Boldly, the New York Times tackles the Klan!


From Oberlin on to Ole Miss: We aren’t thrilled by the New York Times’ general approach to issues of race.

In our view, the paper favors a grandstanding approach built around tired and blinkered self-glorying notions of upper-class Northern exceptionalism. On balance, last week’s reporting about Ole Miss seemed like a case in point.

On Sunday, February 16, two or three youthful lost souls committed a pitiful act on the campus of the University of Mississippi. Three days later, the Times’ Alan Blinder reported what had occurred:
BLINDER (2/19/14): The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday that it had joined the inquiry into an act of vandalism at the University of Mississippi, where a statue of the university's first black student was found with a noose and a flag with the Confederate battle emblem.

The university authorities have said they are seeking two men in the episode, which happened early Sunday on the main campus in Oxford. The university has more than 22,000 students on campuses statewide, 24 percent of whom are minorities.

A witness said the men screamed racial slurs as they defaced the statue of James Meredith, who was admitted in 1962 amid violence and after the intervention of the Kennedy administration.

''These individuals chose our university's most visible symbol of unity and educational accessibility to express their disagreement with our values,'' the university's chancellor, Daniel W. Jones, said in a statement. ''Their ideas have no place here, and our response will be an even greater commitment to promoting the values that are engraved on the statue -- courage, knowledge, opportunity and perseverance.''

The university's alumni association is offering a $25,000 reward to aid in the investigation, which the school characterized as ''rigorous.''
Some people are lost and still very dumb. That said:

Good for the FBI. Good for Chancellor Jones. Good for the alumni association.

Good for “the scores of students and employees,” black and white, who “staged a quickly planned vigil at the statue of Mr. Meredith.” Moving beyond the events of last week:

Good for Kimberly Dandridge, who was elected as the school’s first black female student body president in 2011. Good for Courtney Pearson, who was elected the first black homecoming queen in 2012.

(Pearson was a legacy. Her mother, father and stepmother all attended Ole Miss. Good for them as well, dating back to a tougher time. When Courtney Pearson became homecoming queen, the Dean of Students said he had known her father when they attended Ole Miss together.)

Moving farther back in time, good for Kimsey O’Neal Cooper, the first black student to be selected Miss Ole Miss, in 1989. And good for Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, for a fascinating portrait of modern-day Ole Miss in their 2011 book, the clumsily titled but fascinating Higher Education?

By most lights, Hacker earned his bones on race a long time ago with his aggressive book, Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal. What’s his view of the modern Ole Miss?

“Of all the flagship universities we visited, we found the University of Mississippi the most appealing,” he and Dreifus wrote. These were some of the reasons:
HACKER/DREIFUS (page 219): Today, on campus, there’s a statue of James Meredith and Ole Miss is a university where reconciliation and civility are at the very heart of the educational mission. Much of this transformation is the work of Robert Khayat, a remarkable leader, who retired from the chancellorship in 2009. Khayat, himself a former footballer, raised academic standards, tripled the African American enrollment, and banned confederate flags from athletic events—a truly courageous step...

Ole Miss now has a Center for the Study of Southern Culture that focuses on the art, literature, music and food of the region, black and white. Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s home, is an on-campus museum. Rita Bender, the wife of Mickey Schwerner, one of the civil rights workers murdered during the summer of 1964, gives a course in “restorative justice.” And did we see correctly at the football game? Was that really a black athlete escorting an extremely white homecoming princess across the field?

When Melissa Cole, a pre-med student in the Barksdale Honors College, first though about attending Ole Miss, her friends back home in Jackson asked, “Why would you want to go there?” She’s African-American. Once at Oxford, she got involved with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, which she described as having started much “dialogue of racial reconciliation, racial issues on campus, and how to come together. It’s not only black and white, but also international students who are having different experiences.” She believes, “Ole Miss has a lot to offer for anybody of any race.”
Good for Melissa Cole! We’re assuming she’s seeing clearly!

Did Hacker and Dreifus see Ole Miss correctly? We can’t answer that question. But you pretty much knew where the Times would end up with an event like this from last week! That said, even we had to chuckle at their second report on this incident.

We will return to this topic. We’ll also return to Oberlin, where the Times bravely battled the Klan less than a year ago.


