To the Editors of The Crimson:
Amid the moral uproar surrounding the Klitgaard report, the Crimson has provided us with an article that surely dwarfs Klitgaard in arrogance, specious argument, and even racism--Selwyn Cudjoe's "Ideological Trick-Bag." This quasi-Marxist analysis pales in comparison with the sober and informed exchange between Carl Gershman and Dr. Kenneth Clark it sets out to condemn.
To begin with, we must infer that The Crimson, having published Mr. Cudjoe's piece, is no mere bourgeois "ideological apparatus" seeking "to make the natives fight among themselves," unlike the New York Times and the rest of "The Press." Mr. Cudjoe claims that Gershman and Klitgaard simply perpetrate "another ideological onslaught ... against Black America, the activities of the Ku Klux Klan being the more vulgar manifestation of the same phenomenon." He further accuses them of "pseudo-intellectualism and militant racist assumptions." But where is the Klan-like racism in the Klitgaard report? In pointing out test score discrepancies? If there were no such discrepancies in Black and white scores (and other usual admissions criteria) there would be little need for affirmative action. One may wish to dispute the truth or relevancy of Klitgaard's "overprediction" thesis, but there is surely nothing inherently racist about it. The only potentially offensive claim is Klitgaard's suggestion that some Blacks would do better at other schools. Blacks may rightly resent such "advice," but shouldn't one postpone final judgment until one has read the finished report in its entirety? Michael Crehan's recent article in the Independent provides a helpful corrective to much of the unrestrained hyperbole that has surrounded the Klitgaard controversy.
Mr. Cudjoe, on the other hand, proudly proclaims that "no white American could ever structure any dialogue or practice whereby we can begin to come to terms with our own enslavement." (He admits "progressive whites may assist" in this "structuring," and has obviously been himself assisted by the white, although non-American, Karl Marx. Perhaps Mr. Cudjoe sees the legacy of this assistance in the Union's aid to the 'progressive forces' in Afghanistan?) But why does having a white skin disable one from playing such a role? Have not such blanket assumptions of racial inferiority or incapacity been one of the ugliest features of the oppression of Blacks in this country? It seems to be Mr. Cudjoe's opinion that the underlying problem is simply "the commodity-structure of production." But alas, there are many whites in this country, who, like Mr. Cudjoe and his fellow "Black bourgeoisie," don't "control any of the means of production."
Mr. Gershman merits this abuse still less than Klitgaard. His basic claim is that the problem of the permanent Black underclass, a problem of great importance to the "future of America as a viable urban civilization," will not be solved simply by affirmative action programs and similar measures because racism is no longer the primary obstacle. One may disagree with his argument, as does Dr. Clark, but it is an outrageous distortion to impute to Gershman the view that the Black bourgeoisie is the "CAUSE OF" and bears the "RESPONSIBILITY FOR" the plight of the Black underclass.
Mr. Cudjoe concludes by accusing Klitgaard of trying "to delegitimize the value of the achievements of young Black scholars." Mr. Cudjoe's own intolerant and ill-conceived analysis "delegitimizes" itself, but perhaps this is of minor importance to someone who is primarily committed to "revolutionary discourse" and "practice," and who was previously quoted in The Crimson as saying that "physical violence is imminent" if President Bok does not respond quickly to student demands regarding the Klitgaard report. I hope members of the Harvard community of all races and classes can join me in affirming that confused indignation is no substitute for intellectual rigor and responsible discourse.
Teaching Fellow in Government