Can There Be Only One Race?

I’m old enough to remember this 1960s Lay’s Potato Chips commercial. (Hell, I’m almost old enough to remember when plays were in black and white!)  In the commercial a man (Bert Lahr, the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz) faces a challenge from the devil, who has a bag of Lay’s: “Bet you can’t eat one.” “That’s absolutely absurd,” Lahr says; of course he can eat one. After enjoying the chip he says, “I’ll have another,” to which the devil says, “Oh no. I said just one. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha….”

Admittedly, this is a long and winding road to my point: there can’t be only one race. Most people believe that human beings come in different genetic models: black, white, Asian, and a couple more. (Of course one can believe this without hating anyone.) But biologists and geneticists know better. There are no significantly distinct genetic groups of human beings that correspond to skin tone, hair texture, or other such visible features. Individuals within one grouping of superficially similar persons can have more genetic variation among themselves than they do with individuals in other superficial groupings. (We all are of African ancestry, though for some it’s more recent than for others.) As Barbara and Karen Fields discuss in Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life, the idea of race grows out of the discriminatory practice of racism, not the other way around. In other words, the double standard people used in the treatment of others itself generated the justificatory concept of race. It’s like witchcraft.

Does it follow from this that, as humane people like to say, there’s only one race, the human race? I don’t think so. In this case 1 = 0. Leaving aside the biologists’ technical genetic concept of race (which has nothing to do with appearance), a concept of race would be useful only for making distinctions. But if there is only one race, then by definition, there are no distinctions to make. Therefore, one equals none.

We already have a perfectly good biological category for distinguishing human beings from other animals: species. So we have no need for the category of the human race. “Race” is worse than superfluous. It’s dangerously divisive.

Yes, Andrew Sullivan Demanded W. Bush Nuke Iraq

He wrote on October 17, 2001:

THE COMING CONFLICT: The sophisticated form of anthrax delivered to Tom Daschle’s office forces us to ask a simple question. What are these people trying to do? I think they’re testing the waters. They want to know how we will respond to what is still a minor biological threat, as a softener to a major biological threat in the coming weeks. They must be encouraged by the panic-mongering of the tabloids, Hollywood and hoaxsters. They must also be encouraged by the fact that some elements in the administration already seem to be saying we need to keep our coalition together rather than destroy the many-headed enemy. So the terrorists are pondering their next move. The chilling aspect of the news in the New York Times today is that the terrorists clearly have access to the kind of anthrax that could be used against large numbers of civilians. My hopes yesterday that this was a minor attack seem absurdly naïve in retrospect. So they are warning us and testing us. At this point, it seems to me that a refusal to extend the war to Iraq is not even an option. We have to extend it to Iraq. It is by far the most likely source of this weapon; it is clearly willing to use such weapons in the future; and no war against terrorism of this kind can be won without dealing decisively with the Iraqi threat. We no longer have any choice in the matter. Slowly, incrementally, a Rubicon has been crossed. The terrorists have launched a biological weapon against the United States. They have therefore made biological warfare thinkable and thus repeatable. We once had a doctrine that such a Rubicon would be answered with a nuclear response. We backed down on that threat in the Gulf War but Saddam didn’t dare use biological weapons then. Someone has dared to use them now. Our response must be as grave as this new threat. I know that this means that this conflict is deepening and widening beyond its initial phony stage. But what choice do we have? Inaction in the face of biological warfare is an invitation for more in a world where that is now thinkable. Appropriate response will no doubt inflame an already inflamed region, as people seek solace through the usual ideological fire. Either way the war will grow and I feel nothing but dread in my heart. But we didn’t seek this conflict. It has sought us. If we do not wage war now, we may have to wage an even bloodier war in the very near future. These are bleak choices, but what else do we have? [Italics his]

War is a Euphemism for Theft Funded Mass Murder

The libertarian’s basic attitude toward war must then be: it is legitimate to use violence against criminals in defense of one’s rights of person and property; it is completely impermissible to violate the rights of other innocent people. War, then, is only proper when the exercise of violence is rigorously limited to the individual criminals.

