Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Group's Intellectual Origins

Duke graduate student Richard Bertrand Spencer has penned perhaps the single most perceptive commentary on the Group of 88’s intellectual origins. Spencer, a Ph.D. candidate in European intellectual history, explores “the ‘foundational myths’ that underlie the Group’s response and give meaning to its claims,” and in the process helps explain why the lacrosse case “has left serious people with a sense that something has gone terribly wrong with Duke’s academic culture.”

Spencer contends that the Group actually consists of “two subgroups: professional black activists and rather tame liberals.” In the former category, he cites figures such as Houston Baker and Mark Anthony (“thugniggaintellectual”) Neal; Spencer also could have pointed to professors such as Waheema Lubiano, Grant Farred, and Thavolia Glymph (things were “moving backwards” after the negative DNA tests). While some in this “professional activist element . . . are prolific scholars, many others have achieved tenure with little or nothing in the way of publications or research. Many of these professors can only justify their presence at Duke—and their six-figure salaries—through their campus politics. The lacrosse case gave them something to do.”

This faction’s “foundational myth”? That Duke students embody (to borrow Farred’s phrase) “secret racism.” As Spencer observes, this myth informs Mark Anthony Neal’s

claim that whenever he “rolls into the classroom on the first day of class,” there is always somebody “in the house quietly utter[ing] ‘who’s the nigger?’” That a professor heard students whispering the N-word at politically correct Duke approaches the outer limits of credibility. What’s more instructive is Neal’s response: “I’m the nigga that gonna intellectually choke the living s- -t out of you.”

These figures—along with their well-published colleague, Karla Holloway—have attracted a good deal of public (and blog) attention, in part because of their tendency toward high-profile, outrageous statements. But, Spencer argues, such “professional victims” form a minority in the Group, many of whose members “are legitimate scholars and achieved tenure on the basis of merit.” The Group, after all, included some of the biggest scholarly names in Duke’s humanities and social sciences departments—people such as Alice Kaplan, or William Chafe, or Frank Lettrichia. In their scholarship, Spencer contends, they exhibit “an acumen and responsibility absent from their writings on the lacrosse case.”

The “foundational myth” for this second cohort of Group of 88 members involves “a kind of ‘primal scene’ of sexual-racial oppression.” Chafe’s infamous Chronicle op-ed, which argued that the whites who lynched Emmett Till provided the appropriate historical context through which to view the lacrosse players’ behavior, captured the sentiment. In a less-cited passage from the column, Chafe wrote,

Sex was an instrument by which racial power was manifested and perpetuated. Why are most African Americans of a lighter hue than Africans from Nigeria? Because at some point in the past, or present, white males have “had their way” with black women. White slave masters were the initial perpetrators of sexual assault on black women, subsequent generations continued the pattern.
Chafe left little doubt that “subsequent generations” included Duke’s own students, then the targets of Mike Nifong’s pre-primary publicity barrage. Indeed, Spencer notes, the history professor “seems unable to view the lacrosse team’s hiring of a black stripper outside the ‘context’ of his gothic portrayal of miscegenation.”

From their different starting points, then, the two primary factions in the Group came together in “viewing the case as intricately related to some kind of sexualized lynching.”

But what kind of campus environment does the Group actually want? Here Spencer is at his most perceptive—and most depressing. He cites the swift denunciations of Steve Baldwin last fall, after the Chemistry professor became the first Duke faculty member to publicly criticize the Group.

Within 24 hours, Robyn Wiegman, director of the Women’s Studies program, penned a letter to the Chronicle accusing Baldwin (falsely) of using “the language of lynching.” She then articulated her vision of the University, one centered on cultivating “a community of critical thought.” Spencer’s translation:

By “critical thought” she seems to mean empathic nodding, endless “listening,” and the complete absence of criticism directed at professors. The managerial elite in this “community” would undoubtedly be none other than Wiegman, Neal, Chafe, and Baker. In this vision of the university, one’s eagerness to “listen” to designated victims has become the chief means of securing status.

Indeed, apart from the passages that prejudged the guilt of the lacrosse players, the Group’s original statement, Spencer notes, “consists of a litany of general claims, at once hyperbolic and exceedingly vague.” And the Group’s clarity has not improved over time—as Karla Holloway recently, if inadvertently, confirmed. Responding to critics noting that the Group’s statement that something “happened” to the accuser presumed guilt, she suggested that the signatories were actually playing a guessing game with the public. Perhaps, Holloway mused, they really meant that “drunkenness” happened to the accuser.

The interview in which these comments appeared came out after Spencer’s piece went to print. But his conclusion anticipated Holloway’s bizarre claim:

That the sundry statements of the Group of 88 are incoherent, illogical, and generally poorly written is beside the point. For it is through this inarticulateness that the Group seeks to stake out a position that cannot be criticized or even rationally assessed. For them, the lacrosse case was never about a possible crime but was instead an expression of an unspeakable “terror,” “the spirit of the lynch mob,” or a fantasy of Duke undergraduates whispering the N-word. In turn, this inarticulateness affirms the utter impossibility of any actual response: the Group seeks to “cultivate a community of critical thought,” expatiate white guilt or, in Professor Neal’s case, “intellectually choke the living s- -t out of you.”

