March 7, 2012


In the video released by BuzzFeed today, President Obama — then President of the Harvard Law Review — speaks on behalf of now deceased Professor Derrick Bell, formerly of Harvard Law School. But who is Bell, and what did he stand for? We went digging, and you might be shocked at what we found.
Derrick Bell, Obamas Harvard Professor, Believed Racism Was Integral to American Society
Prof. Derrick Bell
First, ABC News gives some context to the video:
Bell was the first black professor to sit on the law school faculty. As David Remnick wrote in his Obama biography “The Bridge,”  “Derrick Bell was, in Barack Obama’s time, the most vivid symbol of racial politics at Harvard Law School…In 1962, Bell helped James Meredith win admittance to the University of Mississippi…”
In the 1960s, Bell spent years trying to make the leap from a civil rights attorney to an academic, but he was never deemed good enough for tenure, until after Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated and law schools began taking action to change the composition of their all-white faculties. The dean of Harvard Law School promised Bell, “You’ll be the first, but not the last.” But after two years on the faculty, he was still the only African-American, so Bell threatened to resign. As Remnick writes, “For the next two decades he repeatedly threatened to resign in order to get Harvard to hire more African-American men and, eventually, women. ‘My life,’ Bell said, ‘is a living manifestation of taking no shit.’”[...]
By Obama’s second year at Harvard Law School, there were five African-American men on the Harvard Law School faculty, but no African-American women. After a black visiting professor from the University of Pennsylvania named Regina Austin was denied tenure, Bell again threatened to leave the school. He began a hunger strike. Some students began to rally around him. Classmates were curious as to how Obama would react. He was considered liberal, but not a leader, when it came to political controversies, or racial ones.
Watch the video here:
That brings us to who Derrick Bell was, and what made him such a “vivid symbol of racial politics.” A quick search of Law Review articles reveals a troubling story. Namely, that Derrick Bell‘s perspective on the law was eerily similar to Jeremiah Wright’s perspective on God and His relationship to America.
Among his other distinctions, Bell is one of the main figures in a school of thought known as “Critical Legal Studies,” or CLS, as it’s known in legal academic circles. That is, as in the critical theory of the Frankfurt School applied to the law. Bell’s particular branch of CLS — the one dealing with race – flows from a type of thinking Bell called “racial realism” in an article published in the Connecticut Law Review right around the time that Obama was protesting in favor of his cause. Because the article is only available to subscribers (we paid for access), we can only provide screenshots of relevant paragraphs in Bell’s writing.
So what was racial realism? Bell explains:
Derrick Bell Legal Realism
Bell’s usage of the word “liberal” here is deceptive — he is not talking about modern liberalism, but instead about classical liberalism, a philosophy associated with John Locke, John Stuart Mill and even the Founding Fathers. And lest this is unclear from the above quote, consider this set of remarks further on in the same article:
Derrick Bell, Obamas Harvard Professor, Believed Racism Was Integral to American Society
In other words, Bell could care less what the law actually says — as far as he’s concerned, that’s irrelevant. What matters is making sure the right legal results are achieved. In a book published just a year after Obama’s protest, Bell talks about his outsized pleasure at getting a black cab driver in New York:
I noted with some satisfaction that my driver was black. In New York, as elsewhere, it has begun to seem that blacks, particularly black men, who lack at least two college degrees, are not hired in any position above the most menial.
Bell also makes the following claim right at the start of the book:
Racism is an integral, permanent and indestructible component of this society.
However, along with Bell’s career as a legal academic, he also wrote a famously disturbing science fiction story titled “The Space Traders.” io9 summarized the plot as follows:
In “The Space Traders,“ aliens arrive and offer the United States ”enough gold to retire the national debt, a magic chemical that will cleanse America’s polluted skies and waters, and a limitless source of safe energy to replace our dwindling reserves.” The U.S. just has to give the aliens one thing in return: all of our black people. (Guess what white Americans decide?)
We’ll save you the suspense of finding out what they decide by quoting the relevant passage from Bell’s story (emphasis added):
But whites, long conditioned to discounting any statements of blacks unconfirmed by other whites, chose now, of course, to follow their own perceptions. “Will the blacks never be free of their silly superstitions?” whites asked one another with condescending smiles. “Here, in this truly historic moment, when America has been selected as the site for this planet’s first contact with people from another world, the blacks just revert to their primitive fear and foolishness.” Thus, the blacks’ outrage was discounted in this crisis; they had, as usual, no credibility.
