I’ve been waiting for people to die before I told this story on my blog, but certain people seem to take forever to do that so I’m not waiting any more. Besides, it happened a long time ago. The story I’m telling you happened to me a long time ago (about 1990) and the thing that happened to me really amounted to someone telling me a story, which in turn happened a long time before that (about 1977).

There had been some kind of thing, a barbecue, at the home of Scotty MacNeish. If you don’t know who Scotty is, you should. He is the archaeologist who discovered and documented the origins of corn in the highlands of Mexico. He was a justifiably famous and generally respected archaeologist who, enigmatically, worked at a prep school instead of a university for much of his career. At the time of his death, in a vehicle accident while in the field in Belize, Scotty worked at Boston University, but for many years before that he was at Phillips Andover Academy. Phillips Andover is the archetypal American prep school, a pretty good imitation of the old style British prep schools, but located in the small community of Andover, Massachusetts, north of Boston. Until recently, Phillips prepared its students mostly for Yale, though a few would go to Harvard. Samuel Morse went there and later invented Morse Code and stuff. Oliver Wendell Holmes went there. Two American Presidents went there.

So, there was this barbecue at Scotty’s house, and Bruno Marino was the chef. That was the first time I had met him. We later became friends and colleagues and later on he went off to run the revamped Biosphere project. The thing about Bruno is that he was CIA. This meant that any event involving food and Bruno, you’d want to go to, because as you know those CIA guys really know how to cook.

Since we were at Scotty’s house, we were also on or very near (I was never sure) the property of the Academy. It seems we just had to walk through the gate in the backyard fence and we were amid the bricks and ivy of the venerable old institution. And at one point, Scotty and I wandered off to the museum and library, which on this summer weekend evening was closed and dark.

Scotty wanted to show me a wooden cabinet he was about to throw in the trash, along with some other items, because I had expressed an interest in it. In fact, that evening I took the item home where it still serves me nicely today. It is a small solid oak card catalog, one of many the library was getting rid of as they started the switch to other means of keeping track of their books.

At some point we wandered off to the museum. We stood in a darkened hall and talked for a while. I could see that there were exhibits around the walls, but the lighting for each exhibit was turned off so I could not see what they were. That’s when Scottie started to tell me the story.

“Years ago, we had a directors meeting here, with the board of directors of the Academy. They were all former students, and all had gone off to Yale and were all pretty wealthy. Doug and I (that was Doug Byers, the famous anthropologist who also worked at Phillips Andover) had the job of schmoozing the richest and most powerful, to see if we could get more money out of them. So we took one of the directors up there,” he pointed up to the room we had just visited, where the oak cabinet had been stored, “for cognac and cigars.”

We may or may not have been sipping something out of glasses ourselves at that moment, but I’m sure we were not puffing on cigars.

“So, our visitor knew who we were, what our research was. He told us, ‘You gentlemen are anthropologists, and there’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask an anthropologist.'”

I should mention that Scotty was the kind of guy who liked trouble, and I could tell by his expression that he was about to reveal something … troublesome. I had seen him go after the unprepared, the uninitiated, before. He knew then up in the room with the brandy and cigars with Byers, and I knew later as he was telling me the story, that it was going to be one of those questions that revealed a common misunderstanding about something about humans, something about evolution or human behavior or history or biology, one of those things people ask innocently about, without realizing that the question itself, the question they naively seek an answer to, reveals their own abysmal ignorance or nefarious racism or something. Indeed, I suspected as he was telling me that it was going to be about race. And it was.

“He said, and these are close to his exact words, ‘I know that Negro brains are smaller. But they seem to have the same size heads as everyone else. So, my question is…'”

At this moment, Scotty paused for effect. There were a lot of ways this could have gone, but the question was finished off, according to Scotty, this way: “‘… my question is, is the extra space filled with bone, so they have very thick skulls, or is it liquid? Or what?'”

