Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friends of Duke Petition

Friends of Duke has started a petition endorsing the Economics Department’s open letter backing President Brodhead’s demand for an examination of Mike Nifong’s conduct and welcoming all students, including student-athletes, into their classes.

More than 600 people have signed the petition to date. Here are some of the most thoughtful comments, beginning with one from a Duke professor.

Please do not assume that faculty who have been (or still are) silent have not formed reasoned and sensible opinions about the events of the last ten months. Nor should their silence be construed as supportive of the 88 signatories of the “listening” ad in the Duke Chronicle (or of any other position); as a general rule, the most strident and extreme voices are not universal, nor rarely even widely held (or so I would like to believe). I am a Professor at Duke, a Duke alumnus, and a resident of Durham. I have constantly updated my position on the lacrosse case as new evidence has come to light and will continue to do so as new evidence comes to light.

I am signing this petition because at this point in time, based on the evidence of which I am aware (which is quite extensive, after devoting much time to reading motions, affidavits, sworn statements, news articles, and multiple blogs), I believe: 1) the three lacrosse players, Reade Seligmann, David Evans, and Collin Finnerty, are completely innocent of the charges they face, 2) the DA Mike Nifong is corrupt to a level that merits censure or disbarment; I believe this will eventually happen since the charge that he already faces (making inflammatory prejudicial statements) is the least compelling of those he will probably later have to face (willfully violating accepted lineup procedures, and withholding and conspiring to withhold exculpatory evidence), 3) because of her claims, which appear at this time to be baseless, the accuser has done significant harm not only to the accused, to Duke, to NCCU, and to the city of Durham, but also to herself (by exposing to public examination her character and her past) and to all true victims of rape and sexual assault who are now less likely to be as readily believed, 4) the group of 88 signatories of the “listening” ad is not monolithic in its beliefs; while many of the signatories will likely not change their minds regardless of what evidence is revealed (which is extremely disconcerting given that we uphold scholars as people who ponder carefully, think critically, and consider dispassionately), I believe other signatories to be fine colleagues who are seeking the truth and willing to eventually change their positions in the light of new evidence (even though they may not be willing to do so in public), and 5) the Duke administration is trying to walk a fine line since it needs to please many constituencies; I believe the administration is committed to the truth, but as with all large institutions, this is a slow process because it takes more time to change the course of a large ship than a small one (recall that in the earliest days, some criticized the administration for not moving swiftly enough to condemn the players); this is especially true of academic institutions where the administration serves at the pleasure of so many competing constituencies (although stronger leaders might not seek to please all constituencies equally and the response time might then be faster).

While no university is perfect, and Duke is certainly not an exception to this rule, Duke is truly a wonderful institution with great faculty, students, employees, alumni, fans, and friends. I thank each of you for your support of Duke!

Caroline Dooley welcomed the Economics Department’s statement.

It was about time that the voice of teachers at Duke be heard. Discussion of this case has been dominated by a few (and often times irresponsible few) and the result has been that Duke as an institution looks out of touch with reality. Even more terrible, however, is that some of the statements by teachers appeared directed at attacking a Duke sports teams in general and even the specific defendants in some cases—without evidence to support the attacks or regard for the context of a developing rape case. I think this letter says what I have been waiting to hear from Duke (and am still waiting to hear from most of the university). Please don’t dismiss my input as that of an “outsider.” I am a 1995 Trinity grad, I am a liberal, I am a feminist and I am an attorney. I have no loyalty to college sports, I was not involved in greek life, I have been involved in rape crisis volunteering.

Not until this fiasco has anyone at Duke ever suggested that alums were outsiders or that they should be “moved along or left behind.” I have always loved Duke and will continue to do so—but this experience has undermined my confidence in the legal system and most surprisingly in feminist scholars and some of my former teachers. It appears that these defendants were unjustly targeted, and while it is inconvenient to admit, part of the reason they were targeted and so many people went along for so long is that Duke and its students are resented by many—even by some of its own professors.

Winford Kent Bishop, a 1961 Trinity graduate, wrote, “I applaud the Economics faculty. I am proud to say that I majored in Economics, played lacrosse, and have defended the lacrosse team from the beginning. As Dave Evans said, the accusations are ‘fantastic lies,’ and have been transparently so.”

Carl A. Johnson stated,

I strongly endorse the sentiments of the [19] faculty members of the Economics Department. I also applaud President Brodhead’s stance regarding the irregular and illegal manner in which prosecution has handled the case.

But much more needs to happen to make Duke whole again. While liability concerns may mitigate against publicly acknowledging mistakes made early on by the administration and certain members of the faculty, it is in Duke’s best interest to admit to those mistakes that continue to be unjustly harmful to the accused students and by extension to the entire Duke family. Tolerance and forgiveness were very much a part of the Duke culture during the more than eight years that I studied at Duke (BS and PhD).

We need now to start the process of forgiveness and healing. This can only happen if leadership and faculty step forward and admit to mistakes where they have happened and assert resolutely that protection of individual rights of Duke’s citizens is fundamental in its code of ethics.

Karen Donnelly noted,

I am a proud Duke alumna saddened by the events of last March. I am most disappointed in 88 members of the faculty who were more interested in fanning the flames of racism than in the presumption of innocence and the pursuit of truth. All students need to know that they have our support.

Evan Skowronski signed on, noting,

I am writing in support of the authors in this petition and any Duke faculty member, staff, or student who supports a fair, legal, and ethical treatment of its students. I would implore the administration to finally investigate and reprimand anyone associated with the university who has inappropriately and maliciously treated the young men in question who should benefit form a presumption of innocence and the support of their community.

Finally, from Todd H. Eveson:

I am an attorney and a Trinity ‘97 graduate. As a member of the NC State Bar, Mr. Nifong’s conduct and prejudice in this matter pain me greatly. So too, does the public statement of the ‘Gang of 88.’ They made a rash decision based on too few facts and now hide behind Duke’s tradition of free discourse and tolerance of intellectual diversity. True intellectuals value the truth and would not hesitate to publicly retract prior statements in the event that such statements were shown to be unfounded.

If there is one silver lining to this matter, it is that I have been proud of the manner in which the three defendants, President Brodhead and certain members of the administration, including the athletics department and now faculty of the economics department have conducted themselves. THAT is the University I know and love.

The petition itself is a welcome idea—as, of course, is the Economics Department letter upon which it is based. I hope that more Duke students, faculty, and alumni sign onto it in coming days.


GPrestonian said...

Have you signed, KC? ;>)

Anonymous said...

The dam is breaking, and all those who remained either undecided about the hoax or unwilling to denounce the rush to judgement are finding the strength (in numbers) to come forward and do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

gprestonian says... please; pretty please; pretty, prety please....

GPrestonian said...

I've signed the petition, just didn't know if KC felt that t was appropriate for him to sign it.

bill anderson said...

K.C. can't sign. He is a Harvard man.

I definitely cannot sign, as my "higher" education definitely was not of the elite brand, my bachelor's from Tennessee, master's from Clemson, and doctorate from Auburn. Since Clemson and Duke are in the ACC, that is the closest I came to Duke....

However, I think this is a powerful petition and can be a very good tool by which to counter the children on the Duke faculty who continue to spin fantasies. (I mean no insult to real children, as they generally show more sense than the G88/87.)

Anonymous said...

