Ian Jobling's Homecoming
In November 2012, Jobling was interviewed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. One-Time American Renaissance Writer Ian Jobling Repudiates Racist Editor Jared Taylor. Jobling-related web documents have a tendency to go away, so I'm archiving the exchange here, no blockquote.
Can you tell us a little about your childhood?
I grew up in Louisville, Ky. My mother teaches history and women’s studies at the University of Louisville. My parents divorced in 1974 and my father moved up to Canada, where he taught at a seminary. I went to the best private school in Louisville. Then I went to Amherst College.
I’ve read the Southern Poverty Law Center’s stories about neo-Nazis and other really extreme racists, and my background is really quite different from theirs. I didn’t publish songs about killing Jews. I didn’t beat up any black people. I basically did research on crime and education as they relate to race.
How did you end up going from a Ph.D. program to white nationalism?
Starting around 2002, I was still in grad school. I was really very unhappy there. It was plain that I wasn’t going to get a job in the academy. White nationalism was a position totally opposite to everything that I had known up to that point. The ideas coincided with my inclination and interests in a number of ways.
One thing that I was very angry about was what I called cultural egalitarianism, the idea that there is no superior or inferior culture. Everyone is sort of just different and we should be nonjudgmental and tolerant of everything. That I didn’t agree with, and I still don’t. I thought Western culture to be superior in certain ways and that an argument could be made for that. And I was very interested in evolutionary psychology, which studies the relationship between genetics and behavior. It was through that work that I came into contact with racial difference research by [race scientists] Jean-Philippe Rushton and [the late] Glayde Whitney.
Did you get to know them?
Yes, I reached out to them, met them and participated on listservs with them. And I was really quite impressed by them. For someone angry at the liberal culture of the academy, as I was, they had what I thought was a really good critique of what was going on there. So I became very attracted to these ideas, partly because of my frustration with academia.
The 9/11 attacks had something to do with it, too. In the wake of 9/11, there were a lot of people saying the U. S. was at fault for the attacks, that they were somehow justified by U.S. policies toward Israel. I didn’t buy that argument. And that’s why I got the idea that everyone blamed whites first — that there was an inclination to blame white people even though a non-white was to blame. I felt like non-whites were getting all sorts of special apologies and so, if that makes any sense, that was one of the things that really angered me and attracted me to white nationalism.
And it was personal, too. I lived in some pretty bad neighborhoods in Buffalo and was a victim of one robbery by a couple of black youths and another attempted robbery.
Had you run into racist ideas before graduate school?
I never encountered anything like that in my childhood. I don’t think I have ever met a skinhead in my whole entire life. I was part of an academic community that was transnational.
When was it that you started getting frustrated with the academy?
I’m someone who has an analytical mind. And it seemed that were no rules to literary criticism and a lot of advancement in that field had to do with sucking up and just not rocking the boat. For example, my interest in evolutionary psychology and in biological theories of human behavior was off the map in terms of ideas that people were using at that time. They were talking about Marx and Freud and such things.
I don’t think I should ever have gone to the academy really and some of my frustration was always sort of present.
How did you come to know Jared Taylor?
Glayde Whitney [who once wrote a fawning introduction to former Klan leader David Duke’s autobiography] was an especially big fan of American Renaissance. It wasn’t long after I came to know him that I published my first essay. There’s actually an article in American Renaissance about my conversion. I was interested in evolutionary psychology, I guess, starting from 1997, and I came to think these are very bright people and not everything they tell you is false. And so I eventually became interested and persuaded by them about racial differences in intelligence, criminality, and so forth. I didn’t know Whitney was linked to Duke and I had no interest in anti-Semitism.
Tell us about your time at American Renaissance.
I joined in November of 2003 and learned Web design basically on the job. I put up the new amren.com website, which ran news stories. People would comment on them. I also would moderate comments. It was a very popular site. The comments had to be moderated to keep the anti-Semites out. And then I wrote articles, stuff Taylor wanted written about. I didn’t have a lot of discretion at any point in my career there.
The major project that I undertook was the revision of The Color of Crime [a booklet about racial differences in crime rates], which came out in 2005. I did all the research for that.
When did you start to question your commitment to white nationalism?
One thing you must understand is there are two basic strands to white nationalism. This is not generally understood. One strand relates to racial differences in intelligence and behavior. And especially research on black and white intelligence differences. There is some real substance in that research, though I’m no longer as convinced by all that stuff as I used to be. I took a body of research on black/white differences in intelligence and extrapolated from it wildly and irresponsibly into a general theory of white superiority over all other races.
What’s the other strand?
A part of white nationalism that I really never bought into but I just sort of agreed with because of the people around me is the idea of ethnonationalism — that it’s natural for people to align with their own race and to work in their own race’s interests. And if you don’t do that, there’s something wrong with you and if you don’t defend your own race’s interests, you’re just going to be victimized by other races because those other races have it together, right? The idea is we are organized by race and we all are meant to work in our race’s interest.
So this is really the heart of white nationalism and the major scholarly exponent of this idea today is [anti-Semitic theorist] Kevin MacDonald [who argues that Jews are genetically driven to undermine majority white societies by favoring such things as multiculturalism and non-white immigration]. And also J. P. Rushton. And Taylor was popularizing these wrongheaded ideas.
Did Taylor have any trepidation about associating with such a prominent anti-Semite as MacDonald?
Of course. He never alluded to Kevin MacDonald. He wanted to keep himself clear of that crowd. I came to see ethnonationalism as dumb and really dangerous. It’s basically the same mindset as Nazism, right? Hitler believed that different races had different interests and they were like organisms that were designed to work together. And they had to compete against each for world dominance. Hitler thought the Jews were getting the upper hand in the struggle, so something had to be done about that.
Taylor doesn’t believe in genocide. But the basic idea here is the same—there is a natural and a moral obligation to side with your own race and compete with other races. This is how he sees the world.
My other problem was that I came to see that most American Renaissance subscribers are Holocaust deniers. Some of them aren’t, but most of them are. It infuriated me because I think Holocaust denial is an evil conspiracy theory. I was always indignant about that and I never got any sympathy from Taylor. I always wanted American Renaissance to take a position against Holocaust denial as extreme anti-Semitism. But he always dismissed that concern in a rather smug and condescending manner.
What else did you find problematic?
One of the main arguments in The Color of Crime was that Latinos have these high crime rates. That means as Latin American immigration increases, America should grow more crime-ridden. But that isn’t happening. From 1990 to now, there’s been a reduction in crime, simultaneous with substantial [Latino] immigration. And so that link isn’t there. Taylor tended to downplay arguments like these that were inconsistent with his white nationalism.
There were other problems with The Color of Crime. If you look at crime statistics, they’ll show that blacks are 100 or 150 times more likely to commit assault against a white person than a white person is against a black person. And this is entirely true. This is what the statistics do say. And Taylor used this to try to make the argument that there’s a great hostility against whites amongst blacks.
But the argument is silly. If you’ve got a population which is 90% white and 10% black, whites are much more likely to encounter whites than blacks. And that means that any kind of crime, interracial crime, is going to be skewed by that likelihood of encounter. So what Taylor “discovered” — that blacks are supposedly more criminal than whites — didn’t have the ugly meaning that he attributed to it. Once you started adjusting for blacks as a minority, you found blacks were as likely to commit crimes against whites as they were against other blacks. No white nationalist story there. The second edition of Color of Crime, which I reworked, fixed some of these problems.
Why do you think Taylor plays ball with anti-Semites?
Taylor’s position always was we should just remain silent about Jewish issues. In an organization so rife with anti-Semites, that kind of silence is the same as complicity.
Taylor invites people who are associates of David Duke, like [Holocaust denier] Sam Dixon, to the conference. His personal associations are a problem to. He is close to Holocaust denier Mark Weber, who regularly stayed over at his house. There’s a kind of complicity there that maybe made him not see how anti-Semitism discredited us. Given Taylor’s ethnonationalist views, that people are naturally loyal to their race and naturally struggle against each other, well anti-Semitism naturally follows from that, right? But Taylor avoids the whole issue. I think Kevin MacDonald is just more intellectually honest than Taylor is.
How did your parents deal with your white nationalism?
My involvement with American Renaissance was incredibly hard on my family relationships. I still see my mother and father, but with my mother’s family, there was so much conflict there that I just stopped seeing them.
Both my parents, I think, did rather well about this. And chose to ignore it. The problem is hard — seriously disagreeing with a family member. Can they put that disagreement aside, to save the rest of the relationship? And both my mother and father managed to do that, [to] compartmentalize and segregate this whole problem. And they did manage to treat me as a son.
My mother’s family was obsessed with sorting out my life, however. They couldn’t get over it. It made for some very rough times and very snarky, hostile Thanksgivings.
What finally made you decide to move on?
After the 2006 conference, a bunch of us got together and wrote a letter to Taylor about anti-Semitism. I didn’t put my name on it. He was very upset by it and he published a snotty reaction, that he wasn’t going to be pushed around. It was over—I left.
We had other differences, too. A major source of contention between us was the Iraq War. I was a supporter, which may well have been the wrong position. I basically bought into the Bush administration’s line. I believed in the idea of trying to establish a liberal democratic nation in Iraq.
Taylor doesn’t believe in those ideals, not at all. He took this very simple-minded nationalist viewpoint, that we should allow other nations their sovereignty. I always basically agreed with liberal democratic ideals. My concerns about non-white immigration were that immigrants did not believe in those ideals, so we needed to retain a white nation so we can go on being a liberal democracy. That was very, very different from what Taylor believed.
What happened after you left American Renaissance?
I ran a website called “The Inverted World” for a while [that was against anti-Semitism but white nationalist]. I was still dedicated to the white nationalist cause. Some people accused me of being in the pay of Israel, called me a Jew-lover. It was sort of a mire and I got sick of it.
I now realize that it was really misguided. I had erected this whole theory of white superiority based on very limited evidence and believed that non-white immigration was going to cause the United States to become a Third World country. That wasn’t happening and I eventually recognized that.
I feel so much distance between me and that former self that I just wanted to put that behind me.
And what do you think about your years as a white nationalist now that you’ve left?
It may be that there are innate, biological differences among the races. There is a large body of academic research on these differences, and this research is credible, which doesn’t mean that it won’t be overturned in the future. Scholars should not be persecuted for publishing research on these matters. But this subject is so explosive that, in our daily lives, we should ignore it to the extent that this is possible. We should make an effort to treat people equally and not impose our stereotypes on them. That’s where most Americans are today, and I’ve come to accept the common wisdom.