Fox News is raising alarm bells over an Arizona college course that studies whiteness.
The network’s “Fox and Friends” show ran a segment Friday titled “Trouble with Schools,” criticizing an Arizona State University course called “U.S. Race Theory & the Problem of Whiteness,” portraying it as an attack on white people. The professor of the course, Lee Bebout, is white.
"Fox and Friends" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who has not sat in on the course and was unable to reach the professor for comment, referred to it as “quite unfair, and wrong, and pointed.”
Hasselbeck based her comments on criticisms leveled by ASU student Lauren Clark, who objects to the course’s books, including Richard Delgado’s Critical Race Theory and Jane Hill’s The Everyday Language of White Racism.
“All of these books have a disturbing trend and that’s pointing to white people as a root cause of social injustices for this country,” Clark told Hasselbeck on the segment, adding that such a course “causes more problems than solutions.” Clark is not herself enrolled in the class.
Delgado’s Critical Race Theory is commonly read and taught by academics who study race. Hill's work exploring the language of racism among whites, first published in 2008, has been positively reviewed in several scholarly journals.
"Jane H. Hill has made a significant contribution to the scholarship of antiracist literature by describing how White racism is reproduced in everyday language in ways that are made to appear natural and normal," University of Regina professor Carol Schick wrote in a book review for the Journal of American Ethnic History in 2008.
Bebout told the The Arizona Republic that he’d been stressed out after receiving a flurry of hateful emails following the Fox News segment. Neither Bebout nor Clark responded to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.
The university, however, issued a statement Friday after the segment, reading:
This course uses literature and rhetoric to look at how stories shape people's understandings and experiences of race. It encourages students to examine how people talk about -- or avoid talking about -- race in the contemporary United States. This is an interdisciplinary course, so students will draw on history, literature, speeches and cultural changes -- from scholarly texts to humor. The class is designed to empower students to confront the difficult and often thorny issues that surround us today and reach thoughtful conclusions rather than display gut reactions. A university is an academic environment where we discuss and debate a wide array of viewpoints.
Tensions over how to teach race have erupted repeatedly in Arizona in recent years.
The state legislature passed a law in 2010 to restrict the teaching of ethnic studies, arguing that a Mexican-American studies curriculum in the Tucson public schools had bred resentment against whites.
A state-commissioned audit published in 2011 said the Tucson courses fostered critical thinking and recommended expanding them, while independent researchers found the courses raised student achievement on state tests and boosted the graduation rate in the majority-Latino school district.
State officials nevertheless declared the courses illegal and the local school board discontinued them in January 2012 in order to avoid losing state funding.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently heard oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by former students of the Mexican-American studies courses that seeks to overturn the law.
Watch the Fox News segment in the video above.