Professor Wilfred Reilly and Author of Taboo: 10 Things You Can’t Talk About, Discusses His Career and Contribution to Red White and Black

Professor Wilfred Reilly and Author of Taboo: 10 Things You Can’t Talk About, Discusses His Career and Contribution to Red White and Black

 

Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Professor Wilfred Reilly from Kentucky State University to the newsmakers line to highlight some chapters of his book Taboo and his contribution to the bestseller Red, White, and Black.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome on our newsmaker line, Professor Wilfred Reilley of Kentucky State University and author of a great book, Taboo: 10 Facts You Can’t Talk About. Welcome Professor Reilley.

Reilly: Oh, thanks for having me. Good to be here.

Leahy: Your name keeps coming up because you also were a contributor to the book Red White and Black. You’ve got a couple of chapters in that book. We talked earlier today with Bob Woodson about that. And that book is published by the Emancipation imprint of Post Hill Press. You are prolific, Professor Reilly.

Reilly: Well, yes. I mean, as an academic, I try to write as often as possible, and I think this was an important topic to write about. Bob Woodson, obviously, is one of the organizers for 1776 Unites, which is kind of the Black business and social science community’s response to The New York Times 1619 Project, which, frankly, just got a lot of things wrong.

And there was a collection of essays that was put together as part of the launch of 1776. I wrote one about the positive side, essentially, of American history. I mean, obviously, we’ve reframed this including some of my ancestors.

We beat the Nazis. So it’s important to remember that. And when Bob called and asked if I would be willing to have that essay and another one included in this book, Red, White and Black, I said, yeah, of course, I’d be honored. And I will say that book, when it dropped, was number one in the world.

We’re definitely tracking it against, say, Ibram Kendi’s project or the book from 1619. And, of course, all the other volumes out there. But I’m glad to see it’s doing well. And it’s still out there right now. It’s available on Amazon and pretty much anywhere else you might buy a book.

Leahy: Yeah, it’s got very good ratings on Amazon.com. Your personal history is fascinating to me. You have a Ph.D. in political science, I guess, from Southern Illinois, and a law degree from the University of Illinois. Why did you decide to become a University Professor instead of a practitioner of law?

Reilly: Well, I’ve done a bunch of different things. I’ve also been a coach, although briefly. I worked in the sales and trading floor environment, which is probably the setting, honestly, where I’ve been the most financially compensated, even including training in the law and so on down the line.

But I wanted to teach. I enjoy academia, at least leaving aside politics. And so we’re not especially severe in my school, but I like teaching kids. I actually teach in a historically Black college that’s located in Appalachia.

So there’s a good chance to genuinely help people and a lot of those other things. I graduated from law school when I was 22, and I actually was very glad to get an acceptance or get an offer from grad school.

So I didn’t have to immediately move into some intense legal field, white-collar criminal prosecution, or something like that at that age. And most of the other things that I did, I was a canvas manager, as I said of working on those sales and trading floors.

I did those while I was going for the Ph.D. because I don’t like the taste of Ramen noodles all that much. (Leahy chuckles) You’re generally expected to teach. It’s not a bad job in and of itself, and that’s what I ended up doing.

I went out on the job market and I was lucky enough to get four or five different offers and ended up accepting one in the state university system in Kentucky. I may take the bar in Kentucky so that I’m available as a practicing attorney, but I don’t think that’s going to be my focus for at least the next decade or so.

Leahy: So the other book from 2020, Taboo: 10 Facts You Can’t Talk About, what are some of those facts and why can’t you talk about them?

Reilly: Most of the time the book looks at sort of cancel culture, which is this idea that there are all these things that everyone knows that you’re not supposed to say. So I just break them down going through these chapters that white privilege, this is one of the facts that are almost meaningless in the univariate, since there are a ton of things what your ‘social class’ is, how attractive you are, and is your father present, and if you’re under 25, that predicts where you’re going to go in life much more than your race.

The opening chapter of the book is just called The Police Aren’t Massively Murdering Black People, and it breaks down some of the things Black Lives Matter, as the movement says, and compares them with reality.

In the most recent year on record, the total number of unarmed brothers, unarmed Black men shot by police officers was 18. The average person who leans left politically, by the way, thinks it’s between 1,000 and 10,000.

