The Bell Curve

Middlebury College Students Shout Down a Lecture by Charles Murray—Author of The Bell Curve

Originally posted March 3, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Student protesters at Middlebury College in Vermont shut down campus speech by racist author Charles Murray, March 2. Photo: Twitter/@middcampus

Chanting “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray, go away” and “Your message is hatred. We cannot tolerate it,” hundreds of students at Vermont’s Middlebury College shouted down Charles Murray—author of the notoriously racist, pseudoscientific 1994 book The Bell Curve—as he began a speech on the campus Thursday night, March 2. After 20 minutes, Murray left the auditorium, reduced to going to a secret location for a discussion with a professor, which was livestreamed back to the auditorium. In an article for Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik wrote that many of the protesters noted that Murray is classified as a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which sums him up this way: “Charles Murray, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has become one of the most influential social scientists in America, using racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women, and the poor.”

More than 450 alumni/ae also signed a letter opposing Murray’s being invited to speak at Middlebury, linking his dangerous pseudo-scholarship to the ugly, dangerous atmosphere that has been pumped up by the Trump/Pence regime’s white-supremacist ideology. Their letter said in part:

This is not an issue of freedom of speech. We think it is necessary to allow a diverse range of perspectives to be voiced at Middlebury.... However, in this case we find the principle does not apply, due to not only the nature, but also the quality, of Dr. Murray’s scholarship. He paints arguments for the biological and intellectual superiority of white men with a thin veneer of quantitative rhetoric and academic authority. His work, including 1984’s Losing Ground and 1994’s The Bell Curve... misinterprets selective, uncorrected statistics and other faulty data to argue for the genetic inferiority of people of color, women, people with disabilities and the poor. This is the same thinking that motivates eugenics and the genocidal white supremacist ideologies which are enjoying a popular resurgence under the new presidential administration.” (Read their entire letter here.)

It is important that students and others at Middlebury College took this important stand and action against Murray’s reactionary peddling his racist garbage under the fake cloak of “scholarship”—and this intersects with recent protests at campuses coast to coast calling out and refusing to allow pro-Trump fascists like Milo Yiannopoulos to promote the “America First” white nationalist ideology of the Trump/Pence regime’s hideous, dangerous agenda. The students on the university and college campuses have a crucial and urgent role to play in stepping forward to drive out the Trump/Pence regime.





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