Sam T. Francis, American Renaissance, May 26, 1996
This speech was given at the 1996 American Renaissance conference in Louisville, Kentucky.
A good deal of water has gone under the bridge since the first American Renaissance conference met in Atlanta in 1994. At that time, neither The Bell Curve nor Professor Rushton’s work on Race, Evolution and Behavior had been published, nor even the rather less immortal contributions of the learned Dinesh D’Souza. I felt then, in the aftermath of the Atlanta conference and when these books were published the following fall, rather optimistic about the progress being made by those who sought a re-evaluation of the role of race, but I have to say that today my optimism is considerably more muted. The bitterly hostile reaction to The Bell Curve and Professor Rushton’s work, the dishonest and cowardly treatment of the American Renaissance conference in D’Souza’s book, the crusade mounted in the press against this conference, similar crusades against talk show host Bob Grant in New York and against British psychologist Christopher Brand’s new book, The G Factor, in Great Britain, the difficulty that both Professor Michael Levin and apparently Arthur Jensen are experiencing in finding publishers for their own major new books, and finally but by no means least the late unpleasantness that I experienced at The Washington Times — all lead me to believe that we, or certainly I, had seriously underestimated the resistance that frank and serious discussion of race would encounter.
I have little more to tell you about race, and certainly less than what Professor Rushton and Levin and the other speakers can tell you, so what I am going to talk about today is this very resistance that we encounter, why it exists and why it seems to be so powerful, and perhaps how we can meet and overcome it. I am going to start off with an account of the systematic harassment of two of our speakers today, Rushton and Levin, and I choose them for several reasons — partly because they are present and can comment or criticize my account as they see fit, partly because their stories offer instructive lessons for the conclusions that I am going to draw, and partly because both of them have displayed a great amount of courage and commitment to their beliefs and scientific findings, and I think it is advisable that this audience appreciate what some of us have to go through in order to provide you with the edification and entertainment of this week-end.
My account of their experiences is drawn largely from Roger Pearson’s book, Race, Intelligence and Bias in Academe, which is a study of how various academics and scientists who have violated taboos about race have been systematically harassed by the political left over the last 20 years or so. But I am going to end up with an account of the on-going vilification of this conference in the press, especially the local newspaper The Louisville Courier, and show how that campaign has been organized. Finally, I will try to draw some conclusions about why these crusades are effective and how they can be resisted and overcome.
In the Rushton case, Professor Rushton’s problems began soon after he delivered a paper at the January, 1989 convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco. His paper was a précis of the research on racial differences that he later published and has discussed in his remarks this morning, and it immediately generated attacks in the media. The Toronto Star reported in a headline soon after his speech that “Canadian Professor’s Study Stirs Uproar at Conference,” while two days later it carried a story headlined “Theory ‘Racist’: Prof has Scholars Boiling.” This kind of news coverage and worse continued for some months and was characterized by reporters seeking to elicit statements of condemnation of Rushton or his address from his colleagues or from officials of the AAAS and by soliciting reactions from various leftist groups in Canada and on the Western Ontario campus. Rushton’s own efforts to debate or explain his theory further on television were probably not helpful, since the debate format was usually stacked against him and dwelt on the supposed political rather than the actual scientific meaning of his theory, and on one occasion he was greeted with a hostile and jeering audience of some 2,000.
By early February, the Mayor of London, Ontario had formed a committee to “investigate” Rushton and his theories to determine whether they violated Canadian law. As many of you perhaps know, Canadian democracy enjoys a law known as the Race Relations Act that criminalizes anyone who “willfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group” and subjects such criminals to a maximum sentence of two years in prison. At first apparently the major demand was that Rushton simply be dismissed from his teaching position, and only later in March did the Attorney General of Ontario, dedicated to bringing dangerous criminals to justice, order a police investigation.
