A pioneering, award-winning scientist in the field of DNA research was teetering on the verge of irrelevance decades after his historic discovery was becoming increasingly consequential for the very people he’s been persistently racist toward. The latest blow to Dr. James Watson’s professional credibility came this weekend when the person who has been referred to as “the father of DNA” was “stripped of his honorary titles at the laboratory he once led after repeating racist comments in a documentary,” according to CNN.
Watson, 90, has been under fire for more than a decade for falsely saying in 2007 that there is science to prove that Black people are intellectually inferior. He apparently felt empowered enough to double down on that false premise in a PBS film that aired Jan. 2. That finally prompted Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where Watson served as director from 1968 to 1993, to into “revoking his honorary titles of Chancellor Emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus, and Honorary Trustee.”
Watson’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded in 1962, was apparently still intact. In fact, there was not one single mention of Watson’s racist views on his page on the Nobel Prize website. However, the move by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was seemingly one of the final nails in the coffin of Watson’s credibility, relevance and overall career, which has all but hit rock bottom.
Watson’s fateful and racist words left him “ostracized,” according to the Telegraph. But he couldn’t have been that isolated, especially since PBS felt the need to include him and his tainted views in the film. Still, in 2014 he said he was selling his Nobel Prize because he was broke and lost his earning power in part because “no-one really wants to admit I exist.”
DNA research has been especially helpful to Black people who have been falsely accused of crimes. It has also helped Black people trace their ancestral roots back to Africa, which Watson once falsely said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really.”
Aside from his racist views on Black people, Watson has been accused of being anti-Semitic and homophobic.
While slow justice is better than no justice, it can’t be ignored that Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory only decided days ago to take action against the same offensive views Watson has publicly espoused for 12 years now.
CNN reminded readers of some of the very unscientifically hateful views that Watson said he believes:
“In 1997, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph quoted him as saying that women should be allowed to abort a child for any reason, such as if a gene for homosexuality were found in the fetus.
“During a lecture tour in 2000, he suggested there might be links between a person’s weight and their level of ambition and between skin color and sexual prowess.
“‘That’s why you have Latin lovers,’ he said, according to The Associated Press, which cited people who attended the lecture. ‘You’ve never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient.’
“And in a British TV documentary that aired in 2003, Watson suggested stupidity was a genetic disease that should be treated.”