Presentation at Dr. James Fetzer’s Academic Freedom Conference

Dr. James Fetzer, emeritus professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, has put together a fascinating series of videos on academic freedom. My presentation can be seen in the above video.

As I note in the video, I will always have positive memories of James Fetzer at the Human Behavior and Evolution Conference at Amherst College in 2000. As things degenerated during attacks by the likes of Richard Wrangham (now at Harvard), Fetzer got up and gave a ringing defense of academic freedom with a voice than can only be called stentorian. Unforgettable.

I have a lot of material on all of this on my website (here and here) which unfortunately is quarantined by Google because of a malware infestation. (This page has an eyewitness account of the Amherst meeting.) We have taken care of the malware issues, but it takes a while to get out of their doghouse. (NOTE: QUARANTINE IS OVER;  WE ARE CLEARED, AT LEAST FOR CHROME.)

Below I repost an account of my experiences soon after the CSULB campus was graced by a visit from the lovely Heidi Beirich of the $outhern Poverty Law Center, written for VDARE and posted on November 14, 2006. It gives some added details.

As you read this, Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center is interviewing some 40 students, faculty, and administrators at California State University–Long Beach, where I am a tenured Professor of Psychology, for an upcoming hit job on me and my research.

Readers of VDARE.COM need little introduction to the SPLC or Ms. Beirich. Since 1971, the SPLC has built up an unsavory reputation, attracting criticism even from the Left for dubious fund-raising tactics, reckless allegations (anyone who opposes open borders is a racist) massive exaggerations (the Ku Klux Klan is on the verge of taking over the entire U.S.) and, by those who actually read its materials, for wholesale misrepresentation. Essentially a gang of political terrorists, well described by Peter Brimelow as a “shakedown scam that preys on the elderly, Holocaust-haunted rich”, the SPLC is nevertheless accorded almost religious reverence by many in the media, academia, and government. Case in point: the (otherwise quite fair) student newspaper article on my case was headlined Civil rights group investigates professor  [by Mary Jane O`Brien, Daily 49er, November 13 2006]. [For theCapitol Research Center`s new expose of the SPLC, click here]

The SPLC is paying me attention because it wants to suppress my academic work. I am interested in sociobiology, evolutionary psychology and group behavior. Some years ago I began to study the Jews. This resulted in three scholarly books and a monograph considering Judaism from a modern evolutionary perspective:

I have also published a number of related articles (scroll down).

In this body of work I have developed the argument that Jewish activity collectively, throughout history, is best understood as an elaborate and highly successful group competitive strategy directed against neighboring peoples and host societies. The objective has been control of economic resources and political power.  One example: overwhelming Jewish support for non-traditional immigration, which has the effect of weakeningAmerica`s historic white majority. Such behavior would be viewed as perfectly normal from a sociobiological standpoint.

Of course, I could be wrong. Demonstrating this would require logical argument and reinterpretation of the extensive factual evidence I have assembled. I have yet to see any critic of my work able to show that I was wrong about the theory or in my handling of the evidence. But in principle it might be possible.

However, my critics, exemplified by the SPLC, have generally been unwilling to attempt this. Instead, their line has been that the subject is taboo and discussing it should be forbidden. Needless to say, this is not the intellectual tradition out of which the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution came.

My experience provides a case study of these tactics. Beirich, along with another SPLC operative Mark Potok, recently wrote an article  listing me as one of the “13 worst people in America” and “The scariest academic”. In a country with around 300,000,000 people and 45,000 academics, the SPLC places me in some pretty rarified company.

The Beirich & Potok article is a compendium of ethical lapses. It refers to me as having a Master`s degree, although I have held a Ph.D since 1981 and have been a fully tenured faculty member at Cal State Long Beach for 15 years. The implication: I am not a fully qualified and recognized scholar. An academic who acknowledges not having read my work is quoted, while positive comments by academics who have reviewed my research in scholarly publications are ignored. It presents gross oversimplifications of my work—summarizing an entire book in one sentence and leaving out important qualifications (e.g., although the organized Jewish community was the major force in pushing through the 1965 immigration law and in theestablishment of multicultural America, I stipulate that many Jews were not involved in these efforts).

