Duke prof stands by comments contrasting blacks, Asians

Duke prof stands by comments contrasting blacks, Asians (Image 1)

A Duke University professor is standing behind comments he made on The New York Times website that questions whether blacks want to fully integrate into American society.

On May 9, The Times ran an opinion piece titled, “How Racism Doomed Baltimore.” The editorial focused on how difficult it has been for poor blacks to rise from poverty in the city.

The editorial set off a torrent of comments, with 505 posts to The Times website.

One of those posting was Jerry Hough, who got his undergraduate degree at Harvard University in 1955 and PhD at Harvard in 1961. Hough has taught at Duke since 1973. He is currently on leave and plans to finish teaching in 2016.

Hough disagreed with The Times in his post on the site. He wrote “blacks get symbolic recognition in an utterly incompetent mayor who handled this so badly from beginning to end that her resignation would be demanded if she were white. The blacks get awful editorials like this that tell them to feel sorry for themselves.”

Hough went on to say that Asians have faced discrimination “at least as badly as blacks” but have overcome it.

“Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration,” Hough wrote. “Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration. The amount of Asian-white dating is enormous and so surely will be the intermarriage. Black-white dating is almost non-existent because of the ostracism by blacks of anyone who dates a white.”

Duke vice president for Public Affairs and Government Relations Michael Schoenfeld, asked about Hough’s remarks, said, “The comments were noxious, offensive and have no place in civil discourse.”

But he said that under the Duke Faculty Handbook, every faculty member has the right to speak as a citizen “without institutional censorship or discipline.”

Hough, reached via email by WNCN, stood by what he said – although he pointed out that The Times limits the length on posts.

“With the qualification on the word length, I stand fully behind what I said until someone shows there is a lot of interracial data or that Asians and blacks on balance have different attitudes on how to integrate or on the average have different levels of performance at Duke and elsewhere,” Hough said.

“On raising the issue, I had no idea this would cause a dusting so in that sense I did not mean to start this controversy. But now that it did, I am absolutely glad that I did. I was not planning to write a book on the general subject, but it is clear I must do so. That will have a broader perspective.”

Hough told WNCN that blacks “should learn from the Asians and the Poles.”

Copyright 2015 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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