Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Group: It's a Conspiracy

First, it was Mike Nifong alleging a conspiracy by the blogs--led by Jason Trumpbour and Friends of Duke University--to bring him down. Now, it's the Group of 88 claiming a conspiracy against them. As Steve Veres notes in a just-posted Chronicle article,
The professors do not really understand the outpouring of anger. One cited a conspiracy. Another cited the misinterpretation in the media.
Statements in the article reinforce talking points common to the Group of 88 Rehab Tour.

They were just "listening" to students--as if professors routinely take out ads containing anonymous quotes from alleged students.

Professors had between 6 and 48 hours to make up their minds on whether to sign the ad--though the reasons for the rush have never been explianed, it appears that organizer Wahneema Lubiano wanted to ad to appear before the players' DNA tests came back.

Their African-American members have been targeted by mass e-mail campaigns of racists and misogynists--though the Group can never identify any of these campaigns. Indeed, the one and only mass e-mail campaign of which I know came from Friends of Duke, in which Trumpbour explicitly urged people to employ respectful language, adding,
We are committed not to forgetting the past, but learning from it and making Duke a better place going forward. The best way to do that is by encouraging the Group of 88 to live up to our best expectations for them rather than our worst and by looking for common ground with them. Also, there is yet a chance for them to make amends by speaking out at this critical time. Let us never forget that the one who has done the most damage to Duke and who has created the divisions within our community is Mike Nifong.
Finally, Group members continue to issue statements that, to put it mildly, creatively interpret the past:
  • Diane Nelson: "The lacrosse players' voices were being heard… our sense was that these other students who have an equal right to be heard were not at that moment." The gestation period for the ad was between March 29 and April 6. Daily potbangers protests were occurring. At the time, when and where were "the lacrosse players' voices . . . being heard"? Nelson, of course, doesn't say.
  • Pedro Lasch: "I don't think it's worth responding to the bloggers' e-mails because they wanted [the discussion] to stop. They wanted all those questions, all those debates, all those discussions to stop right there. 'It was all a fabrication, you are making it all up,' they say. It's not true! And to say that is just utter self-deception." Lasch never quite says what "it" is--essentially confirming Richard Bertrand Spencer's point that "it is through [their] inarticulateness that the Group seeks to stake out a position that cannot be criticized or even rationally assessed."
Veres portrays (correctly, I believe) the Group members as genuinely perplexed at the turn of events. Though they attached their cause to a case that has collapsed, they have given no indication that they see anything wrong with what they did. Faced with the choice of attributing the criticism that they have received to a conspiracy of unspecified proportions involving unspecified parties or engaging in critical self-reflection, they choose the former. Remarkable.


Anonymous said...

I feel very confident that none of the Group of 88 would dare debate, in a face-to-face forum, with KC.

Heck I doubt any of these "intellectuals" would debate face-to-face any avid readers of this blog.

Anonymous said...

KC - You are the best writer. I am sure the mean spirited Professors are still in shock that they have been challenged. I do not believe they have received the emails or phone calls they claim. They are lying - like Gail Dines and the other jpeople who chose to condem the team. The best defense is a good offense. Clearly they don't like "moving backwards*

Howard said...

What's the email address of the conspiracy? I want to join.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Hillary's "vast right-wing conspiracy" is back....

Insufficiently Sensitive said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I feel very confident that none of the Group of 88 would dare debate, in a face-to-face forum, with KC.

This isn't the only thing they share with Jimmy "PLO" Carter.

Anonymous said...


In 1968, during the Democratic Party's National Convention (held in Chicago), there was a substantive amount of violent activity (partly by protesters) that occurred outside the convention proper.

One day, Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley (known as "da Mare"), frustrated with the violence, said in front of the media that (referring to the protesters) the police should "... shoot to kill".

The quote made it into the local newspapers.

The next day, after reading the papers, da Mare was angry at the remarks (correctly) attributed to him. He then assembled the press corps to discuss their reporting of his remarks, berating them for their reporting.

As part of his diatribe toward the media, he then gave the media their orders for reporting his remarks in the future, saying ... "you are supposed to 'print what I mean, not what I say'".

He thus defined part of the media's role as one of putting his remarks in the best possible light at all times, reporting his words and actions much like a film director showing the final take of a scene in a film instead of showing the many outtakes where the scene was botched.

