Ralph Scott's Curious Career: Rightist on the Rights Panel

By Mehler, Barry | The Nation, May 7, 1988 | Go to article overview

Ralph Scott's Curious Career: Rightist on the Rights Panel


Mehler, Barry, The Nation


Ralph Scott, professor of educational psychology at the University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls, chairs the Iowa Advisory Commission on Civil Rights. State advisory commissions collect information relating to discrimination and pass it along to the U.S. Commission on CMI Rights, headed by Clarence Pendleton Jr. Scott was named to the post in 1985, although it is not clear who recommended him for it.

Scott's appointment was part of the Reagan Administration shake-up of the Civil Rights Commission in 1985-87, which included closing seven of its ten regional offices and replacing the heads of most state commissions with white males [see Mary Frances Berry, "Taming the CMI Rights Commission," The Nation, February 2, 1985].

The problem with Scott is that he is known in his hometown of Cedar Falls as an opponent of civil rights. In the 1970s he fought vigorously against school integration in the Waterloo district and Filed a suit, later dropped, against three civil rights activists who cared him a racist. "There's a fire that burns within me when I am described as a racist," Scott told The Des Moines Register recently. "I've always been committed to equity in education."

As Scott sees it, he's simply a white conservative fighting the bigotry and intimidation that liberals "unhesitatingly employ against professors who speak their minds." That's why he "reluctantly" disguised his identity in 1975 when he wrote The Busing Coverup, a 158-page book contending that black children have been victimized by school desegregation.

The Busing Coverup was put out by Howard Allen Enterprises of Cape Canaveral, Florida, a major publisher of neo-Nazi material. Howard Allen also published Wilmot Robertson's The Dispossessed Majority in 1972. Scott reviewed that book for Spotlight, a publication of the Liberty Lobby, which the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith calls "the best financed anti-Semitic organization in the United States." Scott found the book full of "mind-stirring ideas" and praised its "well-articulated and richly documented argument." The central theme of the book, he wrote, "is that Majority Americans such as the English, Irish, Germans, Poles and Scandinavians are getting short shrift in today's America which is essentially ruled by vigorous and united minorities."

Scott says, "For those majority Americans who seek to understand their cultural heritage, this book is a family must." The main argument of Robertson's book is that "the essence of history is the rise and fall of races." In the grand design of evolution, Robertson holds, one race will ultimately survive to give birth to "a new species, the better-than-man." The race best suited to shoulder this burden is the Northern European. In order to put things back on the evolutionary track in the United States, minority elements in the population could be separated out and either returned to their homelands or resettled in new ones. But this enterprise would be difficult because the American majority has been dispossessed by the Jews, who have acquired a stranglehold on the American mind.

Robertson propounds "a different brand of history," Scott wrote, one that "throws a bright clear light" on facts "which our politicians have kicked into dark corners." (Wilmot Robertson does indeed specialize in a different brand of history. His magazine, Instauration, is dedicated to the proposition that the Holocaust was a hoax.)

Ralph Scott's defense of the rights of the American majority has not been limited to print. In 1974 he was the American Party's candidate in the Iowa gubernatorial race. The American Party was started by George Wallace in 1967 as the American Independent Party, but when he left in 1972, the party lurched further to the right. Wallace was replaced by Tom Anderson, a founding member of the Council of the John Birch Society. By 1974, when Scott joined, the American Party had gained national attention by exploiting the violence that swept South Boston in the wake of desegregation. …

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