Monday, August 20, 2007

Group Profile: The Cultural Anthropologists

[The next-to-last installation of a Monday series profiling Group of 88 members, which has included posts on miriam cooke, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Wahneema Lubiano, Pete Sigal, Grant Farred, Sally Deutsch, Joseph Harris, Paula McClain, Jocelyn Olcott, Irene Silverblatt, Maurice Wallace, Antonio Viego, and Kathy Rudy. The posts examine the scholarship and teaching of Group members, delving into the mindset of professors who last spring abandoned both the tenets of Duke’s Faculty Handbook and the academy’s traditional fidelity to due process. An item to keep in mind: in higher education, professors control the hiring process. The people profiled in this series will craft future job descriptions for Duke professors; and then, for positions assigned to their departments, select new hires.]

Only the African-American Studies (80 percent) and Women’s Studies (72.2 percent) programs had a higher percentage of their members sign the Group of 88’s statement than did the Cultural Anthropology Department, where 60 percent of the professors rushed to judgment last April.

Diane Nelson (B.A., Wellesley, Ph.D., Stanford) is a tenured associate professor in the department. She has published one book— A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincenntenial Guatemala—and lists other forthcoming projects, all from Duke University Press. The book, according to the University of California Press website, asks “Why use a body metaphor? What body is wounded, and how does it react to apparent further torture? If this is the condition of the body politic, how do human bodies relate to it—those literally wounded in thirty-five years of war and those locked in the equivocal embrace of sexual conquest, domestic labor, mestizaje, and social change movements?” The book, the press claims, “has special relevance to ongoing discussions of power, hegemony, and the production of subject positions, as well as gender issues and histories of violence as they relate to postcolonial nation-state formation.”

Nelson has taught such courses as “Cyborgs” (“an introduction to the emerging field of ‘cyborg anthropology’ which . . . melds ethnography, philosophy, film, science fiction, critical studies of science and technology, political economy, and feminist and anti-racist engagements with Big Science”); “Medical Anthropology” (where “ethic, power and the effects of inequality on health will be central, addressing gender, race, and national differentials in health rates; and asking what is the cure for so-called ‘diseases of poverty’?”); and “Cannibal Cultures” (which had “an emphasis on ethnicity/raciology, class, sexuality, and gender”). In other words: Race/Class/Gender: I, II, and III.

Nelson’s fall 2007 course, “Anthropology of Numbers,” deals with the same sorts of themes as her recent lecture, “Who Counts? Reckoning the After/Math of War in Guatemala.” She’s also produced such only-in-academia offerings as “Dispossession and Possession: The Maya, Identi/ties, and ‘Post’ War Guatemala”; “Phantom Limbs and Invisible Hands: Bodies, Prosthetics, and Late Capitalist Identities”; and “A Social Science Fiction of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery: The Calcutta Chromosome, the Colonial Laboratory, and the Postcolonial New Human.” (Nelson is fond of the trendy s/lash style of writing.)

Nelson has been a fixture in fringe protests on campus. In 2003, she walked out of class to protest the Bush administration’s foreign policy. (There’s an easy prep!) She has frequently invoked comparisons with World War II to justify her current foreign policy positions, though she often seemed to get her facts wrong. For instance, in 2003, she urged Chronicle readers to “actively make alternative histories,” as she observed how “massive unprovoked attacks on a sovereign nation, killing soldiers and civilians alike, were carried out by Germany against Poland and Austria.” (She offered the examples as an “analogy” to the U.S. war in Iraq.) Professor emeritus Lawrence Evans responded,

It may be, as Diane Nelson wrote, that we need “to actively make alternative histories.” She’s off to a good start when she asserts that in World War II Germany carried out an unprovoked attack on Austria. In 1938 Austria became part of Germany in a mostly non-violent coup aided by German troops. Austria then fought in WWII as part of Germany. Perhaps Nelson has an alternative story.

A few weeks later, Nelson compared herself to Danes who wore the Star of David in World War II—again taking liberties with the historical record. For someone so concerned with the fate of World War II Jews, she has shown far less concerns for Jews today: she has both signed and publicly endorsed a petition demanding that Duke divest from companies doing business with Israel on defense issues. (The petition made no such demand for divestment regarding companies doing business with any other country, including such nations with poor human rights records as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan.) Former Harvard president Larry Summers termed similar proposals on his campus “anti-Semitic in their effect, if not their intent.”

In 2004, Nelson broadened her usual Nazi analogy, asserting that “the US in not Berlin 1941, but it bears striking similarities to 1933, and to Santiago, Chile 1973 [when General August Pinochet was about to assume power in a brutal military coup], and Buenos Aires, Argentina 1976, just before those countries descended into dirty wars.”

Nelson has every right to offer such utterances. But surely Duke alums have every right to question how a person who repeatedly makes such intellectually facile comparisons obtained a job at one of the nation’s leading universities?

Nelson has admitted that an ideological imbalance exists among Duke’s humanities faculty. In 2004, she responded the DCU study by asserting:

While there are important differences, we must keep in mind that the Democrats and Republicans show negligible divergence on major domestic and foreign policy issues . . . Given this, I also want to know, where is the diversity? Where are the Greens, Labour, the Christian Democrats, the Socialists, the Communists, the Workers Party, the Black Panthers, Puerto Rican independistas, etc...? Where is the truly wide range of partisan organizing that, across the globe, offers diversity in imagining options for the future?

Imagine if the DCU’s findings had revealed the opposite total among Duke’s humanities faculty (i.e.: 142 registered Republicans, eight registered Democrats). Does anyone believe Nelson would have been so blasé about the findings, perhaps speculating that the real problem was that Duke lacked a sufficient number of Fascists, clericalists, and monarchists?

Shortly before the lacrosse party, Nelson was back in the news, this time for heckling David Horowitz when the conservative speaker came to campus. Pratt student Ben Grant had an appropriate response:

It’s one thing to disagree with Horowitz; I certainly do as do many others. It’s another thing altogether to attend a University as esteemed as Duke and not be able to get to hear every side of every issue. The immature behavior of Nelson and her comrades was absolutely astounding to me and many of my friends. Interrupting while Horowitz was speaking, not allowing his voice to be heard and making a mockery of the concept of free speech—I truly am astounded these are professors at the school that I love and attend . . . I speak for myself and many of my friends when I say that it was truly embarrassing to Duke as a collective body of mature, free-thinking adults to witness a professor act in such a juvenile, unprofessional manner.

Even though Nelson’s behavior contradicted provisions of the Faculty Handbook, she does not seem to have experienced any disciplinary action.

In the lacrosse affair, Nelson was one of five Group members to speak at the “Shut Up and Teach” forum. The Chronicle’s Naureen Khan described Nelson’s presentation:

To demonstrate the importance of articulating one’s views and connecting with the public, Nelson passed around string that linked members of the audience to one another. As she spoke of repression, she hacked off the connecting string to emphasize how such actions cut people off from one another.

While kindergarten teachers nationally doubtless use such stratagems, college professors might be expected to produce something a little more substantive.

A few weeks later, Nelson and Group member Pedro Lasch complained to the Chronicle that the Group had been victims of a “conspiracy.” Peopled by whom? Orchestrated by whom? For what purpose? Through what tactics?

Nelson supplied no details—perhaps in keeping with her preference for professors “actively mak[ing] alternative histories.” Facts, after all, can be inconvenient things.


Nelson’s colleague, Rebecca Stein, also signed both the Group statement and the “clarifying” letter. She is author of the forthcoming Itineraries in Conflict: The Political Life of Tourism in Israel and the Middle East. A critic of “dominant Jewish Israeli popular culture” (which, she argued in a 2000 essay, “has sought to defend the cultural integrity of Israel, to shore up its Jewishness and to preserve the fantasy of a Euro-Jewish nation-state”), Stein has championed alternative conceptions of culture in the area.

Stein has especially celebrated the “resistive work” of Israeli Arab rap and hip-hop artists Dam and MWR—who, she asserted, highlighted issues of “Israeli-Jewish racism.”

In a 2004 article, in what she herself conceded was a “polemic,” Stein and a colleague lamented the “marginalization of culture in radical scholarship on Palestine and Israel.” The goal of their efforts, they wrote, is “to broaden understanding of the terrain of power in Palestine and Israel and thereby the possible arenas and modalities of struggle.” The duo praised efforts of British scholars to “rethink classical Marxist paradigms and analytics with a view toward expending the terrain of what constitutes power and struggle.”

