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Professor Kevin MacDonald

Professor discussed, investigated further

MaryJane O'Brien

Posted: 12/5/06

Heidi Beirich, representative of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) based in Montgomery, Ala., who interviewed faculty and students about Cal State Long Beach psychology professor Kevin MacDonald's controversial work, said that many non-tenured professors were not only too intimidated to speak out against his writings, but that other faculty insisted on meeting off-campus to discuss their colleague.

"The most disturbing thing is the fear that as MacDonald is given academic freedom, it's threatening others' academic freedom out of fear of retaliation," Beirich said. Beirich is also the deputy director of the SPLC's Intelligence Report. "It's astounding what his work is doing - giving people a right to hate Jews without being a neo-Nazi."

Beirich referred to MacDonald's three-part series of evolutionary psychology, "A People That Shall Dwell Alone" (1994), "Separation and Its Discontents" (1998) and "The Culture of Critique" (1998). The last book of the series has garnered the most controversy through its examination of significant 20th century Jewish intellectual and political movements on American politics and culture.

MacDonald, who has refused an in-person interview, responded by e-mail to Beirich's allegations that fear of retaliation or simple intimidation silenced some faculty members while she investigated his work at CSULB.

"During the faculty e-mail wars within the psychology department that preceded Beirich's visit, I posted a paragraph, written by my attorney, that basically warned people that what they said and did with respect to this controversy may result in liability if it is legally libelous or if it infringes my civil rights and academic freedom," MacDonald wrote.

According to Beirich, she is just following the facts and has no intention of fabricating anything about MacDonald. He refused to meet with Beirich while she was on campus Nov. 11.

MacDonald has outlined his reasons on his Web site, kevinmacdonald.org, where he said the SPLC has printed factual errors about him in the past. The SPLC was commissioned to co-write an article for Old Trout magazine, where MacDonald was named the "Scariest Academic" of the "Thirteen Scariest People in America."

"The thing about MacDonald that is really troubling and not surprising is how he enrobes himself in civil liberties - and brings things up like he's a victim of McCarthyism," said David Shafer, associate professor of modern and contemporary European history. Shafer said he is concerned that MacDonald is toting his academic freedom to discourage any investigation by CSULB into his work.

According to the psychology department Chairman Kenneth Green, the department has considered investigating McDonald's work concerning Jewish individuals.

"The thing that has concerned people in the department, and myself, is [MacDonald's] connection with people outside of the university - white supremacy groups, the National Policy Institute, neo-Nazi groups, David Duke and The Occidental Quarterly," said Martin Fiebert, psychology professor at CSULB.

MacDonald denies having any connection with neo-Nazi groups or white supremacy groups. He has posted a disclaimer on his Web site discouraging these groups from using his writing as propaganda to discriminate against others or advocate anti-Semitism.

"I want to make [it] clear that no one that I know in the department has ideas similar to mine on the issues that have resulted in the present controversy," MacDonald said. "That is, my writing on ethnic issues and my associations with organizations like The Occidental Quarterly and VDARE."

MacDonald published an article Nov. 14, titled "Heidi Does Long Beach: The SPLC vs. Academic Freedom," at VDARE.com.

VDARE is an online journal that states strong disassociations with white nationalists and says it covers news stories that neither the liberal nor conservative "establishment media" will report on.

In MacDonald's article that responded to the SPLC and Beirich, he writes that the SPLC has grossly oversimplified his books and has taken quotations from his books out of context.

The Old Trout article, written by Beirich and SPLC's Intelligence Report Director Mark Potok, said, "[MacDonald] blames the death of millions of people on the failure of Jewish assimilation into European societies and suggests that colleges restrict Jewish admission and Jews be heavily taxed to counter the Jewish advantage in the possession of wealth."

MacDonald responded in his VDARE article that this particular description of his personal beliefs and writings is outrageous.

He wrote in the article that the summary is wrong, that he has never advocated for an "ethnic spoils system," and only that he has discussed the possible consequences if such a system were ever put into place in America. He also writes that such a system would have a disastrous outcome and "be the end of the country as originally founded."

"I am appalled by the efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations of its type to suppress unwelcome debate by labeling those who hold uncongenial views fascists, anti-Semites and/or racists," said Paul Gottfried, a professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, who has also been mentioned in the SPLC's Intelligence Report. "My own family escaped from the Nazis in Austria and I resent the tactics adopted by highly ideological groups who pull out the Third Reich every time they are confronted with politically incorrect views."

Gottfried also writes for VDARE and has critiqued MacDonald's books. MacDonald describes him as "one of the few Jews who has had positive things to say about [his work.]"

"MacDonald asked me to review his books before they were published, and I wrote that I thought his works would be used by neo-Nazis," Fiebert said. "He hasn't been able to find respectable journals to be published in."

According to Fiebert, MacDonald made a serious mistake by writing articles for The Occidental Quarterly and he is concerned MacDonald is making a hostile environment on campus for Jewish students and faculty.

MacDonald has stated previously that he believes he works in a hostile environment.

According to Beirich, one of the SPLC's major concerns is that MacDonald "is exposing students to racist/anti-Semetic materials in class."

"I never discuss Jewish issues in my classes and only deal with race as it relates to textbook material in my course," said MacDonald.

"I think a lot of [MacDonald's] views are way more open than other psychology teachers," said junior psychology major Robert Tomaka, who is one of MacDonald's students. "I enjoy that about him and I think it's good for the psych department to have different views because it's such a subjective field."

The article Beirich is writing for the SPLC Intelligence Report will be published in January and MacDonald said he has no intention of suing the SPLC for libel.

"At this point, I do not feel that my academic freedom is gone. I am continuing to write and have no intention of stopping, even if they manage to get me fired," MacDonald said.
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