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Marc Lamont Hill’s Overrated Black People List, Part 2: Melissa Harris-Lacewell

October 12, 2009

harris lacewell

See Part 1 of NewsReal’s ongoing series:

Marc Lamont Hill’s Overrated Black People List: Michael Eric Dyson

In our continuing discussion of the damage done to the African-American  community by affirmative action policies very rarely does one actually find actual admissions by an intellectual that they’re overrated, that their achievement is inflated because of their race. It does happen sometimes, though.

From The Nation’s The Notion group blog, Princeton professor and frequent cable news Obama booster Melissa Harris-Lacewell riffed on the harsh response she received from her fellow leftists for not happily going along with the President’s Nobel Appeasement Prize win:

I criticized the idea of awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to a president whose short presidency has included drone attacks with devastating civilian causalities, the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and a painfully slow response to the basic human rights issues facing LGBT communities. I respect the President’s accomplishments in diplomacy but believed these issues were relevant to assessing his record on peace.

Translation: Obama has not toed the Left’s surrender line enough to be worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. That’s a new one.

The criticisms were not meant as a sweeping indictment of President Obama’s administration, nor do they indicate my faltering support. I was using the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize award to ask what the international community recognizes as indicative of a broad commitment to peace.

Question: What does the the “international community” (translation: the international Left) recognize as indicative of a broad commitment to “peace” (translation: surrender)? Answer: Not being George W. Bush or a Republican.

I was stunned by the swift and angry responses from dozens of readers, followers, and friends. Some suggested I was a “hater.” Others felt my jovial tone was disrespectful of the President. Several fretted that conservatives would justify further attacks on President Obama using my words. I have disagreed with and criticized Obama as both a candidate and president before, but I have never elicited this kind of anxiety from readers.

Isn’t it amusing how leftists are all about being “respectful” to presidents once it’s their man in office?

In these responses, I detected a very particular American racial anxiety. Let’s call it the “Affirmative Action Dilemma.” Beginning in the 1980s, conservatives, led by African American thinkers like Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell, began to argue that affirmative action has a deleterious psychological impact on African Americans. Affirmative action, they lamented, leads black people to always wonder if their success is real, deserved, and meritorious, or simply illusory, unearned, and political. Yesterday’s anxiety about my critique of the Nobel Peace Prize Award appeared to echo these worries. Some felt that by raising my disagreement I was implying President Obama did not deserve the prize, and that politics, not merit, was responsible for the committee’s decision.

Didn’t Obama himself even admit that he did not deserve it? Doesn’t everyone with a functioning brain admit that he didn’t deserve it and that any of the other nominees — who actually worked and suffered — should have gotten it?

I heard the unspoken Affirmative Action Dilemma lurking. “Please professor, don’t make them think we have things we didn’t earn”

Since when is the Left concerned about people getting things they didn’t earn? Isn’t that the Left’s whole reason for being? To give unearned goods and services to people out of some misguided religious concept of “social justice”?

Generally the response to affirmative action anxiety is to list all of the individual’s accomplishments and thereby prove the individual is actually worthy of the award or position. Most Obama faithful pursued this tactic yesterday. Many demanded that I tune into The Rachel Maddow Show and several sent me lists of all President Obama’s accomplishments in the area of diplomacy. Uh…ok, but that strategy is limited. (Particularly because it doesn’t really negate the whole two wars, drone attacks thing)

I think a more effective counter to the Affirmative Action Dilemma is a little honesty about the wages of whiteness.

I am an affirmative action baby (born in 1973), and I have never felt any dilemma about the policy. I did not sit in my college classroom fretting about whether my white peers thought I deserved to be studying beside them. I have never lost a night of sleep worrying about my colleagues who regard my tenured position at Princeton University as a policy decision, rather than a scholarly accomplishment. This is not because I am so sure of my personal worthiness- that ebbs and flows-rather my general lack of affirmative action anxiety is derived from my clear sense of the continuing reality of white privilege.

[Emphasis added.]

Harris-Lacewell then links to this silly ad hominem attack on Sarah Palin to try and define the Left’s cultist dogma of “white privilege” as some sort of justification for the anti-white racism called affirmative action.

Harris-Lacewell effectively admits that she’s where she’s at now because of policies that were put in place to make her overrated. How is she able to justify this immoral “two wrongs make a right” thinking? Through her “progressive” politics of bad faith. In invoking the myth of “white privilege” she and other intellectuals are able to argue for the further institutionalization of a very real “minority privilege.”

And the practical result: black intellectuals like herself and others who will appear on NewsReal’s list are elevated to positions beyond their abilities, to the perpetual detriment and embarrassment of the very community that the Left is seeking to help. And the Obama Nobel win only proves this more than anything. Watching his speech he’s practically embarrassed. He knew that he didn’t deserve and even admitted it:

It was the Left that thrust Obama into this position, not the supposedly “racist” Right. And if “progressives” are left to their own devices this degradation of minorities will only continue — unless conservatives stand up to condemn racial advantages and promote Martin Luther King-style equality.

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  1. swathdiver permalink
    October 13, 2009 5:04 am

    Harris-Lacewell is another Marxist espousing evil. It seems her sense of entitlement and racism knows no bounds!

  2. MaryAnn permalink
    October 13, 2009 5:36 am

    “…the wages of whiteness”? “…my clear sense of the continuing reality of white privelage”? The woman is a racist. I am so tired of it.

  3. winoceros permalink
    October 13, 2009 6:29 am

    If I were black, and this social retard had the nerve to speak for me, I would be embarrassed. This is the argument for affirmative action? And lady…it’s not white privilege. It’s white effort.

    And who gives a rip about color anyway? Why can’t it just be about effort?

