These days, once-great academic institutions are fond of commissioning long reports into their historical ‘links’ with slavery, racism and/or eugenics. When the report inevitably finds that such ‘links’ exist and are very concerning, the institution issues a statement denouncing itself and promising to ‘do better’.
The latest example of an academic institution partaking in this ritual is the American Society of Human Genetics – publisher of the prestigious American Journal of Human Genetics.
On Tuesday, the ASHG released a lengthy report titled “Facing Our History – Building an Equitable Future Initiative”. The report was accompanied by the usual statement in which the institution “acknowledges and apologises, deeply and sincerely, for the participation of some ASHG founders, past presidents, and other leaders in promoting eugenic ideals that harmed people of minoritized groups”.
Poor black people in inner cities who are scared to leave their homes because violent criminals roam the streets can finally rest easy: an institution they’ve never heard of issued a statement they’ll never read! These statements aren’t about helping black people, of course. They’re about keeping activists off the backs of scientists, and making work for people with degrees in critical race theory.
Anyway, one paragraph in the statement did catch my eye. It outlines some of the “challenges” facing human genetics, one of which is “denouncing the warping of science for advocacy agendas”. Here, they’re presumably referring to the misuse of science to justify racism and eugenics.
What’s remarkable, though, is that the very same paragraph includes this sentence: “ASHG encourages individual members, peer societies, academic centres, agencies, industry partners and others to reflect on how everyone’s contributions will help foster inclusive equity agendas.”