Hooey from Hughey

So far this week we’ve met a couple of college professors who, not realizing they were being videotaped, browbeat their students after Donald Trump’s election victory – and ended up going viral. Today we’ll pay a quick visit to an academic who went public himself with his reaction to the election results.

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Matthew Hughey

His name: Matthew Hughey. An Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut (he’s also on the Adjunct Faculty of the Africana Studies Institute and American Studies Program), he’s written several books with titles like The White Savior Film; Race and Ethnicity in Secret and Exclusive Social Orders; White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race; The Obamas and a (Post) Racial America?; and 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today.

Plainly, the red thread running through his work is race. According to him, all of his scholarship is guided by a single question: “What is the relationship between the heterogeneous interpretations of race and the long-term staying power of racism and racial inequality?” We’re not sure that we entirely understand this question, but let’s not allow that to distract us. In order to probe his guiding question, Hughey explains, he studies “race and ethnicity as a dynamic and ongoing practice with an emphasis on racism, meaning-making, and asymmetrical relations of power.” So race and ethnicity are practices? Or, rather, a practice? Welcome to academia. “A thorough scholastic comprehension of race,” Hughey maintains, “must move beyond views of static identities or ideologies. Rather, an understanding of the processes and contexts that produce race, how race is imbued with particular meanings, and how race constrains and enables pathways of human action and order, is necessary.”

Um, what? Hold on, his next paragraph is quite a bit clearer:

I situate my worldview against concepts of social life that are entirely individualistic and which analyze society only in terms of psychological make-up, skills, and atomistic behaviors. These assumptions gesture toward a belief that social structures will magically change via one’s hard work, good intentions, or education. History affords too many examples of participation by the “righteous,” “educated,” and “hard-working” in structures of oppression to allow any objective observer of social life to accept that notion that equitable or just social arrangements are based entirely on the redemption of the individual without direct attention to external social forces.

Simply put: black people are still held back by racism, no matter how skilled they are and how hard they work. There’s a degree of truth in this, of course. Prejudice has held back all kinds of people in every society throughout human history. The main point, however, should be that America today is less racist than virtually any country at any time, ever. Four years ago, as it happens, the World Values Survey found that the U.S. is one of the least racist countries on earth. Check out this map, which suggests that a serious, scrupulous scholar who was genuinely interested in exploring racism would do far better to study India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia – in fact almost anywhere outside of the Americas, the Anglosphere, and Scandinavia – than to focus on the U.S.

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But to the likes of Hughey, racism in the above-named countries – racism everywhere other than in the West – is invisible. Or irrelevant. Or, perhaps, attributable, via some contorted academic logic, to Western colonialism and/or American imperialism. For the whole point of the kind of “scholarship” that people like Hughey pursue is to prove, for the millionth time, that America is Ground Zero for all human iniquity. Again, yes, there is abundant iniquity in the U.S. But there’s more of it almost everywhere else on the planet. And to ignore that fact as systematically as Hughey and other academics in the social sciences do today is to give a pass to a great deal of outright evil.

Which brings us to Hughey’s take on Donald Trump’s election. He wasn’t happy with it, of course – and he blamed it on (what else?) white supremacism. When confronted on this assertion by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Hughey readily added that Trump’s ascendancy was also the fault of three other vices: sexism, heteronormativity, and capitalism. But the main cause of Trump’s win, he insisted, was race – because America is and has always been afflicted by white supremacy. There was, to be sure, one little detail Hughey didn’t explain: how had an electorate so thoroughly and permanently poisoned by a white supremacist mentality managed to elect a black man to the presidency twice in a row?

Orange Coast College: punishing the victim

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Pro-Cox feminists

Yesterday we met Olga Perez Stable Cox, who teaches courses in Human Sexuality at a California institution called Orange Coast College and who made national headlines in December after a videotape of one of her classroom rants about Donald Trump went viral. Members of the student Feminist Club, fearing Cox might face disciplinary action, held a rally in her support. The College Republicans held a counter-rally in support of the student who had taken the video, freshman Caleb O’Neil, who faced possible legal action by the teachers’ union and possible suspension by college officials.

