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Charles Murray ad Hominem ad Infinitum
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On facebook and twitter Charles Murray has mounted a continual attack campaign against Donald Trump (and also on his presidential aspirations and its supporters–but, surprisingly, against Trump in an acerbically personal way more than anything else).

From Trump’s perspective, this is an ant-pissing-on-my-shoe scenario, of course. Another Establishment figure renouncing Trumpian populism is nothing new, nor is it anything that will hurt Trump’s candidacy. To the contrary, it’ll likely help it*.

It is, however, surprising to see someone who has been on the receiving end of a vicious, unrelenting Establishment assault so enthusiastically pick up stones stained with his own blood and throw them at the newest official object of hate.

There is no air of reservation or scholarly thoughtfulness present here, either. It’s embarrassingly sophomoric stuff. For instance, today Murray writes:

It could be the 1850s and the Know Nothings. Same fear, same rhetoric, same fascist tendencies. And I don’t use “fascist” loosely.

Yikes. Fascism is a distinctly 20th century European cultural-political movement. To describe a phenomenon that occurred several decades previous to the existence of fascism as fascist is anachronistic and thus almost definitionally a loose application of the term. It’s like saying the Jacobins were Marxists. This is something I’d expect from a talk show host, not from the author of Human Accomplishment.

The responses to Murray’s posts are about as fun to read as comment sections on NYT articles about the putative epidemic of white-on-black violence in the US are. For example, a particularly perspicacious one:

There is nothing more inherently conservative, in the most basic sense of the word, than restricting immigration. There is nothing more inherently transformative than mass immigration. This is not even a close call issue.

And one whose author reached for the scabbard under his cloak before posting:

Nice to see you utilizing the same tactics that marginalized you and sidelined your career. I suddenly feel much less sorry for you.

Yesterday, Murray accused Trump of being a “RINO” and lamented ¡Jabe!’s lame attempt to counter the “Trump toxicity”. A SurveyUSA poll (albeit from nearly two months ago, though ¡Jabe! hasn’t changed much since then!) with detailed cross-tab information shows that among those who think Trump will be the GOP nominee, 41% are self-described conservatives and 21% are self-described liberals. Among those who think ¡Jabe! will get it, 25% are conservatives and 34% are liberals.

Words mean things. It’s sad to see someone of Murray’s caliber employing them with such sloppiness and inaccuracy.

The Trump phenomenon is revealing all kinds of things that are relevant for understanding contemporary America. Worth paying attention to.

* In complete candor, immediately after reading Murray’s feed I went to Trump’s campaign site and bought a hat and a couple of bumper stickers. The only other time I’ve ever purchased any political campaign gear was when I grabbed a few Tancredo stickers in 2008.

++Addition++John Derbyshire:

I’m loath to criticize Murray, to whom I owe many kindnesses, but I’ll say this: he’s awfully white, in the worst possible way.

Even worse, in fact, Murray is Midwestern white. He’s a nice guy, with that unfailing Midwestern niceness that will be the death of us all if we can’t do something about it.

Also, prompted by the wickedest mind, great discussion from he and his legions.

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Is there a generation gap in Trump support? Are there any stats on this?

  2. I bought a trump hat myself, no bumper sticker for me… In liberal Massachusetts I'm worried about vandalism.

  3. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I was at a talk Murray gave a few weeks ago. He admitted that the dislike was personal, and had to do with the fact a close friend of Murray who apparently knows Trump (some executive of some large NYC firm) also harbors a real dislike of Trump.

    I have no doubt Trump is a sleazebag, but given the GOP's ultimate betrayal of America, there is the price we all to have pay.

    Murray is 73 so could not possibly be financially beholden to anyone, but perhaps there is also a great deal of social pressure?

  4. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Murray has revealed himself as nothing more than a status-signalling sellout and has disappointed a lot of people.

    He obviously lying if he claims it is strictly a "personal" dislike for Trump… he is not making personal attacks. He is parroting the faux-arudite criticisms of every other sanctimonious political talking head, because he is at his very heart, a cuckservative who doesn't want to win and see conservative ideas put into action. He wants to be the "badthink" who gets invited to cocktail parties while his enemy is in power and maybe he'll get to say I told you so later.