Bill: You have nothing to apologize for in attending Tennessee, Clemson and Auburn. And Professor Johnson has brought new respect to Brooklyn College. No one sees anything truly elite about the Group of 88 at Duke. Mr. Brodhead, you have a problem.

M. Simon said...

I'm a U Chicago alum myself.

We don't sign petitions.

We study the situation and make recommendations.

Well I may violate protocol and sign any way. LOL

Anonymous said...

Now that the case against the lacrosse team members is collapsing, Nifong has resigned from prosecuting it, and the tide has turned, some Duke faculty who said nothing all along are coming out to condemn the case. Now the coast is clear, they take their stand. As an academic myself, it only confirms my own experience: they are an unusually cowardly species.

Anonymous said...

P.S. K.C.Johnson is a notable exception to my generalisation.

Anonymous said...

Excellent writeup of some choice comments from Duke affiliated people that should silence some of the crowd that seeks to reinforce their position by claiming we are all non Dukies and thus don't count.


Anonymous said...

Better late than never.

M. Simon said...

Here is what I left:


It is past time to turn Angry Studies (as my friend Jim calls them) into real studies with real scholarship.

hman said...

When I am in a really generous mood I can almost see my way to feeling sympathy for the moderate faculty who apparently were tricked by nifong. I can see, just barely, how a simple belief that "DAs do not indict without something" might have carried them a long way into this maddness.
Maybe some people just are not very alert to the strange phenomenon of full-bore sociopathy.
On the other hand... any-time an officer of the court goes out of his way to avoid encountering the facts of a case I will always instinctively reach for my Luger.

Anonymous said...

JLS says...

To the Duke professor, this college prof says sign or don't, but shut up. You are not in your classroom. The rest of us don't need your lecture.

What a wind bag you are. You don't need to tells how open minded you have been or maybe that is wishy washy about this matter. You don't need to tell us what fine people you think some of the 88 are. It is a simple petition do you think Nifong should be investigated and more to the point since this one you can impact do you second the notion of welcoming all students maybe even conservative students in your classes?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the comments will be included with the "petition." It is obvious that half or more of the signatories want and need a stronger statement to better reflect their opinions and demands. When one is devised (by Steve Miller?), will it have the same weight as this wimpy noodle statement once all the same signatures have been seen and the comments expressed elsewhere?

Nifong is already recused, with charges filed by the NC Bar, and is being "investigated." Supporting a statement calling for an investigation is merely parroting Brodhead and showing support for him (which is very obviously not what the majority of the signatories intend).

As someone above stated, everyone can come out of hiding and feel safe to throw a few words out in identity with the "right" side, now. And, yeah, sure, I agree that paid professors at a University should welcome students -- all students -- to their classrooms. That's what they're paid to do. How does signing a statement that says I agree with that convey that I am opposed to Duke paying professors that do not want certain students in their classrooms or even at "their" institution at all? And, THIS is what we really want to say, isn't it?

Look at the many comments that express shame and sadness over the way Duke (with many specific mentions of Brodhead) treated these three boys. Where does this statement address this?

Pretty obvious to me that signatures are on that document for lack of anything else out there to sign. The 88 + 23 now say we "misread" and "misinterpreted" words that were quite clear. Yet we seem not to have the fortitude to even attempt to put into words what we MEAN.

I have to wonder why that is.


M. Simon said...


So sign with a comment.

Anonymous said...


I think you just convinced most of us that we are lucky not to be among your students.

By signing the petition, the Duke Professor says he endorses its statements. So why your full-throated demand that he say whether he endorses those statements? Are you off your meds?

The petition provides for comments, so he made some comments. Why castigate him for that? He's merely saying what he thinks in a straightforward, reasoned manner. Do you also go nuts when your students express their opinions?

Anonymous said...

m. Simon,

I did sign a week ago. But the question of whether or not comments will be sent with the statement was not answered. The petition is one created on a free site and provides for comments in its standard format, but that doesn't mean comments will be provided with the statement.

Nor do individual comments have the same impact as one statement signed by this same number of people.

I don't disparage FODU for their efforts, but it is so apparent that many people want to say a lot more, and to say it forcefully. How will a stronger statement have any weight if the same signatures are on it? It won't.


Anonymous said...

JLS says....

re: 1:50

I viewed the Duke professor's weak statement as weakening the value of the signature. You did notice the weakening the signature with the "at this point in time" clause didn't you? I guess I could have said either sign it and believe it or dont.

Apparently you think that petition is the place for extraneous defenses of the Gang of 88 etc. I thought he was tangental, lecturing etc. I really made a criticims of the Duke professor that all academics have to avoid. The world is not our classrooms. The prof did not make a comment. The prof gave a lecture.

As for my students, I try to encourage them to have opinions, but I do not let them lead in class discussion off topic on to their capture by aliens or they know some of the gang of 88 and they are fine people.

A comment might have been something like I welcomes all Duke students in class. A comment might have been I know some of the gang of 88 and they welcome all Duke students in class. This prof certainly has the right to lecture us all. We have the right not to listen and suggest that it cease.

Anonymous said...

Is the Duke professor you quoted kin to Cash Michaels? Cash's motto: Never use one word when a thousand will do.

disgruntled said...

Agreed with anon 12:28 AM. "they are an unusually cowardly species."

And something else. One of the signatories of the petition Carl A. Johnson talks about starting the "process of forgiveness and healing". How limp can you get.

Yes it should happen, but some time into the future. Now is the time for payback. If the Group of 88 are just allowed to get away with their lies and despicable actions then this will just help the rot to continue.

Anonymous said...

Too little, too late.

Anonymous said...

The petition is a good thing. It certainly is helpful that the number of signees are far more numerous than the number 88.

But what it doesn't speak to is the damage already done to the accused students, their families and to the other members of the lacrosse team.

And it doesn't really deal with the appalling lack of honesty on the part of those that say they always supported the presumption of innocence.

Here is what a presumption of innocence sounds like.

"Our students have denied the allegations. Until such time as it is proved otherwise, we presume they are telling the truth, they remain students in good standing and the lacrosse team can resume its season."

That is the presumption of innocence. Writing a letter thanking the pot banging students for marching outside the house of the accused students with a giant banner saying "castrate" is not a presumption of innocence.

Standing by while the reputations of the accused are dragged through the mud by Duke professors and members of the national media is not a presumption of innocence.

Saying nothing while the families of the accused are forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence in what very early on was a transparent hoax is not a presumption of innocence.

Cancelling the entire lacrosse season and firing the coach is not supporting the presumption of innocence.

The explanation that Duke has to listen to many voices is insufficient. Cowardice in the face of injustice is not a reasonable defense. It is only cowardice.

The failures that occurred here were not made in a vacuum. The assumptions that underly these failures are still present and influence the rest of the decision making that goes on at Duke.

Do you think there will be any retribution for the "mob of 88". Will they have their merit increases lowered, will their departments suffer, will their treatment of students be subject to any scrutiny.

The answer has already been given. They have been placed in positions of authority on the CCI and they have been publicly defended by the provost of the university.

There is a need for some serious soul searching on the part of the Duke faculty and administration. Until that takes place the school will continue to be the recipient of public condemnation.

Anonymous said...

it should happen to them. let them see what it is like being under attack for 10 months.


Fast Pete said...

Ah... the Group of 600!

Anonymous said...

I believe other signatories to be fine colleagues who are seeking the truth and willing to eventually change their positions in the light of new evidence (even though they may not be willing to do so in public),

The statement in parentheses IN AND OF ITSELF impeaches not only the alleged "fine colleagues", but the author as well.

