As I often tell people, there seems a totally unpredictable, even random aspect to major American media coverage. Whether a scandal explodes into the public eye or escapes without notice seems difficult to foretell.
Consider the recent example of Dr. Jason Richwine, late of the Heritage Foundation, whose ideological travails became one of Washington’s major scandals-of-the-month over the past week. Googling his exact name now yields half a million web results, and I’d guess that 99% of these are of extremely recent vintage.
As some media commentators have suggested, Richwine himself may be wondering Why Me and Why Now? After all, the racial writings and opinions that provoked so much media fury had never been secretive or disguised; they were always hiding in plain sight.
His Harvard doctoral dissertation asserting the strong connection between race and IQ and suggesting that American immigration policy should be changed to reflect this relationship has been freely available on the Internet for years, as have been video clips of his public pronouncements on the same subject. His articles and columns arguing that Hispanics have unusually high crime rates—mostly written in rebuttal to my own contrary findings—have always been a mouse-click away, and anyone checking would have noticed that these writings had appeared in Alternative Right, a racial nationalist webzine whose ideological orientation has now suddenly been classified as poisonous by the Washington commentariat. Read More…
Amid loud cries of “Witch! Witch! Burn the Witch!” an enraged throng of ideological activists and media pundits late last week besieged the fortress-like DC headquarters of the conservative Heritage Foundation, demanding the person of one Jason Richwine, Ph.D., employed there as a senior policy analyst. The High Lords of Heritage, deeply concerned about any possible threat to their million-dollar salaries, quickly submitted, though they waited until late Friday, the dead-zone period of national news coverage, before announcing that young Dr. Richwine had been expelled into the Outer Darkness.
Only a week earlier, Richwine had reached a pinnacle of his career, listed as co-author of a widely trumpeted Heritage research study demonstrating that Congressional passage of proposed immigration reform legislation would cost American taxpayers some six trillion dollars…or perhaps the figure was six quadrillion dollars.
But then some enterprising journalist discovered the dreadful evidence of Richwine’s horrific heresy, namely that his 2009 doctoral dissertation at the Harvard Kennedy School had focused on the very low IQs of those racial groups providing most of our current immigrants, with his conclusion being that such inflows must be halted lest American society be dumbified into disaster. Taken together Race and IQ constitute an exceptionally volatile mix in modern American society, and ignited by a six trillion dollar spark, the resulting explosion blew Richwine out of his comfortable DC employment. Read More…
For a combination of demographic and ideological reasons few topics in American public life are more explosive than those involving race.
Racial factors obviously underlie a wide range of major public policy issues yet are almost always ignored by nearly all participants. However, every now and then a careless statement or uncovered document will suddenly bring these subterranean flows to the surface, producing a volcanic eruption of white-hot controversy. Thus American politicians and policy analysts, knowingly or not, spend most of their careers walking through mine fields and occasionally blowing themselves up.
Consider the newly released Heritage Foundation report sharply criticizing the fiscal impact of the proposed immigration reform legislation currently being considered by Congress. For a couple of days the focus had been on the green eyeshades issue of whether the multi-trillion-dollar claims had improperly failed to include dynamic scoring in their underlying econometric model. But then the debate suddenly took an explosively controversial turn when the media discovered that co-author Jason Richwine possessed a long paper-trail of highly heretical racial views, especially with regards to IQ matters.
Racial differences constitute the intellectual pornography of our American elites, and The New York Times, The Washington Post, and a host of web journalists are now eagerly covering this prurient debate, which seems likely to overshadow any analysis of the original 92-page report itself. Most mainstream conservative pundits have been sharply critical of Richwine, but a few associated with the VDare webzine, such as Steve Sailer and John Derbyshire, have risen to his strong defense. Read More…
The early reaction to my “American Pravda” article has been quite encouraging, with the piece attracting more traffic during its first week than nearly any of my others and with several websites discussing, excerpting, or even republishing it. Furthermore, the average time spent on the page by readers steadily rose to nearly a full hour as the days went by, seeming to indicate that visitors were carefully absorbing and digesting my material rather than merely flitting away after a casual glance or two. Tens of thousands of individuals have now apparently read part or all of my arguments, though whether they will have any lasting impact is difficult to say.
