Monday, September 07, 2020
Biology vs. Identity
I am very happy that I don't live in America. I don't think my political opinions would fit into the US categorization. I would say that I am left of center, which is to say that I support capitalism, but think that it needs an added dimension in the form of unions and government controls to make sure that the fruits of capitalism are fairly distributed. That basically counts as a "socialist" in the USA. However, many of the identity politics of the US political left are completely strange and incomprehensible to me. For example I am for equality, but against affirmative action (two wrongs don't make a right), so for a US liberal I am basically a "fascist".
Reading the news from the USA this week, I stumbled upon another story that is incomprehensible to me, the one about white people claiming to be black. I mean, I understand why somebody in a system of affirmative action would want to claim to belong to a minority, in order to trick a system that discriminates against his actual race. What I don't understand is the reaction and arguments of the "woke" people to this story. Suddenly biology is all the rage, and the identity you have been born with is declared to be an absolute truth.
But don't the same people use exactly the opposite argument in the discussion of gender identity? If somebody can be biologically a man, but identify as a woman, then why can't he be white and identify as black?
The reason I can't understand this is probably because I am a scientist, and I know a bit of biology, and believe in science. "White" and "black" are social constructs. Homo sapiens has no races, scientifically speaking. If you take a DNA ancestry test, the result you will get will be a list of percentages, and if you do several tests, you get different results. Elizabeth Warren has Native American ancestors, but expressed as a percentage, that ancestry is small. Pretty much nobody has one ancestry at 100%. On the other hand, a DNA test is pretty clear about whether you are biologically a man or a woman. Biology is a lot more definitive on gender than it is on race. Which to me means that if we accept somebody identifying as a gender that isn't supported by his biology, we also must accept if he identifies as a race that isn't supported by biology. Saying that race is absolute, and gender is relative, is not only inconsistent, but also contrary to the science behind it.