Saletan's assertion that Jews don't mention that they are a race out of politeness -- because gentiles would find the idea of Jews being a race offensive and Jews never want to cause offense -- is pretty funny. In reality, of course, gentiles seldom mention that Jews are, more or less, a hereditary racial group because they don't want to be denounced for it by hotly offended, verbally facile, high IQ, argumentatively tireless Jewish intellectuals.
Are Jews a race? Is Jewish intelligence genetic?
If these notions make you cringe, you're not alone. Many non-Jews find them offensive. Actually, scratch that. I have no idea whether non-Jews find them offensive. But I imagine that they do, which is why Jews like me wince at any suggestion of Jewish genetic superiority. We don't even want to talk about it.
Actually, a bunch of us did talk about it, three days ago at a forum at the American Enterprise Institute. The main speaker was Jon Entine, an AEI fellow and author of a new book, Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People. He was joined by fellow AEI scholar Charles Murray and by Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at Northwestern University. Entine and Zoloth are Jewish. Murray isn't but talks as though he wishes he were. "One of my thesis advisers at MIT was a Sephardic Jew," he announced proudly, turning the old "some of my best friends" cliché upside down.
My pet theory has long been that one important reason that Ashkenazi Jews are so suited to triumphing via argument in the modern world is because they developed for centuries in a largely unarmed shtetl culture where to argue aggressively didn't put your life at risk. Heinlein famously asserted that "An armed society is a polite society," but the inverse would seem also to be true: "An unarmed society is an argumentative society."
In contrast, gentlemen in England wore swords until some point in the 18th Century (and England was a fairly low violence society compared to the rest of Europe). Alexander Hamilton was removed from the gene pool in a duel in 1804, and a U.S. Senator was killed in a duel in San Francisco as late as 1859.
Argument is a two edged sword. Without arguing, you can't make as much progress as fast in understanding the world (as the enormous number of hard science Nobel Prizes won by Jews attests). But, you can also use your ardor for verbal combat to browbeat others who lack your love of endless argument into either acquiescence or silence, as shown by the long history of bad ideas such as Freudianism that Jewish advocates have verbally badgered much of the rest of the world into at least temporarily conceding.