Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Thought Crime: Blacks Have Agency

 

Tom Gilson has a post on The Stream about Charles Negy, a tenured professor of psychology with the University of Central Florida, who touched off a firestorm by tweeting the following:

Sincere question: If Afr. Americans as a group, had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans (on average, performing the best academically, having the highest income, committing the lowest crime, etc.), would we still be proclaiming “systematic racism” exists?

Negy’s “abhorrent” and “vile” act was to compare African and Asian Americans and to imply that at least some of the problems black Americans face could be addressed through their own actions. As the professor explained in his interview with Gilson:

Blacks have agency, they have their free will, and they can take advantage of opportunities in the United States. And even if they come from a disadvantaged background, like other whites do, other Hispanics so, and even some Asians do, with their own effort and dedication to change their lot in life, they can achieve things that are important to them.

According to Gilson, “His university has him under investigation, with UCF’s president calling for students to come forth with reports of ‘any racial mistreatment’ they’ve experienced in his classes.” So far, at least 15 students have made charges against him, including some that are obvious and outrageous lies. According to one, Negy taught that “Whites are superior to blacks because whites have cerebral cortexes.” Another claimed that he offered extra credit to students who would denounce their religion.

Of his classes that are under “investigation,” Negy said:

I take a critical, though not negative look at the different racial groups that I cover: whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, Native Americans and Arabs/Muslims. And actually most of the material I cover is neutral, based on the literature or national surveys. And then I reserve the last part of that lecture to cover challenges or problems that each of these groups has.

I cover the challenges and problems that African-Americans have as a group. And it’s coming straight from national surveys or FBI statistics. There are people in my class you don’t like what I say. But there are those individuals — who happen to be black — who are not accustomed to having someone say anything critical about their group.

At the end of the interview with Gilson, Negy added:

I just want to say that we can debate whether or not what I said or what anyone says is valid or not. The problem is the left/liberal/progressive/Democrat side now won’t allow the other side to speak. If you say something they disagree with they want to annihilate you. They want to get you fired, they want to punish you. They are total authoritarians.

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  1. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    The “concept” of agency is one that Progressives turn on and off depending upon the circumstances. As a Civil War buff I am aware that in recent decades historians have placed an increased emphasis on the efforts by slaves to emancipate (leave their owners) on their own instead of being portrayed, as they often were in the past, as completely passive, awaiting Union armies. Historians commonly use the term “agency” to express the actions of those slaves. It was a useful corrective to earlier narratives but, as in most things, has gotten completely out of hand, so today you might think the Union armies had nothing to do with freeing slaves who supposedly would have accomplished the same thing without Federal intervention. So, for Progressives emphasizing this type of “agency” is good because it minimizes any role by whites in a “good” role.

    Yet, 150 years after emancipation and a half-century after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, Progressives portray blacks today as completely devoid of agency and powerless regarding their actions in today’s society because of “white supremacy”. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary, Progressives emphasize this alleged lack of “agency” because it maximizes the role of whites in a “bad” role and thus justifies destroying and overturning the current system.

    • #1
    • August 6, 2020, at 8:52 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Arthur Beare Member

    I think Dr. Negy’s comment, while entirely reasonable in itself, was a really, really, really dumb thing to do in the present atmosphere. I suspect he is smart enough to know this. So I kind of wonder what is going on here.

    But what is appalling is the college administration’s request that additional charges be brought forth. I suppose this is simply a part of the “investigation” but they obviously want to be seen as supportive of the accusers. 

    Would any administrator, anywhere, have replied to the offended “ Yeah. Interesting question. What’s your answer?”

    • #2
    • August 6, 2020, at 9:03 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Arthur Beare (View Comment):

    I think Dr. Negy’s comment, while entirely reasonable in itself, was a really, really, really dumb thing to do in the present atmosphere. I suspect he is smart enough to know this. So I kind of wonder what is going on here.