Further, Beirich & Potok lift quotations out of context. Most outrageously, they claim that I “suggest[s] that colleges restrict Jewish admission and Jews be heavily taxed `to counter the Jewish advantage in the possession of wealth.`” In fact, the passage in question discusses the possible consequences of a hypothetical ethnic spoils system in which individuals are assigned access to resources based ontheir percentage in the population. Obviously, if such a system were in place, it would discriminate against Jews. Merely explaining the real-world consequences of such a system is not the equivalent of advocating it.

Personally, I am appalled that there are major organizations and movements in this country that advocate ethnicity-based access to resources such as university admissions. Behavioral science research clearly documents that different ethnic groups have different average talents, abilities, wealth, etc.  These differences can only lead to increasing levels of ethnic tension and competition in multicultural America. An ethnicity-based spoils system would be the end of the country as originally founded. It would lead to a hyper-Orwellian future in which each ethnic group jealously monitors the others to make sure it is getting its “fair” share.

I`m reminded of an earlier hatchet job by Beirich. She made a phone call to Human Events Editor-in-Chief Tom Winter complaining that Kevin Lamb, Human Events managing editor, was also the editor of The Occidental Quarterly—a publication that the SPLC calls “racist” and “white supremacist.”  (The fact that I have published articles in The Occidental Quarterly is a major part of the SPLC`s problem with me.) Lamb was gone within the hour.

More recently, Beirich succeeded with another phone call in frightening the supposedly conservative Leadership Institute into a last-minute refusal of its premises to the Robert A. Taft Club, which planned to hold a debate—a debate—betweenAmerican Renaissance`s Jared Taylor, National Review`s John Derbyshire and black conservative Kevin Martin.

 The Taft Club is basically just a group of Washington-area kids. But no band of heretics is too small for the SPLC Inquisition.

Ms. Beirich asked to interview me during her stay in Long Beach. Given her record, I was confident she would be acting in bad faith. But I offered to be interviewed by her—if she would answer my concerns regarding her previous writing about me and make them public to the CSULB community. She has not responded to this offer.

Kevin Lamb was an “at will” employee and really had no defense against the assault of Beirich and the SPLC. But the fact is that even academics with tenure are terrified of being called racists, anti-Semites or any other pejorative concocted by the left.

This is ironic. Unlike politicians, who must curry favor with the public in order to be reelected, and unlike media figures, who have no job protection, tenured academics should be free from any such fears. Part of the job—and a large part of the rationale for tenure in the first place—is that they are supposed to be willing to take unpopular positions.

That image of academia, however, simply and sadly has no basis in reality. Consider, for example, an article appearing almost two months after the publication of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt`s famous essay on the Israel Lobby and appropriately titled A hot paper muzzles Harvard.”  [by Eve Fairbanks, The Los Angeles Times, May 14 2006]:

“Instead of a roiling debate, most professors not only agreed to disagree but agreed to pretend publicly that there was no disagreement at all. At Harvard and other schools, the Mearsheimer-Walt paper proved simply too hot to handle — and it revealed an academia deeply split yet lamentably afraid to engage itself on one of the hottest political issues of our time. Call it the academic Cold War:distrustful factions rendered timid by the prospect of mutually assured career destruction.”

It`s not that professors don`t want to sound off on public policy issues. When there is an opportunity to spout righteous leftism, professors leap to the front of the line. A good example: the Duke University rape allegation case. Despite considerable evidence that the charges are spurious, three academic departments, 13 programs, and 88 professors at Duke paid for an ad in the campus newspaper in which they assumed the guilt of the men, and stated that “what happened to this young woman” resulted from “racism and sexism”.

In that case, of course, the professors who went public with their indignation knew they were part of a like-minded community and that there would be much to gain by being on the politically-correct side.

