The New Republic Addresses Its ‘Perceived Legacy of Racism’

Dylan Byers, Politico, January 29, 2015

The forthcoming issue of The New Republic–its first since a mass staff shakeup in December–features a cover story by Canadian journalist Jeet Heer about the magazine’s “perceived legacy of racism.”

The 4,000-word article, which was obtained by POLITICO last week, comes in the wake of severe criticism about the magazine’s history of racism, including an essay by The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates that accused the century-old magazine of ignoring or dismissing blacks.

“How do we reconcile the magazine’s liberalism, the ideology that animated the Civil Rights revolution, with the fact that many black readers have long seen–and still see–the magazine as inimical and at times outright hostile to their concerns?” Heer writes in his piece.


“The New Republic owes an accounting to itself, its critics and its readers; an honest reckoning on where it has gone wrong is the necessary first step to figuring out how to do better,” he writes. “How can this magazine–or any legacy institution–come to terms with a blighted legacy on race and transcend it?”


Heer’s cover essay addresses the issues raised by Coates’ piece head-on, though it does not mention the Atlantic author by name. Heer goes through the magazine’s entire history, starting with the 1910s, when TNR’s worldview was “filtered through the magazine’s privileged white writers,” and the Harlem Renaissance, when TNR’s move “toward a more rigorous accounting of racial injustice” was nevertheless “punctuated by a jarring insouciance, particularly in the work of white writers.”


Heer offers a more positive account of the years between 1930 and 1970, when TNR “provided a forum where black writers such as Hubert Harrison, Walter F. White and Wallace Thurman could tackle debates in their community.”


In Heer’s telling, the magazine’s regression into racism comes with the arrival of Martin Peretz, who bought the magazine in 1974 and served as its editor-in-chief from then until 2011. Throughout that time, TNR became what Heer describes as “a bully pulpit for Peretz’s political beliefs,” though he notes that “staff members were given free rein to disagree with him both in private and in public.”

Peretz targeted several minority groups: Arabs, Mexicans–and, of course, African-Americans. TNR attributed the problems of black America “to Jesse Jackson, Marion Barry and anonymous welfare mothers, while largely ignoring deindustrialization and mass incarceration,” Heer writes. “Affirmative action became a regular target, while legacy admission of whites to colleges and universities was rarely discussed. Of course, the competing positions on affirmative action deserved an airing. But to attack affirmative action in a magazine with a staff that was almost entirely white and male was to defend not a principle but a troubling status quo.”

Like Coates, Heer notes a 1996 piece about the Washington, D.C, taxi cab industry by Stephen Glass, the serial fabricator, “that catered to Peretz’s appetite for melodramas illustrating black cultural pathology. The article drew an invidious contrast between hard-working, uncomplaining immigrants who believed in the American dream versus entitled black Americans who spurned honest work (and chased after white women).” Observes Heer: “[I]t’s hard to accept a piece like the above would have been published in a magazine which wasn’t already inclined toward a pernicious view of African-Americans.”

Heer also notes, as Coates does, a 1994 excerpt of “The Bell Curve,” Charles Murray’s and Richard Herrnstein’s “foray into scientific racism, in which the authors asserted differences in IQ among blacks and whites were largely genetic and almost impossible to significantly change.”

“‘The Bell Curve’ was perhaps the most impactful, and unfortunate, example of the magazine’s embrace of racial mythmaking,” Heer writes.

Heer’s final verdict on The New Republic’s legacy on race is mixed: “Whatever the problems had been with the early-20th century New Republic, it published a spectrum of black voices, so readers (both black and white) had a sense of how black America thought about things,” he writes, noting contributors ranging from W.E.B. Du Bois to Henry Louis Gates. And yet, he adds, “this didn’t stop the magazine from trumpeting ‘The Decline of the Black Intellectual’ on its cover in 1995” at a time when “black intellectual life was vibrant,” even if “absent from The New Republic.”

“At its best moments, the magazine has been a beacon of fact-based reporting and a forum for rich debate over racial issues. At its worst periods, the magazine has fallen under the sway of racial theorizing and crackpot racial lore,” Heer concludes.


