Duke Professor Causing a Racist Firestorm Should Not Be Allowed in a Class With Our Kids

jerry houghIt's hard enough to believe there are people who actually think this way. But when you find them actually teaching at prestigious universities ... Lord have mercy. One Duke professor, Jerry Hough, is getting pegged as a racist for a six-paragraph comment he left in a news article. And I can see why.


Political science professor Hough left his comment under a New York Times editorial, "How Racism Doomed Baltimore." He begins by complaining that the editorial is telling "the blacks" to "feel sorry for themselves." He then goes on to compare the racism faced by "the blacks" with the racism faced by Asians and points out that Asians "didn’t feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard."

Okay, let's pause here to point out the obvious: The African American experience has been nothing like the Asian American experience. I mean, sure, if you're going to be stubbornly obtuse, there is a legacy of Asian indentured servants and anti-Asian discrimination in the U.S. But those incidents have been nowhere near the scale of America's legacy of slavery of Africans and discrimination against blacks.

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I don't even know what to say about this "didn't feel sorry for themselves" business. It's just too silly.

Moving on! 

"I am a professor at Duke University," Hough continues, just to dig in the pain of that reality. "Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration." WOW. Really? 

Hey everybody, we've uncovered the roots of racially-based socioeconomic inequality. It's all about the names! If we could just get everyone to make their kids either Emma or Noah, everyone would be okay. Problem solved.

By the way, I'm not seeing this reported mad rush by Asians to give their kids "very simple old American" first names. Many Asians are very proud of their heritage and choose names that reflect their backgrounds. 

Hough isn't through, though. Did you know? "The amount of Asian-white dating is enormous and so surely will be the intermarriage." Um, I guess? "Black-white dating is almost non-existent because of the ostracism by blacks of anyone who dates a white." 

At the risk of sounding totally basic: I CAN'T EVEN WITH THIS.

1. Intermarriage and mixed-race offspring have been happening since before the first African slave even set shackled foot on this continent. Hello, history much? 

2. Blacks ostracize anyone who dates a white? Cough Guess-Who's-Coming-To-Dinner cough miscegenation laws cough.

"It was appropriate that a Chinese design won the competition for the Martin Luther King state," Hough says. "King helped them overcome. The blacks followed Malcolm X." I think that was his version of a mic drop? Yeah.

What an embarrassment for Duke that they have this guy on staff. When word of Hough's comment drew the backlash it had coming, the university moved quickly to distance itself, with its vice president of public affairs, Michael Shoenfeld, saying the professor's words are "noxious, offensive, and have no place in civil discourse." 

There was talk of the university suspending Hough, but apparently he is on leave and scheduled to stop teaching in 2016. Regardless, he has since refused to back down and has been defending his comment.

We all know some old guy like Hough (who is 80) who spouts outrageously racist bunk. And we just kind roll our eyes at them and long for the day when they are no longer with us -- I mean, when their opinions finally die. I guess we could be concerned that as a professor Hough wields influence, but his history is so transparently shabby I can't imagine that anyone with half a brain could take him the least bit seriously.

Still, he deserves the public scorn he's brought upon himself. No one is going to convince old man Hough that he's wrong. But at least, amongst ourselves, there seems to be widespread agreement that the rest of us know better. Most of us, anyway. And that this level of racism is worthy of ridicule.

How would you feel if one of your kids ended up with a professor like Hough?


Image via Duke University










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