Curry from Texas A&M to Edinburgh


Tommy Curry, currently professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, has accepted a position as professor of Africana philosophy and black-male studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Readers may recall that Professor Curry was the target of death threats and harassment owing to conservative writer Rod Dreher’s misleading presentation in 2017 of remarks Curry made about racial violence in an interview several years prior.

Curry’s change in employment is owed in part to that targeting. He sought to leave Texas A&M based on the university president’s failure to issue a robust defense of Curry’s academic freedom in the wake of the attacks on him. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education quotes Curry saying, “given the political inclinations of the administrators, they’re not going to protect the black professor.” The Chronicle reports that “Curry also said that while the university police extended him some protections, he didn’t think the threats were being monitored closely enough to make him feel safe.”

Curry works in critical race theory, Africana philosophy, black male studies, and social and political thought. He will be editing a new series on black male studies, and his most recent book is The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood. He will be joining Edinburgh on July 1st, 2019.

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Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

“Rod Dreher’s misleading presentation”

Translation: “Rod Dreher’s presentation, framed in a way that didn’t match Justin’s preferred political narrative”Report

Matt
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

No, that’s not accurate at all. I mean, “Rod Dreher’s misleading presentation” is almost redundant for something Dreher says about anything but his own views, but in this case Justin is exactly right.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Matt
2 years ago

If Dreher’s presentation is misleading then it should be simple to explain what exactly is misleading about it. Justin failed to give a convincing explanation, but maybe you can do better.Report

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

The part of the text in blue is something called a “hyperlink”. When you press it, it takes you to another place in the internets. In this case, it’ll magically take you to the original Daily Nous piece with the explanation.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Sergio Tenenbaum
2 years ago

You must impress a lot of people with that razor wit.

But all I found was a complaint by Justin that Dreher didn’t share more background information on the controversial discussion in question. In fact, the background info that Justin shared was just as damning as the original quotation. Certainly it did nothing to show that Dreher misled anyone!Report

GradStudent
GradStudent
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

Certainly it did. Dreher uses a quote in which Tommy Curry describes views that others have held, historically, and ascribes it to Tommy Curry himself. That’s literally what it says in the article in the hyperlink. Are you trolling?Report

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

I just meant to point out that Justin had dutifully linked to his explanation of why this was misleading. The original thread has a long debate on this issue. Although I agree with Justin here, I have no intention to relitigate this issue on this thread.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

Gradstudent,

Are you gaslighting? Curry’s sympathies are apparent to everyone but the most naive, though disingenuous ideologues have plenty of reasons for pretending this isn’t so.Report

Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

That Curry received death threats also sets the bar very high for Dreher’s remarks to be credible in retrospect. In fact it’s plausible Dreher knew there would be severe consequences to his remarks, so at the very least he behaved recklessly by interpreting/framing Curry the way he did. In fact I’m tempted to say the onus is on you to explain why his remarks were not misleading given the very serious consequences they had.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

Sergio,

I suggested in my first response Justin’s explanation was unconvincing, which should have been a clue to you that I was aware of Justin’s attempt at an explanation.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

Nicholas,

Whether a claim is misleading is a separate issue from the consequences of having made that claim.

But while we’re talking about the consequences of speech acts, Curry’s claims in that talk were far, far more reckless than anything Dreher wrote.Report

Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

Separate issue probably, but when people send death threats on the basis of some speech it’s reasonable to ask if the speech may have been misleading. That’s my only point. There’s some indication, of which the ensuing violence is an element, that Dreher at the very least framed Curry uncharitably.

Your framing of the whole issue in politically loaded terms is not exactly helping your case either.Report

Ken
Ken
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

And here I was thinking that Reagan was going to turn over a new leaf and be less combative (to use a gentle term for it) after his public apology. So much for that.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Ken
2 years ago

I won’t insult gratuitously but I will call out nonsense. Sorry if that offends you.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

Alas, I don’t have time to keep up with the comments here (work to do).

But I’ll point out that the inability of a crowd that is largely pre-disposed to be uncharitable to conservatives is having a really tough time answering a simple question: how did Rod Dreher mislead anyone? Puzzling indeed!

