We, the faculty and staff of the Federated Department of History at New Jersey Institute of Technology, are writing to denounce NJIT University Lecturer Jason Jorjani’s views on race in his comments, writings, and interviews. A recent New York Times exposé, “Undercover with the Alt-Right,” highlighted his association with the alt-right, a white supremacist movement, and his apparent enthusiasm about the redemption of Adolf Hitler as a great world leader. (To view this article see “Undercover with the Alt-Right,” New York Times, September 19, 2017, also available online at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/opinion/alt-right-white-supremacy-undercover.html?_r=0).
Troubling as those comments are, they are consistent with his other public statements, which indicate that Dr. Jorjani is a proponent of racist ideologies. Dr. Jorjani’s online article, “Against Perennial Philosophy,” in which he identifies himself as an NJIT faculty member, expresses a view of race and intelligence harking back to eugenic beliefs and “scientific racism” long since debunked by scientists. In attempting to explain why non-Aryan peoples have not produced thinkers like the German philosopher Hegel, Dr. Jorjani writes, “This mentality has a genetic basis. You do not find it in Asians, Arabs, Africans, and other non-Aryan peoples.” He continues later in the same paragraph to explain differences in IQ as resulting from a biological notion of race: “That Africans have an average IQ of around 75 whereas whites have an average IQ of around 100, and Africans who have mixed with whites (for example in North America or South Africa) have an average IQ of around 85 has to do not with education or social conditioning, but with different genetic inheritances from extinct Hominid species.” More frighteningly, Dr. Jorjani states, in regard to Iran specifically, but with obvious global implications, that “With the emerging technologies of embryo selection and genetic engineering, it would be possible, with the right leadership and government planning, to restore the pre-Arab and pre-Mongol genetic character of the majority of the Iranian population within only one or two generations. I’m sorry to have to suggest that this might be necessary in order to Make Iran Great Again.” (To view this essay see, Jason Jorjani, “Against Perennial Philosophy,” Alt-Right.com, October 21, 2016, available online at https://altright.com/2016/10/21/against-perennial-philosophy/).
As scholars of the past, we are well-prepared to provide historical context to the Aryan supremacism, eugenics, and theories of race put forth by Dr. Jorjani. In the 20th century alone, race theories and eugenic beliefs were used to support forced sterilization laws, Jim Crow legislation, restrictive immigration quotas, and the Holocaust. These ideas are not valid science but rather are reflective of prejudice and power. Just as slave owners in antebellum America utilized the now-debunked science of phrenology to justify the bondage of African-Americans, so Jorjani utilizes discredited scientific studies on intelligence and heredity in order to segregate people into racial and ethnic hierarchies on the basis of his unscientific assumptions about their fitness for participation in civilized society.
How can we trust Dr. Jorjani to educate and evaluate our students? Are we to assume that his published views on the “innate capacities” of different racial and ethnic groups will not influence his judgment about the diverse student body at NJIT? Dr. Jorjani’s published beliefs create a hostile learning environment for students of color in particular, and his presence on the instructional staff at NJIT appears to legitimize discredited race-based ideas about intelligence and citizenship that have no place in academia. It is our collective belief that Dr. Jorjani’s eventual termination as a University Lecturer would be justified and consistent with the principles of academic freedom and NJIT’s mission.
NJIT Faculty and Staff
Doris Sher (Emerita)
Richard Sher (Emeritus)
Rutgers, Newark Faculty and Staff