A recent op-ed in The New York Times entitled “The Secret of Jewish Genius” claiming that Ashkenazi Jews have superior intelligence to other groups has been widely attacked on social media and the author has been accused of encouraging racism and eugenics.
Columnist Bret Stephens, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, cited a quote from the paper: “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence.”
“Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average I.Q. of any ethnic group for which there are reliable data. During the 20th century, they made up about 3 percent of the U.S. population but won 27 percent of the U.S. Nobel science prizes and 25 percent of the ACM Turing awards. They account for more than half of world chess champions.”
The quote is taken from a 2005 paper by researchers at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Utah, Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending. Harpending is a proponent of far-right ideology and racial superiority and has been accused of promoting eugenics, the Nazi practice of “improving” a population by weeding out those with “weak” genes.
A day later, the reference to the 2005 paper was removed from the article and an editor’s note said: “After publication, Mr. Stephens and his editors learned that one of the paper’s authors, who died in 2016, promoted racist views. Mr. Stephens was not endorsing the study or its authors’ views, but it was a mistake to cite it uncritically. The effect was to leave an impression with many readers that Mr. Stephens was arguing that Jews are genetically superior. That was not his intent… We have removed reference to the study from the column.”
In his column, Stephens asked: “How is it that a people who never amounted even to one-third of 1 percent of the world’s population contributed so seminally to so many of its most pathbreaking ideas and innovations?” He theorized that although Jews may have a slight advantage in intelligence over other populations, their success is a result of “thinking different” – a quality that stems from the Jews’ heightened awareness due to their “repeated exile” that almost all things are ephemeral but knowledge is forever.
The op-ed isn’t the first controversial column for Stephens, a conservative columnist for the largely liberal New York Times readership. In the past, Stephens was slammed for saying that there are “some sluggish elements” in the Black Lives Matter movement and another op-ed about “the disease of the Arab mind.”
His first column for the NYT in 2017, which expressed skepticism about the science behind climate change was so explosive that NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. wrote a personal appeal to readers who canceled their subscriptions, which explained the paper’s decision to hire Stephens.
In his letter, Sulzberger wrote that although Stephens is a conservative writer, he “has written strongly against Trump” and regarding his views on climate change, the paper believes that with “so many people talking past each other about how best to address climate change, different points of view challenges our assumptions and benefits our readers.”
I really am not thrilled to be back tweeting but I have to say that if white Jews don’t get it together to organize a highly public demand for the NYT to fire Bret Stephens in light of his white Ashkenazi Jewish supremacist editorial, y’all are complicit. This is unacceptable.
— 🙅🏽♀️ Chanda Prescod-Weinstein 🙅🏽♀️ (@IBJIYONGI) December 28, 2019
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Jews are normal people. Some are smart, some are dumb, and most are somewhere in between. You should be suspicious of anyone who thinks Jews are special – that’s a big part of antisemitic thinking. Also, Bret Stephens is a schmendrick. https://t.co/QNhBT03K3k
— Moshik Temkin (@moshik_temkin) December 28, 2019
— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) December 28, 2019