- The Washington Times - Monday, September 19, 2016

New York University disinvited a Nobel Prize-winning scientist from a scheduled lecture due to “troubling” remarks he made about race nearly a decade ago.

In a letter announcing the rescinded invitation of J.D. Watson, who discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, the NYU lecture committee said it received a complaint from students regarding the Nobel Laureate’s “public claims to diminish respect for black, female and obese individuals.”

“We agree with the students that this runs counter to our mission of diversity and inclusion at NYU Langone Medical Center and have thus elected to cancel the lecture,” the committee said in the letter.

The students took issue with a claim made by Mr. Watson in 2007 regarding racial disparities in IQ, when he said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” for this reason.

​Mr. Watson apologized his for his remark and was forced out of his position as chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in the ensuing controversy.​

But a group of NYU medical and graduate students said his invitation still “sends the wrong message to our university and the greater scientific community.”

​”We stand as students and scientists of color, as women in science, and as allies against these declarations of our ​diminished intellect,” the students wrote in the Aug. 31 letter. “Our presence and excellence in academia, between the very walls of this prestigious institution, are testament to their falsehood, and we will continue to thrive in spite of the statistics.”

Commenting on the disinvitation on his popular “Why Evolution is True” blog, biology professor Jerry Coyne called the move “censorship, pure and simple.”

“His detractors have, in effect, given Watson a life sentence of being shunned for what he said nine years ago, and for which he’s apologized; and I don’t think that’s fair,” Mr. Coyne wrote. “Enough is enough. Student protest, certainly; student censorship, no.”

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