The police forces of Ontario and Toronto formed a joint special force on “Pornography and Hate Literature” that was supposed to interview Rushton and some of his academic supervisors at the university for the purpose of discovering whether he had violated the law. The investigation took six months and eventually concluded that while he had not violated the law, “it is the overwhelming opinion of academics questioned that in many cases your conclusions . . . have been drawn on misinterpreted and/or questionable data. This has resulted in your presentation to the AAAS falling noticeably short of expected professional standards.” Apparently, in Canada, it is the business of the police to reach conclusions on matters of scientific interest. The audience, which by now perhaps suspects that there is a dangerous criminal in our midst, will no doubt be relieved to learn that the Attorney General of Ontario then held a press conference at which he graciously announced that Rushton was “loony but not criminal.”
Yet at the same time the press campaign and the police investigation were going on, university authorities on Rushton’s own campus also chimed in with denunciations of his ideas. The dean of social science at the university published a letter in the university newspaper in which she attacked Rushton’s theory, and in July, 1989, he was given an “unsatisfactory” rating on his three-year performance evaluation by his department chairman and denied a usually routine pay increase. Under university rules, teachers who receive such evaluations three times in a row can be dismissed from their jobs.
Now the fact is that Professor Rushton holds two doctorates, was the author of five books and more than a hundred articles in scholarly journals, and held a Guggenheim Fellowship. Rushton appealed the evaluation to the Dean’s office and asked that she recuse herself because she had already published her views of Rushton. She refused to recuse herself and her office upheld the department chairman’s evaluation. Rushton then appealed the evaluation through a university grievance procedure, and, arguing on the basis of his credentials and also that during the three years for which he was evaluated he had published 30 articles and two books and received the Guggenheim, he won a reversal of the negative evaluation.
When Rushton returned to teaching in 1990, local agitators threatened to disrupt his classes to prevent him from teaching, and the dean ordered that he not be permitted to teach his classes in person. He was supposed to make videotapes of his lectures, and students were supposed to listen to them in a private room in which he could not be present. Questions were to be called in by phone. Rushton again appealed this ruling and won, but the dean appealed the decision. Eventually, the department decided to ignore the dean’s ruling and return Rushton to teaching his classes in person.
In 1991, Rushton’s classes were disrupted on at least three occasions by protestors and he was physically attacked on one such occasion. Despite warnings from the university that it would prosecute disrupters, it had not done so by the spring of 1991, and student protestors, mainly made up of African or Caribbean students or New Left elements, continued to disrupt his classes and the university and on once occasion in March, 1991, actually disrupted the Provincial Parliament. I am sure Professor Rushton has enjoyed similar adventures in recent years, but my information about them ends in 1991.
Professor Levin’s experiences at the City College of New York resemble those of Professor Rushton. Levin’s original crime against humanity consisted of publishing a letter in the New York Times in 1988 arguing that shopkeepers had the right not to open their doors to black males if they feared robbery. The publication of such shocking opinions apparently mobilized cadres of student leftists to break down the door of the university president, who admitted that the students had the right to picket Levin’s classes. Professor Levin was considerately provided with a bodyguard.
The group known as the International Committee against Racism (InCAR), a Maoist group, circulated Levin’s letter to the Times on campus, but the controversy was further excited by an article Levin published in an Australian magazine called Quadrant in which he apparently argued that the decline of American education was in part due to the rise of radical feminism and to affirmative action and its promotion of lower IQ black students. The reaction against this article came mainly from the faculty rather than from student activists, and on October 20, 1988 the faculty senate voted to condemn Levin’s article as “racist” and as “lacking cogency or empirical support.” What the New York Police Department had to say about it we don’t know, but Levin was given only three hours notice that the censure was to be considered and was not able to be present at the debate.
Soon afterward, the university president, who presumably by this time had gotten his door fixed, issued a letter commending the faculty for their intrepid denunciation of racism and beamed that he had been “a proud witness to the discussion and debate” and that the resolution reflected the university’s commitment to “equality.”