Academics used to be the pursuit of the truth, wherever it took you. The author apparenly believes, and clearly believes that his "fine colleagues" believe, that saving face is more important than telling the truth....that having once taken a stand, it is acceptable for arrogance or embarassment to preclude you from ever acknowledging your mistake, but this is still compatible with being an academician.

This intellectually and morally bankrupt fool has no business trying to pass himself off as an educator. Neither arrogance nor embarassment NOR EVEN THE DOGMA OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS should ever trump the truth, least of all for one who claims to be an educator.

Have you no shame?

Anonymous said...

By 12:15 am: "Professor Johnson has brought new respect to Brooklyn College."

Agreed. And with his decent low-key fact-based and highly effective approach, it will be interesting to see where he turns his blog guns next.

And who from here goes along with him for the ride.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Thank you for articulating this to perfection.

AMac said...

1. The Group of 88 spoke with one voice in April.

2. Like-minded faculty have condemned the lacrosse players from March through December.

3. The rump of the G-88 doubled down in January, and even attracted 40 or so new signatories.

4. With the sole exception of Prof. Crowley, ther have been no public retractions and no public apologies by any of the rush-to-judgment, anti-due-process faculty.

5. On numerous occasions between April and January, the Duke Administration has defended the rush-to-judgment, anti-due-process segment of the faculty.

6. Until late December, five faculty members had made public pro-due-process, pro-student statements: Coleman, Kimel, Baldwin, Gustafson, and Munger. In December, they were joined by 19 Economics professors. One or two more have spoken out this month.

Whatever the reason for this imbalance (~140 to ~26), it doesn't bode very well for Duke.

Duke's Hard Left is saying, "We'll never apologize! Once charges are dismissed, passions will fade. Centrist craving for reconciliation, healing, and collegiality will come to the fore. We're ready with a compelling meta-narrative that shows that we were right all along."

To their credit, the Group of 88 and fellow travelers have proclaimed their views publically. If the Decent Left and the Center have contrasting narratives... they aren't doing much to circulate them in the public square.

SteelTruth said...

with a dartmouth BA and UVa MBA,

i signed..

grant clapacs...are you on here?

Anonymous said...

As a liberal from Durham who voted twice against Nifong this year and Duke hospital staff person (nurse) I signed the petition and made this comment...

I encourage all the signers of the Listening Ad, or the follow-up statement to sign this petition. To the Duke 3, I know good things can come from difficult life experiences. Time can be the big issue. I hope good things are coming your way now each day. I hope your very bad luck; these legal issues, are completely dismissed in February. This too shall pass.

Anonymous said...

Has Coleman signed the petition ?

Richard Aubrey said...

"healing" always, always, always means let the perps get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Until the Duke administration is held to account for the irresponsible actions of the 88 faculty members there will be no change. University administrations hire these people, support them, encourage them and protect them. They then do a little public jig to distract attention. Here is the Duke PR campaign in full swing in the MSM, a letter in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. I'm surprised no one has mentioned it.

Duke President Urged Caution in Scandal

In "The Michael Nifong Scandal" (editorial page, January 11), Dorothy Rabinowitz raises compelling criticisms of how the Durham, N.C. district attorney has handled the prosecution of the three Duke University students. The commentary also criticized Duke President Richard Brodhead for not speaking to the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence until some seven months after the incident. President Brodhead, in his first public statement in the days following the alleged incident, urged that the students must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise -- an assertion he has made clearly and repeatedly in numerous subsequent comments to faculty, students and others.

As he told "60 Minutes": in August, ". . . my view is that the DA's case will be on trial as much as our players will be on trial." His statements have been reported widely. His comment with "60 Minutes" is still on its website, just as many of his other statements remain available on Duke's Web site.

John F. Burness
Senior Vice Public Affairs
And Government Relations
Duke University
Durham, S.C. (sic)

Anonymous said...

That should be Senior Vice President. Sorry

AMac said...

anon 9:37am --

You've gone on record with your beliefs. I hope and expect that you won't experience any workplace retaliation at DUMC. It is Duke's professors and Administration that has been remiss in that regard (assuming, as many anonymous faculty voices have claimed, that the Group of 88 is not representative of the majority's views).

We can encourage other faculty members to take heart from the example that you offer.

Howard said...

So a bunch of gutless mendacious so-called intellectuals rise up once it is perfectly safe to do so. I cannot tell you the contempt I have for them. This is the same response that liberals with more money and in Blue State street cred do when they take out their full page ads in the New York Times to express themselves. All who have signed the latest "missive" should be ashamed, and any of us who praises them in any way are equally gutless.

M. Simon said...


Start your own petition.

It is not difficult.

Lars said...

The 88 signers of the original petition should be summarily fired, and their work history black-balled forever at Duke. After all, this is mild punishment compared to what they have already heaped upon the future of the Duke students who were on the lacrosse team.

Anonymous said...

"To the Duke professor, this college prof says sign or don't, but shut up. You are not in your classroom. The rest of us don't need your lecture."

I had a completely different reaction to the Duke Prof's comment/lecture. I understood it to be a gently worded, but pointed, criticism of the Duke response, focused primarily on changing the thinking of the Group, the Rump, and President Brodhead. This Prof was trying to build a bridge of sorts to the Group/Rump, who have galloped into the castle, pulled up the drawbridge, and rushed to man the armaments against enemy--us and others disturbed by their actions. Their isolation (and their defensiveness) probably will increase as the case against Mr. Nifong snowballs and the case against the defendants melts away completely, on or about February 5, I hope. Is the goal here to destroy the Group and the Rump, or to coax them out of the castle and help them find their way to a healthier, more accurate/scholarly/evidence based way of perceiving and reflecting reality? I consider the Duke Prof's efforts to change their thinking laudable. I hope any others who care about the members of the Group/Rump as individuals make some efforts as well. Until the views of the Group/Rump change for the public record, the rest of us, of course, can continue our shouts for accountability.


M. Simon said...


Let the timid and fearful do what they can.

Honor them accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy Rabinowitz made a significant factual error in an otherwise excellent column. It was an overreach and deserved correction. Burness took the opportunity she provided.

With slightly more care, Rabinowitz could have denied Burness that opportunity.

sceptical said...

The best comment made by a signer of the FODU petition was:

"Terry Sanford weeps."

That sums it up.

martin said...

7:59 AM

Cowardice in the face of injustice is not a reasonable defense. It is only cowardice.

Thank you for the defining the behavior of many academics as they demonstrate their lack of courage in this crisis. Your language is memorable and powerful.

Shouting Thomas said...

Every leftist community in the country is ripe for a Duke style hoax. The sexual fascism of the feminist and gay rights movements continues to rule those communities. The lies about white hetero men that those movements created, and continue to disseminate, foster an environment in which false accusations and prosections are encouraged.

Nifong lived in a community in which slander of white hetero men was viewed as a virtuous act of definace. I think that Nifong acted in the belief that he was really doing the right thing... prosecting the hated enemy of mankind.

Leftist communities are in dire need of de-Stalinization. The race industry, and the feminist and gay movements are dominated by nutjob Marxists who are pining for the return of the Soviet Union.

And the funny thing is this... white hetero men are probably the best men in the world. It is precisely the sense of justice and fair dealing that you so often find in white hereto men that makes them an inviting target. Just about everybody else is operating on a me-first, my clan basis.