That’s a major study from the Skeptic Research Center. So I found out that this just isn’t true. We all oppose police brutality, but the movement is based on simple dishonesty, to say the least.

There’s a chapter that looks at the actual rates of interracial crime, violent interracial crimes are incredibly low. The person most likely to kill you is your ex-wife. About three percent of crime. But when it does occur that’s actually about minority on white. There are all these different taboo topics. Why immigration should probably be merit-based.

There’s a chapter on IQ. There’s a chapter taking down the alt-right and looking at some of the things the right gets wrong. So the whole idea of the book is to give people ammunition in the sense of what are the actual facts around these public debates people keep screaming about.

Is what, for example, Mr. Cuomo is saying on television, is that accurate point by point? Very often we find out it’s not. And again, that’s a book that did pretty well, because I think a lot of people wanted to see. And it’s written from a center-right perspective, but fairly unbiased.

I think a lot of people wanted to see what is the actual data around all these issues that I’m told we can’t discuss. Where I’m told I just have to kind of listen sympathetically. Are the people doing the talking being honest? No.

Leahy: Professor Wilfred Riley, Kentucky State University, here’s my question for you. How is it that you developed the intellectual courage to talk about these things? What is it that gives you the ability to talk about them? And what kind of pushback do you get?

Reilly: I think the question itself is interesting. One of the things for me, I often jokingly say men’s events and so on. And I grew up in real America. That’s kind of accurate. I grew up in a blue-collar Black-Irish-Italian neighborhood in Chicago and moved to a similar neighborhood in Aurora.

I know that I have other employable skills, jokes aside. Going back to blue-collar but skills I picked up as a young man. I lived a fairly normal less. As you mentioned, I went to law school before grad school and so on.

So when I entered the academic exchange of ideas, I did so as a taxpaying citizen. I’d already worked for good pay. I was kind of a center-right politically. I was an adult. I got to hear some of these things that I think many people heard at age 17 or 18 and think about them logically.

And a lot of them struck me as kind of nonsensical and left the idea that your race matters more than whether you’re born rich or poor. That I remember being something I found just an idiotic idea.

And I kept asking for proof of that. Has anyone tested that? There are a bunch of potential docs here. Has anyone gone out in the field and looked at that? I think that that was my approach. And as I said, one of the chapters in the book looks at some of the alt-rights claims as well that diverse societies don’t work.

My one line here we’ll go back to ancient Rome they do 98 percent of often non-diverse societies. A lot of the things people say, picking up those methodological, as they’re called skills from academia later in life struck me as being very poorly defended.

Another one from the left, the concept of white fragility. This is Robin DiAngelo. White people get very angry and defensive if you criticize them about bad things white people have done like engage in racism.

I don’t think that’s a white thing. I think that’s universal. If you were to accuse a bunch of Latinos, for example, to bring up high rates of illegal immigration in the Latino community. Or if you were to criticize a bunch of Black people unprovoked about lower SAT scores or something, you’d get some anger and some yelling.

A lot of this didn’t strike me as based on reality and I think I was able to see that because I came to it a bit later in life from a fairly stable position. And I think that’s true of a lot of very original thinkers.

Thomas Sowell was a sharpshooting instructor in the Marines before he went to college. And he initially went almost as a joke. But he turned out to be one of the brightest students. And he went from Howard which is a top school to Harvard which is probably the best in the country.

And so he came out as the sort of very well-formed, veteran, conservative academic. So again, we need to diversify the universities in a real sense, ideologically and some. But that’s where I came from.

Leahy: Does the fact that you teach at Kentucky State University, a historically Black college rather than an Ivy League school, give you more freedom to express your views?

Reilly: Probably it does. One of the things that someone said jokingly during a KSU golf event about a year and a half back was if everyone’s a well-off Black guy, it’s hard to feel too much white guilt.

And that is a humorous comment. But it’s also true. I think, where you see the most hysterical restrictions of speech, this sort of thing, that doesn’t tend to be the great Black schools like KSU or Centre or Morehouse.

It doesn’t seem to be the military sort of institutions, Texas A&M or the Citadel, any of the place, the community colleges, the places that draw from just sort of normal American citizens. It tends to very specific, sort of upper-middle-class, almost entirely white institutions without criticizing these. The schools in Portland and Portland State or Evergreen obviously, I become internationally famous and the Claremont Colleges.

