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Cheap Laughs: A Weekly Review of The New York Times

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

This week Charles Blow single-handedly serves up enough cheap laughs for this week’s review of vapid and ridiculous nonsense from the op-ed pages of the New York Times. In his Monday column titled Library Visit, Then Held At Gunpoint, Blow breathlessly announced that his son had been momentarily mistaken for a burglar and detained at gunpoint on the campus of Yale University, where he is a third year student.


Blow’s column was originally titled By The Numbers, and was purportedly going to be in depth and original statistical analysis of current trends and events in America. Well, it became painfully clear that Blow is no Nate Silver, and in fact can barely construct a logical argument based on statistics or even simple facts.

So Blow’s role quickly morphed into the paper’s designated Angry Black Person With A Grudge, a role that used to belong to Bob Herbert. Well, Blow has a lot of grudges. He thinks Republicans are simply the most awful, heartless and ignorant people ever to walk the earth, and that even white people who are not vicious Republicans are pretty much simply clueless. But ever since Ferguson, Blow has been harping away at the theme They’re Killing Our Black Teenage Boys. (A statistical footnote to Blow: black teenage boys are at tragically high risk of being shot, but not by the people Blow wants to blame e.g. the police).

So Blow starts out with this bit of overblown drama: “Saturday evening, I got a call that no parent wants to get. It was my son calling from college — he’s a third-year student at Yale. He had been accosted by a campus police officer, at gunpoint!” I’ve been stopped by the police a number of times in my life, and I’ve had guns pointed in my face in much scarier situations (muggings, war zones) without feeling the need to resort to exclamation points. And “a call that no parent wants to get” is that their child is dead or badly hurt, no briefly detained by campus police.


According to Blow, the campus police stopped his son because he closely resembled in appearance and dress a burglary suspect, who was believed to potentially be armed. And Yale is in New Haven, a city plagued by violent crime, especially in the neighborhoods adjacent to Yale. So Blow junior was ordered to stop, at gunpoint, and ordered to lie on the ground and produce his ID. I can see how that would be an unsettling experience.

But for Blow this is near tragedy of Shakespearian proportions: “What if my son had panicked under the stress, having never had a gun pointed at him before, and made what the officer considered a “suspicious” movement? Had I come close to losing him? Triggers cannot be unpulled. Bullets cannot be called back.”

In Blow’s retelling of this very routine incident, Yale’s campus police are racist armed thugs just looking to blow way Dirty Harry style any black teen they encounter, student or not. But one little detail Blow omits to mention is that the campus police officer who stopped his son is in fact African-American, as is the police chief at Yale.

So how does this near tragedy turn out? “The dean of Yale College and the campus police chief have apologized and promised an internal investigation, and I appreciate that. But the scars cannot be unmade. My son will always carry the memory of the day he left his college library and an officer trained a gun on him.”


Wow, so both the dean and the campus police chief have apologized, but for what exactly are they apologizing for? Well, not for having made a proper stop of a potential suspect in the course of chasing a dangerous criminal, but for having stopped the son of a New York Times columnist. And Blow junior must be an awfully delicate flower if being stopped by a cop, even at gunpoint, is the kind of thing that will leave him scarred for life.

The fact is, Blow is a hack writer, with no talent for originality or insight. And he’s a blowhard to boot, no pun intended. He bangs away at the same trite, hackneyed arguments over and over in nauseating repetition. But the NY Times needs him to fill a slot, the indignant but proud and left-liberal black person railing against injustice in Amerikkka.

Blow enjoys the pecuniary benefits and social status of being a columnist for the most important newspaper in the world, a position he holds not because of his writing or intellectual skills but because of his race and predictably liberal political views. Meanwhile, his son attends one of the most prestigious universities in America. Well, because of affirmative action, gaining admission to Yale would have been vastly easier than for any applicant of another race. And certainly Yale’s admission committee would have looked extra favorably on the application of the child of a NYT columnist.


So maybe Charles Blow needs to recognize a few plain simple facts. Actually, America has been exceptionally generous to him, giving him opportunities available to few people of any color or class background, notwithstanding his lack of ability. Stop and frisks by the police are not evidence of deep seated institutional racism or a mortal threat to innocent black teens, but rather a response to crime and a means of protecting our communities. And Yale’s campus police should be left to do their sometimes difficult and potentially dangerous job without having to worry that they may offend some hack who happens to have his columns published in some New York newspaper.

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