That was a pretty stark question. Naive. Ignorant. Nefariously racist. The kind of question, though, that Doug Byers or Scotty MacNeish or me or any anthropologist would get asked a half dozen times a year back in those days, and now and then even these days. So, why was he, Scotty, telling me this story now, in 1990? This wasn’t about someone being stupid. This was about WHO was being stupid. The name at the end of this tale was going to be someone I’d know, or recognize. Someone who was older and established today, likely someone who had gone to Yale. Someone who had lived, back in the 70s or 80s, near enough to Andover Massachusetts to have been on the board of the Academy.

“What did you tell him?” I asked, wondering which of the possible stock answers they might have used, to inform the man but at the same time avoid having him dry up as a donor.

“Who the hell knows, I don’t remember. Byers gave him some mumbo jumbo. The point is, after that evening, we went to work right away on this exhibit.”

I hadn’t noticed Scotty sidling over to the wall near the base of the big central stairway, near one of the darkened exhibits. He reached up to a switch on the wall and flipped it on. The lights inside the exhibit, a diorama of sorts, sprang on and I could suddenly see a number of human brains sitting each in their own straight sided, round bowls that looked like over grown Petri dishes.

“Have a look,” Scotty said, gesturing towards the brains.

I looked. There were brains labeled “Caucasian”, “African”, “Asian”, and “Native American.” Each brain looked pretty realistic, wet, fresh, and there seemed to be fluid accumulated in each of the preternaturally large Petri dishes. All of it was fake, of course. The liquid was Lucite, and with my highly trained Biological Anthropology eye I could easily see that the brains were all molded from the same exact cast.

The text above the brains included a map and some other items but one paragraph was highlighted and foregrounded and it said, roughly, “…all humans have the same brain, the same size, with the same abilities. Race is a made up concept and is only skin deep,” or words to that effect.

“This,” Scotty resumed his story, “is ultimately how we answered the question. It didn’t matter as much to us that this guy had race all botched up, it mattered more that the students wold get it right from then on.”

He looked at me and I could see the “I’m going to cause trouble now” look setting in.

“Of course, with this particular member of the board of directors, it may have mattered more than average.”

“Who was it, Scotty?” I asked, as he expected me to ask.

“Let’s just say that among ourselves, between Doug and me, we named the exhibit after him,” Scotty said, holding his arm out, drawing my attention back to the diorama. “Behold, the George H. Bush Memorial Exhibit on Race!”

I was not even a little surprised. With this much fanfare, it had to be a president or something.

“Of course, he wasn’t President back in those days. Or even Vice President. He was still merely head of the CIA.

That would be the other CIA, of course.

Comments

  1. #1 gwen
    March 23, 2013

    Wow, wow. I know two (black) women who attended Andover in the 80s. Just, Wow. I’ll have to ask them about the exhibit.

  2. #2 gwen
    March 23, 2013

    Oops, meant ‘Philips Academy’, not ‘Andover’.

  3. #3 dean
    March 23, 2013

    Hmmm. What prep school did he attend? (I should know, but I’ve been grading all day and am now deep into my second “3.5 fingers of scotch”, vegging out). He was in WWII, so would have had schooling in the 30s? Could he have been taught that as an idea, and never gotten rid of the idea, or could he really have been that ignorant? (I use the past tense because my understanding is that he is not, currently, in any good state at all: I won’t insult an ill man).

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    March 23, 2013

    He attended Phillips Academy, Andover. Then Yale. He could easily have been taught that somewhere along the line or just learned it on the street. Also, he wasn’t atypical for his generation and position.

  5. #5 CherryBombSim
    March 23, 2013

    If your description of the exhibit is accurate, I am actually uncomfortable with it. Molding all from the brains from the same cast, and then labeling them “Caucasian”, “African”, “Asian”, and “Native American” is manufacturing faux scientific data to support a particular societal norm. The ideal is fine, I don’t see any reason to believe that classifying people by race would give you any idea which had a “superior” or “inferior” brain. Claiming that they have identical brains goes too far, though.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    March 23, 2013

    Cherry, they have the same brains … You can’t tell brains apart by race. The exhibit is right, you are wrong, your indignance is misplaced.