  1. Wonderful post, Bob. Wonderful!

    1. Wonderful, wonderful response. Makes me feel proud of Bob and his friends.

  2. So Bob cheers what he learned in the NY Times report, while at the same time condemning the Times for reporting it?

  3. Good for Bob taking on a 9 day old story in the new York Times as a means of revisiting a Times story from almost a year ago.

    While visiting the Times article via Bob's link I was able to see an article from today in which the Times explores the efforts of the Republican administration to weaken environmental protection in North Carolina prior to the Duke Energy coal ash spill. It sounded very familiar. Because Rachel Maddow covered it several days in a row,
    while Bob was taking the week to inform us of Chris Matthews almost getting somebody killed in 1999.

    1. The weakening of environmental protections, distorted coverage of Obamcare, the stripping of abortion rights, anti-gay legislation in numerous states --- these are of no importance to Bob, because ---- while they are of enormous import to the country --- they aren't cudgels with which he can bludgeon liberals. Much more important to the future of the nation to relentlessly report about Maddow's reporting of Bridgegate, and yes, to revisit the sins of Matthews from 14 years ago. These are the burning issues of the day. And yet Bob also manages amid all of this to find time to enlighten us on the issues of most importance regarding black kids.

    2. Bob isn't "bludgeoning liberals." He's trying to get liberals to engage in a real public discourse, as opposed to the propagandizing that is done at Fox News. He thinks that's the only way to have a true democracy.

      Dud you consider it to be "bludgeoning America" when citizens opposed the Iraq War, or complained about Bush's tax cuts?

    3. " . . .while Bob was taking the week to inform us of Chris Matthews almost getting somebody killed in 1999."

      Please. That was not all that Bob focused his laser beam upon.

      He also told us about media profiles of Rachel Maddow written six years ago.

  4. It's a good thing Bob focuses on black kids daily, as opposed to trivia like Maddow's coverage of Bridgegate or the Zimmerman trial or Campaign 2000. If you want to learn about what's really going on with black kids, this is the place.

    1. Blck kids? I thought this was a piece about the NY Times and
      "two or three youthful lost souls." You know, the kind Malala would not hate. The kind in whom those heroic freedom riders would have glimpsed their humanity. Drunk frat boys.

  5. I hope when Bob revisits the horrible job the New York Times did in the Oberlin affair more people will pay attention.

    Only two people even bothered to comment. One said:

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    What a fathead.

  6. Good positive story. Perhaps liberals would do well to accentuate, even applaud the progress that has occurred at places like Ole Miss more often. I don't understand the hostility.

    1. Why the hostility? According to pundit Thomas Sowell, liberals are motivated by a desire to feel superior -- morally and intellectually. This thesis fits in with Bob's claim that the Times "favors a grandstanding approach built around tired and blinkered self-glorying notions of upper-class Northern exceptionalism."

      I was raised in New York City in the liberal tradition. Prejudice against Southerners was a part of my upbringing. I was taught that they were less intelligent, less intellectual, less moral, and less hard-working. IMHO, when the Times promotes the ideal of Northern exceptionalism, it is giving its readers what they want..

    2. Thomas Sowell is a right wing hack

    3. The NY Times is not a paper for liberals. It is a paper read by upper middle class people in NYC and throughout New England. I think the enjoyment of feeling superior is a human universal. I don't know whether Sowell is liberal-bashing or what, but attributing a trait like that to one party is ridiculous. An important basis for Christian fundamentalism, mainstay of the right, is feeling morally superior to sinners of various sorts. A mainstay of fiscal conservatism is feeling morally superior to those in a more economically precarious position (lazy, improvident slackers).

      David, if you truly were raised in a liberal tradition, what happened to you?

    4. Visiting Germany in 1963 helped. I had been taught that capitalism and communism both had virtues; the ideal would be a blend. However, seeing East and West Germany with my own eyes made is obvious that capitalism was far superior to communism. Another experience was working with a far left anti war group near Philadelphia in 1969 or so. I recall begin shocked when we had some event shared with regular Democrats. The regular Dems were interested only in power and money.

    5. Thank you for explaining.

    6. David, I suppose this was sometime after you spent two days on a protest with Pete Seeger, but can't recall what you were protesting and had no idea he was once a Communist.

    7. Oh yes, and had you know Seeger was ever a Commie, you wouldn't have protested with him because you were very anti-Commie even then.

      Having trouble keeping track of the grandiose tales you tell about yourself?

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