woman in the street it’s going be a problem for the police to determine who the aggressor was?

Most of all: why are police giving this kind of mealy-mouthed advice in a country supposed to be in the midst of a war on crime?

Simple justice – Don’t try to understand criminals says Charles Murray, the social guru. Give them the punishment they deserve:

I recently interviewed Una Padel, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, a research foundation that advocates alternatives to prison and restorative justice. A fortnight before we talked, her 13-year-old daughter had been mugged.

If the muggers could be brought to account (they cannot, even though the daughter knows who they are), what would Padel have in mind for them? True to her principles, she does not want the muggers jailed.

“I remain angry with them, but I don’t want anything horrible to happen to them,” she said. “I want them to stop robbing people, that’s the bottom line . . . In an ideal world I would like them to be made aware of the impact they’ve actually had on my daughter and, ideally, apologise.”

Padel is no dewy-eyed naïf. She has dealt with criminals for years and is easily as knowledgable and unsentimental as any judge likely to try the case. It’s her own daughter who has suffered the harm.

I want to suggest a thought experiment: if she had the power, would Padel be morally entitled to give the muggers a sentence that does not punish them instead of one that does? I am even willing to stipulate that her sentence inspires genuine remorse in the muggers and that they stop mugging (generous stipulations indeed). Would justice be done if Padel had her way?

The principles of the kind of simple justice I propose today say no. Justice does not consist of successful therapy. It consists of just deserts. The just desert for terrorising a 13-year-old and robbing her must entail punishment, whether or not the muggers feel bad about what they’ve done and whether or not they will do it again.

Also see The Times leading article “Retribution Works

Charles Murray’s new book “Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 ” is available at Amazon .com / .co.uk

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