  7. #7 W.Benson
    Brazil
    March 24, 2013

    It would be good if mankind could mix together and end the bane of racism. But it hasn’t, and both pernicious racism and doctrinaire race denialism persist. Vive la difference! It is hard to know if and what genetically based cognitive differences exist among geographic populations (the “races” of popular language), for studies are strictly policed by moral vigilantes who judge and discredit their authors as, at best, rednecks. There are, of course, reliable reports of brain differences among geographic populations. A recent example is provided in Nneka Isamah’s 2010 article (with literature review) in PLoS ONE — 5(10): e31642. Of course, differences, even if genetic, in morphology (or dexterities) count for nothing with regard to the right to freedom from ugly profiling. Respecting the possibility of people being different by nature could help overcome the destructive view of conservatives and liberals alike that one size, my size, my path to realization, fits all.

  8. #8 Roger
    March 24, 2013

    Dr. Laden,

    I believe Cherry’s point was that there should be no reason to use the exact same mold. The exhibit is right, making the right statement, but isn’t that disingenuous? Claiming, “I am right, so my methodology does not matter?”

    I’m merely pointing out that such an obvious flaw could easily give fuel to those who have a natural desire (e.g. racism) to discredit the point. It’s not going to convince someone who is skeptical, so I’m not sure who the target audience truly is.

  9. #9 mandas
    March 24, 2013

    I’m with both Cherry and Roger.

    I am not, nor are they, arguing that there is any difference in the brains of the difference ‘races’. I – and I believe they – are suggesting that it is improper to deliberately mislabel specimens in a museum for any reason, let alone to make an ideological point. Leave that to places like the creation museum.

    As scientists it should be contingent on us to present the facts and to not lie – and there is no other way to describe the dliberate mislabelling of a specimen – in order to make a point. If the facts don’t support our argument, then our argument is wrong. Better to have used the casts of numerous individuals to show there is no difference, than to use multiple casts of the same individual and to claim otherwise.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    March 24, 2013

    Indeed, a high school in the 1970s should really have done better than that, shame on them.

    (you do realize we are talking about a cheap exhibit in a high school, right? )

    Anyway, I am suspicious of this indignation. What are you up to?

  11. #11 Jim Thomerson
    March 25, 2013

    If all you can afford is one brain mold, does that stop you from trying to make a valid point? I think not.

    To give you something to talk about, we all know that women have smaller brains than men . . . . . .

  12. #12 Miles McCullough
    United States
    March 25, 2013

    Greg, if I were looking at a display of skulls of different “races”, it would be my understanding that there was a great deal of genetic variety within and overlap between each of the 4 named races, so I would be quite interested to see what miniscule, if unimportant, differences there were in the housing of the most complex machine known to humanity. I would be trying to see how fast evolution acts on relatively isolated populations. I would suspect any differences would be the result of genetic drift rather than genetic “superiority”. I would also be fooled into thinking there is zero genetic variation in the most distantly related humans.

    It’s understandable that anthropologists are fed up of dealing with racists, but manufacturing exhibits seems unforgivable, because you never know what the viewer is really looking for on the assumption that the exhibit was collected in good faith.

    Moreover, now I can’t stop wondering what else my science teachers have lied to me about on the pretense that it would be tiresome or unimportant to explain in more detail. What’s the point in trying to learn science at all if your teachers are willing to mislead you to satisfy the basest common denominator?

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    March 25, 2013

    Miles, if you actually look at the brains of several different people, you’d find that there isn’t “overlap” between the four named races. There is overlap between the individuals and no way to distinguish the nominal race by looking at the brains. Human brains actually look remarkably alike. Also, human brains normally form in such a way that the exterior of the brain (and for the most part the interior as well) do not look differently on the basis of any underlying genetic difference.

