Law center that tracks hate groups wants to know if
anti-Semitism is being taught.
By Louis Sahagun Times Staff
April 25, 2007
The Southern Poverty Law Center on Tuesday
called for an investigation into the campus activities of Kevin MacDonald, a Cal
State Long Beach psychology professor whose writings about Jews have been used
to support the views of white supremacists.
Of particular concern,
according to a center report to be published this week, are MacDonald's theories
suggesting that "Jews, who have typically been in the minority in countries
around the world, are compelled by an evolutionary strategy that makes them push
for liberal policies, like immigration and diversity, with the intent of
weakening the power of the majority that rules them."
The law center,
which has collected statistics for years on what it considers hate groups, wants
Cal State to look into what MacDonald is teaching students and wants to shine a
light on his voluminous writings on Jews.
"What we would like to know is
why the university seems intent on protecting Kevin MacDonald rather than
looking at his possible violations of policy in the classroom," said Heidi
Beirich, the center's deputy director and author of the report. "Our primary
intent is not to get rid of Kevin MacDonald, but to show the world who he is,
what he is doing."
In an interview in his office Tuesday, the tall, lanky
MacDonald — a fully tenured professor with a doctorate in behavioral sciences
from the University of Connecticut — insisted that although he has written books
on what he calls the evolutionary psychology of Jews, "I have never talked about
Jews in my courses."
But he acknowledged that his scholarly research has
convinced him that not every instance of anti-Semitism is
"Jews, as a group, have interests that sometimes conflict
with the interests of the people they live among," said MacDonald, who teaches
students seeking a degree in child development. "In general, Judaism is
considered a complex and successful survival mechanism, and at times they've
been victimized for it. I do think there is a biological element at work here
that's existed throughout the centuries."
As for the law center report's
allegation that his work has been used to lend a kind of legitimacy to neo-Nazi
and white supremacist groups, he said, "I do not agree with all the views people
have, but there is little I can do about that."
Beirich sees it
differently: "Not since Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' have anti-Semites had such a
comprehensive reference guide to what's 'wrong with Jews.' His work is widely
advertised and touted on white supremacist websites and sold by neo-Nazi outfits
like National Vanguard Books, which considers them 'the most important books of
the last 100 years.' "
One of MacDonald's essays on Jews is highlighted
on the official website of former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke, who said it
contains "a deeper intellectual understanding of the nature of Jewish
supremacism and its implications for European Americans."
is no stranger to controversy. In 2000, he testified on behalf of David Irving,
a controversial World War II historian who suffered a stinging defeat in a
London courtroom in a libel suit he filed against another writer who described
him as a Holocaust denier. Irving also served 13 months in prison in Austria
after pleading guilty to denying the Holocaust, a crime in that
MacDonald's actions caused an uproar on the Cal State campus and
the creation of rules regarding the use and abuse of academic material. They
included a warning that it is unethical for faculty to allow their work to be
used to support groups that disseminate racial or ethnic superiority or racial
or ethnic hatred.
Yet, in a recent posting on his website, MacDonald said
that "I would like to suppose that my work on Judaism at least meets the
criteria of good social science, even if I have come to the point of seeing my
subjects in a less than flattering light. In the end, does it really matter if
my motivation at this point is less than pristine? Isn't the only question
whether I am right?"
That kind of talk makes some of his colleagues in
the psychology department at Cal State Long Beach
Professor Martin Fiebert said he welcomed the law center's
report about his colleague of 20 years. "I think exposing bigotry and cultural
insensitivity is a good thing to do," he said. "It may help him sell more books,
but it will also reveal his views to a larger audience."
"The most troubling development lately has been that [MacDonald] is widely cited
in neo-Nazi and white supremacist web pages. Some of their issues were framed
around his willingness to say that being anti-Semitic is a sort of badge of
"But even talking about these things is tricky," he said. "The
last time things heated up, Kevin went to his lawyer, then came back and said if
his job was threatened, he'd sue. So people stopped talking about Kevin
Cal State Long Beach psychology professor William Kelemen
said MacDonald's notions about Jews "make me uncomfortable."
radioactive topic," he said, "and it's drawing a lot of attention, most of it
"What is bizarre about it all," he added, "is that these
controversies seem to surface every few years, yet no one seems to know what to
do about it."
In a prepared statement Tuesday, university officials would
say only that "academic freedom does not constrain or restrict the spectrum of
knowledge, whether that knowledge is popular or unpopular."
however, said, "As it stands, a student cannot get a degree in child development
at Cal State Long Beach without taking a course taught by MacDonald. We have no
idea what those students are hearing or being taught, because no one is
overseeing what goes on in there."