Since her blog on the Chronicle of Higher Education a month or so ago Naomi Schaefer Riley has become the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest with her response to an article on Black Studies.
Riley titled her piece “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.” What got her dander up were the sidebars from the article in which the author cited several dissertation topics, including “‘So I Could Be Easeful’: Black Women’s Authoritative Knowledge on Childbirth” and “Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s.”
But it may have been one proposing to assess the “long tradition of black Republicanism, especially the rightward ideological shift it took in the 1980s after the election of Ronald Reagan,” as she cites, that shook her ideological dungeon.
What all this amounted to in her estimation was “left-wing victimization claptrap” and reasons enough to suspend the entire field of study.
Curiously, Ms. Riley—and perhaps she’s been living a bit too much of it—fails to follow her own advice: she didn’t read any of the dissertations. As was often said in the movement days, “no investigation; no right to speak!”
And for someone to make such a stern pronouncement about the elimination of a discipline you would think they were armed with a trove of evidence, but, alas, we have to consider that source—she’s neither that well-versed in Black Studies and moreover, this was a 500-word essay in the blogosphere.
From a very few dissertation titles she is able to condemn them all as “left-wing victimization claptrap,” and this designation tips her political hand and obviously she’s riled to learn some of her right wing heroes are being taken to task, that is, Thomas Sowell, John McWhorter, and Clarence Thomas in one of the dissertations. Otherwise, how to do you arrive at a left-wing conclusion about midwifery?
In the end, Ms. Riley was released from her duties at the Chronicle, though one wonders how the piece passed muster in the first place. It seems she served her purpose as a blogger in stimulating debate, but maybe too much acrimony for the site.
But she landed on her resourceful feet at the Wall Street Journal where she used to work and where it is reported her husband is a honcho of some sort. Given this connection she fired off another piece a few days ago and, not surprisingly, justifies her stance by quoting from her cohorts McWhorter, Sowell et al.
She’s still living the life of Riley.