The themes explored by Spencer, of course, represent an aspect of Duke’s campus culture that seems shielded from any critical inquiry.


Anonymous said...

Ever notice how diversity only goes skin deep with so many of its strongest proponents?

Anonymous said...

He may be right, but I owe a partial apology to Samson Mesele.

This guy doesn't know the difference between "rein" and "reign" either.


Anonymous said...

The article by Richard Bertrand Spencer seems unusually gutsy for a Ph.D. candidate in European intellectual history at Duke. He must have a lot of faith in the fairness of the History Department Professors who are going to sit in judgment of his thesis.

bill anderson said...

Good post. We can multiply this nonsense across higher education in this country (and in places like Great Britain and elsewhere), and gain a sense of the mentality that pervades academe today. Just tonight, I saw one of my students who was working at an outside job, and he told me of being harassed in an English class by his professor because he apparently has commited the crime of being Catholic and pro-life.

I must admit that I wonder about the future of higher education, including my own fate. While I have found the professoriate to be a rewarding career, I also know that there are plenty of PC people out there who will not be satisfied until the university and college campuses are nothing less than re-education camps.

I got into this business mainly for teaching and research, yet I suspect that those of us who want to survive in the academy today are going to have to learn how to hit the barricades once in a while just to head off the PC crowd. What is happening at Duke is a microcosm of the state of higher education in the USA. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Do professors Johnson and Anderson have any suggestions to those who are horrified by the behavior of the Duke Group of 88? What can an ordinary citizen do?

Anonymous said...

It is striking how zealous this group is (and other such "scholars") in "deconstructing" the alleged beliefs and practices of the class of supposed "oppressors", and how sceptical they are of everything except their own assumptions, which are often sweeping, unsubstantiated and highly self-indulgent. They apply a double standard to beliefs. But it is paying them a very high (and undeserved) compliment to subject their pronouncements to any kind of "intellectual" analysis. It seems like pure ideology (in the Marxist sense) to me.

Anonymous said...

The “Something Happened” reasoning seems intellectually weak. Of course something happened. What is of importance is did criminal activity happen specifically sexual assault or kidnapping. In context the “Something Happened” comment had to refer to kidnapping, rape and sexual assault to try to weasel out of it by saying a reader is free to interpret the “something” is just a lie.

One of the weakest arguments I have heard is “Something Happened” therefore we need a trial. This is a misuse of the court system. The way it is suppose to work is after an allegation is made the case is investigated. Only after an honest investigation in which an unbiased conclusion is made that the fact supports a prosecution are charges filed. You don’t get a trial for every allegation. Legally you don’t need to figure out what happened it is sufficient to figure out what did not happen.

The writer’s theories as to the motives of the Group of 88 seem to be as insightful as anything else I’ve read.

Anonymous said...

What will President Brodhead do?

Anonymous said...

"According to the Department of Justice’s most recent National Crime Victimization Survey, 15.5 percent of white rape victims were attacked by blacks, while 0.0 percent of black victims were raped by white males. The notion that assaults on poor black women by preppy college students is a pressing national problem is patently absurd."

That quote alone makes his piece one of the best I've read on the Group of 88.

Every time someone diverts a discussion of the merits of the Lacrosse case into some morality play about the supposed "real story" of widespread sexual predation, this will be my response.

Thanks for the pointer to a great article.

becket03 said...

How perfect to compare the Campus Culture Initiative to the Committee for Public Safety of revolutionary France. The same irrational, self-righteous, self-pitying, insubstantial, implacable, arrogant fanaticism that coursed through Robespierre's veins courses also through Houston Baker's and Mark "[chubby]thugN*wordintellectual" Anthony Neal's.

I'm a little surprised that it took two weeks for news of this excellent column to percolate into DIW. What an insightful, terrific piece, one of the best yet written on the Group of 88.


Anonymous said...

As a lifetime man of the left, it just kills me that the most accurate analysis of the loony 88 comes from an article in 'American Conservative,' an organ founded by Pat f****** Buchanan of all people.

Anonymous said...

These professors do not realize the harm they do to their own cause. The more they berate white males, their families, their ideals and various theologies the more they generate negative feelings toward them, their race and their ideologies. My children left Duke and UNC with stronger negative feelings toward blacks than they had before attending. Nobody likes a whining "victim" particularly when you are the supposed victimizer.

Anonymous said...

Spencer Your article is terrific.

Anonymous said...

"Why are most African Americans of a lighter hue than Africans from Nigeria? Because at some point in the past, or present, white males have “had their way” with black women."

These words were taken straight out of the mouth of Alton Maddox, of, you guessed it.... the Tawana Brawley hoax. I heard him make virtually the exact same statement almost 20 years ago.

Prof Chafe, it seems, has learned his lessons well.


Anonymous said...

The "want a trial" crowd know that in spite of all evidence to the contrary, a Durham jury will convict the guys. I call it hoping for an "OJ Miracle.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

With concise, brilliantly reasoned logic and clear writing, Richard Bertrand Spencer has already earned his Ph.D.