Alejandro Vargas, deputy secretary of OCC College Republicans, post a quote from instructor Olga Perez Stable Cox as they counter-protest a rally where other students, including those in the Feminist Club, rally in support of instructor Olga Perez Stable Cox in Costa Mesa, California, December 12, 2016. A video clip of Cox telling her human sexuality class that electing Trump was an act of terrorism has gone viral. A student said the teacher asked all Trump supporters to stand up so she could, "Show the class who to watch out for" (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The counter-protest: Alejandro Vargas of the College Republicans with a poster quoting from Cox’s rant

When they realized O’Neil was in danger, other students from Cox’s classes came forward to defend him and to amplify the case against Cox. One of them, Vincent Wetzel, said that Cox’s rant “has nothing to do with free speech.” Cox, he argued, was “overstepping her profession.” Wetzel, who is gay, told the Orange County Register: “Of all the people who are supposed to provide an inclusive environment, it’s her. Now, I don’t feel comfortable.”

Orange Coast College student Caleb O'Neil is being suspended for videotaping his teacher, Olga Perez Stable Cox as she was making strong anti-Trump comments a week after the election. in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. (Photo by Sam GangwerOrange County Register/SCNG)
Caleb O’Neil

Two students said that after O’Neil had stopped taping, she’d asked Trump voters in the class “to stand up and show the rest of the class who to watch out for and protect yourself from.” When no one in the class stood up, she accused them of being “too embarrassed” to admit to supporting Trump. One student, Tanner Webb, rejected the faculty union president’s claim that Cox had been inviting students to discuss the election results and that O’Neil had “chosen to not engage in a discussion.” Cox’s “anti-Trump rant,” said Webb, “was no open debate to engage students.” As it happens, Webb was enrolled in another class taught by Cox, and in that one, too, he said, she “continually bashed on Trump supporters, belittling them and making it seem like every person who voted for Trump was an LGBT community hating white supremacist.”

In the end, sure enough, O’Neil was suspended. At a press conference, he said that he’d taped Cox “because I was honestly scared that I would have repercussions with my grades because she knew I was a Trump supporter.” In a joint statement, college president Dennis Harkins joined faculty and union leaders in fully backing Cox, who, they said, had done nothing other than exercise her right to “express views that may challenge student opinions, world view, or ideology.” (In a rare example of good news from this front, it was reported on February 23 that O’Neil’s suspension, under national pressure, had been rescinded.) 

Orange Coast College student Caleb O'Neil and his attorney William Becker, right, speak to the media about O'Neil being suspended for videotaping his teacher, Olga Perez Stable Cox as she was making strong anti-Trump comments a week after the election. in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. (Photo by Sam GangwerOrange County Register/SCNG)
O’Neil and his attorney William Becker hold a press conference

As for Cox, she told anyone who would listen that, far from being a bully, she was the one who’d been bullied. A month later, she was still unapologetic, telling the Register “I didn’t say anything wrong or do anything wrong. I didn’t say anything that thousands of Americans weren’t feeling or saying…I don’t regret it.” O’Neil, she insisted, was “part of a national campaign to intimidate liberal professors.” Meanwhile, it emerged that in addition to punishing O’Neil, OCC administrators were investigating the College Republican club – an act that club president Joshua Recalde Martinez described as “Gestapo-like.”

That’s an overstatement, we hope. But there’s no denying that Cox’s effort to “identify, humiliate, and shame” her pro-Trump students (as the College Republicans’ lawyer, Shawn Steele, aptly put it) was rooted in a disturbing authoritarian impulse of precisely the sort that Cox had accused Trump of personifying – and that an equally authoritarian impulse informed the decision by OCC and union officials to punish Caleb O’Neil and the College Republicans for bringing Cox’s petty classroom tyranny to light.

Another faculty bully

Yesterday we discussed David Parry, an obscure professor at an obscure Philadelphia university, who earned his 15 minutes of fame recently after one of his students posted on You Tube a covert video of him subjecting a class to an unhinged political rant.

