Date: Fri, 17 Mar 1995 10:03:02 -0800
From: Nathan Newman
Subject: Cockburn on Pioneer Fund
This article is being submitted under The Fair Use Doctrine and the
copyright remains with the original publisher: The Los Angeles Times
November 3, 1994, LA TImes Thursday, Home Edition
COLUMN LEFT/ ALEXANDER COCKBURN
In Honor of Charlatans and Racists; 'The Bell Curve' pays
tribute to some of history's most notorious pseudoscientific
BYLINE: ALEXANDER COCKBURN; 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
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
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.