Monday, May 14, 2012

Off with Her Head!

Last Friday we mentioned the firing of Naomi Schaefer Riley from The Chronicle of Higher Education because she dared to question the academic value of Black Studies programs. Riley subsequently wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal revealing more details on the episode, and what she tells us does nothing to make her treatment at the hands of the Chronicle look any less craven.
Here's an excerpt: So last week, on the Chronicle's "Brainstorm" blog (where I was paid to be a regular contributor), I suggested that the dissertation topics of the graduate students mentioned were obscure at best and "a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap," at worst.

The reaction to my blog post ranged from puerile to vitriolic. The graduate students I mentioned and the senior faculty who advise them at Northwestern University accused me (in guest blogs posted by the Chronicle editors) of bigotry and cowardice. The former wrote that "in a bid to not be 'out-niggered' [their word] by her right-wing cohort, Riley found some black women graduate students to beat up on." (I confess I don't actually know what that means.) One fellow blogger (and hundreds of commenters) called my post "racist."

Gina Barreca, a teacher of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut, composed a poem mocking me. (It begins "A certain white chick—Schaefer Riley/ decided to do something wily.") MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry spewed a four-minute rant about my post, invoking the memory of Trayvon Martin and accusing me of "small-mindedness."

Scores of critics on the site complained that I had not read the dissertations in full before daring to write about them—an absurd standard for a 500-word blog post. A number of the dissertations aren't even available. Which didn't seem to stop the Chronicle reporter, though. And 6,500 academics signed a petition online demanding that I be fired.
There's much more at the link and almost all of it makes her critics sound petty, intolerant, juvenile, and stupid. I.e. they sound pretty much like one might expect a bunch of liberal academics to sound. Read it and weep for the kids who are being taught by these closed-minded chuckleheads whose concept of the ideal university, evidently, is something resembling a North Korean reeducation camp.