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  • 1. It was only a matter of time until TNR would become yet another clickbait cesspit.

    2. Legacy admissions for whites is only useful that whites that have some sort of legacy hook, which means very few white people.

    3. The Bell Curve was mostly about the merging of the money-wealth overclass with the cognitive elite into one money-wealth-cognitive mega-elite, and the implications that it would have on society and public policy in the coming years, many of which turned out to be spot on in the 20 years since its publication. It had one chapter on race and IQ, sort of as an after thought.

    • BillMiller66

      It’s been a long time since I read it, so forgive me if my memory is faulty here, but I am 99% certain that while Murray and Hernrstein noted the documented black-white average IQ differential, they were (at least publicly) agnostic about the causes. Genes? Environment? They didn’t really go into the reason why, and for their thesis it didn’t matter.

      • I don’t remember that chapter delving much into causation. But it didn’t matter, because all the book needed to do was just state the differences, and TPTB knew that most people would be able to fill in the rest of the blanks on their own. That’s why they had to turn The Bell Curve into the new MK.

        So much so that now, “bell curve” is a synonym for racial differences in intelligence. I even use Africanus Bellcurvius to refer to the subspecies and Bell Curve City to refer to their nests.

        • Ellis Kurtz

          Africanus Bellcurvius looks like the name for a species. The correct form is surely Homo africanus bellcurvius, where Homo is the genus, africanus the species and bellcurvius the subspecies. By convention, the genus starts with an upper case letter, the other two with a lower.

      • RyanP

        My memory of the book is this, They took the position that it was unclear to what degree genes vs. environment contributed to the IQ differences. But concluded that it was almost certain that genes played some role. I may be remembering incorrectly. But whatever the book said, in the years since Murray has been very clear in interviews that genes play a large role in this IQ gap.

    • Exactly. The book was not primarily about race. That is probably why it got as good a press as it did, and there was no ideological arguments put forth, just scientific analysis. But, in the end, just telling the truth objectively proves to be the most extreme position to hold. The book is “extreme” precisely because it is NOT ideological.

  • MekongDelta69

    TNR is now, always has been, and always will be a leftist rag.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Marty “I am in love with the state of Israel” Peretz may have been a blowhard who endlessly shilled for the Jewish State but at least he had realistic, common-sense views on blacks, Muslims and Hispanics.

      • I don’t much care about Israel either way. I’ll tolerate rah-rah Israel cheerleading if we get some sane race realism in the process.

  • John Ambrose

    Here’s that “Canadian” journalist Jeet Heer- (s)he is just another ungrateful interloper imported from the Third World who no doubt enjoys marginalizing and demoralizing North America’s whites.

    • Diana Moon Glampers

      Good lord, that is horrifying.

      • Katherine McChesney

        Shocking, isn’t IT?

        • APaige

          Confusing too. Not to be mean, but I can’t decide if that is the ugliest man or ugliest woman I have seen. Is Jeet Indian for Pat?

          • AndrewInterrupted

            At a federal contractor, she would be a diversity 10 on a scale of 10. With her underwater basket weaving degree should would have a job for life.

        • Yancy Derringer

          (Honestly, I’m jealous of the full head of hair.)

      • dukem1


    • Seriously, that’s horrifying! Is it half-man, half-woman?

      • Man? Woman? Ape? Human? What IS that thing? Someone help me here!

      • AndrewInterrupted

        I can smell the curry weeping out of her pores from here.

    • evilsandmich

      Kind’a looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was exploding on Mars.

    • phillyguy

      look at that gorilla !

    • libertarian1234

      Good lord.

      Get a load of those glaring, staring, bulging eyes.

      If Nancy Pelosi had a son………

    • LeonNJ

      Makes Rachel Maddow look like a fine piece of woman.

      • Hey, I didn’t know Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend was that smart.

      • AndrewInterrupted

        That’s Rachel’s arm wrestling buddy.

    • Caucasoid88

      He loves his tandoori oven. That’s for sure.