And it was a time of crisis. Not only because of the Space Traders’ offer per se, but because that offer came when the country was in dire straits. Decades of conservative, laissez-faire capitalism had emptied the coffers of all but a few of the very rich. The nation that had, in the quarter-century after the Second World War, funded the reconstruction of the free world had, in the next quarter-century, given itself over to greed and willful exploitation of its natural resources. Now it was struggling to survive like any third-world nation. Massive debt had curtailed all but the most necessary services. The environment was in shambles, as reflected by the fact that the sick and elderly had to wear special masks whenever they ventured out-of-doors. In addition, supplies of crude oil and coal were almost exhausted. The Space Traders’ offer had come just in time to rescue America. Though few gave voice to their thoughts, many were thinking that the trade offer was, indeed, the ultimate solution to the nation’s troubles.[...]
17 January. The last Martin Luther King holiday the nation would ever observe dawned on an extraordinary sight. In the night, the Space Traders had drawn their strange ships right up to the beaches and discharged their cargoes of gold, minerals, and machinery, leaving vast empty holds. Crowded on the beaches were inductees, some twenty million silent black men, women, and children, including babes in arms. As the sun rose, the Space Traders directed them, first, to strip off all but a single undergarment; then, to line up; and finally, to enter those holds which yawned in the morning light like Milton’s “darkness visible.” The inductees looked fearfully behind them. But, on the dunes above the beaches, guns at the ready, stood U.S. guards. There was no escape, no alternative. Heads bowed, arms now linked by slender chains, black people left the New World as their forebears had arrived.
HBO filmed a version of this disturbing story, which can be viewed in the following three videos (aspublished on
And what of Regina Austin, the professor whose denial of tenure Bell was protesting? She appears to now work for the University of Pennsylvania, has donated to Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign, and teaches students to use documentary filmmaking techniques on behalf of “social justice.” We’ll let her define what exactly that means in her own words:
This is but a sample of Bell’s writings, which The Blaze will be reviewing more comprehensively as the week goes on.
However, as to whether Obama really subscribed to the philosophy of Bell, right now the issue is less clear-cut. A 2007 article from “Rolling Stone” mentions the Bell protests, but also includes the following:
Although hip-hop was stirring the campus, friends say that Obama was not the type to stay out late at rap shows. In 1990, when Harvard law professor Derrick Bell resigned to protest the denial of tenure to Black visiting professor Regina Austin and progressive law students organized a national protest over faculty diversity, Obama played a background role.
“He was supportive, and spoke at a few rallies, but he didn’t really have time,” says Bernard, an organizer of the protest. “The image I have is him being on the way to the Law Review building, chain-smoking and joining us for a few minutes before he had to go.”
A book titled “Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race” also sheds light on the issue. According to the book, while Obama was sympathetic to the views of Austin and Bell, he “refused to denounce his critics and hurl polemics” and negotiated a “momentary cease-fire in Harvard’s culture wars.”
The folks over at Breitbart — who have said the Buzzfeed video is “selectively edited” — have promised to reveal more about this time in Obama’s history. That should be interesting.



In an extraordinary development reported exclusively by Dan Riehl over at Andrew Breitbart'sBig Government, the Democrats' deliberate refusal to accept Rush Limbaugh's apology, coupled with the President's attack on Rush, has fueled a stunning surge in death threats against the conservative champion.
The American left, its proclivity for violence well demonstrated over the centuries from riots over race, labor, Vietnam and Occupy Wall Street to specific assassinations such as that of President John F. Kennedy by Communist and pro-Castro activist Lee Harvey Oswald, has now been stirred to talk of violence against Limbaugh.
The threats also comes in the wake of a left-wing drive to intimidate Limbaugh sponsors.
Limbaugh's audience will doubtless be even further infuriated by the news of the physical threats, captured in screen saves by Riehl. As reported here at the Daily Caller, Carbonite -- which officiously withdrew as a Limbaugh sponsor and then was revealed to be headed by contributor and leftist businessman David Friend -- has seen its stock plummet, its infuriated conservative customers dumping the product in droves.
Media Matters has tried, in typical style, to fuel the impression sponsors are abandoning Limbaugh in droves with stories like this.
