Academic Racists' Work Inching Toward Legitimacy

Into the Mainstream

J. Philippe Rushton is best known for his dubious work as a race scientist, proposing such theories as an inverse relationship between brain and penis size and the general notion that blacks are not as smart as whites. Recently, the venomous psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada -- a man who heads up and also is subsidized by the racist Pioneer Fund -- unleashed yet another attack, saying "Toronto the Good" had been wrecked by "black people."

Unfortunately, some people still seem to take Rushton seriously.

This October, a refereed academic journal, Nations and Nationalism, published a Rushton study that "proved" that co-ethnics are as genetically similar to one another as half-siblings. Rushton's real point is that members of ethnic groups typically show favoritism for their own group. Or, as Rushton expressed it in a press release, "People have a need to identify and be with others like themselves."

Four months earlier, in June, he published an article in Psychology, Public Policy and Law, a journal of the American Psychological Association, arguing that Asians are smarter than whites, who are in turn smarter than blacks. In this case, however, the journal's editors apparently knew of Rushton's racist background, and also published three rebuttals. But there were no rebuttals offered in December 2004, when the British journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Science, published another Rushton article on co-ethnics. The study was reported later on the Fox News Channel's Web site, again without any background on its author.

Another academic racist, Jared Taylor of American Renaissance magazine, released in September a new version of The Color of Crime, a booklet that claims blacks are especially prone to criminality. The booklet was cited in a conservative Cornell University student publication, The Cornell American, where columnist Chris Menzel used it to warn fellow students about "gangs of black thugs." It was also quoted by blogger Nicholas Stix to justify segregated neighborhoods.

Another Taylor essay -- a column on Hurricane Katrina that concluded that "when blacks are left entirely to their own devices ... civilization disappears" -- was the subject of a major panel discussion at FrontPageMagazine.com. The site is run by right-wing ideologue David Horowitz, who criticized Taylor's racism but said he had had the "courage or integrity" to examine black criminal behavior. Several of those on the panel criticized Front Page for taking Taylor's work seriously.

Other similar "scientists" haven't fared as well as Rushton and Taylor. Britons Paul Ewing and Richard Lynn -- Lynn, like Rushton, is a Pioneer Fund beneficiary -- scored a coup when they got an article arguing that men are smarter than women into the British Journal of Psychology. But a respected academic journal, Nature, heard about the forthcoming study, and on the day it was released Nature published a full-scale rebuttal saying the study was "deeply flawed" and "utter hogwash."