But what impresses me most is his incredible courage in confronting the very power that can deny him what is rightfully his.

Anonymous said...

Once again the students at Duke seem to write more clearly and succinctly than some of the professors...

Anonymous said...

Last spring, NCCU student Chan Hall demanded that Duke students be prosecuted “whether it happened or not,” to provide “justice for things that happened in the past.”

Does this type of statement, of which there have been many from the G88, remind anyone of the same type of rational for antisemitism? If we changed "Duke students" to Jews and this was late 1800 instead of 2000, then the G88 could prove the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

(Historical note: Will Eisner's book "The Plot")

TruthHurts001 said...

White slave masters were the initial perpetrators of sexual assault on black women, subsequent generations continued the pattern.

So black women in Africa were never sexually assaulted???

locomotive Breath said...

Indeed, Spencer notes, the history professor “seems unable to view the lacrosse team’s hiring of a black stripper outside the ‘context’ of his gothic portrayal of miscegenation.”

I think that whenever the "hiring black strippers" theme is mentioned it should be obligatory to mention that they tried to hire white/hispanic strippers.

Anonymous said...

Spencer is the proverbial "voice crying out in the wilderness" of today's adademe. Where there is but one Spencer, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of thugniggaintellectuals. I weep.

Anonymous said...

Richard Bertrand Spencer should be admired but does he also need protected? I hope we don't shine such a light on him that we inadvertently make him more of a target than he probably already is, but I also hope K.C. et al follow up to make sure his academic future isn't sabotaged.

bill anderson said...

Do professors Johnson and Anderson have any suggestions to those who are horrified by the behavior of the Duke Group of 88? What can an ordinary citizen do?

Mar 10, 2007 12:28:00 AM

There really is not much an "ordinary" citizen can do. I think that this blog and others certainly expose the nonsense that comes from the Karla Holloways, but the real problem is that the policies that ultimately support people like this come from the federal government.

All colleges and universities are under pressure from the federal government, as well as accrediting agencies, to hire more "minority" faculty. The way that Duke and the other elite institutions "solve" this problem is to have large numbers of faculty in "identity studies" to fulfil quota issues.

Furthermore, there is a certain status in having these departments and faculties, not because they contribute anything intellectually (identity studies are at their core anti-intellectual), but rather because they make an institution seem to be "cutting edge."

(For that matter, that is one reason people like John Edwards look to the Amanda Marcottes for "fresh ideas." Marcotte and others are considered to be "cutting edge" in part because they use "f-bombs" all the time and say outrageous things.)

On the other side, we have guilty white liberalism. That world is also very different than anything ordinary people encounter elsewhere.

The issue for all of these people is power. It is one thing to throw around their "ideas," as bereft of substance as they might be; it is quite another when they are in positions of power, and especially life-and-death power. The historical record of "intellectuals" in power is not particularly good. The French Revolution and the various "revolutions" of the 20th Century bear testiment to that.

Anonymous said...

Whenever thugniggaintellectual, all "fearsome"-like, intellectually so menacing 'n all, rolls into his first class, somebody always mutters "who’s the nigger?"

And then tni invariably responds "I'm the nigga that gonna intellectually choke the living s--t out of you"?

Man oh man, that is one preposterous, embarrassingly juvenile fabrication. Still, it seems to point out an oddity about the uneasy race-gender alliance that makes up the 88.

Yes, the blacks and fems belong to similar victim cults, but how can the feminists stomach such macho posturing? Is there some dispensation for would-be-macho black men? Is the thug covered by claiming it's all intellectual?

No justice, no peace said...

I've been following this for sometime and yet when I think I understand the dynamics and participants, something stuns me.

"...and passed out wanted posters with the photos and e-mail addresses of all the white members of the lacrosse team..."

I did not know that the wanted posters had the email addresses of the team and omitted the black player(s) name/picture/email. Are these statements accurate?

Is this the same wanted poster that the Durham PD produced? Who produced, posted, and removed these wanted posters? Was it the Durham PD? The Gang of 88? The pot bangers?

If so, then it is a very good thing we have the second amendment and that it has been interpreted for individual protection and not militias.

Anonymous said...

Some remarks by Clarence Thomas about his experience of Holy Cross as a young man:

" We all came from
very different backgrounds. That's something that gets lost in this weird notion of race—that somehow
you can come from New York and Savannah and Massachusetts and somehow you're still all the same.
That's bizarre, and it denigrates individuals. Father Brooks understood that. He saw people who were individuals who happened to be black who had very different outlooks. . .

You don't go to college to be a decoration. You're not
there to please other people. You're there to do better in your own life. . . What's the attrition rate? It used to be up around 40% or something like that. There was no attrition in my class. . .

I went to school to learn and
get on with my life. I wasn't there to prove or disprove anybody else's point.

I think there are different points of views that are not acceptable. I go around this country and the poor kids who want to dissent from a prevailing point of view have no room. There's no room for them. . .

