Commentary Magazine


IQ, Lysenkoism & Liberal Orthodoxy

To the Editor:

I wish to take issue with some of the comments made by R. J. Herrnstein [“On Challenging an Orthodoxy,” April]. Although it is clear that Mr. Herrnstein was set upon by campus troglodytes on numerous occasions, and certainly was treated in a manner that casts doubt upon the sanity of campus radicals, it still appears that the scientific basis for his conclusions is extremely dubious.

Mr. Herrnstein assumes that a significant hereditary component in the variation in intelligence among human populations has been clearly and conclusively demonstrated, and anyone who disagrees with this conclusion is a woolly-headed misinformed liberal. He cites studies that go back to the turn of the century and then suggests that there is some relationship between Lysenkoism and academic egalitarianism. All of these conclusions are unwarranted.

No informed person today argues that genes do not determine intelligence, at least in a molecular sense, since certainly the nervous system consists of structures which are genetically determined in the final analysis. However, the crucial question is to what extent the variability in IQ scores in human populations is determined by genetic differences and to what extent it is determined by environmental factors. In fact, the only foolproof way to answer this question would be to obtain large numbers of individuals with identical heredity and raise them under dissimilar environmental regimes, or alternatively to raise in identical environments individuals with different hereditary constitutions. Obviously these sorts of experiments, which are frequently carried out with laboratory animals, cannot possibly be done with human beings, now or in the foreseeable future. All other studies, such as those carried out with identical and fraternal twins, are fraught with many difficulties which have been skillfully analyzed by Cavalli-Sforza, Lewontin, and numerous others.

To suggest at this time that we know that intelligence (in fact the variations in intelligence) is 20 or 30 or 60 per cent determined by heredity is simply uninformed or dishonest. Our society would be much healthier if we wasted less time arguing about angels on heads of pins whom we cannot count because we lack the technology to do so, and concentrated on improving the lot of those vast numbers of individuals who never have a chance in our society of expressing one-tenth of their genetic endowment.

John Morrow
Department of Physiology and Cell Biology
University of Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas

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To the Editor:

R. J. Herrnstein complains that his Harvard colleagues, while defending his freedom of speech, were not willing to agree publicly with his conclusions. Norman Podhoretz in the same issue [“The New Inquisitors”] says that there are some issues on university campuses on which it is impossible to speak freely. These “settled” issues include Richard Nixon, ecology, and women, as well as the inheritance of IQ. As a former academic administrator, I would like to comment on these complaints.

In my view, Mr. Herrnstein’s article in the Atlantic overstated the importance of IQ, misunderstood the complexity of intelligence, and ignored the dynamics of privilege, discrimination, and marriage in our society. I have written elsewhere about my views, as have Harvard Professors David K. Cohen, Christopher Jencks, and Karl Deutsch. Those who oppose both Mr. Herrnstein’s thesis and any harassment to which he was subjected (as well as the harassment of others) have no choice but to state their views. In fact, opposition to Mr. Herrnstein’s article has probably been muted in order to avoid condoning the harassment.

Mr. Herrnstein is naive when he states that his article had nothing to do with race. Although he later made his personal position clear, the article did not. The editors of the Atlantic must have also misread the article because their unusual and inflammatory introduction (never repudiated by Mr. Herrnstein) put the article in the category of the Moynihan report on the Negro family, and the Coleman report on racial isolation in the schools. It is hard to see why they would congratulate themselves on their courage in printing the article if they did not believe that it had something to do with race and IQ. In fact, I believe that if it were not for the subconscious public desire to find some way to justify racial discrimination, warmed-over articles with no new information, such as those by Jensen and Herrnstein, would get no public attention.

I can assure Mr. Podhoretz that the issues he seems concerned about—ecology, women, and President Nixon—are regularly discussed on college campuses. Many faculty, including some COMMENTARY writers, publicly came out for Nixon in 1972. I have seen no shortage of articles attacking the ecology movement or women’s liberation. It is true and to be deplored that during the Vietnam war there was severe harassment of some pro-war speakers and faculty members with ties to the defense establishment. I, along with many other administrators, did my best to bring charges against those involved, and supplied police protection to those who wanted to be heard.

But I am surprised that Mr. Podhoretz does not mention anti-Semitism as one of the “settled” issues no longer under active campus discussion. Surely he knows that anti-Semitism was freely expressed on college campuses twenty-five years ago. There were open discussions as to whether Jewish professors would be accepted by Gentile students. It was understood that one famous mathematician would not recommend Jews for tenured positions because he felt they peaked in ability earlier than non-Jews, and thus were unfairly judged as having greater potential because of this “genetic” trait.

