Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Southern Poverty Law Center can have my money

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a national treasure, keeping an eye on the right-wing, alt-right, racists and even male supremacists. I leaned heavily on their reporting in creating the text for my chart on Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right & hereditarian connections.

So today when I happened to be flagged down by a canvasser on Amsterdam Avenue asking for money and sign-ups for the SPLC of course I said yes. It was the least I could do. 

And I think we will need them more than ever going forward. The Trump presidency has emboldened racists and alt-right media like Quillette, promoted by celebrities like Steven Pinker are attempting to sneak alt-right attitudes about race into the political mainstream as "centrist."

As a recent Guardian article (I'm so glad they have somebody there very different from the guy who was so entranced by Pinker's twinkling blue eyes), The Unwelcome Revival of 'Race Science' by Gavin Evans notes:
In apartheid South Africa, the idea that each race had its own character, personality traits and intellectual potential was part of the justification for the system of white rule. The subject of race and IQ was similarly politicised in the US, where Jensen’s paper was used to oppose welfare schemes, such as the Head Start programme, which were designed to lift children out of poverty. But the paper met with an immediate and overwhelmingly negative reaction – “an international firestorm,” the New York Times called it 43 years later, in Jensen’s obituary – especially on American university campuses, where academics issued dozens of rebuttals, and students burned him in effigy. 
The recent revival of ideas about race and IQ began with a seemingly benign scientific observation. In 2005, Steven Pinker, one of the world’s most prominent evolutionary psychologists, began promoting the view that Ashkenazi Jews are innately particularly intelligent – first in a lecture to a Jewish studies institute, then in a lengthy article in the liberal American magazine The New Republic the following year. This claim has long been the smiling face of race science; if it is true that Jews are naturally more intelligent, then it’s only logical to say that others are naturally less so. 
The background to Pinker’s essay was a 2005 paper entitled “Natural history of Ashkenazi intelligence”, written by a trio of anthropologists at the University of Utah. In their 2005 paper, the anthropologists argued that high IQ scores among Ashkenazi Jews indicated that they evolved to be smarter than anyone else (including other groups of Jews). 
This evolutionary development supposedly took root between 800 and 1650 AD, when Ashkenazis, who primarily lived in Europe, were pushed by antisemitism into money-lending, which was stigmatised among Christians. This rapid evolution was possible, the paper argued, in part because the practice of not marrying outside the Jewish community meant a “very low inward gene flow”. This was also a factor behind the disproportionate prevalence in Ashkenazi Jews of genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs and Gaucher’s, which the researchers claimed were a byproduct of natural selection for higher intelligence; those carrying the gene variants, or alleles, for these diseases were said to be smarter than the rest. 
Pinker followed this logic in his New Republic article, and elsewhere described the Ashkenazi paper as “thorough and well-argued”. He went on to castigate those who doubted the scientific value of talking about genetic differences between races, and claimed that “personality traits are measurable, heritable within a group and slightly different, on average, between groups”. 
In subsequent years, Nicholas Wade, Charles Murray, Richard Lynn, the increasingly popular Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and others have all piled in on the Jewish intelligence thesis, using it as ballast for their views that different population groups inherit different mental capacities. Another member of this chorus is the journalist Andrew Sullivan, who was one of the loudest cheerleaders for The Bell Curve in 1994, featuring it prominently in The New Republic, which he edited at the time. He returned to the fray in 2011, using his popular blog, The Dish, to promote the view that population groups had different innate potentials when it came to intelligence.
Although Pinker has consistently denied what the Bell Curve said about African Americans it's clear that he does believe in "race" intelligence with the Ashkenazi bullshit. I think it's likely he believes what the Bell Curve said about blacks, since he's never explained why it is wrong, but he's too cagey a politician to admit it. 

And as my diagram of Pinker's connections demonstrates, he has frequently promoted the work of others who do believe that blacks are innately less intelligent and even, more criminal, than other "races."

And his fanboys worship him and think he can do no wrong. We will have Steven Pinker in part to thank for a racism revival in academia.