Otherwise, there are people who have set notions of what blacks should think. But I rejected that years ago. I rejected that back when I was considered radical. . .

I don't know. I'm not going to dissect these schools now. I'm just glad I went when I went, before everybody had all the answers and theories about blacks. I'm sure it was hard to make your own way but
maybe it worked better that way. Maybe it made us better, stronger people.


Skeptic said...

I for one just marvel at the irony of the group of 88 railing against “the spirit of the lynch mob” when in this case it has become exceedingly clear that they are the lynch mob.

Anonymous said...

An excellent book about the interplay between black "victims" and white liberals is "White Guilt" by Shelby Steele.

Steele himself was part of the campus thug intellectual culture of the 60's so he has great insight about the relationship between the chronically aggrieved and the indulgent white liberals that enable their anger while keeping them down.

Other useful books are "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" by Thomas Sowell and "Shadow University" by Kors and Silverglate.


jamil hussein said...

Unfortunately, Spencer's career at Duke (or in any other US campus) is over. Radical Gang88/MoveOn like groups will show up every time he is scheduled to speak. Fire alarms, physical attacks and law suits will follow every time.

Another example of academic craziness:
College Republicans at San Francisco State University desecrated the name of Allah by stepping on makeshift Hezbollah and Hamas flags, charged school officials who brought the students before a hearing yesterday.

Mocking christians, jesus, mary or whatever is of course perfectly ok (unless you are expressing pro-christian views) but god forbid if you insult Hezbollah or Hamas. Local Hamas chapter will sue you with local Gang88.

We really need academic freedom initiatives, like Horowitz's initiative. Several presidential candidates support the concept of hate speech (as defined by Gang88) and universal speech codes (as defined by Gang88). I'm really curious why KJ is still against these initiatives. Clearly, universities will never change their policies without external pressure.

Anonymous said...

"What can an ordinary citizen do?"
3/10 12;28 AM

These people are as powerful as we decide they will be. They try to project great intellectual power and wisdom but are more like the "man behind the curtain" in the Wizard of Oz.

I think people are opening their eyes to what is going on in academia with this Duke business, Ward Churchill, and other revelations. If I had to guess, I would expect that respect for academia has waned in recent years. Getting informed is the first step.

A second step is to constantly challenge the BS that this crowd has spread through academia, the media, and government. These narratives of oppression are reflected in the way stories are reported and policies are created as well as what and how students are taught in higher education. Keep in mind that this thinking has also corrupted K-12 education. Direct challenge is what these people fear the most because they don't fare very well if forced to offer evidence of their world view. As Thomas Sowell likes to point out, "evidence is neither asked for nor given." If their first reaction is to attack or to try to intimidate with a claim of credentials or "expertise" (without actually providing evidence of what makes them an expert) you are already winning. The comfortable and competent can deal with critics and skeptics.

The third step is to starve them financially or politically. Think about what you are paying for when you consume entertainment, media, education, religion (yes, I said that), or where your charitable donations go. Why should heavily endowed Universities get even more money when most children in America have no chance of attending these elite institutions and can't even read and write? Why give money to a church if it seems to be more interested in politics than your soul? Think about the mentality of elected officials at any level. Are they slaves to the same narratives that have roiled Durham and Duke? If so, expect bad (and very expensive) legislation and policies at all levels of government.

I would guess that the Far Left has been feeling the heat over the past couple of decades. The Reagan years and the crumbling of the Soviet Union were hard on them. They are the most embittered and humiliated losers of the Cold War. I think the rise of totalitarianism on campuses in the past couple of decades might be related. Since they can't push their utopian visions on the world, they will now push around defenseless 19-year olds. But, they have still done considerable damage to institutions outside of academia and this is where "ordinary citizens" can fight back most effectively.


Kimberly Swygert said...

8:08 said: "Man oh man, that is one preposterous, embarrassingly juvenile fabrication....Yes, the blacks and fems belong to similar victim cults, but how can the feminists stomach such macho posturing?"

"Preposterous", "fabrication", and "posturing" are indeed the right words for this kind of hyperbolic statement. The idea that at an Ivy League university, the entrance of a black professor into a classroom would "invariably" be greeted with the n-word is absurd on the face of it. It's clear that tni makes the assumption that his students are racist and then responds with what he feels is justified hostility and condescension. Which begs the qustion - who on earth would ever take a class from a professor with this attitude?

As for the original question, many feminists overlook this for the same reason they overlooked Bill Clinton and OJ - they believe that race and ideology trump gender, so it's not that big a deal if non-American, non-white, non-Christian, or non-"Republican" men are the harassers. This type of thinking is one reason I have little respect for many women who call themselves feminists.

jamil hussein said...

Do professors Johnson and Anderson have any suggestions to those who are horrified by the behavior of the Duke Group of 88? What can an ordinary citizen do?

There are few things ordinary citizen can do.

1: Support academic freedom initiatives (google Horowitz speech and you see what gang88 and their ilk do). I would like to hear KJ's arguments on this.