The story is a deliberate lie. Limbaugh opened his program today explaining the inside baseball of radio advertising. There is a difference between local advertisers, whose dollars do not go to Limbaugh at all, and national advertisers -- like Carbonite. Media Matters -- and I debated Media Matters' guy Eric Bohlert yesterday on KQED in San Francisco -- deliberately misleads, and knows it, since it surely understands the difference in revenue streams between local and national advertisers.
Limbaugh also announced that new national sponsors are lining up to replace those who left -- and notably, that there are at least two who want back in. In fact are "begging" to do so.
Get ready for some surprises.
Doubtless this backlash against Carbonite and others comes from the furious reaction of Rush's audience.
The Rally for Rush continues. And it's working.
There are not many people or things I really really hate in life. This asshole Angelo Carsone is one idio,t I hate with every fiber of my being. He is evil incarnate. He gets paid to lie & spew his hate speech but hides behind being gay.

Angelo Carusone, Tweeter Behind @StopRush and @StopBeck, On Rush Limbaugh's Implosion

​Angelo Carusone is the Director of Online Strategy for Media Matters for America. Even prior to that gig, he's been known in the Twitterverse during the past couple of years as @StopBeck, an online campaign to let Glenn Beck's advertisers know where their advertising dollars were going. The Voice spoke with Carusone by phone from Washington, D.C. after his @StopRush Twitter actively rang the Limbaugh death bell over the weekend.
Here's an edited transcript of our conversation.
Why did you start Stop Beck?
I started it on July 2nd, 2009, during the summer between by second and third year of law school. For me, it was an interesting time. I was in law school, getting an info dump. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do, and for me, it became clear that things were pretty messed up. Our policies are messed up, and didn't think the conversation around them was going well. I started looking at the irresponsible, reckless pillars of the media. Beck represented the worst of them at the time. He was extremely reckless, and illustrated the very worst of the media abdicating their responsibility. That's why I picked him as a first target. Things for him turned out to be bad business. I think people should have opinions, and express them passionately, but there is a responsible way of doing that. He was being completely irresponsible, and that's why I started Stop Beck, in July of 2009.
And then a month later, he called President Obama a racist. I started Stop Beck, and the next month, he really ramped up why he was problematic. Before that, there wasn't a magnifying glass on what he was doing. He helped put a larger microscope on the many ways his program was troublesome.
What was Beck's Waterloo moment? And when did you know you were having an effect?
For me, I always believed it would have an effect. I believe persistence pays off. I always told people, [Beck] might have a platform, but it was a two-year plus campaign. But it was effective every day, because we attached real financial consequences to what he was doing. [Here's] a link to those financial consequences to what Beck was doing. We went back and got advertisers' rates, and showed that the number of paid ads decreased, and that the rates themselves decreased, during Beck's show on Fox. Fox was getting three to six times less from the same ad, from the same advertiser, than other Fox News shows. So it was effective everyday.
For me, as we moved into 2011, it was obvious that Fox News knew it had a more significant problem on their hands. They' been absorbing losses for a long time, and the problems increased. It became clear that this was bad business for them.
What did you start Stop Rush?
Stop Rush, I initially rolled it out in late 2009 and early 2010. At the time, the Beck work was doing well. I thought that in dealing with advertisers, some really appreciated being educated about where their ads were running. The ad market took care of this. The word "boycott," it's very rare that I called for a boycott or attacked a company. For the most part, I let advertisers know where there money was being spent, where it was going, and what it was helping. They made the decision themselves.
I started Stop Rush in 2009, 2010, and when I went to register the domain, I saw that Rush owned
I've noticed things like that. Corporations often do that. In looking at a story about JC Penney, you see they own hundreds of corporate domains...,, etc.
Yeah. Rush didn't have, so that's what I got. Obviously at the time, I was a law student, and I was working very much on the Beck effort, and I was still managing law school. The Beck work was working, and I kind of froze the Rush work, and experimented with it a little, to get a sense of who Rush's advertisers were and what their comfort level with him was. It was definitely valuable, and I am glad I spent some time doing it. It has informed the work I am doing now.
When did you have a sense that Sandra Fluke might have been Rush's Waterloo?
It was very clear late evening Friday, early Saturday that this was different and distinguishable. There have been temporary flare ups with Rush before. This was clearly not one of those. It has a different dynamic, and became a business problem, as opposed to people just being angry.