    He is letting down a lot of people who looked up to him and he doesn't realize the irony that if he had even a quarter of Trump's stones and brazenness, he might not have been so marginalized and ignored his whole career.

  5. Murray is employed by the American Enterprise Institute, which has Dick Cheney on its board of trustees. I suspect it is more of a business decision to bash Trump than he admits. The AEI, for their part, are terrified of anyone outside the foreign policy establishment. I see a lot of "never reduce military spending, Israel, Israel, Israel, coming from their media mouthpieces.

  6. I ordered my Trump hat back in July, when it first came available, and it came with one bumper sticker. Lucky me… With respect to Murray, I see it as though he's an intellectual who writes high-brow books and cannot stand the fact that someone like Trump, who dumbs himself down to win the mob, can get his message across so much more effectively than Murray can.

  7. IHTG,

    Not much. Rasmussen had cross tabs from a poll conducted in late July that showed Trump getting 27%, 27%, and 24% across age ranges from youngest to oldest, but across the board there were few differences in support by age, the only notable exception being Scott Walker, who got a lot more support from older people than from younger ones.




    It seems so visceral that, from the outside looking it, it's hard not to assume that personal enmity is driving it.

    Ceteris paribus I suppose I'd prefer the president be an upright person, but his personal probity and rectitude are utterly insignificant in importance compared to what he'll do about the national question or how likely he is to start world war 3. Robespierre was allegedly an incorruptible font of virtue!

    Re: the social pressure, 1) Murray, remember what happened to you in the mid-nineties, and 2) Probably plenty of social pressure against saying anything good about Trump, but if he omitted mention of Trump and said some good things about Rand Paul and Jeb Bush or whatever there wouldn't be anything newsworthy here nor would it hurt him much among the AEI smart set.


    Murray's been an intellectual inspiration of mine for a long time, but I don't have anything to refute you with. It's really too bad.


    Could be, Trump is pretty emphatically pro-Israel and it doesn't appear that he's into military spending reductions, just a reluctance to engage militarily in all the stupid places that we are currently engaged in. Could be the fact that, despite this, Trump is the only candidate who won't be an establishment marionette and consequently they're terrified of him.


    Murray's a think tank scholar though. Surely he doesn't expect to have the reach that a serious presidential nominee does. It's okay Murray, you're not going to be as wide but you're obviously going to go deeper–relax!

  8. While Murray may be a think-tank scholar, do you think he's not jealous that scholars such as himself and his former colleague, Jason Richwine, get dragged over the coals when they write well-researched, factual articles that are less offensive than the statements Donald Trump is cheered for saying? The intellectual scholars receive the death penalty for merely pointing out that black/Latino IQs are lower than white IQs, yet Trump becomes a serious presidential candidate only after saying that many of our immigrants are rapists/murders/drug dealers. It's similar to how a history professor watches a movie such as Braveheart and then throws a tantrum because Mel Gibson made millions from that movie in spite of its glaring historical errors.

  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "Anonymous Anonymous said…Murray is 73 so could not possibly be financially beholden to anyone, but perhaps there is also a great deal of social pressure?"

    I think the age is what makes the difference. think Murray is just too old to accept that the political landscape has changed. He’s strictly a blue pill conservative; he thinks each election we all start from zero and a generic Republican has an equal chance against a generic Democrat. He doesn’t get that demographics have made the electoral college bad for Republicans and it will get worse with each election.

    So he doesn’t get that if Republicans are going to have any shot, you need a hail mary pass. Trump is a hail mary, and a hail mary is the only shot Republicans have. Unfortunately Republicans are too stupid to realize it and Murray is too old to accept it.

  10. "I bought a trump hat myself, no bumper sticker for me… In liberal Massachusetts I'm worried about vandalism."

    That is because liberals aren't actually liberal.