2: Vote against those who require racial preferences (aka "Affirmative Action"). Hopefully, the new supreme court will struck down this nonsense. Also, hopefully congress/president/supreme court reject hate speech concept and speech code initiatives. Free speech is all the time under attack from various fronts, e.g McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws allows George Soros to pump $100M to his campaign activists but ordinary citizens - even talk radio and bloggers if leftwingers get their way - are denied political contributions. There are people in both parties (and in dinosaurus MSM) who want to silence bloggers (like KJ). Europe is lost already. France just passes a law that makes it illegal for a non-MSM journalist to report violence (ie show riot footage in blogs) in France.

Kilgore said...

I think Spencer hit the nail on the head and he gets high marks for courage. Very impressive.

I think there are more nails holding this board together than just the racism card. The convergence of the race-gender-class yahoos was made possible since the players where white, were male, and were seen as wealthy. Since they hit the trifecta in attackable perpetrators it then aligned the various groups to a Folie à deux (Folie à quatre-vingts huit?) where each group was encouraged and emboldened by the other to be more and more outrageous. I think the coalition that formed also allowed them to feel a certain safety in numbers and an insulation from criticism.

I think the common denominator of these groups is the hierarchy of victimhood. There seems to be an unspoken but acknowledged hierarchy of victimization. Blacks trump women. Women trump men. Rape victims trump sexual assault victims. Single parent trumps two parent families. Domestic violence victims trump simple assaults. etc. etc. At the top of the heap you have a black immigrant woman who was the victim of rape, domestic violence, single parent, who suffered from racism, poverty etc. At the bottom you have those who have been perceived not as victims but as perpetrators of all of the various atrocities named above.....basically white, male, and wealthy.

Anyone who has taken a little time to observe a radical feminist bulletin board on the internet will be familiar with these ideas. You can see the ethos and power given to those who have been most victimized. Some I have heard describe it as the victim "olympics" where there is an active struggle to prove oneself to be the more victimized party.

This way of seeing the world is crazy. We need to speak up and call their cards whenever possible. The Duke case has been a huge step in that direction as thinking people are starting to see the lunacy involved in this sort of accusation.

Gary Packwood said...

Emotional Decompression

Lets place Bill Anderson's observation and TruthHurts001's comment together and take a look.

Mr. Anderson identifies ... GUILTY WHITE LIBERALISM and TruthHurts001 said...So black women in Africa were never sexually assaulted???

TruthHurts001 is attempting to trigger the emotion that Mr. Anderson correctly identifies.

That is called Emotional Decompression or ...that feeling we have of helplessness or wanting to have done more.

What can be done to help? All of us need to practice not being provoked into a state of silence become of Emotional Decompression and we need to teach younger people about such emotional tricks.

I ask younger people to think for a moment if such emotional tricks are going to be acceptable to them in the future... as a communication strategy?

My 21 year old Niece observed that such tricks indicate to her that the trickster is corrupt which I agree with and yet I have a 25 year old Nephew who drives a truck who says ...I have no idea what you people are talking about!

If the truck driver and his friends ever find out what we are talking about...they may vote all of us 'guilty white liberals' into ...oblivion.


Anonymous said...

To say "Something happened" is intellectual sloth.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the blacks and fems belong to similar victim cults, but how can the feminists stomach such macho posturing? Is there some dispensation for would-be-macho black men?

Yes. You do not shoot at your own allies. Remember, it is all really about power.

And money - how much property does Duke own?

Anonymous said...

Better to call this "The Group's ANTI-Intellectual Origins".

Anonymous said...


What can you do?

Bombard the News & Observer with letters and complaints and demand that they cover this dogazz Group of 88 destructive maggots.
The N&O should be analyzing and weighing this situation and how these people were able to get away with what they did to harm these three innocent young men. And now with no apology at all.
Why are they still drawing a six figure salary when Duke alumni could do something about all of this?
Public pressure. Lights continually shining on this crowd of bums is the only way to change this mess.
Brodhead must be forced to do the right thing, for he surely will not on his own.

Shannon Love said...

I must confess that the sheer ineptitude evinced by the Group of 88 bothers me more than the hate mongering and racism. One expects a certain amount of extremism from public intellectuals but the Group of 88 just seems so bad at it.

I have begun to think that in contemporary academia "academic freedom" means the freedom to be incompetent.

Anonymous said...

The post and the article by Spencer are very good commentary on the group of 88. They describe a situation that is certainly not exclusive to Duke.

The public behavior of Mark Neal is quite bizarre. It seems he is involved in some kind of act that is part menace and part minstrel. It is hard to imagine why he is saying these things as his buffoonery clearly holds black people up to public ridicule.

Meeting a class for the first time is a bit anxiety producing even after decades of teaching. One wonders how he or she is going to be perceived by the sea of unfamiliar faces. That is part of the job. And it is not hard to imagine that for a minority professor there are understandable anxieties about how the collection of new peoples will respond to having a minority teacher.

I doubt that Neal means that he literally hears people calling him the n-word. I suspect that he is only talking about his anxiety that some students may be calling into question the appropriateness of having a black teacher.