So I think that that idea of guilt or that my ancestors descend or something like that, you don’t see very much at an HBCU where most of the professors are going to be Black. So you’re going to have Black Republicans and Black businessmen, and so on down the line.

I think it’s assumed that even your white colleagues obviously wouldn’t be racial bigots, so they wouldn’t be teaching at a Black school. So, yes, that probably helps a little bit. It’s hard to call me a Nazi.

Leahy: (Chuckles) Professor Wilfred Reilly, author of Taboo: 10 Facts You Can’t Talk About. Come on down to our studio here. We’re not too far away. Frankfurt, Kentucky, down to Nashville. Not too far. Come on in-studio someday and talk with us then.

Reilly: Sure. I’ll definitely get in touch when I’m in Nashville.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Wilfred Reilly” by Wilfred Reilly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Network of Enlightened Women’s University of Florida Co-President Ophelie Jacobson Talks About Her Recent Op-Ed and Being a Conservative on College Campus

Network of Enlightened Women’s University of Florida Co-President Ophelie Jacobson Talks About Her Recent Op-Ed and Being a Conservative on College Campus

 

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed the Co-President of the (NeW) Network of Enlightened Women at the University of Florida, Ophelie Jacobson to the newsmakers line to discuss her recent op-ed on cancel culture and being a conservative student in college today.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by Ophelie Jacobson. She’s a University of Florida sophomore studying journalism and political science. She’s co-president of the Network of Enlightened Women chapter at the University of Florida.

She penned an op-ed that was first published at the Sarasota Herald Tribune. That’s a Gateway-Gannett publication in Sarasota on March 7. The title is, Can We Just Cancel the Cancel Culture? Good morning over Ophelie.

Jacobson: Good morning. Thank you so much for having me on.

Leahy: Are you in Gainesville today or are you at home?

Jacobson: I’m currently at home in Orlando, Florida.

Leahy: Do you go back to classes in the fall and will they be regular? Will you have to wear masks and will you be in dorms?

Jacobson: So I attend the University of Florida. I’ll be back in person. I was in person for the past year, actually staying in a dorm for my sophomore year. A lot of my classes were online over Zoom, but just recently, actually, on Monday, the university sent out an email saying that masks will not be required on campus for those who are vaccinated, and they’ll be strongly suggested for those who are not vaccinated yet. I’m really excited to see a return to normal on campus in the fall.

Leahy: How weird is it to go to college and do most stuff online and have to wear these dopey masks? What was that year like for you?

Jacobson: It’s definitely different. It definitely has its ups and downs. But with online classes you can wake up 10 minutes before your class, roll out of bed and hop on Zoom. But with in person classes you have to get up, get ready.

But I’m really looking forward to going back to in-person classes because you really get that connection with your professors, with your fellow peers, and students. And you’re also able to concentrate more when you’re in a classroom setting rather than just staring at your computer for hours on end.

Leahy: Let me read the first few lines of your op-ed. It was excellent by the way.

Jacobson: Thank you.

Leahy: Florida State University removed a statue of Francis Epps VII, the former Mayor of Tallahassee and grandson of Thomas Jefferson. Protesters in Chicago tried to tear down a statue of Christopher Columbus. A statue of President George Washington was vandalized and knocked down by seven people in Los Angeles. All of this during the year 2020 alone. What was their sin?

Jacobson: I think their sin was definitely the cancellation of America. Cancel culture, as we’ve seen in the past year, it ceased to destroy a person or a company’s image based solely on personal disagreement. So I would argue in the year 2020 alone, we saw a direct attack on America and American history.

And so the canceling of America is very concerning in our country because if we’re not able to have statues that just simply represent our past as a nation, that yes maybe it has negative parts in American history, but it’s our history nonetheless.

And we should be upholding those basic principles of our history in order to teach our future generations. If you just think about what we’re going to teach the next generation of leaders, they’re not going to have anything to base their history off of if they walk down the street and all the statues are torn down.

Leahy: I learned something from your piece about this fellow, Francis Epps VII. He was a grandson of Thomas Jefferson, born in Monticello and moved down to Tallahassee when he was, I don’t know, 27, 28. A young man when there wasn’t much there in Tallahassee.

Turns out he was a slave owner. But also he donated the buildings and land upon which Florida State University was built. Did they have a list of his sins when they removed his statue? What was the controversy in Tallahassee surrounding that?

