Accusations of racism fly at House hearings on the coronavirus

WASHINGTON – Science author Nicholas Wade arrived on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to testify at a Republican panel on the origins of the coronavirus, but was instead confronted with questions about “An annoying legacy,” his controversial 2014 book on race and genetics, which Democrats have noticed it 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.

“They love you, though,” replied the Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., arguing that Wade’s presence was an affront to any legitimate inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus – the subject of Wednesday’s proceedings.

A former leader of the NAACP, Mfume said he was “upset that this hearing has now become bogged down with the issue of race.”

Author Nicholas Wade testifies before a House panel.

Author Nicholas Wade testifies Wednesday before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Visibly shaken, Mfume went on to tell Wade that he was “absolutely offended that he would have the opportunity to take this platform and add something meaningful.”

The tense exchange questioned whether the invitation to Wade to testify at the first hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic had been an effective move on the part of 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 this hypothesisbut his past writings on genetics and race seemed to frustrate his attempts to focus the conversation on the pandemic.

The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Raul Ruiz of California, used his opening statement to discredit Wade. “His participation hurts the credibility of this hearing,” he said.

Ever so briefly, Capitol Hill has been immersed in a controversy for almost a decade, although it is one that the subjects understand continues to excite deep passions today.

A native of England and graduate of Cambridge, Wade worked in the prestigious Science magazines and Nature in the late 1970s and early 80s, by which point he had settled in the United States. He joined the New York Times in 1982 and remained at the newspaper for 30 years.

Rep. Raul Ruiz speaks during a House subcommittee hearing.

Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., expressed his concern that the subcommittee invited Wade to testify. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Wade has written a number of books throughout his career, but none have proven as remotely explosive as his 2014 foray into the link between race and genetics—a link that, since then, many had come to discount.

In trying to reestablish the disputed correlation, Wade ventures into some of the darkest regions of what was once known as scientific expertise. (His supporters said he was dragged into that narrow territory by detractors who hadn’t read his book, but some of those critics seemed familiar with his arguments).

Running 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 descent were inherently inferior. Eugenics in the United States he resorted to similar arguments to try to limit immigration or expand civil rights for Blacks.

Although racial divisions may be culturally and socially vast, the genetic variations between populations are, in fact, quite minor.

Wade argued against that prevailing opinion. Intending to “demystify the genetic basis of race,” he attempted to describe distinct 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 these differences shaped their respective cultures.

These explanations led to some highly suspect claims, such as that Jews were uniquely “suited to capitalism,” a classic anti-Semitic trope. People of African descent, meanwhile, had a “propensity for violence,” in Wade’s analysis.

Former New York Times editor and author Nicholas Wade.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Wade was confronted with questions about his controversial 2014 book on race and genetics, “A Troublesome Inheritance.” (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mainstream reactions to the book were harsh. In his magazinethe Times called “A Troublesome Inheritance” “a deeply flawed, misleading and dangerous book” that gives license to racists, while the Southern Poverty Law Center accused Wade of the traffic in “marginal racist theories masked by mainstream biology.” The American Conservative I found the book unconvincing.

In a letter to the New York Times Book Review, 139 scientists (including many whose work Wade had mentioned) accused him of “misappropriating” the research to make discredited arguments. They state that “there is no support from the field of population genetics for Wade’s conjectures.”

He made new news with the arrival of the coronavirus, emerging as one of the first science writers to argue against the plausibility of the prevailing view that the pathogen originated from an animal before entering the human population, most likely in a wildlife market in the world. The Chinese city of Wuhan.

Wade presented the case for the so-called laboratory leak theory over a long period of time Average position in May 2021. The article remains an important milestone for other skeptics of the official Chinese narrative. However, many scientists believe that 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’m aware of. It has no racist statements. It emphasizes the theme of unity,” he told lawmakers sitting before him.

But his Democratic critics are not convinced, while some supporters of the laboratory leak hypothesis expressed frustration on social media that the important question of the origin of the coronavirus was being eclipsed.

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