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Archive for January 16th, 2013

Charles Murray In The News

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 16, 2013

Looks like the people behind the S.H.A.M.E. Project have discovered Charles Murray:

In high school, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Charles Murray burned a cross on a hill in his Iowa town, according to a New York Times profile of Murray. Murray later claimed he had no idea that his cross-burning had any racial significance.

Ah, yes. As Steve Perry reported for City Pages many years ago (their link no longer works, so I’m linking to my cite of the pertinent passage therein):

Near the end of his high school days in Newton, Iowa, Murray and some of his pals went out one night and burned a cross next door to the police station. To my knowledge, the reams of coverage accorded Murray for his pseudo-scientific apologia on behalf of racism have produced only two mentions of this incident. One was in a 1994 New York Times Magazine profile, the other a bit later on the Donahue show. In both instances Murray protested that he had no idea as to the racial significance of cross-burning. There were only two black families in Newton in those days, an old school chum of his added in the Times piece. Well. As it happens, I grew up just 30 miles away from Murray’s central Iowa hometown, in an even smaller farming town with no black families at all. But somehow I managed to learn what cross-burning meant by the time I finished high school, and I expect Murray did too.

Speaking of quotes, I do have a bit of a problem with the S.H.A.M.E. report on Murray. There is at least one instance of a deceptively-edited quote — namely, the one they attribute to former President Bill Clinton where he’s talking about Charles Murray. Here’s how they present it:

“He did the country a great service. I mean, he and I have often disagreed, but I think his analysis is essentially right. … There’s no question that it would work,” Clinton said in interview with NBC News in 1993.

But if you look for the source of the quote, you find this PDF, wherein it is recorded that Clinton followed up “I think his analysis is essentially right” with “Now, whether his prescription is right, I question…” and “There’s no question that it would work” with “But the question is… is it morally right?” The context — which S.H.A.M.E leaves out — makes it clear that the president didn’t think it was morally right at all, or the right prescription. Yet S.H.A.M.E, unjustly in my view, claims him as an alleged “fan” of Murray’s.

It’s a pity that the Shamers chose to do something so misleading, as it’s the sort of thing that might wind up causing observers to question the more firmly-footed assertions in their piece.

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