Video screenshot taken from Tony Kao’s Facebook post. Watch the full video below.
After a woman was filmed by Long Beach local Tony Kao telling him and his wife, “Go back to your home country!” went viral, hundreds of commenters hopped onto social media to identify the woman as Golden West College (GWC) professor of psychology and counselor Tarin Olson.
After being outed, Olson had no problem admitting it was her—and would like to even defend her perspective on a “full, normal” CBS2 interview: “If you would like to have a full, normal interview about the displacement of European-Americans, then I gladly am available to enlighten the public.”
“We’re very aware the community has deep concerns, and we’re not going to let this die,” stated Letitia Clark, a representative for GWC. “We’re looking at past interactions with students and staff to see if it relates to the comments made on the video.”
However, the shock of something like this happening in Long Beach—even amongst some of Long Beach’s most educated or those involved in education, including Olson, who received her undergrad degree from UCLA and her masters at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB)—is something of a surprise for me as a writer who has been examining, researching, and talking about this city for nearly 15 years.
And here’s why…
In 2013, I conducted the last formal interview that CSULB psychology professor Dr. Kevin MacDonald before he retired the following year.
An outspoken critic of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, a vehement anti-imperialist and anti-violence advocate, MacDonald reflected a significant portion of academia’s standard liberal philosophies—but also held some traits that prompted the tenured professor to be maligned by both the University and students alike, including the glaring fact that he was a devout white nationalist.
The interview was already tense to begin with: MacDonald knew I had studied psychology—particularly biopsychology and neuropsychiatry—and that I was, at worst, intellectually repulsed by and, at best, skeptical with his field of practice, evolutionary psychology. And it is because, according to most biology and psychology scientists, evolutionary psychology often misuses and abuses scientific advances to court questions and theories that have no validity.
One of the largest criticisms against evolutionary psychology is that it cannot distinguish between environmental and cultural explanations, leaving evolution to be this thing which has been reached—”Look at how these people behave: we have genetic proof!”—instead of relegating the concept to an ever-changing phenomenon that should include the influence of genes within individual cases.
For example, MacDonald finds many of the ideals of Western civilization—specifically multiculturalism and the idea of living cohesively—has forced “different groups with different goals” into an endless evolutionary competition, detrimental for all parties involved. Ethnicity in and of itself divides, goes his logic, and the attempt to integrate them leads to disasters such as Rwanda and the clash of Muslim and European cultures, the pitting of Israel against Palestine, #BlackLivesMatter versus #BlueLivesMatter, immigrants against the so-called natives…
In other words: he takes evolutionary survival and culturalizes it—an issue any scientist would immediately balk at.
The issue is that scientists—almost universally, minus some fringe individuals—have construed race itself as a biologically-defunct concept, particularly given the evidence provided by evolutionary and genetic thought: we have had too few generations that have passed since our founder species, Homo sapiens, originated in Africa, making us 99.9% genetically the same. And to measure culture via genes is dangerous at best.
MacDonald, however, found it “laughable” during our interview to think that one can’t distinguish between races; he simply said to look around.
“Ultimately, we all come back to a common ancestor,” he said, “but those groups have been separated for a long enough time that there are real differences between them—genetically and culturally.”
That word “cultural” is key to MacDonald’s viewpoint—and one of the many reasons that evolutionary psychology is, in and of itself, a controversial subject matter.
For years, evolutionists were unable to explain altruism against the concept of natural selection. How do we as humans make choices for ourselves that inherently go against our own individual good or survival? In short, this has been answered by the concepts of reciprocal altruism and kin selection.
And these two concepts—at base, that species choose to be altruistic towards those that look like them—have been, according to some scientists, massively misused to explain cultural phenomena via evolutionary psychology, like MacDonald.
Within the so-called genetic vein he speaks of—one that is, according to most evolutionary biologists, unable to have altered significantly since the conception of the modern human occurred too recently to show major shift—the desired genes which are propagated within one group only and not in another, such as intelligence, brings forth a situation that he says is nothing short of “losing the game.”
Citing the work of Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending—who contend in The 10,000 Year Explosion that contrary to common belief, evolution has sped up and China has “weeded” out genes that produce qualities it doesn’t like, such as rebelliousness and impulsivity, which have grown their political power—MacDonald uses this as jumping point to base his theory. For example, he claims that Jews have cultivated—via eugenics—certain characteristics genetically, including ethnocentrism and intelligence that have caused them to become the “intellectual elite” of our country.
“As part of their evolutionary strategy, [Jewish groups] are inherently ethnocentric and intelligent—and it has helped them rise in power,” MacDonald said. “Eugenics used to be this common practice and [following the use of it by Nazism] is now frowned upon. But Jews now have a higher intelligence than whites.”
He goes on to explain that this “evolutionary strategy”—along with various other characteristics amongst ethnic minorities throughout the country—will eventually cause whites to become, politically and socially, a minority.
The discomforting statements and perturbing theory proposed by MacDonald—whether it is due to the ability to easily argue for its racist perspective or the fact that it addresses race in ways which are not common—has certainly brought his detractors and supporters. The Anti-Defamation League has him blacklisted while conservative groups, even after his retirement, continue to praise his work.
“What it comes down to is this,” MacDonald said at the close of our interview. “Despite whether you naïvely believe in multiculturalism or whether you don’t… Why would you ever—ever—want to give up your political power?”
While I know many people of color have known this question to lurk in the back of minds of many of those in power, to hear it aloud—from a white, male, tenured university professor, no less—was a moment that will linger with me forever.
It is unclear if Olson has been influenced by the work of MacDonald—she has yet to return comment for this story—but the context of this SoCal-based white nationalism, particularly intellectualized white nationalism or “casual” white nationalism in local higher education institutions, shows that we have reached the tying philosophical ends of regional contemporary racism.
Long Beach is no stranger to in-your-face racism. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, it was largely led by racist real estate processes that influenced how our city was shaped and who it catered to in terms of benefits and privileges.
Rushing through and past the racism of modern times, Long Beach birthed the nation’s first hybrid prison-street white power gang in the mid-1980s, known as PEN1, whose history I traced with both disturbance and trepidation. The former because it is a reminder that racism is an ever-evolving phenomenon that didn’t stop with Martin Luther King, Jr. The latter because the men I was speaking to, at first open to discuss, began privately messaging me to “erase all our conversations” and leave their names out of the piece.
“It’s funny,” said one source to me while writing the piece. “I grew up a middle class kid [on the East Coast] but when I moved here to Long Beach as a teenager, I was dropped in the middle of a lot of insane things. Being a punker back home, we were just kinda arty weird kids into fun, aggressive musi, but out here it was intense. Tons of gangs like LMP or FFF [Fight for Freedom, a gang that drew bafflement from the LAPD], drugs, and plain, all-out lunacy.”
He wasn’t being light-hearted: Fenders Ballroom in DTLB garnered the moniker of Fenders Brawlroom, as violent outbursts became the nightly common, from stabbing and shootings to fist-to-fist combats that left many stumbling onto the sidewalks bloody and drunk.
One theme was common amongst my interviews with these men both directly and indirectly associated with PEN1’s rise: “white power clowns” have always had a stronghold in Long Beach, though that power has been slipping as the city’s population and reputation grows (after decades of stagnant and even decreasing at points).
As blatant racism began to scale back, new forms of it had and have continued taken shape in Long Beach, including both MacDonald’s intellectualized white nationalism and Olson’s fear that European-centric culture in the nation is being “displaced.”
This is what I mean by the rope of contemporary racism’s opposite ends meeting, meeting right here in Long Beach. Surely, racism is on the fringe in our city; that I am not trying to argue.
What I strongly do want to argue is that, though on the fringe, we can’t be shocked that racism appears every now and then, that there is no battle to continue to be fought—because, with historical context, it is no shock that a woman walking on a sidewalk casually told a young Asian couple to “go back to their home country” or when a Long Beacher publicly flies a Confederate flag outside their home.
What I strongly do want to argue is that, though on the fringe, racism is morphing—even amongst educators and the liberal through subtle, if not outright hidden means.
With Olson, this is not someone “filled with hate”—at least on a professional level: students bestow high score after high score on her RateMyProfessor.com profile, stating that she supports students in and out of classes. This is a “warm-hearted professor” who genuinely believes white culture is being “displaced.”
In other words, it is something we can’t dismiss simply because it is on the fringe because it has the power to slowly seep into common thought and practice.
And that is something Long Beach cannot stand for.