Dozens of Princeton University students and faculty walked out of a talk set to be delivered by social scientist Charles Murray on Thursday shortly after he was introduced.
The demonstration was organized by Carolyn Rouse, who chairs the Anthropology Department at the Ivy League college. Ms. Rouse passed out fliers prior to the event encouraging people to show up and walk out of the lecture, accusing Mr. Murray of promoting “racism and classism” in his research.
“Join us today in a silent protest against the normalization of racism and classism in academia,” Ms. Rouse, who also directs the Program in African Studies at Princeton, said in the flier. “We are choosing to walk out of today’s lecture after the speaker’s bio is read. Charles Murray is an armchair demagogue who argues that blacks and the poor are intellectually and morally inferior, as the cause of social inequality in America. For decades, credible and respected academics have vehemently critiqued Murray’s misleading use of cherry-picked data and dissemination of racist pseudoscience. We walk out to demonstrate that Murray’s work is unworthy of our attention — and even our anger. If possible, we would ignore him completely. However, his writings have been used by powerful policy-makers to disenfranchise the working class and the poor since the 1980s.”
A video of the demonstration shows dozens of people walking out of a packed classroom in Aaron Burr Hall after Mr. Murray walks up to the podium. Many of them appear to be too old to be students. Roughly half of the audience remains.
Although Mr. Murray was protested and accused of promoting “classism,” his talk, titled “‘This Time Really Is Different’: Coming to Grips With the Coming Job Crisis,” was about alleviating the plight of workers who are displaced by rapidly innovating technologies.
The W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Murray has written extensively on welfare reform and championed a universal basic income in response to upheavals in the labor market.
Mr. Murray is the co-author of “The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life,” which argues that America has become cognitively stratified over the last several decades. Part three of the book deals with ethnic differences in cognitive ability.
Since the book was published in 1994, Mr. Murray has been treated as a pariah in academic circles. He has been disinvited from several universities, most recently from Virginia Tech in March of this year.