Suppose you are a black student at the University of Princeton - one who, unlike Michelle Obama, got in on merit rather than "affirmative action". You would be angry, would you not, at those affirmative action policies that admit black mediocrities, and exclude more gifted white or Asian sparring partners, against whom your achievement could justly be measured? And would you not be furious at the rise and rise of "University Professor" Cornel West?
I hadn't heard of Cornel West until I watched, with horror, this YouTube clip, in which he talks - and I use the word loosely - about some mindless hip hop project. The sycophancy of the introduction - Heaven, and Harvard, cannot hold Him - the fulsome praise West and his host give each other just for being "brothers", the mangled English, the shrieks, the noise, my dear, and the people - are beyond parody.
Brother - sorry, Professor - West can barely string a sentence together. He is a caricature of a black man. You half expect him to break out into "Old Man River"; this would be an improvement, musically speaking, on the hip hop project. Were I a black student at Princeton - a proper student, not an affirmative action beneficiary - I would be acutely embarrassed. I would also be angry at the patronising message West's appointment sends, namely: he's good enough for a black professor, and you can't expect a black professor to be as good as a white professor, any more than you can expect a dog to walk proficiently on its hind legs.
West has been indulged, as you would indulge a child or a pet, not an equal, of whom you expect better. This is racism red in tooth and claw, the black heart of racism, as Will Cummins might say, not its black face.
The phrase "soft racism of low expectations" is well worn, but none the worse for wear. Is Princeton racist? What do you think?