A university professor has refused to recant his words when his remarks were deemed racially-charged and racial tensions at Duke University escalate over the matter. The university administration called the statements in a letter written by the professor “noxious’ and “offensive”. The letter in question was published in the New York Times, a well-respected and widely-read newspaper. In his letter he compared African-Americans unfavorably to Asian-Americans.
Student backlash forced the school to rebuke 80-year-old Political Science Professor, Dr. Jerry Hough. His May 9th letter tried to address racism and the Baltimore riots. He noted that Asian students “work twice as hard” to overcome racism, while the African(black) students don’t try to “integrate” into society.
The professor stated that he is not sorry for his letter to the New York Times. “Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration,” stated the Duke University Professor. He also added, “Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes a true desire for integration.”
“The comments were noxious, offensive and have no place in civil discourse,” said Duke Spokesman Michael Schoenfeld. “Duke University has a deeply-held commitment to inclusiveness grounded in respect for all, and we encourage our community to speak out when they feel that those ideals are challenged or undermined, as they were in this case.”
Hough stated in an e-mail to an ABC affiliate that political correctness is getting in the way of thoughtful and frank debate. “I am strongly against the obsession with ‘sensitivity’,” Hough wrote. “The more we have emphasized sensitivity in recent years, the worse race relations have become. I think that is not an accident. I know that the 60 years since the Montgomery bus boycott is a long time, and things must be changed. The Japanese and other Asians did not obsess with the concentration camps and the fact they were linked with blacks as colored.”
‘Coach K’ was mentioned in an e-mail, referring to beloved and legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. “Coach K did not obsess with all the Polish jokes about stupidity,” Hough wrote. “He pushed ahead and achieved, and by his achievement and visibility, he has played a huge role in destroying stereotypes about Poles. Many blacks have done that too, but no one says they have done as well on the average as the Asians.”
Professor Hough’s 1st Amendment rights of freedom of speech were apparently ignored by the officials that say they want to encourage the community to speak out when they feel ideals are challenged or undermined. It appears that the Professor was simply stating that the American ideal is for people of all races to try to assimilate, and he was pointing out that some of the people of certain races do not appear to try as hard as others. It was a simple point, and these officials have offended me greatly by what they have done to this forward-minded professor. I believe the University administration is not fulfilling their credos.
Although Professor Hough was trying to make a point of why Baltimore was in such turmoil, I think the school officials went too far when they said the Professor’s remarks were deemed racially-charged at Duke University.
Duke University photo by Kobetsai edited for use.