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Chronicle of Higher Ed gives in to social media mob

Chronicle of Higher Ed gives in to social media mob

I have warned you about the total war, in which petitions and boycotts and other pressure tactics are used to silence conservative voices.

There is no better example than a case reported in the NY Post via National Review (h/t Jonah Goldberg) about a blogger at The Chronicle of Higher Education who was fired because she criticized the shoddy level of scholarship in black studies Ph.D. dissertations:

Yesterday, we  reported on the scandalous treatment of journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley at the  hands of a bunch of professional victims, otherwise known as Black  studies academics and their acolytes. Riley was being denounced, branded a  “white privileged” racist, while her employer, the Chronicle of Higher  Education, was being petitioned to fire her. Her supposed crime was  critiquing the quality of some  highly-touted black studies PhD scholars and dissertations and questioning  their relevance.

Today the scandal  grows as Riley’s editors have taken the cowardly step of firing  her. Chronicle editor Liz McMillan’s “note to readers” explaining the  publication’s decision perfectly encapsulates the totalitarianism of left-wing  academia.

Whereas Riley was engaged in serious debate, the readers and editors of the  Chronicle are engaged in silencing criticism and banning the critics.

The firing came about after an online petition was signed by over 6500 people.  (Side note, a petition even has been started about me, but didn’t get many signatures.)

Here’s part of the offending blog post which led to the firing:

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….

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.

The Editor, Liz McMillen, originally defended the post:

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.

But after the petition and nasty online comments, McMillen gave in to the 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. As a result, we have asked Ms. Riley to leave the Brainstorm blog.

This sort of cowardly behavior is all too common.  Witness the corporations who run at the slightest hint of a Color of Change or Media Matters boycott.

We are at a very perilous period in our society in which social media, a tool which could and should encourage the exchange of idea, serves as a tool to shut down and silence ideas.

Conservatives better wake up to this threat, and soon.


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Rinse and Repeat.

Just when do we have that candid dialog on…



See, the Collective NEVER wants a dialog. When they say they do, you know they are just lying.

Perhaps Ms. Riley can now contribute here at L-I.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | May 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm

twitter can be used as a force for good or evil. Our side has had a few wins, but it seems that on balance evil is winning.

JimMtnViewCaUSA | May 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Did I read somewhere that she is married to a black guy?
Must be a racist….

LukeHandCool | May 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Didn’t Lawrence Summers also tangle with Cornel West over West’s shoddy academic output?

Of course, he messed with the feminist contingent at Harvard when he suggested men and women might be different and had some of the female professors suffer sudden Victorian fainting spells.

How did Professor Summers first begin to question academia’s orthodoxy about supposedly societal imposed gender roles?

When he bought some toy trucks for his little daughter and she said, “Look Daddy. The Mommy truck is carrying the baby truck.”

The last to know.

It’s really happening — and in America. Totalitarianism across the cultural spectrum driven and sustained by a viciously self-righteous elite from the White House down to Comedy Central and given cover by the collusive MSM. We read about this stuff in dystopian novels. Now it’s happening. These people don’t retreat, admit shame, or even permit pause for reflection. That’s their strength and their secret — their total relentlessness. And they’re operating in panic mode now, as a patriotic resistance movement mobilizes. The new media has cracked their Leftist edifice reinforced by generations of MSM lies and academic corruption and indoctrination. They didn’t count on this resistance. So now the plan is to double-down with “Shock and Awe” aggression — attack on every front, club us or terrify us into censorship or submission, put the fear of slander, stigma or lost livelihood into every American who even thinks about challenging their lies and dogmas.

The next six months will be a crucible for this country. And the burden will be on us. We’ll be fighting not only them, but our own pathetic quisling establishment.

    Browndog in reply to raven. | May 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    It’s really happening — and in America, faster than anyone could have imagined..

    shock and awe

Kind of funny, fitting and ironic that the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s acronym is CHE.

