If Negritos disappear it will not be because they have been made extinct by some sort of Holocaust. It will be because they have intermarried with members of other populations, or moved away from the land of their birth. Why should this be seen as a disaster? Only because we have developed a Romantic view of human authenticity in which beauty is beheld as the pickling in genetic aspic of populations whose diversity can be displayed to the world in an ethnic zoo. And such a view has been developed primarily not by race realists but by anti-racists and cultural relativists.
Race realists are simply holding on to the coat-tails of anti-racists, refashioning the idea of race in the language of diversity. This is why Frank Salter’s work feels so much more acceptable than that of racial scientists such as JP Rushton and Kevin MacDonald (with both of whom he has considerable intellectual affinity). Rushton’s tripartite racial division of the world, and his hierarchy of intelligence and moral worth, appears repulsive in the post-Holocaust world. MacDonald’s vision of Jewishness as an evolutionary strategy and anti-Semitism as a rational response to Jewish success appears scarcely more acceptable. Frank Salter’s work, however, touches a number of hot political buttons that connect with liberal concerns. The universality of difference; respect for other peoples, but preference for one’s own; race, ethnicity and culture as the roots of personal identity; the conflict between the inevitability of tribalism and the desire for cohesion; the dilemmas of liberalism in the post-ideological world – all these issues, which are at the heart of Salter’s work, have also come to shape contemporary political debate.
Despite the reactionary smell of many of Salter’s arguments, his defence of genetic diversity and ethnic identity, and his call both for the preservation of ethnic differences and for the strengthening of ethnic solidarity, strike a chord in our ever-more Romantic world.