-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Naomi Schaefer Riley, left, wrote a piece for The Chronicle of Higher Education’s (CHE) blog entitled The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations. The trouble is: she didn’t read the dissertations, she read the titles and a synopsis of the unfinished documents, and then blogged about her speculations.
Perhaps Riley’s speculations are persuasive to some, but The Chronicle of Higher Education is directed towards academics. Academics were stunned that her substance-free hit piece was given a forum in the CHE’s blog, informed CHE of their concerns, and Riley was fired. The Right Wing Noise Machine went into full hyperbolic outrage mode calling Riley a “voice of reason” and elevating her to a “major critic” of black studies.
However, Riley is not a critic of the content of black studies, she wrote the post to make a “case for eliminating” black studies. Riley’s complaint that “high incarceration rates to low graduation rates” are problems not discussed in black studies departments is disingenuous when someone is trying to make the case for elimination of black studies departments.
Riley cites only three examples to make her case. In one example the student asserts that black Republicans like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, and John McWhorter have “played one of the most-significant roles in the assault on the civil-rights legacy that benefited them.” Riley writes:
The assault on civil rights? Because they don’t favor affirmative action they are assaulting civil rights?
Riley has no way of knowing if the dissertation even mentions affirmative action, and offers no argument on why civil rights should be equated with affirmative action in this example.
Riley sees these dissertations as examples of “blame the white man” for the problems of blacks in America. But, she defeats her own position when she writes:
Because they believe there are some fundamental problems in black culture that cannot be blamed on white people they are assaulting civil rights?
This implies that there are some fundamental problems in black culture that can be blamed on white people. Perhaps the “high out-of-wedlock birth rates” that concern Riley can be blamed on the war on contraception led by the white leaders of the Republican party.
There are some awesome, academically-rigorous dissertations out there: