Down a black hole

The great Heather Mac Donald is not much given to humor in her documentation of the war on police or the derangement that pervades issues of race and gender on the left. However, her City Journal column “Down a black hole” takes us around a bend into a corner of the Twilight Zone that verges on the humorous:

Physicists at MIT and SUNY Stony Brook recently announced findings that the total surface area of two black holes was maintained after the two entities merged. While this research was a welcome confirmation of both Stephen Hawking’s work and the theory of general relativity, it failed to address a crucial matter: what were its racial implications?

That is a lacuna that an astronomy course at Cornell University aims to prevent. “Black Holes: Race and the Cosmos” asks the question, “Is there a connection between the cosmos and the idea of racial blackness?” Anyone familiar with academia’s racial monomania knows the answer: of course there is! Though “conventional wisdom,” according to the catalog description of “Black Holes: Race and the Cosmos,” holds that the “‘black’ in black holes has nothing to do with race,” astronomy professor Nicholas Battaglia and comparative literature professor Parisa Vaziri know better.

The late, great Sun Ra makes a cameo appearance in the column. I had the good fortune of seeing Mr. Ra perform live with his Arkestra at Duffy’s in Minneapolis in 1981.

As always, Heather has a serious point. She concludes on this somber note:

Seeing specters of racism everywhere, the racial avengers are tearing down every institution associated with Western civilization, simply because of its “whiteness.” Science had stood as a guard against such metaphorical, magical thinking. Bit by bit, it is succumbing.

Whole thing here.

STEVE adds: This is one of those stories where Stan Evans’s First Law of Insufficient Paranoia kicks in (“No matter how bad you think things are, when you look closer, you find out it’s even worse than you thought”). I looked up the actual course description in the Cornell course catalogue. Here it is in full:

Conventional wisdom would have it that the “black” in black holes has nothing to do with race. Surely there can be no connection between the cosmos and the idea of racial blackness. Can there? Contemporary Black Studies theorists, artists, fiction writers implicitly and explicitly posit just such a connection. Theorists use astronomy concepts like “black holes” and “event horizons” to interpret the history of race in creative ways, while artists and musicians conjure blackness through cosmological themes and images. Co-taught by professors in Comparative Literature and Astronomy, this course will introduce students to the fundamentals of astronomy concepts through readings in Black Studies. Texts may include works by theorists like Michelle Wright and Denise Ferreira da Silva, authors like Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson, music by Sun Ra, Outkast and Janelle Monáe. Astronomy concepts will include the electromagnetic spectrum, stellar evolution, and general relativity.

One of the two faculty teaching the course is a junior member with a degree in astronomy and a few conventional scientific publications under his belt. The co-instructor, Prof. Parisa Vaziri, has a degree in comparative literature, with a short string of publications including “Windridden: On the Nonvalue of Nonidentification,” and a journal called Liquid Blackness, and “Blackness and the Metaethics of the Object,” in Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge. No, I had not heard of these journals either. She was hired through a recent Cornell “radical collaborations initiative,” so I guess you can say it lived up to its billing. Draw your own conclusions from here.

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