Though Stein has spent a lot of time talking about “culture,” she has shown little interest in examining how “culture” is passed down to schoolchildren in the Palestinian territories. (Indoctrination by groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, of course, would be very difficult to blame on “Israeli-Jewish racism.”) Instead, she is interested in challenging the “dominant map of the nation-state, historically predicated on forced Palestinian absence—materially from their land, and figuratively from official Israeli histories and public discourses.”

To interject: Stein (commenting on her area of academic specialty) was describing a state in which Israeli Arab citizens have full voting rights (12 currently serve in the 120-member Knesset, including the Knesset speaker and the minister without portfolio in Ehud Olmert’s government). Israeli Arabs also have the right to own land and considerable autonomy over the education of their children. And, of course, this is a state in which the Israeli Arab rap and hip-hop artists whose work Stein considers so important have freedom to perform.

Stein also has critiqued what she termed in 2004 the “pervasive fear (real and imagined) of random Palestinian violence” in Ariel Sharon’s Israel. In the essay, she did not precisely define what she meant by the term “imagined” fear, but she addressed the issue in a 2005 interview. Scholars have debated what caused the start of the second “intifada” and the demise of the Oslo peace process: some have blamed provocative actions by Ariel Sharon; others have pointed to Yasir Arafat’s willingness to tolerate (or even encourage) suicide-murder attacks against Israeli civilians. Stein suggested a third explanation . . . Israeli (Jewish) racism.

It’s worth noting that, at the time of her writing, Palestinian militant groups had an official policy of “random” violence—targeting civilian non-combatants, and especially women and children—through suicide-murder attacks. Between 2000 and 2005, there were 147 terrorist attacks in Israel, killing more than 800 Israeli civilians, including 119 minors. To Stein, these actions produced a "radical shift to the right" in Israel. In fact, of course, Ariel Sharon governed largely from the center, so much so that his actions splintered the conservative Likud Party and the creation of a new centrist party, Kadima. Stein's listeners never would have known.

Stein has taught courses such as “Space, Place, and Power” (in which “we will pay particular attention to issues of gender, class, sexuality, and race and the situated political and historical contexts of space and space-making”); and “Travel, Gender, and Power” (which addressed such politically correct questions as “What is the relationship between gender, travel, and power? Can travel be a subversive act? . . . And how do issues of race, class, and sexuality complicate these questions? . . . We will take tourism as our lens to investigate the relationship between globalization and mobility, sex and power, ‘authenticity’ and commodification . . . to build a critical discussion about gender and mobility”).

Stein also has sponsored a House course called “Nonviolent Activism in Israel & Palestine,” which explored such issues as “What is ‘creative extremism?’” and “When is violence justified?”

Stein made quite clear her approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict in 2004, when she was the only Duke professor to be on the announced pre-conference schedule for the Palestine Solidarity Movement’s conference on the Duke campus.*

The PSM opposes what it terms the “racist and apartheid” state of Israel, and has declined calls to criticize suicide-murder attacks, noting that “as a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation.” PSM conferences have passed resolutions affirming that “Zionism is racism” and declaring “solidarity with the popular resistance to Israeli occupation, colonization, and apartheid.” The organizer of the Duke conference, Rann Bar-on—who later co-founded the potbangers’ organization in the lacrosse case—declined, when pressed, to criticize Palestinian suicide-murder attacks.

Asked to comment on the PSM’s stated positions, Stein demurred, telling the Chronicle, “The charge of terrorism has been a genuine distraction from the issues.” The Stein-sponsored House course assigned 20 pages of “field reports” from the PSM’s parent organization, the International Solidarity Movement.

As with Nelson’s peculiar invocations of history, Stein had every right to present at the PSM conference, even if she exercised questionable judgment by doing so. But imagine the (appropriate) outrage from Duke alums or from Stein’s colleagues if she had presented at, say, a high-profile conference organized by the KKK, or by Operation Rescue.

One thing can be sure: such a professor would not have attracted the support of her politically correct colleagues. Yet, in this case, to rebut criticism about the PSM affair, Diane Nelson and (of course . . .) Wahneema Lubiano created the Duke Radical Action Group, which the Chronicle reported took “a position of strong support for the conference.”

Lubiano described the group’s aim: “This summer Diane Nelson and I thought: ‘Why don’t we try to hone a larger group of people who have political interests and want to be engaged in both support of student actives and from our own vantage points?’”

The remark rather sounds like the mindset that created the Group of 88. Indeed, Stein and Nelson were two of the most easily predicted signatories of the statement.


The Cultural Anthropology Department also houses such Group members as Ralph Litzinger and Anne Allison (“Group of 88 for Credit”); “clarifying” professor Charlie Piot, who in February stated that the Group of 88’s blog critics should “shut up”; and anti-lacrosse extremist Orin Starn. Starn sought to exploit the case to forward his agenda of transforming Duke into the Haverford of the Triangle—including by publishing a fall 2006 op-ed that could have been a rough draft of Mike Nifong’s opening statement in a lacrosse trial—even as he privately e-mailed one of the accused students expressing sympathy and offering his support.

With “supporters” like Starn, Nelson, and Stein, why would Duke students need detractors?

*--modified for clarity, taking into account a commenter's recollection of the event


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Anonymous said...

How can Duke trustees ignore these embarrassing professors?

Anonymous said...

Well, if KC keeps showing them to to world, perhaps the trustees will no longer be able to ignore them.

hman said...

Advocates of "diversity" in modern society and especially in the field of education seem to have trouble grasping the fact that including rabidly intolerant groups (like Islamicists) in the mix is an incoherent, doom-struck program.
And I really do not get how any kind of "feminist" would want to make nice with groups like Hamas (for example). They need to get their heads on straight, imho. I mean, when folks are talking about killing or enslaving you, smart people pay attention.
In a really serious confrontation, silly people like these academics just get in the way and add to the cost of surviving.

Anonymous said...

I have followed the group profiles very closely and am constantly perplexed by Prof. Johnson's revelations. Their scholarship seems to be completely devoid of research. Why? Is it because of the concentration of this group in a particular field of study (the humanities) or is it because of the composition of this specific group (Duke Humanities profs)? In every post, the professors’ publications show an aversion to forming a hypothesis/theory; completing research that supports, or contradicts the hypothesis; analyzing the research then publishing an analysis based upon the research. Their publications express their loony theories, usually in unintelligible language, but are not supported by any research, or, more likely, are contradicted by the research of real scholars who have collected the data. For example Karla Holloway’s theory about mourning and media coverage based upon race actually sounds like a supportable hypothesis – a cursory survey of local/national print and televised media could very well support her theory – but she didn’t bother to do the research so it is impossible to read her piece with any seriousness. Why is there such an aversion to fact finding?

Gary Packwood said...

Very well done KC. Thank You. I learned more than I thought that I would.

These professors are most certainly Ducks out of water in Durham USA.

They all should be in NYC, Chicago, LA or Toronto where they are so many community people who would take them to dinner; attend their lectures and gush over their Ph.D's.

The only reason I can imagine that they would be in Durham USA is the pay rate.

Race/Class/Gender: I, II, and III is just a hoot and so appropriate.

Perhaps she will circulate around Shooters late in the evening and sign up the men's lacrosse and basketball team an expression of her commitment to diversity.

Dude, enough with the singing, already! Sign here!

Freshmen sign up for Race/Class/Gender I.

What a mess.

Guido Cavalcanti said...

Just look at Nelson's picture. Judge that book by its cover.

No serious person is going to take her BS courses.

It's a travesty that she is where she is, but the universities have to chug through the Dark Age stewardship of the boomer won't last forever.

colagirl said...

Will you include these profiles in your book, KC? (possibly as an appendix?) It would be really great to get some sunlight in on these faculty members and let the world know just what they think.

Anonymous said...

I had previously suggested that the Gang of 88 were the "performance artists" of academia. They did not have anything important or artistic to contribute to the pursuit of truth or knowledge, so they sought attention in the only way they could.

I would like to keep portions of that earlier postulate and add another component: They could also be the internet trolls of the world-wide academy. Marginalized, at least in their own minds, they seek attention by taking positions, devoid of factual support, for the shock value.

Of course, all of this could describe a petulant teenager as well. In fact, the witless following of a peer group jumping off a cliff ("Listening Ad") and the refusal to apologize or show remorse for it ("Clarifying Statement") proves, ipso facto, my point. A grown-up academician would at least attempt a serious support of his or her position.

Throw in a dash of hating America for attacking military targets with a teaspoon of supporting civilian-targeting suicide bombers, and you have a recipe for teenage academic troll performance artist ghoulash. Yum, yum!