After all, we live in the Age of Television, when the images we see on the small screen—or its cinematic big brother—define our known world with far greater force than does the printed word or sometimes even the direct evidence of our own senses. Television may not be reality, but for all too many Americans, Reality is often Television.
Consider one of the most copiously sourced of the unreported scandals that I described, namely the long Vietnam POW cover-up so exhaustively documented by Pulitzer Prize-winner Sydney Schanberg. The evidence is overwhelming, the supporters include individuals of the highest credibility, and the governmental denials have largely been perfunctory. But since the story has not been widely featured on popular cable news chat shows, the events remain almost entirely “unreal” to the vast majority of today’s American journalists and the public they purport to inform. Read More…
The notion of a Gay Germ—homosexuality transmitted as some sort of infection—probably horrifies many mainstream intellectuals unfamiliar with the details of modern evolutionary biology. Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that my recent column discussing that subject quickly provoked a striking example of Internet censorship. But the circumstances were different than people might naively expect.
Most of the responses to my analysis were quite reasonable and respectful. Anthropologist Peter Frost published a column questioning some of my arguments, which generated an extended comment thread. George Mason University’s Genetic Literacy Project also provided a brief summary and link.
However, a target of my critique had been Dr. Gregory Cochran, a leading Gay Germ advocate, who had recently ridiculed the intelligence of my old professor E.O. Wilson for remarks supporting the contrary Gay Gene hypothesis. I merely pointed out that to the extent powerful selective pressures would have weeded out any hypothetical Gay Gene, exactly those same selective pressures would have tended to remove susceptibility to a Gay Germ as well, so that to a considerable extent the two theories suffered from similar theoretical weaknesses and were not so obviously distinct.
Now Cochran is a notoriously arrogant and irascible researcher, and he reacted to my views by launching a blistering attack on his own blogsite, sharply questioning my intellect and knowledge. Moreover, when I showed up to explicate my analysis as a commenter, he quickly banned me, possibly because I was defending my position a bit too well, and perhaps thereby “confusing” his coterie of worshipful fanboys. My impression is that publishing a lengthy blog attack against someone and then banning the victim when he politely attempts to provide his own side of the argument is considered “bad form” on the Internet, but there are obviously individuals for whom these usual rules do not apply. Read More…
With all eyes and all headlines fixed so intently upon Boston’s two Caucasian Bombers, hardly anyone has been paying attention to revelations of a far more devastating disaster that unfolded close nearby, but which were generally buried on the inside pages of our major newspapers.
I refer, of course, to the Harvard Spreadsheet Glitch, the discovery of a calculation error in the early 2010 research of celebrity-economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart. The Rogoff-Reinhart findings had been cited by officials and international agencies throughout the world as proof of the devastating economic impact of accumulated national debt. As a result, most governments focused their Great Recession response on the need to minimize deficit spending and cut budgets rather than try to reduce unemployment via Keynesian pump-priming, which according to the study led to disaster. But Rogoff-Reinhardt had made an error in their calculation, so Oops! Read More…
The twists of intellectual fashion in our society are often quite peculiar, especially when “touchy” topics are involved.
Consider, for example, the analysis of human behavior. Whatever most people may privately believe or say, the vocal academics and activists who control the commanding ideological heights of our media tend to claim that people act as they do largely because of social conditioning, and they often denounce or vilify those accused of the thoughtcrime of “genetic determinism.” Note the example of (former) Harvard President Larry Summers.
But all rules have exceptions, and for some unknown reason those same activists and media organs have decided that homosexuality is genetically based, denouncing anyone who suggests otherwise. Thus, genes officially determine gayness and nothing else, which hardly seems the most logical possibility in the world. But pointing out such inconsistencies can get you into hot water, so few people do.