AMac said...

At 10:57am, M. Simon said,

Let the timid and fearful do what they can. Honor them accordingly.

Well put.

An unanswered question: Why are so few profs on the Decent Left, Center, and Right willing to stand up and be counted?

-- Dislike of the spotlight?
-- Anticipated difficulties in personal relations with Hard Left colleagues?
-- Fear of career-path threats (e.g blackballed tenure decisions, unrenewed contracts)?
-- Faith in behind-the-scenes actions?
-- Faith in Duke's Administration?
-- Belief that professors should remain silent outside their areas of experise?
-- The belief that they aren't familiar enough with the facts of the case to offer qualified comments?
-- Feeling that while the players are innocent of rape, they brought the scandal on themselves by their loutish behavior?

I've read each of these explanations from people posting as Duke professors and former professors (most of them anonymously).

I'd be interested in knowing how members of Duke's Silent Majority would rank them.

And what concerns the ~26 pro-Due-Process professors feel that they had to overcome before speaking out.

Anonymous said...

11:41 Well said.

Fuck this stupid petition.

Do other posters on this board agree/disagree with the following:

1. Eliminate all affirmative action at Duke--student and faculty

2. Defund Angry Studies--queer, black and women's

3. Fire Brodhead. Install a creative non-academic, someone like Jack Welch

4. Watch Duke's reputation soar.

It's as easy as that. Shall this constitute our petition?

Roman Polanski

Anonymous said...

10:55 Observer..." destroy the Group and the Rump, or to coax them out of the castle and help them find their way to a healthier, more accurate/scholarly/evidence based way of perceiving and reflecting reality?"

It's not my job to coax or gently encourage these radicals to change. It is my job to protect my children/family, my country, and my culture from the continual attack from the likes of these radicals.

I think you will be hard pressed finding anyone reasonable person wanting to waste time "coaxing" them anywhere. Who has time to suffer dangerous fools.

When one considers how they are paid and protected, their actions become even more egregious.

There is no transparencey. Why don't they post published articles, syllabi, etc...

There is a woeful lack of governance. Who is steerig the ship? These baffons? The President? Where are the trustees?

There is no accountability. These people build the fire, add gas and then encourage useful idiots to light a match. And we all pay them to do so...

Of sorts, I'm paying for this through my taxes that provide for Federally subsidized student loans/grants.

More on point, I've donated money to Duke. My wife, sister-in-law, and father-in-law are all graduates.

I've one child who was recently wait-listed. I've another child who is currently considering schools and may/may not apply. I'll strongly encourage her to pass on Duke, not because of the hoax, not becuase of the Gang of 88 and their spineless contemporaries, but rather because of the lack of leadership.

One hopes that by the time my third child begins the process he may be able to consider Duke after these people are gone and the house has been cleansed.

This problem is endemic everywhere and it's past time that people begin to understand the poison they enter into the system.

Full transparency on what they teach, how it is funded, who is up for tenure, where they add value is overdue.

Anonymous said...

I am speaking as a retired faculty member who taught at large, lower tier state universities in three states. The proper response of faculty members when a student is charged with a crime is to say nothing publicly. I have seen newspaper reports of students charged with bank robbery, car theft, armed robbery, gun violations, rape, DUI, and drug crimes. In no case did faculty members respond. In the Duke case, the gang of 88 should have stayed out of it, and no faculty member should have retaliated against the lacrosse team members. Once the improper behavior of Nifong became clear, a response to him might have been in order. Students have their personal lives that faculty should respect.

Anonymous said...

Bill A - What do you think about the Genalow Wilson story? Not like you do not have enough to do now. Also, why do you think Nifong is so "surprised" at being called to task?

Anonymous said...

I look at this petition and can not help but think back to the statement from Father Luke, Headmaster of Reade's High School. It is a lesson in how things should have been handled by Duke in the first place. The Headmaster of Delbarton, Rev. Luke L. Travers released a statement in support:[10]

"Knowing Reade Seligmann as well as we do here at Delbarton, I believe him innocent of the charges included in the indictment issued yesterday in North Carolina. The hearts and prayers of our school community go out to Reade and his family, the woman who has made the accusations, the players on the Duke lacrosse team and their families. It is our hope and our conviction that the full truth of all that happened that night will vindicate Reade of these charges."

This took guts when he did it, I know Reade will never forget it, nor will I.

Pat Patterson said...

Gang of 88, very nice. Maybe the same fate as the Gang of Four?

AMac said...

Retired Prof 11:56am --

> The proper response of faculty members when a student is charged with a crime is to say nothing publicly... the gang of 88 should have stayed out of it... Students have their personal lives that faculty should respect.

If faculty are duty-bound to remain silent, that would put Kimel, Baldwin, Gustafson, and Munger in the wrong (Coleman and the Economics professors have framed their comments in terms of general principals, IIRC). Arguably, those four are worse than the Group of 88 by your standard, since the Listening Statement largely alluded to its central points rather than stating them directly.

Would you agree?

bill anderson said...

12:16 PM

I posted something on the Liestoppers board about it. The problem comes with convictions on legal technicalities. Law is not supposed to be like that, at least in the English-American historical law.

Anyway, I have a fairly long discussion on it.

bill anderson said...

Maybe this has been posted elsewhere, but I found it interesting:

Nifong owes accuser, community an apology


How many people still have faith in the justice system? There are probably not too many, given all the major blows dealt to the Duke lacrosse case over the past several months. The ability of the people involved in making laws, carrying them out and imposing punishment, have many citizens leery.

The recent developments surrounding District Attorney Mike Nifong withholding DNA evidence have him in hot water. His decision to interview the accuser nine months later also raises questions about his re-election. Many supporters would expect one involved in such a pressured and complex case to interview their key witness as soon as possible.

And why would a district attorney with nearly 30 years of experience withhold DNA evidence? Is it worth losing a job, reputation and diminishing the state's chances and the alleged victim's right to present her story?

The chance that the alleged victim in the lacrosse case will be able to exercise her freedom of speech and tell her version of events in a courtroom, is very doubtful. If the State Attorney General's Office dismisses the case, vindication won't be decided in a court of law like it should.

Nifong owes the alleged victim, his supporters and all who voted for him a public apology for his missteps in this case. Chances are slim that will ever happen.

The attorney general gives some a little hope that both sides will be able to present their case. But how much can you really do with a case riddled with bullet holes? Usually it's dead.

Kim Brummell
January 27, 2007

Was she not involved in Nifong's campaign?

Anonymous said...

This case is far from over. First of all, three lacrosse players are still falsely charged by the state of North Carolina. Is Attorney General Cooper in dreamland? Why doesn't he end this Nifong-Durham frame-up immediately? Otherwise, the state will pay even more in the end. The cash register is running.

duke09parent said...

Whenever there is a cause that arouses passions, some members in the group behind the cause eventually turn against others questioning the purity or commitment of the "weaker" members.

The petition is a positive step, although 600 signatures is pretty weak. If you feel more should be done, that's fine, but castigating those who have signed on just weakens the overall cause. IMO.

Anonymous said...

for AMAC 12:23

Because I have only been reading this blog for a few weeks, I am not familiar with who said what when. Also, the kinds of serious crimes that students are often charged with are not as ideologically inflammatory as the Duke case.

The general principle is that charges of off campus crimes are left to the local authorities. In this case the university went after the whole team and its coach. That made it a university issue upon which faculty could legitimately have an opinion. But the opinions would be about the university's actions, not the player's charged.

