Duke Prof Unapologetic for 'Noxious' Racial Comments

By Sheryl Estrada

Duke University Political Science Professor Jerry Hough left contentious comments on a New York Times editorial, “How Racism Doomed Baltimore” on race and the Baltimore uprising, and he’s not apologizing.

In his comments, Hough said the editorial was wrong. “The blacks get awful editorials like this that tell them to feel sorry for themselves,” he wrote.

He went on to explainthe racism that Asians encountered in 1965 in the U.S. was just as bad as what Blacks encountered.

“So where are the editorials that say racism doomed Asian Americans,” he wrote. “They didn’t feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard.”

He then generalized all Asian Americanstudents at Duke as having “a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolized their lack of desire for integration.”

He ended his rant with the following statements:

“It was appropriate that a Chinese design won the competition for the Martin Luther King state (sic). King helped them overcome. The blacks followed Malcolm X.”

A screen shot of Hough’s comments were posted on Twitter:

Friday in anemail to The News & Observer he stood by his opinion:

I don’t know if you will find anyone to agree with me. Anyone who says anything is a racist and ignorant as I was called by a colleague. The question is whether you want to get involved in the harassment and few do. I am 80 and figure I can speak the truth as I see it. Ignorant I am not.

“[Hough] is out of field and out of line,” Adolphus Belk, Jr. told DiversityInc.

Belk is a Professor of Political Science and the Director of the African American Studies Program at Winthrop University in South Carolina. His areas of expertise are American politics, race and ethnic politics and public policy.

Belk notes that Hough’s area of expertise in political science is theformer Soviet Union. And just because Hough is a political scientist does not make him an expert on areas in which he does not have specific knowledge.

“His perspectives on race and ethnic politics in the U.S. are as valid as my own on the former Soviet Union,” Belk said.

Belk believes Hough’s perspective, which offers that Asian Americans have integrated better in U.S. society than Blacks, is based on theories that have been discredited by sociology and political science research.

“His opinions are not to be confused with fact,” Belk said.

Many Duke students and faculty viewed the comments as disrespectful.There are academic freedom provisions in Duke’s Faculty Handbook.However, in an email regarding the comments, Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld wrote, “The comments were noxious, offensive and have no place in civil discourse. 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 has been on leave from the university this year, and will end his teaching career at Duke in 2016.

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