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article imageOp-Ed: A drug to 'cure' racism?

By Alexander Baron     Mar 9, 2012 in Health
Oxford - According to new research, a drug used to treat heart disease has an unusual side-effect, combating 'racism', but as usual, things are not quite what they appear.
We know the lunatics have taken over the asylum, now they appear to have taken over the research laboratories as well. This story - which has of course been widely reported - will give all manner of loonies and opportunists a bandwagon to jump on. The supposedly so right wing Daily Mail has of course put its own spin on the story about this Oxford University trial of propranolol which involved a staggering 36 people including the control group. Usually, medical trials involve at least hundreds and sometimes hundreds of thousands. The world famous Framingham study has monitored an entire American town since 1948, and its findings with regard to the factors involved in cardiovascular disease have been at best inconclusive.
Since it was coined by Magnus Hirschfeld back in the 1930s, the word racism has become as nebulous as the word crime. Shoplifting is crime, so is serial murder, so too - in some countries - is consenting adults engaging in certain sexual practices or drinking alcohol. While only an imbecile would equate serial murder with consensual sex, racism has become a blanket epithet used for any real or apparent manifestation of racial consciousness among whites - and sometimes others - and is to be universally condemned. So we are told. And the forms of racism have multiplied; along with violent racism, epidermal fetishism, meta-racism, and institutional racism we even have benign racism, ie people can be nasty by being nice.
It would be easy for a visitor from Mars to think Apartheid and even slavery were still practised, judging by the hysteria that is generated over this subject. What sort of racism are we talking about here? Apparently it is subconscious racism. What else?
After the study, both the group that had received the drug and the control group that had received the placebo were asked to take a racial Implicit Association Test, and, surprise, surprise:
“The researchers found it took the placebo volunteers longer to associate a black face with a positive word than it took to link a white face with a positive word.
This was taken as proof they were biased towards being racist at a subconscious level.”
Amazing. Or it could be that the people who took the real drug were feeling happy. It is well known that taking some drugs has this effect on people, while on others it can have precisely the opposite effect.
Are we to take this mumbo jumbo seriously? If you want, you can take a racial Implicit Association Test yourself, like this one at Harvard University. One of the questions is do you prefer Barack Obama to JFK? Easy, Obama, because he's not dead.
It is also easy to see why someone like Peter Tatchell would find Barack Obama attractive but not Michelle Obama, but let's not go there!
It would be interesting to see the results of this test applied to blacks; what would the Oxford researchers make, one wonders, of the rapper Lil Wayne who says in his song Right Above It: “Beautiful black woman, I bet that bitch look better red” ?
Is that racist or sexist or both? Whatever, not a few black women are not amused, judging by the responses on YouTube.
Regardless of the ludicrousness of the claims attributed to propranolol, one can see how this could have great scope for both the reduction of crime and the promotion of world peace. Maybe Messrs Dobson & Norris could be required to take the drug before they are granted parole in the distant future?
If it were added to the water supply in Rwanda - uh oh, 18 years too late for that.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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