On Monday of this week, the Chronicle of Higher Education, a weekly publication that is a source of news, jobs, and information for faculty members and administrators across the country, fired Naomi Schaefer Riley, a regular contributor and former Wall Street Journal editor, for daring to point out that dissertations by five Ph.D candidates in Black Studies were “obscure at best . . . a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap at worst.”
Riley’s fusillade was triggered by the Chronicles cover story titled “Black Studies: ‘Swaggering Into the Future,'” which stated that “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” and used the five candidates as example of those “rewriting the history of race.”
Riley, who is white, related how one candidate began her research because the candidate “noticed that nonwhite women’s experiences were largely absent from natural-birth literature.” Some of the other five also claimed victimhood; one blamed the housing crisis in America on institutional racism while another slammed conservatives like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas and John McWhorter for playing “one of the most-significant roles in the assault on the civil-rights legacy that benefited them.”
Of course, the students and their nannies from higher education went ballistic, accusing Riley of bigotry and cowardice. Gina Barreca, a professor of — what else? — feminist theory at the University of Connecticut, wrote a poem mocking Riley, while MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry ranted that Riley was small-minded (MSNBC knows small-minded when it sees it).
The Chronicle courageously defended Riley for two whole days, then capitulated: the Chronicle’s editor offered a humble confession to the howling mob: “We’ve heard you. And we have taken to heart what you said. We now agree that Ms. Riley’s blog posting did not meet The Chronicle’s basic editorial standards for reporting and fairness in opinion articles.”
Forget the fact that as Riley says, “my work has been published in every major newspaper in the country, most often this one, and I have written two widely reviewed books on higher education as well.” As Riley further points out, Thomas Sowell, who is black, has been writing for almost forty years that Black Studies are governed by a leftist agenda: “the demands for black studies differed from demands for other forms of new academic studies in that they … restricted the philosophical and political positions acceptable, even from black scholars in such programs.”
But the reality is that the Chronicle, which once was funded by Carnegie Foundation and the Ford Foundation, gets its revenue largely from the want ads placed by universities. Thus the Chronicle is inside the same echo chamber of leftist university thought that dominates the college campuses.
There is no surprise that the Chronicle didn’t have the guts to stand up for the truth; universities and political truth parted decades ago.