Old Prof

M. Simon said...

Here is what the Faculty are afraid of :

The Long March Through the Institutions.

Now you know why the Economics guys were the first to resist.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest that charges be filed for perjury, malfeasance in office, and certainly disbarment for Nifong.

As for the unfortunate stripper, who committed perjury to avoid being committment to an asylum, I think going forward with the committment would be the best thing, so she can get the help she obviously needs.

In a just and compassionate world, the 88 Duke Faculty members who signed the first petition would be getting needed help on the same floor of the institution.

M. Simon said...

I don't know if any of you have been following the Guilford College Story but in many ways it is shaping up like the Duke Story.

So far the accusers have had warrants sworn on the accused, but no police have been able to question the accusers.

BTW the Accusers have lawyered up.

Anonymous said...

Roman Polanski posted some wise suggestions to help Duke get back on its feet. I salute people who are decisive.

Unfortunately, especially given the tumescent tenor of the above-referenced petition, we Dukies seem not to have a clue. We need to strategize, not hypothesize.

Trinity '98

Anonymous said...

11:54 a.m.

Your words echo mine exactly. I don't want to 'coax' professors. The suggestion that I must coax them to admit the truth is a chilling admission these professors do not possess the intellectual, moral or spiritual ability to recognize the truth on their own. A professor's most basic responsibility is to coax his students to see truth in art, humanities, law, etc. Therefore, when the professor can't see it himself, he is unfit to hold his station.

Leave them in their castle! Let them drown in the moat they've dug between themselves and the truth!

Cedarford said...

Lars (10:55AM) said...
The 88 signers of the original petition should be summarily fired, and their work history black-balled forever at Duke.

That is the sort of ignorant
"If I was dictator of the world, this is what I would do" fantasizing that gives so many the impression blogs are infested by morons ignorant of the facts.

1. Even if they didn't have tenure, they still could not be summarily fired for non-work activities unless employer can demonstrate work-related harm caused. You don't understand NC employer rules.

2. Poster is ignorant of anything they said that would rise to a "instant firing offense". Were the 88 stupid, prejudiced? Yes. Obtuse in not apologizing when they knew they had blundered? Yes. Are those in the list of job duties and Duke employer rules? No.

3. Poster is ignorant of whether or not some signers that were grad students, post-docs, or profs not tenured were pressured to sign by others. Or pressured later when it looked like there was no case -by Stalinist bosses to maintain solidarity and not betray the "cause", by backing down.

4. If laws were broke, torts committed...that will be determined later. My guess is Duke will pay heavily...and those who were paid to show leadership as part of their job, like Brodhead, will have to go..

Rather than look at it as a simply a clash between groups rehashing history and demanding apologies from one group or another, wouldn't it be in everyone in the Duke community's interest to be forward-looking?
Perhaps a better path might be to position Duke to drop unproductive Departments and turn out research and graduates even more coveted by business, academia, and government.
Perhaps to make it a core part of the Duke Code that academic freedom is no cover for groups of Duke staff, faculty, or students to wage deliberate war on other parts of the Duke family on race, religion, ethnicity, class, and gender bias and prejudices. NO institution can permit civil war to rage unchecked without it affecting the welfare of all adversely.

So, looking forward, instead of seeking tit for tat:

1. Duke should reevaluate all it's schools doing their mission, and which Departments contribute to that or add little value. It may be that more emphasis on rising nations like India and China are needed, less on Hate studies Departments. It may be that the Engineering school needs to boost chemical engineering research...But Duke should evaluate each Department for effectiveness periodically and pull the plug on underperforming centers.

2. Forward looking, what actions must be done to restore faculty-student trust? What actions, given Duke has always emphasized sports form an important base to forming a well-rounded Duke student, should be done with Duke athletics - or is the program working just fine?

3. Forward looking, would it not be better to just promulgate standards of civility to all on Duke campus or interacting with external parties like Durham residents, are expected to follow? Would that not be better than endless cycles of grievance-claiming and ensuent accomodation?

Let the lawsuits claim their pound of flesh. Then adapt and move on conscious of who did the harm, but not using it as an excuse for another round of civil war...

Joe T. said...

Roman Polanski and others: Just a re-reminder. There's a difference between a liberal and a Marxist. I've run a queer-history website for a while now, where I cover same-sex relations from ancient times to the present, and everybody from Alexander to Alan Turing, and I've never had the slightest urge to take any anti-heterosexual (and certainly no anti-Caucasian!) stance in any of my writings. My point is: maybe those types of departments could be retained, but cleaned up and staffed with more moral leaders without their idiotic hatreds.

DRJ said...

While I commend these statements, it is too little too late for Duke University's tarnished reputation. Would many people here advise a white male relative to attend Duke in the next years? I think not.

Duke should anticipate fewer qualified male applicants in the future but I doubt they will mind if that happens.

Anonymous said...

8 Blacks convicted of hate crime

Even after the NAACP got involved "to make sure everyone's rights were respected" (ie, that blacks get special treatment).

Anonymous said...

[Professor at Duke]...the group of 88 signatories of the “listening” ad is not monolithic in its beliefs... I believe other signatories to be fine colleagues who are seeking the truth and willing to eventually change their positions in the light of new evidence (even though they may not be willing to do so in public)

Hmmm. Not in public? Not all messily public like the listening ad, then? Perhaps, if we attend a lecture, we will see them momentarily blush, or stare off into the distance? Yeah, these sound like some darned fine colleagues. Professor, if your goal was to encourage a better view of the ideas and ideals currently available to students of Duke, perhaps you should not have commented.

Anonymous said...

M. Simon said...
Here is what I left:


It is past time to turn Angry Studies (as my friend Jim calls them) into real studies with real scholarship.

SteveDinMD: I prefer to call them the "Flatulent Arts."

Anonymous said...

1:31 suggests that politically grounded studies departments should be "cleaned up and staffed with more moral leaders"

As a producer and editor, I must strongly disagree with your mindset.

Let's start at the beginning, OK?


1. Rigorously studying the truth, wherever it may lead

2. Studying the best and the brightest, and always re-examining your criteria

3. Employing the best and the brightest. Admitting the most cognitively prepared students

4. Promoting no social agendas. See point (1) [re staffing with moral leaders. "queer studies," IMO, is a pseudoconcept. If the homosexualiity of, say, Virginia Woolf and Plato, affects their art and work, by all means study it, but within the confines of their respective conceptual disciplines, ie, literature and philosophy. Ditto race and gender. The "study" of these "studies" areas as and end in themselves is ridiculous.]

5. Dedicating scarce resources to the arts and sciences

6. A great university both welcomes divergent points of view and encourages collegiality

7. Finally, a great university acknowledges the simple fact that the word "quality" is not racist, sexist, or homophobic. A great university is not afraid to aver that Shakespeare is worth funding, and Toni Morrison is not

Roman Polanski

Anonymous said...


Polanski is right. The subtext of the rape fiasco has always been about what makes a great university possible.

KC, we need to have this conversation.


Joe T. said...

Roman Polanski: I might want to debate you somewhat on number 4, but otherwise I agree.

Anonymous said...

Joe T: collegiality and divergent points of view are not mutually exclusive

Fire away


Anonymous said...

"I believe other signatories to be fine colleagues who are seeking the truth and willing to eventually change their positions in the light of new evidence (even though they may not be willing to do so in public)..."

