Written by: James Doyle
As many of you have probably seen, there has been recent controversy over a video released portraying President Barack Obama as a young law student at Harvard. In the video, the President is introducing late Harvard law professor Derrick Bell at a public demonstration. Bell was an accomplished legal scholar, noted mostly for his work in critical race theory. To some, he was a “radical” in the field. Now some theorists are suggesting that the video is evidence of President Obama endorsing Bell’s radical ideological beliefs.
Late conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, who released the video, promised that it would change the outcome of the impending election. I would argue otherwise. Closely scrutinizing the video, there is no evidence that Obama is endorsing Bell’s views or beliefs. He is simply giving praise to a professor that he had a close relationship with in law school. The fact that Obama states in the video “open up your hearts and your minds to the words of Professor Derrick Bell”” does not mean he is suggesting we embrace the man’s views. It means that we should consider the man’s views. In human society, truth is to be sought from a free marketplace of ideas. Every individual does not only have the opportunity to voice their own opinion, but is obligated to. Otherwise, society could not properly evolve.
Personally speaking, there are plenty of professors here at Widener, that given the chance, I would introduce at a public demonstration myself. The reason being that I have great respect for many of the professors here. It is not because I share every ideological belief that the particular professor may have. Bell, the first tenured African-American law professor in Harvard history, was clearly a brilliant man who accomplished much in his lifetime. Obama undoubtedly had the utmost respect for him, and therefore is introducing him at the demonstration. Nothing more. Let’s not draw conclusions by assuming too many facts. So I ask, how could this video possibly change the outcome of the election? Thoughts?
CNN Article Link: http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/09/election/2012/derrick-bell-profile/
The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.