A litany of bad science

Trumpism is nothing new. Fevered racism has been simmering in the US for a long, long time. What’s embarrassing is how Daniel Okrent explains how much well educated scientists at famous institutions contributed to the toxic stew. It’s not southern rednecks who necessarily are full of ignorance and hate; genteel northern scholars with bad ideas had more power and influence.

Also note how the social sciences have been scorned all along.

Together, they [a gang of prestigious scientists] popularized “racial eugenics,” a junk science that made ethnically based racism respectable. “The day of the sociologist is passing,” said the Harvard professor Robert DeCourcy Ward, “and the day of the biologist has come.” The biologists and their publicists achieved what their political allies had failed to accomplish for 30 years: enactment of a law stemming the influx of Jews, Italians, Greeks and other eastern and southern Europeans. “The need of restriction is manifest,” The New York Times declared in an editorial, for “American institutions are menaced” by “swarms of aliens.”

People with no knowledge of sociology are always eager to shut down sociology departments because they keep on digging up hard data to show that racists are wrong. But wait — when a sociologist says bigoted things, then we can listen to them. Also, I guess people of Slavic descent weren’t considered white enough?

Writing about Slavic immigrants, the sociologist Edward A. Ross of the University of Wisconsin — later the national chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union — declared, they “are immune to certain kinds of dirt. They can stand what would kill a white man.” The president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology said newcomers from eastern and southern Europe were “vast masses of filth” who were “living like swine.”

Racial classifications were so confusing. Italians were Asiatic?

The Washington Post editorialized that 90 percent of Italians coming to the United States were “the degenerate spawn” of “Asiatic hordes.” A Boston philanthropist, Joseph Lee, his city’s leading supporter of progressive causes, explained to friends why he became the single largest financial backer of the anti-immigrant campaign: His concern, he wrote, was that without a restriction law, Europe would be “drained of Jews — to its benefit no doubt but not to ours.”

Cold Spring Harbor has a deep history of aiding and abetting racism — removing that stain was one of the reasons James Watson got the boot there, although that doesn’t explain why they hired him in the first place.

The “biological” justifications for this nativism were first developed in Cold Spring Harbor, on Long Island, in laboratories financed by the widow of the railroad baron E.H. Harriman. (One of her goals, Mary Harriman said, was preventing “the decay of the American race.”) The laboratory’s head, the zoologist Charles B. Davenport, took the ideas of the British gentleman scientist Francis Galton — who had coined the word “eugenics” in 1883 — welded them to a gross misunderstanding of the genetic discoveries of Gregor Mendel, and concluded that the makeup of the nation’s population could be improved by the careful control of human breeding. One of the first steps, he believed, was to impose new controls on open immigration.

I read “The Passing of the Great Race” a few decades ago, and recall it as awful pseudoscience of the sort that might fit in at the Daily Stormer nowadays. I should re-read it, I suppose, but the memory is painful and infuriating.

At first, Davenport wished to bar the immigration only of people afflicted by specific disorders — epileptics, the “feebleminded” and others of similarly troublesome (to Davenport) disability. But soon he was caught up in a racialist whirlwind initiated by “The Passing of the Great Race,” a book by Madison Grant, the founder of the Bronx Zoo and the era’s most prominent conservationist. A bilious stew of dubious history, bogus anthropology and completely unfounded genetic theory, Grant’s work persuaded Davenport and others that the American bloodstream was threatened not by suspect individuals, but by entire ethnic groups.

Never forget how entrenched anti-semitism was and is.

Grant was not an actual scientist. But Henry Fairfield Osborn, a world-famous paleontologist and his closest friend, definitely was. Osborn, who once expressed his opposition to the extension of the Westchester Parkway near his country estate because it would bring thousands of “East Side Jews” to the area, presided over the American Museum of Natural History for 25 years, and made that institution the beating heart of the combined eugenics and anti-immigration movement. “I am convinced,” said Osborn, that the “spiritual, physical, moral and intellectual structure” of individuals is “based on racial characteristics.” It wasn’t a matter of ethnic bias, he said — it was “cold-blooded” science.

Good news for me — I’m one of those Nordics. That means I get to sneer at everyone with ancestry from a more southern country. That’s what this is all about, right, ranking people in arbitrary hierarchies so you always have someone lesser to spit on?

“Whether we like to admit it or not,” Grant wrote, “the result of the mixture of two races, in the long run, gives us a race reverting” to the “lower type.” Lower than Nordics were the questionable “Alpines.” Lower than the “Alpines” were the woeful “Mediterraneans.” And, he concluded, “the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew is a Jew.”

We’ve still got people today babbling about IQ tests. Thanks, scientists!

Other scholars rallied to the cause. Robert M. Yerkes — his name immortalized today at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta — conducted a severely flawed series of tests of American servicemen purporting to establish the intellectual inferiority of eastern and southern Europeans. Charles W. Gould, a lawyer in New York, sponsored “A Study of American Intelligence,” by Carl C. Brigham, a young Princeton psychologist (and later the inventor of the SAT). Brigham’s conclusion: “There can be no doubt that recent history has shown a movement of inferior peoples or inferior representatives of peoples to this country.”

It’s good to be reminded now and then that all the pseudo-scientific respectability given racist science today was granted by bigoted assholes with science degrees yesterday.

“Republican” is a synonym for “petty and stupid”

I’ve driven by Fort Snelling, the park and the gigantic military cemetery, an uncounted number of times — it’s right by the airport, so if you’ve ever flown into the Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport, you’ve gone by it yourself. It’s right there at the intersection of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, so it’s been an important landmark even before the airport was built; even before Minnesota was a state; even before European settlers invaded the territory.

Guess what has our Minnesota legislature — at least, the Republican side — in an uproar now? Historians have added a word to the sign at the visitor center: “Fort Snelling at Bdote“. They haven’t changed the name of the place, they’ve only added an acknowledgement of the Dakota word for this meeting of the two rivers, which sounds like a lovely addition to me, and one that does no harm to the European side of the history, but only extends it to include the longer Indian record of residence.

Unbelievably, Republicans consider this an assault on their version of history.

“Without any public input that I am aware of, the Historical Society has changed the name of historic Fort Snelling, which is a military installation, to historic Fort Snelling at Bdote,” Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

He said he’s also heard from veterans who are upset by the signs, and consider it “revisionist” history.

“I think it’s a rewriting of our history and I’m not in favor of it,” he said.

It’s not just a myopic reading of history, the Republicans are planning to punish the historical society by cutting their budget by millions of dollars, possibly costing the loss of as many as 80 jobs (which is fine with the Rs, I guess).

I’m just surprised a little bit that anyone would object to adding a little more historical information to a sign at a historical site. There’s no reason to complain, unless you’re so deeply racist that you resent any mention of the people the European settlers displaced to take over this region. Seriously, how can anyone be upset by this word?

But I shouldn’t be surprised. This cheerful message sparked a lot of online anger.

A great many white people flooded the comments to insist pointedly that that wasn’t Lake Bde Maka Ska, but Lake Calhoun, despite the fact that the name was officially changed. Calhoun was a Southern politician and vociferous advocate of slavery at the time of the Civil War, and it was totally inappropriate to honor him by naming a beautiful lake after him, but apparently some people think that it’s better to memorialize a white traitor who isn’t from this area than to use a pretty Dakota name that actually describes the lake.

If you’re wondering how it’s pronounced, it’s like it’s spelled. And that’s really what the lake is named on the maps.

OK, here’s Joe Bendickson demonstrating how to say it. Bendickson, by the way, has something in common with me: we’re both on Turning Point USA’s list of Dangerous Professors, which is entirely my honor.

We can just post the same article over and over again!

Like this one, from The Nation a bit more than a year ago.