I'm having trouble finding the appropriate words: Sleazy, childish, no character...

They participated in a public witch hunt and frame-up of innocent people. The emperor is naked.

M. Simon said...


I think it is the anger that is the problem, not the studies.

They are grievance depts. not study depts. That is the problem.

Joe T. said...

Roman Polanski : Since same-sex attraction is the less common, or minority, sexual attraction, I can see the legitimacy of taking the subject alone and examining how it might have affected the lives of various individuals of that sort throughout history (at times society being tolerant of it, at other times less so). Even for the peripheral knowledge of general history, or as a mental exercise on categorization, couldn't that have some legitimacy?

Anonymous said...

2:38 PM - continued
They are currently involved in the witch hunt/frame up because the 3 innocent men are still currently charged.

Anonymous said...

Joe T,

You're digging a hole. Your minority argument reaches its logical teleological resolution with this question:

If all pursuits minority are worth pursuing academically, then why not canonize pederasty studies, or mulatto studies?

Simon, please tell me what's worthy about devoting scarce funds to the study of blackness, per se, gender identity, per se, or sexual orientation, per se?

Simon and Joe T: Do you not realize that there is not a single full professor on the Duke campus teaching Chinese or Japanese literature?

Wouldn't both of you prefer dedicating funds for Angry Studies to the above, or for funding innovative lecture series featuring cutting-edge geniuses in the arts and sciences?


Anonymous said...

Simon and Joe T: Do you not realize that there is not a single full professor on the Duke campus teaching Chinese or Japanese literature?

Yeah, WTF, the Chinese have something like 4000 years of history and literature. Just the Tang poems alone are worth a department.

Anonymous said...

The least Dickless should do is issue a release that he thinks the boys are innocent and that he believes the AG should drop charges forthwith.

"Thank you for not waiting."

Anonymous said...

thanks for the amen, 3:18

WTF, never saw that 1 before

it does translate to "what the fuck?"--LOL


Anonymous said...

Remember, if Nifong could have planted physical evidence, he would have.

Give that guy a .45

Joe T. said...

Roman Polanski: Yes, I can see the benefits of any minority studies. I don't necessarily mean it as a canonization of the subjects, either. I guess we ultimately disagree, but I'm just saying I wouldn't cut someone's head off just to get rid of his pimples (the 88). But I think you're greatly arguing about priorities, re. funding, and I'd agree that the brilliance of The Tale Of Genji, etc., should take precedence over mediocre figures like Toni Morrison.

Anonymous said...

Bill Anderson writes in a new posting, The Trials of the Edenton Seven, or How Joseph Goebbels Became the Standard for North Carolina Justice, about how these false accusations get picked up and carried.

'This technique, he (Hitler) believed, consisted of telling a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe anyone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously". The first documented use of the phrase "big lie" is in the corresponding passage: "in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility."'

These acts do not happen in a vacuum. They require the support and metanarratives of the enablers.

Anonymous said...

okey-dokey, Joe

Here's a poem composed by the Chinese genius (a renaissance man BEFORE the Renaissance) Zhang Jiuling (678-740):

"Orchid and Orange II"

Here, south of the Yangzi, grows a red orange tree
Not because of a warmer soil,
But because its nature is used to be cold.
Though it might serve your honorable guests,
You leave it here, far below mountain and river.
Circumstance governs destiny.
Cause and effect are an infinite cycle.
You plant your peach-trees and your plums,
You forget the shade from the other tree.

Yep, Richard Brodhead would rather Duke students learn Maya Angelou than Zhang.



Michael said...

re: M. Simon 12:55

I read the story last week and didn't pay a lot of attention to it but had a look at your website and then had a look around and there are similarities.

The supposed attackers are black and white and the supposed victims have lawyered up. There are picture on the web of the injuries on one of the football players and it looks like he was struck in the back many times in the back with a belt (which the supposed victums have admitted to) and cut or stabbed on the arm as he has a fairly large wound there.

The magistrate's unwillingness to take a complaint of assault from one of the football players is really strange too.

And the FBI wants to get involved here.

The CJ system in NC seems to be absolutely nuts.

Joe T. said...

R.P. : Yes.

Anonymous said...


I bet no Dukies know who Rohinton Mistry is, either.

Can't we have genius multiculturalism at Duke, as opposed to dumb multiculturalism?

Keep up the good work, Polanski. Some of my Duke friends think your harping on Chinese and Japanese literature is beginning to sink in.

Duke Dad

Anonymous said...

It's important to remember that G88 exploited the false allegations with plausibly deniable rhetoric, not to mention just poor writing. Had defendant Nifong been successful, the mainstream (mis)interpretation of the statement supporting the guilt of the 3 wrongly accused would stand, and the G88 would have safely waffled towards "we told you so."

They bet on the wrong horse, but luckily for them, the ol' Plausible Deniability (poor, vague writing) comes in very handy, especially for the Administration.

Anonymous said...

4:37 Duke Dad

Thanks for the compliment. I think I'll appropriate your smart and dumb multiculturalism distinction.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall when administrators finally start discussing the quality problem in Angry Studies--more specifically in black angry studies. There are relatively no major geniuses in this area. The fact that they resort to Dubois, Ellington, Morrison, and Coltrane shows you how thin their "studies" program is.

Have you heard anything about the defunding issue from your son, friends?


Anonymous said...

I did not mean that WE needed to coax the Group or the Rump (hereafter referred to collectively as the GRUMPS) into a change of heart and an apology. I do not believe we would be very successful in that role. But if the Duke Prof. is willing to coax (which is what I think he or she was doing), then I am happy offer encouragement. A public apology by the GRUMPS (another important form of public exoneration for the defendants) is in the best interests of all the parties concerned--the GRUMP members themselves, Duke University, Durham, and the defendants.

While we continue to hope for that apology, let's man the catapults and battering rams!

RP, I was pretty much with you on your list right up until the Toni Morrison reference. Could we use Alice Walker next time, maybe? Toni Morrison has made her place in the Canon and is not too likely to lose it.

M. Simon, You come up with more interesting stuff. My superficial response to The Long March article is that not all social change has been detrimental even if it did fit perfectly with a Marxist/communist vision of Utopia. But this topic would bear much discussion.


Anonymous said...


I'd Google "Toni Morrison Overrated Mediocre"

Also suggest you read Stanley Crouch's "Notes of a Hanging Judge." He's black, and he skewers her. Let me ask you this: How does Morrison compare to Thomas Pynchon? Donald Barthelme? Saul Bellow? Martin Amis? Ian McEwan? Cormac McCarthy? Philip Roth?

Here are some courses Duke parents and alumni are financing this spring in the AAAS dept:

1. Lots of "Special Topics" courses [note to KC Johnson: how "special" are these courses?]

2. Intro to Jazz

3. Freedom Stories

4. Comp Race/Ethnic Studies

5. Black Popular Culture

Hey, Dukies, want to get an A and learn nothing important?

Try AAAS--it's all yummy all the time


M. Simon said...

RP or some one impersonating him says:

Simon, please tell me what's worthy about devoting scarce funds to the study of blackness, per se, gender identity, per se, or sexual orientation, per se?

Simon and Joe T: Do you not realize that there is not a single full professor on the Duke campus teaching Chinese or Japanese literature?

We have Middle Eastern Studies, Japanese Studies, why not African/African American Studies?

Real scholarship. Not anger passed off as scholarship.

