Armed with supposed scientific evidence, David
Duke is making another political comeback.
Riding shotgun with the former Ku Klux Klan
leader is a tenured Florida State University psychologist whose
writings contributed to Duke's scientific backing for his claims
that black people are genetically inferior to whites. Schools
should be resegregated in acknowledgment of this perceived scientific
fact, Duke argues in a new autobiography.
That comes in part from Glayde Whitney, the
FSU psychologist who wrote the book's foreword and calls it
``a painstakingly documented, academically excellent work of
socio-biological-political history that has the potential to
raise tremendous controversy and change the very course of history.''
Whitney works primarily with mice not human
genetics, but he pulls together statistical data on crime rates
and IQ tests to argue blacks are predisposed to violence and
are less intelligent than whites.
Whitney writes that he knew penning the foreword
to Duke's autobiography, ``My Awakening,'' would generate criticism,
citing what he considered an unrelenting smear campaign against
``His [Duke's] grasp of this area of research
is quite remarkable for having a degree in history rather than
a doctorate in the biological disciplines,'' Whitney wrote.
Whitney did not respond to calls for comment.
In other writing - three articles of Whitney's are posted on
Duke's Internet site - he dismisses critics as products of Marxist-fueled
That Whitney is employed by a state university
- with a salary paid for by taxpayer money and with tenure -
galls his most vocal critics. But they don't aim to bury him,
just expose his assertions as junk science.
``Don't make him a martyr. There are enough
of those out there,'' said Barry Mehler, director of the Institute
for the Study of Academic Racism at Ferris State University
Racial theories such as those pushed by Whitney
existed a generation ago, but have slowly gained credence in
the mainstream, Mehler said. Unchallenged, the theories get
woven into political debates on issues such as affirmative action
and immigration. ``The Bell Curve,'' a controversial 1995 best-selling
book, shows that ideas once considered on the lunatic fringe
can now gain traction.
Whitney, who came to FSU in 1970 and now earns
$56,026, is supported by a variety of independent and government
grants. He received $87,700 from the Pioneer Fund last July
to study behavior genetics in human affairs, university records
The Pioneer Fund was created in 1937 and has
a history of financing genetic research on racial differences.
Whitney has also received $1.1 million from
the National Institute on Deafness and Communication disorders
His academic standing gives Whitney a patina
of legitimacy, said psychologist David Wiesenthal of York University
in Toronto, Canada. ``These are not just guys mouthing off in
a bar here. They have the potential of using their prestige
to further their agenda.''
In fact, Whitney served as president of the
Behavior Genetics Association, a national group of researchers,
in 1995. But some members called for his resignation after he
gave a speech at the end of his term in which he said blacks
were predisposed to violence.
``Like it or not,'' Whitney said, ``it is a
reasonable scientific hypothesis that some, perhaps much, of
the race difference in murder rate is caused by genetic differences
in contributory variables such as low intelligence, lack of
empathy, aggressive acting out and impulsive lack of foresight.''
``The very high murder rate for Washington,
D.C. is simply what one would predict, given knowledge of its
Duke's Web page prominently features the speech's
Blacks, Whitney said in a meeting last fall,
``were bigger in bone, smaller in brain,'' more aggressive sexually
and prone to seek sex with white girls, according to the Intelligence
Report, a journal focusing on extremist groups published by
the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.
Using that logic, Wiesenthal wonders, would
that make white people genetically predisposed toward fraud
and embezzlement, since they are disproportionately represented
in those crimes?
FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte has read some
of Whitney's writing and hasn't ``seen anything I find agreeable.''
But he can't do anything about it. Free speech
and academic freedom protect Whitney.
``It would be surprising if you had a university
where people didn't have some views that weren't mainstream
and offensive,'' D'Alemberte said.
Similar challenges have cropped up at Northwestern
University in Evanston, Ill., where engineering professor Arthur
Butz drew attention by posting Holocaust denials on the school's
Internet page. Northwestern decided not to interfere with Butz's
right of expression.
That right was upheld by a U.S. appellate court
in the case of City University of New York Professor Leonard
Jeffries. Like Whitney, Jeffries sees a racial intellectual
gap as scientific fact. But Jeffries says blacks are superior
to whites because of melanin in their skin.
The court ruled CUNY could remove Jeffries from
a department chairman's post but could not alter his tenured
Whitney also is a member of the Council of Conservative
Citizens, a segregationist group labeled as racist by Republican
National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson.
Genetic superiority theories by whites are nothing
new and not necessarily worth tremendous anxiety, said William
Jones, a religious studies professor who created Florida State's
black studies program in 1977.
``You go back and you show that scientific evidence
is false. It's not that difficult to do,'' Jones said.
It's just bad science, said University of Florida
sociologist Joe Feagin.
The studies touted by Whitney and others like
him cobble statistical data with no control groups. IQ tests
are better gauges of skill than intelligence, and they don't
consider cultural and economic factors, said Feagin, who studies
``I'm a fierce devotee of academic freedom,''
Feagin said, ``brought into the open light of scientific examination
and debate. The more you try to suppress ideas such as this,
the more people want to buy into them.''