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26 April 2010

Another (Mainly) Non-White Genetic Disease

It turns out that sickle-cell anaemia is not the only drawback to hereditary malaria-immunity.

A U.S. Government website says this: "African American women are three times as likely as white women to get lupus. African American women tend to develop lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms than white women." The disease affects mainly females. ) I am wondering if an analysis of the sample identified as "white women" would further define the populations that have this order and those that do not. It seems entirely likely, given that some of the populations customarily called white, like Jews, have significant Negro admixture.

If there are any people of strictly European ancestry that have this mutation, they would most likely be descended from coastal or other lowland populations, since malaria does not occur except where there is a habitat for mosquitoes.

For some reason, it is difficult to find representations of the disease online that feature Asians or Negroes, even though they are the ones above all that suffer from it. In this illustration published by Aurora Health Care, they make the disease-sufferer White and male, which is the least likely demographic to suffer this hideous affliction! (I wonder if they also present an image of a worried man with their breast-cancer literature.) I will spare you the sight of a skin-diseased Negress, although I did find a couple of such images.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Why lupus is more common in people of Asian and African descent

April 12, 2010 | 6:53 pm

A group of scientists think they've figured out why the autoimmune disease lupus afflicts people of Asian and African descent at higher rates than Caucasians.

Their theory: A form of a gene that raises risk of lupus has a plus side -- rendering the carrier more resistant to malaria.

That means the gene would be useful, and selected for, in areas of the world where malaria is rife. In those places, the downside of increased lupus risk would be far outweighed by the added protection against malaria.

And -- like a fossil -- the gene variant would persist in the DNA of people whose ancestors came from malaria regions, even when those people don't live with the threat of malaria.

The study, conducted by a team of British researchers, was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It found higher rates of the gene variant in Hong Kong patients with lupus compared with matched controls -- and it found lower rates of the gene variant in children in Kenya who had gotten malaria compared with the general population there.

The gene in this case (known as Fc gamma RIIB) is a receptor involved in the immune response, and so the finding makes sense -- a ramped up immune system would help fight infection but could also raise the risk for autoimmune conditions.

It's a similar story to that seen with the gene for sickle cell disease. This gene protects against malaria, but when a person has two copies of it, it causes the sickle-cell blood disease. Rates of the mutations causing sickle cell disease remain higher in African Americans today.

--Rosie Mestel

16 April 2010

Martin Heidegger on the "Jewish Contamination of German Spiritual Life"

At this National-Socialist gathering Heidegger sits at the table toward the right, marked with an x.

Nobody can argue that the great Martin Heidegger was acting under any pressure or stating any view other than his own in this confidential letter that preceded the rise of the NSDAP, and gives an indication of why some anti-Jewish measures of the NSDAP were necessary.


Freiburg i. Br., 2 October 1929

Most esteemed Mr. Privy Councillor,

In the coming days, Dr. Baumgarten's application for a fellowship will be sent to the Emergency Association (of German Science). I should like to add to the official letter of recommendation my personal request to you, esteemed Mr. Privy Councillor, to give this application your undivided attention. In what follows, I want to make more explicit what I could only indirectly hint at in my recommendation. Nothing less is at stake than our undeferrable facing of the fact that we are confronted by a crucial choice: either to infuse, again, our German spiritual life with genuine indigenous forces and educators, or to leave it at the mercy, once and for all, of the growing Jewish contamination, both in a larger and a narrower sense. We can only regain our own path, if we prove capable of helping fresh forces to prosper, without the usual baiting and fruitless controversies.

With this great goal in mind, I would be particularly obliged, if Mr. Baumgarten whom I have chosen as my "assistant," could receive the fellowship support requested.

We are currently enjoying the most beautiful fall days in our new home, and I take great pleasure, every day, in seeing my work deeply rooted in our native soil.

In sincere appreciation, I am, most esteemed Mr. Privy Councillor,devotedly yours,

Martin Heidegger
Translated by Manfred Stassen

14 April 2010

A Birth Defect that Hinders Development of Racial Discrimination

Left, a representation of a juvenile White male affected by Williams syndrome. Right, a normal face. (BBC)

Probably many of us have noticed that people with strange views and strange tendencies also often look strange. You may have said about some such person, There's something wrong with him. There may be a sound instinct underlying such observations. It could very well be the case that a genetic problem underlies the strange appearance as well as the strange behavior that goes with it.
"More than 700 genetic syndromes affect facial traits," according to BBC science reporter Rebecca Morelle. "For some genetic conditions, facial differences can be very subtle.... "

A real example of Williams syndrome, less obvious than some. (Psychology Today)

Many of these genetically defective people therefore would pass for normal; the appearance of some person affected by Williams syndrome, for example, might  strike many as being within the normal range. How many peculiarities of physical appearance point toward a psychological peculiarity that hasn't been documented?

