Naomi Schaefer-Riley writes a regular blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education, the trade paper for higher ed. Schaefer-Riley is the author of God on the Quad, a book about religious colleges and their growing influence. If that isn't enough to make academics hate her, she is a consistent voice for conservative opinions on the Chronicle, and often she's a lone voice among the rabble.
On April 12, the Chronicle published an article on some graduate students in Black Studies and their dissertation topics:
A New Generation of Black-Studies Ph.D.'s
Since you have to have a subscription to read this particular article, I'll repost some of the dissertation titles here:
Dissertation title: "Catalysts for Change: A Comparative Study of Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan"
Dissertation title: "'So I Could Be Easeful': Black Women's Authoritative Knowledge on Childbirth"
Dissertation title: "Strange Bedfellows: The Rise of the New (Black) Right in Post Civil Rights America"
Dissertation title: "Stop and Frisk Police Policy on Trial: Testimonies of Racial Profiling in New York City's Local Courts"
Dissertation title: "Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s"
Naomi Schaefer-Riley saw this article and wrote a scathing opinion piece (which you can access in its entirety) called: The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.
The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.
April 30, 2012, 10:24 pm
By Naomi Schaefer Riley
You’ll have to forgive the lateness but I just got around to reading The Chronicle’s recent piece on the young guns of black studies. 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...
....But topping the list in terms of sheer political partisanship and liberal hackery is La TaSha B. Levy. According to the Chronicle, “Ms. Levy is interested in examining the long tradition of black Republicanism, especially the rightward ideological shift it took in the 1980s after the election of Ronald Reagan. Ms. Levy’s dissertation argues that conservatives like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, John McWhorter, and others have ‘played one of the most-significant roles in the assault on the civil-rights legacy that benefited them.’” The assault on civil rights? Because they don’t favor affirmative action they are assaulting civil rights? Because they believe there are some fundamental problems in black culture that cannot be blamed on white people they are assaulting civil rights?
Seriously, folks, there are legitimate debates about the problems that plague the black community from high incarceration rates to low graduation rates to high out-of-wedlock birth rates. But it’s clear that they’re not happening in black-studies departments. If these young scholars are the future of the discipline, I think they can just as well leave their calendars at 1963 and let some legitimate scholars find solutions to the problems of blacks in America. Solutions that don’t begin and end with blame the white man.
Predictably, Schaefer-Riley is being called a "racist" and worse.
Grad Students Respond to Riley Post on African-American Studies
...So imagine our surprise when almost two weeks after The Chronicle’s original article appeared, The Chronicle’s Web site published a lazy and vitriolic hit piece by blogger Naomi Schaefer Riley that summarily dismisses our academic work while debasing us as something less than “legitimate scholars.” Riley then holds up our research as the reason African American Studies as a discipline should be “eliminated.”...
...When Rick Santorum took his failed campaign for the Republican nomination for President to Iowa, he invoked blacks on welfare as a campaign issue—in a state where African-Americans make up only two percent of the population. He said, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.”
When Newt Gingrich had trouble drumming up interest in his failed political campaign, he began referring to President Barack Obama as the “food stamp president” and then told the NAACP that he wanted to address their convention to counsel, “why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”
One can only assume that in a bid to not be “out-n.iggered” by her right-wing cohort, Riley found some black women graduate students to beat up on. Despite her attempts to silence us personally, and indeed the discipline as a whole, her exhortations confirm the need for the vigorous study and investigation of black life in the United States and beyond....
Faculty Respond to Riley Post on African-American Studies
Is Brainstorm Racist?....To write such disparaging comments about young scholars and their expressions of intellectual curiosity is cowardly, uninformed, irresponsible, repugnant, and contrary to the mission of higher education. We are barely one generation removed from when African-American students were completely denied entry into many colleges and universities in this country. This kind of distasteful attack on the current generation of black students represents the unfortunate and unacceptable manifestation of contemporary forms of exclusion. We strongly and righteously condemn such regressive tactics to stifle young people’s educational pursuits.
We are dismayed that The Chronicle of Higher Education would risk its journalistic reputation by publishing such an ad hominem attack on the work in progress of graduate students....
...The Chronicle is legitimizing open season on black scholars for doing black studies. That’s racist racism.
Schaefer-Riley has been trying to defend herself but to no avail. She even points out her credentials:
She also states her general opinion on current academic research:...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...
The editor of the Chronicle has even come out to defend Shaefer-Riley:...Such is the state of academic research these days. The disciplines multiply. The publication topics become more and more irrelevant and partisan. No one reads them. And the people whom we expect to offer undergraduates a broad liberal-arts education (in return for billions of dollars from parents and taxpayers) never get trained to do so. Instead the ivory tower pushes them further and further into obscurity.
But the comments are VILE. Unbelievably vile. It reminds me of the vitriol against George Zimmerman. And Naomi Schaefer-Riley hasn't even killed anyone!...Many of you have asked The Chronicle to take down Naomi Schaefer Riley’s recent posting, “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.” I urge readers instead to view this posting as an opportunity—to debate Riley’s views, challenge her, set things straight as you see fit. Take a moment to read The Chronicle’s front-page story about the future of black studies, written by Chronicle reporter Stacey Patton and weigh in.
Please join the debate....
There is now a petition for her dismissal from the Chronicle of Higher Education. It has over 4000 signatures.
I think it's important to preserve the one consistent conservative voice on this site. I have written a brief email to Philip Semas, President and Editor in Chief of the Chronicle of Higher Education. His email is philsemas@chronicle. I also sent one to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right now, it's a coordinated witch hunt. There are a ton of comments at every single one of these links calling her racist, stupid, and worthless. The petition is growing and Riley might lose her position with the Chronicle.