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Why Is the Chronicle of Higher Education Publishing A Racist Hack?

[ 65 ] May 5, 2012 |

Shorter Naomi Schaefer Riley: African American studies is such a worthless field you can tell the research is useless just by reading dissertation titles.

More here, here, here, and here. The scholars respond here. Why the Chronicle is publishing this witless sub-Roger Kimball nonsense I have no idea.

Jessica Valenti reminds me that Schaefer Riley is the same hack who informed the readers of the Wall Street Journal that if a woman goes out for a drink it’s her fault if she gets raped.

…Shorter Mark Bauerlein:  I am appalled that people are not responding to an argument that an entire academic field be eliminated based on a sniggering retyping of dissertation titles with the appropriate civility.

…an excellent point here. Leaving aside why she picked on Black Studies in particular, the post was the latest demonstration of the fact that she was utterly unqualified to be writing for the CHE at all.


Comments (65)

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    Maybe the company that prints magazines got “The Chronicle of Higher Education” cover mixed-up with ‘Das KKKronKKKle of Lowuh Edumacashion?”

    Either that, or this further proof that in the budget cuts that newspapers and magazines have had to go through, Editors were the first to go.

  2. sleepyirv says:

    There are a lot of lazy attacks against silly-sounding dissertations but this has to take an award for going after dissertations that are important areas of study.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      That’s what’s even more amazing — even on their face these sound like perfectly interesting and typical things to research.

      • DrDick says:

        Nut they are about those people! Nothing they do is of any interest to any serious intellectual. Just ask JenBonAnonyNoir.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        Indeed. It’s pretty shocking that CHE would publish this much less defend it. Putting aside the utterly ridiculous methodology (even as cherry picked case studies, reading the title and perhaps the abstract is obviously insufficient to even being to get off the ground of doing…well, anything), the evaluative line is mere racist sneering and mockery. The post doesn’t even try to articulate a critique.

      • StevenAttewell says:

        Which in turn is evidence against her claim – even cherry picking with an n of 3, Riley turned up a disstertation on housing policy, black participation in the GOP, and health care.

        If there were truly weak dissertation topics out ere, you’d think Riley could have turned up at least 3.

        • Hogan says:

          even cherry picking with an n of 3, Riley turned up a disstertation on housing policy, black participation in the GOP, and health care.

          Yes, but they don’t have any white people in them, so who cares?

  3. Colin says:

    My favorite part of this is that the original post was “just read the dissertations,” and then, when she’s (fairly) criticized, Schaefer Riley actually claims that she herself didn’t read the dissertations because “that’s not my job.” Clearly, the answer to the question “troll, hack, or just maliciously stupid?” is “all of the above.”

    • The full sentence:

      Finally, since this is a blog about academia and not journalism, I’ll forgive the commenters for not understanding that it is not my job to read entire dissertations before I write a 500-word piece about them.


  4. somethingblue says:

    Hey, she’s just trying to uphold standards.

    “Belgian Education Policy in the Congo 1945–1960.” Now that’s a real dissertation topic!

  5. Maybe the Chronicle is just ‘teaching the controversy’ or something like that.

    Or consider that whenever any academic is willing to put his or her name to anything that says ‘teh blacks, they are teh stupid,’ the academic immediately gets lots and lots of attention.

    Question: why is that so?

    • Paul Campos says:

      She’s not an academic she’s a hack journalist. Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber:

      I suspect that Ms. Riley has a bright future awaiting her, involving victimization claims, think tank fellowships and other wingnut welfare goodies.

    • Ben says:

      The Chronicle came up with a much more odious response than that, somehow:

      Join the debate! Challenge the post! Set the record straight! Read our front-page story on the future of black studies! Give us more pageviews!

      • Malaclypse says:

        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.

        We plan on giving readers new and exciting opportunities in the future, by hiring John Derbyshire as our Race and Culture blogger-in-chief.

  6. CashandCable says:

    I read the Chronicle now and again, but I want to ask anyone who reads it regularly: Is there any real precedent for this garbage? I mean, it would be one thing for an academic running Racism 2.0 to get an article in the CHE (I’m assuming that’s happened before, although I can’t recall any specific instances), but a random racist/sexist/”nobody but white males are oppressed” blogger?

  7. It’s a remarkable series of posts at Brainstorm and it just doesn’t stop.

    Is Brainstorm racist for publishing racist attacks?

