David W. Brown is to be commended for his forthright dissection of The Bell Curve ("Burying the Bell Curve," column, Feb. 22, 1995).
It is, as he writes, an "intentionally deceitful" work written by two men and touted by others who have sought to "advance racism as serious scholarship." That a host of scholars, journalists and others have defended it as expressing a point of view worthy of discussion offers a trenchant example of the evasion of moral responsibility in practice, and is a chilling measure of how suffused with all forms of bigotry American society is once again. Such a book could be given the measure of credence it has gained only in a climate of rising intolerance.
In fact, The Bell Curve is of a piece with such other yardsticks of this rising intolerance as California's Proposition 187, the stepped-up attacks against affirmative action and the attempt of the anti-abortion movement to use violent speech and action against the pro-choice movement.
Brown is willing to declare what many others still refuse to acknowledge: that the Murray-Herrnstein tract is simply the credo of white supremacy dressed up in raggedy pseudo-scientific garb. The book--and the reception it has received in so-called respectable circles--is a clear manifestation of the continuing power of racism and of the evil virus's continuing effort to overwhelm white America's psychic struggle to live up to its proclaimed allegiance to humanism and opportunity for all. Lee A. Daniels Fellow, W.E.B. DubBois Institute for Afro-American Research Preceptor, Expository Writing Program