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‘The Dozen Most Overrated Black People’

Racism pays at Columbia University and the Huffington Post.

By 10.10.12

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"The Dozen Most Overrated Black People": Can you imagine if I (or any other columnist) actually wrote an article with this title and subject?

Not only would I not write such a thing because it's professional suicide, but more importantly I don't view the world through a lens of race -- and neither does any other non-leftist columnist whom I read or know, whether pasty white folks like me or black conservatives such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Deroy Murdock, or Star Parker.

For example, I might suggest that Barack Obama is the single most overrated person on the planet, but it has nothing whatever to do with his skin color. I might query: What can be more over-rated than winning a Nobel Peace Prize for offering a "vision" but not actually accomplishing anything? But nowhere does my critique include a mention -- or even a thought -- of Mr. Obama's skin color, though I doubt the same can be said of the thinking of the 2009 Nobel Committee.

So what to make of Columbia University Associate Professor Marc Lamont Hill's article for the Huffington Post entitled "The 15 Most Overrated White People" -- apparently Hill's way to celebrate Columbus Day. (I wonder if he was hanging out with Elizabeth "Fauxahontas" Warren.)

Although the article's title sounds like something preceding a bit of faux-racist satire, Hill's list, which includes politicians, entertainers, athletes, and "President Obama's economic team" seems serious, almost bitter, right from its introduction which concludes: "Of course, this list is not exhaustive, as there are countless other White people who are equally underwhelming."

Speaking of "countless": Hill's list of the 15 most overrated white people includes 16 entries (some of which are actually groups rather than individual people).

Given that Hill works at Columbia's Teachers College, where he instructs those who in turn instruct our children, it's no wonder that our nation's public education system is a disaster, particularly so for black children. Hill is a self-proclaimed expert on things that many people (such as parents of school-age children of all races) would think don't matter. He is a man who includes William Shakespeare in a list of "overrated white people" but who can't count names in his own article. But then at least Hill and the teachers he teaches can talk about "Hip-Hop Pedagogy." (I kid you not.)

Perhaps Dr. Hill, a self-described "social justice activist and organizer," is simply reinforcing our understanding of the (lack of) certain basic skills within that particular group. After all, another well-known organizer famously mentioned that he'd "been in 57 states [and had] one left to go." That's not entirely fair to Dr. Hill whom I believe to be more intelligent -- even if equally misguided -- than our Organizer-in-Chief is.

On the other hand, Hill seems willing to sacrifice knowledge and real education for a paranoid, separatist, and self-serving ideology as he expresses interest in "locating various sites of possibility for political resistance, identity work, and knowledge production outside of formal schooling contexts. Particular sites of inquiry include prisons, Black bookstores, and youth cultural production."

Though it does not make him unusual among the leftist intelligentsia, Mark Lamont Hill is a man who sees racism behind every rock, such as in political language like "take our country back." As if what we want to take our country back from is a black president rather than a massive expansion of government power and cost, of our national debt, and of bureaucrats being put in charge of the most important aspects of our lives, from health care to home loans. He says "I'm not calling the Tea Party racist" and then concludes that racists "identify with the Tea Party movement."

Comments to Hill's article are of some interest, with many offering helpfully that a particular person who was on the list (such as Bill Clinton, the first black president after all) shouldn't have been, or that someone who wasn't included (such as Jesus) was unfairly overlooked.

Some, like me, wonder if the article was supposed to be funny. It might have been possible for such an article to be funny. Certain comments about his 15 (I mean 16) victims are slightly humorous -- but even the few lines that border on funny are dripping with venomous contempt. Given Hill's view of the world, namely that everything important is driven by whites' disdain for blacks, I suspect that he's using a (failed) attempt at humor to give himself plausible deniability for writing fundamentally racist thoughts -- because he's a fundamentally racist guy.