This was followed by Levin’s being told by the dean of humanities and the philosophy department chairman that Levin should voluntarily withdraw from teaching his introductory philosophy course, and if he didn’t voluntarily withdraw, the chairman would come to the first class and invite the students to transfer to another section. Believing this would be temporary, Levin agreed to this proposal, but later learned that it was meant to be permanent and would be extended to any required course that Levin taught. This kind of restriction severely limits a teacher’s ability to recruit students for advanced work and represented a long-term threat to Levin’s academic career.
Meanwhile, plans for the inquisition proceeded briskly, with the president of the university writing a letter urging the faculty senate to form a committee to investigate faculty members for “bias-related activities.” The senate refused to do so on the lucid grounds that such a committee would have a “chilling effect” on academic freedom, if not on their own careers, but the president continued to badger for such a committee and in several interviews expressed frustration that he was unable to break Levin’s tenure and fire him altogether.
Levin, meanwhile, continued to commit yet more crimes against humanity. When the American Philosophical Association concluded that blacks were underrepresented in teaching philosophy, Levin published a letter in the Proceedings of the APA arguing that the reason had to do with the lower black IQ. This led the humanities dean at his school to send a letter to each of Levin’s students warning them that their professor harbored what the dean called “controversial” views about race and sex and offering them an alternative section if they were unable to cope with the trauma of being exposed to controversy in the course of studying philosophy. Finally, the president got down to business by forming a committee to inquire into whether Levin had engaged in “conduct unbecoming a faculty member,” a phrase usually associated with efforts to break tenure and dismiss the faculty member. Three of the seven members of the committee had earlier signed a petition stating that Levin was unfit to teach. In March, 1990, a mob invaded Levin’s classroom, earning the praise of the president for its “restraint.” In the event, the inquisition against Levin did not succeed, in part because he eventually took successful legal action against the president and the humanities dean, as had Rushton against the Toronto Star. But as Pearson comments in his conclusion about the Levin case, “In many ways the most revealing and disappointing aspect of the Levin affair was the complete failure of his colleagues, or the media which covered it, to discuss the validity of Levin’s views. At no point did any newspaper publish the relevant IQ data, or invite competent psychometrists to comment on it. The head of the psychology department refused Levin’s invitation to debate his claims. By attacking his academic freedom and defining battle lines along academic-freedom lines, academic egalitarians once again managed to obscure the real core of the issue.”
Now, there is a common pattern in both of these cases, and I think in several others, that needs to be called attention to. What happens when an academic violates a taboo on race is that first the media broadcast and typically misrepresent it and then the professional left, usually on campus — either racial minorities who feel aggrieved or white Marxists — moves into battle by invading classrooms, staging protests. prayer vigils, disruptions, demonstrations, and all the rest of it. But for the most part, even though that phase of the attack is the most visible and the most publicized, it is not the heart of the academic criminal’s problems. The heart of his problem comes from lack of sufficient support from his colleagues and supervisors or from their active hostility. Derogatory and dismissive comments on the academic’s ideas can serve to harm his career and professional stature, disciplinary action by chairmen, deans, committees, and university presidents can actually cost him his job or at least disrupt and subvert his academic work in teaching and research. It makes sense for Marxists and even minority students to be offended at ideas they regard as “racist” and even, up to a point, to protest such ideas, and, again up to a point, that is their right. What makes far less sense is for professional academics and academic administrators to involve themselves in the controversy against the academic taboo-breaker and to devote so much of their energies to punishing or silencing him.
And what this pattern, as well as the general hysteria that informs the reaction to any violation of taboos concerning racial equality, point to, in my view, is that what we are dealing with in egalitarianism today is not a rational belief; what we are dealing with in egalitarianism is an ideology that serves various social and political and even psychological functions. In fact, egalitarianism since the Progressive Era of the early 20th century and especially since the New Deal has become an unofficial and increasingly an official ideology of the system in which we live, the government, the dominant culture, and even the economy of the United States and the Western world. Egalitarianism has become an ideology that protects, serves, and rationalizes the interests of the elites that hold power in Western society, just as doctrines like the Divine Right of Kings served the interests of monarchies and aristocracies before the French Revolution.
Pearson points to this role of egalitarianism in his chapter on the Rushton case when he writes:
Rushton’s research had carried him into an area of direct economic and political significance: his findings had uncovered flaws in the established version of environmentalist social science testimony on which massive government programs had been built in both Canada and the U.S.A. These not only provided for a massive redistribution of wealth and reverse discrimination in employment, but had provided a vested interest for millions of beneficiaries. His findings also threatened the well-being of organizations that had been built on the surplus funds which could be culled from supervising this redistribution of wealth, and also had potentially adverse implications for the immigration ‘industry.’ Little did Rushton realize that his seemingly innocent research would stir up such a tempest. Those on the Left knew the crucial importance of the data he was studying, and of the need to keep the public from accepting his opinions — as well as preventing other scholars from daring to speak their minds on the issues involved. (p. 225)
I think that understanding egalitarianism as the ideology of elites is important for several reasons. In the first place, it puts the Marxists and radicals of the left in an entirely different light from the one in which they like to present themselves, that of rebels against the system. Invariably, when Marxist groups protest against “racism” they argue that “racism is the tool of capitalism,” that a capitalist ruling class promotes racism in order to justify the exploitation of non-whites and to keep the white and non-white proletariats divided. But in reality there is no truth whatsoever in this theory. If it were true, we would expect academics like Rushton and Levin, Arthur Jensen and Richard Herrnstein, to have received millions in grants from large corporations and foundations. In fact they receive little or nothing, and the grants those institutions do make do not support hereditarian views of social problems but rather environmentalist and egalitarian views. It was, after all the Carnegie Foundation that provided Gunnar Myrdal with $300,000 to produce An American Dilemma, for years the bible of racial egalitarian-environmentalism.
The truth is that when Marxists and self-described radicals denounce what they call “racism” they are in fact performing as the ideological vanguard of the real elites that hold power and which possess enormous vested interests in egalitarianism and environmentalism. It is the radical egalitarians and anti-hereditarians who are the real running dogs of the system, not those who challenge egalitarianism and environmentalism, and it is the hereditarians like Rushton and Levin who are the real radicals or even revolutionaries who challenge the lies and mythologies in which entrenched powers always mask themselves.
In the second place, understanding egalitarianism as the ideology of the system and the elites that run it ought to alter our view of how the system and its elites actually operate. Most elites in history have always had a vested interest in preserving the societies they rule, and that is why most elites have been conservative — the British aristocracy up to the 20th century is a fairly typical example of such a conservative elite. But the elite that has come to power in the United States and the Western world in this century actually has a vested interest in managing and manipulating social change, the destruction of the society it rules. Political analyst Kevin Phillips pointed this out in his 1975 book, Mediacracy, which is a study of the emergence of what he calls the “new knowledge elite,” the members of which:
approach society from a new vantage point. . . . Change does not threaten the affluent intelligentsia of the Post-Industrial Society the way it threatened the landowners and industrialists of the New Deal. On the contrary, change is as essential to the knowledge sector as inventory turnover is to a merchant or a manufacturer. Change keeps up demand for the product (research, news, theory, and technology). Post-Industrialism, a knowledge elite, and accelerated social change appear to go hand in hand. . . . The new knowledge elite does not preserve and protect existing traditions and institutions. On the contrary, far more than previous new classes, the knowledge elite has sought to modify or replace traditional institutions with new relationships and power centers. (Mediacracy, pp. 32-33.)
And egalitarianism and environmentalism serve this need to create and manage social change perfectly. Traditional institutions can be depicted not only as “unequal” and “oppressive” but also as “pathological,” requiring the social and economic therapy that only the “knowledge elite” is skilled enough to design and apply. The interests of the knowledge elite in managing social change happen to be entirely consistent not only with the agendas of the hard left but also with the grievances and demands of various racial and ethnic groups that view “racism” and “prejudice” as obstacles to their own advancement, so that what we see is an alliance between the new elites and organized racial and ethnic minorities to undermine and displace the traditional institutions and beliefs of white Euro-American society, which just happen to be the power centers of older elites based on wealth, land, and status. This process of displacement or dispossession is always described as “progressive,” “liberating,” or “diversifying,” when in fact it merely helps consolidate the dominance of a new class and weaken the power and interests of its rivals.
