The exposure of a Heritage Foundation research analyst as a proponent of racist theories reopens a troubling intellectual history that the right-wing think tank and its Republican allies would rather not discuss. This fresh embarrassment poses yet another obstacle for Republican leaders who are supposedly seeking to erase their party’s polarizing reputation and to connect with non-white voters.
Now led by former South Carolina Republican senator Jim DeMint, the team at Heritage – a lavishly funded Washington outfit long known for propagandistic research studies – certainly didn’t advance the Republican outreach effort last week. With a thinly sourced new study that claimed immigration reform would bankrupt the country with trillions of dollars in additional social welfare costs, they undermined Heritage’s fragile integrity and offended the Latino voting bloc.
However flimsy, the report certainly reflected a deep split within Republican ranks over immigration policy. What made matters far worse was the subsequent revelation in The Washington Post that Jason Richwine, the study’s co-author, had asserted in his 2009 Harvard doctoral dissertation that Latino immigrants are not only less intelligent than America’s “white native population,” but that their descendants can be expected to suffer from “low average IQ” – a condition he described as “effectively permanent.”
Following the Post article on Richwine’s dissertation, Yahoo News reported that he has posted inflammatory articles on a “white nationalist” website, Alternative Right, comparing crime rates among Hispanics, whites, and blacks. “The reality of Hispanic crime,” he concludes, “should be one of the many factors we consider when setting immigration policy.”
Seeking to control the damage from these revelations, Heritage quickly released a statement disowning Richwine’s racial theories. “This is not a work product of The Heritage Foundation. Its findings in no way reflect the positions of The Heritage Foundation,” said Heritage official Mike Gonzalez in a statement. “Nor do the findings affect the conclusions of our study on the cost of amnesty to the U.S. taxpayer.”
But the true history of the Heritage Foundation – and of the American Enterprise Institute, the other major think tank where Richwine enjoyed a sinecure – reflects the ugly racial bias that has long disfigured the right in this country.
Scandalous links between the racist far right and allegedly respectable conservative institutions date back to Heritage’s earliest days in the 1970s, when the editorial board of Policy Review, its monthly publication, featured the notorious racial theorist Roger Pearson. Shortly after the Post reported Pearson’s role at Heritage, the think tank dumped him. But in the decades that followed, Heritage still lionized racially divisive politicians like Jesse Helms, the late Republican senator from North Carolina, awarding him its “highest honor” in 2002 and depicting him as an “indispensable patriot” when he died in 2008.
Over at the American Enterprise Institute, where Richwine’s anti-Hispanic essay still adorns its website, racist “scholarship” is likewise encouraged and disseminated. Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, an infamous work of pseudo-science that argues the genetic inferiority of blacks and Latinos, has been based at AEI for more than 20 years. Dinesh D’Souza held a fellowship there when he wrote The End of Racism, a book-length screed urging the repeal of basic civil rights statutes and endorsing racial discrimination by businesses, landlords, and private citizens. While D’Souza’s work provoked the resignations from AEI of black conservatives Robert Woodson and Glenn Loury, he eventually moved on to yet another conservative think tank, the Hoover Institution.
These dubious organizations — which continue to provide the intellectual ballast for the Republican Party – have emitted a spreading cesspool of academic and political racism for decades. When I published Big Lies in 2003, I examined how the arguments of Murray and D’Souza had defined a “mainstream conservative position on race” that promoted bigotry and undermined civil rights. Ten years on, despite all the talk of a kinder, gentler GOP, nothing has really changed.
By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, May 10, 2013
“How Not To Seem Like A Racist”: If You Throw A Rock Into A Bunch Of Dogs, The One It Hits Is Gonna Holler
Writing my piece on Andrew Breitbart and Tucker Carlson, I missed a huge example of overlap between their two sham-empires: the reporter who broke the Caller’s now-disgraced “scoop” about Sen. Robert Menendez patronizing prostitutes, Matthew Boyle, now works for Breitbart.com. And on Monday he penned the ridiculous story revealing the location of Malia and Sasha’s spring break vacation (which is now at the top of the Drudge Report).
