The Racist Right and “Equalitarianism”

A picture of scales perfectly balanced


Here’s a word you don’t see every day: “Equalitarianism.” What is it? According to Quillette:

According to the equalitarian model, progressives are dedicated egalitarians. They think that all individuals, all groups, all sexualities, and all sexes should be treated fairly*. They are also especially sensitive to potential threats to egalitarianism, so they adhere to the belief that all demographic groups are roughly equal on all socially valued traits, a belief we call cosmic egalitarianism. Perhaps the most common form of cosmic egalitarianism is blank slate-ism, or the belief that humans are nearly infinitely malleable, and that all important differences among them are caused by the environment, not genes. Cosmic egalitarianism serves as a protective buffer to egalitarianism because it contends two things: 1) Group disparities are caused by prejudice and discrimination (unfairness), not group differences; and 2) We absolutely should treat all groups the same because they are basically the same. Equalitarians fear that if we accept that some demographic differences are genetically caused, we might start treating groups differently from each other. For example, maybe we would encourage men to pursue STEM careers more often than women. (It is worth noting that most people who believe that there are genetically-caused demographic differences would not forward such a bad argument and are committed to treating people as individuals. However, equalitarians, as noted, are very sensitive to potential threats to egalitarianism, and they view this as a potential threat.)

Whatever you may think of this definition, you must admit that the word “equalitarianism” isn’t one you hear every day.  The Quillette article maintains that the equalitarian/progressive bias in social psychology has prevented a clear view of racial and sex differences in cognitive capacity. It is a very old and tired argument. What is noteworthy is the use of the curious term “equalitarianism” which has a sordid history that reveals the unsavory politics of Quillette when it comes to race and science.

Suppose you know someone who refers to African Americans as “the colored.” Realizing that the term might be offensive this person then tells you that, in order not to give offense, they will start using the n-word. Would you believe this person when they told you that you that they thought they were being less offensive?  Probably not. But that is exactly what Quillette would have you believe. The article claims that the first label they had was:

 “paranoid egalitarian meliorist” (PEM) model of progressive bias. I’ve come to believe that the name is inevitably and uncharitably pejorative (“paranoid” sounds bad even though it is descriptively neutral), so my colleagues and I have renamed it equalitarianism; however, I still think the basic model is accurate.

It is difficult to believe that the word “equalitarianism” was chosen to try to be less perjorative given that the only people who use that word are hardcore racists. The word may well be a dogwhistle to Quillette‘s fans in the racist right.

Drawing of an anthropomophized whistle with the caption,

It has already been noted by others that the word “equalitarian” was thrown about by segregationists during the civil rights era to argue, as Quillette does, that the social sciences have been hijacked by racial equalitarians who hide the truth about white supremacy (see here and here, for example). For the full story on this, see my book, Science for Segregation which traces those claims back to Madison Grant’s antisemitic views of Franz Boas in the nineteen-teens. You could also read this extensive discussion of the network of racist scientists who keep the term alive

So, the idea that there is some kind of conspiracy from lefties to squash scientific discussion about “race realism” goes back at least a century. It is, of course, an empirically false claim since there is a LOT of scientific discussions about race, but it does serve to keep the “race realists” in the game by people who mistakenly think this is a free speech issue. It is worth looking at the more recent history of the word, “equalitarianism” to see that it’s use did not disappear when legalized segregation disappeared.

One person who believed in the “equalitarian conspiracy” was behavioral geneticist, Glayde Whitney. Whitney spent his career at Florida State University where, coincidentally (?) the author of the Quillette article got his Ph.D. (long after Whitney died in 2002).  Whitney had a solid, if unspectacular career until 1995 when, as President of the Behavioral Genetics Association, he called on his colleagues to investigate race differences in intelligence. From 1995 to his death in 2002, Whitney published in the racist Mankind Quarterly (edited by the neo-Nazi Roger Pearson for much of its existence). He spoke at the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical review and published in their journal.  A quick search on American Renaissance’s website returns 186 hits for him. Perhaps most notoriously, Whitney put forth the equalitarian conspiracy in the foreword he wrote for David Duke’s autobiography in 1998, where he listed the great “seekers of truth” in Western history: “Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, William Shockley or David Duke.” There he could put forth the source of the conspiracy to silence race science: The Jews:

Organized Jewry…dogmatically attempts to keep the general population from awareness of the findings of modem science. The Anti -Defamation League [ADL] of B’nai B’rith [BB] was founded in 1913 from its father organization the B’nai B’rith. The B’nai B’rith promoted socialist and egalitarian revolution. It was founded in the decade of The Communist Manifesto amid widespread unrest throughout Europe. From that time Jewish chauvinism, communism and Zionism were all intertwined.

