In Honor of Charlatans and Racists : 'The Bell Curve' pays tribute to some of history's most notorious pseudoscientific hatemongers.

Alexander Cockburn writes for the Nation and co-edits a newsletter, CounterPunch, whose latest issue addresses "The Bell Curve" and Proposition 187.

The authors of "The Bell Curve" and the immigrant-haters behind Proposition 187 all drink from the same polluted stream that has watered race hygienists and ethnic cleansers back to the founder of the pseudoscience of eugenics, Darwin's half-cousin Francis Galton; and back to important begetters of the sister pseudoscience of IQ testing.

Open up Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's "The Bell Curve" and glance at the introduction, where the authors list their intellectual ancestry. There on the opening page is Galton, cited in blandly respectful terms. Galton was a charlatan whose scientific procedures are well exhibited in his 1873 essay "Hereditary Improvement." He wrote that, after the great famine of the 1840s, "The Irish type of face seemed to have become more prognathous, that is, more like the Negro in the protrusion of the lower jaw; the interpretation of which was that the men who had survived the starvation and other deadly accidents of that horrible time were more generally of a low or coarse organization."

Today, Murray travels the talk shows arguing that the welfare state should be dismantled because expenditures designed to improve the condition of the poor are wasted, since the poor--particularly poor blacks--are congenitally impervious to such efforts. Murray wants children of welfare mothers to be placed in orphan-ages where, as he confidently predicted in testimony before Congress this summer, there would be takers not only for "flawless blue-eyed blond infants" but also for "babies of all colors and conditions."

Given honorable mention in "The Bell Curve" is Henry Goddard, who first adapted the tests of intelligence developed in France by Alfred Binet (who himself had strong doubts about their premises and utility). Goddard used his IQ tests at Ellis Island in 1917 to "prove" what he, like Galton, already believed: that Jews, Catholics and southern Europeans belonged to inferior races.

Goddard strove to persuade Americans--with considerable success--that 83% of Jews were feebleminded, sharing this trait with 80% of all Hungarians, 79% of all Italians and 87% of all Russians. His work at Ellis Island helped pave the way for the 1924 Immigration Restriction Act.

Herrnstein and Murray try mightily in their book to protect Goddard and his associates from connection to this law, because it was precisely that the pseudoscience of eugenics and IQ began to cash out as genocide. Hitler took the 1924 U.S. law and the pseudosciences behind it as models for Nazi efforts in applied eugenics. Indeed, many excluded from the United States by the law were later murdered by the Nazis on the ground that they were "dysgenic."

Today's nativists promoting Proposition 187 are nourished by an ideology and by "scientific" rationales kindred to the intellectual lineage of "The Bell Curve."

One organization with a keen interest in Proposition 187, though keeping a low profile for political reasons, is the rabidly anti-immigrant Federation of American Immigration Reform. One of FAIR's top lobbyists, former INS Commissioner Alan Nelson, helped draft Proposition 187 in 1993, the year he was paid $70,000 by FAIR, which he listed as his only client.

A review of IRS documents shows that between 1982 and 1992, FAIR received just under $1.1 million from the New York-based Pioneer Fund, making it the second-largest of Pioneer's 22 grant recipients.

The original aim of the Pioneer Fund, established in 1937 by textile magnate and Nazi admirer Wickliffe Draper, was to promote breeding of "white persons who settled in the original 13 colonies." Its first president was the eugenicist Harry Laughlin, who in the 1930s lobbied to prevent Jews fleeing Germany from entering the United States. He called Nazi sterilization laws "a most exciting experiment."

Many of Pioneer's leading grant recipients are cited amiably in "The Bell Curve." Among them is J. Phillipe Rushton ($656,672 from 1982 to 1992) of the University of Western Ontario, who believes that there is an inverse relationship between genital size and intelligence. Herrnstein and Murray, conceding that Rushton "paints with a broad brush," assert he is neither "a crackpot nor a bigot."

When it comes to theorists and practitioners of IQ- or gene-based theories of race inferiority, or nativist defenders of the gene pool from alien intrusion, there is no "respectable" sector. They're all down there in the gutter, paddling in the vilest tradition of Western thought and political history.

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