Judging by the headlines, pseudo-scientific racism is making a comeback. Nineties-relic Charles Murray (The Bell Curve) is popping up on campuses and in conservative media outlets, much to the delight of those who think his graphs confer legitimacy to their prejudices. Atheist philosopher and podcaster Sam Harris is extolling Murray’s highfalutin version of racist graffiti as “forbidden knowledge.” New York Times’ increasingly off-the-rails op-ed page gave genetics professor David Reich the opportunity to write that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races.’” And Andrew Sullivan, as ever, is fervently repackaging Gilded Age eugenics for a 21st-century audience.

Wow. Nothing has changed. Those same people are still pontificating away over the same tired bigotries.

You might be saying, “It’s only been a year, change takes time,” and I’d agree with you…except if you read the rest of the article, it’s all about the long history of racist pseudoscience. If a year isn’t enough, is a century?

Names like Alexis Carrel, Madison Grant, Lothrop Stoddard, and Ernst Rüdin mean little today. But a century ago, they were in the top tier of public intellectuals—the Neil deGrasse Tysons and Carl Sagans of their age. They stood at the confluence of three popular trends at the turn of the century. One was scientific racism—the attempt to leverage reason and the scientific method to “prove” the inherent superiority of the white, northern European race (a conclusion that conveniently doubled as the premise). The second was eugenics, which represented the misappropriation of Darwinian evolution to human social outcomes. Third was rising apprehension at the immigration feeding the transition of the United States from an agrarian backwater to an industrial colossus.

Apparently not. All three of those trends are still going strong.

I guess I’m going to have to cling to life for at least another century to see the headlines change.

SPLC going down in flames

I’ve always thought the Southern Poverty Law Center was one of the good guys, fighting against race hatred and taking on groups like the KKK. And then, suddenly, Morris Dees, one of the founders and leaders of the organization, was booted out. What was going, I wondered. The SPLC’s brief announcements didn’t explain anything. Now we know.

We were working with a group of dedicated and talented people, fighting all kinds of good fights, making life miserable for the bad guys. And yet, all the time, dark shadows hung over everything: the racial and gender disparities, the whispers about sexual harassment, the abuses that stemmed from the top-down management, and the guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.

Wait, are you saying I was conned? By the SPLC? Crap.

the Los Angeles Times and the Alabama Political Reporter reported that Dees’s ouster had come amid a staff revolt over the mistreatment of nonwhite and female staffers, which was sparked by the resignation of the senior attorney Meredith Horton, the highest-ranking African-American woman at the center. A number of staffers subsequently signed onto two letters of protest to the center’s leadership, alleging that multiple reports of sexual harassment by Dees through the years had been ignored or covered up, and sometimes resulted in retaliation against the women making the claims. (Dees denied the allegations, telling a reporter, “I don’t know who you’re talking to or talking about, but that is not right.”)

The staffers wrote that Dees’s firing was welcome but insufficient: their larger concern, they emphasized, was a widespread pattern of racial and gender discrimination by the center’s current leadership, stretching back many years. (The S.P.L.C. has since appointed Tina Tchen, a former chief of staff for Michelle Obama, to conduct a review of its workplace environment.) If Cohen and other senior leaders thought that they could shunt the blame, the riled-up staffers seem determined to prove them wrong. One of my former female colleagues told me that she didn’t want to go into details of her harassment for this story, because she believes the focus should be on the S.P.L.C.’s current leadership. “I just gotta hope your piece helps keep the momentum for change going,” she said. Stephen Bright, a Yale professor and longtime S.P.L.C. critic, told me, “These chickens took a very long flight before they came home to roost.” The question, for current and former staffers alike, is how many chickens will come to justice before this long-overdue reckoning is complete.

They talked the talk, but they didn’t walk the walk. What they were doing was good and necessary, but their aims were not reflected at all in their internal organization. This is a familiar bad look, where teams of old white men run the show and tell the world how much they value diversity. It’s fine to promote diversity, but you also have to be able to step to the side and make room for other voices. I guess Morris Dees wasn’t able to do that.

Hell hath no fury like a Canadian Kermit snubbed

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but Cambridge is one of those prestigious “elite” universities, and sometimes they do exhibit some good sense.

