Duke University professor, Jerry Hough, is catching unholy hell for his opinion regarding what he thought was the underlying cause of the Baltimore riots. And for exercising his First Amendment rights, he’s been placed on leave while the university that employs him decides what to do.
Hough responded to a New York Times editorial “How Racism Doomed Baltimore” and suggested that the editorial tenor condescendingly patronized blacks, and this attitude toward blacks is an underlying symptom of what continues to affect them.
But in today’s age of hypersensitivity and superficial moral outrage, Hough was immediately and expectedly branded a racist. According to Hough, people didn’t respond to or necessarily challenge the veracity of his comments. The offended- and Duke University officials- simply called him a racist.
According to WTVD, Duke University Professor Jerry Hough responded to a New York Times editorial titled “How Racism Doomed Baltimore” by suggesting that the author’s attitude was what was “wrong” with the black community.
“[T]he blacks get symbolic recognition in an utterly incompetent mayor who handled this so badly from beginning to end that her resignation would be demanded if she were white,” he wrote. “The blacks get awful editorials like this that tell them to feel sorry for themselves.”
Hough noted that “the Asians” faced discrimination throughout U.S. history: “They didn’t feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard.”
“I am a professor at Duke University,” he admitted. “Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration.”
Hough added that blacks made the problem worse by refusing to date white people.
“It was appropriate that a Chinese design won the competition for the Martin Luther King state,” he concluded. “King helped them overcome. The blacks followed Malcolm X.”
…“I am, of course, strongly against the toleration of racial discrimination. I do not know what racial intolerance means in modern code words and hesitate to comment on that specific comment,” he wrote to the station in an email. “In writing me, no one has said I was wrong, just racist. The question is whether I was right or what the nuanced story is since anything in a paragraph is too simple.”
“I am strongly against the obsession with ‘sensitivity.’ The more we have emphasized sensitivity in recent years, the worse race relations have become,” he continued. “In my opinion, the time has come to stop talking incessantly about race relations in general terms as the President and activists have advocated, but talk about how the Asians and Poles got ahead–and to copy their approach. I don’t see why that is insensitive or racist.”
Though not as articulate as he probably wished he was, Hough’s comments aren’t that far off.
First, Hough’s right. Though he was responding to the overt incompetence demonstrated by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, indeed, blacks do get symbolic recognition found in incompetent politicians at all levels- always and everywhere at their expense. And if Rawlings-Blake were white, her resignation would’ve been demanded.
Further, blacks are always told- and as a result, many thoroughly believe- that the “system” is always against them. Being that this is the overwhelming and destructive narrative, blacks are always victims of never-ending white racism. Having been fed this pessimistic lie over several generations, what else – besides anger and frustration- can blacks feel but sorry for themselves?
Of course, this isn’t to let black folk off the hook. Blacks, like everyone else, are just as autonomous as their racial counterparts. They have an obligation take responsibility for their fate. As a friend recently said to me, blacks are part of the very system they lament is out to destroy them considering who they’ve monolithically and unflinchingly voted for and supported since the 1960’s. That can’t be excused. But the notion that they’re unremitting victims of perennial white racism has had its effect.
Hough’s point about Asians and they’re lack of self-pity is also spot on. As a group, they haven’t felt sorry for themselves and look what they’ve been able to accomplish in America. Statistically they have a higher quality of life than white people. A good parent teaches their children to respond to hardship or discrimination by telling them to work twice as hard to prove their worth rather than encouraging them to self-indulge in excuses for why people don’t like them while hoping they eventually get pity points. The same applies here.
Where Hough’s response gets touchy is his recognition of the intentional efforts (by-and-large) of Asian students to integrate by having recognizable American names as opposed to the anti-integration practice of black families naming their children African or Islamic names.
It’s only touchy because it’s true.
Imani, Aliyah, Malik, DaShawn or any first name containing an apostrophe or a hyphen is much more counter cultural (or anti American culture) than Michael, David, John, Brian, Allison or Stephanie.
With all that said, Duke University took the predictable steps by admonishing Hough for his comments and suspending him until their investigation- whatever that means, is complete.
In a statement, Duke Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Affairs Michael Schoenfeld that Hough’s comments were “noxious, offensive, and have no place in civil discourse.”
“Duke University has a deeply-held commitment to inclusiveness grounded in respect for all, and we encourage our community to speak out when they feel that those ideals are challenged or undermined, as they were in this case,” Schoenfeld explained.
Are Professor Jerry Hough’s comments true, or are they racist, “noxious” and “offensive,” having “no place in civil discourse” as his objectors contend?