On Twitter Monday and Tuesday, Breitbart fans attacked my focus on their hero’s bizarre racially driven crusades. They continue to insist that they’re being unfairly tarred with the charge of racism, when they’re the real “post-racialists” who just don’t like Barack Obama because he’s a liberal. I have some advice for right-wingers who don’t want it to seem like their anti-Obama animus is racial: Try treating his daughters with respect.
You’ll remember back in December, the NRA went after Sasha and Malia with an ad insisting that the fact that they have armed protection, when the administration was supposedly blocking armed security at America’s schools (actually, it wasn’t), was the height of hypocrisy – ignoring the many threats to their safety faced by the children of presidents and the tradition of Secret Service protection, for all of them.
The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper went even crazier, with a piece alleging that the girls’ school, Sidwell Friends, a Quaker school, had armed guards, too. Anyone familiar with the Quaker tradition of nonviolence found that claim strange, and of course, like most claims about the Obama family that come from the right, it turned out not to be true.
Unfortunately for the untalented Mr. Boyle, journalists have a consensus about not revealing the location of the presidents’ children’s vacations. Reporters don’t write about minor first children except when they’re attending “official or semi-official events.” It’s considered a security risk. As the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi reported last year:
The ban on such coverage has existed through many administrations by informal agreement with the White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents the interests of journalists who cover the president.
“There’s a general feeling among the press corps that it wants to be respectful” of the president’s children, said Caren Bohan, the White House reporter for Reuters who is president of the WHCA.
When Agence-France Presse wrote about Malia’s trip to Mexico last year, a few U.S. outlets picked it up, and the administration tried to get the details removed. Then an earthquake in Mexico made the first daughter’s vacation newsworthy, and other sites, justifiably, reported it.
A year later, along comes the brave Matthew Boyle, fresh off his Menendez humiliation, to tell Breitbart readers about the Obama girls’ vacation. The news hook seems to be that it’s a waste of money.
“It is unclear how long the first daughters will be staying in the Bahamas, or what the cost will be to taxpayers,” Boyle harrumphs. “Earlier this month, the White House canceled public tours as a result of the recent budget sequester, citing Secret Service staffing costs.”
What possible interest does this serve, except to titillate the dark and envious nether parts of Boyle’s 22 readers? (No link, because fk that pudgy little monster.) There is no possible news value to this. Sooner or later, the frolicks of what my pal [Eric] Boehlert calls the “rightwing entertainment complex” are going to get someone killed.
The theme of most right-wing stories on Sasha, Malia and Michelle Obama’s vacations and leisure-time activities seems to be that they’re entitled princesses, when they do exactly the same kinds of things other presidents’ families have done throughout history. There’s only one difference I can see.
Drudge is also hyping the president’s vacation with the blaring headline “A vacation a month.” That’s another racially tinged trope on the right, that our first black president seems to be a little, well, lazy, because he can’t stop taking vacations. Of course, Obama is on track to take about a fifth of the vacation days George W. Bush did over his two terms. Obama took 131 vacation days in his first term – which would amount to 262 if he kept that pace in his second term. Bush took a staggering 1,060 vacation days over eight years, by far the most vacation in history (he also took the longest single presidential vacation in the modern era, a full five weeks.) Can someone explain why Obama is supposedly the vacation-hog?
Oh, and the comments on Boyle’s Breitbart.com story are pretty awesome, too. Here’s a good one:
They will indeed grow up to be monsters. Very, very, angry and vengeful monsters. Just like momma…
Especially after they are forced to visit their obamination of a father in a federal penitentiary following his impeachment and conviction for Treason…
Although I’d far prefer they visit his plot occasionally following his hanging for treason.
Boyle is perfect for his new employer (although he was a pretty good fit for the Daily Caller, too). In a post explaining why he jumped ship (which didn’t mention the higher salary he got), he bragged about “enlisting in Andrew Breitbart’s army … I’m shipping out today. It’s time to go to war.”
A war on the president’s daughters? Boyle ought to talk to some veterans of actual war. What a putz.