When Whitney died in 2002, Roger Pearson published an edited volume of his essays with a foreword by Kevin Lamb. The white supremacist journal Occidental Quarterly wrote a glowing obituary for him:

He not only contributed to American Renaissance but honored The Occidental Quarterly and the Citizens Informer by becoming a member of their editorial advisory boards. Just as he had begun to take part in the activities of the Council of Conservative Citizens and to contribute almost regularly to its publication Citizens Informer, Dr. Whitney died at the age of 62 from an attack of the asthma from which he had long suffered. His death was a great loss. He was a brilliant man and, more importantly, an exemplar of honor and loyalty

You’d think that someone who so openly avowed white supremacy would be shunned by anyone interested in objective scientific inquiry regarding race. You’d be right, of course. After all, the Whitney lent his scientific credibility, such as it was, to David Freaking Duke, the most notorious racist in the United States. But in 2002, a paper appeared that was co-written by Whitney and J. Philippe Rushton. When Whitney, and Duke, used the term “equalitarian” they, unlike Quillette which gave no footnote to the origin of the term, cited Rushton who published “The Equalitarian Dogma Revisited” in 1994. Rushton, in turn, credits racist psychologist Henry E. Garrett. Garrett testified as an expert witness in the trials leading up to Brown v. Board of Education arguing that black children and white children should never be educated together. After Brown he continued to lend his expertise in the service of segregation (see here, here, and here).  Rushton cited Garrett’s piece “The Equalitarian Dogma” in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine in 1961. Left uncited is the nearly-identical article by that title Garrett published in the Mankind Quarterly. The sole difference between the two version is that in the Mankind Quarterly version, Garrett added “Jews” to the list of those responsible for the equalitarian dogman (p. 174).

The term “equalitarian” lives on in the world of racist “intellectuals.”  It is in Counter Currents (see here). William Pierce, the man who inspired Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing, used the term.  When Vdare wants to enroll evolutionary psychology to the racist cause they use the term.  “Equalitarianism” is a word used all the time over at the neo-Nazi site, Stormfront (see here and here).

The Quilllette article gives the impression that the author just picked the curious word out of thin air: it gives no citation to Rushton, Garrett, or any other writer who used the term to argue for a similar position. We are left with two choices: either Quillette used the obscure term “equalitarianism” with no knowledge of its past, or they chose the term because it was so common in the racist right and decided not to cite any predecessors because they didn’t want to tip their hand. You pick.

The most disingenuous (or naive) statement in the article is this one:

Equalitarians fear that if we accept that some demographic differences are genetically caused, we might start treating groups differently from each other. For example, maybe we would encourage men to pursue STEM careers more often than women. (It is worth noting that most people who believe that there are genetically-caused demographic differences would not forward such a bad argument and are committed to treating people as individuals. However, equalitarians, as noted, are very sensitive to potential threats to egalitarianism, and they view this as a potential threat.).

It was not a “potential threat” when Garrett testified for racial segregation, it was a real threat. It was not a “potential threat” when Pierce inspired the greatest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. It was not a “potential threat” when Whitney overtly endorsed Duke’s views of Jewish control over public and scientific discourse. “Equalitarians” know that the argument used by those that use the term “equalitarians” has always and everywhere been used by those who believe in white supremacy and antisemitism. It is rank dishonestly for anyone to pretend otherwise.

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11 thoughts on “The Racist Right and “Equalitarianism”

  1. Another fine piece. Great job contextualizing this — I hadn’t fully appreciated the historical valences of the term. I’m curious, though, what the chances actually are that this guy simply hasn’t read the history of his own movement. Can you say anything about the Quillette author? Who was it? What do we know of his knowledge of scientific racism? More broadly, how well does this movement know its history? I know Roger Pearson knew the history of his field—what about the later folks?


    • The author of the Q. piece:

      It is very difficult to get a bead on how well they know their history. Harry Wehyer, who for decades ran the Pioneer Fund would sometimes publish whitewashed accounts of the history of the fund. Richard Lynn wrote a very deceptive and selective history (a whole book!) of the the Pioneer Fund as well. Rushton wrote a long, terrible article on the history of the Pioneer Fund after he took over when Wehyer died. Paul Lombardo and Bill Tucker wrote devastating responses to it.

      When he was alive, Rushton would occasionally write me letters about my work and kind of, sort of hinting that he would sue over anything defamatory.

      I’m reasonably sure the the Quillette writers know some of this history, even if it was only the whitewashed versions. But, I personally find it unbelievable that they just chose such an obscure word to name the exact same phenomenon that the “race realists” have been using for decades. They must have known, at least about Rushton’s use of it, which immediately gets them to Garrett. So there really isn’t any excuse.


  2. Despite the blog’s claims or impliciation I don’t think Quillette has a signifiant amount of racist readers. If anything its centre/ conservative media outlets are the least racist. While the progressive side of the left is keeping alive racism.


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