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L’Affaire Richwine, My Take

I agree with Steve Hayward that the Heritage Foundation was wrong to sack Jason Richwine because he wrote a PhD thesis examining the relationship between IQ and immigration. In fact, I find it appalling that Heritage did so.

The relationship between IQ and immigration isn’t a burning question for me. The answer, if it can be determined, wouldn’t affect my view on immigration policy. But the question isn’t illegitimate. And it is probably as interesting, if not more so, than the topic of your average PhD thesis.

Indeed, the question Richwine studied, in a thesis that earned him a Harvard PhD, may have some bearing on the ability of immigrants to assimilate into U.S. society. Ironically, moreover, one can argue that the relationship between IQ and immigration becomes more probative if one takes seriously an argument made by many supporters of the Schumer-Rubio immigration legislation.

These supporters reject the notion that the Schumer-Rubio plan will cause a fiscal drain. They counter that the fiscal drain argument fails to take into account the hard-to-quantify value that illegal immigrants-turned-citizens will bring to the economy through such contributions as starting successful businesses. This is the alleged dynamic behind the calls of Schumer-Rubio supporters for “dynamic scoring” in studies, such as the one performed by Heritage, of the fiscal consequences of immigration reform.

It seems to me that the intelligence quotient, as a class, of the immigrants at issue bears on the question of how much, if any, of an economic boost they will provide through the kinds of successful activity that might justify “dynamic scoring.” Again, though, my opposition to the Schumer-Rubio bill does not stem from this or that analysis of its fiscal consequences.

Quite apart from the relevance of Richwine’s PhD thesis, it is scandalous that he would be expelled from the Heritage Foundation for writing it. I understand why the left wants to ban the study of inconvenient questions. Naturally, for example, they want to attribute all sorts of virtues to illegal immigrants without permitting empirical inquiry into their characteristics. It is enough that they likely will be loyal Democrats.

But conservative Think Tanks shouldn’t bow to the liberal God of Political Correctness. Doing so won’t make Heritage respectable to the left. It will only cause Heritage to lose respect among intellectually honest conservatives.

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