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Letter to the editor

We, as a society, all too easily forget just how recently we recognized the equal abilities of people of color. Only at the turn of the 20th century, did scholarship sufficiently recognize that minority peoples were not inferior, but equally capable and deserving of rights. This idea led to tectonic shifts. Nations were freed from colonization, and granted autonomy. Minorities in countries around the world were freed from their legal status as inferior. Too many people died and sacrificed to promote this radical idea of equality. Achievements by minorities, especially black people, in all arenas have shattered the notion that they are inferior in anyway, intellectually or otherwise.

To give Charles Murray a platform in the name of free speech is dangerous. The role of an academic institution should be to promote scholarship that advances knowledge and is sufficiently rooted in history and evidence. Moreover, such ideas should also advance our ethical commitment to ensuring equal rights, opportunities, and humanity for all peoples. Duke has already given an intellectual platform to Stephen Miller, who casted Islam, a diverse, global religion of over billion people, as at war with the west while a student. He has used his elite education at Duke to propel him to the White House, and now creates policies based on his radical ideology.

Our recently earned global humanity is fragile and uncertain. In the revolt against “political correctness,” we forget that avoiding generalizations about entire groups of people is not only polite, it is fundamental to maintaining our hard-won progress. At this point in history, are the closest we have ever been to a true meritocracy and a shared human race, and we may easily lose it. Murray’s scholarship harks back to the eugenists who used faulty science to justify state-sponsored racial oppression.

Ideas are dangerous. They can oppress people. They can kill people. As an influential university, we must be careful and critical about which people we entertain as intellectual leaders.

- Kavya Sekar, Master of Public Policy Candidate

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