Letters: “Speaker’s Writing Gives Appearance of Racism” (Re The Bell Curve’s Charles Murray)
Northwestern.com | June 23, 2010
With regard to reading about Ron Johnson’s involvement with procuring The Bell Curve author Charles Murray to speak to Oshkosh business and education leaders (see, “Genetic Views Divided Council,” June, 20), a couple of thoughts came to mind. While it is, as interim superintendent Bette Lang stated, good to bring “in a controversial speaker… so students, and in this case adults, can use their critical thinking to see where they are on a topic,” it is, in my view, unethical and socially immoral to bring in someone whose work has been so thoroughly discredited as pseudoscience. This goes well beyond politically ideological difference. Academic, peer-reviewed study after study has unquestionably concluded that social inequality is not the result of biological disparities but rather, is the result of structural differences in opportunity. Period. Murray’s The Bell Curve is merely one of the more recent iterations of the discredited eugenics movement of the past.
The Bell Curve, by the way, was funded by Wisconsin’s own ultra-conservative Bradley Foundation, where one of its stated goals is to dismantle public education as we know it. This is all about those with privilege keeping it and keeping marginalized others “in their place.” It is stunning that people like Murray get any traction at all, and people such as Lang and others ought to have had the courage to denounce such an author coming to town, and shame on Johnson for considering Murray as an appropriate speaker in the first place.
This is not about “a political agenda,” this is about saying there is no such thing as being “just a little racist.”