Members of the faculty expect Duke students to meet high standards of performance and behavior. It is only appropriate, therefore, that the faculty adheres to comparably high standards in dealing with students . . . Students are fellow members of the university community, deserving of respect and consideration in their dealings with the faculty.
--Chapter Six, Duke Faculty Handbook
Yet another tape of anti-lacrosse extremist Grant Farred has surfaced—this one from a September address he gave on the Duke campus. In these remarks, the Group of 88 stalwart touched on some of the same themes he raised in his Williams talk last month. But three critical differences existed between the two talks.
- First, Farred much more explicitly denounced Duke students beyond the lacrosse team.
- Second, Farred approvingly quoted from the March 29, 2006 letter of Houston Baker, who advocated the immediate expulsion from Duke of the entire lacrosse team.
- Third, while Farred claimed at Williams (after all charges had been dismissed) that he was indicting the lacrosse team for its pre-March 13 behavior, the main thrust of his September talk was the team party and the resulting charges. Nor did he make any mention of “perjury” or “hate crimes”—the two offenses with which he specifically charged lacrosse players in his Williams talk.
The tone, and in some cases, the words of the two talks were the same. But the offenses differed. It appears that Farred has flexible criteria for denunciation, as long as he could continue to denounce the “privileged white boys.”
As at Williams, Farred littered his talk with bizarre non-sequiturs. For instance, he deemed it of critical importance that “lax” is the common shorthand for lacrosse. (Audio clips of Farred’s words are in red.)
He mused, “L-A-X, as if it cleverly constructed—forgetting, of course, that the cost of the abbreviation if the salience of the X, that historic signifier of the American unknown. The unknowable sign that demands, naturally, an accounting for. Among these thoughts—the buried genocidal history of Native American founders of the game of lacrosse, their disenfranchisement, and, of course, the anger and resistance of the most famous “X” in American popular and political history, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (or, simply, Brother Malcolm X).”
Whoever came up with the abbreviation “lax” rather than “lac” knew not his great power. But this is, of course, the same Grant Farred who fantastically claimed that Jeff Van Gundy(!) set in motion a series of events that would reveal Yao Ming(!) as “the most profound threat to American empire.”
More seriously, Farred became the second Duke professor—joining Peter Wood—to link his own institution’s students with the deaths of Native Americans.
Whereas “the other” was the favorite item in Farred’s Williams talk, in his Duke remarks he went to great (if barely comprehensible) lengths about “secrets.” Noted Farred, “The damage that the secret, precisely because it operates as a secret, on and under conditions of secrecy, can do is operative only because the secret is presumed to be unrevealed, unrevealable.”
Actually, of course, the lacrosse players protested their innocence to anyone who would listen, and without hesitation “revealed” the truth about the evening to the special prosecutors.
The lacrosse players actually telling their story, it seems, was the last thing Farred wanted, since it would prevent him from speculating on evidence that might exist—“or not”—in the case. In his Duke talk, he wildly suggested that even if no rape occurred, prostitution did:
The political imperative to understand the precise, or even imprecise, nature of the exchanges that took place, that made the transaction from the Duke players and the black Durham women over money. The exchange of sexual favors. Or not. Or any other form of gain, loss, or sacrifice has been made necessary.
An obsession with team members’ sex lives has formed a recurring theme of Farred’s case commentary. “The secret of Duke lacrosse came,” he stated, “and continues to be burdened, arguably (overly so, we might argue), with its own history. The arrest and prosecution of lacrosse team members from
Farred seems to have missed the Coleman Committee report, which definitively established that no “tendency toward misogyny” among team members existed.
The Group of 88 stalwart used the phrase “arrogant sexual prowess” in referring to 46 Duke students at least three times—in his Duke talk, in his October Herald-Sun op-ed, and in his Williams talk. Does anyone think that the Brodhead administration would have failed to enforce the provisions of Chapter Six (quoted above) if a white Duke professor thrice publicly denounced 46 black Duke students for their “arrogant sexual prowess”?