E.R. Jaensch put forth the theory that political unrest was rooted in genetic and other physical problems that produce defective instincts, what could be called a lack of common sense, in a portion of the population. Specifically Jaensch focused on mixed racial heritage and latent tuberculosis as physical conditions that often underlie subversive political tendencies. (A study by researchers at UC Davis has recently established a correlation between race-mixture and mental illness in the case of Mongoloid-Caucasoid crossings.)

The Jews, in Jaensch's view, constituted a source of social problems because they were an organized population of instinctually defective people, having their origin in a mixture of highly diverse and incompatible racial elements, yet retaining sufficient mental strengths to make them dangerous.

Similarly, researchers have found that children with Williams syndrome have defective instincts. While normal children exhibit preference for their own race at three years old, Williams syndrome children never develop this preference.

Might the lack of any tendency toward racial discrimination generally be due to some subtle organic defect?

Williams syndrome, in addition to the strange facial appearance and lack of racial instinct, is
also typically accompanied by poor muscle development, small teeth, heart and circulatory problems, hypercalcemia (which may or may not last into adulthood, and produces extreme irritability), and joint problems.

These defective individuals are not without some strengths, however. The Williams Syndrome Association says, "Older children and adults with Williams syndrome often demonstrate intellectual 'strengths and weaknesses.' There are some intellectual areas (such as speech, long term memory, and social skills) in which performance is quite strong, while other intellectual areas (such as fine motor and spatial relations) are significantly deficient.
" Imagine the source of trouble that a cohesive population of such people might present.

Absence of racial, but not gender, stereotyping in Williams syndrome children (Current Biology, 13 April 2010)

Andreia Santos1, 2, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg1, and Christine Deruelle2

Stereotypes --  often implicit attributions to an individual based on group membership categories such as race, religion, age, gender, or nationality --  are ubiquitous in human interactions. Even three-year old children clearly prefer their own ethnic group and discriminate against individuals of different ethnicities[1]. While stereotypes may enable rapid behavioural decisions with incomplete information, such biases can lead to conflicts and discrimination, especially because stereotypes can be implicit and automatic [2], making an understanding of the origin of stereotypes an important scientific and socio-political topic. An important process invoked by out-groups is social fear [3]. A unique opportunity to study the contribution of this mechanism to stereotypes is afforded by individuals with the microdeletion disorder Williams syndrome (WS), in which social fear is absent, leading to an unusually friendly, high approachability behaviour, including towards strangers [4]. Here we show that children with WS lack racial stereotyping, though they retain gender stereotyping, compared to matched typically developing children. Our data indicate that mechanisms for the emergence of gender versus racial bias are neurogenetically dissociable. Specifically, because WS is associated with reduced social fear, our data support a role of social fear processing in the emergence of racial, but not gender, stereotyping.

1 Central Institute of Mental Health, University of Heidelberg/Medical Faculty Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany
2 Mediterranean Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, CNRS, Marseille, France

04 April 2010

South-Asians Admire Hitler

Nothing is quite so effective in undermining an irrational attitude as showing that it is by no means universal.

From the Daily Telegraph:

Indian business students snap up copies of Mein Kampf
Sales of Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler's autobiography and apologia for his anti-semitism, are soaring in India where business students regard the dictator as a management guru.

By Monty Munford in New Delhi
Published: 7:00AM BST 20 Apr 2009

Booksellers told The Daily Telegraph that while it is regarded in most countries as a 'Nazi Bible', in India it is considered a management guide in the mould of Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese". Sales of the book over the last six months topped 10,000 in New Delhi alone, according to leading stores, who said it appeared to be becoming more popular with every year.

Several said the surge in sales was due to demand from students who see it as a self-improvement and management strategy guide for aspiring business leaders, and who were happy to cite it as an inspiration. "Students are increasingly coming in asking for it and we're happy to sell it to them," said Sohin Lakhani, owner of Mumbai-based Embassy books who reprints Mein Kampf every quarter and shrugs off any moral issues in publishing the book.
"They see it as a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it".

Jaico Publishing House, one of the publishers in India, said it reprints a new edition of the book at least twice a year to meet growing demand. "We were the first company to publish the book in India and there are now six other Indian publishers of the book, although we were first to take a chance on it," said Jaico's chief editor, R H Sharma, who dismissed any moral issues in publishing Mein Kampf.

"The initial print run of 2,000 copies in 2003 sold out immediately and we knew we had a best-seller on our hands. Since then the numbers have increased every year to around 15,000 copies until last year when we sold 10,000 copies over a six-month period in our Delhi shops," he added.

Senior academics cite the mutual influence of India and Hitler's Nazis on one another. Mahatma Gandhi corresponded with the Führer, pro-Independence leader Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army allied with Hitler's Germany and Japan during the Second World War, and the Nazis drew on Hindu symbolism for their Swastika motif and ideas of Aryan supremacy.