M. Simon said...

RP 5:32PM,

Stephen Douglas?

M. Simon said...

RP 5:32PM,

Intro to Jazz could be good.

When I went to U Chicago first year Humanities included "Learning to Listen". If done well the Jazz course could have value.

The only really questionable item on the list:

Comp Race/Ethnic Studies

What the heck is that?

Anonymous said...


Do you agree that for any study to have enough value to pique the interest of an elite institution that it must contain works of genius?

I'm sorry to say that the combination of blacks in America and sub-Saharan blacks (AAAS) yields hardly any genius.

China, Japan, England, Italy, Russia--horses of a different color, to paraphrase L Frank Baum.



Anonymous said...

RP: Connie Rice is a genius.

Lest you forget.


DRJ said...

Too bad for Duke that Old Prof (Anonymous @ 11:56 & 12:47) doesn't teach there. S/he would significantly increase the faculty's intellect and common sense.

I agree with others that the subtext of this story is the declining state of the elite universities. However, I submit that cases like this will ultimately lead to a market solution: People will vote with their feet.

Thus, when a university faces a crisis, the public will gauge the university and faculty response and judge the merits (or demerits) of that university. In this situation, Duke failed. The public will remember and Duke will suffer. What's wrong with that?

M. Simon said...

RP 3:08 PM,

I feel your outrage.

However we have these depts. They are not going away any time soon.

Might as well get some real work out of them.

Anonymous said...


I love jazz, but it's nothing more than black popular music. Very little genius, there.

Traditional Irish music is much more interesting, but you don't see that at Duke.

Jazz is interpretive, saxaphone music.

There are a lot of rock 'n rollers more talented than Miles Davis: Lennon & McCartney, Roger Waters, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel

Students should learn about these people on their own time. Bach, Handel, Mahler--these are composers worth studying.

Are you an anti-elitist?


Anonymous said...

Elite universities. That's a term I keep seeing, mainly from people who seem a bit too quick to ascribe their education to such a place. It is often accompanied by the term "peer." In other words, a university that is somehow "noble."

I'm sorry if I have been laughing the entire time. Let me be perfectly frank - Coming from a university that is difficult to get into is hardly an indication of the quality of the education one receives. Many have been quick to provide snide remarks to KC because he teaches at Brooklyn College. This is most likely based upon ignorance. The City College system in NYC is top notch, and the competition of the students who attend schools like Brooklyn College is something one probably has to see to believe. Cooper Union, which is free, is another example of an unknown school that is incredibly difficult in the NYC area. Teachers have to set page limits so their students will not turn in 70 page papers to get a step up on their competition.

Thus, do not fall into the trap Duke fell into at the beginning of this case. When you get out into the working world, you will be despised if you use your education as some sort of snub to a colleague who attended a college that is from a lower tier.

In short, coming from a highly ranked "peer" institution does not mean your crap doesn't stink. Duke's faculty's actions should serve as an example. The elitist, snobbish and boorish attitudes I have seen, mainly from the Leftist trolls that post here, reflects just such a view. Guard against it before it becomes your professional undoing. No one wants to work with a jerk who keeps making "Ivy caliber" references.


Anonymous said...

6:16 Indeed, people will vote with their feet. If Duke doesn't respond aggressively to the attack of the G88, its reputation will definitely suffer.

Esq--Are you serious about Rice, or just being cute?

If you're serious, suggest you read reviews of her book/dissertation. It was blown out of the water. I also understand that she flunked out of music school. Rice's rise is all about the gross affirmative action policies that are covertly supported by punks like George Bush.

If you can provide me with some examples of her "genius," I'll listen.


Anonymous said...


I hope you were not referring to me vis-a-vis elite school snobs. I support elite curricula at any school.


Anonymous said...

RP: No, it's not that. It's the snottish attitude of the profs and students who post here, particularly from Duke, and almost entirely from the Left. You, and I for that matter, simply want traditional emphasis returned to universities and the classroom. These people think that if they studied in the Female Studies Department at Duke, their opinions are more important that a grad from a so-called "lower tiered" school who studied engineering because their schooling was somehow "superior." That's absurd IMHO.


M. Simon said...


Actually I love Rock, Classical, Jazz, Folk, etc.

I used to be an engineer at WFMT in Chicago 62-63. WTAO near Carbondale,Ill 73-74.

I see nothing wrong with studying any of it if done with rigor.

Anonymous said...


Let's be honest: some of the best universities in the US are public.

A Duke degree may help you get laid in some circles, that's it.

Let me reiterate: Duke's academic reputation has been seriously harmed by Brodhead's inaction and by the premiere of the black studies department's Spike Lee film.

What do you elite Dukies think about the discount of your brand?

Roman Polanski

M. Simon said...

RP 6:14PM,

Nope, a culture doesn't need to have any particular genius other than survival to be worth studuing.

A need to interact with such cultures for purposes of trade ought to be enough.

See I'm kind of strange. The best and the worst and the mediocre all interest me. Sometimes there is a pony in the pile. Besides it is interesting to see how people think. Or not.

Anonymous said...


You're referring to cultural anthropology.


M. Simon said...


You know I guess I did not get far enough in school for all the rigid divisions to set in.

Anonymous said...

To Roman Polanski:

You seem to be suffering from a very acute sense of insecurity. Maybe you should go get some counseling.

Anonymous said...


I agree. Can you recommend anyone?

I'm receiving welfare, so I can't be picky.

Thanks, friend,


Anonymous said...


I know who you are: Debrah Correll, arguably the weakest writer on the board. Your redundant "very acute" was a dead giveaway.

Have you considered changing your medication?

Trinity '96

Anonymous said...

RP: Connie Rice never failed out of music school.

You can question her politically all you like, but in terms of her intelligence, don't fool yourself. Graduated University of Denver at 19 years of age, Phi Beta Kappa, speaks at least four different foreign languages, and plays a number of musical instruments.

The woman is flat out laser smart. Her IQ, BTW, is reported to be 185. I can believe it.


Anonymous said...

In defense of Toni Morrison...

Well, I am sorry to say that Pynchon and Bellow, both of whom I read way too many years ago to discuss now without rereading, and McEwan are the only names on your list that overlap with my literary repertoire. Yes, I know that leaves a dreadful gap, especially with respect to Philip Roth. I have intended for some time to have a Philip Roth reading jag, but, it is not likely to take place until next fall. Nevermind that. I have read Morrison recently, and perhaps I can just focus on her now.

Why I believe Morrison is in the Canon to stay:

Although she does not trace slavery back to Africa and explore the universalities of human nature based on what happened there in the way Mr. Crouch would wish, Morrison's work is still universal in scope. Much more than just a "blackface Holocaust novel," as Mr. Crouch derisively calls it, Beloved is a story of an exodus from totalitarianism in the broadest sense. It is the story of the the universal human effort to overcome our collective and personal histories. Furthermore, it is a warning that unless we are able to do so (and we may not be able to through no real fault of our own), history can and will destroy us--how quintessentially American. Yes, Morrison paints her story with bold, broad strokes. Yes, it seems heavyhanded at times. I cringed more than once at the hyperbole and found some of it so annoying I launched a few searches to debunk for myself some of Morrison's dramatic exaggerations. BUT by the end of the book, I decided my own criticisms were PETTY. Where Morrison is masterful, and she is, she is masterful in a way like no other. Her description of the community celebration leading up to the arrival of the bounty hunters and Sethe's murdering of Beloved is superb. Also beautifully crafted are Sethe's descent into madness and the scene where she finally loses her mind entirely and attempts to murder a kind and helpful white man whose hat and horse trigger her memory of the bounty hunters' approach twenty years before. This scene of madness and flashback reminded me more than a little of what may have happened in the case currently obsessing us.