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Orange Coast College

Parry’s not alone. On the other side of the country, at Orange Coast College – a two-year institution in Costa Mesa, California – an instructor whom nobody has ever heard of made headlines for doing exactly the same thing. The only differences are that (a) her rant was even worse than his and (b) she’s perhaps even more obscure than he is. In fact, you could copy her “bio” page at the college’s website onto the back of your hand. “This is my 30th year at OCC! I love teaching!” it begins. (What is it about these mediocre community-college teachers and exclamation points?) “I was born in Habana Cuba and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 10 years old,” she writes. (Yes, she spells it “Habana” and doesn’t use commas around the word “Cuba.”) “I am the oldest of 4 children. I lived in Philadelphia, New York, and Idaho prior to moving to Southern California in 1967.” Her education: a 1973 B.A. in sociology from Cal State Fullerton and a 1975 M.A. in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling from Chapman College (now Chapman University).

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Olga Perez Stable Cox

Her name is Olga Perez Stable Cox, and here’s what happened: in December, she took time out of a Human Sexuality class to tell her students that the then President-elect, Donald Trump, is a “white supremacist,” and that Mike Pence, the Vice President-elect, is “one of the most antigay humans in this country.” Cox called their election “an act of terrorism” – thereby providing a perfect example of the radical left’s readiness to excuse actual acts of violence and terrorism while describing mere statements or policies or election results that they don’t like as acts of violence and terrorism. “We have been assaulted,” she maintained, and it was clear who the “we” were and who had done the assaulting. It’s “frightening,” she went on to say, that Trump voters “are among us” – that they include “people in our families and our circle of friends.”

One of Cox’s students, freshman Caleb O’Neil, videotaped her rant, then took it to the College Republicans club, which posted it online. Cox’s rant made the local news. Joshua Recalde Martinez, the president of the club, told a reporter the obvious: this wasn’t education but indoctrination.

Did Cox apologize? No, she complained to her union – which called the video a “setup,” described O’Neil’s action as “unethical,” and threatened him with legal action. Shawn Steel, an attorney who volunteered to represent the College Republicans pro bono, told the local news that just as Cox had bullied her students, her union’s leaders, too, were “acting like bullies…like thugs.” So were the college administrators, who threatened O’Neil with suspension. The college president, Dennis Harkins, issued a feeble statement declaring that “the college encourages discourse” as long as it’s “in context.”

Did Cox get in trouble? Tune in tomorrow.

Propaganda in the classroom

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David Parry

We’re always puzzled to find someone who teaches “communications” at the college level but who seems to have had very little professional experience in the field. David Parry received a B.A. at the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. at the University of Albany, taught at the University of Texas at Dallas from 2007 to 2013, and since then has been an Associate Professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where he is chair of the Communications Department. “His work,” according to the university’s website, “focuses on understanding the complex social and cultural transformations brought about by the development of the digital network. He is particularly interested in understanding how the internet transforms political power and democracy. He also researches and is an advocate for Open Access Research.”

David Parry with group of students, Faculty, School of Arts and humanities
David Parry with some of his students back at UT Dallas

It is interesting to know what Parry’s “work” focuses on. But we’ve searched up and down the Internet and found almost nothing that would fall under the category of Parry’s “work.” To be specific, we found exactly one item: a revealing article entitled “Organizing information for ease of retrieval.”

One thing it revealed is that Parry is weak on punctuation. (In particular, he seems to be allergic to commas – so much so that it can be hard to follow some of his sentences.) More important, however, it revealed that he is a world-class master of the obvious.

sju“I have been teaching ‘digital stuff’ for about eight years now,” he writes, “and in those eight years I have noted a rather significant shift. While it used to be the case that when we would discuss the internet, social media, and the digital network, students would approach it with a certain lack of familiarity — ‘What is this strange object before us?’ Now they simply take it in stride.” No kidding! “When Facebook has 350 million plus active users,” he writes, “it is no longer a cultural outlier, it is the norm.” Wow! And here’s his conclusion: “These ‘new media’ aren’t new; they are central and a fundamental part of our cultural, legal, and social institutions. It is time we started treating them as such.”

St. Joseph’s University, then, has quite a superstar on its hands. But until the other day, Parry was a total unknown. That changed when a rant he delivered in front of his class was recorded by one of his students and ended up being posted online and shared at several popular websites. “As somebody who fights for liberal values,” said Parry, “I am not sympathetic to the white voters who make over $50,000 a year and said that we are going to vote for Trump….If you are a person of color in this room, if you are a woman in this room, you do not have to open your heart to them. They told you you are not a person….It is okay to deal with it any way you want, because that normalization should not…” At this point his voice trails off; he is unable to complete his sentence. (Great communications skills!)

After expressing concern that he will “not be able to get it all together here,” Parry goes on to say that “there are two…two…two…two…two groups of people in this room. All right? There are white dudes like me who have power, and then there are other people in this room. So I’m going to divide what I’m saying here.” His message to the powerless: “I’m not gonna tell you how to feel and how to be. I’m just going to invite you to feel and be anyway you want and to hopefully communicate to me what we can do to make this situation better. Um, because let’s be clear. This is violence. People are going to die because of what happened.” He raises the spectre of people dying because of indirect “state violence” in the form of a rewrite of Obamacare, the spectre of “direct state violence” in the form of intervention in “non-white communities.” He claims to have seen swastikas and to have heard kids in York, Pennsylvania, where he lives, shouting “white power.” “That is not my democracy,” he states. The tape ends there.

After his rant went public, Jesse Watters of Fox News tried to get an interview with Parry. But the chair of the Department of Communications didn’t feel like communicating:

Needless to say, Parry is entitled to his political opinions. But to force those opinions on his students when he’s being paid to teach communications is a totally inappropriate move. To tell his students that some of them are powerful solely by virtue of their gender and sex and that some of them are powerless for the same reason is reprehensible. And to tell those students that it’s legitimate for them to respond to Trump’s election victory in “any way [they] want” is to condone the very violence that Parry claims to be so terrified of.

Parry claims to believe in liberal democracy, but this is not how teachers in a liberal democracy are supposed to speak to their students. By the way, what kind of an example does it set for his communications students that, when confronted by the nation’s most-watched news network about his classroom conduct, he was apparently incapable of doing so?

[UPDATE, March 23, 2017: The video of Parry’s rant, which earlier was available on You Tube and linked to here, has now disappeared down the memory hole.]

Deep in the heart of Texas: Jew-hatred

An outfit called Canary Mission, a watchdog group that “anonymously monitors anti-American, anti-Israel and antisemitic activity on US college campuses,” reported recently on a particular egregious finding.

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UTA’s College Park Center

On both Facebook and Twitter, no fewer than 24 current and former students at the University of Texas-Arlington (UTA) have posted the vilest imaginable comments about Jews. They’ve advocated anti-Semitic violence, denied the Holocaust, celebrated the Holocaust, and written things like “Stuff Jews in the oven.”

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Some members of the UTA chapter of SJP

How can such extensive Jew-hatred have taken root in, of all places, a college in Arlington, Texas? Well, one clue to the answer is that most of the repulsive posts were made by members of the UTA chapters of two groups. One of them is Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which has been described as a “front for Hamas and the Hamas intermediary American Muslims for Palestine.” The group, which has chapters on at least 200 campuses in the U.S., is viewed as playing a leading role in the spread of anti-Semitism among American college students. As a 2014 article observed,

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Mariam Ghanem

Instead of promoting justice, SJP and/or its members spend almost all of their energy demonizing Israel, advocating for its eventual destruction, showing an unfortunate affinity for pro-terrorist figures, bullying and intimidating pro-Israel and Jewish students with vicious and sometimes anti-Semitic rhetoric, and even at times engaging in physical violence. While SJP may pay lip-service to peaceful aims, their rhetoric and actions make it hard to avoid the conclusion that a culture of hatred permeates nearly everything the group does—making the college experience increasingly uncomfortable, at times even dangerous, for Jewish or pro-Israel students.

Three years ago, Northeastern University banned SJU entirely, “after years of anti-Semitic vandalism, glorification of terrorist groups, calls for the destruction of Israel, and other actions.”

