Paul Greenberg: Ignorance Rules

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette opinion editor Paul Greenberg is frequently on the warpath against science and academia. That he attacks Black Studies – the academic discipline studying African-American culture and history – in a recent column (also available here) is hardly noteworthy but his transparently dishonesty is at least worth documenting. Here is what happened.

Naomi Schaefer Riley, a blogger at the Chronicle of Higher Education, a trade journal rather obscure to most of Greenberg’s readers, published an attack on Black Studies titled “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations“. In the blog post, Riley refers to three recent dissertations by Black Studies scholars as examples of “left-wing victimization claptrap”: about “historical black midwifery”, “Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s”, and “black Republicanism”.

Here’s the catch: Schaefer Riley never read any of the works she attacked. She didn’t even look at the table of contents.
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Arkansas Democrat-Gazette playing politics on front page

ADG opened today with the following front page headline:

Still no give in debt impasse
As deadline nears, 2 sides remain dug in

This followed a very similar headline just two days ago:

Neither side blinks in debt showdown

This is nonsense. There is one (1) side that is dug in, and that’s the Republicans. They have declared that they won’t vote for any raise in revenues (fn1) no matter what. As ADG reported on Tuesday:

“House Speaker John Boehner stood firm in opposition to higher taxes. (…) Said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: “We are not going to raise taxes. That’s all. (fn2)
Obama called on Republican leaders to show flexibility, saying he has “bent over backwards” to accommodate them in deficit talks. “I’m prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done, and I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing if they mean what they say”, Obama said.

Obama has already offered wide-ranging budget concessions, including Social Security and Medicare cuts. The ADG storyline of “2 sides” unwilling to compromise is simply inconsistent with the facts.

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Arkansas Media Watch – let’s hold the media accountable

We are poorly served by our media. Too often, we get misinformation and extreme partisanship instead of responsibility and journalistic integrity. I am starting this blog after another frustrating experience with our beloved  monopoly paper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The Gazette’s opinion page is dominated by political extremists who publish irresponsible propaganda pieces while refusing to be held accountable. After pointing out a massive factual inaccuracy in an editorial and taking the time to look up verifiable documentation, I asked the editors whether they would publish a correction. The editors never responded to that and also refused to provide appropriate space for a critical letter. Opinion writers exert a lot of power but there is no accountability whatsoever. The rest of us thus have no choice but to fight back in our own little blogs.

I encourage everybody to share their own experiences with Arkansas media.