  11. Anonymous [AKA "Marcus Marcellus"] says: • Website

    There is a documentary out there by an Israeli journalist who interviewed Murray about the 2008 election. The first words out of Murray's mouth is how proud he is that the country elected a black man. Murray has always been basically a liberal. I was briefly a student of Allan Bloom's in college and had the pleasure of meeting Murray at a neocon event. It was obvious that he (and Bloom) were basically small l liberals. Murray disliked my collegiate defense of Heidegger's notion of being in the world because…Fascism, that Nazi. Consider that the obsession with IQ is really a rear attack on culture, class and any and all non-quantifiable criteria. I've never cared for the man – though he has a good speaking voice.

  12. Charles Murry claims intelligence determines outcomes or has a great deal to do with it. Yet he cannot explain why Jewish people perform so far above average level they should perform at they make up 25% of lawyers yet they make up just 2% of the population Theirs 15 or 20 non Jewish people at genus IQ level for every person thats of Jewish decent. Their has to be somebody paying the guy off to make the claims he makes

  13. I think this has something to do with his Quakerism.

    Here, in the WSJ.

    "I am describing my own religious life from the time I went to Harvard until my late 40s. At that point, my wife, prompted by the birth of our first child, had found a religious tradition in which she was comfortable, Quakerism, and had been attending Quaker meetings for several years. I began keeping her company and started reading on religion. I still describe myself as an agnostic, but my unbelief is getting shaky. "

    The Quakers are 95% left wing activism and 5% religion.

    Plus Murray is a libertarian and they are open borders nutters.

  14. His Quaker congregation is somewhere here in Maryland. I should show up on a Sunday, decked out in Trump regalia, and quietly, humbly sit in the front row in with my eyes closed in tranquil meditation. Are they really pacifists? The experiment is devised.

  15. Funny thing is, Murray's Quakerism aside, he is still listed as an extremist of the White Nationalist type on the SPLC website.

    That must hurt him with his Quaker friends (get it? I crack me up!). He sure is working hard to compensate.

  16. Marcus,

    Charles Murray on NRO in March of 2008:

    "I read the various posts here on "The Corner," mostly pretty ho-hum or critical about Obama's speech. Then I figured I'd better read the text (I tried to find a video of it, but couldn't). I've just finished. Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I'm concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant–rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols…. But you know me. Starry-eyed Obama groupie."


    I've read most of Murray's scholarly output but haven't followed his major media presence as closely. I don't ever recall him saying much regarding foreign policy, but by default I'd assume there'd be some friction between pacifistic Quakerism on the one hand and AEI-style neoconism on the other. Is it something he just doesn't touch (publicly)?

  17. Recall that the Q&A with Charles Murray on the 20th anniversary of The Bell Curve featured Mr. Murray's support "to provide everyone over the age of 21 with a guaranteed income, deposited electronically every month into a bank account. It takes a book to explain why such a plan could not only work, but could revitalize civil society, but it takes only a few sentences to explain why a libertarian would advocate such a plan."

    Newspeak is alive and well. A rework of the Negative Income Tax from 35 years ago is now "libertarian." Anyone who refuses to see the obvious, inescapable consequences of open-ended welfarism is frankly too far left of center, both politically and on the Bell Curve itself, to be taken seriously.

  18. DC,

    In Our Hands.

    Replacing almost all federal programs and benefits with an income redistribution of the same cost is interesting on a theoretical level for its simplicity and relative equality of treatment, but streamlining that type of redistribution reveals an apparent blindness to those obvious, inescapable consequences.

  19. Free speech alone never will be enough, you can talk, but real things will continue to be imposed regardless if you have ''free speech'' or not. What is the real, significative difference between Saudi Arabia and ''America'' ****

  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I think Murray finds Trump boorish and "unpresidential." Which is kind of true, let's face it, not that that's a deal breaker for me. And Murray seems like a guy who would be concerned with decorum.

    One thing I've noticed that just baffles me is Murray's love for Jonah Goldberg. It's just weird and embarrassing to see the legendary Murray heap effusive praise on such an inferior.

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