Seen in this context, the reaction to Mearsheimer and Walt makes a lot of sense. As one professor explained: “People might debate it if you gave everyone a get-out-of-jail-free card and promised that afterward everyone would be friends.”

This latest experience with the SPLC has improved my understanding of the dynamics of group control of individuals.

There have been times when I have had to endure vicious charges of anti-Semitism, for instance by Jacob Laksin (CalState`s Professor of Anti-Semitism. May 5 2006). But when discussion was confined to the impersonal world of the internet, it did not bother me. I would write a detailed reply and circulate it among the people who read me. I knew that people who support my writing would rally to my defense and say nice things about me and my reply to Laksin.

Naturally, I also knew that I would a get hate mail and maybe a couple of death threats. But that`s to be expected. And it`s all rather abstract, since I basically sit in solitude at my computer and read it all. It pretty much ends there. A part of me even sees some benefit in it because visits to my website are up and more people are buying my book.

But then came the SPLC and Heidi Beirich. Someone not connected to CSULB sent an email to the entire Psychology Department—except me—asking why they allowed an “anti-Semite” to teach there. The result was an uproar, with heated exchanges on the faculty email list, a departmental meeting on what to do about me and my work, and intense meetings of the departmental governing committee.

Cold shoulders, forced smiles and hostile stares became a reality. Going into my office to teach my classes and attend committee meetings became an ordeal.

I keep saying to myself: why is this so hard?  At the conscious level I was perfectly confident that I could sit down with any of my colleagues and defend my ideas. I know rationally that a lot of the people giving me negative vibes are themselves members of ethnic minority groups—who like the present ethnic spoils system, such as affirmative action and ethnically-influenced foreign policy, just fine.

My theory: Ostracism and hostility from others in one`s face-to-face world trigger guilt feelings. These are automatic responses resulting ultimately from the importance of fitting into a group over evolutionary time. We Westerners are relatively prone to individualism. But we certainly don`t lack a sense of wanting to belong and to be accepted. Violating certain taboos carries huge emotional consequences.

This little bit of personal experience is doubtless typical of the forces of self-censorship that maintain the political order of the post-World-War-II West. It`s the concern about the face-to-face consequences of being a non-conformist in the deeply sensitive areas related to race or to Jewish influence.

My research on Jewish issues is well within the academic mainstream in terms of use of sources and evidence, and it has been well reviewed in a variety of mainstream sources. It would raise no controversy except that it deals with very sensitive issues: Anti-Semitism and Jewish influence on culture and politics.

I am willing to defend the idea that my ethnic identity and ethnic interests are as legitimate as those of the numerous ethnic activists that make a living in academia. Would Mexicans or Chinese be considered moral reprobates if they didn`t like the idea of their people losing political, demographic, and cultural control within their homeland? Should academics like Cornel West or Alan Dershowitz be fired or ostracized because of their obvious and deeply expressed ethnic commitments?What of the many Latino professors who marched in the recent spate of pro-immigration rallies supporting more immigration to the U.S. for the people with whom they identify?

All of these are accepted and indeed approved. However, my relatively low-key expression of ethnic identity as a white European-American concerned about the prospects of his people and culture so easily becomes whipped up into mass hysteria on campus.

This guilt trauma is the result of our evolved psychology and a long history of socialization in post-World-War-II America. It`s a big part of the problem, and people like me have simply got to become better at dealing with it.

So in the end, I’ve come to greet Heidi`s arrival in Long Beach as therapeutic—a painful but necessary challenge that must be overcome first at the psychological level if any progress is to be made on unabashed and unfettered discussion of critical issues like the  Third World Invasion of America and the impending death of the West.

Hell, if Republican candidates had been ready, willing, and able to campaign on these issues, they might not have been so thoroughly “thumped” in the recent elections.

Kevin MacDonald [email him] is Professor of Psychology at California State University-Long Beach. For his website, clickhere.

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