By no means do we agree with Naomi Schaefer Riley's assertions about black studies. But today we do find ourselves in a weird position of actually being sort of on the same page as Schaefer Riley, at least when it comes to questions about her editors. Sure, there's the basic question of why The Chronicle of Higher Education allowed her work to go up on the site (which they haven't taken down). But considering her body of work, why was it these particular posts that caused her firing?
Schaefer Riley's column in today's Wall Street Journal, when it isn't rehashing and remixing the controversy, is most effective when it asks questions about editor Liz McMillen's and The Chronicle's standards, noting that her views on black and African American studies were known to The Chronicle before it hired her (thanks to a recently published book). Which makes us wonder: Why did The Chronicle hire Schaefer Riley in the first place since it seems like they knew what they were getting. And that would've solved this whole problem right?
"Riley's commentary is well within the bounds of provocative opinion writing. Firing her was an act of cowardice and an assault on intellectual freedom," according to The Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan, who echoed sentiments by The American Conservative's Rod Dreher:
Riley’s blog post was not a sterling example of the genre, and she left herself open to strong criticism. I have no problem with that. But firing her for an ill-considered blog post? Really? That’s not about upholding the Chronicle blog’s standards. It’s about heretic hunting.
And as we noted, Schaefer Riley's own colleague Laurie Essig wrote:"Partly I have not signed the petition because I am not sure The Chronicle should fire someone because they are nearly universally reviled." Adding, "Which leads me to believe that editorial decisions about who stays and who goes should not really be in response to public pressure since no unpopular views would ever be published, at least not for long."