Right-wing movie critic Michael Medved, best known as the author of "The Golden Turkey Awards" and one of the two guys who ran Sneak Previews into the ground after Siskel and Ebert left, has written the most shockingly ignorant work of lunacy I can remember reading all year. Medved claims that America's economic position is a result of superior genetics.
The gist of Medved's claim? Only risk takers leave their homes. Risk taking is a genetic trait (governed by the “dopamine receptor system – the pathway in the brain that figures centrally in boldness and novelty seeking”). All Americans left their homes voluntarily, or their ancestors did. And therefore, we're a nation of Khan Noonian Singhs, destined to leave our old country genetic competitors in the dust.
Well, most of us are.
The idea of a distinctive, unifying, risk-taking American DNA might also help to explain our most persistent and painful racial divide – between the progeny of every immigrant nationality that chose to come here, and the one significant group that exercised no choice in making their journey to the U.S. Nothing in the horrific ordeal of African slaves, seized from their homes against their will, reflected a genetic predisposition to risk-taking, or any sort of self-selection based on personality traits.
So black Americans descended of slaves are placid, dull beasts, fearful of risk. Not like the intrepid gamblers who make up the rest of this great nation. Medved goes on to state that because of the American (well, for most of us) propensity to risk and enterprise, the policies of the Democratic Party are not just wrong on moral grounds or because superior alternatives are available: They conflict with our very genes.
I rather like America, but if I didn't I could propose an equally valid genetic theory. All Americans, except for the descendants of slaves, are proven descendants of the quarrelsome, the maladjusted, criminals, shiftless dreamers, and sociopaths unable to succeed or to get along in their native societies. Under the Popehat alternative to Medved's law of genetics, we're a nation of losers.
This guy is wrong in so many ways that my jaw drops to see him published even in Town Hall. Considering that what he claims to be good science is just the warmed-over social darwinism and British Israelism under which this country perpetrated all of the worst horrors in its history, I'd call him evil if he weren't so obviously just mind-bogglingly stupid.
Via Pandagon, which is taking a "used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused" approach to the whole thing.