Why is an influential atheist author giving a platform to scientific racism? In my latest for American Humanist Association, I show why Charles Murray, infamous for being a co-author on the widely debunked book “The Bell Curve,” finds a new audience in the age of Trump. Below is an excerpt:

In a familiar trope, Murray uses the example of Barack Obama to deflect racism. He sets up a scenario where Obama walks into an interview:

“You need a really smart guy and Barack Obama walks into the interview. Okay he’s Black. If you then make inferences about how smart he is based on his membership in an ethnic group you are going to be making a huge mistake.”

Later, Murray evokes Obama to argue that “affirmative action” has made it near impossible for employers to hire someone like the 44th President of the United States.

“What social policy is doing in an employer’s mind when it is a Black candidate walking into that office, is all sorts of things that are raising the cost of hiring that person for that employer. Raising the cost in terms of vulnerability to discrimination lawsuits.”

And yet Murray says his writing was motivated by a need to speak out against affirmative action.

“A lot of that is, how would I feel if I were a Black kid my age going into college and everybody thought I was an affirmative action kid? I would hate that. I would really hate it.”

Murray will never know, because White men’s achievements are not restricted by structural racism.

Murray displays what Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva calls “racism without racists.” White men like Murray are overly preoccupied with the belief that affirmative action is leading society to ruin, when in fact the biggest beneficiaries of this legislation have been White middle-class women—not racial minorities.

Read more on The Humanist.

[Image: drawing of a man drawing the bell curve on a blackboard. The title of the article is above the image, Ring a Bell? Charles Murray and the Resurgence of Scientific Racism.]

Dangerous Ignorance: Madonna Calls Obama a “Black Muslim”

By Zuleyka Zevallos

During a recent concert, Madonna lent her support to the re-election of USA President Obama and praised his support for gay rights. All highly commendable. The problem is that she reproduces the myth that Obama is a “Black Muslim.” Madonna’s heart seems in the right place; she is encouraging voting and, on the surface, “tolerance.” Unfortunately, her lack of awareness about the politics of race in America has led Madonna to inadvertently buy into the “birther” movement. Birther conspiracy theorists argue that Obama is hiding his true birthplace from the American public. Obama’s “foreign sounding” name (read: non-Anglo sounding) and the fact that his father was born in Nigeria helped fuel the the idea that Obama was born overseas and that he is Muslim. Birthers demanded the President show his birth certificate, despite the fact that he was born in the American state of Hawaii. By claiming him to be a foreigner and a Muslim, birthers hoped to remove Obama from office. By inadvertently perpetuating an element of this discourse, Madonna displays an alarming disconnect with American politics. My argument is about the deep seated power of racism – which creeps into every day consciousness as taken-for-granted “facts.”

Continue reading Dangerous Ignorance: Madonna Calls Obama a “Black Muslim”