Rush had spent three full days digging in. I started talking to advertisers on Thursday, and got a lot of feedback on Friday, and I knew a lot of movement was taking place. This was important to think about from a business perspective. The very clearest example was when Carbonite came out on Saturday night. That was significant because they had been one of his biggest advertisers, and they announced their drop after the so called apology. They said the apology didn't matter. Rush had exposed himself as too volatile to do business with.
And on the top of his website, there was a blank box that said "ADVERTISEMENT." That was where Carbonite has been for a long, long time. It was a very clear sign that we were dealing with something new.
The only ads I saw were for Rush's own products. I was almost surprised to see that his "Club Gitmo" clothing line hadn't dropped him!

Let me ask you about this: Sandra Fluke was a white, middle class woman. She was a law student, like yourself. Rush has been saying nasty, vile, racist things for decades. What do you make of the fact that the outcry has come about with this person and this issue? What do you make of advertisers who paid Rush for years already when he was so nasty?
There are two reasons, maybe three reasons. First, the lay of the land has changed. We saw Komen, and all the constant attacks on Planned Parenthood. I think women see the effects of sexism on our society. There's a recognition that what Rush did was very problematic, and illustrative of a media landscape that thinks it's OK to go on the air, and level almost 50 smears for three days on someone, and mar the reputation of someone, and dismiss her valid perspective on policy. That is one part of it.
The second part is that Sandra Fluke is not a celebrity or a political figure. She's just a student. So people can personalize this. Rush wasn't attacking Hillary Clinton. Fluke could be your sister or your cousin, or you. No one wants to think about those things being said to millions of people in three days. That's different.
And the reaction, compared to the past - there's never been social media before. It's the combination of the lay of the land, and the attack on an individual. We finally have the tools to push back. Previously, Rush would have been the only voice, or the largest voice in the room, when something like this happened. There was energy to push back, and social media provided the tools.
You are a gay man, correct?
Others have thrown this question at me, so I'll ask you: as a gay man, why are you concerned with reproductive rights for women?
The way I look at this, this is a question for our society, and the values we have. Discussions of policy or politics can get too specific; I look at things from the standpoint of values. The way we treat our fellow citizens is a reflection of society, and of us. We are free to socialize, to participate in our society, and to shape it.
This is a values issue. This is making sure citizens have the care for their needs met, that women have the cares for their medical needs met. It's true, I'm gay and I'm also a man - all the more reason to defer to a woman, who should know more about the needs of women. That's what it boils down to. There are the substantive issues at play, and the matter of differing opinions. But one thing is universal, though: we can all acknowledge that the way Rush Limbaugh has used his initial platform was irresponsible and abusive, regardless of his opinions on the matter.
That's my stake in it.
A final question: I wrote yesterday about the largely self-inflected demise of the five right wing figures on the cover of my 2010 Voice story "White America Has Lost Its Mind." Some people wrote me they were happy to see these people's ideas lead to their downfall. But at the same time, they have been replaced with crazier people with even crazier ideas. It's like cutting off the head of a hydra, only to have two replace it. As Beck has stepped off the stage, except in his subscriber circle, are you concerned that the conversation has grown even less civil in the past couple of years?
One the one hand, we are talking about people who are monolithic. Rush is on hundreds of radio stations. There is a giant media company imposing that. His voice eliminates conversation, actually. That block from 12-3, there used to be a person there doing that at a local radio station. They may have talked about national politics, but they were local. Everything was through the local lens. That diversity has been taken away and replaced with a model devoid of any choice.
As [people like Rush and Beck] wane, things might get said that are more ridiculous. But it will increase the amount of diversity.
In terms, of the larger question, of what I call the "window of reason"...People will have different ideas, even irresponsible and unsubstantiated ideas. I don't want that to go away from society. But it's one thing if they are being validated by major commercials identities. And that's different. I said during the Beck work, I'd never be comfortable saying that anyone isn't allowed to say those things they believe - within the bounds of slander and so forth. They are more than welcome to say it, on a soap box or on a corner. But it's different when major corporations are benefiting from that, and many brands are benefiting. The more controversial, the higher the ratings, so there's an incentive for better business to be outlandish.
We are trying to invert that model, and show that being reckless and irresponsible will not improve your business.
And it's working.