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Charles Murray

American columnist and policy analyst, Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, once nominated by the liberal New York Times as "America's most dangerous conservative", author of Losing Ground and co-author (with Richard Herrnstein) of The Bell Curve (1994)


Intellectuals in the United States are overwhelmingly secular. The ruling attitude, as far as I can see, is that no real intellectual could possibly take religion seriously. There is not a lot of animus. The attitude toward religion is more dismissive than anything else.

Jan. 1995 - from "Forbidden Thoughts", a discussion published in American Enterprise by the American Enterprise Institute
In the book [The Bell Curve] my co-author [Richard Herrnstein] and I describe what we see as strong empirical evidence of downward pressure on the intellectual capital of the country, due to differential birth rates between more and less intelligent individuals. In our last chapter we say we are scared stiff of any government attempts to deal with this, because we can imagine no acceptable recommendation whatsoever from the government to encourage fertility among some women and discourage it among others. That is so fraught with dangers that we don't want to see it happen. We say that explicitly. Then we go on to say that the problem with current government policy is the opposite. Right now, with the welfare system, we have an incentive structure that manipulates fertility. It doesn't encourage women with high I.Q.s to have babies, but rather women with low average intelligence. So we say the government ought to stop subsidizing births to anybody, rich or poor. Well, this was taken as a eugenics policy. To ask the government to withdraw from an area was very aggressively interpreted as meaning we want the government to encourage high I.Q. women to have more babies. But that's not what we said.

Jan. 1995 - from "Forbidden Thoughts", a discussion published in American Enterprise by the American Enterprise Institute
The idea of intellectual freedom and a person's right to think and write whatever he wants is not a natural phenomenon in human history. It had to be developed and sustained by applying a lot of energy. So it is not so surprising that it collapsed once certain clear, bright lines began to be breached. We've witnessed the bridge point. ... When I arrived [at university in the 1960's] there was still an utter hegemony of the idea that the university is a sacred place where your obligation is to think and to write and you have freedom to do that. Once that ideal became contaminated with issues of social justice, the intellectual freedom principle quickly got lost. If it is not an absolute ideal, it is too obviously vulnerable to all sorts of emotional and very persuasive pleas, as in the 1960s. Intellectual freedom is a delicate plant.

Jan. 1995 - from "Forbidden Thoughts", a discussion published in American Enterprise by the American Enterprise Institute
It is impossible to pursue happiness if you are deride of self-respect.

from Losing Ground
I finally [believe] that Jeffersonian democracy is still the best way to run society... it may just be that on certain fundamental questions of government, Jefferson and his colleagues were right more universally than they knew. In particular, they understood that the vitality of communities and the freedoms of individuals are intertwined.

from "In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government"
The ideology of equality has done some good. For example, it is not possible as a practical matter to be an identifiable racist or sexist and still hold public office. But most of its effects are bad. Given the power of contemporary news media to imprint a nation-wide image overnight, mainstream political figures have found that their allegiance to the rhetoric of equality must extend very far indeed, for a single careless remark can irretrievably damage or even end a public career. In everyday life, the ideology of equality censors and straitjackets everything from pedagogy to humor. The ideology of equality has stunted the range of moral dialogue to triviality. In daily life-conversations, the lessons taught in public schools, the kinds of screenplays or newspaper feature stories that people choose to write-the moral ascendancy of equality has made it difficult to use concepts such as virtue, excellence, beauty and-above all-truth.

1994 - from The Bell Curve, The Free Press, New York (with Richard Herrnstein)
Human freedom has always had to depend first on the individual's understanding that he is the custodian of his life, no matter who tries to say otherwise.

1997 - from What It Means To Be A Libertarian
We tried to provide more for the poor and produced more poor instead. We tried to remove the barriers to escape poverty, and inadvertently built a trap.

from Losing Ground