It seems to me as if the "Group of 88/8x" is doing something in the spirit of these remarks.

To paraphrase Richard J. Daley, the Group of 88/8x is telling us that we need to "hear what they mean, not what they say (currently)".

The group seems to be saying "... World, only WE are capable of interpreting what WE say". However others may interpret our utterances,those interpretations may be correct (in that instant) only if it is convenient for us to say so at that moment.

In addition, We reserve the right to re-express our interpretation at any and all times in the future.

And Oh, by the way, whatever our current interpretation, it is the one that has always been our interpretation. Thus, there are no inconsistencies for the group.

Those of us outside the group (aka "the peasantry") need to realize that "the imperial ones" have spoken.

Although this blog may be "Durham in Wonderland", the Group of 88/8x seems to be playing instead in another universe, collectively assuming the role of the "man behind the curtain" in the "The Wizard of Oz" as it might be written by a collaboration of L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll, with possibly a bit of "Wizard of Id" thrown in for flavor. If an illustrated version of this story were ever to be created, perhaps only Gary Larson (The Far Side) would have the twisted sense of humor to do it justice.

The Group of 88/8x want the rest of us to only look at "The Truth" -- that reality which the group currently blesses. We are supposed to "... ignore that man behind the curtain" and only look at the revealed utterances of the Group.

The activities of last month's "Teach-in" show us that the Group thinks that they need to hide behind that curtain that they have woven leaving us only to see the "gods" that they are.

The Group believes that their role is to be the 'Royalty' of the university, dispensing all wisdom and blessings to the rest of us (the peasantry). We obviously need their guidance and direction, as we would cease to exist without it.

The Group fears the actions of KC Johnson, LieStoppers, JinC, Bill Anderson, and others in pulling back the curtain to show the peasantry who the Group really is. As with those others who excercise what they believe to be absolute power, they fear the reaction of the awakened masses, who might very well say "guillotine, ... guillotine".


Background and disclosure:

Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (1902-1976) is the father of the current mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley. Richard J. Daley served as "da Mare" from 1955 until his death.

I was not at "da Mare's" meeting with the media in 1968. I did, however, see much of the violence that swirled around the convention, as I had credentials for it as a press photographer.


Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Unbelievable. This Gang won't admit to ANYTHING! When Baker makes a fool out of himself in front of a television camera, it doesn't mean he's stupid and inarticulate, it means "I had not had my coffee. And the sun was in my eyes." When Lasch says 'it's not unthinkable (a gang rape) might have happened', it means he doesn't think the players are guilty of gang rape. When Nelson applauds signs calling for castrating lacrosse students, it means she 'never meant to hurt the players'.

For God's sake, how can the world listen to the Gang when the Gang won't even listen to itself?

Anonymous said...

Somebody told Wahneema that on April 5th Brodhead was going to cancel the lacrosse season and hand out committees (prizes) to Angry Studies. Upon hearing the substance of Brodhead's planned announcement Wahneema had only 48 hours to 'draft' the 'listening statement' and push it through channels, so that it was published wham-bam "like a stake through their collective hearts." (why the RUSH?) Timing is everything in show biz.

Anonymous said...

Three points/questions:

1) I strongly encourage K.C. to issue a standing invitation to debate any member of the 88 in a public forum about the meaning and appropriateness of the listening ad, and to highlight the invitation as a permanent link on his blog. This would effectively demonstrate which side wants to engage in rational argument, and which doesn't.

2) I'd be careful about making sweeping statements that none of the 88 received personally ad hominem or racist emails/phone calls. It's a big world out there, and even righteous causes attract nut cases at the fringe. However, I would tend to agree that that there is reason to be skeptical that such vile communication to the 88 has predominated.

3) Has it ever been disclosed who paid for the original ad to run in the Chronicle? I wonder whether a Duke department (e.g., Af-Am Studies)paid. It seems unlikely that the hat was passed among the signatories, escially since they have repeatedly emphasized the speed and anonymity of the process of signing. If the source of funds is currently unknown, perhaps a friendly inquiry from K.C. to the Chronicle would prompt the paper to disclose who paid. I'd hate to have to wait for civil discovery to learn if the university's official entanglement in the ad included financial sponsorship.

Anonymous said...

I'm just sick to my stomach after reading today's posts.
What kind of trash is Brodhead hiring at Duke these days? Just the way the 88 talk makes me want to heave.