I am certain that if someone today were to write an article talking about research he wished to do to investigate the inferiority (or the early peaking) of Jews, he would be subject to severe criticism. I would join in the criticism, and still defend the right to do research, particularly if he were a serious scholar in the field, and published in scholarly journals. I must admit, however, that I consider the issue “settled”—and I am glad of it. I would hope that Mr. Podhoretz is also glad.

David Z. Robinson
Carnegie Corporation of New York
New York City

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To the Editor:

. . . I watched the Herrnstein controversy at Harvard unfold, first-hand, and as managing editor of the Harvard Crimson at the time I supervised the news coverage on R. J. Herrnstein in that paper.

First, I am appalled at the misrepresentations about the Crimson role hinted at in Mr. Herrnstein’s article. He repeatedly refers to Crimson statements or “advertisements” of protests against him, implying that the Crimson played the part of a protesters’ pamphlet: e.g., the Crimson “carried the news” that the protesters “had decided to conduct ‘a fall offensive against’ me.” He states further that “the radicals enjoyed abundant press coverage throughout the autumn and winter” in, among other places, the Crimson.

One would not guess from what Mr. Herrnstein says that the Crimson’s first issue that fall, for example, discussing what had already become a controversy, concluded that Mr. Herrnstein’s article “delivered a strong and healthy challenge to many commonly held notions about man’s potential in society.” Nor would one guess that “abundant press coverage” meant, from September 1971 to February 1, 1972 (when my Crimson term ended, and the controversy was more or less over), a grand total of seven news articles (that’s how many I count)—not an enormous number for a college daily which regularly grinds out 35 or 40 news stories a week. Furthermore, that the only stories receiving major play were those devoted to the news of the faculty petition supporting Mr. Herrnstein. Far from being prejudiced against Mr. Herrnstein, our news policy on the subject was this: the protesters, we believed were interested not in the merit! of the particular issue, but simply in manufacturing any saleable issue and “building” their own organization. We therefore kept coverage to a minimum. Mr. Herrnstein may resent what was said in those few stories, but I can’t answer him on that.

Truth to tell, the major focus of public attention in the Herrnstein affair was neither Mr. Herrnstein’s original tract, nor the Atlantic’s splashy presentation of it, nor the protesters’ behavior. It was the faculty petition supporting Mr. Herrnstein, a poorly drafted and grossly hysterical statement which in some ways confused the protesters’ harassment with legitimate forms of objection to Mr. Herrnstein’s ideas. (“The open-minded search for truth cannot proceed in an atmosphere of political intimidation,” for example. Some faculty members were prepared to include the more vociferous anti-Herrnstein arguments in the “intimidation” category.) But neither Mr. Herrnstein nor Mr. Podhoretz would want to say that, because it would ruin their tidy thesis about how liberal academics were privately in league with the protest. If anything is objectionable about the COMMENTARY article, it is the sentiment that because the liberal faculty didn’t support Mr. Herrnstein down the line, they were really against him; that by saying “We may or may not agree with Mr. Herrnstein’s views, but we endorse his right to express them,” the liberals played right into the protesters’ hands. Mr. Herrnstein argues on this basis that “the radicals were acting out” the hidden liberal position, and Mr. Podhoretz finds that “The impression was thereby left that Herrnstein’s actual views corresponded to the distortions and vilifications publicized by the radicals.”

That just isn’t true. I did not always follow the thinking of the liberal faculty, but it was plain to see that, far from attempting to ignore the reputed merits of the article, they were simply uniting on what was then the most urgent issue: Mr. Herrnstein’s basic rights as a member of the university. By haggling about the article itself, obviously, they would have detracted from their central position. It isn’t true either, as COMMENTARY implies, that Mr. Herrnstein built an unimpeachable case for what he said. Anyone with a high-school education could see that much of his article was clearly suppositious. One may sympathize with Mr. Herrnstein’s castigation of those who did not support him, because it is the understandable reaction of a man under heavy fire. But from Mr. Podhoretz’s catbird seat in New York, the proposition “If you’re not for him, you’re against him” aspires to the level of doctrine, and as doctrine it isn’t the purest form of logic I’ve ever seen.

