Is a left-wing author allowed to believe in genetics? The question is only partially sarcastic: Doctrinaire progressives are inclined to cringe (at least for public consumption) at the idea that one’s DNA might drive real differences that shape our lives. Indeed, the whole concept is seen as a means of justifying social inequality, and perhaps even a step down the slippery slope to eugenics.
But there’s been pushback among some progressives recently, based on the idea that anyone who cares about equity or social justice should care about genes. After all, the genes we get are purely a function of luck—an unfair and unequal system of advantages and disadvantages whose effects can be addressed through public policy. In this regard, at least, genes aren’t too different from other forms of “privilege” that progressives talk about all the time.
Robert VerBruggen is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
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