Sunday, November 19, 2017

Is an allegation of "racism" debatable?

Recently, while considering the use and abuse of the word "racism," I was reminded of an episode that occurred while teaching constitutional law at Brooklyn Law School. For over 20 years I eviscerated the Supreme Court Heart of Atlanta and McClung cases, tying most of my students who agreed with the Court in logical knots and exposing the result-oriented, dishonest, and indefensible majority opinion. Not surprisingly, some of those students felt themselves aggrieved. Paraphrasing today's vernacular, they considered my deconstruction of the majority opinion worse than a mere "micro-aggression"! As I recall, they considered it no what today would be called a "macro-aggression"-- and worse, in a "safe space" no less, the hallowed halls of academe. (In those days, there was no First Amendment roped-off area across the street).

One semester, soon after a two-hour class devoted to the cases, I received an invitation to visit the Dean. After the requisite small-talk, the following colloquy occurred:

Dean: I've had a group of your con law students in here complaining that you're a racist.
I stared at him, dead silent.
At least fifteen seconds passed.
Dean: Well?
Holzer: Well what?
Dean: Well, what about what they said?
More silence.
Dean: Well, don't you have anything to say?
Holzer: No.
Dean: No?
Holzer: No.
Dean: If someone called me a racist, I'd sure want to deny it.
Holzer: No doubt.
More silence, longer this time.
Dean: So you're not going to deny it?
Holzer: Deny it? I'm not even going to acknowledge it.
Dean: What?
More silence.
Dean: Well, I guess that's it.
Holzer: Yes.
I stood up and left.

He never mentioned the subject again.

For those with the stamina to read my excoriation of the Heart of Atlanta and McClung cases, please see

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