Reverend Wright And Mainstream Black Academic Thought
May 02, 2008, 06:37 PM
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Heather Mac Donald has column in the WSJ about the Reverend Wright's speech to the NAACP. What she's talking about is the excuses he's making for black underclass behavior, and his
Approving of self-destructive behavior in school is just one part of the vast academic project to justify black underclass dysfunction. The academy has also singled out crime as authentically black, another poisonous idea that Mr. Wright appears to have embraced. In his NAACP speech, he mocked the tendency of "those of us who never got caught" to treat "those of us who are incarcerated" with disrespect. In other words, we all commit crime, but only some of us get nabbed for it.

This leveling argument recalls the bizarre doctrines of University of Pennsylvania law professor Regina Austin. In a widely reprinted California Law Review article from 1992, Ms. Austin asserted that the black community should embrace the criminals in its midst as a form of resistance to white oppression. People of color should view "hustling" as a "good middle ground between straightness and more extreme forms of lawbreaking." Examples of hustling include "clerks in stores [who] cut their friends a break on merchandise, and pilfering employees [who] spread their contraband around the neighborhood." It never occurs to Ms. Austin that these black thieves may have black employers who suffer the effects of crime — as do the larger neighborhoods of which they form the essential fabric. Officially incorporating crime into the black identity, as Ms. Austin and Mr. Wright do, is a pathetic admission of defeat and marginalization. [The Wright Side of the Brain, April 30, 2008]

This is normal behavior for an activist, but it seems a little extreme for a law professor, who's a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. Regina Austin, [Send her mail] She's listed in David Horowitz's book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, right next to Bill Ayers. (The proximity is due to alphabetical reasons.) The Law Review article Heather Mac Donald is referring to is "The Black Community," Its Lawbreakers, and a Politics of Identification. [ 65 Southern California Law Review 1769 (1992) ]

The point here is that Reverend Wright is not unique—the professors and theologians he quotes are the norm in black academic circles. And of course Heather Mac Donald is right about the promotion of crime being bad for the black community, but that's not its intention. The left-wing black academics want it to be bad for the white community, and it is.