Kevin MacDonald, Ph.D.CSULB, Department of Psychology
Response to Tony Ortega of New Times LANewtimes L.A., a free local paper, did a cover story on me titled, "WITNESS FOR THE PERSECUTION: How a Cal State Long Beach professor'who blames Jews for a coming race war in America'landed a courtroom role defending the world's most notorious Holocaust denier." The author of the article is TONY ORTEGA.
- Newtimes has published a 500-word version of this reply along
with several other letters commenting on the article. Click here to see this
- Four of my replies in the CSU-LB debate are on this webpage and can be
accessed by clicking on the following link:
- Tony Ortega wrote a follow-up article for Newtimes L.A. which
appeared on May 24, 2000. It can be accessed by clicking on the following
- The Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article on the
controversy at CSU-LB on May 31, 2000.
- There was a symposium on my work at the meetings of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society held at Amherst College (June 9, 2000). This is a link to the paper I gave in response to some of the typical criticisms of my work.
Comment on "Witness for the Persecution"Journalistic accounts of academic writings are almost inevitably problematic because they tend to slide over the subtle nuances of academic presentations in favor of material that will grab readers' interest and make a good headline. There is much to dislike about the article, starting with the demeaning and condescending characterization of evolutionary psychology and its adaptationist "mantras". It is simply false that evolutionary approaches to human affairs are untested or untestable, as a glance at academic journals such as Evolution and Human Behavior or Human Nature will show. And it is false that evolutionists believe that women are inferior, although they do tend to think that men and women are importantly different.
Ortega quotes me as saying that the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves. This is just wrong. I claim only to have a theory of anti-Semitism, not a theory of the Nazi Holocaust. In my book, Separation and Its Discontents, I argue that perceptions of real conflicts of interest engendered and exacerbated widespread popular anti-Jewish feelings in Germany prior to and during the Nazi era, as they have in many other times and places. These perceptions of conflicts of interest are related complexly to real conflicts of interest. For example, exaggeration and even fantasies may color the situation once the battle lines have been drawn between groups. Other scholars have also argued that Jewish behavior'very often Jewish success'is an important factor in anti-Semitism; see, e.g., Albert Lindemann's Esau's Tears[Cambridge University Press, 1998]). My position is that we should not simply assume that every instance of anti-Semitism is completely irrational. Rather, we should suppose that in general there are indeed real conflicts of interest between groups and that outbreaks of hostility are a complex interplay of fantasy and reality. Anti-Semitism has taken many different forms from simple dislike to economic boycots, pogroms, expulsion and genocide. For example, Poland and other Eastern European nations did not initiate a Holocaust despite a great deal of anti-Semitism. Like others, I think that to understand specific horrors like the Holocaust one must understand the psychology of the top Nazi leadership, but that is not the subject of my book or my area of expertise.
Ortega states that I blame Jews for a "coming race war in America". Since I do not predict a race war, I can hardly be accused of blaming the Jews for causing one. In the last chapter of The Culture of Critique I suggest that the increasing ethnic division in the U.S. and other European-derived societies resulting from high levels of immigration and the rise of multiculturalism will lead to increased ethnocentrism on all sides and a decline in the Enlightenment values of de-ethnicized individualism. I state only that this is a dangerous situation and I do so on the basis of psychological theory and my reading of the history of the Jews as well as a great many examples of ethnic conflict in contemporary and past societies (see, e.g., The Demographic Struggle for Power: The Political Economy of Demographic Engineering in the Modern World. Milica Zarkovic Bookman. London and Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass, 1997). However, there are a great many other possibilities besides a "race war", including ethnic partition, ethnic enclaves, or a wary co-existence. I am making a warning, not a detailed prediction.
Both Ken Jacobs and Richard Lerner complain that my view implies a
non-existent genetic homogeneity for Jews, but I make no such claim. The
population genetic data reviewed in A People that Shall Dwell Alone show
that the Jewish gene pool has been significantly segregated from the gene pools
of the populations that Jews have lived among for centuries, while at the same
time there is significant genetic commonality between Jewish groups that have
been separated for centuries. This does not imply genetic homogeneity because
there remains a great deal of genetic variation within Jewish groups. However,
it does imply genetic distance between Jews and non-Jews'that on average Jewish
populations have different levels of genes that show variation (e.g., blood
groups), and it is highly compatible with the importance of endogamy among Jews
(i.e., marrying within the group).
This is illustrated in the following figure from
Kobyliansky and Micle (1982):
Kobyliansky, E., S. Micle, M. Goldschmidt-Nathan, B. Arensburg, & H. Nathan (1982). Jewish populations of the world: Genetic likeness and differences. Annals of Human Biology 9:1-34.
This is a link to a recent New York Times article on Jewish population genetics. The article is based on a recent study of genetic distance between Jewish and non-Jewish groups titled, "Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes," by M. F. Hammer, et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 9, 2000. This page includes a figure from the Hammer et al. article showing genetic distances between various Jewish and non-Jewish populations.