"thugniggaintellectual"? And this piece of nothing talks trash to his students? Telling them how he's going to force himself on them like a bad rap video?

How can any member of the group of 88 who is serious about teaching sign on to anything with some of the thugs?

Are they all crazy?

I'd say that Karla Holloway, Wahneema Lubiano, and William Chafe are bordering on insanity.

Anthony Neal is already in a loony bin.

These nuts live for exaggeration and inventing stories that never happened. What idiots.

Anonymous said...

6 50
What is the significance of that timeline? Sounds interesting but confusing to me.

gwallan said...

I have no doubt that threatening emails have been sent to G88 participants. We reap what we sow in this world and their own publicly demonstrated racism and sexism simply begs that type of response. Just what did they expect?

They have yet to receive my email. All in good time. Unlike some I like to know the facts first.

Anonymous said...

The Group of 88 embodies the same rigid, self righteous, dangerous lunacy as the Stalin's & Mao's of the world that inhabit today's Higher Liberal Arts Education Centers. Somehow they were granted all knowing power to know what is best for all and they tolerate no dissent. It is amazing how little these people, living in their cloistered Ivory Tower have contibuted to either Society or the greatness of this nation. These particular folks are definitely from the very shallow end of the academic gene pool, reflecting very poorly on Higher Education in the US and particularly Duke University. It's time to drain the swamp !
No more Alumni dollars until Duke has righted it's foundering ship.

Jim said...

To understand the G88's confusion, one must understand their professions.

To liberal arts profs, 46 choices and no wrong answers is status quo. A "listening statement" is not literal, it is figurative. A "clarifying statement" is not whitewash, it is maturing philosophy.

Because the arts are unempirical, there is no such thing as DNA evidence. If a professor insists the sky is black on a cloudless day at high noon, she can find any number of philosophical references to support her conclusion.

When one can create reality, pour it forth, have it recorded, confirmed- even admired- by masses of intellects in the cloistered setting of a classroom, or a like-minded society, one becomes increasingly ill-prepared for encounters with opposing opinions.

Gary Packwood said...

Thank You Professor K. C. Johnson, Professor Jason Trumpbour and Bloggers

This article in the Duke Chronicle today brought back memories from May of 1970 when faculty members responsible for leading students to a rally at Kent State University (and ...Ohio State and Ohio U) were busy scrubbing their reputations after the bodies of the students had been buried and the wounded carted off to the hospital.

I remember like yesterday (I was a student on the campus at Ohio U) that the 'studies' professors along with a few political scientists was all saying "When you take a political stance, this is what happens sometimes-people resist that."

Other faculty used such phrases as... The underlying issues - The overall context - Wake-up call to raise awareness - Our words have been misinterpreted and - Student expressed concern and concern and concern and ....more concern except the students who expressed the concerns were ...anonymous.

The articles were published as the last word in the campus newspapers, the universities all shut down and all of us who were students wondered aloud ...what about us?

We were used yet there was no one we could turn to and no one who could explain how they knew and we didn't ...that this human tragedy was destined to be.

We felt cheated and betrayed.

Well, now the students have someone; in fact many people...who are Bloggers who care about students and telling the truth.

This article in the Duke Chronicle "They Found 88 Problems, and the Dancer Was Just One" will not be the last word.

Not by a long shot.

Thank You Professor K. C. Johnson, Professor Jason Trumpbour and Bloggers

Anonymous said...

Readers of this blog are really really off track here. Brodhead did not hire ANY of the 88. NONE.

Baker and most of the others, not all (some were at Duke even in the 1980s) were hired by Chafe as Arts and Sciences Dean (1995-2005), when Nan Keohane was President, although as President she had little to do with hiring. Chafe as Dean funded and authorized these hires. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I hit the link to the chronicle article. I find it very amusing, to say the least, that so many of postings allowed at the end of the article are individuals that have no respect for the 88. I won't discuss the "I almost cried" quote from the anonymous student. For humor, I personally find Sanday's article far more humorous.

One thing I find interesting is all the anonymous quotes the G88 rely on. Anybody I've ever met that has experienced any "ism", race, sex, etc was always willing to go on record and say so. Does anybody know of a link to an internet copy of the "Listening" ad. The way they wrote the article, I wonder if there was any "room for interpretation" in the ad at all. I have never actually seen the ad, so I'm only asking from a point of view of ignorance or lack of experience (whichever you prefer).

