A friend of Accuracy in Academia has been fired from her correspondent’s post at the Chronicle of Higher Education for daring to criticize the field of “Black Studies.”
“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,” Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote on the Chronicle blog. “But it’s clear that they’re not happening in black-studies departments.”
Specifically, she took issue with a quintet of these profiled in the Chronicle. “ 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,” she wrote.
We found them lacking in substance as well, at best. Moreover, at least one of them bordered on thought control. La TaSha B. Levy, 33, a Ph. D. candidate at Northwestern, has decided to do her dissertation on “Strange Bedfellows: The Rise of the New (Black) Right in Post Civil Rights America.”
“During the early 2000s, Ms. Levy was working at the University of Virginia as the director of its black cultural center,” Stacey Patton reported in The Chronicle on April 20, 2012. “When she saw students reading books by Star Parker, Shelby Steele, and John McWhorter, she grew concerned that they were latching on to arguments that black culture was the only thing that held the race back, and affirmative action.”
The reaction to Ms. Riley’s critique was Left-Wing indignance writ large. “Her lone blog post brought a torrent of criticism, attacks by MSNBC, and finally a petition demanding that the Chronicle “dismiss” her,” John Fund reported on National Review Online. “It was signed by 6,500 professors and graduate students.”
“At first, the Chronicle defended Riley’s right to speak out and invited people to debate her on the subject. But within days, its editor caved to the mob, fired her, and wrote the following craven apology:
“’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. ‘” Fund had worked with Riley at the Wall Street Journal, where she still serves as an editor and columnist.
Ms. Riley is the author of two impeccably documented books on education. She discussed the last of these, The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For, at an AIA author’s night last summer.
Actually, Ms. Riley could probably have made a convincing case against any putative academic discipline with the word “studies” attached to it. Moreover, anecdotal evidence (data is the plural of anecdote, Charles Murray points out) is emerging that Black Studies has become a particularly problematic subject.
“At Hopkins, for example, the four undergraduate students majoring in Africana studies in 2007-08 were served by a program director, an eleven-person executive board, ten affiliated faculty, two visiting faculty, an associate research scholar, and a program director,” Johns Hopkins University political science professor Benjamin Ginsberg pointed out last year in his book, The Fall of the Faculty.
More recently, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted an internal audit to determine if the African and Afro-American Studies program there were holding any classes at all. “The findings of an internal UNC probe released this month found 54 classes within the department in which there was little or no indication of instruction,” Jane Stancill reported in the Charlotte News & Observer. “The review also found at least 10 cases of unauthorized grade changes involving students who did not complete their work.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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