It is only natural that the Darwinian evolution of the intellecually-inbred academic is to abort diversity of thought.

Persistent defense of the free exchange of ideas is the only way to prevent the reproduction of mutant thought.

radiofreeca | May 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I’ve never met someone who was proud of their research (and secure in their work) who was afraid of talking about it or others reading it. I would say the second-biggest reason for not further funding these departments is the fact that they demand firing of anyone who reads their dissertations.

Imagine what would happen in an Econ or Engineering (or Law!) department where anyone who read or discussed a dissertation was fired for doing so.

Frank Scarn | May 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm

“Whereas Riley was engaged in serious debate, the readers and editors of the Chronicle are engaged in silencing criticism and banning the critics.”

This is IDENTICAL with the approach of Muslims. Shut down every iota of criticism of Islam, muslim practices, Sharia, and muslims.

Which is identical with the approach of every totalitarian ~ism, Nazism, Communism, Socialism, Islam.

An excellent blog which follows the unfairness of liberal approaches to discrimination,

It also covers this story,

    Mich in reply to Frank Scarn. | May 9, 2012 at 7:01 am

    In a broader view, I think it could be argued that any one size fits all ideology has to become cruel in order to survive.

    I am encouraged by Ms Riley’s (I also thought her husband was black) post, because she follows with an opinion piece in the WSJ today, and is not apologetic. She need not be. The titles of the dissertions do not make me curious to read, as I usually count on titles and headlines in cuing my interest. Hitchens read MO’s dissertion and it sounds as if it sounds as if it was every bit as bad as he assumed it would be.

    Martin Luther was not the first person to notice the abuses of the church; the birth pains of the reformation preceded him by many years. He was one of the first not burned at the stake.

    I think the left tactics of squeaky wheelism is a symptom of corruption. Race needs a reformation and we may be seeing that happening.

TeaPartyPatriot4ever | May 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm

The far left is a cancerous toxic ideology, and can and will completely destroy a civilized society of Freedom, Liberty, Democracy, and the Truth, in a blink of an eye, as history has shown.

To the far left, the truth is all subjective. It has to be because that’s the only way they can justify their own thoughts, words, and action, which is contradicted by evidence of facts, logic, and reason, aka the truth itself. Thus this is the far left’s paradox of existence, to make the insane sane, the illogical logical, and the lie the truth.

Liberals cannot change the mindsets and minds, thus their votes, and particularly their loyalties and allegiances of the people without their tools of indoctrination, propaganda, and their incessant inherent radical anarchist bullying and even violent Alinsky / Piven & Cloward tactics and strategy, and the people in the right places to implement them.

To deceive the people, liberals use their pretense of tolerance and inclusiveness mantra as a ruse to be intolerant, controlling, bullying, threatening, intimidating, coercive, and even physically violent to anyone they wish to, and pretend that the law is only what they say it is, and is only applied to who and what and when they say it does, excluding them of course.

That’s the only way they can take over the Nation’s politics, is by brainwashing the people into believing that Individual Freedom and Liberty, Democracy and the US Constitution are bad and wrong, and that an all powerful govt is the only way, in the name of the people. And for all those who do or will not cooperate and become good little marxists, the rest will be extricated to gulags and labor camps and eventually the grave, as this is exactly what and how people like Bill Ayers, F.F. Piven, Richard Cloward, Van Jones, etc., want it to be, and are planning it to be.

All one needs to do is to read their books, and listen to their rhetoric, and watch their actions to see the truth of their plans unfold right before your very eyes..

That is why they want to silence any and all decent, just as every tyrannical radical govt of power has done for centuries.

Isn’t that what the former USSR was all about, the deception and lies in the name of the people.. and the people suffered 70 years of brutality, oppression, labor camps, torture, and murder, because of it.