    But what is appalling is the college administration’s request that additional charges be brought forth. I suppose this is simply a part of the “investigation” but they obviously want to be seen as supportive of the accusers.

    Would any administrator, anywhere, have replied to the offended “ Yeah. Interesting question. What’s your answer?”

    What’s your answer, Arthur?

    You say that it is really dumb to make reasonable statements in the present atmosphere. What do you think should be done? Should people say nothing? Should the Wokeist/BLM narrative not be opposed?

    • #3
    • August 6, 2020, at 9:15 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Talking about his classes, Negy says, “I cover the challenges and problems that African-Americans [for example] have as a group.”

    I understand what he is saying here, but I think we need to train ourselves to avoid speaking of groups facing challenges and problems. Individuals face challenges, and being a member of a group may (or may not) exacerbate those challenges. But in the current culture, speaking in terms of groups facing challenges feeds too readily into the identity politics the Left is pushing.

    • #4
    • August 6, 2020, at 9:30 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  5. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Arthur Beare (View Comment):
    I think Dr. Negy’s comment, while entirely reasonable in itself, was a really, really, really dumb thing to do in the present atmosphere.

    We don’t know the context in which the tweet was made. For example, was it a reply and, if so, what was the content of the tweet(s) to which Negy was replying? If he was in a discussion with one or more students or with a colleague about his course in which he discusses the “challenges and problems that African-Americans have as a group,” the tweet may not have been dumb at all.

    Assuming that there was no such discussion, I think you make a reasonable point. As an analogy, we have the constitutional right to burn a Koran in this country, but doing so insults and provokes Muslims and is generally a jerk move.

    • #5
    • August 6, 2020, at 9:32 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. Kozak Member
    KozakJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “Joseph McCarthy, please pick up the white courtesy phone….”

    • #6
    • August 6, 2020, at 9:38 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Arthur Beare (View Comment):

    I think Dr. Negy’s comment, while entirely reasonable in itself, was a really, really, really dumb thing to do in the present atmosphere. I suspect he is smart enough to know this. So I kind of wonder what is going on here.

    But what is appalling is the college administration’s request that additional charges be brought forth. I suppose this is simply a part of the “investigation” but they obviously want to be seen as supportive of the accusers.

    Would any administrator, anywhere, have replied to the offended “ Yeah. Interesting question. What’s your answer?”

    What’s your answer, Arthur?

    You say that it is really dumb to make reasonable statements in the present atmosphere. What do you think should be done? Should people say nothing? Should the Wokeist/BLM narrative not be opposed?

    What is appalling is that we’ve reached a point where making “entirely reasonable” statements is considered “really, really, really dumb.” Fighting a war comes at a cost. The Left’s strategy is to make that cost so high that we’re unwilling to fight it. It’s a good strategy, and it’s working all too well.

    • #7
    • August 6, 2020, at 9:45 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  8. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Or, as Biden said this morning in an interview on NPR,

    “Unlike the African-American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”

    I don’t know how you can get much more explicit on the Leftist perception of their favorite minority. 

    • #8
    • August 6, 2020, at 9:58 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Talking about his classes, Negy says, “I cover the challenges and problems that African-Americans [for example] have as a group.”

    I understand what he is saying here, but I think we need to train ourselves to avoid speaking of groups facing challenges and problems. Individuals face challenges, and being a member of a group may (or may not) exacerbate those challenges. But in the current culture, speaking in terms of groups facing challenges feeds too readily into the identity politics the Left is pushing.

    A very perceptive point. 

    I think that, as conservatives, we fall too easily into accepting the Left’s terms of reference in the debate.

    • #9
    • August 6, 2020, at 10:01 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Freeven (View Comment):
    What is appalling is that we’ve reached a point where making “entirely reasonable” statements is considered “really, really, really dumb.” Fighting a war comes at a cost. The Left’s strategy is to make that cost so high that we’re unwilling to fight it. It’s a good strategy, and it’s working all too well.

