I recently had occasion to mock the program of a “mini-conference” in our Department of Philosophy, which promised us lectures on “the black penis” as “the organ of non-being” and “institutional anti-Black misandry” (here). The moving force behind that conference was, very likely, Dr. Tommy Curry, an associate professor who specializes in Critical Race Theory, Africana Philosophy, Anti-Colonial Economic Thought, Colonial Sexuality Studies, etc. Dr. Curry is this morning squirming under the bright lights of official censure for comments he made in a radio interview nearly five years ago.
As reported in this morning’s Eagle:
Texas A&M University officials have described as alarming several comments made by a tenured philosophy professor in a nearly 5-year-old YouTube interview in which he discusses racial violence over time.
Curry’s “alarming” comments came in the course of a discussion of the 2012 movie Django Unchained, a bloodbath of Black vengeance that paranoid white racists found alarming. In an appearance on Saturday Night Live, the movie’s lead actor, Jamie Lee Fox, expressed satisfaction over the opportunity to graphically simulate the slaughter of whites. Everyone except paranoid white racists recognized this as a joke.
Well, everyone except paranoid white racists and Critical Race Theorists like Professor Curry.
Drawing on Africana philosophy, Professor Curry said that Fox’s joke had an interesting context. Here are his reported words:
“When we have this conversation about violence or killing white people, it has to be looked at in the kind of this historical turn. And the fact that we’ve had no one address, like how relevant and how solidified this kind of tradition is for black people — saying look, in order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people may have to die.”
I take this to mean that Blacks have a long tradition of fantasizing about the slaughter of whites, indeed a “solidified” tradition. And I take it to mean that Professor Curry believes that, given the circumstances, no one can really blame them.
I find both propositions about as unremarkable as it is possible for a proposition to be. I have read Eldridge Cleaver, I have parsed the lyrics of “Kill the Boer,” I have a passing familiarity with the unpleasantness down Haiti way some two hundred years ago. I have, indeed, been accosted by ranting Blacks while riding on busses and subway cars, the not so ambiguous burden of their words being that they would welcome the opportunity to cut my throat.
I never supposed this murderous fantasy is universal among Blacks, but I have never (since reaching manhood) doubted that it is “solid.”
That a professor of Critical Race Theory would draw attention to the historical context of this tradition also makes me yawn. That’s more or less what Critical Race Theory means. I personally think the Critical Race Theory of Dr. Curry is intellectual rubbish—a set of faulty inferences from a falsified historical narrative—but I cannot fault him for selling this rubbish under a false label. I see he just finished teaching an undergraduate course undeceptively entitled “Radical Black Philosophies,” which I suppose covered philosophies that were radical, Black, and indeed radically Black.
When the university has hired (and tenured) a professor of Dr. Curry’s obvious opinions, it cannot subsequently say it is flabbergasted and appalled by those opinions. When a philosopher bills himself on the university website as “Executive Director of Philosophy Born of Struggle,” no one can be astounded to learn that he sees philosophy as struggle. In other words, he sees philosophy the same way Karl Marx saw philosophy. When that philosopher says that he works in the “continental tradition,” every educated person should understand that this means a struggle for power.
Of course, university administrators are today making a great show of being flabbergasted, appalled, astounded, and disgusted by Curry’s “rhetoric that was filled with hate.” And yet they all very recently agreed to tenure Dr. Curry for publishing articles and teaching classes that, I am fairly certain, expressed precisely the same opinions. He is not some professor in the College of Engineering who has been doxed as the editor of Stormfront. His job title is, in effect, professor of these opinions.
This past November, the university President was working hard to distance himself from Richard Spencer, who had been booked to speak on campus by a private citizen ( see my commentary here and here). He told us then that Spencer’s opinions “have no place in civilized dialogue and conversation,” and are “abhorrent and profoundly antithetical to everything I believe.” Faithful readers will recall that I then wrote (here).
“I suppose we must take it that the President is in substantial agreement with every view expressed on this campus that he (or the administration generally) has not troubled to dissociate himself from. These would include varieties of Black Separatism that are exceedingly similar to Spencer’s program. They would also include some fairly forthright communism.”
I see now that this is not altogether right. Our President is in substantial agreement with the view that faculty should appear in the newspaper only as recipients of large grants, honorees at fashionable banquets, or inventors of humanitarian contraptions and educational panaceas. As he put it,
“We stand against the advocacy of violence, hate, and killing,” and “firmly commit to the success, not the destruction, of each other.”
This is, needless to say, sheer cant. No one (including Dr. Curry, and even Jamie Lee Fox) simply advocates violence, hate, and killing. These are in all cases advocated as means to some end; and outside the realm of absolute pacifism, these means take their moral color from the ends to which they are the means.
Good God! Texas A&M was founded as a military school and among its alumni boasts several Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. There is a nice display in their honor in the, what is it called—The Memorial Student Center. That’s the name of our student union and it is a memorial to all the Aggies who fought—let me say that again, fought for ends to which violence, killing, and very likely some hate, were the means.
I expect the university President respects those ends, and so does, in fact, advocate violence and killing, and perhaps even hate, when such are necessary to preserve them.
If Critical Race Theory and Radical Black Philosophies are correct, it may very well be that Blacks need to kill some whites. Those young men honored in the Memorial Student Center fought, died, and killed on the assumption that Democratic Theory and Liberal Philosophy are correct, and that Americans therefore needed to kill some Germans and Japanese. On the other hand, if Critical Race Theory and Radical Black Philosophies are, as I believe, intellectual rubbish, they probably shouldn’t be foisted on ignorant undergraduates by the Philosophy Department.
Not because they advocate violence and killing, but because they are intellectual rubbish.