Black Conservatives Resign From AEI Over D'Souza Book.
WASHINGTON -- Calling Dinesh D'Souza's new book on racism "offensive," "inappropriate" and "beyond the pale," two black conservatives are cutting their ties to the American Enterprise Institute, home to the author.
Mr. D'Souza's "The End of Racism" was published this month by The Free Press, whose "The Bell Curve" created an uproar with its allegations of genetically determined racial differences in intelligence. "The Bell Curve's" author, Charles Murray, is, like Mr. D'Souza, affiliated with AEI.
As Mr. D'Souza is careful to point out, his critique is of American black culture, not its biological capabilities. He says aspects of the culture are "vicious, self-defeating and repellent," and says improvement is possible if blacks would only "embrace mainstream cultural norms." But the actions this week of Glenn Loury, a professor at Boston University, and of Robert Woodson Sr., president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, along with denunciations of the book by other black intellectuals, indicate that the distinction Mr. D'Souza is making between biology and culture is unlikely to shield the author from a volley of attacks in what is shaping up as the next battle in America's culture wars.
A heated battle it is. Mr. Loury told the Forward he found the book "very offensive." He said, "It was sensationalist; it was gratuitous; it was contemptuous; it was really beyond the pale....This guy's trying to sell books."
At the press conference, Mr. Woodson called the book "an abomination," "a raw attack against African Americans that rationalizes racism, denigrates African American Culture, and is destined to exacerbate tensions between blacks and whites."
Three other black conservatives not affiliated with AEI also issued statements this week criticizing the book. Shelby Steele, an author and professor at San Jose State University, said that both "The Bell Curve" and "The End of Racism" "display anti-black sentiment in tone and substance," and "make up a sensational racial literature in which the black case against America is dismissed on grounds of black intellectual inferiority and social pathology." Willie and Gwen Daye Richardson, who are, respectively, publisher and editor of National Minority Politics Magazine, issued a milder statement that called Mr. D'Souza's book "wrong."
William Raspberry, the Washington Post columnist, denounced the book in a Sept. 19 column, calling it "a book only racists could cheer."
Christopher DeMuth, president of AEI, expressed regret over the resignations. "The way they did it is very saddening," he said. He did not elaborate, but the establishment, neo-conservative think tank is more geared to day-long colloquia and weighty books than stormy press conferences.
In a phone interview with the Forward, Mr. D'Souza defended his book, saying his aim was to be "morally sensitive," but also "intellectually provocative."
"There's just no way to resolve the origins of racism in a press conference," Mr. D'Souza said. "It's kind of silly to call a press conference to denounce a book."
"I'm going to continue to press my arguments," Mr. D'Souza said. "I think some of the [opponents'] rhetoric has been intemperate, which is kind of ironic, because they are criticizing my intemperate rhetoric."
Ethnic NewsWatch © SoftLine Information, Inc., Stamford, CT
_Ira Stoll, Black Conservatives Resign From AEI Over D'Souza Book, Forward, 22 Sep 1995, pp. PG.