Actually, White People Have Contributed Quite A Lot

By Russ McSwain

Putting aside the hateful, despicable slurs on Sarah Jeong's Twitter feed, here are some that caught my attention.

    Have you ever tried to figure out all the things that white people are allowed to do that aren't cultural appropriation. there's literally nothing. like skiing, maybe, and also golf. white people aren't even allowed to have polo. did you know that. like don't you just feel bad? why can't we give white people a break. lacrosse isn't for white people either. it must be so boring to be white.

    Basically i'm just imagining waking up white every morning with a terrible existential dread that i have no culture.

This is a standard left-wing view.  It appeals to people who've been taught to ignore what they call the dead white males who built Western civilization.

White people created just about all the good things we all enjoy.  Here are few of my favorite things that white people didn't appropriate.

1. Music.  I don't mean any particular piece of music.  I mean the structure of all Western music.  Around 1000 A.D., the "tonic sol fa," which represent the pitches in an octave, was formulated by Guido d'Arezzo.  Here is a short, interesting article that explains the evolution that followed.  More interesting is a five-minute video from Leonard Bernstein.  He moves through the chromatic scale and demonstrates the rich evolution of our musical language right up to my main man, Bach.

There are strong reasons not to exclude people from my favorite American invented instrument: the electric guitar.  It's more than just a loud guitar.  Compare this instrument with this one.

There are other musical systems.  The Chinese developed one.  Western music is played around the world, including in China.  Chinese music not so much.

2. The scientific method.  There are many early examples of a systematic approach to natural observation.  In 1620, Francis Bacon took them to a new level with his New Method of inquiry.  It led to an explosion of discoveries, which benefit us all.  I'll mention a couple white guys' names: Newton and Einstein.

Karl Popper shortcut the problem of generalizing observations into conclusions by introducing the falsifiable principle.  Not understanding his insight can lead to all manner of foolishness.  A good example is the unfalsifiable claims made by racists.  Unlike her apologists, I count Sarah as a racist, who makes unfalsifiable claims.

3. The Industrial Revolution.  Self-explanatory.

4. Democracy.  The Wikipedia write-up is serviceable.  There were many proto-Democracies in ancient history, but democracy was born in Athens.  The rest of the article on democracies is a textbook walk through European and European-American history.  An exception is a reference to Iroquois Indian nation.  It is claimed by some that American settlers learned democracy from them.  Not true.  We probably learned federalism from the Iroquois.  We should be grateful for that.

With the exception of Russia and Belarus, I can't think of a white-majority country that isn't democratic and welcoming of other races to the franchise.  There are non-white majority democracies, like Japan and South Korea.  Some people would include India.  Indians are Caucasians, who to me resemble southern Europeans.  Even with India included, the tilt away from democracy is stark, although it's getting better.

5. Modern medicine.  Vaccines.  Antibiotics.  Anesthesia.  There are other systems of medicine.  Acupuncture and herbs are nice, but they do not rival allopathic medicine.

6. Higher math.  The Greeks get credit for geometry and the Indians for what's called Arabic numerals.  The real advance that underlies most of our major advances is calculus.  We can thank Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz.

7. The Green Revolution.  This is often referred to as the third revolution in agriculture.  Norman Borlaug developed higher yielding crops.  In 1970, he won the Nobel Prize and is credited with saving a billion people from starvation.  Of all the doomsday forecasts of the 20th century, the only one that presented a real tragedy was this one.  It didn't happen because Mr. Borlaug prevented it.

8. Trying to build a multiracial society.  A few years ago, it was easy to think we were making progress.  I still think that.  There is nothing inherently racist about today's American.  As Shelby Steele puts it, "[i]f you can't make it today, that's on you."  People of all races get along even under trying circumstances.

I take no credit for the achievements of the people I've written about.  I don't think of them as white – they are among the many people who have built our shared civilization – but people like Sarah Jeong force me to think in racial terms.  Instead of treating people as individuals, Jeong and her supporters pit groups against our civilization.  We have to stop them.  I am not advocating curtailing their freedom to say dumb things.  We have continue to point out that they are really dumb.


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