David Landau
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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To the Editor:

. . . Rabbi Avtalyon taught: “Ye wise, take heed to your words lest ye incur guilt that deserves exile” (Avot 1:11). That is a wise, if perhaps overstated, admonition to the academic to recognize his responsibility not to teach “pernicious” doctrine. There are such insurmountable difficulties in determining when a doctrine is pernicious that in a free society we accept the inherent risks by allowing all doctrines to be aired. This acceptance is predicated on the view that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all—the wise and the not so wise. Our standard is based upon the fact that no group has a monopoly on wisdom.

I do not deny that genetics is an important factor which fashions people to be what they are. I know few people who would deny its importance. The problem arises when one begins to make value judgments on “good” and “bad” genetics. Here is where the specter of racism enters the picture. Who is to say that wealth and social position are measures of good and their absence is bad? I would suggest that these are a given society’s evaluation at a given time. Since societies change, values also change, whereas the genetic pool remains constant. We must learn to live with the laws of genetics since we have little choice in the matter. What we cannot do is to adjust societal mores which presume that one group’s genetic pool is superior to another’s.

My opposition to R. J. Herrnstein’s thesis is based upon what I perceive as “racist” ideology. Mr. Herrnstein indicates no anti-black bias, but I’m not at all satisfied that not being anti-black clears him of the charge of racism. Our experience indicates many other forms of racism. Mr. Herrnstein’s difficulties in expressing his views without threat or violence are a blot on our universities and are indefensible; it is paradoxical that people who never heard of Rabbi Avtalyon or his advice have acted on it much too seriously.

Joel A. Zaslowsky
Olympia Fields, Illinois

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To the Editor:

R. J. Herrnstein subscribes to the American creed that “every individual is precious and unique, equally precious and unique.” At least I assume he does since he denounces Nazi-style group superiority, and throughout his article he defends himself against the accusation of racism.

I would like to try my hand at Mr. Herrnstein’s method of summarizing adversary viewpoints in syllogistic sequence, taking the above assumptions as the first premise:

  1. Racial discrimination violates the principle that every individual is equally precious and unique.
  2. If collectively applied, IQ tests might reveal racial differences and must thereby encourage racial discrimination.
  3. Therefore, collective IQ tests are at least potentially racist and should be ruled out, no matter what they might do to “academic freedom.”

Mr. Herrnstein and Mr. Podhoretz fight the validity of premise number two. Mr. Herrnstein says he took “an explicitly agnostic stand on racial [e.g., black-white] differences in tested intelligence,” and, even more, that he could not have done differently because there is too much admixture of environmental (non-genetic) factors within the black population, of which past racial discrimination is just one factor. But he is looking forward to the time when “society manages to wipe out the complicating factors . . . and give everyone an equal chance.”. . .

I was struck by Mr. Herrnstein’s aloofness in taking up this issue, emphasizing that racial testing was neither his “goal” nor his “subject,” and nowhere questioning it on moral grounds. As we all know, such black-white-oriented IQ research work was conducted in 1969 by Mr. Herrnstein’s fellow psychologist, Arthur Jensen, in Berkeley and attracted a lot of publicity at that time. So one might have expected Mr. Herrnstein to make some reference to the basic morality of testing, particularly since he uses up so much space on the morality and behavior of his environmentalist adversaries. . . .

If Mr. Herrnstein had set up the syllogism underlying the thinking of his more responsible opponents the way I have tried to above, he would have noticed that the controversy between biological inheritance and environmentalism (or between Darwin and Lysenko) does not come in here at all. Of course, intelligence quotients are in our genes, but we are not allowed to diminish the “preciousness and uniqueness” of an entire race by raising the question of, or even researching into, a possible inferiority. If I may borrow a phrase from another famous case of “genetics”: “La recherche est interdite!”. . . .

Erwin Adler
Seattle, Washington

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To the Editor:

A professor with very limited clinical experience, and minimal training in child development, psychological assessment, or test construction (he is a trained Skinnerian behaviorist and is an expert in learning behavior in pigeons), writes an article for the mass media making sweeping statements, listing unproved assumptions as facts . . . to foster a belief in inherited differences in intelligence of the various social classes.

A well-known educational psychologist, on the basis of selected research studies and limited research of his own, implies that enrichment programs for children of the lower social class have failed. This is picked up by Joseph Alsop and others in the popular press. He is interviewed by the New York Times and restates his position, arguing scientific issues in the mass media, and never repudiating the use of his work by journalists who have axes to grind. . . .

