Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, which used to be the pre-eminent publication covering higher education, the inmates are now running the institution.
Editor Liz McMillen’s disgraceful capitulation to the mob demanding the head of Chronicle blogger Naomi Schaefer Riley for having the temerity to criticize the field of black studies ironically demonstrates the accuracy of Riley’s underlying argument–that political correctness has run amok on campuses, especially where race is concerned.
Just as Elizabeth Warren’s claimed Cherokee-ness highlights the endemic corruption of rewarding people based on their race, the Chronicle’s heavy-handed firing of one of its writers because of “distress” she caused some readers has changed the nature of the controversy. It is no longer about whether Riley’s reading of the dissertations and the field is correct, or even whether she is a vicious “downright racist” (I’ll have more to say about that in a moment); it is whether the field of black studies and those working in it are now sacrosanct, making criticism (at least criticism that causes “distress”) off limits. In any event turning to the Chronicle for informed and professional coverage of this issue now makes about as much sense as, well, the Oxford Encyclopedia of African American History enlisting La TaSha B. Levy to write its entries on several black conservatives, as KC Johnson notes above.
About 6,500 people signed a petition demanding that Riley be fired. Equally striking as the comments–180 as of this writing–on Editor McMillen’s abject apology for not having subjected Riley’s posts to pre-publication censorship. Very revealingly, I think, these comments–many of them quite vituperative–about even divided: half praise McMillen for firing the ignorant racist and half demand McMillen’s resignation, or her head, for having allowed the ignorant racist to publish in the first place.
Finally, as I’ve mentioned, Riley has been typically denounced as a racist. That of course is not surprising. Anyone who criticizes affirmative action or anything related to it (and black studies is certainly related to it) is invariably called a racist, often in lieu of any other argument in response.
I’ve never met or had any dealing with Riley, other than reading her Chronicle blogs. I’ve seen no evidence of racism (maybe all that means is that I should fire myself from my own blog), but what I think about Riley isn’t relevant here. One thing that does clearly reveal the shrill hollowness of these mob cries of racism, however, is that her husband and the father of her two children, Jason Riley, is black, something I believe she’s never mentioned in response to any of these racist accusations.