The other group behind the rash of anti-Semitism at UTA: the Muslim Student Association (MSA), a front for the Muslim Brotherhood that has chapters around the world and that has not only routinely voiced a virulent anti-Semitism but has also aligned itself with Communist and other radical-left groups.

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Nancy Salem

Among the UTA students named in Canary Mission’s report is Mariam Ghanem, who belongs to both the SJP and MSA and who has “compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler, and tweeted a cartoon equating Nazi soldiers and IDF officers.” Ghanem, now a senior at George Mason University, has worked as an intern at the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve; her profile at the Society of Egyptian American Professionals says that she hopes to “use her education and background to give back to the global community and to improve the lives of as many people as she can.”

Also mentioned in the report was SJP member Nancy Salem, who once “retweeted a riddle asking: ‘How many Jews died in the Holocaust?’ The answer: ‘Not enough, HAHAHAHA.’” When a friend left for a visit to the Holy Land, Salem tweeted: “Have a safe trip Lulu. I love you baby girl! See you in 3 weeks! Kiss the Palestine ground for me and kill some jews! ❤ #IMissYouAlready.” Then there’s Ismail Said Aboukar, who “referred to the Nazi genocide of the Jews as ‘#LiesToldInSchool’” and wrote that the “world would be sooo much better without jews man.”

Attention UTA administrators: perhaps it’s time for you to learn a lesson from Northeastern University and, in fact, do them one better by banning both of these hate-inculcating groups?

Beijing leans on UCSD

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The Dalai Lama

By now, of course, we’re used to college students who don’t get the idea of free speech trying to cancel lectures by people they disagree with. But even we were surprised to read a recent article in Quartz about student outrage at the University of California at San Diego over plans to have the Dalai Lama, of all people, deliver the keynote at the commencement ceremony this June.

Which students were outraged? Why, those from Communist China, who, like their government back home, consider the Dalai Lama – the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet – a terrorist. “Just hours after the announcement” of the Dalai Lama’s big gig, reported Quartz’s Josh Horwitz, the campus’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) did what any good little subject of a totalitarian regime would do: they passed the news on to their consulate. They also posted a statement online saying that the invitation to the Dalai Lama

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The CSSA at UCSD

contravened the spirit of respect, tolerance, equality, and earnestness— the ethos upon which the university is built. These actions have also dampened the academic enthusiasm of Chinese students and scholars. If the university insists on acting unilaterally and inviting the Dalai Lama to give a speech at the graduation ceremony, our association vows to take further measures to firmly resist the university’s unreasonable behavior. Specific details of these measures will be outlined in our future statements.

“Comments from Chinese students on Facebook,” noted Horwitz, were “couched in rhetoric commonly used to rally for inclusivity on campus.” The Dalai Lama was denounced as “oppressive,” the invitation as racist and an affront to “diversity.” A Chinese alumni group wrote a letter to the university chancellor insisting that UCSD should

spread a message that brings people together, rather than split them apart. During the campus commencement, there will be over a thousand Chinese students, families, and friends celebrating this precious moment with their loved ones. If Tenzin Gyatso [the Dalai Lama’s real name] expresses his political views under the guise of “spirituality and compassion,” the Chinese segment of this community will feel extremely offended and disrespected during this special occasion.

This from obedient subjects of a Communist country whose leaders, going back to Mao Zedong, have not only “offended and disrespected” more than a few people but killed more human beings than any other regime in recorded history.

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A library at UCSD

Horwitz pointed out that this dust-up wasn’t a first. In 2008, Chinese students at the University of Washington protested the awarding of an honorary degree to the Dalai Lama. The difference this time was the canny use by protesters of the language of inclusion and diversity. Another important factor here is the fact that, as China’s international status has risen, Chinese students at American universities, who used to behave themselves and keep a low profile, have found their voices and sought to throw their weight around. According to Horwitz, it’s widely believed that branches of the CSSA serve as conduits “for Chinese consulates to promulgate Communist Party orthodoxy” at non-Chinese universities. Only a week before the UCSD protest, a Chinese diplomat in London urged the cancellation of a Durham University talk by a Chinese-Canadian human-rights activist.