What is disturbing is that he seems to have taken some combination of opening day jitters and minority vulnerability and publicly portrayed it as active hostile behavior towards him. This is a good metaphor for the whole lacrosse case.

Just as it doesn't matter to the group of 88 whether the lacrosse players actually did any of the things they are accused of, it doesn't matter to Neal whether his students actually made racist comments or even noticed that he was black. What matters to Neal is these are situations that give him anxiety. He has handled his anxieties by denying the humanity of his students just as so many have denied the humanity of the members of the lacrosse team.

The next question is why are there so many liberal enablers of this behavior. It seems that they come in two stripes. The first are the holier-than-thou types who seize upon incidents like the rape allegations to posture as somehow more righteous than others. The second are those that operate under an immense cloud of shame over the historic inequities of a distant past for which they could not possible bear any responsibility. Yet they feel diminished by this shame and incidents of alleged racial prejudice push them deeper into this humiliation. Their signing of the letters and the making of public statements about the lacrosse players is basically a plea to be separated from the general indictment for racism that have arisen from the accusations in this case.

What is clear about the enablers is that they are concerned primarily with themselves. If they were genuinely concerned with black people or real victims of sexual assault they would be telling the very vocal "listeners", the pot-bangers and the ad signing professors to back off. The facts in this case do not support their narratives and refusing to back down is insuring that in the future honest victims of racial prejudice or sexual violence will have a tougher time making their claims credible.

Finally there is the question of why the Duke administration including the President, the Board of Trustees and the members of the Academic Senate, have been so hesitant to confront even the most outrageous remarks of Baker or Neal. It certainly was not out of a respect for free speech since they had no problem condemning the lacrosse players in no uncertain terms.

There seems to be an unspoken consensus that members of the Duke community that can wrap themselves in the mantle of victimhood are somehow beyond accountability for their words or their actions. By granting minorities and women their own fiefdoms in the academic and administrative sections of the university, the administrators have abdicated their own role in insuring quality. In the end this is no favor to the groups they are allegedly trying to help.

By housing the study of women and minorities outside traditional disciplines, they have exempted these fields from the normal scrutiny to which the rest of the academic world is subject. In a real sense Mark Neal is the creation of this kind of negligence. Under this system he is rewarded for his posturing.

School's would be hard pressed to defend its integrity if it treated punk rock as a serious academic subject. But Mark Neal seems to be a professor of popular black culture. His taking on a thug personna is part of his academic self-portrayal. There is no way he could be doing that if the powers that be at the university had not exempted him from normal academic scrutiny. His act is a joke, a painful embarassment to all the blacks who have earned their academic credentials. And it is hard to imagine that the administrators who facilitate his spectacle really have the interests of black people at heart.

There is no easy way out of this mess for either Duke or most other colleges and universities with similar configurations. A start might be holding the group of 88 accountable for their actions.

Anonymous said...

"Indeed, Spencer notes, the history professor “seems unable to view the lacrosse team’s hiring of a black stripper outside the ‘context’ of his gothic portrayal of miscegenation.”"

It's not unusual to use a particular framework to understand or analyze a situation. What's disconcerting is the thoughtless use of an clearly inappropriate one in analyzing the Lacrosse situation. That Chafe uses it implies a lack of intelllectual flexibility or a narrowness of thought. I think this is a partial result of having so many similar thinking (leftist) people on Humanities faculties. In the long run these faculties would be better served by having more intellectual diversity in addition to the usual diversities.

Anonymous said...

Has "thug-nigga-intellectual" written anything lately? That is, perhaps, the great name ever created!

Anonymous said...

I certtainly wouldn't have had the courage to cticize the Emperor's lack of clothing as a non tenured person-let alone someone who's not completed his degree.A possible apocryphal point.One of my younger brothers-a clinical psychologist wrote a paper as a grad student about"contrived uniquesness." He citerd people who alter the spelling of their names-such as Thom,Gregg,Robyn.Just wondering what's on Dr.W's birth certificate.
(Of course there's nothing wrong with being a pompous intellectual twit).

colagirl said...

I join in those impressed that Spencer dared to write this, especially as a Ph.D. candidate who has yet to defend (in History, no less). I don't think I would have had the guts to do that. Sadly, I find his analysis spot-on.

By “critical thought” she seems to mean empathic nodding, endless “listening,” and the complete absence of criticism directed at professors.

Sadly, all too true. I can't remember the amount of times "critical discussion" in my seminar classes has consisted of exactly that.

I echo Bill Anderson in worrying about the state of higher education. I could hope that the Duke scandal would force universities across the country to start rethinking their ideological assumptions, but somehow I don't think that's going to happen. As it stands now, I will say that from my experience, you don't go to school in the humanities to learn to think. You go to learn how to parrot vague phrases like "hegemonic discourse" and "paradigm," etc. Will things ever get better in my lifetime? I honestly don't know....

John Bruce said...

I read the piece, and in part I agree with the commenter who noted the word-choice blooper (and there's another one in there) -- but clearly, whatever The American Conservative is paying its editors, it's too much. This is a problem in a piece that's trying to attack the 88 on the basis of intellectual respectability. (I think, by the way, KC, that a "PhD candidate" is strictly speaking an ABD -- sounds like this guy is more of an ordinary grad student, and probably on his way to being fed up and leaving the program!)