Furthermore, what this understanding of the real meaning of egalitarianism leads to is that when we see university deans and presidents “caving in” to the demands of the hard left, they are not really displaying traits of weakness and appeasement. Universities are the breeding grounds of egalitarianism and its applications to society by the elites, and hence they occupy a special and strategic place in the functioning of the system. If the ideology of egalitarianism were abandoned, many of the functions that universities now perform in the way of research and much of what their faculties do in designing egalitarian social programs and therapy would become obsolete. When the universities “cave in” to the left, therefore, they are simply pursuing their own interests, which are to preserve the political ideology of egalitarianism intact and suppress or silence those who dissent from it, and they are in fact behaving like any elite, like the French aristocracy of the 18th century, for example, when it punished Enlightenment writers who challenged aristocratic ideologies.
Their behavior appears to be weak or degenerate or renegade to us because we look at their conduct from the point of view of those who believe the consequences of egalitarianism are harmful and have to live with those consequences and also because most of us continue to harbor the illusion that the elites that now prevail in this country and much of the Western world are still in some sense “our” elites, that they represent us, when in fact they mainly represent themselves and their class interests and the ideology and agendas that serve those interests.
I think understanding egalitarianism today as the ideology of a dominant elite that uses it to serve its own interests may suggest ways in which we could more successfully confront the ideology and those it serves. In the past, most of those who have challenged egalitarianism in one form or another have done so through what we might call rationalistic means — that is, they have tried to cite scientific or empirical evidence logically assembled to offer the challenge. Certainly that is an important and indeed crucial element of the challenge, but whatever its rational and scientific merits, it has not been enough. As Pearson points out, none of Levin’s critics and not many of Rushton’s either was interested in debating their ideas or dealing with their scientific validity. Of course not; what their critics were interested in was power and in preventing Rushton, Levin, and others from challenging their power. And that is exactly the point at which they should be attacked and exposed.
What we need to do, in addition to building the scientific and scholarly case against egalitarianism and environmentalism, is to take a page from the book of the left itself, to expose those who resist scientific evidence and who respond to it only with lies and repression as the beneficiaries of the egalitarian ideology they are trying to protect. We need to show that an entire political and economic industry gains wealth and power from egalitarian-environmental ideology and, in a word, “unmask” or “deconstruct” those interests, and we need in particular to show how Americans — as taxpayers, as crime victims, as job and college applicants, and frankly simply as whites — are being exploited and victimized by the lie of equality and the power structure that rests on it. We need to show also how the media conglomerates, which with universities are sort of the belly of the beast of the new knowledge elite, systematically depict whites and their traditional cultural symbols in inferior, demeaning, and villainous roles and how they deliberately distort news about race and scientific racial research against whites.
One example of this comes from the crusade against Bob Grant in New York, which was largely conducted by a group that calls itself “FAIR,” for “Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.” FAIR poses as a “watchdog” of the press, but the quickest glance at the materials it produces shows that it is in fact a hard-left political battery dedicated to ridding the media of anyone to the right of Tom Brokaw. It has produced “dossiers” on Rush Limbaugh to prove he is not a reliable source of information and has produced a similar document on Pat Buchanan to “document” his “racism” and “extremism,” but I am unable to identify any such “dossier” produced by FAIR on any liberal or left-wing commentator. One of its abiding bugaboos is the corporate “concentration of media ownership,” and it loves to thump its chest about its passion to “invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for [sic] greater plurality and diversity in the media” and defending “working journalists when they are muzzled.” As a working journalist who was muzzled, I might have made use of FAIR’s talents, but for some reason I have heard nothing from them.