As quoted from Mr. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a former Soviet prisoner of conscience, author of Gulag Archipelago, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, a titan of moral clarity warned us about the coming failure of our society back in 1978 in a speech given at Harvard University.
Equivalence is the essence of Moral Relativism- The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines moral relativism as something that one accuses another of, rather than something to which one proudly admits.
“The rise of Moral Relativism, whereby equivalence and mediocrity (or outright evil) trumps value and quality continues to be the grim reaper of our national life.”

    Good stuff, thanks. I was at that speech at Harvard in 1978, at my brother’s graduation. Young as I was, I remember being tremendously impressed by his presence and words. I doubt he’d even be invited today — or to any liberal arts university’s commencement.

PC McMillen just made the The Chronicle useless to its readers.

Juba Doobai! | May 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm

At the end of the day, the dissertations are still victimization crap. Schaefer Riley will have the chops that the writers of the claptrap don’t. As an academic, you don’t defend yourself by demanding the firing of someone who levels a charge against you. You meet the person toe to toe, and, in Oxford Union style, you pit your intellect against theirs and prove them wrong. So, either the writers lack the intellectual chops to face down Shaefer Riley or they know she is right, hence the fury and demands for her firing, n

See, if you had a Ph.D. maybe you would have learned to read behind the kind of lines you regurgitated earlier
Paul Heideman

A/K/A reading it, interpolating it through the prism of social and ideological parameters set-up by radical leftist socialist/marxists in liberal academia.

I just had to dig out the old Christopher Hitchens post again from Slate during the 2008 campaign.

I direct your attention to Mrs. Obama’s 1985 thesis at Princeton University….”Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community.”… To describe it as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be “read” at all, in the strict sense of the verb. This is because it wasn’t written in any known language.

    zazz in reply to Jack Long. | May 9, 2012 at 4:23 am

    This is the difference between an intellectual vacuum and credible criticism. Hitchens READ THE DISSERTATION. I don’t really care if the blogger was criticizing Black Studies or a conservative law review. SHE DIDN’T READ THE DISSERTATIONS. She evaluated their quality based on abstracts and what she thinks is relevant in 2012. Woe to someone studying Medieval architectural methods because we’ve gone beyond that now. Write to someone studying Roman enslavement practices because they’re all dead, Latin is a “dead language,” and there aren’t slaves in Rome anymore.

    I’m not surprised Jonah Goldberg finds this a partisan issue. Professor Jacobson ought to know better. The Chronicle of Higher Education is not a scholarly journal, it isn’t peer reviewed, and this was a blog post, not a scholarly article. But it would be bad journalism anywhere. I don’t care if universities, in making choices about what to offer, cut a program for a more vibrant one. They have to make choices. Many are curing budgets right now and having to cut programs. Making a case to cut Black Studies is perfectly reasonable–if the case being made is reasonable. That was unprofessional.

    The state universities in my state are cutting 80 programs. If they cut one based on reading three dissertation abstracts and finding them incompetent or not relevant to the politics of 2012, it would be stupid. The same blog post would be a perfectly acceptable letter to the editor of Chronicles. I’d think it was a stupid letter, but very well. But a writer, paid or unpaid, editorial or reporting, blog or column, given an official spot on any journalism outlet that let that stand would be unprofessional. I would not the blogger or the outlet. Given that this is specifically covering higher education, it’s inexcusable. I don’t care what the writer’s politics are, in higher education we don’t support a position based on abstracts, or the blurb on the the book cover, or a marketing campaign. You read the book if you are judging it.

    Hitchens read the book. That blogger couldn’t be bothered to.

I teach mathematics at a community college, and I am also a graduate student working on an advanced degree. My experiences as a teacher and a student, along with this incident with The Chronicle of Higher Education, is why I blog anonymously. You do not want to cross the Diversity and Tolerance Nazis.

It has been said before, but our colleges and universities are becoming Stalinist islands of repression in a sea of freedom.

