Quillette Podcast 29 – Coleman Hughes on an allegedly racist incident at Barnard College

Jonathan Kay talks to Coleman Hughes about his latest Quillette article, which concerns an allegedly racist incident at Barnard College. Coleman, who is an undergraduate at Columbia, doesn’t think the Barnard employees involved are guilty of racism.


  1. A B says

    I have to disagree with this defense of Alexander McNab:
    “[Alexander McNab] is very much a writer in the anti-racist mode. He has written [of] multiple experiences about being profiled in the past, about his trials and tribulations as a black man in America…”

    This one closely examined incident exposes McNab as having a terribly warped and paranoid perception of the world around him — and that’s assuming that he’s being honest about his feelings. Rather than give him credit for writing about his trials and tribulations and history of being profiled, the natural next step is question the validity and integrity of McNab’s earlier writings.

    • OleK says

      I don’t see how those two sentences are a “defense” to be disagreed with. They look to simply be a descriptor of McNabb. He could be genuine or disingenuous in his experience/writings, but also have a warped and paranoid perception as you say.

      • A B says

        Perhaps I should have included some previous statements, but if you listen to the podcast, Coleman Hughes is quite plainly using Alexander McNab’s history to defend his character. The discussion is somewhere around the five minute mark.

        • OleK says

          AB, I did both – read Hughes’ article “Cowardice at Columbia” and listened to the podcast. I think Hughes explained himself well. Yes, I think McNabb is likely a race huckster in the mold of Coates/Sharpton/Jesse Jackson/Michael Eric Dyson, but I don’t think he really let McNabb off the hook. He explained his reticence to Kay to completely condemn McNabb and it’s not Hughes MO to do so anyways. He is deliberately nuanced for many reasons.

          • A B says

            Fair enough. I can accept it’s not Hughes’ MO. I’m not faulting Hughes. I’m simply pointing out something that Hughes – perhaps out of generosity – did not point out.

  2. Itzik Basman says

    Good interview. Really intelligent, well formulated questions and Hughes is impressive orally just as he is in his writing. My only quibble is his too easily letting McNab too much off the hook. His shifting stories, his refusal to back down from them and in that his indifference to what the security guards are going through all add up to a bad picture of him in this instance. Noting that his original reflex was likely genuine as opposed to what Smollett cynically trumped up is a fair distinction but that’s about the best that can be said for McNab here.

    • Greg Wong says

      From listening to his other talks, I find Hughes tries his best to practice steelmanning. As observers, our bullshit detector lights up (probably so does Hughes’) when we hear accounts of McNab’s history. But as a public intellectual, Hughes gives the other side a full benefit of the doubt, in order to further strengthen his own arguments.

  3. Mary Hudson says

    What I haven’t heard in the conversations about this incident is asking why McNab didn’t follow the rules and show his ID when routinely asked to do so. As I once said to a disruptive student, “Did it ever occur to you that one might object to your behavior, not to the color of your skin?”

  4. GAAAAAH says

    If a podcast is claimed in the woods
    And there is no RSS subscription link around to subscribe to
    Is it really a podcast?

    • T.C. says

      totally, totally, totally agree; that a podcast that only gives me the choice of registering at SoundCloud and listening to it, or registering at stitcher to listen to it, or registering at TuneIn radio to listen to it,or registering at iTunes to listen to it, is really being rather obnoxious.

      just put up an RSS feed, so that those of us with podcast apps can use it without having to register and be tracked by one of many countless sites whose only purpose is the tracking

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