FSU Professor Signs on to Supremacist
Glayde Whitney writes the foreword to David Duke's
book, calling it an "excellent work."
By Melanie Yeager
TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
March 23, 1999
A Florida State University professor believes
former-Klansman, now-politician David Duke uses good science to
support a book some call a "white-supremacist diatribe."
Glayde Whitney, a professor specializing in behavior
genetics, has written a foreword to Duke's latest book, "My Awakening,"
which calls for separate nations for blacks and whites and says
blacks are inferior to whites.
Whitney, whose work is with mice, not humans,
calls Duke's book "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
Duke is seeking the Louisiana congressional office
previously held by Bob Livingston. The former Ku Klux Klan leader
has said the 85-percent white district near New Orleans "is made
Whitney, 59, said Monday he has no political
agenda except to back scientific truth.
But Mark Potok, quarterly journal editor at Klanwatch,
which is operated by the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that
by writing the foreword, Whitney has aligned himself with some
In addition to his ties to Duke, Potok said Whitney
is a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which advocates
segregation and has been labeled racist by critics.
"The fact that a so-called man of science would
put his name to an introduction that is absolutely fawning in
nature, I think that is remarkable," Potok said.
Whitney also spoke last fall at a gathering hosted
by white separatist author Jared Taylor's American Renaissance.
Whitney told the audience that black people are
"bigger in bone, smaller in brain," according to poverty center
Potok said when Duke left the Klan in the late
'80s, he called his tainted past youthful folly and traded his
Klan garb for a three-piece suit. With "My Awakening," Duke has
returned "explicitly white-supremacist," he said.
Whitney said what he writes about is not white
supremacist in nature.
"I think everybody should be treated the same
under the law. That is not the same as saying everybody is the
same. I'm a little, short, fat, old man," Whitney said, "not a
professional basketball player."
He notes, for example, that most professional
basketball athletes are black.
"That's superiority in sports. Different groups
have different talents, and part of the differences seems to be
genetic. I don't think there's anything evil or mean in acknowledging
it," Whitney said.
"Superiority is a value judgment. I'm just acknowledging
Whitney's work has stirred up the issue of academic
freedom at FSU.
Don Foss, dean of the college of arts and sciences
and a psychologist himself, said Whitney is a well-trained mouse
behavior geneticist and that in 1995, Whitney served as president
of the Behavior Genetics Association, a national group of researchers.
But Foss disagrees with Whitney's conclusions
on racial genetics.
"His comments about aggression among people of
different ethnic groups and effects on cities in my opinion is
substantially beyond what the data warrants," Foss said.
"I think he has generalized beyond what most
scientists would do and find appropriate . . . I don't think he's
done the science here."
But Foss and other FSU leaders are supporting
Whitney's right to follow his own reasoning and conclusions.
"I'm a believer in academic freedom, and today
is one of the days when that belief gets tested. It's easy to
say that when people say things you agree with."
Foss does not believe one professor's outlook
will impact the diverse student body FSU consistently attracts
and makes welcome.
Psychology department chairman Robert Contreras
said although Whitney is a highly respected scientist and generally
gets good ratings from students, his view that who we are is determined
by genetics moreso than our experiences sparks controversy.
Contreras said he considers Whitney a friend
and that political opinions have never surfaced between them.
He does not know whether Whitney expounds on these Duke-like ideas
in his classes -- survey of behavior genetics, psychology history
"It's not something I ever would have dared to
touch," Contreras said of Whitney's foreword for the controversial
Even Whitney says in his foreword that he writes
it with "great trepidation" -- even with the backing of the First
Amendment's guarantee of free speech and the knowledge of his
own academic tenure.
Whitney has worked at FSU almost 30 years. He
now earns $56,026 for his nine-month contract. He is supported
by several grants, including $87,700 from the Pioneer Fund Inc.
last July to study behavior genetics in human affairs.
He also is working under a $9,999 grant from
the National Institutes of Health for mouse breeding studies.
Much of his past work focused on a behavior genetic
approach to chemosensory. They were funded through the National
Institute of Neurological Disease and National Institute on Deafness
and Other Communication Disorders.
Whitney said he is scheduled for a sabbatical
next school year. He plans to work with census and demographic
data to study racial similarities and differences. He does not
plan to campaign for Duke, who is seeking to succeed Livingston
in the May 1 election, he said.
He thinks other scientists believe as he does
but fear the "hostile" media, which he says tends to smear Duke
with allegations of racism. Whitney said he had hoped the media
would ignore his book contribution.
Whitney has met Duke and describes the politician
as "a very bright guy," rich in scientific knowledge. "He's not
the evil monster you get the impression of in the media."