Given the remarkable dishonesty of our media elites across such a wide range of topics, there is a natural tendency to assume that the truth is probably the opposite of whatever they say about anything. This undermines the credibility of the Gay Gene hypothesis, as does its proponents’ practice of treating scientific disagreement as religious heresy.
But frankly, the other side of the debate sometimes seems little better in its behavior. I think one of the most highly vilified rivals to Gay Gene theory is “Gay Germ theory,” the suggestion that some sort of virus or microorganism is responsible for the behavior in question. And just a few days ago, I noticed that evolutionary theorist Gregory Cochran, one of the leading Gay Germ proponents, had viciously insulted the intelligence of my old professor E.O. Wilson for his remarks supporting the Gay Gene side. Read More…
Given the unprecedented peace and prosperity currently enjoyed by nearly all Americans, it’s hardly surprising that a symbolic issue such as Gay Marriage has now moved to the forefront of the public debate, not least among the contributors to my own magazine.
Personally, it’s not the sort of issue that keeps me in a state of great ideological agitation, but since everyone else seems to be sharing his opinion, I might as well do the same, if only by pointing to the column I’d written on the subject back in the late 1990s. I can’t say that any of my views have much changed, unlike those of a vast number of American politicians and pundits.
For me, the more important aspect of this current controversy is the insight it provides into the nature of America’s “conservative movement” and the so-called Christian Right. Some of the top leaders of the conservative anti-Gay Marriage organizations of the 2000s have now switched sides and fully endorsed the very practice they had long denounced as a social monstrosity, which is certainly a bit odd from a theological or philosophical perspective. Have the world’s “eternal verities” suddenly been reversed in just six or seven years, or might the cause of their U-turns instead be found in the opinions of their DC cocktail-party friends or the views of the plutocrats who sign their paychecks? Read More…
The season of college admissions is now upon us, weeks of envelopes fat and thin.
With so many teenagers now discovering their future life-prospects as dealt out by our academic gatekeepers, discussions of the selection process are appearing in our media, and some of these include reference to my own Meritocracy article of almost five months ago, focusing on the same topic.
For example, the Sunday New York Times carried an interesting discussion by columnist Ross Douthat on the Ivies and their role in producing our national elites, which included linked references to my main Meritocracy article as well as my short piece for the NYT Forum on Asian discrimination.
Given that the reach of the electronic media so greatly exceeds the number of people who ever bother reading anything, I was even more pleased to see that Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday CNN television show ran a segment on college admissions, heavily drawing upon the findings of my article; his Time magazine column covered the same topic. One minor point of confusion was his suggestion that I had ignored the substantial number of Asian students whose fear of racial discrimination causes them to conceal their personal background and are therefore lumped into the “Race Unknown” category. In fact, I had discussed this and similar possibilities in detail, and provided all the related data. Read More…
Developments of enormous consequence sometimes follow the most mundane of motives.
During the mid-1990s, the giant Disney Corporation became concerned that its 1928 copyright on Mickey Mouse was close to expiration. Deploying heavy lobbying efforts, it persuaded Congress to pass and President Bill Clinton to sign what was officially entitled the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, but more informally known as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act.” The result was to extend Mickey’s copyright for another twenty years, and perhaps indefinitely if future corporate lobbying efforts bore similar fruit.
Now I have no particular burning desire to watch Mickey Mouse cartoons without paying for them, and I suspect that those around the world who feel otherwise simply ignore such legal restrictions, just as they watch pirated blockbuster movies only weeks after they are released into the theaters. So if the Disney executives had merely wanted to protect their rights to old Walt’s lucrative rodent, I wouldn’t have cared in the least. But since paying Congresspersons to enact such narrowly tailored legislation might have appeared unseemly, they decided to extend all other existing copyrights as well, including the vast number of written works possessing no financial but much intellectual value. Read More…