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A brave voice in the leftist academic wasteland
By Mark Alexander
f you keep up with the leftist race hustlers who have weaseled their way into academies of "higher education," you know the name of Ibram Xolani Kendi, a.k.a. Henry Rogers. He's the noisy self-centric purveyor of the critical race theory fraud, which metastasized from the specious and historically fallacious 1619 Project. Over the last decade, Kendi has been employed by six universities, including the State University of New York (Oneonta), the University at Albany (SUNY), Brown University, the University of Florida, American University, and since 2020 he has been indoctrinating his lemmings as a "professor of history" at Boston University. BU now hosts his so-called Antiracist Research and Policy Center. (More on that fraud in a minute.)
Kendi is the consummate black supremacist agitator in the tradition of Louis Farrakhan. He's also a prolific fundraiser in the tradition of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, whose model is tantamount to extortion for profit.
Kendi is the epitome of those race agitators whom Booker T. Washington described in his 1911 book, My Larger Education — those who "make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships" of black people "before the public."
Of such hustlers, Washington added: "Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs – partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. ... There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public." He concluded, "A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right and evil doesn't become good just because it's accepted by a majority."
But that certainly has not stopped the Left from relentlessly propagating BIG Lies, and Kendi is among the biggest prevaricators of race-bait rhetoric.
However, Kendi's cancerous curriculum has not gone unchallenged at Boston University.
Kendi's most articulate and respected adversary is a name you probably don't know — David Decosimo, a Princeton-educated scholar and now head of Boston University's Institute for Philosophy and Religion. He is a fearless defender of Liberty against academic tyranny, and he stands among scholars on the frontlines of opposition to the suppression of free expression now plaguing our academic institutions.
David is also family, both of us being descendants of Tennessee's George Gillespie, the Revolutionary War colonel and leader of the Overmountain Men. Thus, it should come as no surprise that among so many professorial types who have bowed to the woke leftist orthodoxies of DEI, ESG, etc., Decosimo has not folded.
While David has become a lightning rod for leftist cancel culture, until recently most of his objections to the Kendi culture at BU were confined to objections within the academic channels. That began with his remarkable objections to BU's hiring of Kendi in a 2020 letter to then-BU President Robert Brown, in which he raises the issue: "How exactly BU defines antiracism is essential for preserving our research and educational missions and commitments to open inquiry, academic freedom, and free speech." He notes, "If racism is defined in problematic ways, then in the name of antiracism deeply problematic things follow, not least the betrayal of a university's research and teaching mission and its commitments to academic freedom."
In other words, the hiring of Kendi is a full-frontal assault on free speech, another nail in the coffin of free thought in the academy.
Fast-forward to eight weeks ago, when the facade of Kendi's Center for Antiracist Research started to crumble. As our analyst Thomas Gallatin observed: "Riding the outpouring of 'antiracism' virtue signaling, Kendi's center received millions of dollars in donations. Of note, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey gave $10 million. ... Not only was Kendi riding high off his book sales — a book in which he promoted critical race theory as if it were the Gospel — but he was also raking in millions from white leftists seeking any way to purge themselves of white guilt."
At the time of Dorsey's donation, Kendi declared, "Your $10M donation, with no strings attached, gives us the resources and flexibility to greatly expand our antiracist work."
But after burning through some $43 million in donor funds in three years, Kendi has, predictably, produced next to nothing. Such is the case when race hustlers get a pass on accountability, largely because of what George W. Bush decried as "the soft bigotry of low expectations."
Kendi critic and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Christopher Rufo concluded: "It was very clear that Ibram Kendi was a fraud in 2020. His signature idea was to use the government to discriminate against people of one racial group to benefit people of another racial group, which he called 'anti-racist discrimination.' But for any neutral or dispassionate observer, it was simply racism in a new direction. He has nothing to offer to the debate, and I'm glad to see his research center implode. It's the ultimate vindication for those of us who said that critical race theory was not a solution to America's problems and that Ibram Kendi was a false prophet of a dangerous philosophy. This is really poetic justice and I think marks the end of this chapter in the left-wing racialist saga."