Oh, but Peterson is mad about this. How dare they deny him an appointment! They owe him!

University of Toronto psychology professor Dr Jordan Peterson had planned to be with Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity for two months in autumn.

But on Wednesday the university took the invitation back after a review.

Dr Peterson said the faculty had “made a serious error of judgement in rescinding their offer to me”.

He has fired back.

This is what we academics call “burning your bridges,” or “guaranteeing that you’ll never get a second invitation,” or “confirming the wisdom of their decision,” or “hah, what college would want you as a visiting professor after that childish outburst,” etc. Poor man. He gets no respect from his peers, so he’ll have to settle for a consoling tongue-bath from his mob of under-educated manbabies.

I thought The Onion was a satire site

But this is just a little too on-the-nose.

Warning that users who call for the suspension of bigoted accounts might just be afraid of a real debate, Facebook representatives told reporters Tuesday that classifying hate speech can be difficult because some posts actually make very interesting points. “At Facebook, we are committed to combating violence and hate speech on our platform, but can you really call these posts hate speech when a lot of them are based on science and logic?” said Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, claiming that unless you’re a sheep who just swallows everything the mainstream media sells you, a number of these posts had a lot to consider, and even if you don’t completely agree with the attacks on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, it should not be a crime to make people think. “If you’re as open-minded as you claim, you will see that while some of these posts cross the line, many of them are really nuanced and make good points. Of course, everyone should feel safe on Facebook, but it’s hard to determine what’s threatening because the more you watch these videos, the more you realize that Islam might be incompatible with west. Maybe people are just scared of hearing the truth.” Bickert added that if people were such big fans of policing speech, she had some eye-opening videos on globalism she could share on Facebook.

Maybe Sam Harris is moonlighting as a writer for them now.

Jacob Wohl may have Smolletted himself

Jacob Wohl, the right-wing dumbass who strolled through a pleasant neighborhood in Minneapolis and declared it a “no-go zone” infested with terrorists, has come out with a “documentary” about his terrifying experience. He even claimed to have received an online death threat from a gay Hispanic diversity coordinator! Except that, because he’s one of the dumbest people on the internet, he used one of his own fake accounts to send it to himself.

He reported that threat to the police! So now the Minneapolis police are looking into it as a false report of a crime. It’s kind of amazingly idiotic: he included video shots of the “threat” in his own “documentary”, and also included shots of him filing a police report. He committed a crime and recorded every step of it. He is so helpful to the police.

Even his own good pal, Ali Alexander, who accompanied him on this field trip, is now desperately distancing himself from Wohl, slamming his friend publicly.

“It confirms that he’s not operating at a level where there’s useful misinformation, but kind of stupid, vanity-filled, ego-fueled disinformation,” Alexander said. “And that won’t look good for Jacob.”

I saw the videos Alexander and Wohl made during their visit, and while he may not have been responsible for a fake police report, he certainly was an enthusiastic participant in spreading “stupid, vanity-filled, ego-fueled disinformation”.

I’m not worried about Ilhan Omar. I worry about the other guys.

There’s something rotten at the heart of US foreign policy, and this is just one small example.

questioning support for the US-Israel relationship is unacceptable…christ. That’s what is unacceptable. Israel is a corrupt genocidal theocracy, and US policy ought to be directed at supporting Israel while reducing their criminal behavior, rather than treating them as an aspirational model.

And what horrible thing did Omar say? All the critics seem to weasel around it. Here it is, though:

Last week, Ilhan Omar said something insensitive about the Israel lobby. While explaining her frustration with the way allegations of anti-Semitism can be used to suppress “the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine,” the Democratic congresswoman said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

When I just said, “Israel is a corrupt genocidal theocracy”, I said something far stronger than Omar simply questioning the idea of slavish devotion to Israel, as exhibited by American politicians. The article I’m quoting from, while mostly favoring her views, also buys into this weird notion that she said something “insensitive”. If you wanted to call me “insensitive”, I wouldn’t argue with you; what Omar said was the cautious advance of a view contrary to dogma, and was pretty darned politically careful. If anything, the author of that article is saying that Omar was too cautious in her criticisms.

