Dádìsì Speaks

Black Studies And ‘Intellectual Cowardice’

In Consider This, Culture, Thinking Africa on 10/05/2012 at 07:42

Put aside Black Studies–Why should anyone like that be covering academics and the work of collegiate scholars? If I wrote that Israel should bomb Iran, but confessed to only reading the headlines in the Times, would you take me seriously? Would you take my publisher seriously?How is this even an issue? Why would anyone defend the right to be stupid? I’m serious here.” – Te-Nehisi Coates,

Naomi Schaefer-Riley wrote a piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education calling for the abolition of black studies. This prompted a lengthy back and forth which culminated in Schaefer-Riley being fired.

My old label-mate Andrew Sullivan responds:

The post prompted a torrent of left-wing outrage and, ultimately, Riley’s sacking – which brought out the right’s counter-outrage. This time, it seems clear to me that the right is right. Riley’s commentary is well within the bounds of provocative opinion writing. Firing her was an act of cowardice and an assault on intellectual freedom.

I had hoped to avoid writing about this because I think Schaefer-Riley was basically the initiator of a High Tech Trolling. But I took to twitter a bit last night, because, like Andrew I was appalled that she’d been fired. I just don’t believe that writing something stupid about race should be fire-able.
I do, however, think that proudly defending one’s ignorance in a publication dedicated to higher education, should always be fireable. And as was pointed out to me this was exactly what Schaefer-Riley did. In her first essay she wrote:

If ever there were a case for eliminating the discipline, the sidebar explaining some of the dissertations being offered by the best and the brightest of black-studies graduate students has made it. What a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap. The best that can be said of these topics is that they’re so irrelevant no one will ever look at them. (cont..Te-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)


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