As one of many journalists who keep an eye out for ridiculously hateful things being spewed out of college professors’ mouths these days, I’ve always viewed it as me doing a bit of a public service. After all, don’t we all want to know what kind of things our children may be exposed to at college? My own son is a junior in high school, so this is incredibly relevant to my life, and I’m not alone.
It also seems that, according to a history professor at Columbia University, I’m also part of a system of repression.
In the recent past, some outspoken professors have publicly cheered for “white genocide,” called President Donald Trump a “dangerous … racist sexist megalomaniac,” said white people should just be left to die, and suggested Israelis celebrate when Palestinians die.
But when “right-wing” journalists report on such statements — comments that go viral and upset observers, who then criticize the rhetoric — that’s a purposely orchestrated “technique of repression,” according to one Ivy League scholar.
Russell Rickford, an associate professor of history at Cornell University, makes this argument in a recent Black Perspectives piece, suggesting news coverage of academics’ controversial statements is really a conservative effort to silence liberal academics.
Progressive professors are “engulfed in controversy” because they exposed “unjust power,” argues Rickford. He blamed the outrage on “a collection of right-wing sites and organizations that have mastered a cynical style of attack journalism well suited for the mob mentality of the social media age.”
Now, keep in mind that one of the examples of this is a professor who tweeted that all he wanted for Christmas was white genocide. Other examples include a professor who called white people “inhuman a**holes” and said blacks should let injured white people die rather than treat them.
These weren’t innocent comments that were misconstrued by the misguided right. These are hateful, bigoted comments that would never be tolerated if directed at other groups, and for good reason.
The real problem here isn’t that Rickford thinks there’s some system of repression at work here, but that he’s deluded enough to think that demanding everyone play by the same rules is repression at all.
We all know what would have happened if a white professor called for a black genocide, or said that people should just leave injured white people to die because they are inhuman. There would be a huge outcry, again, for good reason. Racist and other hateful attitudes should be shouted down at every opportunity.
What Rickford misses is that he’s seeing an effort to combat racist and other such hateful comments as repression rather than a continuation of an idea he likely supports.
You do not get a society where everyone is treated equally by simply switching who gets to be hateful. All that does is build up a backlash that will do no one any good.