    I completely agree, @freeven. This is precisely what John Kass, columnist at the Chicago Tribune, was encouraging us to do. We need to be fearless and speak out. Yes, I know some people might be risking their jobs, but for those who are willing to take the chance, we need to support them. To choose not to speak up because others may get upset is caving in to the mob. I won’t do it. (Of course, I’m also not on Twitter or Facebook!)

    • #10
    • August 6, 2020, at 10:12 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Full Size Tabby Member

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    The “concept” of agency is one that Progressives turn on and off depending upon the circumstances. As a Civil War buff I am aware that in recent decades historians have placed an increased emphasis on the efforts by slaves to emancipate (leave their owners) on their own instead of being portrayed, as they often were in the past, as completely passive, awaiting Union armies. Historians commonly use the term “agency” to express the actions of those slaves. It was a useful corrective to earlier narratives but, as in most things, has gotten completely out of hand, so today you might think the Union armies had nothing to do with freeing slaves who supposedly would have accomplished the same thing without Federal intervention. So, for Progressives emphasizing this type of “agency” is good because it minimizes any role by whites in a “good” role.

    Yet, 150 years after emancipation and a half-century after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, Progressives portray blacks today as completely devoid of agency and powerless regarding their actions in today’s society because of “white supremacy”. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary, Progressives emphasize this alleged lack of “agency” because it maximizes the role of whites in a “bad” role and thus justifies destroying and overturning the current system.

    And by portraying blacks today as devoid of agency and powerless regarding their actions, they justify the need for white Progressives to come in as saviors. Which is just another version of “white supremacy” – only the correct kind of white person can provide the black person with what the black person needs. Perhaps today’s “Progressives” are projecting onto the rest of society the Progressives’ attitude of white supremacy. 

    • #11
    • August 6, 2020, at 11:36 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Arthur Beare Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    What’s your answer, Arthur?

    You say that it is really dumb to make reasonable statements in the present atmosphere. What do you think should be done? Should people say nothing? Should the Wokeist/BLM narrative not be opposed?

    @,Jerry Giordano, my answer to the professor’s question is “no.”

    As to your second question(s), I should have qualified “present atmosphere” with “on the typical college campus.” All but the bravest (or most reckless- or clueless) are aware of their audience. A college processor’s audience is especially liable to contain a number of the “woke” who will pounce on anything of which they disapprove as a way to enhance their status among their peers, and likely some who will willfully misconstrue a comment if it can be used to get back at a professor who has perhaps evaluated their work and found it not quite as good as its author thought.

    I’m not sure it’s wise for a professor to be on twitter (yet here I am on “social media.”)

    Yes, I believe the Wokeist/BLM narrative should be opposed. I like to think I would have that conversation with any individual. But I wouldn’t start that conversation standing in the middle of one of the George Floyd protest demonstrations.

    Actually, I thought that the point of the comment was the apparent speed and enthusiasm with which the administration launched a full-scale witch hunt. The complicity of college administrators in the suppression of free speech bothers me much more than the ease with which college kids get their noses out of joint.

    • #12
    • August 6, 2020, at 11:39 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  13. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Or, as Biden said this morning in an interview on NPR,

    “Unlike the African-American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”

    I don’t know how you can get much more explicit on the Leftist perception of their favorite minority.

    As Biden has already said, if you are not going to vote for Joe Biden, then you ain’t black. So any Black person showing any diversity is just thrown out of the race.

    I’ve been thrown out of a lot of things: classrooms, libraries, restaurants, bars, Libertarian Party organizational meetings*, but never out of a race.


    * My entry into the Oxymoron Sweepstakes

    • #13
    • August 6, 2020, at 11:46 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Arthur Beare (View Comment):
    All but the bravest (or most reckless- or clueless) are aware of their audience. A college processor’s audience is especially liable to contain a number of the “woke” who will pounce on anything of which they disapprove as a way to enhance their status among their peers, and likely some who will willfully misconstrue a comment if it can be used to get back at a professor who has perhaps evaluated their work and found it not quite as good as its author thought.