Dr J Kuruvachira, Professor of Philosophy of Salesian College in Nagaland and who has cited Mein Kampf as a source of inspiration to the Hindu nationalist BJP, said he believed the book's popularity was due to political reasons. "While it could be the case that management students are buying the book, my feeling is that it has more likely influenced some of the fascist organisations operating in India and nearby," he said.

Indian leader Subhas Chandra Bose (right) in Germany during World War II
India is not the only country where Mein Kampf is popular. It has been a best-seller in Croatia since it was first published [there] while in Turkey it sold 100,000 in just two months in 2005. In Russia it has been reprinted three times since the de facto ban on the book was overturned in 1992.

In Germany the book's copyright is held by the state of Bavaria where its publication is banned until 2015, 70 years after Hitler's death.

In India, any book more than 25 years old is free of copyright, which has paved the way for six separate publishers to print the book.

From der Spiegel:

The Führer Cult

Germans Cringe at Hitler's Popularity in Pakistan

[Why would they cringe?]

By Hasnain Kazim in Islamabad, Pakistan
The swastika is a religious symbol of good luck.
The swastika is a religious symbol of good luck.
Germans are popular in India and Pakistan, but not always for the right reasons. Many in South Asia have nothing but admiration for Adolf Hitler and still associate Germany with the Third Reich. Everyday encounters with the love of all things Nazi makes German visitors cringe.
Pakistan is the opposite of Germany. The mountains are in the north, the sea is in the south, the economic problems are in the west and the east is doing well. It's not hard for a German living in Pakistan to get used to these differences, but one contrast is hard to stomach: Most people like Hitler.
--> I was recently at the hairdresser, an elderly man who doesn't resort to electric clippers. All he has is creaky pair of scissors, a comb, an aerosol with water. He did a neat job but I wasn't entirely happy.
I said: "I look like Hitler."
He looked at me in the mirror, gave a satisfied smile and said: "Yes, yes, very nice."
I decided not to challenge him, went home and tried to get rid of the strict parting he'd given me.

Embarrassing Moments
I was glad I avoided the usual Hitler conversation. Pakistanis always hone in on that topic whenever they talk to Germans. "We're Aryans too," they say, because there was an Indo-Germanic race, the Aryas. Besides, Hitler was a military genius, they add.
Sometimes it's better to keep quiet about one's German origins. It's embarrassing because people here think they're doing you a favor by expressing their admiration for the Nazi leader. I suspect most Indians and Pakistanis have no idea what this man did. They see him as the bold Führer who took on the British and Americans.
In the Islamic world, not just in Pakistan but right across from Iran to northern Africa, anti-Semitic sentiment of course plays a role. Conversations with German visitors rapidly turn to the injustice being suffered by the Palestinians who were robbed of their land.
The Desire to be Swallowed up by the Ground
One can try to cut such conversations short, like a German acquaintance of mine did recently. He told a taxi driver in Iran he should stop talking nonsense because he as a dark-skinned person wouldn't have survived long in Nazi Germany. The taxi driver looked at him surprised and said: "But I'm Aryan!"
The alternative is just to wish the ground would swallow you up, like when German friends visited us while we were staying with our Pakistani relatives in London. Out of the blue, one uncle started talking admiringly about Hitler, his supposed military feats and how he led Germany out of economic misery. Our friends just sat there stony-faced and didn't know what to say. Later on my parents apologized to them.
I don't know where this fascination comes from, not just for the Nazis but for all things German. Most people don't realize that today's Germany is very different from the Third Reich. It's not surprising. Many have never even been to the next big city in their own country, so how should they know what things are like in Germany these days?
"I Like Nazi"
As a result, many Pakistanis easily switch from Hitler to Mercedes ("Very excellent car, but a little too expensive"). A few days ago a white Mercedes built in the 1970s was driving ahead of me in the center of Islamabad carrying a family of seven. On the back was a sticker bearing a black swastika in a white circle. Underneath it read: "I like Nazi."
--> It's not just Muslims who maintain this Nazi cult. A few years ago, a Hindu businessman in India opened a restaurant called "Hitler's Cross," complete with a portrait of the Führer at the entrance. Another Hindu sold bed linen emblazoned with swastikas that had little to do with the Hindu swastika symbol for good luck. The sheets, pillow cases and bed spreads were advertised as being part of "The Nazi Collection." English editions of Hitler's "Mein Kampf" can be found in bookshops even in the most remote parts of India. And Indian schoolbooks have been known to celebrate Hitler as a great leader.
Once my wife and I visited the cafe in the beautiful Hotel Imperial in New Delhi. It has a garden lined with palms, excellent tea and friendly waiters in uniforms that recall the colonial era. A young man served us. The name tag on his uniform attracted my interest so I asked him why he had this rather unusual name for an Indian man. "Oh, my parents named me after a great historic person," he explained.
The name, in black letters on a golden plate, read: Adolf.