    • Spikeygrrl

      Is that thing male, female, trans, or nonhuman (e.g., hippopotamus)?

    • Albert

      Are you sure that’s a female?!?

    • Yancy Derringer

      “They… they… they CRITICIZED affirmative action!” – Jeet Heer

    • Alexandra1973

      I think I see stubble. Very likely a man…unless it’s a woman on hormones.

  • Tarczan

    this didn’t stop the magazine from trumpeting ‘The Decline of the Black Intellectual’ on its cover in 1995″ at a time when “black intellectual life was vibrant,”


    • APaige

      I am always cautious of the word ‘Vibrant’. A vibrant neighborhood or culture is marked by a lot of dancing, violent crime and low IQ. I always laugh at ‘Black intellectual’- that is like being the tallest midget. (or small person-I never want to offend.)

      • BillMiller66

        Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams are black intellectuals, and are well worth reading.

  • superlloyd

    These idiots are unable to criticise the Bell Curve on scientific, factual or statistical grounds so resort to crap like this- calling the Bell Curve a “foray into scientific racism, in which the authors asserted differences in IQ among blacks and whites were largely genetic and almost impossible to significantly change.”and“‘The Bell Curve’ was perhaps the most impactful, and unfortunate, example of the magazine’s embrace of racial myth making,”

    A deliberate mischaracterisation of the Bell Curve’s arguments and demonising objective scientific enquiry as as scientific racism. The facts be damned if they don’t fit into our narrow, predefined worldview.

    • Albert

      They don’t have to debate the merits of the book. All they have to do is brand its author as racist. That way they can automatically discredit the book on the grounds that it was written by hateful racist with an evil agenda. Anything such a person wrote cannot be taken seriously.

  • evilsandmich

    ‘Perceived Legacy of Racism’

    Ahh finally coming clean about being anti-white…oh, well, guess not. Should’a figured.

  • RebelliousTreecko

    “foray into scientific racism”

    As opposed to scientific egalitarianism?

    • BillMiller66

      Scientific racism, coat-and-tie racism, environmental racism, invisible racism, institutional racism, systemic racism….since lefties are fundamentally incapable of countering our evidence and arguments, they must resort smears. My personal favorites are meteorological racism (how come there ain’t no Hurricane Laquisha or Hurricane Jamal?), cosmic racism (“back holes”? Now THAT’S racist!!) and existential racism.

  • libertarian1234

    “The New Republic owes an accounting to itself, its critics and its readers; an honest reckoning on where it has gone wrong is the necessary first step to figuring out how to do better,” he writes”

    This is really hilarious.

    So certain that we’re heading for a rainbow utopia, here’s another rag jumping on the PC bandwagon, thinking they’ll be on the right side of history.

    Yet the global economy continues to deteriorate with signs that we could be facing another more severe meltdown.

    A current headline reads:

    ” Gallup CEO Calls 5.6% Unemployment Rate “The Big Lie …and announced there are fewer citizens in the work force than ever before….. ”

    He also said business failures are now surpassing business start ups, which greatly undermine the financial strength of this nation.

    Another headline reads:

    “Gallup CEO Blasts US Leadership “The Economy Is Not Coming Back.”

    The two most crucial indicators of any capitalist economy are jobs and business start-ups. Since this is a consumer-driven economy, fewer wage earners translates to less money being spent to grease the wheels of this capitalist machinery.

    And of course we also have a DEBT/GDP ratio over 100%, now at 18 trillion dollars, which is unsustainable, and it’s growing very quickly.

    And, if the economy is a pending danger, so too is a possible nuclear confrontation with Russia. Merkel and Holland are on a visit to Putin to try to negotiate a peace agreement in the Ukraine….as the media describes… stop the likelihood of a third world war.

    So if I were anybody trying to project what the future situation of this country is going to be, I don’t think I’d be betting that there’s a happy-go-lucky rainbow utopia in our future.

  • FozzieT

    I love it when the Left eats its own.