A physical scientist, through a series of polemical statements, claims competence in the area of intelligence and race, an area he has adopted only from selected second-hand material, and cries “persecution!” when others question his limited understanding of the issue.

I do not condone irresponsible behavior on anyone’s part (and I do not like name-calling and threats, both of which Mr. Herrnstein was subjected to). But irresponsibility breeds irresponsibility. When there is confusion on the part of some responsible people between science and politics, between objectivity and opinion, and where the scientist does not see that he may be legitimizing as scientific the stereotypes of many people, the implications are far too great to be taken lightly. It seems silly to me to see the issue as the defensive reaction of liberals to a challenge to orthodoxy. It is now fashionable to indict liberalism and attack liberals as subtly undermining academic freedom by not joining in the support of Herrnstein’s and Jensen’s ideas. Unfortunately, the editor of COMMENTARY has also joined the fray. Even though these individuals have an inherent right to their opinions, perhaps we should ask: Should responsible people discuss issues of great scientific complexity and extraordinary political consequence in ways that can only perpetuate the vicious racism and social-class prejudices which are eating at the vitals of our society?

Milton F. Shore
Silver Spring, Maryland

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To the Editor:

If R. J. Herrnstein’s article were to go unchallenged, he will have been successful in depicting himself as the intrepid scholar fighting off a rat pack of vicious radicals determined to prevent the revelations of his scholarship from reaching the people. . . .

The fact of the matter is that Mr. Herrnstein, wearing his Harvard credentials, has taken a hypothesis as old as Plato, lifted old data on twin studies, dusted the hypothesis off and dressed it up with a syllogism about social status and IQ; he has then delivered this hypothesis to those of us in and out of public office who seek “a mask for privilege” or a way out of the bitter cup of racial equality. Academic freedom, and legitimate scholarship are one thing. This sort of thing is quite another. . . .

George Purvin
Port Washington, New York

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To the Editor:

R. J. Herrnstein may be correct in calling attention to a “genetic spine” resistant to change in a population, but he appears naive about the social and cultural consequences that would follow excessive weighting of this factor. When one works on problems of mankind one is involved not exclusively with science but at least equally with the humanities. . . .

What does Mr. Herrnstein mean in his closing statement that “we should be trying to mold our institutions around the inescapable limitations and variations of human ability”? Does he mean that the “limited” classes should be discouraged from aspiring to more complex achievements?

Since he refers to American egalitarianism as a “bias,” does he propose a logic which would reduce the voting weight of a “limited” class member to 3/5 of a person?

Since he admits that eugenics poses “gruesome possibilities,” he weakens his utilitarian position. Is he, too, perhaps affected by the “orthodoxies” which define a human being as worthy regardless of his biological evaluation? . . .

Simon D. Messing
Department of Anthropology
Southern Connecticut State College
New Haven, Connecticut

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To the Editor:

. . . It seems to me that it is not a belief in the “equality of human endowment” that we were taught, but the right to equal opportunity to learn. . . . That intelligence is inherited by the individual seems axiomatic. That it can be influenced in either direction, to some degree, by environment seems by this time, too, to be axiomatic. . . . The problem has always been how to reach the native abilities of various segments of the population.

Each child in the classroom is an individual. As such he is endowed with different strengths and different weaknesses. This challenges the teacher to reach each individual—individually.

The greatness of America has been the insistence on individual rights and individual freedom. Individualized education is the outcome of that insistence. Each person can then determine for himself his own capacity. . . .

Chana Abells
Holon, Israel

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To the Editor:

R. J. Herrnstein’s experiences since his publication of research results controverting the liberal bias . . . bring to mind a remarkable English publication, The Evolution of Man and Society, by Cyril D. Darlington, published in London in 1969. This work, too, contains passages, which, taken out of context, could lead to an accusation of racism like that against Mr. Herrnstein.

Such a charge, however, is belied by the general tenor of Darlington’s exhaustive treatment of the historical role of individual genetic differences, as well as by his conclusion. I quote from its final page: “. . . the creative individual is always a unique recombination [of genes] arising from outbreeding, arising indeed from the organized uncertainty of recombination on whose exploitation organic evolution depends. . . . [M]an’s future prospects are proportionate to the amount of genetic diversity he maintains among the interfertile members of his own species.” The author, a geneticist and an Oxford don, alludes in passing to the snobbery with which he as a scientist has had to contend within the British establishment. This is reminiscent of the liberal pseudo-defense of Herrnstein against radical outbursts.

