Academia Is Being Totally Racist Against Glib Self-Regarding Hacks
Smug entitled Martyr-Flavor-of-the Month and career wingnut welfare recipient Naomi Schaefer Riley who was recently fired from the CHE Brainstorm blog for being unapologetically glib, takes to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal (where her husband incidentally happens to be on the editorial board) to demonstrate that, for a person who writes about education, she doesn’t seem to understand much:
Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a cover story called “Black Studies: ‘Swaggering Into the Future,'” in which the reporter described how “young black-studies scholars . . . are less consumed than their predecessors with the need to validate the field or explain why they are pursuing doctorates in their discipline.” The “5 Up-and-Coming Ph.D. Candidates” described in the piece’s sidebar “are rewriting the history of race.” While the article suggested some are skeptical of black studies as a discipline, the reporter neglected to quote anyone who is.
Like me. 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.
For instance, the author of a dissertation on the history of black midwifery began her research, she told the Chronicle, because she “noticed that nonwhite women’s experiences were largely absent from natural-birth literature.” Another graduate student blamed the housing crisis in America on institutional racism. And a third argued that conservatives 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.”
The reaction to my blog post ranged from puerile to vitriolic.
Whoa whoa whoa. Let’s back up here, little filly.
In Schaefer Riley’s sub-500 word post she mocked the African-American graduate student’s dissertations based solely on the titles as “obscure at best and a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap, at worst”.
But and the people who called her out on it were “puerile to vitriolic”.
Jesus Fucking Christ.
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.
Stacey Patton’s (since Schaefer Riley can’t bear to mention her name) CHE article was about the changing dynamic of African-American studies:
“Now with the development of more Ph.D. programs, it is very clear that scholars in African-American studies are at the forefront of producing valuable research that’s interdisciplinary and cuts across law, literature studies, social science, and other disciplines,” Ms. Biondi says. “Black studies is not a social-service agency aiming to ameliorate racial discontent. It is an area of rigorous intellectual inquiry that is here to stay.”
…whereas Schaefer Riley’s idea of academic discourse is to LOL! at specific students (even Ann Fucking Althouse figured that out) and their dissertations because they are dumb and the students are not Naomi Schaefer Riley who writes important stuff about academia, which she pointed out with a narcissistic appeal to her own authority when called to defend her post at Brainstorm:
Let me take the first two criticisms first. My qualifications to post on this blog consist of the fact that I have been a journalist writing about higher education for close to 15 years now. My work has been published in every major newspaper in the country and I have written two books on the subject as well. The editors at those papers and those publishers and at The Chronicle have all been aware that I hold no advanced degree. Black studies is now an academic discipline at most universities, which means I get to comment on that too. If the dissertations in question were written by white people, I’d call them irrelevant and partisan as well. Moreover, I have called other disciplines (having nothing to do with race) irrelevant and partisan.
Also, you people are stupid and Naomi Schaefer Riley knows what people really want:
Finally, since this is a blog about academia and not journalism, I’ll forgive the commenters for not understanding that it is not my job to read entire dissertations before I write a 500-word piece about them. I read some academic publications (as they relate to other research I do), but there are not enough hours in the day or money in the world to get me to read a dissertation on historical black midwifery. In fact, I’d venture to say that fewer than 20 people in the whole world will read it. And the same holds true for the others that are mentioned in the piece.
A simple “yes, I was probably being a bit too facile and unfair to the graduate students and maybe I shouldn’t have just posted whatever came out of my ass at that particular moment” probably would have sufficed, but: No. Now Naomi Schaefer Riley is a victim of the politically correct notion that a minimum of research (Next time, show work!) is expected of so-called experts.
God knows we already have enough Katie Roiphe’s, Caitlin Flanagan’s and Megan McArdle’s littering up the landscape…
Lindsay Beyerstein is much nicer about this than I am.