  • LHathaway

    And for an equivalent article, AmRen will apologize for being way, way, too liberal, ‘Shamefully so’. “There’s just been too much liberal thought showcased on these pages. We must end this shameful legacy”. Jared Taylor (not really).

  • Skipper

    The New Republic reminds me of a stupid beast that is dying because it is doing something ill advised, but because it is stupid it just continues until it expires. Specifically, The New Republic only exists because of its 99% white readership base and to write torturous articles about white racism that will drive some of them away is well…stupid. It would be much better to pander to the interests of its white readership as it will buy the TNR a few more years of existence before it is consigned to the ash heap of history due to demographic changes.

    • nicholasstix

      “Specifically, The New Republic only exists because of its 99% white
      readership base and to write torturous articles about white racism that
      will drive some of them away is well…stupid.”

      But will it drive any of its white readers away? Any self-respecting white readers left it years ago, and those who remain seem to like this sort of thing.

    • AndrewInterrupted

      “…The New Republic reminds me of a stupid beast that is dying because it is doing something ill advised, but because it is stupid it just continues until it expires…”

      You just described liberal, social engineering loons to a T.

      I describe Liberalism as self-fulfilling prophecy that never fulfills. The Cultural Marxist “social engineers” consider their behavior a holding action, but the cavalry never comes. In the meantime, the square peg always works itself loose from the round hole; damaging the hole on the way in and on the way out.

      But, an arrogant Lib’s ego is too big, and his/her cowardice too great, to admit he/she has backed the wrong horse. As Ann Coulter said recently about debating Libs, she said (and I’m paraphrasing):

      ‘…With Liberals, you either lose–or the game is rained out…’

    • Yancy Derringer

      Are you thinking “The National Review”?

  • WR_the_realist

    The “crackpot racial lore” is the notion that the average black is just as smart as the average white, and just as honest and hard working, so any disparity in outcomes is due to (your pick) institutional racism or white privilege.

  • RileyDeWiley

    Time for a Struggle Session, comrades.

  • John Smith

    Interestingly, we have another article posted here showing the heritability of intelligence. Why are progressives so defensive at the idea, especially the logical implication that some racial and ethnic groups may not be as favored in the intellectual capacities as others.

    They certainly don’t seem to shirk from the idea that negroes do well in athletics, disproportionately. Could it be hypocrisy?

  • bubo

    Liberal ideology in America consists of planting your lips onto black asses and smooching nonstop. Of course illegal immigrants, Moslems and gays get the same treatment to a lesser extent. That’s pretty much all it is.

  • Albert

    Ok, let me get this straight. Voices from the left “ranging from W.E.B. Du Bois to Henry Louis Gates” are given their say in this magazine, but the left is nevertheless upset that voices of differing opinions are given voice in the magazine as well. Typical leftwing behavior, they don’t want a discussion- they want preach their ideology where the opposition has been bound and gagged.

  • So, “The Bell Curve” is an example of “racial myth making”? I get it: Saying “all races are equal”; “we are one race-the Human Race”; “diversity is our strength” etc. based on no evidence, is fine. But, no matter how well researched and no matter how many studies are used to back conclusions, saying people and races are not equal in intelligence, is myth making? I read The Bell Curve, it is a long dry book, but the authors go to great pains to make sure all of their conclusions are supported by a mountain of evidence. It is a great book if you can get through it. Dry, but scientific.

    • libertarian1234

      I agree.

      The Bell Curve is an excellent study done on intelligence. That the rainbow utopian crowd denigrates it is expected since they’re entire ideology is based in subterfuge and lies.

      There’s nothing else they can do.

      They can go to Flynn, but he’s a dirty, crusty old man whose reasoning and research is seriously flawed. His aim is to try to support his perverted ideology with science, but he can’t do it.

      The left loves him.

      • Ironically, even if the left runs to Flynn, they’ll be encountering someone who is running in the opposite direction, away from Flynn.

        Who is that?


    • Alexandra1973

      It is true that we are all descended from Noah…but the races split off with his three sons.

  • Ellis Kurtz

    Heer also notes, as Coates does, a 1994 excerpt of “The Bell Curve,” Charles Murray’s and Richard Herrnstein’s “foray into scientific racism, in which the authors asserted differences in IQ among blacks and whites were largely genetic and almost impossible to significantly change.”

    But black performance on standardized tests has been impossible to change despite everything that has been tried: desegregation, forced bussing, Affirmative Action, charter schools, magnet schools, mentoring programs, Afrocentric curriculum, school uniforms, paying kids to learn, smaller schools, Head Start, No Child Left Behind….

  • guest

    This sort of “got religion” change of position characterized NATIONAL REVIEW. A friend in
    about 1994 sent c/o NR to William F. Buckley a copy of a book BLACK INTELLIGENCE IN WHITE SOCIETY (a/k/a AMERICA’S BIMODAL CRISIS ). She received from Buckley’s secretary a note in behalf of WFB, thanking her for sending the very interesting book.
    In just a very few years, WFB must have had a “visitation” because he ushered out of NR
    authors who would have been willing over their own signatures to commend the book in terms of a primer function. Gosh, not a single testimony by WFB before his death as to his intellectual illumination about race and IQ. (Sen. Everett Dirksen: “When I feel the heat, I see the light”)

    • Rustler

      In 1994, there were still a number of pro-white people writing for NR. The magazine in that period was questioning mass immigration and much less PC all around than it is now.

      In 1997, Buckley, under pressure from neocons, replaced John O’Sullivan as editor with Rich Lowry. Subsequently, most of the immigration skeptic, white-sympathetic writers were purged and NR’s content became largely indistinguishable from neocon publications like the Weekly Standard and Commentary.

  • Rustler

    “The Bell Curve” was a kind of disinformation operation. I hope nationalists in 2015 can understand that.

    The book’s authors are/were members of the anti-white establishment without a shred of concern for the well being of whites.

    The purpose of the book and the media attention it received was to keep a kind of controlled debate about racial differences alive in the anti-white media, to give the impression of free speech and open inquiry being allowed — precisely for the purpose of stealing the thunder from nationalists.

    Remember the context of what was happening in politics and media at the time — the early 1990’s — whites were starting to feel the racial impact of immigration and globalization. There was the chaotic 1992 election where the establishment right collapsed. The rise of David Duke, Pat Buchanan and even Ross Perot terrified the establishment.

    During 1992-1996, there was a great deal of discussion of racial issues, immigration and white identity in elite media, with a very different tone than these issues are discussed now. There was a recognition that white grievances would have to be addressed, if only to diffuse them.

    The Bell Curve was part of a larger effort to throw “red meat” at disgruntled whites in a way that wouldn’t lead to anything substantive. Other facets of this program were the increased visibility of right-wing talk radio as a place for angry whites to vent under the direction of false prophets like Rush Limbaugh, a huge increase in the attention the media gave to harmless, non-racial “conspiracy theories” and neo-reactionary entertainment like the movie “Falling Down.”

    Unfortunately, these tactics worked.

    • WhiteGuyInJapan

      Put down the crack pipe and come this way. This man in the white coat would like to talk to you…

      • Rustler

        Care to address anything I wrote in detail?

  • American Sulla

    TNR when I read it was basically “what are the mildly hawkish New York Jews thinking about politics these days?” I did not think of it in those terms at the time, but hindsight and years bring perspective. In retrospect, what they had to say was interesting enough to keep me as a reader for a few years, but eventually, they lost me as they became more shrill and hackish. I specifically remember citing the hatchet jobs of Jonathan Chait when I cancelled my subscription when asked why I did so.

  • Transpower

    The New Republic is Leftist and “egalitarian.” They cannot admit that there are “differences” between the races or between men and women. However, science is based on fact, not on “wishful thinking.” The Bell Curve presented real science, but it was meant with scorn from the “liberal establishment.” The reality is, of course, that IQ is at least 75% genetic and the rest is environmental; identical twins raised in different environments still usually have approximately the same IQ. Regardless of what your IQ is, it behooves you to work to the best of your ability, producing and trading with others.