Reactions to the NYT article were not long in coming. This one comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the world’s richest civil rights organization. Mark Potok, author of this article, was upset that Molly Worthen, author of the NYT piece, wrote a balanced, critical piece when the SPLC clearly sees the crying obligation for hysterics. The need of the hour is to soak one’s progressive hair in lighter fluid, set a match to it, and run around in tight, little circles.
A professional, Molly Worthen didn’t do this, and so Potok steps forward to fill the gap. And part of this is done by getting certain key facts gummed up. For example, he repeatedly calls our college Saint Andrews, which isn’t the name, and which Molly Worthen didn’t do. And he says that the college treats R.L. Dabney as a foundational Western thinker, right up there with Plato and Aristotle. Really? News to me. So then, Mr. Potok, what classes on Dabney’s thought are taught here? What books of his do we have the students read? Do you know anything about this at all? The NYT had a fact checker call us repeatedly. The last fact checker who ventured onto the premises of the SPLC looking for employment was chased right out again for his logocentrism.
Potok calls the booklet Southern Slavery As It Was a sorry piece of scholarship, I don’t begrudge him that one because it actually was pretty lousy. But I redeemed myself later in the story by writing Black & Tan, which these guys hardly ever want to talk about. But you, gentle reader, can get Black & Tan and read for yourself all about the Southern Slavery booklet in an appendix of that book. And while you are at it, you can check out the cover blurb for Black & Tan by Eugene Genovese, one of America’s premier historians. Actually, these are perilous times so allow me to run the blurb right here.
Potok violates the ninth commandment from hell to breakfast:
Molly Worthen knew enough to distinguish the positions of the college from the misrepresentations of some of the people associated with it. Maybe that’s why she’s writing for the Times and Mr. Potok is writing breathless articles to keep the donors juiced.
An autobiography alert here: Before I was Reformed I had read a bunch of the Reconstructionist stuff on economics, education, politics, and so on. I liked the fact that they seriously sought to bring the principles of the Bible to bear on everything, This was when I was still a conservative evangelical, outside the Reformed orbit, and not really acquainted at all with the heart of Reformed theology. But around this time, one of the first flesh and blood Calvinists I ever met gave me some mainstream Reformed literature critical of the recons — I think to keep me from being too influenced by them. That man was Dr. Roy Atwood, currently the president of NSA and a good friend. But I also had my own troubles with the recons, and so I was attracted to the biblical worldview series of books (edited by Marvin Olasky) precisely because those books had the strengths of the recons (apply the Bible to everything) without some of the glaring weaknesses. That was how I came to write the book on education for the Turning Point series — Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning.
Now I write all this for those reasonable souls who are ready and willing to look at the facts, and one of those facts is that Potok knows not whereof he speaks. I do not expect to persuade Potok with these references because, according to his employer, everybody to the right of Hillary is a screaming Ku Kluxer, and I am afraid that would even include a Christian gentleman like Marvin Olasky.
You turn to wife. “Olasky. He’s with World magazine. We get World, don’t we?” Yeah, because you’re a Nazi too.