One commenter was awakened to the true nature of people like Dr. Hill, responding "This is a nice reminder that no matter how nice I try to be to all races and creeds, some people just hate me. Also, makes me worry less about being so P.C.. Why am I trying to bend backwards for others when they will attack me at a moments notice." [sic]

Some may find it unfortunate that progress toward race-related rationality must equate to no longer trying, without reciprocation, to "be nice to all races and creeds." But while mainstream conservatives focus on the impact of bad government policy on all Americans, Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of judging a person based on the content of his character rather than the color of his skin remains a distant dream among -- and almost entirely due to -- the American left (and not just the black American left, as Chris Matthews proves repeatedly.) Actually, they dream of no such thing since the realization of King's dream would leave them looking in the Progressive mirror to find the causes of America's economic, cultural, and educational decline.

Just when one comment gives you hope for a step toward a race-blind and slightly less ignorant society, a different one dashes it: "Another person that is overrated is Abraham Lincoln. He did nothing for blacks!!"

Hill's list is the sort of worthless tripe we've all come to expect from Columbia University professors (which is why I donate no money to my alma mater.) Nevertheless, it's a sad reminder that race relations in this country are kept strained far more by "respectable" blacks than by any mainstream whites. A white person who wrote a color-reversed analogue to Hill's article would instantly, and deservedly, lose respectability. Yet Hill doesn't just get away with this damaging garbage; he is fêted for it, with Ebony magazine calling him "Bold and Beautiful."

Indeed, how could a "hip-hop intellectual" not be oh-so-respected by all of us? Must not the author of "Schooling Hip-Hop: New Directions in Hip-Hop Based Education" be revered as an expert on race, a fount of wisdom about conservative white people, and eagerly sought out by media and academia alike to pontificate on items completely outside of his tremendously valuable expertise in the "anthropology of education"?

Perhaps his past lecture on "The Importance of the Nation of Islam to Hip-Hop Culture" (again, I kid you not) made Bill O'Reilly think that he should discuss Iran with Dr. Hill. I hear rapper Jay-Z (whom Hill calls a "public intellectual") is big in Tehran's famously raucous nightclubs.

When I make any comment about race on the radio, such as about how the welfare state tends to keep black people poor or how the war on drugs is a racist policy, I always get at least one call excoriating me for daring to put myself in a black man's shoes (even though that isn't what I am doing and even though I am arguing that certain government policies are harming blacks disproportionately). Yet Hill is somehow Carnac the Magnificent when it comes to telling the world what white people think -- and that they think it because they are white.

This cannot remain acceptable in America -- by which I do not mean that Hill should not be heard, but rather than he should not be heard without the challenges he so richly deserves.

The media and Columbia University do the nation a disservice by giving this transparently racist pseudo-intellectual an uncontested platform from which to further divide the nation and harm American education at all levels. While one would hope that our fellow citizens are smart enough to see through Mr. Hill, to see how his words rip off our nation's slowly healing race scabs, I am skeptical, particularly with the general lack of skeptical voices questioning Hill's rhetoric, motivation, and destructive impact.

Other than asking Hill about Iran, Bill O'Reilly is better than his usual populist self when it comes to his occasional debates with Hill, standing up against the race-hustler's baseless charges of congenital racism among non-liberal whites. Even after Fox News "fired" Hill in 2009 for his support of two convicted cop-killers, O'Reilly had him back on the air, including again this year.

Yet the fact that so-called "conservative" O'Reilly has given so much airtime to the race-conspiracy-minded Hill was lost on equally race-minded Ebony magazine interviewer dream hampton (lack of capitalization being how she spells her own name) who, in her January 2012 interview with Hill, framed a question, without a trace of irony, thus: "Your TV career began and flourished at Fox, who are notorious for their bias."

If Mark Lamont Hill thinks writing about "overrated white people" is funny, that says a lot about the man. If he was serious, it says even more.

To Dr. Hill I say: Racist, heal thyself.

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About the Author
Ross Kaminsky is a self-employed trader and investor and is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute. He is the host of The Ross Kaminsky Show on Denver's NewsRadio 850 KOA on Saturday mornings from 6 AM to 9 AM. You can reach Ross by e-mail at rossputin(at)rossputin(dot)com.