As far as I have been able to ascertain, however, Darlington’s volume, which could ultimately turn out to be the outstanding contribution of the first post-Hiroshima generation of academicians, has never been reviewed in this country, let alone issued by an American publisher. The latter may possibly be excused on the grounds that the author’s dry wit and understatement perhaps are not suited to an American audience. But the lack of reviews, even in scholarly journals, cannot be so easily dismissed. It is part and parcel of the liberal prejudice against heterodox opinions. . . .

R. E. Steussy
Portland State University
Portland, Oregon

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To the Editor:

R. J. Herrnstein’s conclusions are simply unpopular with the general run of the American public; thus, it is a poor political move to agree with him. It is true that many parents are concerned about below-grade-level reading scores and low Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) results in their schools. I happen to teach in just such a community and the big problem here seems to revolve around finding an acceptable answer that keeps the community happy.

Obviously, the school administration could refer to Mr. Herrnstein and explain that achievement differences are sometimes the result of genetic differences. However, this line of argument just doesn’t go over at PTA meetings and school-board meetings—it’s terrible public relations. If the genetic argument were used, the cries of “elitist,” “snob,” etc. would most certainly be heard. . . . The schools, it. seems, are in the business of pleasing the public, not educating the children. So Mr. Herrnstein’s genetic explanations get nowhere, but unfortunately the question of individual differences remains unanswered.

Let us turn to the sociological point of view to find an acceptable answer. The traditional sociologists like Hollingshead, Warner, etc. emphasize “class.” The various social classes bring up their children differently and this enables the so-called higher classes to train their children better for school; this in turn leads to better grades, higher SAT scores, and better reading-level results. However, like Mr. Herrnstein’s views, this is not a politically viable line of reasoning. Its use of the heated term “social class” smacks of Marxism. School boards and school administrations won’t discuss test differences from the class point of view because, like the genetic argument, it is simply unpopular to do so.

Another explanation for achievement-test differences could be that the teachers are cheating the children by not covering the correct material and by not teaching properly. This is Hofstadter’s “paranoid style” converted to American public education—it is a politically sound argument because it plays on the anger of the public. It gives the hard-pressed taxpayer a scapegoat. . . . The move is on in Ossining to cover set materials so that no child will be cheated. Teachers will be held accountable for coverage by standardized testing or by other methods. This procedure gets around any discussion of genetics, class, environment, etc. and gives the public a popular answer to the question of individual differences.

If freedom of discussion is limited at Harvard and Princeton, just imagine what the situation is like in the local public schools.

William H. Crawford
Ossining High School
Ossining, New York

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R. J. Herrnstein writes:

I had hoped in my article to expose academic disingenuousness: for example, scholars capitalizing on the misbehavior of student radicals so as to defend egalitarian myths from data that would dispel them. But no exposé of mine would be as revealing as John Morrow’s letter, to one who knows the facts. His address suggests he is a biologist and his letter dissociates him from the radicals—he even calls the Students for a Democratic Society “campus troglodytes” whose behavior “casts doubt upon [their] sanity.” But then, turning his attention to me, he warns that the research on IQ is unsatisfactory, alluding vaguely to eminent fellow-biologists Cavalli-Sforza and Lewontin. Not only is the heritability of IQ questionable, he proclaims, but the very idea of any science of human population genetics is misguided, “now or in the foreseeable future,” since we cannot do the necessary experiments on human bleeding. To people who find human genetics threatening, this must come as good news indeed. And then, to conclude, he assures his readers that we can all forget about IQ’s heritability and get on with the pressing business of liberal egalitarianism—reforming society.

But the letter is actually vintage American Lysenkoism, and if you do not take my word for it, you should look at the giant (965-page), recent (1971) book by Cavalli-Sforza himself (with his collaborator, W. F. Bodmer). The book, The Genetics of Human Populations, is the definitive text for the very science that Mr. Morrow disposed of in his letter, and it is richly dense with just the sorts of conclusions that Mr. Morrow wants to shield you from—including prominently the estimation of the heritability of IQ. Say Cavalli-Sforza and Bodmer in a sweeping paragraph: “As discussed in Chapter 9, most estimates of the heritability of IQ are quite high, ranging from about 40-80 per cent . . . ,” and “Undoubtedly, substantial innate differences with respect to IQ exist within most human populations.” They then go on to note that the social classes differ in intellectual endowment, just as I do in my own analysis of the same data. Mr. Morrow does not want you to know that dozens upon dozens of studies of tens of thousands of people have built an immense case for some degree of heritability of IQ in contemporary society—as unshakable a case as I know of for any comparable conclusion in the social sciences. No one, not even David Cohen, Christopher Jencks, or Karl Deutsch (whom David Z. Robinson invokes in his letter) has produced any factual counter-evidence for the conclusion, and at least Cohen and Jencks frankly acknowledge it.

