Seriously, folks, there are legitimate debates about the problems that plague the black community from high incarceration rates to low graduation rates to high out-of-wedlock birth rates. But it’s clear that they’re not happening in black-studies departments. If these young scholars are the future of the discipline, I think they can just as well leave their calendars at 1963 and let some legitimate scholars find solutions to the problems of blacks in America. Solutions that don’t begin and end with blame the white man.
That’s the most substantive passage in Naomi Schaefer Riley’s blog post at the Chronicle of Higher Education about black studies. That’s after she makes demeaning statements about theses she hasn’t read based almost entirely on their titles. After initially defending Riley’s right to post on the Chronicle’s blog, she was dismissed.
Conservatives say this is typical authoritarian left wing crap. Lefties only want free speech for their ideas. As RedState put Riley’s dismissal: “This would not be tolerated, if Ms. Riley was a Marxist.”
What does that matter? That’s my question.
I don’t believe in this sort of relativism. I read Riley’s post, and it’s total crap. It sucks. If Riley had good reasons for bullying the authors of a handful of theses, she didn’t convey them and thus she did a terrible job. The post reads as if it is from someone who actively looks for affirmation that black studies is bullshit. Again, maybe that’s not her, but her inability to portray that is damming. If a Marxist basely bashed a bunch of econ theses for being neoliberal, I would still call it crap. Maybe the Chronicle would have acted differently, and that would say something bad about the Chronicle. But this post, guys, isn’t worth defending.
The Chronicle has and should have the liberty to fire crappy commentators. That people are up in arms because this offensive drivel was cause for a parting of the ways smacks of moral equivalence: more affirmation of the ongoing persecution of conservatives by the monolithic media. Again, maybe that is true, but this post isn’t making the case well.
RedState finds this whole ordeal unconscionable because apparently Riley is much smarter than she lets on in her writing about her thoughts on black studies.
Naomi Riley is a former editor at the Wall Street Journal and has published several books on higher education, including The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Pay For. WSJ has published Riley’s response to being terminated: “The Academic Mob Rules.” You can read Ms. Riley’s bio and contact herhere, and judge for yourself about her credentials.
This kind of absurd extrapolation from titles, which are at best a rough metric of actual insightfulness, is pervasive in the culture of higher education. But if your defenders dedicate a post to you and defend your acumen by reading off your resume, not by leaning on the substance of your work, then the battle is already lost.