'Scientific racist' must not be gagged, say opponents

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Remember Voltaire - "I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it"? This week two leading left-wing anti- racists will prove the sentiment lives on when they publicly defend the right of "scientific racist" Christopher Brand to publish his work.

Marek Kohn, author of The Race Gallery and Kenan Malik, author of The Meaning of Race, will call for the publication of The g-Factor, in which Mr Brand, an Edinburgh University psychology lecturer, links race with intelligence.

The book was withdrawn by publishers earlier this year following an interview in the Independent on Sunday in which Mr Brand claimed that black people were less intelligent than whites, and that single mothers should be "encouraged to breed with higher IQ males to escape the poverty trap". He has since been trying to find an alternative publisher through leading figures of the American right, including Roger Pearson, a North American academic who has advocated a "supergeneration'' genetically engineered from the fittest whites.

Messrs Kohn and Malik will dispute the science of The g-Factor and Mr Brand's claims on IQ in a debate at Edinburgh's Internet cafe, Cyberia, this Thursday evening. However, both academics will say that the suppression of his book is an attack on freedom of speech.

Mr Kohn supports a law against incitement to racial hatred, but says it should "only be invoked in overwhelming circumstances". He describes himself as a "muscular rather than woolly liberal" who wants to be tough- minded and get away from the "bad name of liberalism".

"I want to see an open debate on scientific racism," he said. "If Salman Rushdie is to be allowed his views, so should Chris Brand. Let there be no double standard." He strongly disputes the tenets of Mr Brand's book, however. "Brand compares IQ to a thermometer. I wouldn't use it to boil an egg."

"Anti-racists can be so unsure of their own arguments that they would rather censor than debate them," said Mr Malik, who has offered to put the book out on his web site on the Internet. "I think it would be a good idea if it is published because it's a debate that should be held. A subject such as this is important academically, politically and practically and all the different arguments should be available.

"Having said that, Chris Brand misunderstands the nature of intelligence and of race. He has the notion of intelligence that all psychometricians have - that it is a single entity. That simply is not the case."

He supports absolute freedom of speech on the Internet: "I believe that the BNP or any other organisation should have the freedom to say what they like."

Liberty, the civil rights lobby group, backs the decision of publishers John Wiley to withdraw the book, however. Its director, John Wadham, said: "Liberty believes in a balance of rights and in this case although we value freedom of expression there would be great concerns about incitement of racial hatred."

Mr Brand, whose psychology lectures were boycotted last year, stands by his view that "it is scientific fact that black Americans are less intelligent than white Americans".

"It is very nice of Kenan and Marek to support the publication of my book," he said last night. "I am grateful and I respect them for taking that position. I am sick of all the politically correct gits who are trying to censor my work. In the 1990s they don't wear jack-boots to indulge in book burning, they just do it through PC."

He has allies, he says, including Mr Pearson, who runs the journal of the far-right Pioneer Foundation, Mankind Quarterly.

He is also "in negotiation with a major publishing house" which he will not name and with Jared Taylor, the publisher of the right-wing American Renaissance magazine.

"Renaissance is a bit anti-immigrant for me," he admits. "In my experience immigrants tend to be very intelligent - better in fact than the blacks they have there already. So in my opinion they should be grateful for immigrants in America.

"The important thing is to get the book out. And I am determined to do so ... I will be putting it out on the Internet so it is available to all to universities."