I wish Prof. Curry the best at Edinburgh.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

I mis-edited two sentences together. That should have been something like:

“But I’ll point out just one thing. It’s interesting that the crowd here, largely pre-disposed to be uncharitable to conservatives, is having a really tough time answering a simple question: how did Rod Dreher mislead anyone? Puzzling indeed!”Report

Daniel O’Connell
Daniel O’Connell
2 years ago

I’m quoting GradStudent above with a very clear explanation:

“Dreher uses a quote in which Tommy Curry describes views that others have held, historically, and ascribes it to Tommy Curry himself.”

All JR has in response is an assertion that Tommy’s views are the same. No evidence given. It’s apparently “clear to everyone” that JR’s assertion is true.

To JR: maybe if your first post on this thread included an argument or at least a claim of substance about the matter at hand, instead of an insult aimed at Justin, you’d get a better hearing.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Daniel O’Connell
2 years ago

For the benefit of anyone who might earnestly want to know whether Dreher took Curry’s quote out of context, please listen to the conversation (which Dreher linked in his original post!!!) here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzzzUhknV_o

Curry is not disinterestedly summarizing some intellectual tradition, as several dishonest commenters here have claimed. He clearly identifies with and affirms the legitimacy of the supposed ‘tradition’ he cites in that clip.Report

JTD
JTD
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

Thank you for posting this video clip. It is clear evidence that Dreher took Curry’s quote out of context. I don’t understand how you can take it to show the opposite. Perhaps the ideological lenses you are looking through have an especially dark tint.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  JTD
2 years ago

Ah yes, it’s just an innocent conversation about racialized killings to achieve equality. Nothing is to be inferred at all about Curry’s personal views from the given conversation. Anyone who suspects that Curry is sympathetic to the ideas he discusses is blinded by ideology!Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

Even here I’m conceded too much to you, because Curry also unambiguously uses his own voice to affirm some of the awful claims in that linked video.Report

Derek Bowman
Derek Bowman
2 years ago

I find it interesting that Joshua Reagan, who is predisposed to be uncharitable to DailyNous commenters, is having a rough time offering anything other than incredulity and innuendo in defense of Dreher’s reduction of Curry’s invitation to inquiry down to a single declarative statement which wasn’t expressed asertorically.

It’s also interesting that those with such a keen interest in the dangers of racially motivated violence are so unwilling or unable to engage in the inquiry which Curry is trying to open up. Given that one’s community is systematically targeted for racially motivated violence, when are (or, historically, were) violent means necessary or justified in order to reduce or eliminate that violence. Imagine if we spent as much time seriously addressing that issue as we’re spending discussing whether it’s misleading to reduce the call for such inquiry to a single declarative sentence.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Derek Bowman
2 years ago

Another person is unable to answer the same simple challenge: how did Dreher mislead anyone?

Neither Rod Dreher nor I are interested in reducing Curry’s work to a single sentence. This is the point at which you (and others) are wrong about Dreher being misleading — the whole of Curry’s conversation (in that clip and in other places when discussing violence) was completely bonkers. Dreher was clear about this from the start, and he was also careful to include all the relevant source material so that readers could check the context themselves.

So Justin’s accusation is simply risible. You are apparently unable to discern this, I would assume because you share Curry’s interest in having a conversation about killing white people.

You’re also apparently interested in disingenuously framing it as a question of, e.g., self-defense, when Curry cites examples of racial violence in which self-defense played no part. (E.g., when the mob under Nat Turner killed white children and babies, and when Nat Turner himself killed a teenage girl he’d known from her childhood.) I wonder why that is!!Report

Arthur Greeves
Arthur Greeves
2 years ago

It’s probably the case that the police are right about the relative severity of the threats against Curry, and that the administration isn’t leaving him out to dry. It’s nevertheless understandable that Curry might not feel safe.

Dreher made an irresponsible decision, and has doubled down on it. That doesn’t make him evil incarnate; it makes him human. I don’t think Dreher said anything false.

