Thursday, May 17, 2012

John Fund on Naomi Riley's firing

John Fund has a great post on the firing from the Chronicle of Higher Education of Naomi Riley. Riley wrote a post criticizing Black Studies Programs as “obscure at best . . . a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap at worst.” Over 6000 academics signed a petition demanding that Riley be censored, and she was gone.

Excerpt from Fund's post:
Nick Cohen is an atheist and former leftist who writes for the Observer andGuardian newspapers in Britain... He warned that many in the West now “surround taboo subjects with a bodyguard of politically correct humbug. This form of self-censorship has had a profound effect on liberalism.” He noted that “censorship is at its most effective when no one admits that it exists. ‘No one else is complaining, so move along now,’ becomes the mantra.”
For decades, academics have demanded tenure, ostensibly not to secure the effectively lifetime employment it creates but to give them the freedom to voice unpopular opinions and conduct research that challenges conventional thinking. Well, Naomi Riley isn’t an academic and didn’t have tenure at theChronicle. But she had a right to express her view, have her employer back her up, and not see her reputation attacked. Few, if any, of her critics actually tried to refute her criticisms of black-studies dissertations. Instead, they sought to shut her up, and in so doing, they sent yet another message that some liberals today have become at least as intolerant of debate as any of the fundamentalists and traditionalists they abhor.
Censorship is the cornerstone tactic of the left. They can't win arguments-- note the failure of the left in the medium most suited to arguments, which is talk radio-- so they advance their cause by intimidating people who speak out against them. They sue Christians to silence them in civic life, they sue parents who want an open discussion of evolution in schools, they compare people who question global warming orthodoxy to Holocaust deniers, they call people who believe in a color-blind society racists, and they gag people who point out that their academic niches in Black Studies and Womyn's Studies and various LGBT programs are little more than far-left victimology in drag.

The proper response to censorship is fluent defiance. Every time they try to stop the debate, we need to speak out, even more clearly and with even more passion. The internet is a great medium for defying censorship. The left, at least in the West, hasn't figured out how to silence it. Yet.


  1. Keep repeating, "I am not a racist". It will help you sleep at night.

    1. I support a merit-based color-blind society.

      Do you?

    2. It’s hard to reconcile the claim that you support a merit based color-blind society with your saying that all black studies research is dishonest with no evidence that you read any of it.

      If genuinely want a merit based color blind society then I suggest you stop constantly posting stories of how Blacks have mo merit. You know, the ones where you suggest that Blacks are a murderous people who’s greatest desire is government charity, and who are stupid enough to have been fooled into modern-day slavery, and now I guess, are also inherently dishonest with their research.


    3. As usual, KW resorts to claims of racism and insults.
      Switch to decaf, ffs.

  2. It's delightful irony, actually. In her infamous post, she proposed to eliminate entire university departments. Now she complains about censorship!

    You live by the sword, you die by the sword, Ms. Riley.

    1. Eliminating departments isn't censorship. I don't see the equivalence.

      I must say though, that free speech doesn't necessarily mean consequence-free speech. A person can be fired for saying things that his or her employer finds objectionable. I just think this one was dumb. She pointed out that black studies has a lot of fluff to it. So what? You'd think she was celebrating lynching or something.


  3. "For decades, academics have demanded tenure, ostensibly not to secure the effectively lifetime employment it creates but to give them the freedom to voice unpopular opinions and conduct research that challenges conventional thinking."

    Ha! Ha! As if there's any of that going on on campuses.

    I would argue that it has exactly the opposite effect, and not by accident either. The pre-tenure period is a time in which a professor's politics are scrutinized. Make sure you that you say all the right things and then you get a job for life.

    Then, once you've proven your leftist bona fides, you get tenure. This creates an elite club of like-minded people that is essentially untouchable. The incestuous clique reads and peer reviews each other's papers, always giving rave reviews to people who express the proper sentiments/opinions. They also become the tenure-approving authority for the next generation of associate professors.

    If you aren't of the proper (political) orientation, you have no hope of ever becoming tenured, which goes a long way to explain why universities have become so suffocating when it comes to the free exchange of ideas. Conventional (leftist) thinking is not challenged.

    The Torch

  4. The Torch,

    As an insider, I wonder where your knowledge of academia comes from. WND?

    My observations indicate that conservatives are not so much discriminated against at the tenure-track stage as they do not go into academic careers to begin with. Conservatives aren't all that interested in graduate school, so there are few grad students leaning right, hence few assistant professors leaning right, and few tenured ones.

    These aren't just my observations, either. Here is a piece in Commentary Magazine echoing these thoughts.