"K.C. Johnson's modified ritual of Exorcism consists of a stern look and a loud, 'GET OUT!'" BOOK OF JOHNSON, Ch.17, vs.1-3. MOO! Gregory

Michael said...

I had to have a look at her faculty picture.

If you're going to pose for a picture that is your face to the world on the internet, you might as well go for the dignified look. Unless you have no dignity.

The picture reflects the problems with her behaviour in my mind.

Carolyn said...

"How can Duke trustees ignore these embarrassing professors?"

By being even more embarrassing themselves. The trustees PAY for these professors!

Rachel said...

Zionism = racism?
You can decide for yourself Dr Johnson. Soon you will have a year of living and working in Israel. Will you try and learn Hebrew? (The tongue of the Profits.)

27 years ago I lived in Israel - but only for a year or so. At the time there were more Israelis living in New York City than in country.

As an American I seemed to represent access to a Green Card, marriage - Israeli - Palestinian - I met many professionals who were looking for the nearest exit.

There were only two kinds of organ donors at the hospital where I worked: brain dead Palestinians and brain dead tourists.

I wonder if you will find the Palestinians and Israelis who live in the same cities still have separate schools, taxis, public buses, hospitals and grocery stores, etc..

I wonder if you will find that the Israeli army still has the policy where they blow up a Palestinian house, if a member is suspected of terrorism. 27 years ago the Palestinians lived in large extended families in one house. The army would give a 10 minute warning before blowing it up.

No doubt there will be a few [token?] academic Palestinians in Tel Aviv. My experience was the same 27 years ago, but I did not notice any Palestinians working between the professor of medicine and the floor scrubber. Most Palestinians I met were performing unskilled labor.

Memories. I saw, with my own eyes, a dying young woman who's brother doused her with gas and lit her on fire. This murder was for the family honor.

I wonder if you will see the army on almost every roof top, at every public place, at the door of every public building, tanks in the street, and check points. I got used to it.

An advanced country in many ways, a primitive society in many ways. I hope you manage to get out of Tel Aviv for long intervals.

Interesting, your reference to the KKK.

Forgive me for going on and on about my visit to Israel. Memories.

I hope your stay in Israel will be safe and that you will come home and tell us all about the big picture, and I'm sure you will do it much better than Prof Stein.

Anonymous said...

Jacks of all trades, masters of none are these self-important, jargon-spewing armchair activists, stirring up a little action on campus with great visions of how the world should be. Cushy jobs for big mouths.

Can't these people openly examine their fields of study without the cookie cutter race-class-gender approach, squeezing facts to fit predetermined metanarratives.

Stanford has educated some of the great of the 88--Lubiano, Starn, and Nelson all have doctorates from Stanford.

These cultural anthropologists and Karla Holloway, Lubiano and others of the 88 ilk just ooze empathy for the downtrodden. They present themselves as such good,caring people.

Anonymous said...


(Part 4 of 3)

There can be little doubt that political correctness is treated like a religion by many adherents and agnostics alike. It is faith-based with a set of rules, sacred words and a creation theory. Also, like other religions, especially Scientology, it is chock full of logical fallacies. Voltaire, in CANDIDE, exposed the great logical fallacy of religion: In the best of all possible worlds, why do bad things happen to fetal people? Actually, the adage employs the word "good" instead of "fetal," but you get the point.

Some religions enjoy zoological fallacies, including a faith that worships a many-armed, trunked and sometimes tusked creature. It may be a matter of taste, but I would prefer my Maker to have a tiger's head, as it would be better for my self-image. If my Creator had, in fact, a tiger's head visage, I would know that I had a kick-ass god. I certainly would not want my god to be chubby (Buddhism), only 60-feet tall (Mormonism), or so young that the copyright had yet to expire (Scientology).

Then of course there are other logical impossibilities, including walking on water (physics), turning water into wine (chemistry) and raising the dead (biology). Correctology has its share of logical fallacies, including the following:


Correctologists correctly believe that racism is bad, but to fight it, they employ what is supposed to be legally and socially acceptable racism. Significantly, this "benign" racism harms not the real racists, but people at random. This paradigm may work in medicine when a microbiologist uses an attenuated strain of a disease for a vaccine, or to fight some fires, which really do involve fighting fire with fire.

On the other hand, it does not work with parenting ("Do as I say, not as I do") or ethics ("Do unto others...."). Vigilante justice, which we saw at its worst in Durham, is basically the act of fighting crim with crime. This is so anathema to our system of justice, even prosecutors are usually prohibited from doing it. In other words, in science, when the physical laws require fighting fire with fire, it may be necessary. In politics or social settings, it just taints the process with hypocrisy.

Political correctness also implies that people in a certain protected class cannot make it on their own; rather, they need quotas to find work, go to university, etc. It also implies that these people are so fragile that they do not have the backbone to hear certain words spoken about them or to watch people of their same race arrested on television. Correctology is fundamentally a racist religion.


What was great in 1970 was great in 1970. Does that make it relevant today? Try picking up a hot chick at a happening bar with bell-bottomed jeans and a Greg Brady fro. Does anyone really think that without quota policies a qualified Samoan would not be able to get into Stanford, today, because she is darker than the Financial Aid Officer? It is like the embarassed teenager, in what is now Denmark, explaining to his friend, who came over for dinner, in 1592 AD, that his father just won't let go of that Odin figurine.


Like any religion worth its robes and cumbersome hats, Political Correctology is narcissistic. A religion requires a "chosen people" to believe that a "God" has nothing better to do than peep on them at all hours. With Correctology, there is also a "them" versus "us" mentality, and they, not we, are deserving, from the PC gods, of sympathy, jobs, victimhood, not being called certain words of their own choosing, school slots, tenure and the cool car rims that rotate at a different speed than the wheels.


Every good religion provides some fringe benefits to its clergy, even if it is just room and board. In Correctology, Pope Jackson I has been afforded a televangelist's fortune. Bishop Sharpton adorns himself with suits that scream: "I can buy Wall Street, sell it short on insider information and not go to jail." Lesser clerics, including those in Duke University's Gang of 88, get tenure, prensions, health benefits, a large salary and a bully pulpit from with to bully pupils.

[NOTE: Part 5 of the trilogy will be forthcoming with the current working title - "Correctology or Scientology: Which Is the One True Religion?" FURTHER NOTE: The parody above is the work of the author and should not be attributed to any rational person].

"In 1974, K.C. Johnson played a private high-stakes 'loser retires into obscurity' chess match with Bobby Fischer." From - "Searching for Bobby Fischer" (Paramount Pics., 1998). MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

How can PARENTS send their heirs to a school like DUKE?

Do we really think these racist leftist morons can be trusted to reveal the truth to our young?

If these 88 fools reflect the DUKE faculty and administration - then under the Truth in Advertising act, DUKE should be identified as a indoctrination site for fools.

Anonymous said...

KC, you have opened my favorite can of worms. Some relevant links to Duke's involvement with terror-supporting anarchists:

44 for divestment owe apology
Anti-Semitic Screed by Duke senior Philip Kurian
The Intifada Comes to Duke
More embarrassing stuff to cover up
Duke Professor Praises Bin Laden
Duke Hosts Pro-Terror Conference
Terror Supporters at Duke
Petition to Brodhead
The Unpatriotic University: Duke

more stuff.

PS, "Miss Manners" was most likely Polanski trolling in drag

Anonymous said...

Is Nelson a Communist?

Anonymous said...

So you can tell something about a course from its title? Is that what you're saying? I mean, I can go through the course catalog and dismiss courses that are useless based on titles? Sweet.

I mean, actually engaging with the material and working through the reading and discussions--no need for that! Thanks, Professor KC! Since I've started following your educational program, my life has gotten so much easier! I can't wait for your book-on-tape so I don't have to read, either, and just be told what to think!

Anonymous said...

This is truly stunning. I had no idea how bad things were at Duke. What a disaster. Now Duke is known only for its basketball program and affirmative-action dominated faculty. Only a problem, I guess, if Duke aspires to be taken seriously as a research institution. Obviously, its faculty hiring reveals that it does not so aspire.

mac said...

MOO Gregory 1:01:
Hadn't read your comment about these academics being the "performance artists of academia." That is a shockingly accurate statement for some of the 88.

Hman 12:41
"Silly people like these academics just get in the way and just add to the cost of surviving."
They wouldn't see it, though. More's the pity. Some people are deaf, blind and dumb to danger - real danger - and would choose to play in an open field in an electric storm.

It's said that it is easy to be loud and proud while living in the shadow of the police station: I wonder how many of the 88 would REALLY like to live in a nation that didn't respect rights? (Try smuggling a Bible into Saudi Arabia, for example?)

AF said...

So Nelson and Lubiano started the Duke Radical Action Group. What a DRAG. And it's purpose--‘Why don’t we try to hone a larger group of people who have political interests and want to be engaged in both support of student actives and from our own vantage points?’”. Okay, so where were they as Horowitz spoke? Oops, didn't fit their agenda so.......
The more I read, the more ashamed I am of my profession. I had no idea that so many of my "colleagues" were prostituting my profession. Alas, the world's oldest profession lives--maybe not in the way that Precious practiced it, but in the way of academe.

Anonymous said...

Kindergarten stratagem? Come on KC, she used a really big knife in that presentation... at the time I was thinking more along the lines of 3rd grade. Give her some credit.


mac said...

I couldn't get through all the links without getting nauseous. Didn't occur to me that P. was Miss Manners. Probably right. He's a chain-yanker - (probably a wanker-yanker, too, considering all things we've seen and read.)

KC once answered a question I'd had about the 88 and their anti-Israel bias. It's hard to believe that this stuff is happening, and that people like Stein would state that "the issue of terrorism has been a distraction"
(regarding the conference.) Huh? Terrorism is their chief method of operation!

It's called "academa-terrorism."

Academa-terrorism is not new. It's fascinating - (in a hideous sort of way, like watching a cannibal eat supper) - that it's now fashionable to be an Islamafascist.

Ezra Pound would be proud.

Anonymous said...

12:50 am/ "No serious person is going to take her course." Based on her picture?!!! Have you seen the picture KC Johnson shows to the world? His bow tie?!!! If picture/clothing fills the classroom--and it doesn't--his would also be a candidate for empty. Not unlike many other less-than-well-dressed faculty. Is appearance the way you judge brains and ability? I guess you think Paris Hilton, etc., are geniuses!!!!

Anonymous said...


Another enlighting post. Thanks.

Debrah said...

TO 3:25AM--

Most definitely.

The same on another forum.

When an anonymous poster, or a new one who references subject matter you recall being an issue, or spends an inordinate amount of time discussing a few regular participants, a red flag should go up.

For a while yesterday, I had let my guard down.....completely forgetting our past experiences with the troublemaker.

We must keep an eye open in these last days and report it.

Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson,

May I respectfully suggest in the short future of DIW remaining, that you delete complaints of improperly signifying the names of individuals submitted by Anonymous?

I enjoy the comment section but not populated by nitpicking, rude, impolite, mannerless, anonymous doesn't have a clue submitters.

jim2 said...

Now it is clear why those of the 88 made the following complaint (posted here by KC on March 15, 2007):

Here is Group member Lee Baker, on the suffering Group members have endured:

"Our syllabi are getting scrutinized."

Anonymous said...

The stories of the 88 sure do tell alot about brodhead. Remember? He volunteered to be a part of them and their agenda when he arrived at duke. Now we know a lot more about his thinking and why he rushes to judge those he has no right to judge. Duke, my friends, is in a lot of trouble going into the future.

Anonymous said...

BOOK REVIEW: Here's an interesting article.

SAN FRANCISCO - When it comes to spy novels and Middle East intrigue, after 16 spell-binding years, the gripping story behind the Middle East quagmire - its issues of nuclear weapons and the quest for a Palestinian State - is finally being told in a ground-breaking new book entitled, THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY.

Author Robert Spirko created the work in such a way that every reader in the world would understand all the intricate issues in the Middle East and how close the region actually came to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY, a genre spy-thriller by Robert Spirko, was fourth on the best-seller list at Atlasbooks, Inc., a national book distributor. Ingram Books is the worldwide distributor.

Mr. Spirko has a unique way of holding the reader in his grasp as the plot of THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY unfolds. He literally takes you from your armchair and immerses you into the lifestyle of the Bedouin, the Israeli, the PLO and the mindset of the Middle-Easterner.

THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY is not just another spy-novel; it is the quintessential spy-thriller because it forces the reader to understand how both sides "think" and why that thinking ultimately led to repeated wars in the Middle East.

Spirko, a financial and geo-political analyst, turned his attention to the Middle East in 1987, after discovering several common elements related to the Middle East question. In working for peace, and after several frustrating years, he put down his analysis in writing and when he was finished, he not only had a solution to the quagmire, he had a story to tell.

But, nobody was listening.

Today, all that has changed, thanks to Olive Grove Publishers who decided to give his book a chance.

When the Palestinian question came to a festering crisis in 1990, he had already predicted several of the actual events before they occurred. For instance, Spirko predicted the Intifada and Persian Gulf War, missing the actual invasion date of Kuwait by only one week. He did this through spectacular supposition, analysis and prediction based on what he was "seeing" in the region.

When Spirko typed his manuscript, he set the work to fiction, about what he thought might occur soon in the Middle East involving weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferation, the Palestinian uprising before it occurred, and how the Palestinian question begged to be answered, little did he realize that every event he described in the book would eventually transpire.

His story of what was really happening behind the scenes in the Middle East is truly astounding and remarkable, and his contribution to the Camp David Peace Talks in 2000, formulated a solution to the Jerusalem question. When the BBC got wind of it, they termed it "as nothing short of brilliant" - Jerusalem becoming the simultaneous capitals of both Israel and Palestine in congruous or concentric zones.

Spirko originally copyrighted his book on October 20, 1987, in the U. S.
Library of Congress where intelligence agencies reviewed his work.

Today, finally, somebody is listening.

Spirko feels that both sides must return to the Camp David Peace Talks and resume where they left off and "freeze in place" the already-agreed-upon negotiating points.

“It's like a marriage where both spouses storm away mad in an argument.
They don't divorce and then try to resume their relationship, they come back together, settle their differences, and resume their marriage. It must be the same for the Middle East Peace talks," Spirko says.

The story begins in Beirut, Lebanon, once a great financial capital of the Middle East, which lay in ruin, having been systematically blasted to rubble during 20 years of inexhaustible civil war and siege by Israel, the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah and Lebanese factions. Soon, the quest for a Palestinian State would be framed by these events; namely, the invasion of Kuwait by a neighboring rogue state, Iraq, with Saddam Hussein's goal of seeking nuclear parity with Israel.

In Mr. Spirko's story, Rick Waite, a forgotten UPI correspondent, and Adrienne Waters, a Pulitzer Prize journalist from the London Times, meet-up in Beirut with a PLO operative named Ahmed, who discovers a secret intelligence memo about a secret plan to destroy Israel.

In the ensuing chase to find the answer to this secret communiqué and what it means, a deadly race against time begins as the unlikely trio tries to halt the launch of a secret weapon from a hidden PLO base camp in the Syrian Desert. U. S. and British intelligence operatives have their own agenda, and attempt to stop whatever is going on to save the entire region from a nuclear holocaust.

Spirko weaves a tale of chilling duplicity and thrilling action, as the characters evade and devise a method to announce the discovery of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles to the rest of the world - all while United Nations' delegates bicker endlessly.

An executive at BookMasters, Inc., says, "The book is absolutely stunning in the manner in which Mr. Spirko, tells his tale. He is truly a master as an analyst, and it's totally unlike anything else we've ever read in a spy-thriller. It keeps you turning pages and won't let you quit - until the very end. And, what an ending it is! If you crave twisting plots, thrilling spy-action and intriguing characters, then this is the book for you."

Spirko, whose own background includes a stint in the U. S. Air Force and has given his advice to the National Security Council in Washington, D. C., has a degree in journalism and knows first-hand about the newsroom and what it takes to be an intelligence field agent. His knowledge of the trade makes the story real, daunting, and strikingly similar to "The Year of Living Dangerously."

"THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY drips with reality," quips a book reviewer from Olive Grove Publishers. "If books were rated by Siskel & Roeper, it would be given a two-thumbs up."

Not since, Casablanca, do characters as earthy as Rick Waite, or as beautifully mysterious as London Times reporter, Adrienne Waters, or as desperate as PLO operative, Ahmed, bring fresh characters to a story that will be remembered by readers for a long time.

The novel is a mass market paperback produced by Olive Grove Publishers, and can be purchased at area bookstores through Ingram Book Group, New Leaf Distribution, and Baker and Taylor, priced at $14.99, ISBN 0-9752508-0-9. THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY can also be ordered on the web at, or email orders from:, or from Barnes & Nobles, Border's, Dalton's, & Follett bookstores at colleges and universities, WaldenBooks,,, and other popular retail bookstores. Or, readers and store managers can call 1-800-BOOKLOG, or 800-247-6553 direct, to order.

