A Duke University professor who made comments about “the blacks” and “the Asians” on a New York Times op-ed has landed himself in hot water with allegations that he’s a racist.
Jerry Hough’s comments immediately garnered outrage and backlash, but he isn’t backing down. He sent Business Insider the response he had just emailed to one of his critics.
A concerned mother wrote to him to say she might not send her daughter to Duke because he was an awful person, according to Hough.
Not one to miss an opportunity to clarify his position, he furthered his argument with a comparison to people of Polish and Italian descent. “Poles and Italians were called races, and there was a lot of mutual hostility between them Poles were subject to the most humiliating of jokes about their stupidity,” Hough said.
And he pointed to Pope John Paul II and Duke Coach Krzyzewski as examples of men whom he felt rose above stereotypes of “stupidity” and “drunkenness,” to find worldwide acclaim.
“His experience provides lessons for blacks too,” he said, of Coach K.
Most pointedly, Hough pointed out that Coach K’s daughter married an Italian.
That statement echoes sentiments in his original comment in the Times that black people lack the desire for integration and that black-white dating is virtually non-existent.
Hough also explained to the concerned parent that 2016 will be his last year of teaching at Duke. Adding with a touch of humour, “Your daughter can avoid me next year.”
He attempted to clarify that he is not a racist, and that as a disciple of Martin Luther King in the 1950s, he is disappointed in the lack of progress he’s seen.
But harkening back to his comments in the Times, he did not distance himself from his unpopular ideas, instead continuing to compare different racial and ethnic groups to the African-American experience.
He wrote about Japanese concentration camps in the 1950s and the prejudice Asian-American’s experienced, referencing Eleanor Roosevelt “who publicly called them the yellow races.”
“The Japanese who were imprisoned did not come out saying that they could not rise because of the prejudice and the scars of the camps,” Hough said. “They and the Chinese rose.”
Jerry Hough’s original comments on the Times editorial, titled “How Racism Doomed Baltimore,” opined that Asian-Americans were more successful than African-Americans because “they didn’t feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard.”
His comments have drawn critique from Duke administration. Vice president for public affairs, Michael Schoenfeld, said that “The comments were noxious, offensive and have no place in civil discourse,” according to the Duke Chronicle.
But in a nod to free speech and professorial autonomy, Schoenfeld also explained that “at the same time, as noted in the Faculty Handbook, every faculty member at Duke has a right ‘to act and to speak in his or her capacity as a citizen without institutional censorship or discipline.'”
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