    You have entirely missed the point of the exhibit, and of this post, and in so doing, you have made up a set of facts that you either imply or assert that are simply not true. You are saying that genetic differences between people is expressed in the appearance of the outside of the brain. It is not. You are implying that there is a valid set of categories, the “named races” on which one could legitimately base a scientific exhibit. There is no such thing. You are criticizing the details of an exhibit that has accurate information in it that you have not seen. And, most astonishingly, you are imagining and describing a conspiracy among scientists, educators, and exhibit makers that does not exist and extending it to your educational experience and the educational experience of others.

    There are differences in brain size among people, Jim. If you scale to body size, women have larger brains than men. If you don’t, smaller. The ethnic group with the largest absolute brain size measured in the literature are the Inuit/Eskimo. Among those with largest relative brains size are the Pygmies of Central Africa. Brain size and IQ have been correlated among some individuals in limited studies and the correlation is random. The data on brain size across the “named races” used by lots of psychometric people, initially summarized by Rushton, is highly cooked data: He produced a formula that took hat size, sutraced skull thickness, then estimated brain size. He subtracted less from “Asian” skulls (mostly southeast asia) than he subtracted from “Caucasian” hat sizes, and he subtracted more from “African” skulls because he thought African skulls would be thicker. That latter adjustment, the thick African skull, was assumed from taking non-modern human skull measurements from very old African fossil material.

  14. #14 Roger
    March 25, 2013

    I’m pretty sure that Jim was joking. I found it funny. :)

    “(you do realize we are talking about a cheap exhibit in a high school, right? )”

    I kind of overlooked that, and it’s a very valid point. We aren’t talking about a presentation intended to scientifically establish proof or verify a hypothesis; we’re talking about a simple demonstration. Point well taken.

    I still fail to see the “indignation,” though (certainly not from myself or Mandas). Let’s agree to not overreact to high school exhibits and blog posts equally, eh?

    I realize you’re balancing responses to posters who are legitimately curious (e.g. me) as well as to posters who seem to doubt the science and your work, and the tendency to simply disregard all potential criticism as the brainchild of ignorance (or perhaps nefarious motives). I appreciate your taking the time to answer in detail; if I already knew everything there was to know about the subject, I wouldn’t be reading your blog.

  15. #15 Jim Thomerson
    March 25, 2013

    I was going to check it out, but I’ll bet, at the time, Turtox or wherever they bought the brain casts offered only a single model. One size fits all. ;-)

    I’ve seen a study, many years ago, of brains of intelligent people you have heard of, which found a wide variation in volume. I also read of a girl who had mild hydrocephalus, such that her brain was 1/4 inch thick. She was above average in intelligence and was living a successful life.

    Incidentally, my hat size is 7 7/8 US measurement, so there!

  16. #16 jane
    March 25, 2013

    George H. W. Bush’s father, Prescott Bush, was a known, active Nazi sympathizer before (if not during) World War 2. If the son had retrograde racial beliefs, he didn’t suck them out of his thumb, as the redneck folk saying goes.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    March 25, 2013

    The girl with the hydrocephalus condition was scottish. She was a B+ student and showed no outward signs of having a brain the size of a chimp’s. Having said that, there might have been issues that would require a closer look to uncover, but I know of no work done in that area.

    I hear Einstein had a lot of extra glial cells. I wonder where he got them?

    Actually, Jane, I think GHW Bush had pretty open non-racist thinking most of the time. He was a racialized in his culture as anyone of his time, of course, but he rejected out and out racism on a number of occasions. This is not so much a story about him being a racist as it is about racism and where it lived and what it looked like in the 1970s, and how that kind of thinking, in some form or another, can be in the Oval Office. Since Rushton’s book was mentioned, keep in mind that the main appendix for The Bell Curve was a shortened version of his book “demonstrating” the innate inferiority of blacks. The Bell Curve was funded by a right wing think tank and free copies were sent to policy makers all over the place. I don’t know if there is a book shelf in the oval office, but there have probably been times when a half dozen copies of that book were hanging around the West Wing.

    Also, note the other unspoken item of interest: Remember that the Bush’s are New England Yalees, not Texans! Originally.