    According to the professor, “I cover the challenges and problems that African-Americans have as a group.” If the only problems that we’re allowed to talk about is “systemic racism” and “white supremacy,” then we’re forced to ignore a couple of big problems that African Americans are facing:

    1. Government programs and policies that create and sustain poverty (welfare, minimum wage laws, etc.)
    2. A black culture that belittles education as “acting white”

    To your point, maybe the professor could have worded his thought experiment more diplomatically.

    • #14
    • August 6, 2020, at 12:13 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Arthur Beare (View Comment):

    I think Dr. Negy’s comment, while entirely reasonable in itself, was a really, really, really dumb thing to do in the present atmosphere. I suspect he is smart enough to know this. So I kind of wonder what is going on here.

    But what is appalling is the college administration’s request that additional charges be brought forth. I suppose this is simply a part of the “investigation” but they obviously want to be seen as supportive of the accusers.

    Would any administrator, anywhere, have replied to the offended “ Yeah. Interesting question. What’s your answer?”

    Negy has tenure

    at least in theory

     

    • #15
    • August 6, 2020, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Arthur Beare Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Negy has tenure

    at least in theory

    Antiquated white patriarchy theory.

    The hyenas are circling. A way will be found to appease them.

    • #16
    • August 6, 2020, at 3:14 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  17. Henry Castaigne Member

    It is very brave for the Professor to say the plain Truth. It is a travesty that eats at the heart of the credibility of the Academia that the plain statistics on who commits crime and who abandons their children are systematically ignored. Such lies hurt minorities though they do hurt people as a whole as falsehoods tend to do. 

    • #17
    • August 6, 2020, at 4:36 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Full Size Tabby Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Arthur Beare (View Comment):
    All but the bravest (or most reckless- or clueless) are aware of their audience. A college processor’s audience is especially liable to contain a number of the “woke” who will pounce on anything of which they disapprove as a way to enhance their status among their peers, and likely some who will willfully misconstrue a comment if it can be used to get back at a professor who has perhaps evaluated their work and found it not quite as good as its author thought.

    According to the professor, “I cover the challenges and problems that African-Americans have as a group.” If the only problems that we’re allowed to talk about is “systemic racism” and “white supremacy,” then we’re forced to ignore a couple of big problems that African Americans are facing:

    1. Government programs and policies that create and sustain poverty (welfare, minimum wage laws, etc.)
    2. A black culture that belittles education as “acting white”

    To your point, maybe the professor could have worded his thought experiment more diplomatically.

    I actually think he phrased the question pretty well. His question emphasized “behavior.” He worded it very carefully to avoid “characteristics.” Since the only measure is demographic statistics, lumping people in groups is the only way to have a useful discussion. 

    • #18
    • August 6, 2020, at 4:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    It is very brave for the Professor to say the plain Truth. It is a travesty that eats at the heart of the credibility of the Academia that the plain statistics on who commits crime and who abandons their children are systematically ignored. Such lies hurt minorities though they do hurt people as a whole as falsehoods tend to do.

    more professors with tenure need to speak up

    Harvey C minus Mansfield said that professors become more risk averse after tenure.

    What is the point of tenure if become more risk averse?

     

    • #19
    • August 6, 2020, at 9:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Henry Castaigne Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    It is very brave for the Professor to say the plain Truth. It is a travesty that eats at the heart of the credibility of the Academia that the plain statistics on who commits crime and who abandons their children are systematically ignored. Such lies hurt minorities though they do hurt people as a whole as falsehoods tend to do.

    more professors with tenure need to speak up

    Harvey C minus Mansfield said that professors become more risk averse after tenure.

    What is the point of tenure if become more risk averse?

    As Socrates said, courage is necessary for all other virtues. 

     

    • #20
    • August 7, 2020, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • 3 likes