Buffalo shooter’s manifesto quoted a university researcher. That’s raising questions about racism in academia
The work of Michael Woodley, a 38-year-old British academic, was credited in Payton S. Gendron's proclamation posted online.
The lengthy manifesto posted online by Payton S. Gendron, the 18-year-old mass murderer who killed 10 Black people in Buffalo last month, is exposing some of the racist research taking place at universities around the world.
The New York Times reported Thursday that the work of Michael Woodley, a 38-year-old British academic, was credited in Gendron’s proclamation. Woodley claimed that there had been an I.Q. drop in France, which he attributed to migration from North Africa. Further, he has co-written literature declaring a global intelligence decline and supports theories dividing humanity into subspecies, which is a linchpin of white supremacist belief.
Woodley has been affiliated with some the most prestigious universities in the world, and the inclusion of his work in Gendron’s manifesto is giving other academics the fuel to publicly denounce Woodley’s extremist research.
The Times referenced one population genetics researcher, Alex Mas Sandoval of the University of Bologna, who said that he was “appalled” to hear that Woodley was credited by Gendron. Sandoval said “the killer decontextualized scientific conclusions,” noting that Woodley’s area of expertise is plant ecology yet his research expanded to human genetics and intelligence.
“Woodley has been explicitly racist,” Sandoval maintained, per The Times. “He has a history of spreading racist, white supremacist theories. He is questioning a consensus based on decades of research.”
Sandoval started a petition online to get Woodley suspended and his Ph.D. revoked. Woodley’s research is being dissected after Gendron cited it before murdering 10 and wounding three others in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. The Vrije Universiteit Brussel suspended its relationship with Woodley after a newspaper wrote that it was “shocked” that an “element from a paper” by the researcher appeared in Gendron’s manifesto.
Woodley declined to comment to The Times, but the newspaper contends that his colleagues described him as “absolutely devastated by the turn of events.” Others note that his far-right politics is a clarion call in academia.
“I do think things have changed in recent years, partly because of political discourse,” said British journalist Angela Saini, the author of Superior: The Return of Race Science. “And with the rise of ethnic nationalism and the far right, we have become more aware of just how risky, how dangerous these people are. They gained a huge following over the years.”
Meanwhile, Gendron has been charged with hate-motivated domestic terrorism, first-degree murder, attempted murder and murder as a hate crime in a 25-count indictment after he opened fire on grocery shoppers and working employees at Tops Friendly Market on May 14.
He has pleaded not guilty.
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