For readers who want to know what was really going on in the Middle East prior to the Persian Gulf War, Sept. 11th, and Iraq War, THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY, is a must read.

miramar said...

To anon. 1:01: As a college professor, I loved your comment on the performance artists of academia. Unfortunately, the performance artists seem to be running a large part of the show in the humanities. I can only hope KC's book will help to highlight this problem. The ironic part is the most prominent performance artists are found at elite universities like Duke, since students at public universities (such as the one where I teach) don't have the time for this foolishness. So the performance artists make an excellent salary saying the systems stinks and pretending they are doing something about it, when in reality they are parasites of the system they claim to despise.

no justice, no peace said...

Inre: "...I wonder if you will find that the Israeli army still has the policy where they blow up a Palestinian house, if a member is suspected of terrorism. 27 years ago the Palestinians lived in large extended families in one house. The army would give a 10 minute warning before blowing it up..."

An outstanding deterrent. No doubt the balance of the Western world will find the need to follow in the Israeli foot steps if terrorists and their abettors don't quit committing terrorist acts. Don't think it can happen?

One only need to consider who the west is turning to for aviation and border security expertise.

What are they teaching in schools these days?

no justice, no peace said...

Well done Steven Horwitz...inre: your late link on the previous post about economic myths.

You may want to refer to those who are the first to purchase new technologies, “Early Adopters” instead of “the rich”. Wealth rarely has anything to do with being the first one in and one may argue that many of the wealthy are “Late Adopters” of new technologies and more concerned with wealth preservation versus creation. On the other hand there are numerous teenagers who have spent a disproportionate amount of their income on an iPod and/or iPhone.

I loved the point about the static nature of wealth. Not only were Bill Gates and Michael Dell “poor” college drop-outs at certain points in time, but so were many of the millionaires that had an opportunity cost in deciding to work in those early-stage companies. They could have made higher incomes elsewhere and chose equity/low income instead.

Your point also reinforces the messgage that there is no upward boundary for income/wealth; a fact that distorts historic looks backward.

The chicken(s) example reminded me of a neighbor to a property I own that had chickens. Equally important, in spite of what the gender studies professors teach, they also owned a rooster. This Dallas neighborhood was within walking distance of some of the largest estates in the city. After twenty years either the family moved or other neighbors complained of the morning wake-up call.

One the other hand, maybe the rooster was bred for fighting and there were no chickens.

Though I do not have data to support this, wouldn’t start-up job growth dwarf that of the companies shown?

Hah, what a pleasant surprise to see that fraud, Paul Ehrlich’s name mentioned! I was thinking of him right as I read your citation of his bet with Simon. Mr. Ehrlich is THE poster child for failed prognostication. His on-going efforts, with full support from a MSM that improperly anoints him an expert (huge failure rate), to manipulate data sets into narratives that prove to be wrong is unparalleled. He should also be Journalism Schools’ poster child of a questionable expert source. His use as such demonstrates that the media are very, very lazy and incompetent.

Debrah said...

It's worth noting that an inordinate number of Duke's Gang of 88 have ties to Berkeley--a place most view as synonymous with the whole bygone hippie era.

Orin Starn supposedly grew up there and his parents supposedly teach there.

Fortunately for San Francisco--one of the most beautiful cities in the world--and surrounding areas, there are enough normal, productive people living there to balance out their uselessness.

Anonymous said...

KC is the Mike S. Adams of Duke! Congrats KC! Keep 'em coming!

Debrah said...

I'm guessing this is Prof-Daddy-Starn...... opposed to Puff-Daddy or P-Diddy.

Debrah said...

Stein is truly repulsive and misguided:

Asked to comment on the PSM’s stated positions, Stein demurred, telling the Chronicle, “The charge of terrorism has been a genuine distraction from the issues.”

Anonymous said...

7:41 a.m.
"Have you seen the picture KC Johnson shows to the world? His bow tie?!!! If picture/clothing fills the classroom--and it doesn't--his would also be a candidate for empty."

The bow tie ROCKS!

Debrah said...

Annie is such a happy gal!

KC Johnson said...

To the 6.20:

As has been noted in several previous discussion threads, none of the Group of 88 publicly post their syllabi.

I agree that we could tell much more about their courses from their syllabi than we can from the titles and descriptions in the catalog (though, it's worth remembering, the course bulletin is an official university publication). But it strikes me as circular logic to say that because Group members choose not to be transparent, therefore no one can comment on their courses.

Debrah said...

Diane is truly a fashion plate!

Debrah said...

Sassy Stein

Gary Packwood said...

miramar 9:01 said...

...To anon. 1:01: As a college professor, I loved your comment on the performance artists of academia. Unfortunately, the performance artists seem to be running a large part of the show in the humanities. I can only hope KC's book will help to highlight this problem. The ironic part is the most prominent performance artists are found at elite universities like Duke, since students at public universities (such as the one where I teach) don't have the time for this foolishness. So the performance artists make an excellent salary saying the systems stinks and pretending they are doing something about it, when in reality they are parasites of the system they claim to despise.
I think you (and 1:01) make an important point about who is running the show.

Before this case and KC's writings, I did not know such people were liked or disliked in the academy. I did not know about them at all with the possible exception of political science faculty who tend to create issues for students to be concerned about for one semester.

My academic background is all about science and math.

Because of KC's work I am now paying attention to these people and helping my friends pay attention to what is going on in universities.

If nothing else this blog has helped me pull my head out of the sand of science and math and focus on the performance artists and their agenda of race, gender and privilege.

I will be sad to see this blog close.

Anonymous said...

K.C. wrote at 9.57: "But it strikes me as circular logic to say that because Group members choose not to be transparent, therefore no one can comment on their courses."

It's far beyond circular, KC. Their "logic" is as vapid as their so-called scholarship and thinking. Press ahead.

Anonymous said...

KC Johnson at 9:57:

Didn't you note the other day that one of the 88 does post his syllabi--he's the cultural anthopologist you mentioned the other day. Does he or doesn't he?

Debrah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KC Johnson said...

To the 10.10:

At the start of the case, Baker did post his syllabi. He no longer does.

Debrah said...

Especially for Rebecca Stein

Ralph Phelan said...

Again the issue of the "opportunity cost" of crappy professors comes up.

"Anthropology of Numbers" could be extremely interesting if it were a real examination of the wide variation in human thought about something as basic as counting, rather than a politicly Procrustean polemic.

Anonymous said...

Please tell this woman, Ms. Nelson, to keep her top on when she protests and a bag on her head. Whoever made the statement that her photograph was inappropriate, you are right. You can see that she is nuttier than a sh*thouse rat.

Debrah said...

The sexy, subcutaneous Starn!


Well, at least he's a cultural pro.

Ralph Phelan said...

8/20/07 4:41 AM

"Is Nelson a Communist? "

Founding member of the Radical Action Group? Duh!

Anonymous said...

I understand really clearly why the G88 might take down their syllabi. While this might not be your goal, Professor Johnson, a lot of people who post appear, appear, by the tone of their comments, to be gunning for these people. They do not appear to be predisposed to be nice about anything any of these people do.

Given the attacks on the research areas posted here, I can imagine what the attacks on the syllabi.

Point of Fact: students, also at state universities, are often interested in courses with fun/different/interesting titles. Some of these courses are, of course, special topics courses. And, cultural antropology is just the place I'd expect this. It's about culture, y'all.

KC Johnson said...

To the 10.46:

A check I did in summer 2006 (when I first started doing daily posts on the case) showed that Baker was the only Group member at that time to post his syllabi.

Your theory quite probably does apply to Baker. But that still leaves 87 more.

Ralph Phelan said...

80%, 72.2% and 60% faculty signing rates - in these departments, the loonies are in the majority.

Faculty from other departments can't influnece the staffing of these departments, as the provost can always overrule them.

Rules for faculty behavior are not enforced against these people, no matter how blatant their violations.

It looks like the sane people at Duke are powerless to fix this mess.

This is not just a Duke problem - it seems to be everywhere in academia. It's infected state schools too (Ward Churchill).

Outside intervention is needed. I don't know what can be done about private institutions, but state institutions answer to the voters. So the next time there's a "professors gone wild" incident in my state that I can use as a "hook," I'm going to be asking my state legislature to pass something like this.

KC Johnson, Steven Horwitz, Gary Packwood, miramar ... what do you think the likely efficacy is, and what unintended side effects do you see? If you don't like this proposal, do you have an alternative?

Debrah said...

Stein and Russell Simmons must be so proud.

gwdprice said... there a way that a regular guy can support an effort to red the schools of these parasites? And, why do you allow Anonymous commentters?

Anonymous said...

“What is the relationship between gender, travel, and power?

None. (Geez...Power again? )

"Can travel be a subversive act?"

No. do issues of race, class, and sexuality complicate these questions?

They don't. These questions are not complicated: they are absurd.

"We will take tourism as our lens to investigate the relationship between globalization and mobility, sex and power, ‘authenticity’ and commodification.”

Please, no. Can we speak of tourism as a lens? No. Has the damned "lens" idea panned out? No. Does it seem to be anything but a temptation to absurdity? No. Is a fanatical focus on power a productive obsession? No way. Does neologizing and nominalization make one an intellectual? Nein. Does "authenticity" mean anything at all?

No. No, no, no. And no.

Anonymous said...

KC, minor correction. Rebecca Stein wasn't the only Duke professor presenting at the PSM conference. At least three others, Cooke, Surin, and Lubiano presented too.

And some questions. Why not talk about Ralph Litzinger who is also cultural anthropology? Does he a get free ride because he doesn't speak of race and gender?

Why not talk about Ariel Dorfman, a G88er who is a huge name with international reputation as playright, social critic, defender of human rights?

Why not talk about Janet Radway, also a G88er with huge national reputation?

What about Alice Kaplan, award-winning author with international reputation?

Why do those more mainstream important professors get a free ride?

Anonymous said...

To KC Johnson at 11:01:

Sorry to continue this, but correct me if I'm wrong: Duke posts syllabi internally, yes? So, presumably, the syllabi of the 88 are available to the Duke community, however, that may be defined.

I just did a quck check of Duke faculty & have noticed that most of their personal description spaces do NOT include links to courses. The German department, which I spent more time on because it's a small department, does provide a synopsis of each course being taught that semester. Members of the history department can provide a synopsis of the courses they are currently teaching. Some do, including, I think, at least two members of the G88. One German professor had a link to one of his courses--it was a great link--but not to others.

I think, but am not positive, that Duke faculty don't, as a rule, post syllabi publicly. Judging from the frequent mention of Blackboard, I assume that's where the syllabi are located.

My children and those of friends would probably be mortified if we insisted on seeing their university syllabi ("We're old enough to make our own choices, even if you are paying some of the costs..."), but I suspect faculty at both public and private universities will make them available to people who ask, as long as they consider them to be trying to cause them trouble.

Let's be clear here. If Mac or Deborah or Iman were to ask one of the 88 for their syllabi, they probably would not be asking without malice aforethought...

Anonymous said...

11:50, Before dismissing out of hand the possibility of travel as a possibly subversive act, take a look at Cynthia Enloe's classic book, Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics.

And, yes, she chaired Women's Studies at Clark. She also chaired the government department. Hardly a bastion of fly-by-night scholarship.

Anonymous said...

11:54, I can think of other 88ers with huge reputations, but I don't want them snarked by some who post here, so I haven't raised the issue as explicitly as you have...

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.57:

I'm not clear what you mean by posting internally. Duke syllabi are available through BlackBoard to students who are registered in the class--but not to the Duke community at large.

That might be a good policy; it might not. (As I've noted before, I publicly post all my syllabi.) But, it seems to me, the decision not to post syllabi vitiates the argument that people are unfairly criticizing Duke profs based on course titles and descriptions--since the titles and descriptions are all that's available.

To the 11.54:

Thanks for the correction--three other names from the anti-lacrosse faction. I'll make the correction to note that Stein was the only Duke prof announced on the pre-conference public schedule (which is where I got my information).

On those selected for the series--as I have noted previously, 84.1 percent of the tenure/tenure track faculty who signed the statement describe their research interests as related to race, class, or gender (or all three).

As to prestigious names who signed the statement, I have previously commented upon Alice Kaplan's prculiar rationalization for signing the statement. Had Dorfman or Radway chosen to explain their reason for signing, I'm sure I would have commented on that as well. And I have already noted that the series will conclude next week with Bill Chafe, clearly among the most prestigious of the Group membership.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many people here are confusing a Course Summary (which I think all Duke faculty supply on the public web site), with a Syllabus (which details a day-by-day, class-by-class schedule for each course).

The former (the Course Summaries), it seems to me, have already provided plenty of fun and games for KC and for the DIW visitors -- and rightly so. These are embarrassing and informative enough -- seriously, what else do you need to know?

As to the latter (Syllabi), I cannot imagine why it is of interest to anyone, outside of the students enrolled in a class, to look-up what the homework assignment is for Wednesday, September 26.

Or maybe some folks are confusing syllabi, with resumes?

It's not as though these professors are hiding who they are, what they write about, or how stupid their class materials and core concepts are.

I just think it's a bit unfair and misleading to harp on how Duke profs don't put their full, detailed syllabi on the public web site, as if these were basic matters of public disclosure. What could be more boring than the day-by-day schedule of a course you're not taking? And, how many other schools do this, really?

Anonymous said...


So what was your selection criteria for attention such that Litzinger didn't warrant it when you were doing the cultural anthropologists, and Dorfman, who as an international and a national artist, professor, and media presence dwarfs Chafe, doesn't warrant your attention?

Maybe Litzinger doesn't offend as much as Nelson and Stein. But of the 88ers, Dorfman is huge.

Just wondering.

Ralph Phelan said...

gwdprice 11:33:

See my 11:05.

no justice, no peace said...

Inre; 11:57 "...they probably would not be asking without malice aforethought..."

One could make the case(s) that: the lack of transparency is both malicious and fraudulent, and the lack of tolerating dissenting opinions real or imagined is wrongful, especially in an academic environment.

They, the Klan of 88 and their abettors, should be terrified that there is no market for their pap and that funding and opportunity will cease. That is where the world is headed, as the alternative would put us into another dark age.

Markets do not have malice.

KC Johnson said...

To the 12.21:

I chose Chafe over Dorfman because Chafe is from my field (20th century US political history) and I have read several of his books. I do, after all, have a day job, and while I devote a lot of time to this blog, I try to spend what time I have efficiently. Since I have all the prep work done for a post on Chafe--and since Chafe is clearly both prestigious and was a major player in the lacrosse case--I'm comfortable in choosing him rather than Dorfman.

I note that the critique of the series has now shifted from its allegedly not including one of the handful of presgitious 88'ers to not including the preferred prestigious 88'er. That's a critique I can live with.

As to the choice of Stein and Nelson over Litzinger, I chose Nelson because she commented several times on the lacrosse case and Stein because her stated research agenda--cultural politics in 1990s Israel--is a topic about which I am reasonably familiar. Regarding Litzinger, I'm not sure how he could be regarded as more prestigious than either Stein or Nelson, since he has a comparable number of publications.

Anonymous said...

Hello, 12:21,

This is 11:57. I hope you don't think I was harping on the 88. I was trying to show that they weren't hiding information about their courses; that they made information available as required by Duke.

I personally don't think syllabi tell you very much about the content of a class. Rather, they tell about the structure. Different interpretations and different foci result in different experiences with the same material.

Something I have learned from this blog: I'll be sure to give my courses really boring names, so bored blogsters won't spend their time attacking me, should I come into their crosshairs.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me that some of the principal issues here, in regards to the polarizing positions false charges and their exploitation evoked, involve:

1. Racism perpetrated by individuals such as Jesse Jackson, Houston Baker, Mike Nifong, etc in a means to use it to further their personal agenda and enrich themselves.
2. Misandry perpetrated by such marginal individuals as Selena Roberts, Ms. Nelson, Ms. Stein and others like them.
3. The idea that no rape charge is false, by such fools as those above in #2 and others.
4. The equally polarizing opposite sides of the spectrum offered by the Nascar neocon crowd.

Politically correct messages do all a disservice. I wrote an Email to Houston Baker. I asked if he was ready to retract his statements. He said he is preparing a class action lawsuit and, of course, said he reported my Email as harrassing to my ISP. Rather amusing I thought. It is always racist clowns like him who wish to stifle dialogue, who use flawed and erroneous logic, who have no logical reasoned response, who shout down ideas which are different or opposed to theirs, etc. He, Bill Oreilly, Hannity, Limbaugh and others are of the same ilk.

I supported the LAX players from day 1. His attitudes and demeanor disgust me.

Anonymous said...

This is boring. Nelson and Stein are typical anthropologists. They come out of the woodwork at any university.

Anonymous said...

"Let's be clear here. If Mac or Deborah or Iman were to ask one of the 88 for their syllabi, they probably would not be asking without malice aforethought..."

"but I don't want them snarked by some who post here"

When are you g88 explainers going to stop telling the commenters on this blog how much they're getting to you?

Anonymous said...


Let me get one thing straight. I didn't say that Litzinger was *more* prestigious than Nelson or Stein. (Although he is more senior.) I just wondered what your criteria was for attention given that you were discussing cultural anthropologists and yet chose to leave him out.

As for a criteria of necessary and sufficient prestigiousness, I'm only asking why you didn't focus on the biggest G88 name when you have said in the past that you were going after some of the big names on the G88 list.

I know, and anyone who pays attention to famous names, full professors, and figures of considerable reputation at Duke also knows that Dorfman is the elephant in the room that isn't being discussed.

Of course, you have the right, on your own blog, to go after whomever you want to go after. But I would think that some of the *non* Race, Class, Gender I, II, and III category figures might be of interest. After all, even if 84+% of the G88 fall into the category of folks whose work bugs you and others, why give a pass to those 88ers whose work is more mainstream? I mean, they signed too. And the ones I'm talking about re-signed with the clarifying statement.

Again, just wondering.

inman said...

"Transparency" seems to have struck a most sensitive nerve. One would think that a life's devotion to a particular subject, expecially when narrowly defined, would be something about which one would be singularly proud. Rather than hide one's thoughts about that subject, even if only a structural concept for a body of knowledge, one should be most open...and yes, even eager to share. And as a graduate of Duke, I submit that I am entitled to those structural concepts -- those syllabi.

As for me, I'd like to see syllabi published for an important reason (for me). When I want to learn about a particular subject, it would be better to have a roadmap rather that an "any road'll get ya there" stumble through the library. For example, when I decided that I wanted to learn about stochastic calculus and geometric brownian motion, it would have helped if I could haved accessed expert's thoughts on current "best practice" learning materials...through a syllabus available, on-line. As it was, I stumbled my way through the literature, finally reaching my goal but not without many wrong turns.

And frankly, I have developed an interest in the notion and definition of "culture," especially as a culture changes through time under the assumption that these changes follow either a "mean reversion" pattern or a "brownian motion with drift" pattern...but superimposed (in both cases) on dramatic bifurcating events. One could think of this as the intersection between mathematics, physics and cultural anthropology. And, oh, by the way, I would characterize the invention and marketing of the pill or the harnessing of fire or the emancipation of slaves as examples of "bifurcating events".

Now, if I could view syllabi, I might then be able to make a connection with current materials in the field to identify those that might support and those that might refute my thoughts in this regard.

And please, do me the courtesy of spelling "inman" correctly if only so I don't have an identity crisis.

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.06:

It appears that your questions regarding Litzinger and Dorfman have been answered (though I should note that on the C.A. website, both Litzinger and Nelson are listed as associate professors).

As I said in my previous comment, you're perfectly free to disagree with my criteria as to why I chose Chafe and not Dorfman. If the best that critics of this series now can do is to claim I profiled the wrong prestigious signatory, I'm not terribly troubled.

One other point: I'm not quite sure where I've said I'm "going after" anyone, or where anyone's work "bugs" me. (If I'm wrong, I invite you to indicate the relevant post or comment by me.) But it's intriguing to see that even a Group defender is now suggesting that 84% of the statement's signatories are engaged in work that is not "mainstream."

Anonymous said...

Is Mac, Deborah or Inman, Begas or all three together?

Anonymous said...


In fact, you and your ilk aren't getting to me. I have told friends and colleagues to read the comments on this blog for amusement value. Better than daytime tv and no commercials.

Then we shake our heads and wonder what rocks some of you crawled out from under. Let me make this clear: I do not defend the 88, but nothing I have heard/read that they have said is any more vile than some of the things posted on this blog.

Yes, their statement appears to have been aimed at athletes who were guilty of no more than attending a party whose entertainment was, perhaps, in bad judgement. Three of those men were badly treated. Their claims of innocence have been vindicated and gotten on with their lives. What about some of you?

You go on and on and on about Duke & its faculty. Do you think they listen? Unlikely. Do you think most alums listen? Unlikely. So, your kids aren't going to apply to Duke. Great. More space for kids whose parents do attack some of the faculty.

I don't know what will happen when KC stops this blog. I'll miss my daily dose of good old-fashioned American crazies.

Anonymous said...


The issue is not whether the majority of the G88's work is not "mainstream"--after all, some of the most successful professors in the history of higher education were not mainstream, including Freud, Skinner, Einstein, and Hawking.

The real issue surrounding the scholarship-88 is wheteher it's any good--is it relevant? does it educate? is it shit?

What seems pellucid from your posts on this matter is that the so-called scholarship is social advocacy--therefore, it's shit.


Anonymous said...


You seem to think that "mainstream" is good in research, or did I misread you? "Mainstream" doesn't seem to me to help us find new ways of interpreting material or to evaluate new material. It's just same old, same old. So, if 84 % of the 88ers aren't mainstream, I say, great! And, I'm sure their students benefit.

AMac said...

anon 1:06pm --

Any possibility you are falling a bit prey to Spectator Sport Syndrome?

"Hey, KC, pitch the next one outside and low!"
"Pull on the reins a little sooner!"
"KC, head for the inside, then pour on the speed coming out of the curve!"

You asked about Dorfman and Chafe, Johnson answered, you didn't like his answer and are asking again...

You, me, or any other reader can look around (online or at the library) for material, write our comments, then set up an account at Blogspot. Sounds like you have the interest and the background to comment on the Group of 88's heavy hitters--why not go for it?

Post a link in the comments here, and I bet you'll get traffic and a spirited discussion, whatever your own opinion turns out to be.

Debrah said...

To 1:06PM--

Ariel Dorfman isn't really the elephant in any room. He just has more redeeming qualities and is more of a panoramic character than the rest of the Gang of 88.

One should note that he did not support the re-election of Nifong, which sets him apart from his stunted and insular colleagues.

IMO, Bill Chafe is the better choice because he is so clearly an academic with little else as embroidery.

The Santa from New England needs to be illuminated more than any other prestigious 88 member because of his outrageous efforts to fan the flames of what was already the incendiary Lacrosse Hoax by comparing the sorry episode to the Emmett Till case.

No sane person would even think of drawing such a comparison...since there is nothing to compare between the two....except to do the nasty deed of stoking the RACE issue.

For that, Bill Chafe should be studied...if only for a moment.

How can one so accomplished be so stupid?

Ariel Dorfman is truly multi-faceted and a talent, and he also apparently knows when to say......when.

Ralph Phelan said...

"4. The equally polarizing opposite sides of the spectrum offered by the Nascar neocon crowd."

Interesting that your points #1-#3 listed actual names, and thus by reference actual actions and statements, whereas your #4 refers only to sterotypes and gives no examples of the statements and actions you disliked.

I maintain that in retrospect the political right has a lot less to be embarrassed about in regards to how they handled this fiasco than the political left.

If you disagree, please give specifics.

Anonymous said...

Can the commercial advertisement at 8:54 AM please be removed? If Robert Spirko wants to take out advertisements to promote his self-published book, even advertisements that skirt the edge of fraud ("thanks to Olive Grove Publishers who decided to give his book a chance" -- Olive Grove Publishers is almost certainly Spirko's self-chosen imprint, as searching for instances of "Olive Grove Publishers" *without* "Spirko" gets just four hits) then Spirko can pay for ad space.

Ralph PHelan said...

"This is boring. Nelson and Stein are typical anthropologists. They come out of the woodwork at any university."

If what you say is true (and I have no reason to believe otherwise) the situation, though familiar, is still apalling.

Anonymous said...

Stein went to Stanford, too!

I think the more important piece here is who is educating/educated these professors.

They are the ones producing scholars of this ilk.

A cursory glance reveals Stanford (Lubiano, Starn, Stein, and Nelson all have doctorates from Stanford) to be the largest alma mater, followed by the University of Chicago.

As for undergraduate degrees - it is a mix of Princeton, Amherst, Wellesley, UCLA, and the Univ. of Chicago.

KC, when will we hear about the Stanford connection???

Debrah said...

"Much of Dean Chafe's professional scholarship reflects his long-term interest in issue of race and gender equality."

Given the issues that fueled the Duke Lacrosse Hoax, Bill Chafe is the perfect prestigious one to highlight in this series.

Debrah said...

Let me note that given Ariel Dorfman's connection to director Roman Polanski, I find this continued line of interest in Dorfman a bit suspicious.

I could be wrong.

However, the irritation produced is eerily familiar.

Ralph Phelan said...

"But I would think that some of the *non* Race, Class, Gender I, II, and III category figures might be of interest. After all, even if 84+% of the G88 fall into the category of folks whose work bugs you and others, why give a pass to those 88ers whose work is more mainstream?"

