The Jason Richwine Affair

This past Monday, The Heritage Foundation (the Beltway's premier "conservative" think-tank) released a major study of the economic effects of mass immigration, addressing the costs of social services, welfare benefits, and public education for millions of new Hispanic citizens. Whatever you might think of Heritage—for me, it's a perfect example of the failures of "Conservative, Inc."—it certainly has clout within the Beltway Right; and the report damages the credibility of the idea that the addition of millions of Hispanics to the population would save the U.S. economy.

Robert Rector, an experienced hand in such matters, was the lead researcher; he was assisted by Jason Richwine, a young scholar who joined the think-tank in 2010. Richwine excels at quantitative analysis; and, as I discovered in 2008 when I attended an AEI panel on which he spoke, he goes where "conservatives" fear to tred: that is, he integrates race differences in intelligence into his discussions of immigration and social policy. (Richwine's dissertation on IQ and immigration can be read here.)

Within days of the publication of the study, Richwine was attacked for "racism" (or, in Steve Sailer's parlance, for "not being oblivious to the obvious"). The witchhunt went as far as linking Richwine to your humble servant. Rachel Maddow then got in the act, giving The National Policy invaluable screen time.

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The launch of AlternativeRight.com in 2010 had roughly coincided with Ron Unz's "His-panic" cover story in The American Conservative. Richwine was a natural choice to deconstruct the piece, and I commissioned an article from him (which is available at the AltRight-Archive).

The article appeared early on in AltRight's history, and the webzine has always been a forum—where a variety of nationalist, traditionalists, and heretical voices are sounded. Whether or not Richwine agrees with the general thrust of AltRight is a question I can't answer. (To be honest, I don't concur with everything that's been posted at AltRight since I ceased editing it in 2012.)

Whatever the case, Richwine is a heretic in the Beltway, where race and heritability, perhaps the two most consequential factors in any policy or social analysis, are unmentionable.

After the news broke of thought-criminality amongst the ranks, the Heritage Foundation distanced itself from Richwine, though not from the study. A few right-wing commentators, however, stuck up for Jason, notably Rush LimbaughSteve Sailer and Michele Malkin chimed in, observing that Richwine's putatively nefarious dissertation was approved by three venerable experts at no less an institution than Harvard.

But such appeals to authority will fall on deaf ears (as Sailer knows well). In 2007, James Watson voiced an offhand, Richwinean opinion, claiming he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa [because] all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—whereas all the testing says not really."

Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, is one of the most celebrated scientist of the 20th century, indeed, of all time. Yet, he was forced, Galileo-like, to recant. (He ultimately resigned his chancellorship at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.)

If James Watson can't get away with common sense about race and heritability, then Jason Richwine certainly won't.

And I have no doubt that the Heritage study will be tainted, even though Richwine's opinions on IQ don't affect its findings. The idea that a researcher was thinking unthinkable thoughts while writing the report is enough for many millions (on both Right and Left) to dismiss it. The reason is that universal human equality is no mere political opinion, or even an ideology--it a religious doctrine, a political theology, that undergirds the West's postmodern societies: "All Men Are Created Equal" is something akin to the Divine Right of Kings. In Carl Schmitt's words, "All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts."

Our take-away from this incident is that nationalists must fund institutions, such as NPI, that can employ talented researchers like Richwine. The "conservative movement" has never been--nor will it ever be--a home for our ideas and our people.

As for the Rector/Richwine study itself, I have little doubt that the analysis is sound—that is, that the majority of Hispanics who would become citizens through an amnesty (or continued legal immigration) will never become productive individuals.

That said, I'm generally skeptical of economic and policy projections for two important reasons: first, they are generally conceived linearly, whereas history and economics develop parabolically; secondly, mere numbers give us only a limited grasp of the real impact on society of mass migration.

To understand what I mean, imagine that a new technological breakthrough were to occur—something on the level of a cheap alternative to fossil fuels or an advancement in productivity that rivals the Internet and World Wide Web. This invention or discovery could produce such gains that the U.S. could easily pay for Medicare, Social Security, and the welfare of millions of Hispanics.

We'd all be rich and secure . . . but would we want to live in such a society—a society with a Mestizo majority, whose innate values and sensibilities (let's put aside IQ) would inform the culture, popular and high art, social manners and customs, and more? Mexico City is Mexico City, even if it were to have the per-capita GDP of Silicon Valley. I don't want to live there.

The converse is also true. I'd much rather live in an impoverished backwater where my friends and neighbors would be White than in a super-rich metropolis of aliens. Shanghai is a fascinating place to visit; but I could never be at home there.

Immigration isn't all about money.