There are many valuable lessons for UCLA professor Kara Cooney and her editors in this aftermath of this fiasco.
As the Legal Insurrection’s resident expert on ancient Egypt, I need to comment on the news about University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor and Egyptologist Kara Cooney and her new book, The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World.
She is facing mounting criticism for a passage in her newly released book that contains the #FakeNews about Kyle Rittenhouse shooting two Black men.
In her book, Cooney asks readers to “consider 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who used his semi-automatic weapon to kill two Black men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, while waging a glorious race war on behalf of his inherited White power.”
…Cooney received heavy backlash from social media users, who questioned her fact-checking and research for the book, leading her to acknowledge the error.
“On p. 341 of THE GOOD KINGS I state that Kyle Rittenhouse shot two Black men when instead he shot two white men,” Cooney wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “That was my mistake, and I apologize. The response has been a hateful stew of ridicule and denial that America has a race problem at all.”
Cooney said in her response that the aggressive and nasty feedback she’s received over the factual errors was a symptom of White supremacy and misogyny, calling the Rittenhouse passage a “tiny detail of the book.”
There are many valuable lessons that can be learned from Cooney’s experience, both for the UCLA professor and progressives who believe that “misinformation” campaigns and cancel culture can’t hurt them.
Let me begin by noting that I once followed Cooney on Facebook. I became aware of her work while watching the history documentaries on cable television, and bought her then newly published book: The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt.
One aspect of Egyptology to keep in mind is that while there is a treasure trove of artifacts and evidence from the Land of the Nile, very rarely can you make an assertion about ancient Egyptian history with 100% certainty. There is much room for interpretation.
I disagreed with the patriarchy-focused explanations that dominated the book on Queen Hatshepsut. I personally feel it wasn’t so much patriarchy that explains much of how the queen was lost to history but was instead the Egyptian love of duality and the need for them to take a different approach to how heirs were chosen. However, Cooney’s 2014 book is still part of my collection because the scholarship in her work was solid, and I enjoyed her perspective.
Afterward, from 2014 to 2017, I often went to her Facebook fan page for Egypt news and updates. To be fair to Cooney, she shepherded many robust discussions that were academically “hot” (specifically Afrocentrism). And while I didn’t agree with her political comments, they were few and far between.
Then came President Donald Trump, and the toxic political posting from Cooney became too much for me to bear. However, I never called for her page to be cancelled nor for her to be fired from UCLA. I did what normally people do: I simply stopped following her work.
I am sure other independent conservatives also made the same choice. Therefore, Cooney was missing out on some valuable “fact checking,” “reason reviewing,” and “alternative facts,” which may have been invaluable in preventing such a mock-worthy mistake.
However, the issue goes beyond Cooney. Where were her editors? Who was doing the “fact checking”? As an author, Cooney is not being well served by academic and publishing communities that are only exposed to right-reviling, Trump-hating, white-loathing, anti-male perspectives.
As a result of this political insulation, the entire level of scholarship in her new book must be questioned.
But there is even more potential fallout that must be considered. Cooney’s book is virulently anti-white in passages. If I were a parent with a child at UCLA or one who was considering that school as an option, would I really want said child to go to a school where racist screeds are an acceptable form of scholarship?
I’m literally wheezing this is so funny 😂🤣 this is the last chapter of “Good Kings” by Egyptologist Kara Cooney. I’ll say this delicately… she’s not the brightest and it shows. pic.twitter.com/YoI4sGGM49
— Kara McKinney OANN (@Nefertari_25) January 5, 2022
Reasonable fact-checking and a healthy respect for serious challenges makes all analysis better. I hope Cooney and her editors learn to tolerate different perspectives and review current events using different news sources when she writes her next book. Perhaps Cooney might consider reading Legal Insurrection?DONATE
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