I just caught up with Charles Murray’s brave and perspicacious column at NRO about Jason Richwine. I know memories are short, but the outrageous story of how Mr. Richwine was hounded out of his job at the Heritage Foundation by a gaggle of PC witch-hunters last month is worth bearing in mind. His own account of his travails is very much worth reading. The bare outline:
- On May 6, Mr. Richwine’s co-authored report on the fiscal cost of immigration amnesty (we’re talking trillions, trillions) is published by Heritage. Many interviews, lots of media attention.
- The next day, The Washington Post reports that Mr. Richwine’s 2009 Harvard dissertation presented data showing that recent Hispanic immigrants “score lower than U.S.-born whites on many different types of IQ tests. Using statistical analysis, it suggests that the test-score differential is due primarily to a real cognitive gap rather than to culture or language bias.”
- Later that day: a media fire-storm. Accusations of racism. The Heritage Foundation lives up to the title of Ralph Buchsbaum’s zoological classic, Animals Without Backbones: An Introduction to the Invertebrates, and Mr. Richwine “resigns.”
Another victory for the forces of “diversity” and “tolerance.” The enforcers in George Orwell’s 1984 would have been proud. Once again, reality caved in to ideology.
I know that this depressing scenario is happening too often to be surprising. While there is still a little space for dissent, however, it is worth publicizing such disgusting events for what they are: the victory of totalitarian imperiousness over a cowardice masquerading as prudence. (I am speaking of the Heritage Foundation, not Mr. Richwine).
Charles Murray, with his usual instinct for the salient, gets it just right:
In resigning, Dr. Richwine joins distinguished company. The most famous biologist in the world, James D. Watson, was forced to retire from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2007 because of a factually accurate remark to a British journalist about low IQ scores among African blacks. In 2006, Larry Summers, president of Harvard, had to resign after a series of attacks that began with his empirically well-informed remarks about gender differences. These are just the most visible examples of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse: If you take certain positions, you will be cast into outer darkness. Whether your statements are empirically accurate is irrelevant.
If you take certain positions, you will be cast into outer darkness. Whether your statements are empirically accurate is irrelevant. Translation: truth doesn’t matter when ideology triumphs. White is black, day is night, there are no IQ differences among ethnic groups.
We are used to this sort of politically motivated mendacity in the university, where “diversity” has come to mean “conformity.” Murray merely states the obvious when he observes that “In academia, only the tenured can safely write on these topics. Assistant professors know that their chances of getting tenure will be close to zero if they publish politically incorrect findings on climate change, homosexuality, race differences, gender differences, or renewable energy. Their chances will not be much higher if they have published anything with a distinctly conservative perspective of any sort.”
That is bad enough. Here we have institutions, whose very raison d’être is the pursuit of truth, constrained to parrot politically-sanctioned untruth on a wide range of sensitive topics.
Even worse is the metastasis of this freedom-and truth-blighting habit of mendacity. Increasingly, this sort of craven doublethink has oozed out of the academy and into the corridors of business, the media, and culture at large. Where will it end?