Finally, the tone of the article and the quotes of the professors sounded to my ear like saying i'm sorry without saying "I'm sorry".


Anonymous said...

After KC's book on Durham-in-Wonderland, a second book needs to be written. An examination of the Group of 88 would be but one chapter. The many remaining chapters would examine in detail similar situations at universities around the country. It's time for exposure and expose.

Anonymous said...

What still amazes me is how easy that critical self-reflection should have been.

Wasn't the timing of the ad just slightly driven by assumptions about how the case would turn out?

Didn't those assumptions turn out to be just slightly premature and just slightly incorrect?

Wouldn't that ad have been edited just slightly more carefully if it had been considered for publication six months later?

What kind of academic mind is closed to questions that are that simple?

If KC ever needs a new name for the homepage, I nominate ThugBloggaIntellectual.

Dave in CA

Anonymous said...

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, I attended (and was graduated from) a lowly state university. And, I might add, I did not have to endure any of the nonsense that seems to currently infect certain members of the Duke faculty.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 8:29 said
6 50
What is the significance of that timeline? Sounds interesting but confusing to me.

Why did the g88 RUSH to publish the "listening statement" when it was published? The weasels have tried to have us believe the statement was about long standing campus troubles (racism, sexism, underage drinking). Steve Veres' article helped me understand there was a rush to publish this statement. I think someone told Lubiano what Brodhead was going to say and when he was going to say it. Lubiano constructed her statement, raced around getting signatures, and made the deadline for publication one day after Brodhead's announcements.

Nelson said... The final draft was forwarded by e-mail to several departments and listservs. Professors had a short window to add their signatures to the document. "I had to tell them in six hours if I wanted to sign it," Nelson remembers. Associate Professor of AAAS Wahneema Lubiano-who was heavily involved in penning the ad's first draft-says the whole process lasted around 48 hours.

Steve Veres : "The advertisement ran in a full-page spread in The Chronicle April 6th-the day after Brodhead announced he set up five committees to investigate campus culture, cancelled the rest of the team's season, and that lacrosse coach Mike Pressler resigned."

(emphasis mine)

Anonymous said...

JLS says...,

1. So it seems the 88 gangsters rushed to rush to judgement. I think since the players attorney's said there would be no DNA match, the drafters pushed to get other signers because they worried they would get fewer signer when the DNA results came back.

2. How can an article about this be written WITHOUT mention that a lawsuit concerning grade retaliation on the part of a member of the 88 gangsters is pending in the court system.

3. To whomever asked a variety of Duke departments and programs paid for the ad including the usual angry studies departments and programs.

Anonymous said...

11:30 p.m. said: "A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, I attended (and was graduated from) a lowly state university. And, I might add, I did not have to endure any of the nonsense that seems to currently infect certain members of the Duke faculty."

That's because you were in college "a long time ago." Lowly state and exclusive private universities, and those in between, in galaxies near and far are now infected.

scott said...

Who is Steve Veres and when did he become the campaign manager / pimp for the G88?

Anonymous said...

10:00 Jim said:

Because the arts are unempirical, there is no such thing as DNA evidence. If a professor insists the sky is black on a cloudless day at high noon, she can find any number of philosophical references to support her conclusion.

When one can create reality, pour it forth, have it recorded, confirmed- even admired- by masses of intellects in the cloistered setting of a classroom, or a like-minded society, one becomes increasingly ill-prepared for encounters with opposing opinions.

I find this commentary sad and ignorant. Jim implies that the subject manner itself is responsible for this bizarre behavior.
Following this 'logic', then since KC (the blog's author) is a professor of history, an art that offers no empirical proof, then KC therefore must be an idealogue of the G88.
This is crap.
The G88 are odious because they are the opposite of liberal artists. They are attempting to co-opt education for the purposes of victimhood indoctrination. This is a perversion of liberal arts not an accurate representation of such.

Tall T

Richard Aubrey said...

Jim. Ref liberal arts and the G88.

The 88ers CAN do what they do BECAUSE liberal arts have so little that has an empirical basis.

Instead of empiricism, liberal arts depended on good faith, honesty, and honor.

Absent those, the structure, or its lack, allows the situation we see.

It would be different in engineering, where a student could say, "Put it on the breadboard and lets see if it happens again." or words to that effect.

Tyler Hissey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.