Of course, anyone raising an objection over that lack of accountability risks being labeled "RACIST."
The Washington Post's Tyler Austin Harper was more direct, noting, "Kendi's fall is a cautionary tale — so was his rise," and concluding, "Though I don't condone Kendi's race grift, I do understand how easy it would be to become a grifter." Grifter indeed. Even Kendi's fans at The New York Times were ducking and covering, noting that his staff blamed Kendi for his "imperious leadership style" and "questioned both the center's stewardship of grants and its productivity."
Which brings me back to his BU critic, David Decosimo.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Decosimo went very public with his condemnation of Kendi, but also the leadership of BU and other academic administrations, writing: "The debacle that is Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research is about far more than its founder, Ibram X. Kendi. It is about a university, caught up in cultural hysteria, subordinating itself to ideology. ... Mr. Kendi deserves some blame for the scandal, but the real culprit is institutional and cultural. It's still unfolding and is far bigger than BU. In 2020, countless universities behaved as BU did. And to this day at universities everywhere, activist faculty and administrators are still quietly working to institutionalize Mr. Kendi's vision. They have made embracing 'diversity, equity and inclusion' a criterion for hiring and tenure, have rewritten disciplinary standards to privilege antiracist ideology, and are discerning ways to circumvent the Supreme Court's affirmative-action ruling."
That would be the SCOTUS ruling in June against the toxic euphemism known as "affirmative action" in college and university admission practices — more accurately referred to as "affirmative discrimination."
Decosimo concludes: "Most of those now attacking Mr. Kendi at BU don't object to his vision. ... Their anger isn't with his ideology's intellectual and ethical poverty but with his personal failure to use the money and power given to him to institutionalize their vision across American universities, politics and culture. Whether driven by moral hysteria, cynical careerism or fear of being labeled racist, this violation of scholarly ideals and liberal principles betrays the norms necessary for intellectual life and human flourishing. It courts disaster, at this moment especially, that universities can't afford."
Of course, BU found "no issues" with the management of Kendi's Antiracist Center, and of course Kendi decried the investigation as "racist." He complained, "It is unfortunate that individuals near and far spread a false narrative about a Black leader taking or mismanaging funds."
Thus, I am sure BU will restore Kendi's standing and his center will rise from the dead as some shadow of its former self, a "fellowship model" that allows Kendi to save face while still being its chief grifter.
If BU administrators had any academic integrity, they would sunset Kendi's charade before it suffers the same fate as its kissing cousin, the race-bait Marxist front, Black Lives Matter, which also raised tens of millions but folded in disgrace.
But it will be without at least one courageous trustee, William Bloom, who recently resigned in protest, declaring: "Kendi was attracted to BU more by the socialist anarchism of Howard Zinn than the civil rights championed by Martin Luther King Jr. Critical theory, like Mr. Kendi's 'antiracism,' seeks to achieve the alchemy of group equity by the law (social justice) instead of equality before the law (justice). Critical theorists want to disrupt and dismantle what they feel is a rigged system. This includes the U.S. Constitution. Until we can cure human nature, however, we had better uphold the ideals of our founding."
In his 1901 book Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington concluded: "Great men cultivate love. ... Only little men cherish a spirit of hatred."
Six decades later, that theme would be renewed by civil rights leader Martin Luther King. In 1963, King concluded his timeless "I Have a Dream" speech by asserting the need to focus on character over color: "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. ... And if America is to be a great nation this must become true."
Today, despite the fact that the Democrat Party claims King's legacy, and Democrats argue they are the sole protectors of his "dream," they have turned King's message upside down, as if King had declared people should be judged "by the color of their skin, not the content of their character." In doing so, they also turned his dream into a nightmare. Their failed statist "Great Society" programs have enslaved generations of poor, mostly black Americans on urban poverty plantations that are plagued with violence.
Fact is, the most consequential "systemic racism" in America is the institutionalization of the Democrat Party platform, which has, by design, kept poor people in bondage to the welfare state and, consequently, is the blueprint for the most enduring racial exploitation architecture in America. Democrats are the historical architects and political beneficiaries of systemic racism.
What are the odds that Kendi will be teaching that lesson?
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.