Jacobson: The main controversy was that he was a slave owner. And that, for them, that was enough. They said, “We have a long history of addressing difficult racism and inclusion issues on this campus and we know there is so much work to do as the nation faces great unrest and an urgent call for change. We as a University will continue to listen, learn, and evolve.”

And that was said by President John Thrasher of FSU. So that was one of their ways, I guess, of evolving in the wake of everything that was happening in 2020 was to remove this statue, which is unfortunate because like you said, he donated a lot to the University.

I think the students at the University owe him a lot as well for studying there and for using the buildings that he donated. It’s unfortunate to see that just because he was a slave owner in the past, that’s enough for him to get canceled and for a statue to be torn down.

And we saw that again, as I mentioned with Christopher Columbus, President George Washington. It’s super sad to see the cancellation of tangible reminders of those aspects of American history, which, according to these people, are deemed offensive and derogatory.

And by doing that, we actually cancel the opportunity for like I mentioned, future generations to learn about our country and to learn from our past. People always say history repeats itself. How are we supposed to learn from our past if we cancel all tangible reminders of it? And we can’t really learn from our past in order to prevent history from repeating itself in the future.

Leahy: Did you go to attend public schools in Orlando before you went to the University of Florida?

Jacobson: I was actually born in Boston. I attended some public schools there. I lived in San Diego, California, for nine years. I attended some public schools there. And in my last two years of high school, were in Melbourne, Florida.

Leahy: How was American history taught in these public schools that you attended?

Jacobson: For the most part, American history was pretty basic. We learned a wide variety of topics. Everything from the Civil War up until the late 20th century. I think it was pretty basic. But now what we’re seeing with critical race theory, the 1619 Project is a direct attack on our American history.

And again, every single country has its flaws but that doesn’t mean we should exclude that from the history that is taught in classrooms.

Leahy: You’re finishing your second year at the University of Florida. A beautiful campus, by the way, I’ve been down there. I like the University of Florida. When you get to be there I’m sure you’re enjoying the campus there, I would imagine.

Jacobson: Yes, it’s beautiful.

Leahy: What’s it like being a traditional American who likes to study American history? What’s it like at the University of Florida with your peers and the professors there over the past? What has your experience been?

Jacobson: It’s definitely a challenge that has its ups and downs. Being a journalism student as well definitely has its personal challenges. Just last year, I was in a reporting class, and I had a Professor and one of the first assignments that we had to do was to write a profile story about ourselves, our goals and aspirations, and what we wanted to do in the future.

And in that profile story, I’d mentioned that I want to work at a conservative media organization such as One American News or Newsmax. And two days after I submitted the assignment, I got a lengthy email from the professor criticizing my career goals and saying that OANN was fake news. I shouldn’t aspire to work there.

And it was really disheartening to see. Normally, you see professors attack students for their political beliefs. But for a professor to attack my career goals, that was something that I’d never really experienced. I found myself I wasn’t defending my political belief at that moment, I was just defending again my career goals.

But because those goals happened to relate to conservative media outlets, I was automatically targeted. So what I did was I compiled a list of lawsuits that CNN and MSNBC have faced. And I sent that back to him. And I said, if we want to talk about fake news, let’s talk about CNN. Let’s talk about MSNBC.

And so he sent me an email back saying that oh actually, you’re a great journalist now, and I’m looking forward to seeing your work. (Leahy chuckles) And the rest of the semester, I worked really hard to prove him wrong. I gave 100 percent of my all my assignments, so he didn’t have anything to dock me for simply for being a conservative.

This is just one of the many examples. I know I’m not alone. A lot of the girls in our organization have shared similar experiences. So it’s just really unfortunate to see that Conservatives are being targeted on our campuses.

Leahy: What grade you get in that class?

Jacobson: I got over 100 percent. (Chuckles)

Leahy: Well, very good. He was biased, to begin with, but at least you showed him through fact and hard work, and they couldn’t give you a bad grade.

Jacobson: Exactly.

Leahy: I like that. When we come back, I want to talk a little bit more about what’s going on on campuses. Critical race theory and what it’s like to be a conservative in college today.

Listen to the full first hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Ophelie Jacobson” by Ophelie Jacobson. Background Photo “Florida Campus” by WillMcC. CC BY-SA 3.0.