May 8, 2008
The professor the anti-Semites love
Kevin MacDonald, Cal State Long Beach, and the downside of academic freedom
(Page 3 - Previous Page)"We already see numerous examples in which coalitions of minority groups attempt to influence public policy, including immigration policy, against the interests of the European majority. And we must realize that placing ourselves in a position of vulnerability would be extremely risky, given the deep sense of historical grievance harbored by many ethnic activists toward Europeans," MacDonald wrote.
"This is especially the case with Jews, and of course Jews have shown a tendency to become part of the elite in Western societies. We have recently seen reports in the press of religious Jews spitting on Christian symbols in Israel, thereby resurrecting an age-old Jewish practice. Indeed, hatred toward all things European is normative among a great many strongly identified Jews."
In fact, there were reports from Ha'aretz and Christianity Today in 2004 of a spate of spitting incidents in Jerusalem, in which ultra-Orthodox Jews allegedly assaulted Christians. However, spitting, like the blood libel that claims Jews ritually slaughter Christian children and bake their blood into matzah, is not and never has been an "age-old Jewish practice."
Most of the essays for "Cultural Insurrections" appeared in The Occidental Quarterly, a Mount Airy, Md.-based journal that "unapologetically defends the cultural, ethnic, and racial interests of Western European peoples." In 2004, the journal awarded MacDonald a $10,000 prize.
"MacDonald's 'racism' is nothing more than the idea that European-descended peoples have as much right as any other people, including Jews, to preserve their people and their culture," Virginia Abernethy, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and, like MacDonald, an editorial adviser to The Occidental Quarterly, wrote in the book's foreword.
MacDonald's research rests on the assumption, based on interpretations of intelligence tests, that Jews are born with superior brains. The intelligence quotient sits on a sliding scale, with the average IQ at 100. The average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews, however, is a whopping 107 to 115, at the median higher than 70 percent of people, according to a few contested, though oft-cited, studies by Margaret E. Backman (1972), Julius S. Romanoff (1976) and Richard Lynn (2004).
The results have been dramatic: Freud, Einstein, Dylan. In the second half of the 20th century, Jews received 29 percent of the Nobel Prizes, while accounting for only 13 million of the world's 6 billion inhabitants -- about two-tenths of a percent.
"The profile of disproportionately high Jewish accomplishment in the arts and sciences since the 18th century, the reality of elevated Jewish IQ, and the connection between the two are not to be denied by means of data," Charles Murray, co-author of the controversial 1994 book, "The Bell Curve," which discussed the socioeconomic consequences of racial differences in intelligence, wrote in Commentary magazine last year. "And so we come to the great question: How and when did this elevated Jewish IQ come about?"
There is no accepted explanation. Some researchers have attributed higher IQ to medieval persecution, others to Jewish identity as the People of the Book and a few, maybe flippantly, to the fruits of being God's chosen.
But how researchers answer that same question depends heavily upon what school of thought they come from. Evolutionary psychologists like MacDonald credit better Jewish genes, while traditional biologists argue heightened IQ is the result of nurture, not nature.
"Jews may have been able to actualize their intelligence differently than other groups because we have an enormous, 5,000-year cultural history prizing learning and achievement," said Richard M. Lerner, a critic of MacDonald who directs the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. "There is no innateness."
Few people would deny that Jews number strongly among the American elite, but very few American Jews want to talk about it. Among those who will is J.J. Goldberg, author of the authoritative 1996 book, "Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment."
"A lot of the politics of Jewish advocacy, minority advocacy in general, is victimhood," Goldberg said in an interview. "You can't do that if you are not actually a victim. There are some people who think Jews are powerless and others, like Kevin MacDonald, think that Jews control everything. In fact, the truth is somewhere in the middle."
Another journalist eager to discuss this topic is Philip Weiss, who writes the blog, Mondoweiss, and, unlike Goldberg, is an anti-Zionist who can be a brutal critic of his co-religionists. In December, MacDonald mentioned Weiss on his Web site, kevinmacdonald.net, where he links to his articles about Jews and Western culture and writes lengthy responses to critics. MacDonald praised Weiss as a fellow traveler. On his own blog, Weiss quickly rejected the embrace.
"He is trying to examine some important ideas. I just wish he wasn't racist about it," Weiss said in an interview, adding, "There was scrutiny of Jewish power in Central Europe when the Nazis arose. Therefore there is no ability to scrutinize Jewish power now because it makes you a Nazi. But I think that it is a legitimate intellectual and journalistic exercise to scrutinize Jewish power. I know MacDonald is engaged in that, and I respect that. But it is his generalizations about Jews that I find disturbing."
Broad brushing, a central criticism of MacDonald's work, is a professional hazard in evolutionary psychology, a field of study whose legitimacy has been fiercely contested. For its advocates, it is scientific research that applies Darwinian principles to human behavior. Opponents liken it to Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories, " which explained contemporary phenomena with fantastic ontological accounts that traced the maze backward.
Nevertheless, MacDonald was once a respected member of this community. His first book was fairly well reviewed, though the second less so and the third almost not at all. From 1995 to 2001, he served as the elected secretary-archivist of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. That organization's president would come to repudiate MacDonald as an "embarrassment."