But Mr. Grant did hear from them. On March 31 of this year, FAIR ran a quarter-page ad on the op-ed page of the Sunday New York Times in the form of an open letter to Michael Eisner of the Walt Disney Company, which was the new corporate parent of Mr. Grant’s station. The ad claimed that Mr. Grant on his program had promoted “the white supremacist American Renaissance conference in Louisville” and demanded of Mr. Eisner, “Is it the policy of the Walt Disney Company to allow hosts on its stations to make racial slurs?” and “Is it Disney’s policy to allow the promotion of white supremacist groups on its stations?” Though FAIR did not explicitly demand Grant’s firing, it was clear that was the goal it had in mind. So much for “invigorating the First Amendment.”
I will comment only briefly on the falsity of the description of American Renaissance and this conference, let alone me, as “white supremacist,” a term none of us has ever applied to ourselves and one which we have explicitly, publicly, and repeatedly rejected. FAIR did not bother to cite any of several published letters by me to major newspapers rejecting this term.
Now not only is FAIR neither fair nor accurate in what it jokingly calls its “reporting,” but also it managed to reach all the way out into the boondocks of Louisville to induce reporter David Heath of the Louisville Courier to swallow its bait and then regurgitate it in the form of “news articles” here, articles that are transparently inaccurate and equally transparently based on FAIR’s propaganda. It turns out that while FAIR whines and grouses about corporate “concentration of media ownership,” an issue with which I am substantially in agreement, FAIR actually receives a good deal of its own cash from such concentrations of mega-money as the MacArthur Foundation and the Turner Foundation in Atlanta, the tax-exempt preserve of multimillionaire media czar Ted Turner and his wife, the famous North Vietnamese patriot herself, as well as from Barbara Streisand’s foundation. And while poor little old FAIR is whining about “concentration of media ownership,” it’s interesting to note that it was in the Louisville Courier, owned by the humongous Gannett chain, that it was able to get its unfair and inaccurate misreporting into print and also that Bob Grant’s job was largely safe as long as his station was owned by the relatively small ABC/Capital Cities company but went down the drainpipes not long after Eisner-World took it over. FAIR is in fact dependent on large sums of cash from tax-exempt foundations run by wealthy leftists and assorted airheads, and its claims to resist media concentration, to champion “muzzled reporters,” and to “invigorate” the First Amendment and freedom of expression are all simply lies that mask its real role as a tool of the real elites that have come to power in this country.
Finally, in addition to unmasking the real role of egalitarianism as a device of power, we need to take yet another page from the book of the left in mustering the courage to stand up and speak up for what we believe in, to develop the kind of solidarity against which lies and repression cannot stand. We do not yet have that kind of solidarity, and the result is that we are picked off one by one whenever the left or its allies decide to move against us. It is fairly commonplace for those of us who speak and write frankly about race and equality to encounter audiences where the criticism and hostility of a handful are triumphant, only to find after the speech that we are approached privately by many sympathizers who have sat silent throughout the whole proceeding and said nothing but who now rush to our side to assure us that they really agree with us, only they just can’t run the risk of saying so. How sweet. I and Jared Taylor and Phil Rushton and Michael Levin are supposed to run the gauntlet, risk our own jobs and even our physical safety, while others secretly and silently — and safely — applaud.
If you agree with the ideas you have heard at this conference and which you read in American Renaissance or in the books by the distinguished authors who have come here and if you believe those ideas are important, then you are going to have to do something yourself, you are going to have run risks and take hits, not recklessly but with prudence. If we are not prepared to accept some risks and take some hits, then these ideas will never go anywhere, and those on the left who do have the courage to work and fight for their beliefs are going to win. We all know what their victory would mean, and until we are willing to display the kind of courage that civil rights workers in the South showed, that anti-war protestors in the 1960s showed, that indeed “gay rights” activists have shown, until we are willing to risk some of our own security and advantages for what we believe in and for what we believe is fundamental for the survival of our civilization, then we will have no reason for optimism and every reason to expect the victory of our enemies and their lies.