The problem isn’t Congress’s “allegiance to a foreign country,” but its complicity in Jewish supremacy in the West Bank, an inhuman blockade in Gaza, and discrimination against Arab-Israelis in Israel proper.

Imagine if Omar had said that! But as he points out, Congress, including Democratic leaders, have fully accepted the righteousness of genocidal theocratic reasoning.

Speaking at AIPAC’s conference last year, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer suggested that Israel did not need to end any of these practices — because the Arabs wouldn’t make peace with the Jewish State, even if it did:

Now, some say there are some who argue the settlements are the reason there’s not peace … some say it’s the borders … Now, let me tell you why — my view, why we don’t have peace. Because the fact of the matter is that too many Palestinians and too many Arabs do not want any Jewish state in the Middle East. The view of Palestinians is simple, the Europeans treated the Jews badly culminating in the Holocaust and they gave them our land as compensation.

Of course, we say it’s our land, the Torah says it, but they don’t believe in the Torah. So that’s the reason there is not peace. They invent other reasons, but they do not believe in a Jewish state and that is why we, in America, must stand strong with Israel through thick and thin.

When Schumer says that America “must stand strong with Israel,” he means that it must block any and all efforts to liberate Palestinians from race-based oppression. When the Obama administration declined to veto a unanimous U.N. resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements in 2016, Schumer decried the move as “frustrating, disappointing and confounding.”

I think it is Schumer’s view that is simple, and using the Torah as a justification is religious blithering…and that ought to be unacceptable in any evidence-based approach to policy. Meanwhile, Omar’s views are far more humanistic, and she gets accused of racism.

There are costs to selectively policing bigoted (or insensitive) speech. The Democratic Party’s decision to spotlight Omar’s moment of rhetorical insensitivity toward Zionists — while ignoring, or actively championing the oppression of Palestinians — distorts public understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The party’s actions have the effect of casting Omar as the face of “extremism” on the Israel-Palestine issue, even though her official position — that any peace agreement must “affirm the safety and rights of both Palestinians and Israelis” — is more consistent with America’s purported values than almost any other lawmaker’s. Never mind that Chuck Schumer proudly defends Israel’s right to permanently disenfranchise Palestinians, as a means of protecting its ethnostate from the “demographic threat” posed by other people’s babies. Since Omar’s remarks attract bipartisan condemnation — while Schumer’s do not — it is Ilhan Omar who gets branded as “the Steve King of the left.”

Interesting. While Steve King of the Right gets sympathy and support from his colleagues, who refuse to condemn him other than a little mild tut-tutting, the “Left” in Congress is far more concerned with policing reasonable ideas that question the unthinking support for Israel than they are with the flagrant racism of the Republicans in power.


See also:

Seriously? Omar is going to be rebuked?

Jacob Wohl and Laura Loomer are in Minneapolis. Be still my heart.

The pinnacle of Jacob Wohl’s career was his attempt to shut down the Mueller investigation by cobbling up a fake company, Surefire, and spreading the rumor that they had info on a sex scandal involving Robert Mueller. He’s a far-right, fanatical conspiracy theorist who is paranoid about Muslims. He’s also not very bright.

Laura Loomer’s career reached it’s peak when she handcuffed herself to the door of Twitter’s New York office door to protest the fact that her account had been banned for racist remarks. She gave up when she got cold. She is obsessed with Muslims. She is also not very bright.

It was kismet. These two shallow, untalented, lazy people who run after any media attention have joined forces to…chase after more media attention. They have failed to name their partnership in media whoredom, though, so I’ve decided to give this whiny duo one.

Let’s call them the Chucklefuck Twins.

Anyway, they have paired up to engage in another media blitz that will be just as successful as their previous efforts, I’m sure. They have picked a target, hired a security and film crew, and have dived on their chosen Gotham City to right wrongs, reveal the villainous underbelly of the scabrous slums, and document the evil that lurks there.

They’re in Minneapolis.

