Duke University professor on leave sparks outrage after leaving racist online comments.

Duke University Professor Sparks Outrage After Leaving Racist Comment on an NYT Editorial

Duke University Professor Sparks Outrage After Leaving Racist Comment on an NYT Editorial

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May 17 2015 12:05 PM

Duke University Professor Sparks Outrage After Leaving Racist Comment on an NYT Editorial

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Duke University professor Jerry Hough is seen from a WTVD-TV report on his controversial online comment.

Screencap via WTVD-TV

A Duke University professor on leave sparked outrage after posting racist comments online that included talk of “the blacks” and “the Asians.”* Jerry Hough commented on a New York Times editorial titled “How Racism Doomed Baltimore” with a six-paragraph screed that seemed to suggest Asian Americans don’t riot because “they didn’t feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard.” He also appeared to make a link between the Baltimore riots and a contention that “every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration” compared with “every Asian student [who] has a very simple old American first name.”

Hough told both the local ABC and Fox affiliates that he was on leave, in which he identified himself as a Duke professor, raised uproar on campus. (Update, May 18, 10:50 a.m.: The Duke Chronicle reported Monday morning that Hough was on an academic leave before he left the comments.) In emailed statements, the political science professor defended his comments, saying “Martin Luther King was my hero” and insisting he is “strongly against the toleration of racial discrimination.” The key question, though, according to Hough, “is whether my comments were largely accurate. In writing me, no one has said I was wrong, just racist.”

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The university has refused to comment on the professor’s situation at the school, although it did distance itself from the professor’s words. “The comments were noxious, offensive, and have no place in civil discourse,” said Duke vice president for public affairs and government affairs Michael Schoenfeld. “Duke University has a deeply-held commitment to inclusiveness grounded in respect for all, and we encourage our community to speak out when they feel that those ideals are challenged or undermined, as they were in this case.” The comments caused particular outrage at the university because they came only a few weeks after a noose was found hanging in a tree, notes the News & Observer.

Hough’s full comments in the New York Times:

This editorial is what is wrong. The Democrats are an alliance of Westchester and Harlem, of Montgomery County and intercity Baltimore. Westchester and Montgomery get a Citigroup asset stimulus policy that triples the market. The blacks get a decline in wages after inflation.
But the 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.
In 1965 the Asians were discriminated against as least as badly as blacks. That was reflected in the word "colored." The racism against what even Eleanor Roosevelt called the yellow races was at least as bad.
So where are the editorials that say racism doomed the Asian-Americans. They didn't feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard.
I am a professor at Duke University. Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. 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.
It was appropriate that a Chinese design won the competition for the Martin Luther King state. King helped them overcome. The blacks followed Malcolm X.

*Correction, May 18: This piece originally misstated that Jerry Hough was placed on leave after he made the racist comments. Duke University confirmed on May 18 that Hough was already on academic leave when he wrote the comments.  

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.