Tag Archives: Black Studies

Things that are not equivalent at all, part MMXXI

Someone at Real Clear Politics has weighed in on the Naomi Schaefer Riley firing (talked about by us here and here–see links).  Part of her defense, not the worst part sadly, involved the following equivalence:

Yet most left-of-center commentators who have weighed in — such as Atlantic editor and blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates and Center for American Progress fellow Eric Alterman — have condemned Riley and defended her firing. Their argument is that, while Riley has a right to her opinions and criticism of black studies is not racist, her post was so "lazy," "sloppy" and "ignorant" that such "know-nothing hackery" has no place on the blog of an academic publication. That's because Riley freely admits she did not read the dissertations she lampooned but relied on The Chronicle's summaries (not, as some have mistakenly claimed, the titles alone).

Is this a sloppy approach for a 520-word blogpost? First, let's turn the political tables. Suppose a left-wing academic blogger had poked fun at stupid Ph.D. dissertations from conservative Christian colleges arguing that homosexuality can be cured or that teaching evolution undermines students' morals — and based her post on a magazine's summary of the thesis topics. Would those tut-tutting at Riley's laziness demand actual perusal of such works?

Does one need to point out that there is a major difference between right-wing quackery about curing gays and the immorality of evolution and the entire academic field of Black Studies?  Apparently so.  Well, there's a difference.

What is it?  Homosexuality is not a disease and evolution is a well-established scientific theory. 

Also, black people exist.

*Bonus for reading the comments to the post at RCP: liberals apparently are the real Nazis, like Rachel Maddow.

via Washington Monthly.

Follow up

Last week I commented on the ironically sad critical skills of Naomi Schaeffer Riley, nunc quondam blogger for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  "Quondam" because they canned her.  One should never, or rarely, take pleasure in someone's loss of a job, paid or not, but in this case it was obvious that Schaeffer Riley had no business writing anything that would be published.

Here's what the Chronicle said:

When we published Naomi Schaefer Riley’s blog posting on Brainstorm last week (“The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations”), several thousand of you spoke out in outrage and disappointment that The Chronicle had published an article that did not conform to the journalistic standards and civil tone that you expect from us.

We’ve heard you, and we have taken to heart what you said.

We now agree that Ms. Riley’s blog posting did not meet The Chronicle’s basic editorial standards for reporting and fairness in opinion articles. As a result, we have asked Ms. Riley to leave the Brainstorm blog.

I suppose kudos are in order for now agreeing, better late than never I suppose.  Seems like it might have been obvious from the very start that this person had no argument worth reading.

As pointed out on Leiter (here and now here), some segments of the right have gone into full victimization mode.  Go to the link, but in case you don't, it's all wrong of course.  When I read it, the commenters had fully made the point the editorial completely failed to grasp.

Of course, now that someone has had her argument trashed, enter the Iron-Manners:

But Chester Finn Jr., an education analyst and aide to Ronald Reagan, said that Riley was dismissed for expressing unpopular views. "Vibrancy, it seems, has been replaced by political correctness and intimidation," he wrote.

Vibrancy?  Via Leiter, this has to be the most iron of all iron men.  This person describes Schaefer Riley (is it just Riley?) as a "major critic of black studies":

Noting that there were legitimate problems to address about the plight facing the black community today, Riley argued that they were not being addressed in black studies departments. Instead, she argued, all they wanted to do is engage in arguments that blame everything on the white man.

Argued?  For Pete's sake.  This was nothing like the post.  Maybe these are good arguments.  Maybe they're not.  But they are not the arguments at issue.  What's at issue here are the very crappy arguments that Schaefer Riley actually made, you can still read them if you want.  Changing the subject doesn't make her crappy arguments any less crappy.