Academia at Forefront of Racist Ideals, White Supremacy
Academic ideas a pillar of racist thought
By Barry Mehler
Many of today's race scientists have reduced exceedingly complex questions about the nature of IQ and moral character to genetic coding — while downplaying experience, education and other environmental factors.
"Even a trait that is 100% heritable," Harvard genetics authority Richard Lewontin has written, "can easily be changed by environmental manipulation." Jerry Hirsch, one of the world's leading experts on behavior genetics, says that any set of genes can express a wide range of developmental outcomes.
In contrast to most of those who are pushing the idea of important racial IQ differences, critics of this view are generally far more steeped in laboratory work involving genetics.
According to Jonathan Beckwith, a professor of molecular genetics at Harvard University School of Medicine, "If you ask people in the mainstream genetics community, you are not going to find much support for this work."
"The myth of the all-powerful gene," adds Harvard biologist and ethicist Ruth Hubbard, "is based on flawed science that discounts the environmental context in which we and our genes exist."
Ultimately, the arguments of race scientists lead to the edge of a slippery slope toward eugenics — the "improvement" of a race by controlled breeding. In the 1930s and 1940s, Hitler's scientists fully realized this concept, establishing human breeding farms for "Aryans," sterilization and euthanasia for the mentally and physically disabled, and death camps for those deemed genetically inferior.
In the United States, officials often acting with court sanction sterilized the "retarded." While most Americans now see such actions as atrocities, the ideas that underlay them have a long history here.
Slavery, Segregation and Science
Revolutionary thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, seeking to justify their exploitation of other human beings, tried to explain their role as slavemasters in scientific terms. While "all men are created equal," later 19th-century academics argued, black Africans were not really men at all.
They were smaller-brained — an assertion that Glayde Whitney repeats today — and endowed with larger genitals. By the 1830s, American race scientists had developed a full-blown defense of slavery based on this kind of alleged African inferiority.
Even the abolitionist movement was not free from racism. Often, Republicans of the period opposed the extension of slavery simply because they did not want blacks in the new territories.
Emancipation, in fact, did not become a war aim until the end of 1862. Thus, it is little wonder that after the Civil War a second system of white supremacy — codified in Jim Crow laws — would emerge. White supremacy was the consensus nationwide.
After World War II and the experience of Nazi eugenics, ideological ascendancy passed to egalitarian thinkers. With the coming of the civil rights movement, from 1954 to 1968, America's second system of white supremacy collapsed — and with it, widespread support for the race scientists and eugenicists who had provided its ideological underpinning.
But even during the height of the egalitarian period, a core group of academic racists continued to argue for the importance of race-based IQ differences and even eugenic solutions — and to train a new generation of race scientists to carry on the torch of scientific racialism.
In 1954, for instance, a key witness defending segregation in court was Henry E. Garrett, who was probably the most influential psychologist of his time, chairman of Columbia University's psychology department and a one-time president of the American Psychological Association.
Had his view prevailed in the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, black Americans might still be attending "separate but equal" schools.
Black History as a 'Blank'
In the 1950s and '60s, the so-called White Citizens Councils — which today have been reincarnated as the Council of Conservative Citizens (see Sharks in the Mainstream) — used the work of Garrett and other race scientists to legitimize their views. Garrett, for one, was happy to lend his prestige to the white supremacist cause.
In a 1968 article in the White Citizens Council's official publication, Garrett put it plainly enough: "Despite glamorized accounts to the contrary, the history of Black Africa over the past 5,000 years is largely a blank." He added, "The crime record of the Negro in the United States is little short of scandalous."
Of the Supreme Court's Brown decision, Garrett said, "Should school desegregation become complete either North or South, we can expect total demoralization and then disorganization in that order."
By the 1980s, a full-blown culture war was under way. Liberals were accused of controlling the mind and media of the nation, with any dissent from the egalitarian position bringing immediate retribution.
Liberals were inquisitors happy to suppress the truth, the scheming architects of "the closing of the American mind." The conservatives saw themselves as battling the "political correctness" of truth-denying liberals.
Today, as underlined by the Snyderman/Rothman study, the views of those who look to race as a key component of intelligence are dominant within the IQ testing community — even though the same study found that a 47 percent plurality of magazine and newspaper editors believe that any racial IQ differences are caused entirely by environmental factors.
And this ascendancy of race science in academia seems to be leaking increasingly into relatively mainstream forums, with more overt racists using it to legitimize their ideology.
American Renaissance magazine is an example of an organization that presents itself as scientific but actually promotes some of the more virulent racial views. It is led by Jared Taylor, author of a controversial book on race, who last fall argued that for whites, multiculturalism is "nothing more than unilateral disarmament in a dangerous world."
Speakers at the American Renaissance gathering last fall where Taylor spoke included Glayde Whitney, who described blacks as "bigger in bone, smaller in brain," biologically specialized "primitives" wont to mating with whites.