In the Victorian era, the Great Taboo was sex. Today, whatever the label we attach to our own age, the Great Taboo is race. The Victorians virtually denied that sex existed. Today, race is confidently said to be “merely a social construct,” a product of the imagination, and of none too healthy imaginations at that, rather than a reality of nature. The Victorians severely punished people who talked about sex, made jokes about sex, or wrote too openly and frankly about sex. Today, journalists, disc jockeys, leading sports figures, public officials, distinguished academics, and major political leaders who violate the racial taboos of our age are fired from their newspapers, networks, or radio stations, forced to resign their positions, condemned by their own colleagues, and subjected to “investigations” of their “backgrounds” and their “links” to other individuals and groups that have also violated the race taboo. We have not, at least in this country so far, reached the point where violating the race taboo brings criminal prosecution and imprisonment, as in both Europe and Canada it may well do, but there are several cases of supposed “white supremacists” being arrested or harassed by law enforcement agencies largely because of their alleged beliefs about race, and the constant agitation for ever more stringent measures against “hate crimes” and “hate speech” seems to point toward the eventual official entrenchment of the race taboo in formal law. Meanwhile, if the government is still restricted in the action it can take to stifle and suppress “racism,” the “anti-racist” political left seems to enjoy virtual carte blanche to denounce, vilify, spy on, demonstrate against, intimidate, and even occasionally assault and beat up individuals and organizations that have transgressed the racial Victorianism of our age.
Racial differences in intelligence, personality, and behavior have been discussed since ancient times. In the second century A.D. the Greek physician Galen wrote that black Africans are less intelligent than Europeans. In the Middle Ages a number of Persian and Arabic writers took the same view, and in the thirteenth century the Persian geographer Nasir al-Din Tusi went to far as to assert that black Africans were less intelligent than apes. The first to attempt to quantify race differences in intelligence was Sir Francis Galton in his *Hereditary Genius* (1869). He estimated the intelligence of several populations from the numbers of intelligent individuals as a proportion of the population. He concluded that the Greeks of the classical period were the most highly intelligent people that have ever appeared and that the lowland Scots were slightly more intelligent than the English. He considered sub-Saharan Africans to be much less intelligent and the Australian Aborigines the least intelligent race. Galton did not make any estimate of the intelligence of the American Indians or Orientals. However, he considered the Chinese a highly intelligent people. In a letter published in *The Times* in 1873 he wrote that “The Chinaman is endowed with a remarkable aptitude for a high material civilization. He is seen to the least advantage in his own country, where a temporary dark age still prevails, which has not sapped the genius of the race though it has stunted the development of each member of it by a rigid enforcement of an effete system of classical education which treats originality as a crime.” Galton’s estimates are quite close to those obtained in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries from intelligence tests.