Jason Richwine might have written that "No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites," but he is not some kind of bigot, he says in his first interview since cutting ties with the Heritage Foundation. "The idea that I am some sort of foaming-at-the-mouth extremist never even crossed my mind," Richwine told The Washington Examiner's Byron York. "The accusation of racism is one of the worst things that anyone can call you in public life." Richwine and Heritage parted ways in the wake of the controversy over his past writings on the relationship between race and IQ. Richwine was a co-author of a Heritage report that argued that reforming immigration laws would be costly to the country.
Richwine says his passion for outlining the case for racial inferiority is rooted in his love of data not racism. At a 2008 panel, Richwine ranked races by IQ: "Decades of psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks." Now, he tells York, he's not sorry for those comments. "I don't apologize for any of the things that I said," he says. But he does wish he'd put an asterisk on the entire sentence so it doesn't sound like he's endorsing the idea that some ethnic groups are just biologically destined to be less intelligent than others. He would have noted that "there is a nuance that goes along with that: the extent to which IQ scores actually reflect intelligence, the fact that it reflects averages and there is a lot of overlap in any population, and that IQ scores say absolutely nothing about the causes of the differences -- environmental, genetic, or some combination of those things.
Richwine's argument that he is not a racist because he does not think of himself as a racist is not very persuasive, although it is common. But even more problematic is that Richwine also admits to York that he's not very good at spotting racism. In 2010, for example, he wrote for two articles for the white nationalist site Alternative Right. One of his articles made the argument that since "U.S.-born Hispanics are much more likely to be incarcerated than foreign-born Hispanics" that "implies that Hispanic crime will become more of a problem as time goes on, not less." That fits well with the editorial agenda founder Richard B. Spencer, a former editor of The American Conservative, who has a history of saying things like, "There are races who, on average, are going to be superior." People like blogger E.D. Kain have dubbed the site "ugly white nationalism." Richwine said he didn't think anything was problematic, telling York, "I thought it would be like a paleo-conservative website. I had seen that [former National Review writer] John Derbyshire had also published something there." Derbyshire was left The National Review because he wrote an essay about how he tells his kids to avoid groups of black people but to have one black friend to inoculate against charges of racism.
That was in 2012 — and Derbyshire had been writing racist things for years. As I argued at the time, he "effectively demonstrates, year after year, exactly how racist you can be and still get published by people who consider themselves intellectuals." That line has since moved, which Richwine apparently noticed too late.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.