The NATION’s Black Professor Needs To Get Out More, Learn How Normal Americans Think
The alt-right, Muhammad warned, is making racism respectable with social science.
Muhammad [Email him] actually let the cat of the bag about race, and divulged, quite amusingly, why leftist elitists such as Muhammad don’t understand normal Americans.
These days, much of the alt-right has gone mainstream, often cloaking its racism in pseudo-social-scientific theory. I first got a taste of this style of debate 10 years ago, when I criticized Bill Cosby in The Washington Post for his national tour emphasizing “personal responsibility,” in which he lambasted black America’s poorest and mass-incarcerated for their bad English, bad dress, and bad behavior. One reader called me out for supposedly hiding black crime rates, writing: “Blacks accounted for 13% of the U.S. population in 2005, but were victims in 15% of all nonfatal violent crimes and nearly half of all homicides.”
Yet nowhere does Muhammad tell us whether the reader’s data are accurate, a typical tactic of the left. Rather, in dealing with such data, the leftist critics attaches scare quotes to them, suggesting that they are false, even if they aren’t.
Shortly after the Zimmerman verdict, my wife Stephanie and our children attended a bar mitzvah for the son of some dear friends down the block. Their kid now goes to the same high school as our daughter—a school that counts among its alumni both the musician Lauryn Hill and the alt-right shock jock Mike Enoch. At the reception, people chatted over cocktails, and another neighbor—whose son is friends with our son—expressed his support for the acquittal, insisting that Zimmerman had killed Martin in self-defense. “I was taken aback,” Stephanie recalls. Our neighbor had “no discernible empathy for Trayvon.”
That reminds me of Pauline Kael’s admission that she was quite out of touch with the hoi polloi who voted for Richard Nixon: “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”
Well, if Kael, a film critic for The New York Times, had bothered to leave New York once in a while, she might have met a few Nixon voters, like those in the 49 states that helped him crush George McGovern.
Likewise with Muhammad and his wife. Maybe if they spent some time outside New York, they’d meet a few of the great unwashed who thought Trayvon had it coming. Then meeting one of them in town wouldn’t be such a surprise.