Ken Jacobs makes the strange argument that Jews have no predilection for endogamy since rabbis denounced interbreeding and because gentile authorities sometimes forced Jews to wear signs in order to avoid interbreeding. I discuss these phenomena in several places in Separation and Its Discontents and A People That Shall Dwell Alone. Briefly, there is a major difference between interbreeding and intermarriage. There is no evidence at all for anything but minute levels of intermarriage and conversion among Jews until very recently, but there is a great deal of evidence that gentile authorities have often legislated against illicit sexual relationships between Jewish males and non-Jewish females and that Jewish authorities often frowned on such relationships because they led to anti-Semitism. In any case, such relationships did not alter the Jewish gene pool at all because the children were not brought up as Jews.
I was happy to see that Lerner contributed to the article. Lerner is quite frank about the relationship between his Jewish ethnic identity and his intellectual views, and he was therefore an ideal subject for The Culture of Critique. Unfortunately, Lerner has not read my books, because if he had, he would realize that I regard Judaism as mainly a cultural invention that functions as an evolutionary strategy, although I also propose that Judaism is influenced by evolved systems such as ethnocentrism. There is in fact no major distinction between my earlier writings in psychology and my recent writings on Judaism, as supposed by Lerner. I have always emphasized cultural processes and developmental plasticity, as well as the importance of evolved systems and genetic variation. As I discuss in The Culture of Critique, Lerner recognizes only the first two processes because he views the fields of behavior genetics and evolutionary psychology as leading inevitably to Nazism.
Lerner criticizes me for supposing that Judaism is monolithic. I make no such assumption. For example in the intellectual movements I discuss in The Culture of Critique, the procedure is as follows:
1. Find influential movements dominated by Jews, with no implication that all or most Jews are involved in these movements and no restrictions on what the movements were (e.g., I touch on Jewish neo-Conservatism which is a departure in some ways from the other movements I discuss). In general, relatively few Jews were involved in these movements and significant numbers of Jews may have been unaware of their existence. Even Jewish leftist radicalism was probably a minority movement within Jewish communities for most periods. As a result, when I criticize these movements I am not criticizing most Jews. Nevertheless, these movements were influential, and they were Jewishly motivated (i.e., they were viewed by their proponents as furthering specific Jewish interests such as ending anti-Semitism).
2. Determine whether the Jewish participants in those movements identified as Jews AND thought of their involvement in the movement as advancing specific Jewish interests. I suppose that involvement may be unconscious or involve self-deception, but for the most part it was quite easy and straightforward to find evidence confirming these propositions and disconfirming alternate explanations. If I thought that self-deception was important (as in the case of many Jewish radicals), I found evidence that in fact they did identify as Jews and were deeply concerned about Jewish issues despite surface appearances to the contrary.
Lerner argues that people like Richard J. Herrnstein refute my thesis that Jewish agendas have been important in social science because Herrnstein has contributed to the IQ literature and takes a strong hereditarian stand. However, the issue is whether his writing in this area reflected a Jewish agenda on his part. In Culture of Critique, I categorized Herrnstein as an example of the many Jews who do good social science. If we found that Herrnstein identified as a Jew and actually had a Jewish agenda in doing social science, then he would have been a good subject for analysis in Culture of Critique. In fact, Herrnstein may have had a Jewish agenda (although in his case, unlike so many others reviewed in Culture of Critique, there is no reason to suppose that it affected his science). Alan Ryan (1994, 11) states, "Herrnstein essentially wants the world in which clever Jewish kids or their equivalent make their way out of their humble backgrounds and end up running Goldman Sachs or the Harvard physics department." This is a stance that is typical, I suppose, of neo-conservatives, a predominantly Jewish movement I discuss in several places, and it is the sort of thing that, if true, would suggest that Herrnstein did perceive the issues discussed in The Bell Curve as affecting Jewish interests in a way that Charles Murray did not. (Ryan contrasts Murray's and Herrnstein's world views: "Murray wants the Midwest in which he grew up'a world in which the local mechanic didn't care two cents whether he was or wasn't brighter than the local math teacher.")
Regarding John Hartung's criticisms, I discuss several possibilities for why there are differences between the elevated IQ of Ashkenazi Jews and the average IQ of Sephardic and Oriental Jews of in Chapter 7 of A People That Shall Dwell Alone. One possibility is that the Sephardic Jews who emigrated from Spain in 1492 were disproportionately from the non-elite classes; another is that intense anti-Semitism in some areas may have prevented the flowering of a highly literate Jewish culture despite the clear mandate for such a culture in Jewish religious writings. Whatever the reasons for the difference between Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi IQ, we still need to develop theories for the elevated IQ of the Ashkenazim, and my theory includes both eugenic influences as well as the cultural influences emphasized by Lerner. The argument is that (1) there is genetic variation for IQ; (2) eugenic marriages are clearly prescribed in canonical Jewish religious writings, particularly the practice of marrying wealth and scholarly ability; (3) Jewish groups, particularly the Ashkenazim, practiced such marriages (religiously, one might say); (4) the wealthy scholar/business class created by this practice had more children over long stretches of historical time; (5) therefore, it reasonable to suppose that eugenic processes are important in understanding contemporary Jewish IQ patterns and the extraordinary levels of Jewish achievement in contemporary societies.