One way or another, Mr. Morrow disguises what is essentially a moral question as a factual one—doing a disservice thereby to both morality and scholarship. Joseph A. Zaslowsky, on the other hand, seems to accept the fact of inherited mental capacity, then labels it “pernicious.” Can a fact be pernicious? When he brands results of the study of human differences “pernicious doctrine,” he fails, it seems to me, to distinguish between dogma and data. While I, too, abhor doctrines I consider inhumane, I cannot persuade myself to suppress or ignore information because it makes trouble for liberal environmentalism. Knowledge about innate intellectual differences does not justify racism, fascism, totalitarianism, poverty, unemployment, genocide, or any of the other scare words one hears bandied about. What it does imply is that the promises of a classless society will, in practice, run into trouble—as they clearly. have. If intelligence varies innately, then it will do so even if the facts are unknown or hidden, and the variation would lead to the creation of social classes anyway.

Some people get alarmed by talk of inborn differences because they are unaccustomed to thinking statistically. They may not realize that even though the average child in the average upper-middle-class family has a higher IQ than the average child in a working-class family, the full range turns up at every social stratum. There is all the difference in the world between social classes based on individual attributes and a rigid caste system based on arbitrary rules of membership. The first arises in any democracy; the second is the antithesis of democracy. Whatever Erwin Adler had in mind when he asks for “some reference to the basic morality of testing,” I would say that mental testing—by revealing the differences within classes, even within families—is an instrument of liberation from prejudice and racism. That may explain why intelligence testing was as unpopular as it was in Nazi Germany, where its measurement of individual differences must have seemed un-volkisch and inimical to the lethal brand of egalitarianism that the Nazis preached.

To turn to more local matters, David Landau, lately of the Harvard Crimson, says I exaggerate his former newspaper’s attention to me. “A grand total of seven news articles,” he says, turned up in the Crimson from September 1971 to February 1, 1972. But as I wrote to Mr. Landau after he sent a copy of his letter to me, in my incomplete set of Crimsons I found, between September and February, 17 articles and editorials of various sorts. Then, from February to June, there were 13 more. Thirty articles plus about a dozen letters and miscellaneous ads is more attention than I can remember the Crimson’s paying a single subject, although it is true that the radicals continually cooked up new episodes, which the Crimson would then cover. But this collaboration between the SDS and the Crimson was what I had hoped to bring out. Apparently, I did.

Finally, a personal sidelight. Mr. Landau accuses my original article on IQ of blatant suppositiousness (whatever that is); Milton F. Shore finds me limited, minimally trained, nothing but an expert on pigeons; George Purvin accuses me of connivance with those who seek “a mask for privilege”; Simon D. Messing wonders if I would like to disenfranchise the poor; and David Z. Robinson believes that the desire to justify racism accounts for the attention my writings get. But they are really not talking about my scholarship or my educational background or my politics or my social or racial attitudes—about which they can know little or nothing. They are, rather, showing the anger one directs at apostasy—at my transgression against their egalitarian orthodoxy.

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Norman Podhoretz writes:

David Z. Robinson assures me that there is complete freedom of discussion on campus. I can assure him that as compared with the climate when I was an undergraduate at Columbia between 1946 and 1950 the atmosphere is uncongenial to free discussion. But I daresay only someone who dissents in any significant respect from the campus orthodoxies of the moment would be aware of how coercive and intimidating the situation is.

As to the matter of settled issues: in the first place, anti-Semitism is not a settled issue any longer in the intellectual community. Several classical anti-Semitic ideas—among them the idea of the Jew as exploiter and the idea of a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the culture—have surfaced again in the last few years and now have wider currency than at any time since the end of the Second World War. But my point is not whether there are or should be settled issues among intellectuals. My point is that an effort is being made to declare a certain cluster of issues settled, although by no stretch of the imagination can they be regarded as such. I think this effort should be resisted by all who believe in the value of free discussions; instead we continually see it defended and apologized for.

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