Police Presence, Protesters at Harvard Charles Murray Event

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/09/07/police-presence-protesters-at-harvard-charles-murray-event/

CAMBRIDGE — With the help of a massive police presence, controversial political scientist Charles Murray successfully accomplished at Harvard University what he was unable to do months ago at Middlebury College — deliver remarks without encountering violence.

Murray set foot on campus at Harvard on Wednesday night to deliver a lecture on his 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010, and to address how his research applies to present-day America under President Donald Trump. The talk, hosted by the Harvard College Open Campus Initiative, was closed to non-Harvard affiliates. A set of steel barricades surrounded the perimeter of the Harvard Mineralogical and Geological Museum, where Murray spoke.

Murray alluded to the heightened security ahead of Wednesday’s event on social media:

Protesters, however, made sure their voices were heard. Nicholas Whittaker, a junior, led a counter-rally outside the venue on behalf of the student undergraduate council’s Black Caucus. Whittaker said his organization “agrees with the idea of there being a principle of free speech” but added that “in this event there is no attempt to engage in the critical dialogue that’s implied by free speech — white supremacy, or racism, isn’t mentioned in the publicizing for the Murray event.”

“Since our point of view isn’t being represented, we decided to do it ourselves.”

Whittaker said that in addition to the counter-rally, his organization is hosting a separate panel discussion of its own featuring several faculty members “in which we’ll discuss white supremacy, academia, Charles Murray’s work and free speech.”

Yet when questioned by a New Boston Post reporter as to why his organization’s panel discussion did not include anyone speaking from Murray’s vantage point, Whittaker turned his back and walked away:

The bulk of the protesters’ ire was focused on Murray’s 1994 book The Bell Curve, in which he and a Harvard psychology professor sorted through various data in an attempt to determine how environmental factors and genetics affect human intelligence. The book has garnered a wealth of controversy. At Wednesday’s speaking engagement, protesters distributed a “fast facts about Charles Murray leaflet,” which pointed to Murray’s designation as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and alleged that Murray not only based his work on “research of 19th-20th century white nationalists and Nazi scientists” but also “argues that black and Latinx people, women, and the working class are intellectually, psychologically and morally inferior to white upper-class men.”

The leaflet promoted the aforementioned faculty panel counter-discussion, billed as “White Nationalism Unchecked:  Why Inviting Murray Was A Mistake.”

Murray has strongly opposed his inclusion on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of white nationalists, even going so far as to editing the organization’s entry on him.

Murray’s first wife is from Thailand, and he has biracial children.

Meanwhile, another set of protesters from the organization RefuseFascism.org also showed up to demonstrate against Murray’s appearance. Members of the group distributed copies of the organization’s newspaper.

“You have in your hands a powerful tool to understand the scale, the scope, and the fascist essence of the Trump/Pence regime — the horrific peril it presents to all of humanity and to the Earth itself,” an introductory paragraph reads.

The paper reminds readers about this coming November 4, the one-year anniversary of Trump’s election as president, a day that will purportedly feature mass protests across the country.

A member of the group who spoke to a New Boston Post reporter appeared annoyed after being questioned on Murray’s alleged ties to white supremacists:

Several students from Wellesley College also made appearances at the protest.

Student Vosha Thomas said she has never read any of Murray’s books.

“Knowing what I do know, I do not think I would want to,” she added.

Thomas said she felt let down that Harvard would host Murray — although the event was organized by a student-run group.

“Personally, living in this country as a person of color, I’m surprised but I’m not — I’m very indifferent about it,” Thomas said. “But at the same time, I guess I shouldn’t feel that surprised.

“I mean, look at who we have in the White House. People like Charles Murray have made it somewhat cool and O.K. to be a neo-Nazi, to be someone who is a white supremacist, to be someone who is outwardly discriminatory to marginalized people.”

Meanwhile, police kept watch outside of the venue where Murray spoke:

Murray later praised the handling of the event.