    Roger, I appreciate that.

  18. #18 mandas
    March 25, 2013

    Greg @10

    I am not sure why you would be suspicious that I – and several others – objected to the deliberate mislabelling of an exhibit.

    There is no ‘indignation’ involved. It is just that I believe in the integrity of science, and when you falsify evidence in order to make an ideological point, you have failed the integrity test.

    I am not sure why you would have a problem with that. Indeed, I am surprised that you would think differently.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    March 25, 2013

    Ok, foolishness then. If you saw the exhibit you would feel like an idiot for the things you’ve said. No one has lied, and no one has threatened the integrity of science. There has been no offense deliberate or otherwise. it was not my intent go give a detailed prospectus of this exhibit for critique and evaluation. You have overreached and done so in a damaging and insulting way. On this comment thread, you have provided an absurd and obnoxious distraction and insulted a number of people for absolutely no reason.

  20. #20 Miles McCullough
    United States
    March 26, 2013

    Greg, I want to say first that I never meant to imply a conspiracy among scientists and that I deny any such thing exists. I meant rather to impress that the manufacturing of exhibits, no matter how well intentioned, is as distasteful as the manufacturing of data by a student in an undergrad lab report: no ground-breaking science is being claimed but the whole enterprise runs counter to the very idea of science.

    Secondly, I also recognize the absurdity of my criticizing an exhibit I have not seen, and I apologize if my vocalized outrage was and is misplaced, as it may very well be. However, just because the exhibit had some accurate information is no defense. Spiderman has some accurate information in it; that does not mitigate the central conceit that the work is fiction.

    I realize I am probably over-reacting and that I am probably falling prey to in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound bias (or whatever it is called when people get their backs up and argue a lost cause), but I feel lately that I am often annoyed at how politics comes before science when it comes to the biology of race, be those politics enlightened and liberal or discouragingly conservative. For example, you criticize me for implying race is a valid category, yet surely we both agree that population genetics is a valid field. As a classic example, is it not true that Africans are disproportionately likely to suffer sickle cell anemia?

    I feel you have over-reacted in turn to my post, and that you took to nitpicking and deliberately misinterpreting my words in response to my challenging the political dogma that race has no biological basis. Case in point, you led your critical response with the flawed argument that overlap between individuals precludes an overlap between sets of those individuals. On the contrary, overlap between individuals proves an overlap between sets of those individuals.

    Also, you took pains to school me in the fact that humans brains look remarkably similar, despite my previous pains to assert that I would be interested to examine any “miniscule, if unimportant, differences”. The differences are equally as interesting as the similarities to me, even if the latter outweighs the former in magnitude. Yet you would deny accurate information about the exhibit to viewers and so confound them that they might carry misconceptions for the rest of their days. But so long as those misconceptions are not politically conservative in nature, you seem to be fine with it.

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    March 26, 2013

    The exhibit did not have inaccurate information in it. It depicted something that you did not think was true, perhaps.

    I should probably also mention, though I already did, that the exhibit was about brain size, about race not being a predictor of brain size, and if I recall correctly there were data (averages, etc.) in the exhibit showing this.

  22. #22 Miles McCullough
    March 26, 2013

    “The exhibit did not have inaccurate information in it.”

    I am sure there were many aspects of the exhibit that were properly scientific and relevant and interesting, but those aspects do not concern me. What concerns me is that the way you described it, the exhibit sounds like it was knowingly made to mislead people about the origins of the skull casts. I am utterly confounded in trying to understand why you continue to defend the scientific integrity of an admitted fraud so ardently. I’m starting to feel like I have misread something badly, yet rereading your original post, Greg, I am as confused as ever:

    “There were brains labeled “Caucasian”, “African”, “Asian”, and “Native American.” Each brain looked pretty realistic, wet, fresh, and there seemed to be fluid accumulated in each of the preternaturally large Petri dishes. All of it was fake, of course. The liquid was Lucite, and with my highly trained Biological Anthropology eye I could easily see that the brains were all molded from the same exact cast.

    The text above the brains included a map and some other items but one paragraph was highlighted and foregrounded and it said, roughly, “…all humans have the same brain, the same size, with the same abilities. Race is a made up concept and is only skin deep,” or words to that effect.”

    Moreover, the quote from the included text would make sense if it applied to ethnicities, but as it stands it is the sort of dumbing-down to the point of blatant falsity that I have been griping about from the beginning.

  23. #23 Tuco
    March 26, 2013

    “George H. W. Bush’s father, Prescott Bush, was a known, active Nazi sympathizer”

    No he wasn’t.

  24. #24 Jim Thomerson
    March 26, 2013

    Can anyone give me a source for cheap brain casts; one that sells a different model for each of the different races?

  25. #25 dean
    March 26, 2013

    “George H. W. Bush’s father, Prescott Bush, was a known, active Nazi sympathizer”
    No he wasn’t.

    I don’t believe it is as simple as either of you claim. He was the director of a company that had financial ties with the Nazis, and that company’s assets were seized in 1942 (under the Enemy Trade Act? or some bill with a similar name). Declassified documents don’t indicate he personally collaborated, but the company did employ Fritz Thyssen, a financial backer of Hitler in the 30s, and the elder Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen’s US interests.
    Further, he continued as such after the United States entered the war. There is strong evidence that he knew of Thyssen’s activities, and where the money was going, but did not report or otherwise act on it.

    Sympathizer might be a bit harsh: looking the other way while evil was about is likely spot on.

  26. #26 Tuco
    March 26, 2013

    “Sympathizer might be a bit harsh”

    Actually it would be a lie, since Prescott Bush wasn’t a Nazi sympathizer.

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    March 26, 2013

    Miles, you have utterly misunderstood the point of the exhibit, you’ve utterly misunderstood my description of it. And, as I’ve said, the point of this post was not to provide the kind and detail of information that would be needed to provide a fair critique of the exhibit.

    What you have done is to disparage the work of two qualified well meaning anthropologists who put together an exhibit for a small museum at a high school given standards and materials available in the 1970s. There was no lie, there was no misrepresentation of fact or of the science. It is possible that you can not imagine a world in which you can’t tell a black person’s brain from a white person’s brain and that this disturbs you to the extent that you have to lash out in this utterly inappropriate and by this point mind numbingly repetitive and boring way. Or, you could be Derailer Troll trying to derail a discussion of race and racism. Or maybe you just got some other kind of problem.

    If you wish to continue making your point, such as it is, please do so in another venue.

  28. #28 dean
    March 26, 2013

    Actually it would be a lie, since Prescott Bush wasn’t a Nazi sympathizer.

    I THINK you are probability correct, but we don’t have the evidence to state that with certainty: there is nothing in the documents that indicate whether he was simply indifferent when he was director of that company and working with Thyssen, or whether he worked with Thyssen because he was sympathetic with the man’s views, politics, and movement being supported.

  29. #29 Tuco
    March 26, 2013

    Prescott never worked with Thyssen, he provided financial services to a bank controlled by a company partly owned by Thyssen. The absence of any suggestion he was sympathetic to Nazis is evidence he wasn’t sympathetic to Nazis, just as the absence of any evidence I’m sympathetic to Scientology is evidence I’m not sympathetic to Scientology.

  30. #30 dean
    March 26, 2013

    Well no, but keep making your absolute statements. Add I said, I suspect you are correct but there is no certain proof.

  31. [...] Covert Ops: Addressing Racism Long Term [...]

  32. #32 Brent
    March 27, 2013

    If you want to get technical, the mere fact that the labels are for the different races, but the molds are not actual molds (or the fact that they are not the real thing) of an African brain, a Caucasion brain, and Asian brain, etc makes the display misleading. But that is beside the point. The point is that the molds are there to lightly illustrate that our brains are equal in capacity. One could even say that using the same mold was an intentional act to illustrate this very point.

    Displays like this are not meant to be the science itself, but just a way to picture the science in the minds of those who need to understand the basic premise.

  33. #33 Greg Laden
    March 27, 2013

    Brent: Right. Science had already long concluded that brains are brains and that is a key point being made. It is nearly impossible to find an exhibit that fully exposes the underlying variation or nuances of a biological phenomenon that underlies the point of an exhibit, and that is hardly ever the point of an exhibit.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    March 27, 2013

    “The debate over Prescott Bush’s behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the “Bush/Nazi” connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis’ plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler’s rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty”

    From The Guardian of a few years back: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar

  35. #35 Tuco
    March 27, 2013

    That article is hilarious, thanks for the link.

  36. #36 dean
    March 27, 2013

    Apparently Tuco is the sole repository of facts on this. How could anyone take actual research and records over his stubbornly stated opinion.

  37. #37 Tuco
    March 27, 2013

    No one has provided any research or records indicating Prescott Bush was a Nazi sympathizer.

  38. #38 dean
    March 27, 2013

    As has been repeatedly pointed out, the “evidence” is nebulous. It seems clear he wasn’t troubled by working for and with companies and people who were aiding the Nazi cause. What isn’t clear is whether that was because he didn’t mind or because he too wanted to help. We simply don’t have enough evidence to say, with certainty, one way or the other. That is the point being made.

  39. #39 Tuco
    March 27, 2013

    As previously noted, he didn’t work with anyone aiding the Nazi cause. Is everyone a Nazi until proven otherwise? I’m not sure how one proves “with certainty” he’s not a Nazi when the absence of any evidence of his being a Nazi is dismissed as meaningless.

  40. #40 Tuco
    March 27, 2013

    Is Barack Obama a terrorist sympathizer? He worked and socialized with the terrorist Bill Ayers, and there’s no evidence proving “with certainty” he doesn’t approve of left-wing domestic terrorism.

  41. #41 dean
    March 27, 2013

    Read again. Nobody is saying he was a Nazi. The question is why he continued working with companies aiding their cause after that was known. Your claim that “he didn’t work with anyone aiding the Nazi cause” is blatantly false. Did you read the article?
    As for your “worked and socialized with” – maybe you should read the facts about the “relationship” between the current President and Ayers.

  42. #42 Tuco
    March 27, 2013

    Obama worked with Ayers, and Ayers eventually admitted they were friends. Those are facts. Clearly Obama is sympathetic to left wing terrorism. It’s not true that Prescott worked with anyone aiding the Nazi cause, and the article does not contradict that.

  43. #43 dean
    March 27, 2013

    “Clearly Obama is sympathetic to left wing terrorism”

    It’s not clear whether you believe that or whether you are being hyperbolic. It is clear that you are avoiding giving specific critiques of the articles or facts about Prescott’s work with those companies, but insist only on denial in pursuit of some personal agenda. Since you aren’t willing to engage in intelligent discussions there is no purpose in continuing this.

  44. #44 Tuco
    March 27, 2013

    It’s not clear why you would object to calling Obama a terrorist sympathizer, given your standards for such things.

  45. #45 Greg Laden
    March 28, 2013

    Bill Ayers is/was never a terrorist, so that point is moot.

  46. #46 dean
    March 28, 2013

    It’s not clear why you would object to calling Obama a terrorist sympathizer, given your standards for such things.

    Do try to read and comprehend. I stated I tend to believe you that Prescott Bush was not a Nazi sympathizer, but that there is no direct evidence in those files that show that.

    What is not in dispute (by an honest reading) is that he worked with people who supported the Nazi buildup, worked for companies that supplied funds, and continued to do so after there was no doubt about what was going on and left one only when it was taken over for aiding an enemy.

    I also noted that you either did not read those articles or, if you did read them, refuse to discuss why you think they can be so easily dismissed.

    The only part of my standards that seem to be weak is that which keeps me back-and-forthing with someone who “argues” on a third grade level – you.