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Tsering Topgyal

Dr. Tsering Topgyal, a Tibetan UCSD alumnus told Horwitz, observed that “If the Chinese students wish to exploit diversity, they would come across as more convincing if they were more committed and supportive of this principle back home.” It would certainly be nice if one of the things they learned during their years of study in the United States is the value of freedom and the need to resist tyranny.

Loving the Black Panthers?

She studied PR and “Leadership Studies” at Hampton University, then got a Master’s Degree in “Music Business” at NYU. She’s now at Yale, earning another Master’s – this one in Divinity. She “loves good music, down time with friends, & ice cream!” Sounds like a good life.

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Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes

And she seems like a good person. Last year she and several other Yale Divinity School students went to Flint, Michigan, to “hold a pastors roundtable conversation on the intersection of ecology and theology and distribute water filters and hygienic items.” She explained her motivation as follows: “As a Christian, I find that everything I do is affected by my faith. In this instance, I wanted to see the Christian community rally around these residents to make change. I was seeing assistance here and there from other organizations but I didn’t see any support from the church universal. While the church does overseas mission work well, we sometimes ignore the needs of our own nation. I didn’t want to see that happen any longer.”

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Wilkes on The O’Reilly Factor

So it was a shame to hear what Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes had to say in mid February during an appearance on Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor. Wilkes, a bright-eyed young black woman who exuded cheer and charm, was there to talk about a couple of Yale-related news stories. The first story concerned an effort by students and faculty to remove the name of John C. Calhoun from one of Yale’s residential colleges. Calhoun was one of the great statesmen of the nineteenth century, serving as Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Senator from South Carolina, and as Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Unfortunately, he was also a slave owner, which is why a movement arose to change the name of that college. When asked by host Bill O’Reilly, Wilkes affirmed that she supported the change. But that’s fine – something that reasonable people can argue about.

On May 2, 1967, Black Panthers amassed at the Capitol in Sacramento brandishing guns to protest a bill before an Assembly committee restricting the carrying of arms in public. Self-defense was a key part of the Panthers' agenda. This was an early action, a year after their founding.
Armed Black Panthers take over the California State Capitol on May 2, 1967, to protest a gun-control bill

It was what she had to say on the second topic that was so disturbing. Wilkes, it emerged, was one of a group of students at Yale who wanted to hold a campus event marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Black Panthers. Some of them, including Wilkes, had recently crossed the country to attend what was apparently a sort of learn-in at the Oakland Museum. Their goal was “to learn the history” of the Panthers; they went, she said, “as student archivists.” “Did you come away with a favorable impression of the Black Panther movement?” asked O’Reilly. “Oh, absolutely!” gushed Wilkes. O’Reilly then played a tape of Black Panther co-founder Stokely Carmichael ranting about “the honkey” (a Black Power-era term for white people). After also mentioning the killings and violence committed by the Black Panthers, O’Reilly asked: “How can you look favorably upon that group?”

Not entirely seeming to grasp the question, Wilkes started to comment about the “long history of racism in this country.” Interrupting her, O’Reilly suggested that the Panthers themselves were racists. She rushed in quickly to insist that they weren’t anti-white but pro-black. “It makes me a little uneasy,” said O’Reilly, “that a very intelligent woman like yourself could even think that these people were worthy of being considered in Black History Month.” Wilkes either was genuinely surprised by this point of view or did a very good job of feigning surprise – or perhaps she was just mocking him: “Oh, that’s INTERESTING!” she replied. “Oh, REALLY?”

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The Black Panthers in their heyday

And that was pretty much the gist of it. O’Reilly was kind and respectful to Wilkes, apparently having pretty much the same reaction to her that we did: that while it’s disturbing to hear anybody praising the Black Panthers, it’s especially disturbing to see a young black woman who seems so decent and well-meaning celebrating their memory. Perhaps instead of devoting so much time to the study of PR, the music business, and so on, she would have done well at some point to read one or two honest, comprehensive histories of the Black Power movement. She wouldn’t have even had to go all the way to Oakland to find copies of them.