One reason to not be honest in the race debate...

Half of me regrets writing that "black crime" post. Of course the smarter half doesn't, but I've made a big mistake by reading the comment threads of some folks who linked it, as well as the comments here. The problem with a post like that is that your attempting to be self-reflective in space where wolves tend to lurk in the dark, and any attempt to look across the track is just taken as an evidence to trump up whatever biases people carry. Oh well. It's not like I can stop--my writing career basically depends on honesty. But for my black people with no such attachments, yet still carrying the weight of history, I understand. I don't think it's right. But I do understand.

UPDATE: Good post below from commenter Tom West:

I'll have to say there may be merit to your regrets. There are some truths that *will* be interpreted by human beings in such a way as to be detrimental to many.

For example, I strongly suspect that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women represented in high end science institutions (mostly due to "long tail" effects in males, etc.). However, I *also* believe that Summers was rightfully let go (indirectly) for his comments.

As someone in the public eye, he should have been aware that his comments would be used to dismiss *rightful* complaints about social barriers against women to such positions, as well as confirm the biases of every sexist high school physics teacher (or student). His speech damaged (to a limited degree) women's ability to reach those very institutions and women studying science everywhere.

It doesn't matter that wasn't what he said - he should have known how it would be interpreted.

Obviously you are not quite as high profile as Larry Summers. But as someone whose profile seems to be rapidly growing (at least in the blogosphere), it behooves you to not only examine the contents of your words, but how those words will be interpreted, and how those interpretations will affect others.

This really is the conundrum. But the problem with not saying what you really think is it lets unscrupulous people shrink the debate, and it pushes fair-minded folks into extreme positions that they may not necessarily believe. I think this is, in some measure, how white folks came to believe that Al Sharpton somehow spoke for over 30 million black people.

How much of our race debate is really about posturing and holding out and how much of it is about what we honestly believe. I keep using the Affirmative Action example, but it's so apt. I think there are some people with a legit beef, but there are plenty more who just don't like black people. It seems unfair to lump them all together. And it cuts the other way. I'm against the drug war, but I don't want to be lumped--by the opposition--with people who see the drug war as a racist plot. The point is shouldn't we do what we can to discourage strawmanship and make people wrestle with the complexities of things?

Also, aren't you just more credible when you address the issue straight up? I wasn't blogging when Will Saletan did his series on intelligence and race for Slate, but I thought those of us who argued that it was racist for him to raise the question did "the cause" a disservice. Better to attack his actual evidence, which was thinly thinly sourced, and his conclusions, which were incredibly presumptuous given how little we know about the brain. I know I started this post by whining, but having gotten some sleep, I think I probably should not have written it. Better to take your lumps and keep rolling...