Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

    Maryland university apologizes for Block

    Walter Block has grown accustomed to criticism of his views. The economics professor has defended his libertarian beliefs in public debates and in print on a number of occasions at his home Loyola University New Orleans. However, in November, Block received criticism on a different level.

    Days after he presented guest lectures there, the Economics Department of the Loyola College of Maryland publicly condemned and apologized for Block’s “insensitive and incorrect remarks.” The apology, printed in the Nov. 11 issue of the college’s newspaper, was buttressed by a campus-wide e-mail from the Rev. Brian F. Linnane, Loyola Maryland president, who said he refused to “endorse or support racism, sexism or any other form of intolerance.”

    Economics professor Thomas DiLorenzo invited Block to speak both to his class and the university’s Adam Smith Society. His lecture held that wage discrepancies between women and men were the result of lower productivity, rather than discrimination. The uneven tasks in marriage he said were the culprit for lower productivity.

    During the question-and-answer session Block fielded a question about the wage gap between blacks and whites, which he said also resulted from a difference in productivity levels. Block gave two reasons for the productivity disparity between the groups which he also paraphrased in his column on
    “The politically correct answer is that lower black productivity is due to slavery, Jim Crow legislation, poor treatment of African-Americans in terms of schooling, etc. The politically incorrect explanation was supplied by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray in their book ‘The Bell Curve’: Lower Black IQs.”

    In a letter written to the school newspaper, The Greyhound, the economics department called Block’s comments regarding women and blacks, “racially-insensitive,” “erroneous” and indicative of “poor-quality scholarship.”

    In a Nov. 18 response in The Greyhound, DiLorenzo said he and Department Chair, the Rev. Hank Hilton, refused to sign the apology letter — and that only three of its signatories actually attended the lecture. Furthermore, DiLorenzo criticized the position of the signees while defending Block.

    “To simply assume, without evidence, that all the disparity is caused by discrimination is sloppy scholarship,” he wrote.

    In a press release the Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., university president, said Block’s views were not representative of the university, but defended his right to an opinion.

    “Universities, like Loyola, are places of argument and disagreement. They are laboratories of free expression and academic inquiry. This is how we advance knowledge and learning,” he said.

    Block acknowledged “people are naturally suspicious of my views — which is reasonable.” He encourages disagreement even among his own students. Block said his favorite papers, some of which he has helped publish, are the ones that are critical of his own views. 
    Steve Heath can be reached at [email protected].

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