Recently, Charles Murray, author of the book, “The Bell Curve,” a study of intelligence in the population, was invited to speak at Middlebury college, a liberal arts college in Vermont. His attempt to speak was interrupted by a riot which injured a professor at the college.
Inside Higher Ed’s story on the event explains that college officials admonished the students prior to the talk that they could protest but not disrupt Murray’s talk, which was to be about the way white America is coming apart—the title of his latest book—along class lines. Unfortunately, that admonition did no good. “As soon as Murray took the stage,” we read, “students stood up, turned their backs to him and started various chants that were loud enough and in unison such that he could not talk over them.
The confrontation continued after he had left the stage and attempted to move to another location.
And then matters turned worse. Fearing that there might be a raucous, disruptive mob instead of an audience of students willing to listen and consider Murray’s arguments, school administrators had set up a contingency plan. Once it became clear that the mob had killed the lecture, they moved to another location where Murray would give his talk, which would be live-streamed to students.
Sadly, that location was soon beset by the mob, with banging on windows and pulling of fire alarms. Murray and Professor Allison Stanger, who was the moderator for the talk, tried their best to continue a rational discussion.
Finally, Murray, Professor Stanger, and a few others tried to leave campus.
Mayhem resulted when Professor Stanger, who had been willing to state her agreement that Murray should not have been invited, was injured.
Why did this happen ? Tribalism ?
Unfortunately, intellectual tribalism is spreading like the Black Death among so-called progressives. Anyone who disagrees with progressive policies is likely to be labeled an enemy, much as Karl Marx labeled everyone who rejected his beliefs a “class enemy.” The more influential such a person is, the more vehement the attacks and hatred against him. Murray, for example, is called a “racist” and “white supremacist” even though he is neither.
It may simply be that the students were reacting to a book none of them had ever read and which does not exist.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, an infamous book is one that people castigate but do not read. Perhaps no modern work better fits this description than “The Bell Curve” by political scientist Charles Murray and the late psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein. Published in 1994, the book is a sprawling (872 pages) but surprisingly entertaining analysis of the increasing importance of cognitive ability in the United States. It also included two chapters that addressed well-known racial differences in IQ scores (chapters 13-14). After a few cautious and thoughtful reviews, the book was excoriated by academics and popular science writers alike. A kind of grotesque mythology grew around it. It was depicted as a tome of racial antipathy; a thinly veiled expression of its authors’ bigotry; an epic scientific fraud, full of slipshod scholarship and outright lies. As hostile reviews piled up, the real Bell Curve, a sober and judiciously argued book, was eclipsed by a fictitious alternative. This fictitious Bell Curve still inspires enmity; and its surviving co-author is still caricatured as a racist, a classist, an elitist, and a white nationalist.
I read it in 1994 and had colleagues at Dartmouth College ask to borrow it when I finished as they did not want to be seen buying it at the Dartmouth Bookstore.
There is a lot of the “White Nationalism” term, like that thrown around by Max Boot, who calls himself a Republican.
Trump is an ignorant demagogue who traffics in racist and misogynistic slurs and crazy conspiracy theories. He champions protectionism and isolationism — the policies that brought us the Great Depression and World War II. He wants to undertake a police-state roundup of undocumented immigrants and to bar Muslims from coming to this country. He encourages his followers to assault protesters and threatens to sue or smear critics. He would abandon Japan and South Korea and break up the most successful alliance in history — NATO. But he has kind words for tyrants such as Vladimir Putin.
Boot seems to be to have become unhinged at Trump’s election.
He has even made his insane theories public in a left wing but widely considered magazine, called “Foreign Policy.”
in the days when the Republican Party was defined by Reagan. But those days are long past. Today it’s Donald Trump’s party, and there is not much breathing room between King and Trump when it comes to white nationalism. Indeed, after initially supporting Ted Cruz in last year’s primaries, King has become an avid Trump supporter.
The echoes between the two men — the Iowa contractor-turned-congressman and the New York real estate magnate-turned-president — are uncanny and disturbing. As Amber Phillips of the Washington Post pointed out last year:
Yes, how dare contractors and real estate magnates pretend they know more than the potentates of opinion and think tanks.
Boot worked as a writer and editor for Christian Science Monitor and then for The Wall Street Journal in the 1990s. He is now Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Yes, writing and “fellowship” at think tanks are superior to the experiences of those who have merely earned a living building things and engaging in the low field of business, or “Trade” as it was referred to in Aristocratic England or ancien regime France.
To college students today, many of whom cannot identify the opposing parties in the US Civil War, the unread books of “Dead White Males,” or even living scholars like Murray, are heresy.
It is easy to dismiss this outburst as an ill-informed spasm of overzealous college students, but their ignorance of The Bell Curve and its author is widely shared among social scientists, journalists, and the intelligentsia more broadly. Even media outlets that later lamented the Middlebury debacle had published – and continue to publish – opinion pieces that promoted the fictitious Bell Curve, a pseudoscientific manifesto of bigotry. In a fairly typical but exceptionally reckless 1994 review, Bob Hebert (black writer) asserted, “Murray can protest all he wants, his book is just a genteel way of calling somebody a n*gger.” And Peter Beinart, in a defense of free speech published after the Middlebury incident, wrote, “critics called Murray’s argument intellectually shoddy, racist, and dangerous, and I agree.”
Those are adults, although they are of the left. Are adulthood and leftist politics now compatible ? I don’t know.
Leftists, like The LA Times’ Michael Hiltzik says no but I don’t consider him an honest source. Back in the days of Cathy Seipp’s blog, she outed him for using “sock puppets” or false ID for posting items attacking those who disagreed with him.
The Los Angeles Times suspended the blog of one of its top columnists last night, saying he violated the paper’s policy by posting derogatory comments under an assumed name.
The paper said in an online editor’s note that Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize winner who writes the Golden State column, had admitted posting remarks on both his Times blog and on other Web sites under names other than his own. The Times said it is investigating the matter. Editor Dean Baquet declined comment, and Hiltzik said he could not comment.
The deceptive postings grew out of a running feud between Hiltzik and conservative bloggers in Southern California. One is Hugh Hewitt, a radio talk show host and blogger. The other is an assistant Los Angeles district attorney named Patrick Frey, who maintains a blog under the name Patterico’s Pontifications.
He was suspended but eventually reinstated. I do not consider him honest. This is a serious problem. The universities are becoming an leftist echo chamber and violence is not ruled out.