February 13, 2009
A group of racist academics, conservative pundits and anti-immigrant activists held their debut conference, dubbed "Preserving Western Civilization," (PWC) outside of Baltimore, Maryland, from February 6 – 8, 2009. Around 70 people attended the event, at which presenters railed at the alleged threat that multiculturalism poses to the United States and other Western countries.
The stated aim of the conference was to defend "America's Judeo-Christian heritage and European identity." This theme set it apart from similar events that attract anti-Semites because they generally focus on European-American identity, not on the country's Judeo-Christian heritage.
Conference topics included some of the fundamental arguments used to vilify non-white immigrants, Muslims, and African-Americans. The PWC Web site targets each of these groups as threats to Western civilization. It portrays third-world immigrants as opposed to "fundamental [American] political and cultural values."
For example, one of the themes of the PWC conference was the alleged "persistent disappointing performance of blacks" which causes whites to feel unnecessary guilt that "undermine[s] Western morale."
Many speakers, however, focused on Muslims as the chief threat, saying that "the menace they present hasn't been realized yet" and arguing that the United States should enact laws prohibiting Muslim immigration and outlawing the practice of Islam. The group also stereotypes Islam as a "militant ideology" which seeks to "destroy" American society.
Others sought to prove that an asserted biological intellectual inferiority of non-whites further threatened Western countries generally, and the United States in particular.
The PWC conference modeled itself after the biennial conference held by American Renaissance (AR), a white supremacist publication. A number of the speakers at the PWC conference have also attended AR conferences, which often attract neo-Nazis and other racists and anti-Semites.
The speakers included:
J. Philippe Rushton, a Canadian professor of psychology, who has, for many years, been one of the primary voices arguing that races differ biologically in intelligence, a view he has presented in mainstream scientific publications. In 2005, he published a paper entitled "Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability," in a journal put out by the American Psychological Association. Rushton's presentation, "The Heritability of World IQ Differences," was the same talk he gave at the 2008 American Renaissance conference. He asserted that there is increased support for the claim that whites have higher IQs because their ancestors lived in colder climates and that skin color is directly related to IQ, with darker skin meaning lower IQ. He also dredged up one of the oldest notions in racist pseudo-science, the claim that races differ in IQ based on brain size and that blacks have the smallest brains and therefore the lowest IQs.
Peter Brimelow, the Editor of VDare, a Web site that features the work of racists, anti-Semites, and anti-immigrant figures. In January 2009, Brimelow spoke on a panel to promote a report released by The American Cause, a group founded by anti-Semite and racist Pat Buchanan. VDare promotes and archives pieces authored by anti-Semitic professor Kevin MacDonald, Georgia-based xenophobic leader D.A. King, white supremacist Jared Taylor and others. At the PWC conference, Brimelow delivered one of the most extreme presentations at the conference. He spoke about about the "Problems Caused by Immigration.” Brimelow argued that the influx of "non-traditional" immigration is a problem all over the Western world and that the loss of control over the country by "white Protestants" will mean a collapse of the American political system. He urged that whites respond by creating an explicitly white nationalist political party.
Brenda Walker, a California-based anti-immigrant writer and activist whose strident rhetoric demonizes an array of ethnic groups and religions, mainly Latinos and Muslims. She maintains that immigration (mainly from Mexico) is responsible for the loss of the quality of life in America. Walker recycles these themes in articles which appear on racist, anti-immigrant Web sites and in The Social Contract, anti-immigrant journal. She spoke about "Multiculturalism and Women's Rights" at the PWC conference. She argued that non-Western countries do not properly protect women's rights and that heightened immigration from these countries would lead to the curtailing of these rights in the United States. She stated, "We can have multiculturalism or women's rights and safety. Not both."
Michael Hart, a Maryland-based astrophysicist and the author of Understanding Human History, a 2007 book that argued that races differ in intelligence because of their evolutionary history. Hart was the organizer or the conference. He has also attended and spoken at American Renaissance conferences. At the 1996 conference, he reportedly outlined a plan for the racial partition of the United States, and Understanding Human History is regularly advertised in American Renaissance.
Hart engaged in a heated confrontation with David Duke, the former Klan leader and anti-Semite, during the 2006 American Renaissance conference, when Duke used a question and answer session to voice anti-Semitic views. Hart was apparently more comfortable with racism than with anti-Semitism. He set the tone the first day of this conference when he warned the audience that many people, especially academics, felt they could lose their jobs and be labeled "racists" if they spoke openly about the themes presented at the event.
Patricia Richardson, a member of the far-right British National Party (BNP), whose leader, Nick Griffin, has traveled to the United States to speak at a conference convened by American Renaissance. Richardson spoke about the "Colonization of Britain," which focused on Muslim immigration to that country.
Lawrence Auster, a writer who has contributed to The National Review, a mainstream conservative publication, as well as to American Renaissance, best summed up the conference's aim when he said on its final day that they had come to "discuss the fatal threats to our civilization [but] without the anti-Semitism." Auster, who made a number of anti-Muslim statements, argued that followers of sharia (Islamic law) should be deported from the United States, that Islam should lose First Amendment protection, and that the religion itself should be banned in the United States. He also suggested that the United States invade Saudi Arabia to protect the use of its oil fields from Muslim backlash.
Steve Farron was formerly a professor of Classics at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is the author of the 2005 book, The Affirmative Action Hoax: Diversity, the Importance of Character, and Other Lies. In his presentation, he argued that affirmative action in the United States discriminates against whites in college admissions and in jobs. He also discussed a study that reportedly showed that whites are smarter than blacks even if they have less education and are from a lower economic class, and that affirmative action was "put into place" to address this alleged situation. Farron also claimed that another study had shown that an increase in black police officers increased the rate of property and violent crime in a community.
Roger McGrath, an academic who has taught at various universities and written a book on the nineteenth-century American west, focused on the alleged "downfall" of California due to the influx of non-white, particularly Latino, immigrants. Referring to the increasing Latino population and declining white population in California, McGrath declared, "The ethnic cleansing is almost complete."
Lino Graglia, a professor of law at the University of Texas in Austin, argued that the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born on American soil, is invalid because it was not properly ratified (a longstanding claim among many sections of the extreme right) and was not intended for its current use. He asserted that the law is improperly used to protect illegal aliens born in the United States.
Julia Gorin is a contributing editor to Jewish World Review, a Web site, and a conservative comedian. She has contributed articles to a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The National Review, and The Huffington Post. Gorin delivered a comedy routine filled with anti-Muslim and anti-Obama jokes during the event's banquet dinner.
Washington Summit Publishers, a leading publisher of racist books, sold numerous racist tracts at the conference, including copies of American Renaissance. Louis Andrews manned the publishing company's table, as he did at the 2008 American Renaissance conference. Andrews is also a director of the National Policy Institute, a self-styled racist think tank.