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Your article on Robert Woodson’s and Glenn Loury’s resignations from the American Enterprise Institute over Dinesh D’Souza’s book The End of Racism (“Two Black Conservatives Are Now Searching For a New Home,” page one, Oct 19), seemed a bit off balance to this participant-observer in the affair.
Mr. Woodson was a resident fellow at AEI from 1977-82, but he has not been actively involved in our work for more than a decade. Prof. Loury was a member of AEI’s Council of Academic Advisers, a group of university-based scholars that advises on our appointments, publications and research. In this capacity, he was given a draft of The End of Racism for review when the book was being written, and Mr. D’Souza and I asked him earnestly and repeatedly for his criticisms and suggestions. He provided none.
The juxtaposition of the deeply thoughtful and anguished Messrs. Loury and Woodson on the one hand, and the insensitive and incendiary Mr. D’Souza on the other, is most unfair. Although you report that they avoided the “r” word, Messrs. Loury and Woodson not only called the book racist but made the charge the headline of their press release (“Black Conservatives Resign From American Enterprise Institute in Response to ‘Racist’ Book by AEI Resident Scholar Dinesh D’Souza”). Mr. Woodson has several times, and with great relish, called Mr. D’Souza “the Mark Fuhrman of public policy.” These attacks are being leveled by men who say they object primarily to the “tone” and “insensitivity” of The End of Racism. The book they are attacking in this manner has been praised by serious intellectuals and political activists of all races and political creeds, and has been reviewed seriously even by those who disagree sharply with its arguments. Its most dramatic practical consequence to date has been the firing of Washington Times columnist Samuel Francis over his remarks at a white supremacist gathering, chillingly documented in The End of Racism.
I doubt that Mr. Woodson has read The End of Racism with any care. He telephoned the Free Press, the book’s publisher, and asked them to ship him a copy by overnight express, after he had announced the press event to denounce the book as “racist” and to proclaim with Prof. Loury their resignations from AEI. His subsequent attacks have consisted mainly of parading a few sentences from the 550-page book, wrenched out of context to give a highly distorted impression of Mr. D’Souza’s arguments.
“Messrs. Loury and Woodson’s action was more than a resignation and more than an intellectual argument with an erstwhile compatriot.”–Christopher DeMuthThere is no gainsaying that both Prof. Loury and Mr. Woodson dislike The End of Racism intensely. No doubt AEI has published many things they disagree with along with many things they agree with. AEI publishes dozens of books and hundreds of articles every year, including frequent pieces on issues of race and social welfare from a variety of political and intellectual perspectives. We eagerly promote reasoned debate on everything we publish, and have already sponsored several forums where The End of Racism has been vigorously criticized as well as vigorously supported.
Messrs. Loury and Woodson’s action was more than a resignation and more than an intellectual argument with an erstwhile compatriot. It was a carefully staged political event aimed at anathematizing a book and its author, centered on the demand that others in the conservative camp denounce and repudiate Dinesh D’Souza on their say-so (“just as Fuhrman’s legal advocates dropped him as a client,” as their press release put it).
Christopher DeMuth is the president of AEI.
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