Posted on October 3, 2008

The Nuclear Option

Mike Wacker, Cornell (University) Daily Sun, October 3, 2008

Eric Shive’s bigotry has reached a new pinnacle. In his column, republished by the uber-racist Cornell Review, he made a derogatory reference to “pasty white kids” who play Dungeons and Dragons on Friday nights. As a member of the white community, I am enraged at this stereotypical caricature, and I join the Student Assembly in full support of their resolution to rework the campus code to prevent further hate speech like this.

OK, so I am obviously not serious. However, Shive’s article actually did use this caricature of pasty white kids to draw an interesting comparison between these white kids’ self-imposed isolation and that of the residents of the racially-themed program house. But in response, there has been no discussion of the merits of his argument. Instead, there have just been cries of “racism.”

Invoking racism is like invoking nuclear war. Everyone agrees that both racism and nuclear war are undesirable outcomes, making them easy to exploit. {snip}


Consider the recent guest column written by the campus liaisons for Black Students United. They basically enumerated a million different things wrong with Cornell, blaming it all on racism. However, they did not provide specific evidence on how racism itself caused any one ill.

They claim that their position on “diversity” is non-ideological. Yet when others fail to take up their position on program houses—a hot-button political issue on campus—they label it as yet another manifestation of racism rather than a legitimate position.

Clearly, then, this article, which disagrees with these liaisons, is not a manifestation of my argumentation and writing skills. It is just a manifestation of the racism and white privilege lurking deep inside my soul. So I might as well stop writing now.


Perhaps it makes sense that invoking “racism” and “diversity” makes me skeptical. Accusing detractors of hating diversity if they do not support the protestors is like saying someone is un-Christian if they do not support Pat Robertson.


A few years ago, L.A. Times Columnist Gregory Rodriguez made the case that the problems with academic scholarship lie not with leftists and Marxists but with “craven emotional warriors in the arena of identity politics.” Rodriguez identified ethnic studies departments as one of the most likely places among many to harbor these warriors.

And I can easily see why. There is a tendency to put a blind faith in the value of multiculturalism, not evaluating a work in an objective, scholarly manner, but inadvertently holding it to a lower standard because it promotes multiculturalism.

Applying good research to the context of multiculturalism when applicable can make it better. Poor research with references to multiculturalism is still poor, even if the author is not white.

But inevitably, attempts to introduce oversight to correct these problems can lead to more accusations of racism. {snip}

And no matter what I say, people like [Columbia University Professor Madonna Constantine] think they can still be right because of white privilege. I am white, and therefore I am responsible for hundreds of years of discrimination, so I have no credibility.

Now I am not a student of color, so I cannot invoke racism to help my cause. And I was not born into a rich family with slave owners as ancestors, so I cannot take advantage of this “white privilege” that supposedly lies within me. In the end, I can only rely on the strength of my evidence and arguments.

I suggest that my opponents begin to do the same.

[Editor’s Note: A news story about the Cornell protests can be read here.

[Eric Shive’s August 16, 2006, article “Taste the Rainbow,” can be read here.

[“On Race at Cornell, Dodging the Bullet,” by Tia Hicks and Zachary Murray, the “campus liaisons for Black Students United” mentioned above, can be read here.

[Using “Raza Hoda” as a search term on the Cornell Review website yields this page. The article “Threat of Two-Headed Terrorists? Muslim inbreeding in Europe may be linked to transatlantic flight clampdown” seems not to have been posted on-line yet.]