Chronicle of Higher Education Fires Naomi Schaefer Riley

    May 9, 2012
    Mike Fossum
    Comments are off for this post.

Naomi Schaefer Riley, an affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values, was fired late last night from the Chronicle of Higher Education after posting an article entitled The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations. The post ruffled some feathers, to say the least, and Schaefer Riley was let go roughly a week and 500 comments later.

Here is an excerpt of the article in question, to get a basic idea of the ‘civil tone’ of the piece:

“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.”

So, Schaefer Riley essentially wants to eliminate black-studies. This is somewhat of a profound stance to be covered in 520 words, and some people got predictably mad. Some got happy. The Chronicle got nervous. Editor Liz McMillen explained the decision to let Schaefer Riley go:

“Several thousand of you spoke out in outrage and disappointment that The Chronicle had published an article that did not conform to the journalistic standards and civil tone that you expect from us. 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.”

Maintaining courage in one’s convictions, regardless of what they might be, can very easily become a sort of 1st world problem in the realm of maintaining a job, as soon as whatever content one espouses hits the internet. And, if one were to look at the vast majority of story comments featured on the bigger news sites online, the world can be very, casually racist – and no one will likely ever be fully satisfied in regards to the internet’s generalized racial taint. Ashton Kutcher was recently vilified for his racist acting in a Popchips ad that was quickly pulled, after the media deemed it was unfunny, regardless of its actual entertainment quality – which some may see as being a bit iffy – card-carrying non-racist racial watchdogs might’ve been reaching a bit in this instance. It’s not clear if critics of the ad disliked Kutcher’s portrayal of a Bollywood producer in India, a position of power in that country which a lot of people in the Western World likely can’t comprehend, or if they were displeased with the portrayal of the southern American hayseed timebomb with prison tats, a non-racial play on a stereotype, though still easily flippable.

Still, perhaps Schaefer Riley was having a bad day when deciding to attack the work of grad students in such a obvious, button-pushy and sensational way. As with all things to do with hatred, mood typically comes into play. Apparently, a heart disease drug called Propranolol was suggested to calm implicit racial bias in a study of avid racists conducted at Oxford University. The racists were shown to not be so racial after taking these chill pills, and self-destructive idiocy was shown to be quelled for a while. Surely Schaefer Riley will receive some job offers from outlets who are more aligned with the views described in her article, but the ‘civil tone’ of her career has likely changed forever.

  • Stephen

    I’m so weary of people slapping the label “racist” on anyone non-black critiquing something black. For example, anyone who is non-black and does not endorse Obama is automatically viewed as a “racist.” God forbid they actually have sound, reasonable arguments for not supporting Obama! Oy!

    Riley is not racist and anyone claiming otherwise lacks intellectual integrity.

    What she did is raise a challenge to those in black studies to raise the bar on how they go about it. Her concluding paragraph states:

    “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.”

    She makes a good point! A good, well-reasoned, and legitimate point.

    But, in this day of required, mindless political correctness, no one is allowed to speak the truth about such things. This reality should be the object of intelligent outrage, not Riley.

  • Tim

    If she is a racist, why is she married to a Black Man?
    It is a Shame that the lazy-ass people of our race are the first to holler racism.
    Grow up and stand up. Is this the kind of thing that we want for our future? Our childrens future. You all, that have so much negitive to say about a woman that sees more potential in our race than we are portraying.

    the other thing I find desturbing, is that her Job is afraid of the truth. They should be Glad to have a person that is willing to stand up and say, the study of gym class doesn’t deserve a PHD…

    THE Chronical needs to call Naomi back to work with a serious pay raise…

  • Snippet

    Speaking of chill pills, calm down on the whole “evil racism” thing. Actual, real live racists think Black Studies departments reflect the inability of blacks to major in real fields.

    Ms. Riley obviously thinks they can do better.

  • JPV

    I support Naomi Riley.

    Her points were presented in a sound manner and she was a victim of inquisitory censorship.

    Shame on your American institutions.

    The rest of the world is laughing at how childish you act when dealing with race subjects.

    Such a shame a beautiful country like yours is being destroyed by (what you call) liberals…

  • JPolk

    So what did she say that was “hateful?” Seriously? You’ve essentially proven her point. Victimization. What exactly are their “journalistic standards?” Political correctness, that’s what. You can’t even discuss the merits of a black studies program on it’s merits without being a racist. Funny, if you start talking about a “white studies” program you’re a racist too. Drivel!

  • Amanda

    Watch this: a lecture by a white man on the subject of privilege.

    There are many perfect examples in this lecture as to why her thoughts on black studies is insensitive. The fact that she is married to a black man (as stated by above commenter) is even more disappointing. However I am sure after this article came out he had a long talk with her as to why what she thinks is insensitive and offensive to the black community. I think the Chronicle made a valid point. They publish articles that criticaly think about both sides of the point and her article was one sided. Therefore her thoughts and writing do not align with the type of writing that they want to put out and represent them as a company.

    Her argument came from a privileged white perspective that did not consider or even research why black studies and black studies topics are pertinant to the black experience/community (because their stories and their history belong in academia too). This is regardless of how old these issues are because last time I checked events are consequential not static. Meaning that past events affect the future and are not independent in and of themselves. Being married to a black man she should have learned something but then again she just might be too far enclosed in her privilege bubble.

  • Chanticleer

    A white liberal recently told me, in dead seriousness, that anyone who opposed, disagreed with, or criticized Barack Obama, in any way, is demonstrably a racist. This would include any blacks who didn’t vote for Obama, or who don’t agree with some of his policies. The race card is way overplayed.

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