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The Fulford File: "Would-Be Demagogues Should Note"—Herrnstein, Murray, Richwine And The Decades Old Attempt To Stifle The Immigration Debate
The facts about the differing average IQ levels of the various post-1965 immigrant streams have been settled science for many years. The original draft of my huge 1992 National Review cover story Time to Rethink Immigration, which eventually resulted in my 1995 book Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, contained a discussion of IQ and immigration policy, alluding to Richard J. Herrnstein's and Charles Murray's book The Bell Curve, which I knew was in preparation. The reaction of my dear friend John O'Sullivan, NR's Editor in those happy days, was very instructive. Not only did he insist on cutting out the discussion, but he also hunted down every copy of the original draft in NR's office and had them destroyed. His argument was that any mention of IQ or heredity at all would result in the issue monopolizing all response to my article, plunging the rest of my very broad case against contemporary immigration policy irretrievably into the dark.
At the time, I accepted that he was right. But I now think that, had we fought that battle then, Jason Richwine might still be able to support his family today—and, who knows, American might be a very different place.
Brimelow also mentioned but declined to press the immigration-IQ linkage in Alien Nation. He wrote in a footnote on Page 57:
As this book was in galleys, the greatest intellectual uproar for many years was caused by the publication of Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray's The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (Free Press), which argued that scientific evidence shows human intelligence exists in a measurable way, is profoundly important in society, is largely hereditary, and differs, on average, between races. In a little-noticed passage, Herrnstein and Murray blamed the 1965 Immigration Act for a sharp deterioration in immigrant quality. They estimated that the current influx has an average IQ of 95, at least 5 points below the white American mean. If they are right, of course, this suggests the consequences of current policy are far more disastrous than anything argued in this book. However, I figure I’ve taken enough risks already and merely report their view for what it is worth. There are quite enough reasons to worry about immigration without using Herrnstein and Murray's work. Would-be demagogues should note that I do not so use it here.
(What Herrnstein and Murray had said, by the way, was "The rules that currently govern immigration provide the other major source of dysgenic pressure" [The Bell Curve, P 341])
You'll note that there's a hyperlink on "Would-be demagogues" above because I copied the section from the recently-released Kindle edition of Alien Nation, to which we added hyperlinks. That one goes to the U.K. Guardian's review of Alien Nation—a book that did not use the IQ argument, remember—entitled "The Far Right Leans Into The Bell Curve" (by Mark Taub, May 5, 1995).
Mark Taub is a good specimen of the "would-be demagogue." He described Brimelow as "one of the most fervent Bell Curve supporters,” which means he wrote a Forbes Magazine story about the controversy. (It was supposed to be a cover story but Steve Forbes had a last-minute hissy fit and insisted on burying it inside and excising all references to race. Come to think of it, Forbes is now a Heritage board member. Hmmm.)
But Taub was not as bad as Reason's Glenn Garvin [Email him], who wrote about Alien Nation in October 1995. After a sob story about a 12 year old Cuban girl who escaped on a raft and was detained by immigration—briefly, she's now a schoolteacher in Miami--Garvin ranted
"But who cares, really, about Lizbet Martinez? It's not like she has any rights. She's just another foreign kid, just another one of those "weird aliens with dubious habits" coming here probably to go on welfare or mug old ladies, as journalist and racial scientist Peter Brimelow is constantly warning us. (And Brimelow should know; he's a Brit, married to a Canadian.)"
[Bringing the Border War Home, Reason, October 1995]
There's more, including more hatred of immigrants like Arianna Huffington and John O'Sullivan--basically anyone who didn't arrive on a raft, but had a visa, and thus, by the way, more personal knowledge of the American immigration laws than most American-born pundits. But the important part was the drive-by smear of Brimelow as a "racial scientist."
Peter Brimelow wrote to Reason to protest:
Your readers must be puzzled by your recent personal attacks on me, particularly considering that in 20 years in mainstream journalism I dare say I've done more for libertarianism than your writers John J. Miller and Glenn Garvin (whoever they are). Or indeed, given your sadly small circulation, than you.
Thus in "Bringing the Border War Home," Mr. Garvin tries to smear me as a "racial scientist." But in fact in my book Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster, I explicitly eschew The Bell Curve's conclusion that the average IQ of the post-1965 immigrant inflow is significantly below that of native-born Americans. Instead, I rely entirely on the overwhelming economic and sociological evidence against the current mass immigration policy. Mr. Garvin's smear is not merely a fabrication: It is a calculated effort, given contemporary standards, to drive me out of public discourse [Letters to Reason, January 1996. VDARE.com links added].
Garvin replied heatedly that he'd read the footnote on Page 57—the only mention of IQ in the book—and he didn't believe it:
Turning to Peter Brimelow, my story noted that he's from another country. Now I'm starting to wonder if he's not actually from another planet. There is not a single word in my story that mentions IQ or The Bell Curve, not even tangentially.
But since Mr. Brimelow has unaccountably chosen to raise the subject, let readers judge for themselves where he stands. In a footnote on page 57 of Alien Nation, Mr. Brimelow briefly explains the thesis of The Bell Curve and its authors, Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray. He continues: "In a little-noticed passage, Herrnstein and Murray blamed the 1965 Immigration Act for a sharp deterioration in immigrant quality. They estimated that the current influx has an average IQ of 95, at least 5 points below the white American mean. If they are right, of course, this suggests the consequences of current policy are far more disastrous than anything argued in this book. However, I figure I've taken enough risks already and merely report their view for what it is worth." Some eschewal.
Besides revealing the fact that Garvin did not know the difference between “eschew” and “repudiate,” this shows there's no pleasing these "would-be demagogues."
More recently, of course, there have been a lot more “would-be demagogues” attacking Jason Richwine. In his PhD thesis on reducing lower IQ immigrants, as noted in the Washington Post, "He does caution against referring to [his policy proposal] as IQ-based selection, saying that using the term ‘skill-based’ would ‘blunt the negative reaction.’" Heritage study co-author opposed letting in immigrants with low IQs. [By Dylan Matthews, May 8, 2013]
And what Richwine meant, of course, and what O'Sullivan and Brimelow meant, was that talking about IQ drives people absolutely crazy.
Almost twenty years after The Bell Curve, it is now clear that it simply not possible to avoid the IQ-and-immigration argument. Americans must learn to deal with it—and defy the “would-be demagogues.”
James Fulford [Email him] is a writer and editor for VDARE.com.