As he did in his October H-S op-ed, Farred also faulted the Duke students who wore “Innocent” armbands—and whose judgment has been wholly vindicated. At his Williams talk, the Group of 88 stalwart faulted AG Roy Cooper for proclaiming the players “innocent,” since such a declaration could not absolve them of their past behavior. Yet, in September, Farred made clear that his concern revolved solely around the definitive statement of innocence regarding the charges brought by Mike Nifong:
Blue Devil blue armbands, with white inscriptions, proclaim, ‘Innocent.’ No question mark. Simply a declaration. The stating of a truth. A truth that will not exceed its own secrets. That will not acknowledge that there is another party to the secret—a party now easily despised, ridiculed, named ‘stripper,’ ‘single mother,’ and yes, even occasionally, ‘N.C. Central student,’ and, who knows what worse. There is no recognition that this secret—it, instead, it is as if those lacrosse jersey numbers, the numbers of the ‘innocent,’ have no history of transgression, individually or metonymically.
What “history of transgression, individually” was Farred referring to regarding Reade Seligmann? Farred didn’t say on September 27, and he has never said since that date.Farred did not confine his attacks to Seligmann, the other accused players, the other members of the lacrosse team, or even those Duke students who wore “Innocent” armbands. In a mirror image of attitudes prevalent among racist Southern whites of the civil rights era, he lashed out against those Duke students who sought to change the system from within by registering to vote:
Is this drive to register as putative, enfranchised citizens of the good city of Durham, this drive to impact the Durham political [process], driven by innocence, one wonders—the most widespread mobilization of the Duke campus since the campaign against Nike sweatshop labor.
To vote against Mike Nifong. To make the oldest “X,” the sign of the white male franchise, itself overridden with the mark of privilege, oppression, slavery, racism, utter contempt for black and native bodies. [emphasis added] To make that sign in the history of this country, to extend into the presence the deeply troubled past, to make the “X”—whether it is acknowledged as such or not—against women or, more specifically, against black female bodies. All that, one presumes, all that written into the “X” to ensure that the secret is kept secret, that the secret is kept in-house, where it belongs.
How, possibly, could this attack on the integrity of hundreds upon hundreds of the students of Farred’s own institution—linking them with privilege, oppression, slavery, and racism—be reconciled with the obligations imposed on all Duke faculty by Chapter Six?
Farred also criticized the response of the Duke Athletic Department.
Like the players, as we all know, the black woman’s secrets have been made public. But unlike them, she’s a recidivist, because she’s devoid of the Joe Aveya [sic] rationale—and I quote, ‘Boys will be boys.’ By which the Duke AD means, of course, privileged white boys should remain privileged white boys because they are, after all, white boys.
A powerful indictment of AD Joe Alleva, whose name Farred seemed unable to pronounce. Only one problem existed with Farred’s assertion—Alleva never said the quote that Farred attributed to him.
A Lexis/Nexis search of “Alleva” and “boys will be boys” revealed one match—a March 29, 2006 article in the N&O. Yet the quote in question came not from Alleva but from Amina Turner, executive director of the transparently pro-prosecution state NAACP. Turner’s assertion: “Our concern is because of the confluence of race, class and gender to make sure it doesn’t become another ‘boys-will-be-boys’ situation.”
When the facts don’t fit the argument, it appears, simply make up the facts.
Farred closed his Duke talk by foreseeing the end of the case, when
we will have nothing but our numbers. Those on the back of a jersey—three jerseys in particular. The amount of Duke students who changed, and perhaps even now are changing, their voter registration [to]
, to defeat the law, to make their politically critical “X’s” in a city they have historically marked themselves off from. [emphasis added] Other numbers? The length of sentences or not, in years or months. The vast sums spent on securing top-notch attorneys and glitzy, ruthless P.R. firms. Durham
Exactly what were these “glitzy, ruthless P.R. firms”? Farred doesn’t say: it must be a secret. And how could Duke students seeking to oust a D.A. who would less than two months later charged by the Bar with breaking three laws and violating the U.S. Constitution be aiming “to defeat the law”?* Again, Farred doesn’t say: it must be a secret. And why should people who were factually innocent worry about “the length of sentences”? As with Reade Seligmann’s alleged “transgressions,” Farred doesn’t say: it must be a secret.
It seems as if—for someone who so denounces “secrecy”—Farred has a lot of “secrets.”
*--modified for clarity