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America’s Well-Paid Architect of White Supremacy

Not every white supremacist will show up at the town square waving a noose and spitting, “White Power!” Some wear a tie, write books in a comfortable office, and receive annual funding for their research from wealthy foundations. This is the case for Charles Murray, 77-years-old, considered a pseudo-social scientist and the godfather of white supremacy. He wrote The Bell Curve in 1994 which claimed that upper-class white men are genetically superior and therefore more successful in America than others. It provided the blueprint for the modern-day white supremacy movement, creating dangerous policies for poor populations and communities of color, including many of the executive orders coming out of the current White House.

Murray has published racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics for decades, promoting stomach-turning policies to address race and class in America. Rather than being banished to the moral fringes where he belongs, one organization opened its arms wide to embrace him – the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With Bradley’s wind in his sails and their extensive financial backing, Murray has been allowed to spew his hate and division with an even bigger megaphone.

The Bradley Foundation has gifted Murray over a million dollars across his career, supporting his fellowships at both the Manhattan Institute and American Enterprise Institute. Most recently, they gave Murray a $250,000 Bradley Prize to, in their words, “recognize distinguished conservatives that we feel have made outstanding achievements that are consistent with our mission.”

Here are some of the noxious “achievements” that Murray has brought to social science:

1. Poor families have low IQs and respond to government assistance by over-breeding.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, who have classified Murray as an extremist/white nationalist says this about him: “In Murray’s world, wealth and social power naturally accrue towards a “cognitive elite” made up of high-IQ individuals (who are overwhelmingly white, male, and from well-to-do families), while those on the lower end of the eponymous bell curve form an “underclass” whose misfortunes stem from their low intelligence.” In The Bell Curve, Murray characterized government assistance, or welfare, as encouraging low IQ women to have more babies, and urged that “the extensive network of cash and services for low-income women who have babies, be ended.”

2. Immigrants from Black and Latin countries are less intelligent and make America dumber.

Also in The Bell Curve, while Murray admits earlier waves of immigration to our country may have been useful, he insists that politicians must discuss the intelligence of current immigrants. To quote Murray, “Latin and Black immigrants are, at least, in the short run, putting some downward pressure on the distribution of intelligence.”

3. Affirmative action in college admissions sets up Black and Latinx students for failure.

Murray has worked actively against helping underserved communities through targeted social programs like affirmative action. In fact, he said it’s the belief that racism and sexism have had negative effects is what has caused harm. Journalist Matthew Yglesias wrote this about Murray’s stance, “Affirmative action policies in college admissions, he argues, actually hurt Black and Latino students by creating a ‘mismatch’ between their abilities and those of their white and Asian peers, which leads to elevated dropout rates.”

Echoes of Murray’s bigoted positions can be heard in many of the most regressive policy proposals of the last years. Hoping to gut government assistance to poor families, Congressional Republicans, the Trump Administration and right-wing organizations have been trying to roll back Medicaid and reduce coverage of the Affordable Care Act. Trying to slow down or stop immigrants from Black and Latinx countries, Trump infamously said there are too many arrivals coming from “shithole” countries, not to mention his obsession with a wall to prevent the arrival of “cartels and terrorists” from Mexico. Meanwhile, rather than fostering programs that address policy-driven generational inequity for communities of color, federal departments are instead loosening enforcement of fair housing policies, civil rights enforcement generally, and racial inequities in policing.

The Bradley Foundation, with its $850,000,000 war chest, has not focused exclusively on doing damage to our country with Charles Murray and his ‘whites first’ narrative. Bradley also gave over $40 million in 2019 to groups that suppress voting access (including recruiting ex-military and police to intimidatingly “patrol” polling sites), deny climate change, and attack organized labor. Two of those groups are right here in the Pacific Northwest. The rabidly anti-worker “Freedom” Foundation received $650,000 from Bradley in 2019 for its failing war against labor unions and progress. The Washington Policy Center, a faux right-wing think tank based in Seattle, lists the Bradley Foundation on their donor “President’s Council” for a gift of over $100,000.

White supremacy is inextricably woven throughout the movement to take power away from working families. Fundamentally, the labor movement is focused on uniting workers to fight, with one voice, for better wages, better working conditions, and stronger communities for all – the greatest threat to the rich.

As Dr. King famously said: “[African American’s] needs are identical with Labor’s needs – decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.” On anti-union groups supporting anti-union laws like so-called ‘right-to-work’, he said: “Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer, and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

In 2020, the hate coming from the White House, anti-union groups, and their wealthy benefactors is meant to cause division among working people in an effort to prevent unionization, higher wages, more secure retirements, and more funding for education, so the richest Americans can wield their power unchecked.

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