Bret Stephens' 'Secret of Jewish Genius' column gets editor's note - iMediaEthics

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A day after Bret Stephens’ column about Jews and intelligence appeared in the New York Times, the newspaper has added an editor’s note to update the article and acknowledge critics’ claims that Stephens’ column argued “Jews are genetically superior.”

Stephens’ Dec. 27 column, “The Secrets of Jewish Genius,” went viral this weekend amidst claims it advocated for eugenics. On Twitter, it was slammed for citing a 2005 study that was written by someone who has been linked to white supremacist Henry Haprending.

“The effect was to leave an impression with many readers that Mr. Stephens was arguing that Jews are genetically superior,” the Times admitted.

A spokesperson for the Times declined to comment to iMediaEthics beyond the editor’s note.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center points out that Harpending was an anthropologist who possessed a white nationalist ideology and promoted eugenics, a practice steeped in racism that involves breeding humans to achieve specific racial traits. The study of eugenics also fueled the rise of Nazism,” the Huffington Post reported.

The Times also tweeted its editor’s note:

Today, the Times added an editor’s note reading:

An earlier version of this Bret Stephens column quoted statistics from a 2005 paper that advanced a genetic hypothesis for the basis of intelligence among Ashkenazi Jews. After publication Mr. Stephens and his editors learned that one of the paper’s authors, who died in 2016, promoted racist views. Mr. Stephens was not endorsing the study or its authors’ views, but it was a mistake to cite it uncritically. The effect was to leave an impression with many readers that Mr. Stephens was arguing that Jews are genetically superior. That was not his intent. He went on instead to argue that culture and history are crucial factors in Jewish achievements and that, as he put it, “At its best, the West can honor the principle of racial, religious and ethnic pluralism not as a grudging accommodation to strangers but as an affirmation of its own diverse identity. In that sense, what makes Jews special is that they aren’t. They are representational.” We have removed reference to the study from the column.”

Stephens quit Twitter this summer. When a George Washington University associate professor joked about him being a bedbug, Stephens e-mailed the professor and his boss to complain; he then wrote a column that claimed the term “bedbug” was an anti-Semitic slur for Jewish people, citing one reference in Google Books that has since been questioned.

Hat Tip: Mediaite

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Bret Stephens’ ‘Secret of Jewish Genius’ column gets editor’s note

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