Books by Mark Nathan Cohen

Released: March 1, 1998

In addressing questions of how we confuse cultural difference with biological inferiority, anthropologist Cohen attacks the sacred cows of American conservatism, including strict constitutional constructionism, ``canons'' of literary discourse, and IQ testing. ``We often cannot imagine that other people might prefer their ways to ours or derive satisfaction from things that appear to us to be `quaint' and `primitive,' '' Cohen (State Univ. of New York, Plattsburgh) writes, regarding his theory that we fabricate racial hierarchies to support our cultural narrowmindedness. As an anthropologist, Cohen is accustomed to imagining just such preferences, his role being to study, without judging, other cultures. In his consequent support of multiculturalism, Cohen argues that ``the much more difficult but potentially far more rewarding challenge is to comprehend the real depth and subtlety of differences and to permit others to be different yet still coexist.'' In the area of IQ testing, without presenting new research but capably marshalling existing studies, Cohen rebuts the idea that class stratifications along racial lines are a result of differences in intelligence and dismisses even the idea that intelligence is a finite quantity that can be measured with tests that are demonstrably biased. Cohen is able to make a very convincing case for affirmative action by showing how so-called corporate welfare and the inherent benefits of being a white male in American society are themselves a form of affirmative action. Readers will find this book a strong response to such ideologues as Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, and Allan Bloom. Read full book review >