    • Anthony permalink
      November 10, 2009 6:39 pm

      Good point.
      What ever happened to Dr. King’s concept of people judged by the ‘content of their character’ as a societal norm?
      With this irritating PC culture, leftists are insistent on separating us into groups, each of which is disadvantaged in some way, and therefore deserving preferential treatment. If I had my way, job applications would have minimal personal information, interviews would be double blinded and no one would know you, just test scores where applicable.
      Think about it–if you can handle the job duties, does it matter what your race or gender is?

  4. Arkyump permalink
    October 13, 2009 6:48 am

    Why does conservative commentaries zero in on obvious socialist professors? We all know that our educational system is full of people who teach our children to be wards of the state. Not once, in recent memory, has a conservative editorialist wrote about the righteous professor, someone who we can get our heads around. I know that that there are a few out there. We need to support schools that offer diversity, but not to the degree that corrupts the minds of the attendees.

  5. Keith permalink
    October 13, 2009 10:54 am

    It’s difficult to call us the best people and nation in the world, when you have people that are selfish, people that don’t wan’t equality, people that don’t wan’t healthcare for everyone, people that would rather put some one down rather than lift them up.
    Thank god I know some people that are not selfish, arrogant or oxymoronic.

    • swathdiver permalink
      October 13, 2009 11:37 pm


      What makes America the best is that the folks exhibiting the traits you mentioned are allowed to keep breathing in America. In other societies if one doesn’t live and act according to the government’s designs they’re re-educated or exterminated.
      Should selfishness and arrogance be outlawed? Who’s to say they’re not displaying self-interest and confidence?


    • November 4, 2009 5:39 am

      Questions: How do you define “selfish”? Does it mean, “not willing to give a dollar to someone in need, right in front of them”? Does it mean, “not generous to charities”? Or does it mean, “not willing to give the fruits of their labor to someone who did no labor for it in spite of evidently having the ability to work, who has no apparent desperate need, and who sees that redistribution as something to which he or she is entitled rather than as a crazy-generous gift (or, more accurately, the ‘gift’ of a crazy-generous government who claimed it, not even from the rich, as if the erosion of private property rights would be justifiable on the basis of someone’s large amount of private property, but from the middle class)”?

      Equality of what? Opportunity or outcome? There’s a HUGE difference.

      What kind of health care? How much health care? In a world in which (unfortunately for us, the children of unbelievable privilege) you can’t have everything you want and there really is no such thing as a free lunch, who pays, and how much, and why do those who don’t pay, not pay? Is every non-payer a person who literally cannot pay? And finally, are you willing to pay for the terrible head injury suffered by a young, healthy person who chose not to buy insurance with his adequate income, but rather to buy surfboards and tickets to Costa Rica (I speak from personal experience here)? In other words, the question is not as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be.

      Wrapping up… who’s putting someone down, the person who holds all to the same high standard before attaching the tag of “excellence,” or the person who figuratively pats certain people on the head and says, “Didn’t he do well, considering?”

  6. Judy permalink
    October 13, 2009 1:16 pm

    “And who gives a rip about color anyway? Why can’t it be just about effort?”
    Because to do so requires self-initiative, self-motivation, self-reliance and self-direction. These concepts are an anatema to the Progressives. The Left/Progressives have exactly what they want, a large enslaved population that is dependent upon the good-will and handouts of a large govenment controls.
    It is not my responsibility to raise someone up. IT IS THEIR OWN responsibility to be accountable for themselves and work to improve themselves. Welfare and many other government programs were created to the perpetual detriment and the formation of institutionalized poverty in this country. Emphasis on self-reliance, self-initiative, and self-direction are replaced with a belief system in which the population are nothing more than aimless, non-thinking children requiring government intervention to lead and control their lives. Remember the old saying of (something like this:) You can give a man a fish to eat just for today, or teach him to fish and have food everyday. We have removed the incentive to better ourselves and substituted a lazy, hand-out society where the belief of “you owe it to me” is the centerpiece.I do not owe anything to anyone, and I certainly do not need to prop up someone that desires “equality and social justice” without any effort. This is not selfish or arrogant. It is a type of kindness that you are not familiar with. It is the kindness that rewards effort and success. Do not call those that espouse self-initiative as arrogant,and those that propose a different form of insurance reform as being a source of inequality. This argument is absurd and demonstrates a point of view that is contrary to the foundation of this country (at least for now) and the basic needs of people to feel a sense of worth and provide an enviroment for self-improvement. Shame on you.Step back and see the bigger picture.

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      October 13, 2009 2:30 pm

      First, Great work Mr Swindle. It is aluminating.

      Second, Judy your comment made me stand up and cheer.

      • October 13, 2009 2:35 pm

        Thanks Jack.

  7. Judy permalink
    October 13, 2009 1:20 pm

    Keith, Please accept my apology for taking you to the alter. My tone was harsh, but I am so tired of hearing that it my obligation to make it all better. What exactly is the responsibility of the recipient of my sacrifice, goodwill and taxes????

  8. November 2, 2009 3:36 am

    When the left does something that has negative consequences, and persists in doing it even when those consequences are known and understood, you can rest assured that those consequences are the very outcome they were attempting to achieve.

    Affirmative action is pretty much the poster child for this. Giving members of a specific group special treatment, holding them accountable to a lower standard, and telling them that their triumphs and successes always have an asterisk attached to them, is a very ingenious way to create and perpetuate a culture of incompetence and dependence.

    In short, the left wants blacks and other designated “victim” groups to be excluded from the rest of society. The more isolated and disparaged blacks and other groups can be made to feel, despite all objective evidence to the contrary, the more success the left will have in their eternal efforts to destroy our nation from within. A house divided cannot stand. It is Gramscian Marxism 101.


  1. Marc Lamont Hill’s Overrated Black People List: Michael Eric Dyson « NewsReal Blog

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