Paul Farhi’s story on the media’s traditional treatment of first children quoted Democratic pollster Celinda Lake on the political appeal of Obama’s family: “The value of the family is enormous. The more you know this family and the more you think of Barack Obama in these terms, the harder it is to vilify him.”
That’s true for the vast majority of Americans. But not the haters and racists who belong to Breitbart’s “army.”
By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, March 26, 2013
For as long as I’ve lived in Arkansas — most of my adult life — people like the now-famous state senator Jason Rapert have made most of the noise and lost most of the elections. Now they’ve come to power, courtesy of Southern Republicans’ cult-like rejection of President Obama and large infusions of corporate campaign cash. And with the state legislature in session, the tragi-comedy is under way.
It’s happening all across the South. Sample news story: “Representatives approved a bill titled ‘The Church Protection Act of 2013′…85-8, to permit concealed handguns in churches and other houses of worship.”
Because Jesus, of course, was all about smiting them dead before thou art smitten.
Anyway, “famous” may be an exaggeration with regard to Sen. Rapert. But a YouTube clip of the man haranguing a 2011 Tea Party gathering about his anger at “minorities” running the country has gotten Arkansas lots of unfavorable national attention. Meanwhile, his indignant, if not particularly honest, denials have succeeded only in generating more ill will and bad feeling.
Full disclosure: this same Jason Rapert is also my neighbor in rural Perry County, AR. He invited us to a Memorial Day Picnic three years ago, where his bluegrass band provided the entertainment. He’s a genial host and a terrific country fiddler and guitarist. A few days later, his wife graciously dropped off a CD the band had recorded. She pretended not to mind when my horse left deep hoofprints in their yard. The couple has two lovely young daughters.
However, the same fellow is also a stone religious crank who’s absolutely certain that God agrees with every one of his opinions; also that everybody who disagrees with God and him is going straight to hell. Jason’s not shy about telling you about it, either. He once advised me to leave the U.S. on account of supporting Obamacare. I reminded him that my side had won the 2008 election. (And good luck finding a country without “socialist” health care and with indoor plumbing.)
But I’d never have suspected him capable of the kind of insidious rhetoric he displayed for the Tea Partiers. The video, first unearthed by Lee Fang in The Nation, captures Rapert in full revivalist mode. No, his speech wasn’t “racist” in the simplistic way liberals often charge. I’m confident he’d vote for Condoleezza Rice, for example.
It’s not President Obama’s color that offends Rapert’s sensibilities—although I’m less sure about his audience’s. It’s everything else about the man that makes him suspect from a paranoid, neo-nativist perspective.
Delivered in a countrified drawl that’s more his preacher’s voice than the one he uses in his daytime job as an investment advisor, Rapert’s speech hits all the conspiratorial high spots: Obama’s supposedly missing birth certificate; his sympathy with gay rights; also, most ominously, his secret belief in the wrong God.
Anyway, here’s the business end of Rapert’s speech:
“You’ve got to change the hearts and minds of the people that live around you. You’ve gotta pray. It says ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.’ And I wonder sometimes when they invited all the Muslims to come into the White House and have them a little Ramadan supper, when our president could not take the time to go attend a National Prayer Breakfast — I wonder what he stands for.
“You know what, what they told us is …what you do speaks so loudly that what you say I cannot hear. I hear you loud and clear, Barack Obama. You don’t represent the country that I grew up with. And your values is not goin’ to save us. We’re gonna try to take this country back for the Lord. We’re gonna try to take this country back for conservatism. And we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in.”
Does it help to know that President George W. Bush never missed a Ramadan dinner? Nor has President Obama skipped a National Prayer Breakfast. New York magazine posted photos of him presiding at every single one.
What’s most alarming isn’t Rapert’s racial views, but his continuing indifference to the truth and his disdain for religious liberty. His views are scarcely distinguishable from those of the Know-Nothing party of the 1850s. Then it was German and Irish Catholics who were suspect; today, it’s Muslims.
Over time, it’s a losing strategy. Eventually, Americans come around to supporting the First Amendment and rejecting religious bigotry.
