Challenging racial ‘scholarship.’

Not too long ago, in the, not-so-distant past, hell had no fury like that directed at, American academics who dared to teach the lie that Blacks were genetically less intelligent than whites.

 

For many years academic ostracism, name calling, student protests and threats of viol the advocates of biologic engage in their own for ground railroad.

 

Virtually no foundation (even the conservative ones) were prepared to fund their research and hardly any academic institution was comfortable in allowing the subject to be discussed on campus. Over the past few years however, this is no longer the case. To paraphrase folk singer Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a changin’.”

 

 Suddenly it seems that more than a few eugenic-minded academics are, unabashedly espousing rhetoric that African-Americans are inherently less intelligent than whites and that the economic and social problems of African Americans are largely due to biological reasons. Charles Murray’s “The Bell Curve,” written in 1994 and more recently Dinesh D’Souza “The End of Racism,” published in 1995, were just two of many “scholarly” works that extensively commented on the supposedly intellectually deficient behavior of African-Americans.

 

Truth he told, Americans have always had a fascination with race. In the 1890s Social Darwinism was a belief that was very commonplace among wealthy Anglo-Saxon Protestants who believed in the superiority of whites. As a matter of fact Henry Adams, Henry Cabot Lodge and other influential Americans called for an immediate halt to immigration to preserve white “purity.”

 

Such negative stereotypes were not confined to the elite classes. Many working class Anglos had retrograde viewpoints about Blacks and other minorities of color as well as other white ethnic immigrant groups. At the turn of the century, many WASPS considered Asians, Latinos and Italians as well as Blacks as violent. Jews were seen as nervous and shrewd. Polish people were seen as unintelligent.

 

Literature that coincided with this time period bolstered these views such as Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden,” published in 1898, and, Madison Grant’s “The Passing of the Great Race,” published in 1916.

 

Granted, many white ethnic and other people of color have had to endure scurrilous, perverse, vehemently vicious falsehoods about themselves. Over time the negative stereotypes that were assigned to these groups have largely diminished. African Americans, however, are still targeted as scapegoats for much that is considered deviant, immoral, amoral or just plain wrong with America. What was once echoed in certain reactionary private circles is now publicly exposing itself without hesitancy.

 

Academics from respected institutions are once again arguing that Caucasians have larger brains for their body size, that low Black intelligence is the cause of high crime rates and that integrated schools require a “dumbed-down” curriculum that bores whites.

 

Many of these academics seem to fail to acknowledge the fact that if in an environment that is filled with love, discipline, stability, motivation and conductive to learning many people will perform well and rise to the occasion. No doubt there are millions of potential William F. Buckley Jrs., Cornel Wests, Elizabeth Doles and Oprah Winfreys languishing about due to factors that have nothing to do with race.

 

Many African-American and Latino youngsters attend urban and rural schools where inadequate heating, inCompetent teachers, out-of-date textbooks, low morale and other depressing factors are commonplace. This is where the problems lie. Lack of economic opportunity and access to quality education are the issues that should be the subject of focus among these professors, not dangerously twisted fantasies arguing racial dysfunction.

 

Scholarship that is based on racial supremacy should and must be challenged aggressively. The lessons of Nazi Germany, Fascist Spain and what happened over the past couple of years in Bosnia should remind us what such potentially ominous rhetoric can lead to. Supremacist scholarship can only lead to an unhealthy balkinization that our nation can ill afford.

 

Elwood Watson is a graduate student at the University of Maine. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in American history from the University of Delaware.

 

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