As you may know, National Review editor Rich Lowry recently had to perform the unpleasant task of cutting the magazine’s ties with two contributors. This happened in the span of just a few days earlier this month.
Both writers — John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg — had given in to an ugly racist impulse that periodically has to be purged from parts of the political Right. There are always folks out there who are ready to conflate conservatism with racialism and tribalism, and it’s a part of Lowry’s job to combat that lie and keep the distinction perfectly clear in everyone’s mind.
Readers of ENV may have followed Derbyshire’s wrestling with us over the Darwinism issue over the past several years. A funny and erudite guy, Derb was also a harsh (and largely uninformed) critic of Darwin doubters and intelligent-design advocates. It was a part of his schtick, and, given the racialist content of the article that got him fired, I would assume it still is. That’s old news.
Weissberg (that’s him pictured above) is someone I was not familiar with. I’ve just taken a moment to catch up a bit with some of his foul associations, as Rich Lowry presumably did before deciding, rightly, to call it quits with him. I only bring this up here because the event that got Weissberg canned was heavy with evolutionary, Darwinian and eugenic themes, sponsored by a group with similar interests.
It was a conference held by a white racialist group, American Renaissance, last month in Tennessee. You can click on this link and see some of the participants. As Rich noted, Weissberg had turned up at the meeting to discuss strategies for successfully “repackaging” white nationalism. Needless to say, once someone has descended to such garbage, you can’t have him around anymore.
Beyond that, Weissberg himself isn’t terribly interesting — but a look at the American Renaissance website does offer a reminder of the key role that Darwinian thinking continues to play among a fringe of racialist pseudo-conservatives.
The 2012 conference, as I said, leaned heavily on this theme. Leading the program was eugenics advocate Richard Lynn. The American Renaissance site helpfully gives us the gist of his presentation.
He briefly summarizes the field of eugenics since Francis Galton coined the term in 1883, noting that the West has now had six generations of dysgenic fertility that has led to a decline in genetic IQ of about one point per generation. Improvements in nutrition have increased tested IQ, thus masking the genetic decline, but this is a one-time environmental boost that has run its course. Eugenics is the obvious solution, but it is notoriously difficult to accomplish. If we in the West do not have the will to stop dysgenic reproduction or dysgenic immigration, Prof. Lynn predicts “the torch of civilization will pass from the Europeans to the Chinese.”
There was someone called Donald Templer on “The Geographic Distribution of Intelligence: Evolution, Migration and Dysgenics.” Templer specializes in “race and intelligence, and racial brain shape.”
There was a French visitor, Guillaume Faye with his “charmingly accented English,” praising “the biological substrate” that gives hope for “world-wide white racial consciousness.”
And so on. It’s quite a cast of characters, judging from the mug shots.
To get a sense of the centrality of Darwinian eugenic considerations to the organization, you just have to spend a few minutes investigating the contents of the website and of the affiliated American Renaissance magazine, which are all well archived.
We have a fellow called Michael Levin on “The Evolution of Racial Differences in Morality,” explaining how “Races appear to have evolved different levels of morality; this has important social consequences.” In “Decline of the West,” contributor Thomas Jackson laments “a century of genetic deterioration” and commends the insights of Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton: “Today, eugenics is held in universal disrepute but many objections to it are silly.”
Peter Crittendon calls for “Ending a Historical Taboo” by “restoring the respectability of eugenics.” In “The Origin of Races, Part I,” Michael W. Masters praises a certain Seymour Itzkoff who
writes of the “encompassing embrace” of third-world immigration to Europe and the United States: “It is an embrace that will suck us back into evolutionary history if we delay too long.” What Lothrop Stoddard called “the rising tide of color” may well be reversing the course of human evolution.
And on and on. American Renaissance is fully as obsessed with the insights of evolution and eugenics as the prominent neo-Nazi website Stormfront, except the material is presented in a superficially objective and scholarly fashion and the anti-Semitism is kept more under wraps — though evidently this last element comes out more freely in person at the conferences.
I don’t envy Rich Lowry the responsibility of cleansing such associations, however tangential, from the magazine he leads. Obviously, though, it had to be done.