Let me add that Ms. Morrison's tales are unique and represent a human experience of great interest to many of us. Until the unlikely day when someone else does a better job than Ms. Morrison telling this metanarrative, she will be an important voice in the Western Canon.

The Bluest Eye is exquisite, and Harold Bloom prefers Song of Solomon, which I have not read, to any of her other work...if you are considering reading some of Morrison.


Anonymous said...


Einstein's IQ was estimated at 160. I don't have time right now to check her out, but I do know that she herself admits that she was not talented enough to continue with her musical studies.

However, it is common knowledge that Rice's dissertation received overwhelmingly bad reviews. All her "theories" were proven to be based on other scholars' work.

I know a lot of models and photographers that speak 5 languages. Most of my European friends are multilingual.

My point is that I don't buy in to the MSM canard that this is an exceptional woman. And if you can prove that she has a bona fide 185 IQ, I'll fellate you on the Tonight Show. I doubt that in the history of the world any African has registered such an extraordinary IQ.

If she is so smart, what are the manifestations? Let's just say we disagree about this woman. She strikes me as a bona fide administrator. Many pundits are now starting to address her unimaginative approach to foreign policy.

If you'd like to look up a brillian woman, check out my ex-girlfriend, Mary Gaitskill. She was nominated for a National Book Award last year. Bill Clinton is another overrated "intellect." His poorly written book had a devastating effect on his "genius" rep.


Anonymous said...

Esquire, MD,

Kevin Dunn discusses C Rice's dissertation in the 4/7/04 edition of the Washington Monthly. He quotes a famous scholar in her field who argues that she does not know history. It's a devastating review.


Anonymous said...

The FODU petition is a good thing, and I hope that many, many people who have some connection with Duke will sign it. (I have no such connection and believe that people who do are by far the most effective signers.)

I do believe that there are other petitions that Duke reformers should create. Duke (and many other educational institutions)have serious structural problems that have been illuminated by this case. One of these is that the concept of tenure in many cases serves to protect academic incompetents/buffoons instead of protecting genuine academic independence. (How many of the group of 88 have tenure?)It occurs to me that one way to help clean up this situation is to provide for Duke some organization that can do for tenured faculty what the North Barolina Bar can do for prosecutors and other lawyers. There should be some disciplinary procedure similar to the one which Nifong will face which can de-tenure bad professors in much the same way that bad lawyers can be disbarred. The Friends of Duke University would do well to press for the creation of such a system at Duke.

Anonymous said...

great post, 1:24

Academic accountability: what a concept.

I posted above on this thread about what constitutes a great university. Suggest you read it.


Anonymous said...

11:59 Oberserver:

"...history can and will destroy us--how quintessentially American..."

I'm not sure I understand and do not want to read more into your "quintessentially American" comment than may be intended...what exactly do you mean?

Anonymous said...

I meant that being American in the context of world history means having the opportunity to start fresh, to leave behind grievances, rivalries, wars--to begin anew in this fantastic experiment of democracy. Humanity always struggles to overcome history's legacy of violence stemming from envy, limited resources, differing ideologies, etc. And Sethe engages in the same effort at an individual level. But her internal struggles to overcome the legacy of her past fail, and she goes mad. Beloved represents these struggles externally. She functions as a character in much the same vein as Nathaniel Hawthorne's scarlet "A," only far more dramatically, of course--she is a character after all.


Anonymous said...

Humanity always struggles to overcome history's legacy of violence stemming from envy, limited resources, differing ideologies, etc.

Anyone who subscribes to this view has a very narrow, and romantic, view of humanity.

As I am sure Margaret Thatcher would say, humanity consists of lots of individuals who are mostly (parents who have obligate homosexual offspring have lost the game already) all trying to get ahead and ensure that their genes get into the next generations. They all have varying levels of obligation and sympathy towards other individuals depending mainly on their degree of relatedness.

You can, by and large, expect them to all do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, and some ethnic groups might not think that it is in their interests to pander to the interests of the dominant ethnic group ...

Anonymous said...

1:20 Thank you for circling back and clarifying.

Ralph Phelan said...

"Is the goal here to destroy the Group and the Rump, or to coax them out of the castle and help them find their way to a healthier, more accurate/scholarly/evidence based way of perceiving and reflecting reality?"

There are lots of intelligent, compassionate, open-minded scholars in the world. Why should Duke spend a lot of effort on the apparently hopeless cause of reforming people who aren't?

"I hope any others who care about the members of the Group/Rump as individuals make some efforts as well."

I care as much about them as they care about the lacross players.

This reminds me of all the folks in the legal field who said nothing about Nifong until the evidence had been inescapable for months.

Ignore the language of compassion. It's a lie. This is about academic and legal guild solidarity.

Ralph Phelan said...

Cedarford sez:

"What actions, given Duke has always emphasized sports form an important base to forming a well-rounded Duke student, should be done with Duke athletics - or is the program working just fine?"

How can you even ask that ?!?!?!
So far as I can tell the athletes are the only ones acting in a conspicuously honorable manner (some econ & law professors are doing OK, but they weren't out front early like the womens' lacrosse team). Athletics appears to be the *only* thing at Duke that's "working just fine."

(Re: lacrosse players having a stripper party - from what I've heard that's the kind of thing that could just as easily have happened at any frat party. If that's correct (which I admit I don't know for sure) then Duke has a general campus-culture problem, but it's not a specifically athletic-related one.)

"Forward looking, would it not be better to just promulgate standards of civility to all on Duke campus or interacting with external parties like Durham residents, are expected to follow? Would that not be better than endless cycles of grievance-claiming and ensuent accomodation?"

Only if the Durham residents are willing to go along with the deal. You get the NC NAACP to sign on (and really mean it) and you might have something there. Lots of luck!

"Let the lawsuits claim their pound of flesh. Then adapt and move on conscious of who did the harm"

We know who did the harm, we know what kind of harm they did, we know they're still doing it, and much of it isn't legally actionable but is still a big problem, not just at Duke. It's the PC "victims-studies" types, the "Civil Rights Community," and a whole bunch of others of similar ilk. They've been winning by default for a long time, and until they're stood up to, things will keep getting worse.

Ralph Phelan said...

"We have Middle Eastern Studies, Japanese Studies, why not African/African American Studies?"

Japan is a major economic competitor, both an opportunity and a threat.
The Middle East is of obvious strategic importance to the US.
Adding a department of Chinese studies is urgent.

African American studies, not so much.

Anonymous said...

I prefer that my opponents be esteemed and intelligent so that the points that they make can be used to defeat them with their own sword without the possibility that they can later exclaim that they were misinterpreted . Morons can easily make that claim and leave nothing of use for my attack . It is impolite to attack morons .

The only structurally new and significant piece of this offering by the esteemed and substantially intelligent author is the Brodhead conflation . This author makes this conflation clear in his third paragraph . He signals that it is his clear and established impression that such is his ideology Broadhead would have signed the Listening Statement . His subsequent defense of the 88 now falls into place .

That Brodhead is a meta-member in good standing of the 88 needs no further validation . And we can thank out highly intelligent , perceptive young scholar for that .