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.
Some are trying to understand what is going on.
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.
12 thoughts on “The Riot at Middlebury College and Academic Life.”
Relevant video here:
The one man most responsible for destroying the Blank Slate orthodoxy was a Chicago Boy, Robert Ardrey. The academic “tribe” will never recognize what he did, because it would be too shameful to admit that an outsider and a “mere playwright” was right when they were wrong, and not only wrong but actively trying to peddle a pseudo-religion as “science.” As a result, today Robert Ardrey is an unperson. No matter, he was still right, and they are still wrong.
One of the many things Ardrey was right about was what he called back in the day when Freud was still in vogue the “Amity-Enmity Complex.” This “Complex” is the innate tendency of human beings to perceive others in terms of ingroups or outgroups, or “tribes.” We all have this tendency, and we only fool ourselves by imagining we are free of it. It is very useful to occasionally consider the identity of our own ingroups and outgroups. There is no question that this “tribalism” was responsible for the attack on Murray, not to mention the Left’s current obsessive jihad against Trump and his supporters. They imagine that because they define their tribe/ingroup in terms of ideology rather than race, religion, ethnicity, etc., they are immune to bigotry when, in fact, they are the greatest bigots of all. One can find ample proof of that in the utter lack of ideological diversity on college campuses, the MSM, etc.
Ardrey’s “Complex” is part of the reason for the Left’s constant hostility to the reality of human nature. Human nature stands in the way of all the utopias they have attempted to cobble together for us over the years. It is also the reason that the sort of “diversity” they want to foist on the rest of us is not a source of strength, but of weakness. Many states have collapsed because of it in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. For example, we recently witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union once Communism, the ideological glue that held it together, dissolved. Today we see a similar tendency for the European Union, a “diverse” country if ever there was one, to fall apart, in spite of the very real economic advantages for its existence. As the United States becomes more “diverse” it will increasingly show such centrifugal tendencies as well. That is particularly true in view of the systematic destruction in our high schools and universities of any basis for considering ourselves “one people” based on a shared consciousness of a great past guided by great leaders. In fact, people like Washington, Jefferson, and Madison accomplished more for genuine “human flourishing” than all the Social Justice Warriors in the world combined, regardless of whether they owned slaves or not. Denying their legacy and reducing them to the level of criminals is one of the many ways in which we are currently destroying the basis for our continued existence as a united country.
Vox Day summarizes our current plight well–Diversity + Proximity = War.
The LA Times (speaking of Hiltzik) is absolutely hysterical today about Trump, and I assume this means they think he is succeeding.
They appear to not be accepting most comments. They certainly did not accept mine.
“Are adulthood and leftist politics now compatible ? I don’t know”
About 15 years ago someone wrote an article titled “Can There Be a Decent Left?”
Related post by Stuart Schneiderman, citing Jonathan Haidt
From Mike’s LA Times piece, In the days ahead, The Times editorial board will look more closely at the new president, with a special attention to three troubling traits: blah, blah, blah
I suppose it must be my deplorable nature, but I find those traits especially untroubling. Even comforting.
I know its cliche to keep saying it, but Trump’s disregard of these malicious propagandists was always the best part of his message.
I just saw this today about Trump’s success so far reversing Obama’s destruction of America:
I doubt ABC and the AP would think of it in those positive terms, but the rest of us down here in the United States feel differently. There’s so much sudden optimism that even over-taxed, over-regulated, on-the-edge-of-default Illinois is starting to perk up from the spillover.
There’s so much sudden optimism
Maybe we should call it Sudden Optimism Syndrome. While the media repeat endlessly talking points about how bad Trump is, other people notice that the Trump administration is systematically removing regulatory impediments to economic growth.
I’m not dancing any jigs until he gets the EPA to stop protecting the goddam spotted owl.
Powerline today has a few doubts about the economy.
When Gingrich engineered the 1994 takeover, the Congress was united and did some good work. Hastert was deeply corrupt and they bogged down.
Now, I just don’t know. They may be too deep into the trough in DC.
That’s because interest rates are rising. Banks are getting ahead of the Fed’s rate increases.
We need tax cuts repatriation badly. US corporations have a trillion dollars parked overseas. If we can get some of it back here then it will more than make up for banks loaning less.
Ignorant, inexperienced, stupid, lazy people have always been easy to manipulate. Our campuses are full of them, especially the elite liberal arts schools–they are aka “students.” The “ignorance” and “inexperienced” parts may be marginally larger or more so than heretofore, but only in degree, not kind.
What has mostly changed is you now have a huge, well-placed body of nihilists who have the will and tools to manipulate them. They are aka “faculty,” “administrators,” “liberals,” and “Democrats.”
The inestimable Jonathan Haidt has a more nuanced view of the student body and how it suddenly changed ca. 2014, and his many writings and videos are worth a good look. But notwithstanding his analysis, I would argue that the changes he sees made the ground more fertile, but it still also required the plowmen I listed above to bring on the disaster.
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