GOP DRAGGING BAGGAGE TO NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTE
Forbes Waffles on Ellis; Brooks Blasts
By JONATHAN MAHLER, FORWARD STAFF
NEW YORK, NY When Steven Forbes heads
to New Hampshire for next week's Republican primary, he will be
dogged by criticism of his relationship with Thomas Ellis, a former
director of the Pioneer Fund, a foundation established in 1937
to prove that whites are genetically superior to blacks.
The timing of the disclosure of the millionaire
publisher's link to Mr. Ellis couldn't be more inopportune for
Mr. Forbes, who is coming off a disappointing fourth-place finish
in the Iowa caucuses, where he barely edged out Senator Gramm
and talk-show host Alan Keyes. Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan's surprisingly
strong showing in Iowa is unnerving Jewish Republicans who are
warning of a repeat of 1992, when the right wing of the GOP emerged
as a potent force in the party during the convention.
The link between the presidential aspirant and
Mr. Ellis, a member of the board of the Pioneer Fund from 1973
to 1977, was first established a couple of weeks ago when Mr.
Forbes was campaigning in the Granite State and was fleshed out
this week in a New York Times column by Bob Herbert, who described
Mr. Ellis as an "informal adviser" to Mr. Forbes. Now,
the extent of the foundation's involvement in controversial research
projects, borne out in a background report prepared by the Anti-Defamation
League, is threatening to cast an even larger shadow over his
run for the Republican nomination.
What's particularly troubling to some is the fact
that the alliance between Messrs. Forbes and Ellis dates back to
at least the early 1980s. " The main point is that Forbes cannot
deny knowing what's going on here because Ronald Reagan nominated
both Steve Forbes and Tom Ellis to sit on the Board of International
Broadcasting in 1983," says an associate professor of Humanities
at Ferris State University, Barry Mehler, who has studied the Pioneer
Fund. "Tom Ellis and Steve Forbes were side by side when Ellis
was skewered by a congressional committee that asked him about his
relations to the Pioneer Fund and the foundation's activities. So
for Forbes to say he doesn't know anything about this is absolutely
Mr. Ellis was ultimately forced to withdraw as
'Bell Curve' Flap
For his part, Mr. Buchanan has incurred the wrath
of Jewish Republicans in the past by criticizing American aid to
Israel and defending accused Nazi war criminals like John Demjanjuk.
In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Matthew Brooks,
executive director of the National Jewish Coalition, downplayed
the conservative commentator's second-place showing in Iowa. "He
is a rather large nuisance, like a little dog who is constantly
barking at your heels," Mr. Brooks told the JTA.
Meanwhile, Gail Gans, associate director of the
research department at the ADL, lambasted the scientific strategy
of the Pioneer Fund. "The people involved have made a decision
that black people are less intelligent than whites," Ms.
Gans said. "It strikes me that a foundation that in 1996
is trying to prove the intrinsic superiority of a group of people
ought to be ashamed of itself."
Nobody is accusing Mr. Forbes himself of being
anti-Semitic or racist; what is in question is his judgment in
aligning himself with a man like Mr. Ellis and then failing to
distance himself from him at the first available opportunity.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, said he has expressed
concern about the relationship and is waiting to hear back from
"Steve Forbes was, quite simply, an adamant
opponent of anything that smacked of racial feeling," says
David Frum, a leading conservative intellectual and former writer
for Forbes magazine. "He managed an operation that was entirely
free of PC (political correctness), but at the same time was multi-racial."
Based in Manhattan, the Pioneer Fund was founded
in 1937 by Wickliffe Draper, a textile magnate and Nazi sympathizer
who believed in the intellectual superiority of white Anglo-Saxons.
Its first president, Harry Laughlin, spearheaded the movement
to keep "genetically inferior" immigrants - including
Jews - out of America.
Once a relatively obscure organization, Pioneer
Fund entered the spotlight roughly two years ago following the
publication of "The Bell Curve," a book that attempted
to prove that race and class differences are largely determined
by genetic factors. Some critics took issue with the book's scholarship,
focusing specifically on its reliance on research subsidized by
the Pioneer Fund. One such critic was Charles Lane, who wrote
in the New York Review of Books that "The Bell Curve's"
research was based on " tainted sources."
Responding to Mr. Lane's criticism, Charles Murray,
co-author of the book, suggested in Commentary magazine that the
Pioneer Fund had changed since its inception: "[T]he relationship
between the founder of the Pioneer Fund and today's Pioneer Fund
is roughly analogous to the relationship between Henry Ford and
today's Ford Foundation." In the early 1920s, Henry Ford
authored and published a host of anti-Semitic hate literature,
including a book titled "The International Jew."
Mr. Mehler doesn't buy the analogy. "The Pioneer
Fund has consistently supported scholars who are out to prove the
inferiority of Afro-Americans," he says. "The goal of
the Pioneer Fund is to promote eugenics and that has not changed."
Indeed, since 1981 the foundation has given hundreds
of thousands of dollars to a variety of controversial researchers.
According to Mr. Mehler' s research, the Pioneer Fund contributed
more than $441,000 between 1981 and 1992 to the scientific efforts
of J. Phillipe Rushton, a psychology professor at the University
of Western Ontario in Canada. One of Mr. Rushton's theories is
that blacks "have smaller brains, but reproduce at a faster
rate, due to the allegedly larger size of their sexual organs,"
according to an ADL background report. In addition, Mr. Mehler
says the foundation awarded $124,500 from 1991-1992 to Michael
Levin, a philosophy professor at the City College of New York
who has argued that black population growth must be slowed by
ending public assistance.
'History of Racism'
Another recent beneficiary of Pioneer Fund dollars
is Roger Pearson, author of "Eugenics and Race," a book
published by a notorious Holocaust denier, Willis Carto. Mr. Mehler
says that Mr. Pearson received $568,000 from the foundation between
1981 and 1991. For a brief stretch in the late 1960s, Mr. Pearson
was editor of The New Patriot, a magazine created to explore "the
Jewish question," which included such articles as "Swindlers
and the Crematoria." According to the ADL report, Mr. Pearson
now heads The Mankind Quarterly, a journal bankrolled by the Pioneer
Fund that has published articles by Nazi scientists like Ottmar
von Verschuer, a mentor of Josef Mengele.
For Mr. Forbes - who has been criticized in recent
days for running negative campaign advertisements maligning his
GOP colleagues - to regain his momentum, it may be necessary for
him to repudiate Mr. Ellis and the Pioneer Fund. Says Mr. Mehler,
"Forbes cannot run for president carrying along the baggage
of Tom Ellis and the Pioneer Fund's history of racism, anti-Semitism
Mahler, Jonathan. "Forbes waffles on Ellis; Brooks blasts Buchanan." Forward. Feb 1996.