May 10 2012
Carrie L. Lukas
Naomi Schaeffer Riley has a sad—and perhaps saddest of all, unsurprising—tale in the Wall Street Journal of how she was fired from her post as a blogger at the Chronicle of Higher Education because she wrote a post questioning the value of African-American studies programs. Almost to prove her point that too many of those associated with this discipline are focused on advancing a political agenda rather than on scholarship, she was attacked as a racist. The Chronicle quickly backed down from defending her right to express an opinion with a tail-between-the-legs apology about how her post didn’t live up to their standards.
We’ve seen this play out before, such as with the Larry Summers incident, when he dared to list innate ability as a factor that could contribute to the outcome of fewer women pursuing certain scientific disciplines. Honest critiques and debate, as well as academic inquiry, are easily sacrificed to the alter of political correctness in much of academia.
Yet it wasn’t the Summer’s incident that first came to mind when I read this piece today. It was the painfully awkward machinations of Elizabeth Warren’s heritage. Some on the Left are trying to make it sound as though it’s the Right’s fault that this is an issue and this is birther-like faux controversy that shows the Right is obsessed about ancestry. Yet in reality it’s the Left that is obsessed with categorizing people based on background, thus Harvard and other law schools, as well as Warren herself, bragging about the possibility that she may be 1/32 Cherokee.
Obviously, whether or not Warren has any Cherokee blood has no impact whatsoever on what kind of Senator she would be. It’s a ridiculous thing to be discussing… but it’s also ridiculous that she would be using the potential that some distant ancestor was Cherokee as a selling point on any application or as a bragging point when describing her credentials as a law professor. The fact that she had highlighted this fact (if it is a fact) does tell us something about her own perspective of how the world works, and that she embraced the idiotic bean-counting mentality that’s infected academia, and too much of our culture.