The world would be much, much better if people didn’t freak out about these things in any direction. We spend energy that could be spent on feeding the poor, fighting climate change, educating the masses, and creating communities of worth on … this???Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Arthur Greeves
2 years ago

Strong disagree: Academics should freak out about threats to academic freedom and freedom of speech, both because it’s in our collective self-interest and because it’s one of our subjects of expertise. (And Texas A&M’s official response is a lot less than a full-throated defense of its faculty’s speech rights, whatever the safety issues might be.)Report

Arthur Greeves
Arthur Greeves
Reply to  David Wallace
2 years ago

Please note that I didn’t mean to comment on the academic freedom issue. I haven’t followed closely, but I’m guessing the administration isn’t 100% backing Curry’s academic freedom — in that case, the admin is “leaving him out to dry” in one important sense. I meant to be commenting on his personal safety. We academics are not the experts on that, and a person’s subjective sense of fear is not indicative of the danger they are in.Report

JDRox
JDRox
2 years ago

I don’t understand what is going on in this thread, or the other one for that matter. Curry said, “In order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people might have to die”, although he may have not asserted it. But he’s clearly arguing that we should take that claim seriously. And obviously we should, since it’s obviously true! I mean, it’s true in general that to achieve significant social change, some people might have to die. But putting that point in the way Curry puts it is clearly, uh, racially provocative. It was Curry’s choice to put it that way, not Dreher’s. The title of the youtube video Dreher links to is ‘Dr. Tommy Curry on Killing Whites’. The racially provocative angle is clearly being highlighted by Curry and his interviewer. Again, Curry’s point seems obviously *true* to me, at least given that killing in self-defense is permissible: some white people violently attack some black people, so the well-being of black people “might” [I would say obviously does] require some white people to die. Duh. The converse is just as obviously true. But if someone uttered the sentence “In order for whites to be safe, some black people might have to die”, that would be a bizarrely racially provocative (racist?) way of putting this (true) point. Again, it seems like it was Curry’s choice to repeatedly frame his point in the misleading/racially provocative way, and that Dreher just repeated it. Am I missing something?Report

Arthur Greeves
Arthur Greeves
Reply to  JDRox
2 years ago

Dreher changed the audience. Since most of Dreher’s readers are deeply conservative, this change of audience brought attention that Curry hadn’t been looking for. The ethics of such a change in audience are — in my estimation — unclear. But such a change in audience is certainly likely to bring unwelcome aggression. And Dreher probably knew that.Report

William Lewis
William Lewis
2 years ago

Arthur Greeves, please, for our edification, can you list all of the things that are more worthwhile than protecting the safety of Curry and fighting the racially motivated targeting and mobbing of academic speech and speakers with whom we do not agree? All those discussions with C.S. Lewis probably made you an expert in this type of casuistryReport

Arthur Greeves
Arthur Greeves
Reply to  William Lewis
2 years ago

Exaggerate much? I haven’t noticed all the news articles on Curry being mobbed. From what I can tell online, many people are making gross and unfair generalizations about the man, and a few people are threatening him personally. I don’t see why that should be any more of a priority than any other person who is receiving death threats — of which there are tens of thousands. And it certainly shouldn’t be more of a priority than educating the poor, fighting for justice in our inner cities, and ending world hunger.Report

Nick
Nick
2 years ago

In order for white people to be safe, some Black people do die.
In order for white people to feel safe, even when they already are, some Black people do die.
In order for white people to pay low taxes, some Black people do die.
In order for white people to live in McMansions and in white-only neighborhoods, some Black people do die.
In order for white people to have the best healthcare money can buy, some Black people do die.
In order for white people to have cheap hamburgers and low consumer prices generally, some Black people do die.
[etc]

The Joshua Reagans of the world will think this is crazy talk. But if you look at the massive disparities in life outcomes for Black people in the US, especially Black males, is that because Black people are somehow born to die, it’s their pathology, or is it because the structure of American society, which is run by white people and for white people, requires it or at least promotes it? Every one of the statements above is clearly supported by decades of sociological research and other empirical evidence. They can all be true even if, as I believe, most white people are good-intentioned and don’t understand wtf the deal is, and indeed would disavow it if they did, in word at least if not in deed, which for all of us is much harder.

Here is another way to make the point: Clearly, for the cotton plantations to exist, some Black people had to be enslaved. Now look at the structure of the US today: white people cluster together in their own neighborhoods, usually with good schools, while the schools in Black neighborhoods are broke; health care is awesome if you’re rich but very bad if you’re poor, which you are much more likely to be if you are Black; labor law protection for workers is almost non-existent, which hits low-income workers hardest and contributes to high stress, chronic illness, and so on; guns are rampant because typically white 2nd amendment advocates insist you should be able to buy them at the 7-11; Black people are aggressively policed to make sure they stay in their own neighborhoods and don’t change lanes without signalling and don’t do other things that scare white people; social safety net policies are very weak because hey, you can’t have low taxes AND fight communism/be imperial AND help out poor folks too, and they don’t deserve it anyway. In order for that structure to exist, some Black people do die. Lots of Black people do die.