– Murray N. Rothbard, Ph.D., War, Peace, and the State

I Support HB0220: the Maryland Defend the Guard Act

Here’s my letter in support of HB0220: the Maryland Defend the Guard Act (I’ll also be testifying at the hearing on February 15, 2023): 

HB0220 Favorable

Dear House Health and Government Operations Committee:

I write in support of House Bill 220, the Maryland Defend the Guard Act.

In September 2001, the Bush administration was preparing a “Global War on Terrorism” in response to the attacks of September 11th. The White House expressed the desire to be granted the latitude to control the warmaking capacity of the government, which according to the U.S. Constitution is to be checked by the Congress. In the post-9/11 climate of fear that further terrorist attacks might be undertaken against Americans, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed an open-ended Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), effectively ceding both their right and their authority to limit the Executive’s ability to mobilize the Armed Forces of the United States to fight, kill, and possibly die in wars abroad. Rather than needing to confer with the Congress before sending troops into harm’s way, the AUMF of 2001 vested in the president the power of a monarch to wage war at his discretion and according to his own timetable.

Under the Constitution, the president already possessed the legal ability to wage war in an emergency or invasion scenario, when time was of the essence and so consultation with Congress could not be undertaken. What changed with the 2001 AUMF was that the Congress delegated to the president the right and authority to wage war without needing to demonstrate or claim conditions of emergency. In emergency military actions, the executive is required within a narrow timeframe to secure the retroactive consent of the Congress, without which the mobilization may not legally continue. With the 2001 AUMF, however, the requirement of retroactive advice and consent was lifted.

What ensued over the next twenty years was the nonstop engagement of U.S. military forces, including National Guardsmen, in the Middle East and Africa, with four successive presidential administrations asserting the right to wage war without congressional consultation. The 2001 AUMF and the subsequent 2002 AUMF against Iraq were ratified under President George W. Bush, but they were regarded by President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump as permitting them to continue the work begun by Bush. Today, in 2023, President Joe Biden continues to deploy troops and bomb countries in the Middle East supposedly under the AUMF authority granted to George W. Bush, while 88% of the people who initially voted for these resolutions have departed from Congress.

It is hard to believe that the men who penned the U.S. Constitution envisioned a scenario in which one Congress could permanently change the balance of warmaking power through passing a single law, but that is what has transpired.

It is unsurprising that no president after Bush chose to roll back the expanded executive powers he had assumed. Power once secured is seldom surrendered. Nor should we expect a Congress to acknowledge the mistakes of the past. An effort to repeal the 2002 AUMF is underway, but this would not stop the president’s ability to wage endless, global war granted by the much broader 2001 AUMF.

With the unlikelihood that either the president will cede his warmaking powers back to the legislative branch, or the Congress will demand that they be returned, House Bill 220 currently under consideration would provide the restraint needed to prevent the Maryland National Guard from being deployed into combat missions abroad at the executive’s caprice, by requiring that the U.S. Congress pass an official declaration of war.

I support the Defend the Guard Act because National Guardsmen enlisted to serve the country under specific conditions which have been bypassed since 2001. The politicians in Washington, DC, have abdicated the most weighty of all of their responsibilities, that of determining whether and when soldiers must be sent to fight. Because Congress has neglected their responsibility under the Constitution to serve as a restraint on the warmaking powers of the executive, the time has arrived for states to assert their sovereign rights and protect their local Guardsmen from reckless and counterproductive deployments as occurred throughout the past two decades of the Global War on Terror in several different countries for which no mission-specific AUMF was ever ratified by Congress.

It is too late to do anything about the soldiers sacrificed in Afghanistan, only to withdraw from that country with the Taliban still in power in 2021. Nor can the tragic loss of Guardsmen to suicide be undone. But House Bill 220, the Maryland Defend the Guard Act, will help to protect future guardsmen from such fates.


Laurie Calhoun


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