Watson retires

James Watson has retired from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, where he has been the leading figure since 1968.

Looking again at Watson’s comments to the Times of London that landed him in hot water last week, I must say that his remark, that “people who have to deal with black employees find this [i.e. that that races are of equal intelligence] is not true,” is precisely the kind of sloppy, insulting comment about an entire group which a thoughtful person seriously anchored in the subject would not have made.

Watson should have retracted and apologized for the unsustainable parts of his comment, while standing firmly by the facts of race differences in IQ. Then, if he had still been fired, he would have been fired over a matter of truth and principle. Instead, he compounded the problem that he had created in his careless interview by issuing an equally careless apology that was both overly remorseful and weirdly ambiguous (namely his statement that “Africa” is not genetically inferior). Then, notwithstanding his cowardly retraction, he lost his job anyway, thus following in the dishonorable footsteps of Lawrence Summers.

Like ancient Egypt being fertilized by the annual flood of the Nile, liberalism is periodically enriched by some prominent person who shoots his mouth off expressing some extravagantly anti-liberal idea which he is unprepared to defend, and which he ignominiously renounces as soon as he comes under attack, thus re-empowering the liberal orthodoxy.

- end of initial entry -

Jeremy G. writes:

Watson’s off-hand comment about blacks in the workplace was somewhat crude (although it was still entirely true), but that comment did not ignite the controversy. The notion he aired that the races are not equal in their capacity for intelligence is what killed his career. I haven’t read any of his critics stating that they were okay with the rest of what he said, but that his comment on blacks at work was just over the top.

Watson should not have apologized for any of his comments because as soon as he did, the apology was twisted by the media into a complete retraction, which wasn’t true, and he was made to look like a complete fool. When going up against the left, one must do as Ann Coulter does and never ever apologize to the left. Coulter has made several comments that arguably deserved apology, but she didn’t apologize and she is still as popular as ever infuriating the left. Watson, Summers, and the Pope have all been defanged. If Coulter ever apologized, she would be gone too.

LA replies:

Interesting point. I was reacting to reading that part of his original statement, and I thought it was offensive and untrue. It was as though he was saying, “We all know that all blacks are mentally incompetent.” That is untrue and insulting not the right way to address this issue.

You’re probably right about “apologizing” per se. But Ann Coulter would be the last person I would make my model, so to speak. I would clarify or restate a statement that I could not stand behind, while always re-affirming the core of what I had said. That isn’t the same as saying “I apologize.” But when Watson spoke along the lines of, “I can’t imagine how I could have said such a thing, was that me?”, he discredited and canceled himself. From that point on, his attempts to discuss the race IQ issue again in more cautious terms could not help him recover.

Jeremy replies:

I completely agree. His apology was not made to correct this or that word or phrase, it was made to destroy himself to a great enough extent that the left would no longer find him threatening.

LA replies:

Well said.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 25, 2007 01:02 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):