As a secondary point, may I politely call bullshit on this entire thread? The original post was about a philosopher who is moving to a new, presumably better job. It’s a good news story. Moreover, this particular philosopher was the target of some pretty nasty treatment — vicious racist attacks and death threats — and that seems to be part of the motivation for moving. Yet Joshua Reagan rides in and sprawls himself over the entire public space of the conversation, obsessed with focusing on his interpretation of something Curry said in an unscripted conversation quite a few years ago and on how Curry hates whites and presumably wants them dead (not sure if I’m reading JR’s dog-whistles correctly, but it’s something along these lines). Who does this? Who shows up to a nice post about a Black philosopher done good and rages?

I hope Curry is better off in Scotland; some things are too big for Texas.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Nick
2 years ago

This response is so ridiculous I won’t bother engaging most of it, but I’ll answer the question about why I *defended Rod Dreher* in this thread. Justin has smeared Dreher unfairly every time this story comes up, and I decided to push back this time. If Justin had simply kept the story about Curry’s move I wouldn’t have said anything.Report

Nick
Nick
2 years ago

Oh, I forgot the other feel good aspect of the story. Philosopher gets sold out by the president of his university and less than two years later gets to say “Screw you” to that president by landing a high-prestige job and moving on.Report

Oliver Traldi
Oliver Traldi
2 years ago

Whatever the merits of the discussion here, I have to feel it’s a little bit gauche. I’ve never seen anything but a “Congratulations!” on these faculty move/hire posts before, and would hope to be extended the same courtesy myself even by those who disagree bitterly with my philosophical or political views. Congratulations, Dr. Curry.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Oliver Traldi
2 years ago

It’s unfortunate, then, that the initial post included an attack on Rod Dreher. Without it I wouldn’t have felt compelled to defend him here.Report

Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

You will never stop, will you? You felt COMPELLED, no less? Dr. Reagan, Dreher will be thrilled to learn you’ve got his back, but we’ve heard you now.Report

Joshua Reagan
Joshua Reagan
Reply to  Nicolas Delon
2 years ago

I doubt Dreher cares, but persistent, false attacks should be met with persistent rebuttals. So, no, I’ll never quit. I’m glad we’re on the same page about that.Report

Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
Reply to  Joshua Reagan
2 years ago

Kudos for bravely fighting for the TRUTH. Do not quit. Persist.Report

Black Philosopher
Black Philosopher
Reply to  Oliver Traldi
2 years ago

Of course not…because this page is about a senior Black philosopher who has managed in less than ten years to not only achieve full professor at a research 1 institution but now a chair (distinguished professor title) at one of the best institutions in the world. So it should seem natural that white graduate students feel compelled to celebrate their opinion on a Black male philosopher’s career when it is still to be shown whether or not their careers will be productive or even begin. This is a sign of where Philosophy is as a discipline. The context of the debates about armed resistance and revolutionary violence is not up for dispute as a legitimate area of inquiry in many race and ethnic studies fields. There is no need to retry this matter amongst white graduate students without the knowledge or seniority to seriously interrogate such a question.Report

Nick
Nick
2 years ago

Justin, I realise it must be a massive pain moderating comments, and everyone has an opinion on how you can do it better, but may I point out that if everyone on this thread behaved the way Joshua Reagan did, it would be a disaster. He leaps in and insists on responding to every comment, rebutting everyone, etc. I am certain you would not let someone do that in a class you teach or in a talk you’re chairing, so I wonder why it’s okay here. He is claiming for himself something that nobody else claims, that is, the ability and right to take over the thread and make it all about him and his grievance. Or, if that seems too strong, he is at least hellbent, by his own admission, on rebutting anyone who disagrees with him. Discussion forums can’t work like that. Moreover, this last post of his is really over the line, given that it exploits a racist trope that has resulted in the lynching of many Black men. It has also been widely discredited as a claim about Curry, Joshua has already had a chance to register his disagreement, as if anyone cares, and he shouldn’t be given a platform to repeat these libels. Or so I respectfully suggest.Report