Now The Savages Are Trying To Take Down One of Our Own

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From the Tom Woods Letter:

How about this:

By far the most prolific living libertarian is Walter Block, who has written countless books and close to 600 scholarly articles — an accomplishment I am uncertain if any academic in any discipline could match today, or ever.

Walter has also co-authored over 100 scholarly articles with students. That’s unheard of. What an extraordinary advantage that gives Walter’s students over their peers — how many students of other professors can say they published an article in an academic journal while they were undergraduates? Civil Rights: Rhetoric... Sowell, Thomas Best Price: $0.20 Buy New $7.98 (as of 03:25 UTC - Details)

Loyola University, New Orleans, where Walter teaches, must be beaming with pride, right?

Well, a group of students are currently circulating a petition to get Walter fired on the grounds that — you’ll never guess — he is a “racist” and a “sexist.”

(In response, a counter-petition has been started, demanding that Walter be given a raise.)

This is because, like Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell, Walter Block does not believe that “discrimination” is the universal, no-analysis-necessary explanation for the various disparities between blacks and whites, or men and women. And of course he is quite correct to take that position, since the “discrimination” view is ridiculous on its face to anyone familiar with the data. (Sowell’s overlooked book Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? dismantles the “discrimination” school.)

They are also unhappy about what they mistakenly believe Walter told the New York Times about slavery. They think he said slavery “wasn’t so bad.” What he actually said was: the problem with slavery was its coercive nature; it doesn’t matter what the slaves’ caloric intake or per-capita living space was if they were coerced into being there.

Simple enough for a normal person to grasp, which means the New York Times pretended to misunderstand Walter, or at least make his views seem suspect and opaque. The Quest for Cosmic J... Thomas Sowell Best Price: $8.65 Buy New $10.94 (as of 10:45 UTC - Details)

So ridiculous was the Times‘ portrayal, in fact, that Walter sued them for libel. The Times settled out of court, so although we can’t know the terms of the settlement, it’s rather curious that columns by Walter — of all people — suddenly began appearing in its pages.

I’m taking that as being as close to an admission of guilt as most people are likely to get from the Times.

Let’s add to all this that Walter has repeatedly made clear that he believes that the descendants of slaves do have a right to reparations, though not indiscriminately from all Americans (he explained his position in an interview with me).

It seems virtually certain that the savages are unaware of this, particularly since knowing it would require them to read scholarly journals, which we may legitimately doubt they tend to do.

In light of all this, I think you’ll take mischievous delight in the letter I wrote to Loyola’s president in 2014, when the initial attack on Walter occurred:

Dear Dr. Wildes:

No doubt you have received quite a bit of correspondence by now about Walter Block. I won’t rehash the main points. You are familiar with them already. The Vision of the Anoi... Sowell, Thomas Best Price: $1.50 Buy New $12.99 (as of 11:05 UTC - Details)

I will say that I find it impossible to believe that you, an intelligent man, believe your own interpretation of Walter’s remarks to the New York Times. You note that Walter’s comment about slavery seems to run counter to libertarian principles. You don’t say! Might that be an indication that the Times, which despises what Walter stands for, has distorted his views?

A university president ought to support his faculty in a case like this, in which he knows full well that a professor has been grotesquely mischaracterized. If this were an accurate rendering of Walter’s views, why was he considering a libel suit?

Had Walter been a left-wing professor accused of Stalinism, would you have been so quick to denounce him? The question answers itself.

This is why it is impossible to believe that any of this has to do with Walter’s remarks. You are not a fool. You know Walter, and you know where he stands. He has never kept his views a secret. You owed him better, and you failed him.

Now it’s true, you did communicate to the university community that your views are the conventional and respectable ones, and that you are not to be confused with Walter Block. We got that.

Some of your faculty, whom you should have rebuked rather than implicitly congratulated, treated Walter with a similar lack of charity.

Since the substance of your (and their) claims have been dealt with elsewhere, let me raise some relevant considerations: Economic Facts and Fal... Sowell, Thomas Best Price: $5.62 Buy New $12.87 (as of 11:15 UTC - Details)

(1) How many professors at Loyola University can say students have enrolled for the express purpose of studying with them?

(2) How many professors at Loyola University can say they have co-authored scholarly articles with their students – not once or twice, but dozens of times?

(3) How many professors at Loyola University have a big enough audience that it would even matter if they urged students to attend Loyola, as Walter constantly does?

(4) How many professors at Loyola University have over 400 peer-reviewed articles?

(5) How many professors at Loyola University would anyone anywhere in the country lift a single finger for?

(6) Oh, and how many professors at Loyola University, who preposterously accused Walter of “sexism” for denying that “discrimination” could explain the male-female wage gap, dared to face Walter in open debate? (Their decision not to try to debate Walter is a fleeting sign of intelligence among them.)

Yes, yes, I got the message: your faculty is against slavery. What courage they must have had to summon in 2014 to unbosom to the world their opposition to slavery!

But I wonder: would people who ostentatiously announce their opposition to slavery in 2014 have had the courage to oppose it when it counted – say, in 1850? I have my doubts that people so desperate to assure the world of their conventional opinions and how appalled and offended they are by heretics, would have been the sort of people to buck conventional opinion at a time when two percent of the American electorate supported an abolitionist political party.

What I know for a fact is that Walter Block would have opposed it, lock, stock, and barrel.

That you simply repeated the New York Times’ characterization of Walter Block, without even conceding, as the Times did, that Walter believed slavery was wrong because it was involuntary – so your behavior was worse than that of the Times, which is no mean feat – is bewildering and appalling in a university president, or indeed in a human being.

Long after every name on that list of Walter’s faculty critics is gone and forgotten, the work of Walter Block will continue to educate new generations in the principles of liberty. No one will recall the pygmies who attacked him out of spite or envy.

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., PhD