Protests against VUB researcher whose racist theory inspired Buffalo terrorist

Protests against VUB researcher whose racist theory inspired Buffalo terrorist
Left: VUB campus, right: researcher Michael Woodley. Credit: VUB

A petition by international genetic researchers is calling for the resignation of Michael Woodley, a researcher affiliated with the Brussels university VUB, as his research into race and genetics was featured in the manifesto of the far-right terrorist who slaughtered ten Americans in a US supermarket last month.

The researchers specialising in population genetics have called the 38-year-old, who hails from Scotland, a “white supremacist researcher”, De Morgen reports. Woodley has been affiliated with the Centre Leo Apostel (CLEA) of the VUB since 2013.

Woodley’s research was referenced in the manifesto of the 18-year-old Payton Gendron, an American white supremacist who committed an act of terrorism at a supermarket in Buffalo two weeks ago, killing 10 black people and injuring three more.

Mathematician Jean Paul Van Bendegem, Advisor at the CLEA, is aware of the petition. “I think it can easily be resolved,” he said, “ ending the collaboration. I expect the VUB to take steps.”

Even before the petition was publicly launched, around forty researchers from various European universities had signed the statement.

Racist manifesto

Gendron’s racist motive clearly emerged in a manifesto he had shared online two days before the shooting. Part of those 180 pages is a full-page infographic titled “The Truth About Race,” debunking eight so-called ‘myths’.

In the top right corner of the graph is a table that should prove that there is enough genetic diversity among people to speak of different races. The reference below the table refers to a scientific paper by Woodley from 2010.

Comparison shows that the table has been slightly modified, but the premise is the same: to prove that there are multiple human races.

Eugenics and scientific racism theories are widely discredited as having been the ideological basis for the horrors of colonialism, nazism and many other atrocities committed in the name of racial superiority.

For decades, the scientific consensus has been that there are no separate biological races.

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