  47. #47 Tuco
    March 28, 2013

    Ayers was a member of a violent terrorist organization, in a September 11, 2001 interview with the New York Times he stated he didn’t regret setting bombs.

  48. #48 Tuco
    March 28, 2013

    Again, Prescott Bush did not work with people who supported the Nazi build up, unlike Obama who did work with and was friends with an unapologetic terrorist.

  49. #49 dean
    March 28, 2013

    “, Prescott Bush did not work with people who supported the Nazi build up”

    You really can’t read, can you? Or are you simply dishonest?

    “The one thing I don’t regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being…. When I say, ‘We didn’t do enough,’ a lot of people rush to think, ‘That must mean, “We didn’t bomb enough shit.”‘ But that’s not the point at all. It’s not a tactical statement, it’s an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, ‘we’ means ‘everyone.'”.
    The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices…. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.

    Prescott Bush may never have liked the Nazis, but his having defenders as ignorant as you isn’t making me grow into a fan of his.

  50. #50 Tuco
    March 28, 2013

    I read just fine. You don’t understand what you read.

    Why do you quote Ayers dishonest, self serving justification of his terrorism?

  51. #51 dean
    March 28, 2013

    “I read just fine. You don’t understand what you read.”

    Clearly you don’t, since what you say contradicts the record.

    I quoted it as a test: Here we have two situations: In Prescott’s case he did (there is no doubt, he did) work for companies and with people who aided the Nazis. We have nothing that says he was an active sympathizer, nothing that says he wasn’t. We know he stuck with those companies after it was known what they were doing. That seems to be the entire basis for your contention that, without any doubt, he should not be completely without taint. I think (and have said) that it is likely he is, but without proof we cannot say so with certainty. If we had statements from him that would have to be considered proof, as I am sure you would agree.

    You also made a claim that Ayers bragged about setting bombs, and wished he’d done more. We have repeated statements in which he clarifies what he meant. Not surprisingly (this is why I posted it) you ignore it out of hand.

    It seems that you are willing to take vague evidence as proof – even make up your own evidence, and dismiss first-hand comments out of hand because you don’t like the source.

    Your lack of integrity is astonishing.

  52. #52 Tuco
    March 28, 2013

    Prescott didn’t work with people who aided the Nazis, yet you keep repeating this misconception you have as if it were a fact.

    “We know he stuck with those companies after it was known what they were doing”

    We also know his employer and owner of those companies was special envoy to Europe for the FDR administration, and was involved in various high level WWII related diplomatic missions. Clearly Roosevelt did not think financial dealings with financial dealings with companies associated with Bank voor Handel was an indication of Nazi sympathies or a moral transgression. But you know better.

    Ayers stated in a New York Times interview that he had no regrets and wished he done more. The dishonesty of his subsequent backtracking is obvious to anyone familiar with what the Weathermen actually did. On the one hand you want impossible levels of proof Prescott was not a something, on the other hand you accept at face value the excuses of a terrorist.

  53. #53 dean
    March 28, 2013

    Not surprised by your stubbornness and misstatements. They are the only things you seem to possess.

    Show me where, in the above postings, I made any defense of Ayers.

    Then keep making your indefensible comments without factual support – since facts don’t matter to you.

  54. #54 Kaleberg
    March 30, 2013

    I was impressed that Bush picked up on the fact that Negroes had the same size heads as whites. He had been told they have smaller brains, but he had used his eyes and realized that their heads were the same size. That’s a good observation. The obvious answer was that he should have believed his eyes not what he was told; their brains are the same size relative to the size of their heads. For all I know that was the answer he was half expecting.

    I can understand why an anthropologist back then might hem and haw and not give the simple answer to the simple question, especially to a big donor but the fact that he was uneasy with the apparent disparity shows more intelligence than I had expected. (I’m no fan of either Bush, H or W, but Bush pere was never an abject idiot or poltroon.)

  55. #55 Tuco
    March 30, 2013

    Actually blacks have smaller average cranial capacities than whites do.

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