When Will Intercollegiate Studies Institute Disassociate Itself From Notorious Racist Russell Kirk?
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Last year, the Establishment Right Intercollegiate Studies Institute just did what even the Leftist universities who employed me never could—they kicked me out of their organization. While I was a professor at Elizabethtown College, the Provost just told me she would be delighted if I left. By contrast, the Senior Vice President of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Mark Henrie, [Email him] went beyond hints. He directly told me that ISI wished to be rid of me, despite my thirty years of involvement with the organization. He even told me that they would not publish an article they commissioned and would deny me a kill fee. I suppose I should be grateful they will not pulp the remaining copies of my autobiography Encounters. (Buy through Amazon and direct a commission to VDARE.com at cost to you!)

I learned that my offense was that I had friends who “believe there are IQ disparities” among individuals and even between ethnic groups—specifically, my fellow-members of the H.L. Mencken Club. Henrie did claim he told my critics within ISI that these “friends” have beliefs no different than those Charles Murray addressed in The Bell Curve. But this failed to save me, even though neoconservative organizations like AEI have never expelled Murray.

Why then does ISI feel compelled to sever our professional relationship? Probably this reflects the changing purpose of ISI. The organization has expanded so rapidly that it needs an ever-increasing number of donors. It also has to make its ideological stance fit with the orthodoxies of Conservatism Inc.

Today, ISI’s publications, like the student-oriented Campus, are full of tributes to Martin Luther King and the ideals of global democracy and diversity. ISI’s flagship journal Modern Age, set up by Russell Kirk in 1956, now abounds in essays by Straussians praising other Straussians for their democratic values.

For years, it published heretics of the Right such as Sam Francis,M.E. Bradford, Clyde Wilson, Thomas Molnar, and myself. Under its two longtime editors, David Collier and George Panichas, Modern Age mingled its usual fare about “cultural conservatism” with daring critical work. Up until quite recently, constitutional scholar George Carey was allowed to blast away at the Bush-McCain project of bringing modern American democracy to the entire globe.

Since George conveniently died last year, ISI didn’t have to expel him. But Modern Age’s masthead has been systematically pruned—presaged by its cowardly removal of Sam Francis after Dinesh D’Souza’s smearing got Francis fired from the Washington Times.

My work had been neither cited nor reviewed in ISI publications for years. Although I had published in Modern Age for several decades, none of my essays was included in anthologies of “important” ISI contributions that the institute periodically brought out. A couple of years ago, ISI went so far as to cease publishing its longtime publication on political theory, Political Science Reviewer, when the next issue featured an extended symposium on my work as an interpreter of the conservative movement. None of the participants bought the official story that ISI had run out of money for the project.

But why bother to kick me out formally given that ISI had already worked hard to cut relations with me?

The answer: the burgeoning, but increasingly Politically Incorrect, debate over race and intelligence. I found that the same guilt by association charge had been used to justify my excommunication was made against two close friends and members of the H.L. Mencken Club. Last year, we had asked one of our members, Byron Roth, to speak about dysgenics. Because my friends went—despite, in one case, a warning from ISI official—they were also dropped by ISI.

I believe ISI is following the disgraceful precedent set at Heritage when it fired Jason Richwine for using IQ data in his dissertation at Harvard.

Of course, ISI has a record of cowardice on the issue—not just disappearing Sam Francis’ contributions, but also purging from its board in 2006 long-time associate Bill Regnery, for what he has described as his “delving into group differences and cognitive heritability.“ But it now seems to me that Conservatism Inc. has resolved, not merely to suppress any findings that point in a non-egalitarian direction by punishing those who report them, but also to punish those acquainted with these thought criminals, in a classic example of what the Left would call (if it did not approve) “guilt by association.”

But, in fairness, I’ll let one of ISI’s leaders speak for himself. Below is my subsequent correspondence with President Christopher Long of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute:

Dear President Long, [Email him]

Would you be kind enough to respond to these questions, which I may incorporate into a book on changing conservative foundations I’ve been commissioned to prepare?

