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Faculty radicals worked hard to put the kind of coursework that had served others so well out of the reach of minority students. They stigmatized those courses as Eurocentric, oppressive, and dominant-class oriented, and they worked successfully to remove them from curricular requirements. The very idea of upward mobility was made to appear a capitulation to the corrupt value system of the dominant class.
As thinkers, campus radicals are poor role models for students. Their ideas are simple and rigid, and they rely heavily on conspiracy thinking that infers far too much from too little. They are powered by emotional commitments that are highly resistant to the lessons of experience. As a result, their cherished ideas are now virtually obsolete, and strike any reasonably well-informed observer as downright silly. The minority students that they attract into their orbit are dragged down to this low intellectual level.
This background is the key to the fury that Naomi Schaefer Riley¹s criticisms of Black Studies dissertations unleashed. Radical leftists have achieved considerable influence on campus in part because they were able to add substantial numbers of incoming minorities to their numbers. They need those students in self-destructive Black Studies courses that keep them resentful and under-educated. But that is only possible if they can maintain the illusion that they help and support black students, rather than exploiting them. Ms Schaefer Riley was a threat to that illusion, and that is why she was attacked so vehemently.
Black Studies does have one thing right: black students are indeed oppressed. What they have wrong is who is doing the oppressing. People of good-will on both sides of the political aisle should join together to insist that black students be given the same chance that other groups got to join the mainstream. This latest version of the plantation ought to be abolished.
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