Nonsense as Nationalismrnby Thomas Flemingrn”There is always something new from Africa.”rn—Pliny the ElderrnNot Out of Africa: HowrnAfrocentrism Became an Excusernto Teach Myth as Historyrnby Mary LefkowitzrnNew York: Basic Books;rn222 pp., $24.00rnBy the early 1970’s, I had come to thernconclusion that American higherrneducation could not get any worse. Mostrnof the young and not-so-young Ph.D.’srnin the humanities were intellectuallyrnanemic. What few brains they possessedrnhad been starved on a diet of bogus theoriesrnand textbook generalities; hardlyrnany of them had the fund of generalrnlearning that used to be expected of anyrngentleman, to say nothing of “a gentlemanrnand a scholar.” Feminism andrnstructuralism had already raised their uglyrnheads, and it was not too hard to predictrnthe wave after wave of French theoreticalrnscum that would wash upon therndesolate shores of the American mind.rnIn thinking that the humanities couldrnonlv get marginallv worse, 1 was guilty ofrnan uncharacteristic optimism. I hadrnfailed to correlate the rising tide of minorityrnrights with the falling standards ofrnThomas Fleming is the editor ofrnChronicles.rnscholarship, the perfect formula—asrnit turned out—for multiculturalismrnin general and Afrocentrism in particular.rnEven in the late 80’s, as Afrocentricrnbooks began to make a stir, I paid nornattention: despite the low estate ofrnAmerican scholarship, the universitiesrnstill contained dozens, even hundreds ofrnphilologists and archeologists who wouldrngive Leonard Jeffries and Martin Bernalrnthe ridicule thev deserve. Once again 1rnwas naive. Classicists and ancient historians,rnfor the most part, remained silent;rnsome even joined the barbarians. In arnsmall way, the complicity of scholars remindsrnme of the Cerman academicsrnwho turned their heads as their Jewishrncolleagues were expelled by the Nazis.rnIn the short run, it was a good careerrnmove, although the shortest run was reservedrnfor the part-Jewish professors whornthought thev were exempt. “Man is wolfrnto man,” runs the optimistic Latinrnproverb.rnI wish I knew of all the exceptions,rnbut among the most distinguished criticsrnof Afrocentrism, I should mention FrankrnSnowden—the only prominent blackrnclassicist—Emily Vermeule, and MaryrnLefkowitz. I had always admired ProfessorrnLefkowitz for her good judgment andrnher skeptical treatment of ancient biographies.rnAn academic feminist whornhelped to pioneer women’s studies inrnclassics, she incurred the wrath of crackpotrnfeminists, who objected to her androcentricrninsistence on logic and evidence.rnFor the past several years, she hasrnbeen writing careful but trenchant articlesrnand reviews on the fantasies of multiculturalism.rnNot Out of Africa is thernfruit of those labors.rnIt is a pity that a good scholar has hadrnto waste her valuable time proving that 2rnplus 2 equals four and not 378.77777 tornthe power of negative 12, but these arernhard times. Abstracting a few general argumentsrnfrom the welter of myth andrnpseudoscholarship. Professor Lefkowitzrnsets out to show that Egyptians did notrninvade Greece and leave behind a legacyrnof African civilization; that Greek philosophyrnis not an offshoot of Egyptianrnthought; that there never was a secretrnEgyptian doctrine; that, finally, the centralrnstory of Afrocentrism—the idea of arn”stolen legacy”—is an absurd fabricationrn36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn