Charles Murray’s Crime: Telling Liberals They Are Making Things Worse
Do you know the higher education version of the dog-ate-my-homework excuse? It is: “outside agitators.” We heard it from Berkeley at the beginning of February, and now we just got it from the president of Middlebury College, who has written that she was shocked, shocked that activism was taking place on her campus on the occasion of a visit by libertarian intellectual Charles Murray. But not to worry:
We believe that many of these protestors were outside agitators, but there are indications that Middlebury College students were involved as well.
So that’s all right.
The rest of us are waiting for the arrests, expulsions, suspensions, and general disregard for due process that apply when, e.g., a conservative student dares to publish a video rant by his class teacher.
On the other hand, there is nothing like flat-out liberal injustice to keep the Trump brigade in full fighting trim.
It is appropriate, of course, that the lefty social justice warriors at Middlebury College would want to shut up Charles Murray. His life work is a searing indictment of liberal welfare state policy. He is saying, in every sentence: Hello liberals, your grand plan isn’t working. In fact, you are making things worse.
I looked at my bookshelf and found four of Murray’s books immediately. Let’s quickly rehearse what they argue.
In Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 Murray argues that liberals were so confident that their Great Society programs would succeed that they instrumented them with social science research. But when the science settled out it showed that the programs didn’t work. The liberal response? Bupkis.
In The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life Murray worried that our current educational and cultural system was segregating people by intelligence, and this was favoring the intelligent against the not-so-intelligent. Murray got into trouble because he pointed out that African Americans tested low on IQ tests. You are not allowed to say this in America and so Charles Murray must be a racist. If what he was saying were true it would mean that liberals were making things worse for African Americans. QED: Murray is a racist liar.
Then Murray did something really racist. He wrote Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. If he was not allowed to write about blacks, then he would rewrite The Bell Curve for whites only. People of Color need not apply. In Coming Apart Murray argues that the top 25 percent of whites is doing fine, with great careers and merger marriages; the middle half of whites is doing only fair; and the bottom 30 percent, living in places like white-working-class Fishtown in Philadelphia, is in trouble: the men don’t work much and the women don’t marry much. Remember, this is just about white people. Nothing to do with People of Color.
Of course, there’s more. In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State speaks for itself. Murray proposes a curious mechanical idea, to give adult Americans a basic income of $10,000 per year instead of welfare. The idea is to attach money to useless young men. This would encourage young women to marry the fathers of their children, and then start playing “Why Don’t You Do Right” to hubby over the smartphone.
With By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission Murray gets radical. He proposes to mount a frontal attack on the administrative state and its regulations. All he needs is a billionaire to fund a foundation to hire lawyers and make life miserable for the middle-level bureaucrats that put out the regulations that have strangled the U.S. economy during the Obama years. These middle-level lifers want a quiet life. Murray’s Rottweiler lawyers will make that impossible.
Golly, that is five books already and I haven’t even mentioned Human Accomplishment which I also have floating around here somewhere.
You can see why Charles Murray must not be allowed to infect Middlebury College and pollute the special snowflakes that teach and study there. Why, a man that spends his life writing Wrongthink books like Losing Ground, The Bell Curve, Coming Apart, and the rest is just not who we are. And so the only thing to do is to bring in the outside agitators and then be shocked, shocked when the resulting demonstrations are only “mostly peaceful.”
I suppose that this is a good sign for conservatives. With their hysteria and their “mostly peaceful” protests liberals are unwittingly telling us they are out of ideas.
The problem is that if liberals won’t sit down and at least give a respectful hearing to a gentlemanly scholar like Charles Murray and his judgements on their policies then the only way to reverse the liberal failures will be through more robust methods of less gentlemanly folks.
Which is why we have President Trump.