I think the piece actually starts to discuss the real problem just before it ends: the 88 feel able, irrespective of their scholarly qualifications, to bully their way to "enforcing" intellectual incoherence. The main problem, which the piece doesn't discuss, is the scholarly dilemma as we now see it -- professors simply expect to have their rear ends kissed, right cheek, left cheek, or smack dab in the center. I think this is the basic assumption under which the 88 (and most others) operate, that whatever they say, no matter how poorly prepared they may be for class or how incoherent their expression, their words will be respectfully regurgitated at the appropriate time. Thus the hysteria when they discover the public at large finds them ridiculous (as do the students, but they have the sense to keep their mouths shut for as long as the 88 or their cronies can give them a grade). "Terror"? Humm.

Anonymous said...

JLS says...

A few points:

1. The author incorrectly IDed the Chemistry Prof who wrote about this in the fall as an economist when it was the economics deparment that later wrote the letter welcoming all students in their classes regardless of races ie white, sex ie male, sports affliation etc.

2. The author probably generalized too much about the academic credentials of the signees based on race. I have not looked but I am sure there are some black members of the 88 gangsters with very solid intellectual contributions and some white signees who like some of the black signees try to politically justify their inclusion on the Duke faculty.

3. I really liked his assertion that the 88 gangsters or their official arm the CCI want to be Committee on Public Safety. I an certainly believe they would like the death penalty for heretics to the PC religion or at least to guillotine the academic careers of the heretics.

4. As for what the public can do. They can first and for most make Duke SUFFER until Duke reforms. That is suffer in donations and applications etc. I know for Duke alums and other with an emotional commitment to Duke this is tough particularly that there are similar faculty factions many other places, but this is the most outrageous high profile example of PC running amuck on campus and if it goes unsanctioned it will encourage worse behavior.

Another thing the public can do is send your children to different schools. There are lots of relatively new religious or other private schools that are not dominated by PC. Pick the one closest to your views and send your child there.

Alternatively send you child to a state school and monitor what they are taking. Even if you child is now at Duke and your best choice is for them to finish, take control of their schedule. Make sure they don't take angry studies or other classes that are EASY high grade in exchange for listenning to and spitting back the propoganda in them. That is the deal the average student makes. They take these worthless classes because they are easy, the lead to a high grade and a higher GPA and allow you to work harder in your serious courses.

Anonymous said...

Richard Spencer does present a compelling piece and if nothing else culturally positions this Gang of 88. Spencer is very courageous because he is still in school and seeking his PhD and no one should doubt that these 88 thugs will attempt to deny him that. They have a very jaundiced view of academic freedom and free speech.

There is a very simple solution to this problem but Brodhead does not have the fortitude to do it. Every one of these 88 people has overstepped their fiduciary responsibilities according to the faculty guide.

Therefore they should be cited by the President, made to admit their mistakes, or be terminated. Then let them fight it in court. There is a difference between legitimate education and pure hate. And there is not place on any campus including Duke for pure hate. Fire them and make it an example.

Anonymous said...

Chafe’s infamous Chronicle op-ed, which argued that the whites who lynched Emmett Till provided the appropriate historical context through which to view the lacrosse players’ behavior, captured the sentiment.

That's a remarkably stupid assertion of historical context, especially from a professor of history. The whole "gang rape" claim was hugely implausible just from the context. Chafe is living in a fantasy world. Too bad his hateful fantasies are hurting real people.

Walter Cronanty said...

As one who, well over a decade ago, taught for approximately 5 years, as an adjunct, "First Amendment Rights" at an urban Law School, and who, for at least four of those years, read the circular for the organization that recruits law school professors which provided, quite blatantly, that white, heterosexual males need not apply, I applaud the article - but add: What do you expect?

Gary Packwood said...

CCI Item for consideration

Anonymous 12:17:00 PM Said...

"I doubt that Neal means that he literally hears people calling him the n-word. I suspect that he is only talking about his anxiety that some students may be calling into question the appropriateness of having a black teacher."

Why not allow the CCI to deal with that issue 'of hearing' as a component of the undergraduate educational culture at Duke?

If he said he heard it ...then... he did! or perhaps he didn't.

I want to attend those meetigs so that I can 'gain a sense of the mentality that pervades academe today' as Bill Anderson said at 12.14.

Anonymous said...

There's a new feature article about the 88 in the Chronicle at

Anonymous said...

I'll try again. It's at: media/storage/paper884/ news/2007/03/08/Features/ They-Found.88.Problems.And.The.Dancer. Was.Just.One -2764970.shtml

The article is generally sympathetic to the 88 who, as usual, try to portray themselves as the real victims.

Anonymous said...

to anon @8)8:
See the way the leftist feminists refuse to criticize the black rappers who refer to all women as "ho's" and "bitches" and sing (if you can call it that) the praises of demeaning women, and you will recognize the same abberation in G88's acceptance of "thugniggaintellectual" and his macho posturing. It also lays out their hypocrisy for all to see.

AMac said...

anon 2:07am wrote (italics added) --

"These professors do not realize the harm they do to their own cause. The more they berate white males... the more they generate negative feelings toward them, their race and their ideologies."

The pronoun isn't a good fit because, as author Spencer notes, only a minority of the Group of 88 and allied faculty enablers are black.

The more interesting question is, "Why have so many white professors been so eager to condemn white students on the basis of their race?

This sort of behavior isn't evidence of self-hatred, it's a rational form of status competition. In their social and professional circles, these profs are earning valuable points by demonstrating the depth of their concern and activism. The 88's statements may be "incoherent, illogical, and generally poorly written," but they usefully telegraph the signatories' blanket support of Duke's aggrieved non-whites.

To appropriate a remark that blogger Steve Sailer made in the course of a review of "The Constant Gardener":

"Don't assume that [white members of the Group of 88] are consumed by White Guilt. They're not blaming themselves, just white people they already hated. White culturati use black victims as props in their endless competition to win superior moral status over other whites, especially ones who make more money than they do."

So to the legal reasons why The Group of 88 is loath to admit to any errors, add their concerns about social standing.

Nifong's hat trick said...

"The themes explored by Spencer, of course, represent an aspect of Duke’s campus culture that seems shielded from any critical inquiry"

As well, KC, as being shielded from any opposition or need to even be addressed or corrected as part of the new CCI.

"Mark Anthony Neal’s claim that whenever he “rolls into the classroom on the first day of class,” there is always somebody “in the house quietly utter[ing] ‘who’s the nigger?’”

The people uttering "who's the nigger?"(if M.A.N’s claim were actually true) are probably uttering "who's the nigga?" and are most likely black. Certainly Mark Anthony Neal can’t mean that the word “nigger” bothers someone like himself, a self appointed “thugniggaintellectual”.

Why are we surprised by the antics of M.A.N. and his ilks? Their position as angry, unhappy Duke professors is just the culmination of a lifelong indoctrination of white hatred and victimhood. The “thugniggaintellctual” and gang seem to look at life through racially colored glasses framed in the 1960’s. They are puppets of social agitation and play their part as they’ve been taught throughout life. Their teachers, liberal professors, black role models and self loathing white leftist co-workers have prevented them from seeing outside the group box, which is just where they want them.

jamil hussein said...

Another thing the public can do is send your children to different schools. There are lots of relatively new religious or other private schools that are not dominated by PC

Actually, Gang88 and their ilk are hunting them down one by one. For example, a law school absolutely needs ABA qualifications in order to exist. ABA is controlled by Gang88 and their ilk and they have e.g. already ordered southern law schools to use race preferences or get disbelled from ABA (of course, there are no such requirements in ABA charter or in the law but Gang88 have the power to do so). I think one law school (in the south, I can't remember which) is now about to lose its ABA status (the school went to great lenghts to hire incompetenent students via race preferences, they admitted about 100% of those who have the race preference but ABA was still not satisfied).

Ending ABA's monopoly in law school qualifications would be crucial step regarding law schools in ending academic marxists/Gang88/PC dominance. Voting against them is another must.

Anonymous said...

Mark Anthony -- Gail Dines consulant is as delusional as Niforg. I am sure he believes that we belive this c***. Who takes this guy's class? BTW, poor Samson makes a spelling error and now is immoralized for all of our lifetimes. Where is Josh when we need him>

Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson,

Do you hate black people?

Just wondering,
A Reader

Laika's Last Woof said...

How ironic that the best way to "expatiate white guilt" is not to join the Group of 88 but to stand against them.

Pointing the finger at them is our best defense against those who point theirs at us.

Duke Lacrosse changes everything.

"My children left Duke and UNC with stronger negative feelings toward blacks ..."

Wrong attitude.
Hate the people who call you racist, yes, hate them with the frightening intensity of the wrongfully accused, but hate them with the laserlike focus necessary to prove them wrong about you.
If you fail to focus your enemies win, as you really would be the racist they're so quick to accuse you of being. I could never give those self-righteous scum the pleasure. Could you?
It may help if you understand that this isn't about race. Does it really matter whether your accuser is black or white?
It never mattered to me -- accuse me without evidence and I'll call you a dirty liar. It's not about race; it's about self-respect.
Your kids' basic impulse to resist shows they have some self-respect, which is something at least, but they also need focus or they play right into the hands of those who are manipulating us.

duke09parent said...

This reminded me of the preface to Windschuttle's "The Killing of History":

"The uninitiated reader who opens a typical bok on postmodernism, hermeneutics, poststructuralism et al. must think he or she has stumbled onto a new foreign language, so obscure and dense is the prose. Now, this happens to be a very effective tactic to adopt in academic circles where there is always an expectation that things are never simple and that anyone who writes clearly is thereby being shallow. Obscurity is often assumed to equal profundity, a quality that signals a superiority over the thinking of the uneducated herd."

Anonymous said...

The 88/87 should note what a wise man said.

I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.
- Frederick Douglass