Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Dec. 7, 1999 /28 Kislev, 5760

Evan Gahr

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
David Corn
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Jeff Jacoby
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Robert Samuelson
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Cathy Young
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports
Weekly Standard



How to make the American Psychological Association squirm -- CONGRESS NOW HAS yet another reason to berate the American Psychological Association.

The APA this fall officially brushed off congressional criticism of its notorious "study" that called fathers worse than useless. That study came to light earlier this year, not long after a congressional furor broke out over an APA article that appeared to condone pedophilia.

Still, congressmen remain oblivious to how they can really make the APA squirm: Hit the District-based organization in the pocketbook. Last year, unbeknownst to its congressional critics, the APA received millions of dollars in federal subsidies, the American Spectator discloses. There's plenty more where that comes from; most of the grants are multiyear.

Why aren't congressmen a bit more attuned to how they spend taxpayer dollars? After all, it just took them several weeks after the Brooklyn Museum controversy broke to realize that the federal government underwrites the now notorious arts institution (which is locked in a battle with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani over an exhibition that features a dung-splattered Virgin Mary portrait).

As for the APA, an ostensibly scientific organization that functions as a left-liberal advocacy group (witness their new alliance with the American Federation of Teachers), it's almost comical that congressmen unwittingly fund the very organization they condemn.

Some background: In July 1998, the APA's Psychological Bulletin published an article that seemed to condone pedophilia. "A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples" argued that the "negative potential" of sexual abuse has "been overstated." Child sex abuse, they contended, actually encompasses a wide range of behavior best described with "value neutral" terms.

You might think that would raise eyebrows among the "scientific community." But the article went practically unnoticed until "Dr. Laura" Schlessinger attacked it on her nationally syndicated radio show March 22. The press took note. And soon Congress was turning up the screws on the APA, or so it seemed.

On May 12, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas and three other GOP congressman held a press conference to denounce the APA. Rep. Matt Salmon, Arizona Republican, lamented that "we have a so-called credible psychological organization in this country that purports to say that maybe sex with children isn't bad."

Unbeknownst to the congressmen , this "so-called credible psychological association" has long been in bed with the federal government. The APA has long enjoyed a small but steady flow of federal dollars. And last year, the APA was awarded $4.78 million in federal grants, most of them multiyear. Nor is this anything new. The National Institutes of Health, for example, have funded the APA since at least the late 1980s.

Yes, the government grants represent a small fraction of the APA's $77.63 million annual budget And it's true that some of the grants, such as $848,000 last year to train minority scientists, sound innocuous. But money is fungible. Money earmarked for seemingly legitimate purposes frees up funds to support pro-pedophilia articles.

In any event, shouldn't all these government ties makes the APA awfully scared to antagonize Congress? Apparently not. In the face of criticism over the pedophilia article, the APA simply hid behind science. A spokeswoman said "I think the issue is not so much about pedophilia but whether science should be allowed to ask tough questions."

However, as congressional pressure mounted the APA finally backed down just a bit. CEO Ray Fowler told Mr. DeLay that there were inconsistencies in the APA study. He promised a full review and insisted the APA in no way condones child sex abuse.

Just when the pedophilia controversy was subsiding, a new one erupted. In June 1999, the American Psychologist, which all APA members receive, published "Deconstructing the Essential Father." The authors attacked "neo-conservatives" for their claim that fathers are crucial to a child's development. Psychologists Carl Auerbach and Louise Silverstein explained that sometimes life without father is best. After all, Dad may may squander the household money by gambling or buying alcohol or cigarettes.

It was deja vu all over again. Columnists screamed. Rep. Joseph Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, and other congressmen complained to Mr. Fowler in an Aug. 6 letter.

If the APA was weary from all the criticism, it sure wasn't evident at their annual convention later that month. The controversies were largely ignored. And the convention, with a seemingly endless parade of left-wing speakers, could have been mistaken for a meeting of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition.

In fact, Jesse Jackson was the keynote speaker. He brought the APA crowd to its feet as he railed against the "jail industrial complex," demanded "universal health care," denounced U.S. imperialism, trashed George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. (Another speaker attacked Clarence Thomas.)

On and on it went. Still, the convention's sensibility shouldn't have surprised anyone. The APA has long pushed an unabashedly left-liberal agenda. In addition to such standard liberal goodies as unrestricted abortion rights, gay rights and stringent "affirmative action" measures.

Moreover, key elements of the mental health profession have long manifested utter contempt for middle-class values. In the 1960s and 1970s, one shrink even made his name blaming schizophrenia on society. On the political front, they have declared Barry Goldwater psychologically unfit to be president. And this month, the APA's New York division joined the left-leaning teachers union. (Other state APA divisions may soon join the AFT.)

It's well to note that when the American Medical Association condemned partial-birth abortion in 1996 liberals yelped that politics had tainted medicine. But when the APA shills for the left - and even assorted perverts - it's a different story. Object and you're thwarting scientific progress.

Just look how the APA finally answered criticism of the organization's anti-fatherhood screed. In a Sept. 20 letter to Mr. Pitts, Mr. Fowler, the APA honcho, said APA articles are meant to engender scientific discussion. Actually, with their sniping at the neo-conservatives, the authors of the article sounded more like "Crossfire" panelists than dispassionate scientists. (Even the article's title's reference to "deconstructing" reeks of academia).

Mr. Fowler did not return a phone call for this article. And APA President Richard Suinn cut off questions about the APA as "inappropriate."

But if congressional Republicans ever get serious about their threat to "defund the left," the APA is a great place to start.

JWR contributor Evan Gahr writes often for the American Spectator, from which this piece is adapted. Send your comments by clicking here.


©1999, Evan Gahr