The University of Illinois has canceled a talk by Nobel Laureate James Watson because some faculty members think his theories are racist…
James Watson, who co-discovered DNA, has been uninvited by the University of Illinois after faculty accused Watson of racism. Watson said something in 2007 that he would apparently regret for the rest of his life.
James Watson, famous for his research on DNA and molecular biology, insinuated that people from the continent of Africa might not have the same IQ as people from the rest of the world. Watson said his outlook on the continent of Africa was “gloomy,” because policies implemented there were a one-size-fits-all strategy based on the theory that “their intelligence is the same as ours.” Watson has faced so much criticism that he’s had to sell his Nobel prize claiming that nobody wants to admit he exists anymore. Ten years later, Watson isn’t allowed to speak at the University of Illinois.
Whether or not Watson is (or was) a racist is neither here nor there. What is interesting is how willing Universities are to cancel speakers at the first sign of controversy. Although Ann Coulter isn’t a molecular biologist, she’s arguably less controversial a person than James Watson. Ann Coulter isn’t immune to University suppression either though as UC Berkeley caved to pressure and canceled her speech. Universities seem like they’ll cancel anything if the words racist or homophobe are aimlessly lobbed around enough. One University even canceled class after students allegedly found a hate note. Whether it’s a molecular biologist with a controversial past or a conservative pundit students don’t agree with, Universities are canceling events all over at the first sign of upset students and faculty.
Watson has since apologized and tried to clarify his statement, according to The Chicago Tribune…
Watson apologized, saying he did not mean to characterize Africans as genetically inferior but that he was referring to geographically separated populations evolving differently.
Faculty considered the fact that the comments were in the past and that Watson has since apologized but that wasn’t enough to allow Watson to speak at U. of I. about his Cancer research according to Gene Robinson, Director of the Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology:
“We tried to consider this very carefully in going forward, and different perspectives on the possibilities of him giving a science-based lecture,” he said. “With respect to his past, the email that I sent out stated very clearly that we didn’t condone any of his past comments, racist comments and sexist comments. And we noted that he had apologized and thought about all those very carefully.”
Listen to MILO talk about why Lyndon B. Johnson was an actual racist: