ST EDMUND’S College, Cambridge, has terminated Dr Noah Carl’s post after academics and students called for his appointment to the Toby Jackman Newton Trust research fellowship to be investigated.
More than 1,000 signed an open letter accusing Dr Carl of producing ‘racist pseudoscience’.
Dr Carl, a sociologist, became a controversial figure after he spoke at the London Conference on Intelligence, where eugenics was allegedly debated, and published a paper arguing stereotypes about the criminality of certain immigrant groups in the UK are ‘reasonably accurate’.
I have studied this case in detail. Let me explain the process. The statement from St Edmund’s is here.
Following Dr Carl’s arrival in college, matters emerged about some of his activities and connections linking him to far-Right extremists and in November last year the student body, the Combination Room, questioned how he had come to be appointed by the College.
St Edmund’s convened two formal investigations into the complaints. One was led by Sir Patrick Elias, a retired Court of Appeal Judge. This external review concerned the recruitment process, to address concerns expressed in the complaint about the way in which the appointment of the research fellow had been handled by the College.
The other investigation was led by Life Fellow Professor Michael Herrtage, who chaired a Special Investigation Panel to review the complaints about certain of Dr Carl’s research activities and connections.
The recruitment process was cleared.
The second investigation held, however, held that Dr Carl should go. The complaints related to the activities and connections of Dr Carl that had come to the College’s attention after his appointment. The panel substantially upheld these complaints.
The critical finding is here: The panel found that Dr Carl had put a body of work into the public domain that did not comply with established criteria for research ethics and integrity. In any event, it considered that the poor scholarship of this problematic body of Dr Carl’s work, among other things, meant that it fell outside any protection that might otherwise be claimed for academic freedom of speech.
Furthermore, the panel found that, in the course of pursuing this problematic work, Dr Carl had collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views. There was a serious risk that Dr Carl’s appointment could lead, directly or indirectly, to the college being used as a platform to promote views that could incite racial or religious hatred, and bring the college into disrepute.
In sum, there are three reasons why Dr Carl was fired:
1) A mix, it seems, that his work ‘fell outside established criteria for research ethics and integrity’ and that in any event poor scholarship could not save him on freedom of academic speech grounds;
2) That he collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views; this, it seems from news reports, included his attending a ‘secret’ lecture on eugenics and intelligence;
3) That directly or indirectly, his work could lead the college being used as a platform to promote views that could incite racial or religious hatred, and bring the college into disrepute.
Let’s analyse this. I can say nothing about the first reason. I cannot make a judgment on his scholarship although ‘criteria for research ethics and integrity’ seems very broad.
On the second ground, collaboration with a number of individuals known to hold extremist views is also very vague. These days anyone can hold extremist views according to the person defining it. Other than attendees at this dastardly London Conference on Intelligence, ‘Richard Lynn, a psychologist whose belief in racial differences in intelligence has seen him accused of promoting “scientific racism” and Gerhard Meisenberg, editor of the journal Mankind Quarterly, which has been described by some as a “white supremacist” publication’, it is not known who the other extremists were.
The third point I find very troubling, namely that Dr Carl’s work could ‘directly or indirectly lead to the college being used as a platform to promote views that could incite racial or religious hatred, and bring the college into disrepute.’
This is saying that his work could be used by others either directly or indirectly to incite racial and religious hatred. The problem with this is that no one can control how others use your work. Lenin was no doubt inspired by Das Kapital to instigate a communist system that killed millions – are we now going to ban Das Kapital?
I have been watching this cultural revolution that Mark Steyn spoke about with increasing dread. By cultural revolution I mean: the removal of many historical figures physically in the form of toppling of statues, or the attempted distortion of their record and reputation in the public eye such as Churchill on accusations that they were racists. Remember, whoever controls the past controls the future, and this is the Left’s attempt to control the past. They want to erase it and/or rewrite it.
Then there is the shutting down of debate on campus by calling speech ‘violence’, and the removal of academics from positions in the academy and elsewhere such as Dr Carl and Sir Roger Scruton.
The charges are one of the following: in the past the person said/wrote/sang something that does not accord to current standards. This is the retroactive imposition of a punishment which has always been recognised as fundamentally unfair in the common law because no one can know what standards in the future will be and therefore they cannot choose to avoid committing acts in 1919 that are wrong in 2019.
Second, guilt by association. This is the new favourite of the Left. You see this when you see the spider charts, and especially when you see commentators use the bogeyman Steve Bannon to smear politicians. Everyone on the Right, it seems, is connected to ‘well-known racist’ Steve Bannon and we are to believe that dear Steve (who was once told by Trump to take a shower) is some kind of puppet-master. Steve Bannon is not a puppet-master, I doubt if he is a racist, but the narrative is ‘six degrees of Steve Bannon’. If you can pin your man to Bannon you can shout fascist, fascist, Nazi and fascist all day long. (See David Lammy’s hysterical performance on Marr a few weeks ago).
Traditionally in the western legal system guilt by association has been rejected as fundamentally unfair. It treats people as groups not as individuals, but people are responsible for their own actions not those of anyone else. It is in sum an unfair smear campaign.
The final charge is that you or others will incite racial or religious violence, a term that has been hugely expanded. Do we have a responsibility to use language carefully? Of course. However, we cannot control how others use our work. We cannot control how they might understand something, or if it is taken out of context, so people are not usually held responsible for the actions of others unless very clear incitement to violence or hatred is proved.
I am sorry to labour this, but it really is important to see how the Left are trying to destroy the academy, the culture (what’s left of it), politicians on the Right, and often individuals they just don’t like.
They do it in three ways (other than their usual way of calling everyone phobic):
1 The imposition of retroactive justice, usually against the dead;
2 Guilt by association, the smear campaign;
3 Holding you to account for the actions of others – a kind of collective responsibility which is just as unfair as collective punishment.
Watch, listen and learn. And fight back.