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The Intelligence Quotient: Lauren Chen, Dog Whistles, and the 2020 Election

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

President Donald Trump at the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Sept. 29, 2020 Brian Snyder / Reuters

I want to take us back to the Presidential Debates. I know, it feels like a decade ago. The date is October 22nd, 2020. Having the privilege of hindsight now, we obviously know the results of the election will most likely go to former vice-president Joe Biden. Key states Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have been called for the former Vice-President, and according to the Associated Press, he has a projected 306 electoral college points, passing the 270 point threshold needed to win the presidency. Unless a massive conspiratorial fraud is uncovered by the opposition, we can assume that Biden is heading to the White House in 2021.

Aside from the results, I actually wanted to cover a specific moment from the second presidential debate that should have us all scared. According to the transcript provided by USA Today, at around the 1 hour mark of the debate, Moderator Kristen Welker introduced the topic of immigration to the two candidates. When Donald Trump was asked how he would reunite the displaced children of undocumented immigrants, he responded with how the conversation should focus on the fact that the cages were constructed during the Obama Administration and under Vice President Joe Biden’s jurisdiction. This was a smart pivot on the part of Donald Trump, to which Biden responded, “we made a mistake. It took too long to get it right. I'll be President of the United States, not Vice President of the United States. And the fact is, and I’ve made it very clear, within 100 days, I'm going to send to the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people.” Trump goes on to briefly defend the cages by saying, “They worked it out, we brought reporters and everything. They are so well taken care of. They're in facilities that were so clean.” Keep in mind that the facilities at the border were classified as concentration camps by the ADL (Anti Defamation League). After some more clash between the candidates, Trump said something unprecedented. He tried to make the point that some of the parents, “never come back,” and that, “only the really -- I hate to say this -- but those with the lowest IQ, they might come back.”


What does Trump mean by this? What does IQ have to do with anything in conversation? Obviously, since we can never know what someone truly thinks, we can only make inferences based on their actions. When given the evidence set in front of us, everything from the Charlottesville “both sides-ism” to struggling to denounce white supremacy, we can only infer that Donald Trump dog-whistled to the Alt-Right. Before you call me an overly-sensitive social justice warrior, let me walk you through this. A dog-whistle is a statement made by a group in order to signal to other people in that group about their true intentions. If you don't get why the low IQ statement is bad, don’t worry. It is meant to go over the head of the average person. When it comes to Alt-Right dog-whistles, they use certain arguments as a trojan horse to advocate for their true beliefs. The Alt-Right is an organization that fundamentally believes that they are better than other people because of their race. Additionally, Alt-Right members believe that there is a plan to replace white people with minorities. This “great replacement” is supposed to be a part of a massive conspiracy conducted by a grand cabal of Jewish Elite in order to receive retribution from the Holocaust. Only, the Alt-Right would never say Jewish people, they instead refer to them as “Globalists.”

White nationalist demonstrators enter Lee Park surrounded by counter protestors in Charlottesville, Va on Aug. 12, 2017 Steve Helber / The Associated Press

The beliefs of the Alt-Right are incoherent and irrational, and so are their policies. Most Alt-Right members want an ethnostate, or a racially homogenous country where people whose skin has too much melanin would not be allowed in. They believe minorities possess genetic characteristics such as low IQ that will hurt culture and society. This is the main issue. The Alt-Right marks up their criticism of the difference between the races to genetics, even though most of the issues regarding IQ are socio-economic.

An article entitled, “The Unwelcome Revival of ‘Race Science’” (Evans, 2018) from the Guardian states, “Alfred Binet, the modest Frenchman who invented IQ testing in 1904, knew that intelligence was too complex to be expressed in a single number. But Binet’s tests were embraced by Americans who assumed IQ was innate, and used it to inform immigration, segregationist and eugenic policies. Early IQ tests were packed with culturally loaded questions. (“The number of a Kaffir’s legs is: 2, 4, 6, 8?” was one of the questions in IQ tests given to US soldiers during the first world war.) Over time, the tests became less skewed and began to prove useful in measuring some forms of mental aptitude. But this tells us nothing about whether scores are mainly the product of genes or of the environment.” So there you have it. IQ may be used to talk about intelligence, but Trump has no reason to bring it up when talking about immigration. That is, unless he’s trying to appeal to a certain demographic.

Lauren Chen / Twitter

Knowing this information now, let’s apply it to a tweet made by Canadian Neo-Nazi Lauren Chen. On January 21st, 2019, she states, “IQ is mostly genetic. High IQ people now tend to have way fewer kids (if any) than lower IQ people. It’s a problem IDK how to fix either, but it would help if we could at least discuss the problem.” When Lauren Chen made this comment, she was referring to the idea that only stupid people (low IQ) are dumb enough to have a lot of children. This statement just so happens to line up with the fact that people in poorer, minority countries have larger families. Put two and two together, and we can pretty obviously see that this is a jab at POC. Chen claims that IQ is genetic, however the real reason that people tend to have more children in poor countries is because of the lack of contraceptives, lack of opportunities for higher education, and need for the labor market, all of which are socio-economic.

While we can all collectively mock the concerns of the Alt-Right due to their inherent pettiness and insecurity, however the fact that we had a President on stage repeat this rhetoric is extremely concerning. Luckily, our democratic process is stronger than Trump, but we were really close to seeing actual fascistic and white supremacist advocacy in our government. We need to be able to identify these dog-whistles before they proliferate.

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