Yes, you read it right: white people are more likely to marry other good people.

Just kidding!

Now that I have your attention, though, I hope you thought I was out of my mind. I may be, but for the record, I’m absolutely not saying that white people are good (and that non-white people aren’t). And geez, if I wanted to say that (which I don’t), I’d say it directly, not with underhanded rhetoric.

In the title, I wrote “white people . . . other good people.” That doesn’t even make sense, really.¹ It’s like talking about your other Range Rover when you only have one.

What did I mean by other good people when I hadn’t mentioned any particularly good people in the first place? Or had I?

Now read what David Brooks wrote earlier this week in the Opinion section of the New York Times:

Affluent, intelligent people are now more likely to marry other energetic, intelligent people.

Brooks mentioned “other energetic, intelligent people,” but he hadn’t mentioned any energetic, intelligent people in the first place; he’d only mentioned affluent, intelligent people.

Maybe Brooks didn’t notice his slip, because to him, the affluent people are the energetic people. Or maybe he intended to say flat out that poor people are lazy — which I think he believes — but he knew it would have been crude to say.

Even worse, saying that poor people are lazy, even if you believe it, wouldn’t have been “gentlemanly conduct.” Gentlemanly conduct is a thing the “best of the WASP elites” had, according to Brooks (in the same article). The WASP elites (and some Catholics) also thought the poor were lazy. They weren’t. They aren’t.

Why are 30 million Americans poor? To many the answer would be obvious: They are poor because they are lazy, or lack initiative, or prefer welfare to work.

Wrong, . . .

  — Jack Rosenthal, The New York Times, November 16, 1969.


¹ I’m not sure I’ve explained this clearly, so here’s an extended try. The construction “<adjective> people . . . other <adjective> people,” refers to some <adjective> people and then some additional <adjective> people of the same kind. For example: Tall people often date other tall people. Loud people sometimes even disturb other loud people. Clumsy people occasionally bump into other clumsy people.

On the other hand, to say “<adjective> people . . . other <different adjective> people” is a mistake, a ruse, or a (not necessarily good) joke. For example: Dumb people often marry other blondes. Homosexuals are more likely to marry other sailors.