  1. Is it the position of ISI that there are no significant IQ differences among human beings? On what scientific evidence do you base this assumption, if this is indeed your institutional stance?
  2. Why do you find it necessary to dissociate your institute explicitly from those who believe in hereditarianism as the key to understanding human intelligence?
  3. I’ve recently been told by one of your officers that believing in critical cognitive differences among individuals and groups is incompatible with Christian values? Why is this so?
  4. Why is it less incompatible with religious values to give awards to advocates of gay marriage than to allow those who believe in the importance of IQ differences to be associated with your institute?

Please note these questions are not motivated by my recent unhappy experiences with ISI. I am an elderly research scholar engaged in a research project. Incidentally, I don’t consider your taboos (if that is what they are) to be conspicuously different from those that prevail in other “conservative” foundations.

Respectfully yours,

Paul Gottfried

Long’s response:


Thank you for writing to me personally and privately. [PG note: In fact, I specifically said my questions were for possible publication]. I appreciate and understand your desire for clarification.

Questions of statistical analysis and scientific research are removed from the Institute's mission and purpose, which is to educate college students on the free enterprise system, America's founding principles and the Western tradition.  Therefore, as an institution we take no positions on such controversies.

We remain advocates of academic freedom, and our highest duty as stewards of a sixty-years old institution is to ensure its ability to operate effectively on American college campuses. If individuals choose to endorse publicly and academically controversial positions, we are under no obligation to jeopardize ISI's reputation and viability by highlighting current or past associations with such individuals.  The only benefit of such a stance would seem to accrue solely to the enemies of ordered liberty.

If there is courage in taking a position on a controversial topic, that virtue is foregone if one insists on dragging unwilling participants into the debate.  I am certain that any decision by my colleagues regarding the matters of which you write was based on what they perceived to be the most properly prudential action in light of the circumstances.

Thank you for your understanding that our duty is to protect as we see best fit the institution that we are temporarily charged with stewarding.  Whether or not you and others agree with our decisions, I hope you will understand that they are based purely on prudence with an eye toward protecting and furthering ISI's mission.

This letter is a masterpiece of obfuscation but contains one useful revelation. It was not Christopher Long, but “his colleagues” who made the decision to oust me from his organization.

As for Long himself, he’s avoiding the main issues. ISI would not cut off someone who wrote something about the First Law of Thermodynamics – why then is ISI cutting off contact with those who believe in something almost as axiomatic about human intelligence? Does President Long deny that there are hereditary cognitive differences among people?

And even if he chooses for “prudential” reasons not to deal with the issue, why is ISI punishing those who merely associate with others who address these important scientific questions in an independent venue?

Why does he empower “colleagues” to humiliate a longtime associate because his friends may believe Politically Incorrect but obviously true things?

How much longer can the functionaries of Conservatism, Inc. throw their comrades to Leftist bullies before they are universally seen as gutless fools?

If there’s one thing recent history has shown us, it’s that even cringing subservience will not call off the Leftist dogs.

More importantly, how much longer can a supposedly intellectual conservative movement sustain itself if it takes for its foundation willful denial of the truth?

If ISI is imposing this litmus test, it should follow it to its logical conclusion. From what I gather from his longtime assistant Boyd Cathy, even Modern Age’s founder Russell Kirk expressed approving views about Arthur Jensen and never flinched from discussing ethnic peculiarities.

ISI should purge Kirk from the masthead as well!

After all, Washington And Lee has just removed Confederate battle flags from the chapel containing Robert E. Lee’s tomb!

Better to be honest about ISI’s shameful surrender to Political Correctness then to trade on the accomplishments of those whose views ISI is no longer willing to defend.

Paul Gottfried [ email him ] recently retired as Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, PA. He is the author of After Liberalism, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt and The Strange Death of Marxism His most recent book is Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America.


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