How things will play out in the shorter term is harder to say. It’s one thing to dislike Obama, quite another to embarrass an entire state, region and political party. Arkansans in particular have been touchy about their image dating back to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and beyond.
If politicians like Rapert don’t learn to moderate their tone, even in the South their ascendancy could be a short one.
By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, February 6, 2013
On Sunday, during an appearance on Meet The Press, Colin Powell condemned the GOP’s “dark vein of intolerance” and the party’s repeated use of racial code words to oppose President Obama and rally white conservative voters.
Without mentioning names, Powell singled out former Mitt Romney surrogate and New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu for calling Obama “lazy” and Sarah Palin, who, Powell charged, used slavery-era terms to describe Obama:
POWELL: There’s also a dark — a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that that they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that?
When I see a former governor say that the President is “shuckin’ and jivin’,” that’s racial era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow. He was tired. He didn’t do well. He said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with that. The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?
Powell added that the Republican Party is “having an identity problem,” noting that its significant shift to the right has produced “two losing presidential campaigns.” “I think what the Republican Party needs to do now is a very hard look at itself and understand that the country is changed,” he said. “If the Republican Party does not change along with that demographic, they a going to be in trouble.”
Powell also called on Republicans to focus on a more equitable and progressive economic policies that help middle and lower income Americans, as well as immigration reform. “Everybody wants to talk about who is going to be the candidate,” Powell said. “You better think first about what’s the party actually going to represent.”
By: Igor Volsky, Think Progress, January 13, 2013
“Institutional Racial Insensitivity”: John Derbyshire, National Review And Conservatives’ Race Problem
It has been a rough couple of days for our friends over at National Review. On Thursday their longtime contributor John Derbyshire published a racist screed on a Web site called Taki’s Magazine that has caused NRsome serious embarrassment. Ultimately enough of Derbyshire’s colleagues called for his head that he was fired. Conservatives may hope that by cutting Derbyshire loose they can avoid being associated with views such as his. But the truth is that their relationship with the racist right wing fringe is far deeper and more complex than any one writer.
Derbyshire’s piece referenced the widespread discussion, in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder, of how black parents must tell their children that when they go out into the world they will face suspicions solely because of their race. “There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following.”
Derbyshire went on to list a series of assertions about African-Americans. The least offensive were technically factual statements presented in a hostile manner and totally lacking in relevant context. For example, he wrote, “Of most importance to your personal safety are the very [emphasis his] different means for antisocial behavior [between whites and blacks], which you will see reflected in, for instance, school disciplinary measures, political corruption, and criminal convictions.” Of course, the fact that blacks might be over-represented in criminal convictions and school disciplinary measures because of racist assumptions and practices among the authorities, fed by pseudo-scientific claptrap such as Derbyshire’s column itself, does not occur to him. Derbyshire’s column also makes no mention of the historical and contemporary framework for modern race relations in the U.S. such as slavery, segregation and persistent structural economic inequality. And it only got worse from there.
If Derbyshire had stuck to merely implied rather than overt racism he would not have lost his job. As Elspeth Reeve noted in The Atlantic Wire, publications such as National Review have long relied upon writers like Derbyshire to cater to their readers’ baser instincts by putting an intellectually refined gloss on bigotry.
But Derbyshire went much further. He descended into purely imagined assertions of racial animosity. “A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us,” wrote Derbyshire. “A much larger cohort of blacks—around half—will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming.” He offers no basis for this except for a link to a decidedly non-viral short YouTube video of an obscure author expressing a desire to kill white people.
Derbyshire then went on to offer his children horrifyingly racist advice on how to avoid black people so as not to be a victim of violent crime. “Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks,” Derbyshire urges. “If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.” He also advocates racist voter behavior. “Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians. Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.” He continued on with sections on affirmative action and advice to make a few black friends to burnish your public image. The piece was odious, but so over the top that it was almost funny as a kind of self-parody.
Fellow writers at National Review who weighed in did so with appropriate chagrin. On Friday Josh Barro wrote a Web column for Forbes urging NR to dump Derbyshire so as to prevent their other writings on race from being tainted by guilt through association. Jonah Goldberg and Ramesh Ponnuru tweeted that they disapproved of his piece.
On Saturday NR editor Rich Lowry posted on their blog saying that Derbyshire had been relieved of his duties.
“Anyone who has read Derb in our pages knows he’s a deeply literate, funny, and incisive writer…. Derb is also maddening, outrageous, cranky, and provocative. His latest provocation, in a webzine, lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible. We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways. Derb has long danced around the line on these issues, but this column is so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation.”
Noticeably absent from Lowry’s statement was any mention of the word race, racism, or what exactly they found so distasteful about Derbyshire’s article. By calling Derbyshire “cranky and provocative” Lowry seems to imply that Derbyshire’s racism is merely an extreme manifestation of his avuncular crankiness. And he doesn’t venture to explain why Derbyshire was allowed to dance “around the line on these issues” until now.
Clearly, National Review and other conservatives hope that by cutting Derbyshire loose they can avoid accusations of institutional racial insensitivity and go back to whining that they are unfairly accused of racism. As political blogger Ben Smith tweeted, “Twitter [is] just overflowing with relief from conservatives eager to shrug off a kind of generational legacy on issues of race.”
Their eagerness is understandable. The conservative movement, and National Review, has a long history of accepting, and then occasionally expurgating, racist elements. NR itself famously editorialized against civil rights. The fathers of the modern conservative movement–Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan–opposed the Civil Rights Act.
Conservatives would like you to think that is all in the past and that today they stand for racial equality while liberals endorse preferences for racial minorities. In fact, conservatives have never fully accepted the civil rights revolution. Right now, for instance, they are attacking the Voting Rights Act in court and in National Review. According to a 1989 article in Spy magazine casual racism was frequently tossed around in NR’s office.
And it’s not as if Derbyshire has never endorsed bigotry before. Back in 2001 he wrote in National Review Online in favor of stereotyping: “the racial stereotypes that white Americans hold of black Americans are generally accurate; and where they are inaccurate, they always under-estimate [emphasis his] a negative characteristic.” He said it would be better if women did not vote. In 2003 he said in an interview, “I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one, and a racist, though an even more mild and tolerant one.” This is not the first time National Review has carried an offensive writer and only dumped him or her after an especially embarrassing episode. Ann Coulter spewed hateful invective for years, and she only left National Review after she wrote a column in 2001 calling for America to “we should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” And, it’s worth noting, she wasn’t even fired for that. Rather she got into an argument with her editors about whether they would publish a self-defense she wrote, and they let her go after she publicly complained they were “censoring” her.
Nor is Derbyshire the only person in the conservative media sphere holding views such as his. Taki Theodoracopulos, the editor of the magazine that published his rant, is the co-founder, with Pat Buchanan, of The American Conservative. Taki himself has written for National Review. Taki’s Magazine also features the work of Steve Sailer, whom Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting refers to as “a well-known promoter of racist and anti-immigrant theories.”
The conservative media has generally responded to Martin’s death by unfairly assaulting his character. Rush Limbaugh, the most popular conservative talk radio host, regularly makes racially inflammatory and insensitive remarks. Fox News also has a long history of what Media Matters terms “racially divisive coverage.”
In February I saw Derbyshire speak on a panel on “the failure of multiculturalism” at the massive Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. His co-panelists included Peter Brimelow, editor of the notoriously xenophobic Web site VDARE and author of Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, a book devoted to lamenting the influx of non-white immigrants. Issues of Chronicles magazine, a far right publication, were handed out at the panel and they featured a back page column by Taki filled with racist, homophobic fear mongering.
At the CPAC panel Brimelow, who has written for National Review, mentioned that NR had “purged” people like him. Derbyshire’s firing isn’t the first time NR has had to distance itself from an embarrassing bigot. Unless they, and the conservative movement, change their substantive views on civil rights and racial equality, it probably won’t be the last.
By: Ben Adler, The Nation, April 7, 2012