WASHINGTON – Science author Nicholas Wade arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday to testify on a Republican panel about the origins of the coronavirus, but instead faced questions about “A troubled legacy”, his controversial 2014 book on race and genetics, which Democrats pointed he had been endorsed by the notorious racist and anti-Semite David Duke, as well as other white supremacists.
“I have nothing in common with the views of white supremacists,” Wade said at one point during the hearing.
“However, they love you,” replied Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., arguing that Wade’s presence was an affront to any legitimate investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, the subject of Wednesday’s proceedings.
Mfume, a former head of the NAACP, said he was “appalled that this hearing is now overlapping with the issue of race.”
Visibly shaking, Mfume told Wade that he was “absolutely offended that you had the opportunity to take this platform and add something meaningful to it.”
The tense exchange called into question whether inviting Wade to testify at the House Select Subcommittee’s first hearing on the Coronavirus Pandemic had been an effective move by the Republican majority, which seeks to legitimize the notion that the coronavirus was the product. of a laboratory accident in China.
wade is a proponent of that hypothesisbut his earlier writings on genetics and race seemed to frustrate his attempts to focus the conversation on the pandemic.
The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Raúl Ruiz of California, used his opening statement to discredit Wade. “Your involvement with him damages the credibility of this audience,” he said.
Very briefly, Capitol Hill was embroiled in a nearly decade-long controversy, though it’s understandable that the issues continue to stir deep passions today.
A native of England and a Cambridge graduate, Wade worked at the prestigious Science magazines. and Nature in the late 1970s and early 1980s, by which time he had already established himself in the United States. Hey joined the New York Times in 1982 and would remain with the newspaper for 30 years.
Wade has written a number of books throughout his career, but none have been remotely as explosive as his 2014 foray into the link between race and genetics, a link that, by then, many had come to discount.
In trying to reestablish the disputed correlation, Wade ventured into some of the most unseemly regions of what was once known as scientific expertise. (His followers would say that he was dragged into that tense territory by detractors who didn’t actually read his book, but some of those critics seemed familiar with his arguments.)
race science it was a favorite occupation of the Nazis, who sought to gather evidence, such as the shape of the skull, to argue that Jews and other people of non-European origin were inherently inferior. eugenicists in the United States he resorted to similar arguments to try to restrict immigration or the expansion of civil rights for blacks.
Although racial divisions may seem enormous from cultural and social standpoints, genetic variations among populations are, in fact, pretty minor.
Wade argued against that prevailing view. Intent on “demystifying the genetic basis of race”, he tried to describe different racial groups, which he argued emanated from Africa, Europe and East Asia. He then tried to explain how these three groups developed distinct genomes and how those differences shaped their respective cultures.
Those explanations led to some highly suspect claims, such as that Jews were uniquely “adapted to capitalism,” a classic anti-Semitic trope. People of African descent, meanwhile, had a “propensity for violence,” according to Wade’s analysis.
The main reactions to the book were harsh. In your reviewthe Times called “A Troublesome Inheritance” “a deeply flawed, misleading and dangerous book” that would give license to racists, while the Southern Poverty Law Center accused wade of trafficking in “fringe racist theories masquerading as conventional biology.” The American Conservative found the book unconvincing.
In a letter to the new york times book review, 139 scientists (including many whose work Wade had cited) accused him of “misappropriating” research to make discredited arguments. They stated that “there is no support in the field of population genetics for Wade’s conjectures.”
He made headlines again with the advent of the coronavirus, emerging as one of the first science writers to argue against the plausibility of the prevailing view that the pathogen had originated in an animal before entering the human population, most likely in a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Wade laid out the case for the so-called laboratory leak theory at length. Medium Post May 2021. The article remains an important milestone for other skeptics of the official Chinese narrative. Still, many scientists believe the virus originated in animals before jumping to humans.
Wade vigorously defended his record, and his book, on Wednesday. “This was a decidedly non-racist book. It has no scientific errors that I know of. It does not have racist statements. It emphasizes the theme of unity,” he told lawmakers seated across from him.
But his Democratic critics were unconvinced, while some supporters of the lab leak hypothesis expressed frustration on social media that the important question of how the coronavirus originated was being overshadowed.