Phi Beta Cons

Harvard Professor Insults Black Conservatives

I’d normally dismiss this column as typical left-wing claptrap, but it seems that a Harvard University sociologist has no concept of statistics and a distinct taste for racially charged conservative-bashing. Lawrence Bobo insults black neo-conservatives:

Is “blackface mercenary” a fair characterization of neo-conservative Negroes? I suppose it all hinges on what highly selective reading of day-to-day events you want to make. And, of course, how much someone is willing to pay you for it.

He specifically references one of John McWhorter’s City Journal articles on hip-hop – mischaracterizing the writer, by the way, as McWhorter has spoken quite positively of some rappers elsewhere – and draws anecdotes from his own life of blacks behaving well and whites behaving badly.
Then, he concludes:

In reflecting on these three incidents, the double whammy hit me: first, while a sizeable chunk of mainstream America has a voracious appetite for denunciation of “black” misbehavior, there is no market whatever for denunciation of “white” misbehavior. When the latter happens that, of course, is just plain old, idiosyncratic misbehavior not worthy of distinctly racial-typing, even if somehow newsworthy. Second, there is no appetite for tales of ordinary everyday black folks just doing good. How does an aspiring blackface mercenary make money off of that, I mused?

One would think a crucial concept for a sociologist to understand would be “proportion.” People denounce white misbehavior, of course, but the reason they don’t put it in a racial context is because whites don’t misbehave in disproportion. In asking why, conservatives (black and white) often point to black culture, typified in gangster hip-hop.
One can disagree with the analysis, and say instead that racism causes the gap, but to pretend racial differences in behavior don’t exist is to bury one’s head in the sand. And if it just “hit” Bobo that Americans notice such differences in behavior, and look for analysis of why it happens, he’s not much of a sociologist.
Finally, in fact, black conservatives do emphasize good behavior in blacks, for the reason that positive role models are important. McWhorter himself argues black students need to be taught that “ordinary blacks have been capable of stunning successes in this country despite racism.”
If Bobo is the best Harvard can do, it needs to look at its hiring practices.

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