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John Derbyshire: Prophet Without Honor—The Extraordinary Case Of Macklin Fleming And Affirmative Action
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October 30, 2017, 04:00 PM
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Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, available exclusively on

I recently got to meet social psychologist Lee Jussim [Email him] of Rutgers University. Back in 2001 I had reviewed a book Dr. Jussim had written in collaboration with two other scholars, book title Stereotype Accuracy: Toward Appreciating Group Differences. My review was titled "Stereotypes Aren't So Bad," which is more or less the message of the book.

So here I was a few days ago meeting Lee Jussim for the first time, sixteen years and ten months after reviewing his book. I remarked to him that this sets my own personal record for longest interval between reviewing a person's book and actually meeting the person. Dr. Jussim, who is a cheerful and good-natured fellow, laughed appreciatively.

Here's another much-too-long delay featuring Lee Jussim.

Last year, Jussim and another social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt—Haidt is the author of that excellent 2012 book  The Righteous Mind, about the moral psychology of our political beliefs—published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: Hard Truths About Race on Campus.

That op-ed pointed out a thing that would be obvious if we had not all been so heavily indoctrinated to not notice obvious facts about race.

Affirmative Action policies in college admissions, wrote Jussim and Haidt, along with "Diversity" indoctrination and the rest of the college "Social Justice" rackets have caused the intense and bitter racialization of our campuses.

Their argument went, that because of Affirmative Action,

Asian students enter with combined math/verbal SAT scores on the order of 80 points higher than white students and 200 points higher than black students …

As a result of these disparate admissions standards, many students spend four years in a social environment where race conveys useful information about the academic capacity of their peers. People notice useful social cues, and one of the strongest causes of stereotypes is exposure to real group differences. [Link in original]

Jussim and Haidt’s op-ed was published May 6th, 2016. A week later, on May 12th, Jonathan Haidt put up a very striking post on the Heterodox Academy website. I missed that post at the time, and just recently had it brought to my attention.

So that's a year and a half between news item and my commenting on it; not as long as between me reviewing Lee Jussim's book and finally meeting him, but embarrassingly long none the less.

So: Jonathan Haidt's post last year at Heterodox Academy—why did I find it so striking?

I'll let Jonathan Haidt explain. This is taken from his post. He's referring back to his joint Wall Street Journal op-ed with Lee Jussim the previous week:

As that essay was going to press, Heterodox Academy member Amy Wax sent us the text of an astonishing letter written in 1969, at the dawn of racial preferences, from Macklin Fleming, Justice of the California Court of Appeal. Judge Fleming had written a personal letter to Louis Pollak, the dean of Yale Law School.

Fleming was concerned about the plan Dean Pollak had recently announced under which Yale would essentially implement a racial quota—ten percent of each entering class would be composed of black students. To achieve this goal, Yale had just admitted 43 black students, only five of whom had qualified under their normal standards.

[The amazing 1969 prophecy that racial preferences would cause the exact grievances of protesters today]

So Yale Law School had implemented race quotas, and this California Appeals Court judge had something to say about it. What did he say? Quote from the judge:
The admission policy adopted by the Law School faculty will serve to perpetuate the very ideas and prejudices it is designed to combat. If in a given class the great majority of the black students are at the bottom of the class, this factor is bound to instill, unconsciously at least, some sense of intellectual superiority among the white students and some sense of intellectual inferiority among the black students.
This was written in 1969, remember. The judge continues:
No one can be expected to accept an inferior status willingly. The black students, unable to compete on even terms in the study of law, inevitably will seek other means to achieve recognition and self-expression. This is likely to take two forms. First, agitation to change the environment from one in which they are unable to compete to one in which they can … Second, it seems probable that this group will seek personal satisfaction and public recognition by aggressive conduct, which, although ostensibly directed at external injustices and problems, will in fact be primarily motivated by the psychological needs of the members of the group to overcome feelings of inferiority caused by lack of success in their studies.
Judge Fleming's letter says much more than that; it is 2,500 words long. You can read the whole thing online.  [The black quota at Yale Law School, by Louis Pollak & Macklin Fleming, The Public Interest, Spring 1970 PDF].

The main point here is that near the very beginning of Affirmative Action, Judge Fleming (pictured right in 2006) saw with perfect clarity how it would lead to the resentments, frustrations, and discord that characterize the racial situation today.

In Jonathan Haidt's words:

If you read Judge Fleming's predictions after watching the videos of student protests, and then reading the lists of demands posted at, the match is uncanny.
Indeed it is.

Judge Fleming died in 2010 aged almost 99. I wonder how he felt, seeing all his dire predictions come true.

A prophet is without honor in his own country, we are told. That has proved nowhere more true than in matters related to the National Question.

Judge Fleming's letter, once again, went out in 1969, on June 9th of that year to be exact. A little over a year previously in Britain, Enoch Powell had made his famous speech predicting the future consequences of mass Third World immigration. The opening words of that speech were: "The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils.

Powell was denounced and ostracized by the entire British Establishment for his predictions, which of course have all come true. Judge Fleming seems not to have suffered that level of ignominy. His predictions were merely ignored.

Moral of the story: When clear-eyed prophecies about the future consequences of present actions contradict fashionable dogmas, they will generally be ignored. But if the prophet is a person of national prominence, he will be unanimously denounced by what George Bernard Shaw called the Great and Good, and stripped of his honors.

Indeed, "The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils." And one of the functions of responsible citizenship for mature authority figures like Judge Macklin Fleming is to sound the alarm bell when they see preventable evils in the ascendant.

It is the tragedy of the modern West that prophets like Enoch Powell and Macklin Fleming have no honor in their own countries.


John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com:FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge.His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire`s writings at can do so here.