They chose to descend on the city in February, which tells you how clever they are. Loomer got cold in NY in November. We’re at -5°C here on the prairies, and we’re supposed to be hit by a major blizzard tonight. I live here in outstate Minnesota, and I wouldn’t travel to Minneapolis today — we know that this time of year the roads are hazardous and the weather can turn on you.

I guess we’re an irresistable target to racist xenophobes, though. Minnesota has the most refugees per capita of any state. We’re honestly open and friendly, we encourage people to move here, we think it’s great that they form distinctive communities. We’ve got a large Hmong population, for instance — they and other groups have been an asset to our universities and make our cities diverse and interesting. It turns out that an atmosphere of tolerance improves the quality of life for everyone.

But the Chucklefuck Twins aren’t here for the Hmong. Oh, no.

Wait. The total population of Somalis and people of Somali descent in Minnesota is between 40 and 50 thousand, and many of them were born here. We get a few thousand refugees from all sorts of places, not just Somalia, every year. His math is nonsense.

I’ll return to that “third world ghettos” comment in a moment.

That first bit is correct. Minnesota now is populated mainly by descendants of immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia who displaced the native Ojibwe and Dakota nations. Speaking for my own family of Swedes and Norwegians, one thing that may help make for a more tolerant community is that we remember and take pride in our ancestry — people still celebrate Swedish and Norwegian holidays here, and make traditional foods — so we’re sympathetic when other people arrive here and try to preserve their own culture. We’re not being taken advantage of here, we have our own family stories of moving to a harsh environment and both trying to adapt and retain our identities. Somalis, welcome! What do you like to eat? Shall we share?

The Chucklefuck Twins are not making friends here. At the start of this video, they pan across our snow-covered streets and declare Minnesota not a very pleasant place, it’s a wonder why anyone wants to come here (you showed up in February, Chucklefucks!) before making a big complaint about the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

They showed up at the Center and quickly determined that Jews are banned, and they only help Muslim Somalis and claim that they were kicked out and the door locked behind them, when they disingenuously say they were only there to see if they could help their oppressed Jewish relatives in Europe.

I will just point out the official position and role of the ILCM.

Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) is a nonprofit agency that provides immigration legal assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. ILCM also works to educate Minnesota communities and professionals about immigration matters, and advocates for state and federal policies which respect the universal human rights of immigrants.

They help “low-income immigrants and refugees in Minnesota“. They are not a travel agency. They are there for people in Minnesota who need legal and educational assistance.

The Chucklefuck Twins showed up at their door with a film crew and bodyguards. They were obviously not in need of their kind of help.

The Chucklefuck Twins are lying assholes, trying to gin up controversy.

And that’s right…they have hired a top-notch security team and are driving around Minneapolis in armored cars because they are so terrified.

This is ridiculous. No one cares about two paranoid, xenophobic chucklefucks wandering about the city. No one is conspiring to go after them. They’re here for two reasons: because Ilhan Omar (“The Jihadi” as they call her) was elected to congress from here, and because we have a neighborhood nicknamed “Little Mogadishu” in Minneapolis (we also have a place called “Little Canada” — I don’t know if it’s on the Chucklefuck Twins’ itinerary).

Wohl mentions that he thought he was in the movie Black Hawk Down when he drove into the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Right. This place.

That, by the way, is the “third world ghetto” he’s complaining about. It’s located right around the West Bank of the University of Minnesota campus. I’ve been there many times — without an armored car. If you want to try some African food of all varieties, not just Ethiopian, it’s the place to be. (I wonder where the Chucklefuck Twins are dining tonight? I doubt that they’ll be taking advantage of their opportunities here.)

It’s also the nicest “ghetto” I’ve ever seen. I’ve been to neighborhoods in North Philadelphia that look bombed out and crumbling, but this is a pleasant part of Minneapolis. If you’re ever in the Twin Cities, you should explore it, because we’re not all Swedes with funny accents dining on potatoes and salt herring.

Good god but the Chucklefuck Twins are appallingly stupid bigots.