    At this point, yes, obviously. Why not resign?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Get a degree in Hate Studies, and you can look forward to a lifetime of long stretches of unemployment interrupted for short periods by a job that will contain the phrase “would you like fries with that?”

  9. Anonymous says:

    And no wonder college graduates can’t find jobs when they major in worthless shit. We need to stop subsidizing the Hate Studies majors and use the money freed up from that to pay full freight for those who major in STEM fields.

  10. Pinko Punko says:

    The hacks usually post to the Innovations blog on CHE, but I guess Brainstorm as well. Richard Vedder is the number one hack, but there is also Peter Wood, a pro-climate change “skeptic”. Vedder always posts with no information given about his extensive ties to a hack education institute ensconced at Ohio U. and AEI. They are terrible.

  11. Aside from the racism of the blog post in question, one has to wonder why a known anti-academic, anti-intellectual figure was given an opportunity to comment on academic affairs in the first place.

  12. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    Q: Why is the Chron publishing a racist hack?

    A: To generate traffic.

    This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Stupid Questions

  13. PSP says:

    Ignore the fact that Naomi Schaefer Riley was writing about black studies. The blog is consistent with her criticism of all academia and liberal arts education. A critique that is nearly as stupid as racism, and much more dangerous.

    When I saw she had been on the WSJ always nuts page, I went and looked to see if she was the same ignoramus who had given this CSPAN interview:

    Sure enough, it was. Although the headline is a critique of tenure, her underlying thesis is academia is not being ruthlessly vocational and focusing on the classroom. She takes the approach that the tenure process requires educators to shift their focus to research. There follows a pretty standard wing nut criticism of the research, and a conclusion that students aren’t getting the education their parents think they are paying for.

    Basically, this is a woman who completely misses the point of the liberal arts and graduate education. It is much akin to the engineers who leave comments on articles on undergraduate unemployment saying “Their fault for not getting a useful degree like me.” From this point of view, the history of midwifery (black or white) is a waste of money.

    So, I don’t think she was being racist, although she may have been inviting criticism that she was. It was a whole different order of stupidity. I actually suspect she chose to criticize Black Studies because it would create accusations of racism. Nothing better than defending against accusations of racism by liberal academics with a good conservative argument to jump start her wing nut welfare benefits.

    • Pinko Punko says:

      She’s already on the payroll. Best part, I believe both her parents were liberal arts profs and she’s an alum of Harvard- out to fix the educamacation for the rest of y’all, natch.

      She’s been a guest of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, who have the ear of the highly esteemed Gov. Perry of Texas.

      • DrDick says:

        out to fix the educamacation for the rest of y’all, natch.

        Fix it so we can’t actually get any. Last thing she and her ilk want is a bunch of educated proles running about upsetting the gravy train.

        • Pinko Punko says:

          They watch Metropolis and they see utopia. Why teach subjects that are luxuries- luxuries are for those that can afford it, that is why they want to define things as luxuries, and one way to get to that definition is to make sure people can’t afford it. Instead, everybody should just learn a trade, like working in a factory. Sorry, we’ll just grind you up for dog food, we have robots now. The market has spoken.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        I believe both her parents were liberal arts profs

        Her father was the discussant on a panel djw and I presented on. He sighed and rolled his eyes throughout our talk and what little substance was in his remarks contained egregious factual howlers.

  14. Woodrowfan says:

    So, according to the Chronicle..

    1. An established writer can attack several grad students with no comparable public platform to defend themselves, and this attack can be made even through the author has not actually read the works she is attacking? And this is fair?

    2. However, it’s unfair for other professionals to attack the established writer in a forum where said writer can respond, even though these attacks are made by readers who actually read the writer’s article??

    Is that pretty much it?

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  18. […] == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}A commenter notes this gem from Mark Bauerlein, last seen whining that Naomi Schaefer Riley’s knowledge-free race-baiting was not being addressed with […]

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  21. […] may remember Naomi Schaefer Riley from such self-refuting arguments as “African-American studies is a completely worthless field; for my evidence, allow me to […]

  22. […] qualifications but the value of an entire field puts is reminiscent of Naomi Schaefer Riley’s dismissal of African American Studies based on titles of dissertations she hadn’t read. Johnson, natch, defended Riley, and is still using similar techniques to issue broad attacks on […]

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