    Taxpayer1234 in reply to rec_lutheran. | May 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Same here, except I teach English, the discipline that’s put out some of the worst victimization blather.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to rec_lutheran. | May 9, 2012 at 2:41 am

    I teach English, and in so doing, I’ve literally had to teach students how to think critically, to analyze. They come to the classroom with no skills, an aversion to work, and a fancy for ego-stroking. Quite frankly, when my red pen finishes with their papers, and I cold-heartedly tell them do it over from scratch, that here they meet and there miss the mark, by the end of the term a big class is reduced to about ten to fifteen. People are not interested in academic rigor, and I can’t do it any other way.

      zazz in reply to Juba Doobai!. | May 9, 2012 at 4:37 am

      Would you encourage them to critique a book based on reading an abstract and not the book? Would you find out acceptable to dismiss an entire field of study based on reading three abstracts of books they hadn’t read?

I followed the link (“The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.”) hoping to find the dissertations so I could read them, but no.

Can someone direct me to an access site where I could take Ms. Riley’s advice and read them?

    Taxpayer1234 in reply to betty. | May 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    There are a couple large electronic repositories of dissertations; one is UMI. If you have access to a university library, you can access UMI. Or try Google Scholar; sometimes dissertations are available there.

Their expression of selective indignation can only mean that they serve special and, in fact, selfish interests.

[…] More at Memeorandum with commentary by New York Post, National Review, American Thinker and Legal Insurrection Category: Education, Intellectuals, RacismComments […]

I was amused by the defensive comments over the The Chronicle responding to the offending comment. But, I confess, when I read the one which recited the laundry list of “____ Studies” subjects – are they all actually PhD ‘disciplines’ these days? – I nearly choked on my coffee. Each and every one of them is plagued by the same lack of rigor and intellectual content as is “Black Studies”. And while we’re talking about Mrs. Obama’s Princeton thesis, I read it myself and found it not only very poorly written for a Masters thesis, but empty of content apart from bald assertions of virulent racism against blacks at Princeton … at least, I think that’s what those sentences translated into. Horrible writing, unquestionably. (And before you ask, I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science, summa cum laude and a J.D. degree from what passes for a top-tier law school these days.)

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Ike. | May 9, 2012 at 2:47 am

    I had a prof at grad school who looked me in the eye and said quite calmly, do it over again. Write a paper. That’s what I got for trying to hand him a play instead of a paper. Years later when I saw him again, I thanked him. He did that before it became politically correct to coddle folks like me.There was another prof who said that’s not how you write this kind of paper. She didn’t show me how either. So, I hit the library and discovered how. That was then. This is now.

DizzyMissL | May 8, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Then there’s this:,0,776959.story

An internal investigation into UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies has found evidence of academic fraud involving more than 50 classes that range from no-show professors to unauthorized grade changes for students.

I encourage people to read – if they have the stomach for it – the response from the 3 graduate students whose dissertation Riley was criticizing.

I hate to say it, but I think Riley stepped in it, even if she was basically right. That having been said, the response from the 3 graduate students is far worse. In a way they confirm Riley’s points and worse. I thought, “I’d like to believe you’re intelligent people doing good scholarship, but I sure don’t see it here.” It’s a vicious cauldron of naked outrage at everyone and everything that doesn’t agree with them.

Thank you, yes, Riley stepped in it.

I don’t have the stomach to read the defense of graduate students who just spent a significant part of their lives writing book-length research studies to have them be held up as exactly what’s wrong with the entire field, not that should be corrected, but shuttered. I doubt their defenses of their work in that forum, even if vehemently supported by other readers, would be their best representation of themselves, their work, their schools, or their fields.

Some dissertation committees are tough and demand that the dissertation defense be a real defense. But this isn’t demonstrating expertise to other experts, and under the circumstances, I would not look to them at this moment to defend their field of studies from an argument like the one Riley made.

If Riley is right, it’s as a shot in the dark if it’s based on what she thinks is right and appropriate in a field of study not her own, and reading three dissertation abstracts.