Ortega describes Hartung as dismissing "MacDonald's assertion that anti-Semitism can be understood as a logical result of biological processes. If that's the case, then why haven't other diaspora peoples'such as those from India and Armenia'experienced the same historically and geographically consistent hatred that's been heaped on Jews?" My view is that ethnic conflict results from evolved psychological processes, particularly the tendency to have positive attitudes toward ingroups and negative attitudes toward outgroups, as argued in Chapter 1 of Separation and Its Discontents. In fact, ethnic violence and hostility are quite common around the world, including the groups mentioned by Hartung. For example, violence has erupted against overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia and Indians in Uganda who have occupied similar middleman minority positions as Jews have in traditional European societies. I rather doubt we need to posit different psychological processes at work in these different examples. However, I suppose that a more thoroughgoing comparative analysis would be a good idea, and I am presently working on such a project titled Diaspora Peoples. I hope to be able to spell out which processes and factors are the same and which ones are different in the cases I named above, as well as others.
Ortega performs the usual guilt-by-association analysis of IQ findings that has become a hallmark of the intellectual left, abetted in this case by people like Richard Lerner, Leon Kamin, and Sander Gilman for whom the entire notion of IQ is anathema. I find it vaguely amusing that university professors with distinguished publication records at major research universities'people whose IQ's are probably in the 150 range, have led the battle against the idea that IQ is anything more than a fantasy of the political right wing. Contrary to Ortega's assertion, I cite Richard Lynn as one of many sources indicating higher Jewish IQ. Most of the work on Jewish IQ that I cite was performed by Jewish social scientists such as B. M. Levinson.
Ortega claims that "MacDonald cited his experience [as a 1960's radical at the University of Wisconsin] as proof that Jews in general are compelled to challenge traditional American ideals by taking over political and cultural movements fronted by token non-Jews." This would seem to suggest that I base my views on Jewish intellectual and political movements on my personal experience recorded in a footnote. On the contrary, Culture of Critique is based on a vast literature documenting these points.
Ortega quotes Robert Pois, a professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "[MacDonald] may have convinced himself and others that he's being coldly scientific," Pois says. "I think he genuinely has convinced himself he is not anti-Semitic. But he's wrong about that." Pois reviewed Separation and Its Discontents in the internet journal, Idea: A Journal of Social Issues.
Ortega also provides a very misleading quotation from A.J. Figueredo, a
prominent evolutionary psychologist at the University of Arizona: "Figueredo
wrote that he tries to convince others that MacDonald's views in the first two
volumes are scientific and not anti-Semitic, but he complained that the third
volume makes that position untenable. 'By emphatically disapproving of
intellectual movements which you explicitly state were designed to counter
anti-Semitism, does that not imply that you approve of anti-Semitism?'" First,
this quotation was from an email message that A.J. had sent me and that I
na?ضely forwarded to Ortega on the assumption that he would contact Figueredo
directly rather than take a misleading quote from an ongoing discussion I am
having with him. In fact A.J and I now believe that our discussion is of
sufficiently wide interest that we are attempting to find a publishing forum for
his review of The Culture of Critique along with my reply. Secondly, the
answer to A.J.'s question is that characterizing intellectual movements designed
to counter anti-Semitism as scientifically unsound and as stemming from
non-scientific (ethnic) motives does not make me an anti-Semite because I never
state that all or even very many Jews are involved in these movements, and in
fact they were not. I suppose that most Jews have never even heard of T.W.
Adorno or Max Horkheimer but that is irrelevant to my analysis because the
movement meets the criteria mentioned above for inclusion in The Culture of
Critique. As is apparent in my reply to Lerner and Jacobs above, I do not
regard Judaism as monolithic; as a result one can reject these movements without
rejecting Judaism. In the same way, the fact that one opposes Nazism does not
mean that one disapproves of all Germans.
Despite these problems, I thought that Ortega did a good job in some ways,
particularly in reporting my motives for testifying for Irving. (A detailed
account of my reasons for testifying may be found at my webpage: ). In any case,
these issues deserve a public airing. One can only hope that future efforts will
attempt to allow people who are attacked to make responses to the attacks in the
article rather than having to write long letters to the editor.
This defamatory illustration appeared with the article. It appears to be a drawing based (loosely) on photos of me taken while I was lecturing in my child development class.