Because if you're doing root-cause-analysis of a failure mode you concentrate on the failed sample's distinguishing characterstics.

Race/class/gender obsession explains 84% of the failures. Since Pareto is almost always right, it's a good bet that the remaining 16% represent a large number of minor contributor causes.

So race/class/gender obsession is clearly your "low hanging fruit" and should be your #1 priority for corrective action, the first step of which is detailed documentation and study.

Anonymous said...

To 12:41:

A professor can use a syllabus that doesn't include information regarding the content of a course. In that case, IMO, they are either: 1) not prepared for the course; or 2) hiding the ball even from the students taking the class.

A week ago or so KC provided a link to one of his syllabi that you might find interesting, if not exhausting. (Sorry I don't have the link handy.)

After reviewing that syllabi you may want to reconsider your opinion that syllabi don't tell you very much about the content of a class.


Anonymous said...

In a recent report on "Faculty Productivity," the Chronicle of Higher Ed ranked Duke Anthropology as #5 in the country. They must be doing something right or left as it may be.

Anonymous said...

Dude, how did I get to be tagged a Group defender? I reported that you incorrectly noted that Stein was the only presenter at the PSM conference. I pointed out who else was there for sure. And then I asked you about your selection criteria for profiling. For doing those things you call me a Group defender?

Methinks that you're being a little self-defensive. I simply pointed out that you had gotten me wrong when you attributed to me the notion that Litzinger was somehow among the more prestigious of the 88 and corrected that.

I went on to say that given your attention to the 84% whose work is outside of the mainstream, and I don't disagree with that characterization, that it might be interesting to see you discuss, analyze, profile, whatever, the work of 88ers that is more mainstream but that still comes from people willing to make themselves part of the mob. (Go after was my description not intended to be your description.)

How does asking you to talk about your selection criteria for attention come to equal defending any of them?

I just think that you are ignoring some of the big mainstream hitters when you focus on those whose work fits into the category that you've established for special attention: Race, Class, Gender I, II, and III.

In other words, some of the mob were highly illustrious figures whose work is considered much more mainstream than the 88ers mentioned here. You can talk about whatever, whomever, and however you want, but some really big shots who don't traffic in marginal stuff are getting a free pass.

Yeah, Chafe is a historian, but many others you analyze here aren't. And a few of those others are giants who lent some kind of respectability. Don't they warrant attention?

KC Johnson said...

It's been intriguing to note the evolution of the Group defenders' arguments about this series:

1.) (Unspecified) posts took (unspecified) quotes out of (unspecified) context.

2.) The posts are anti-intellectual, since I am responsible for anything and everything said by (anonymous) commenters. In this clip from the Colbert report, Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos dismissed the absurdity of this argument.

3.) The posts focused only on the marginal members of the Group (in response, I did a post looking at the 20 marginal members of the Group, none of whom had been profiled).

4.) The posts violated the principle of peer-review, because a historian cannot even describe work from outside his field (even though Duke has a tenure review committee where people from outside a candidate's field have weight on the candidate's future employment).

5.) The posts ignored the handful of Group members who were prestigious.

6.) And now, after I had said that Chafe (who by any definition is prestigious) would be the final post in the series, we hear (for the first time) that Ariel Dorfman is the "elephant" in the room, requiring analysis.

Hopefully friends and colleagues of Prof. Dorfman will encourage him to pen a piece for the Chronicle discussing the lacrosse case and his decision to sign the Group of 88 and clarifying statements. When he does so, I'll gladly link to it.

AMac said...

Serial Anon --

Pick a pseudonym if you want your audience to follow your points from comment to comment. Writing for your readers and all that.

Same free advice to you other serial anons (see why it gets confusing?)

Separately: this essay on The Peace Racket by Bruce Bawer in "City Journal" describes an anti-Western way of thinking that seems shared by some of the cultural anthropologists profiled here.

I wonder if diversity in their classes extends to a measured discussion of Bawer's thesis (well, not really--that was a rhetorical question).

Ralph PHelan said...

"In a recent report on "Faculty Productivity," the Chronicle of Higher Ed ranked Duke Anthropology as #5 in the country."

And Walter Duranty and Peter Arnett both got Pulizer Prizes for jopurnalism. And Yassir Arafat got a Nobel Peace Prize. Whoop-de-doo. This is just another form of "argument from authority."

Also, did the measurement include quality? Being the nation's #5 producer of horseshit is no great honor.

"They must be doing something right or left as it may be."

Chronicle of Higher Ed? Left.

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.48 (1):

I agree completely.

To the 1.48(2):

The thrust of the Dorfman-is-a-giant's comments appeared to be that he (and the other "giants'") work was more "mainstream," and therefore better. It would appear your dispute is with that anon. commenter; I was merely going off his/her frame of reference.

Apologies for any confusion.

Anonymous said...


I am the individual who posted the items #1 - #4. I did identify names in regards to that section, but I will be more specific here: Hannity, Michael Savage, Limbaugh, Oreilly, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, etc. They drink front the same jug of kook-Aid that people like the Group of 88 do. You will always find greater simiarity that differences from those that are on extreme opposites. They all tend to appeal to the lowest common denominator and ignore logical and empirical data. Now, before you take issue what I am saying suffice to say I am a graduate of 1 of the 3 US Military Academies and served in an active combat role. I have my MBA from a major Ivy League institution and I am certain that the current administration is both insane and evil. I have since resigned by comission several years ago. I use the term Nascar Neocon crowd as it seems the 1 sentence missives are designed to appeal to that sect:

No child left behind.
They are freedom haters, we are freedom lovers.
Mission Accomplished!

There are many more, but they are designed to appeal to based, uninformed, unintelligent section, just as morons that parrot or are the Group of 88 also engage in. Both groups are why we are a replublic, not a democracy. The

mac said...

It's interesting that so many critics have claimed that no one can criticize any academic specialty unless they're in the same field. You've atomized this one rather thoroughly, but still they come, wave after wave (like Pink Floyd's "Animals" album, referring to the "demented avengers.")

To the ANONs who've made those critiques of critiques:
So we must be made to understand: no Chiropractor can be criticized by a Medical Doctor; nor Medical Doctor can be criticized by a Chiropractor; no one can criticize anyone at all?

That is a very interesting argument. Not a very intelligent one, but very interesting, nonetheless.

Perhaps we should all give up on criticizing politicians, unless we hold (or have held) offices ourselves? How about the theatre and movie critics? Are they not allowed to voice their opinions unless they've been on stage etc?

I've seen very little evidence that people are actually defending the work of the persons being profiled. It might be more worthwhile to refute the profile than to attack KC and the regular posters.

Anonymous said...

Dorfman has a comparatively flashy multimedia website at It links to his so-called "New Blog" which seems not to have had any new entries since December 2006. The webmaster (Dorfman's son) invites e-mail comments. So encouragement for Dorfman to explain why -- given his exemplary record of opposing government abuses and supporting due process rights in Latin America and elsewhere-- he chose to thank the Duke potbangers and castraters need not come only from his "friends and colleagues."

miramar said...

To Ralph Phelan 11:05

I would say that the most effective solution would come from college administrators, although I would say that many have been ignoring the problem. That is why I hope that KC's work serves to shine some light on the situation. There is no question that professors like to play God and hire people in their own image, but as you note the official job offer comes from the provost or the dean of the school. Unless administrators are willing to say that they don't want to keep hiring these kinds of professors, it will keep happening. I recently read online about a situation at the University of Florida where the administration was not funding new positions in English specifically because some of the nonsense that was passing off as research in that department, so a reaction may have started.

Many administrators use an investment model in their hiring and salary practices, which helps them decide how to allocate best university funds. In other words, administrators have only so much money for faculty raises and for new hires, and they invest these funds into productive departments (i.e., don't put more money into Cultural Anthropology). I think that at Duke the opposite happened, and it may be because William Chafe (one of the 88) was the Dean of Arts and Sciences from 1995-2004, and was therefore responsible for hiring and promoting many of these clowns.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:54 a.m. said: "Why not talk about Ariel Dorfman, a G88er who is a huge name with international reputation as playright, social critic, defender of human rights?

A while back in the Chronicle there was a very thougtful letter by a Duke student expressing her disappointment with Dorfman for signing the listening and clarifying statements, given his firsthand knowledge of tyranny and his strong stand on human rights.

I too was surprised and disappointed that he jumped on the band wagon and rushed to judgment with a bunch of pseudo-activists. His subsequent silence on the case interests me.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

Okay, for those have been listening as well as those just tuning in, call me Dot-Not-A-Defender or DNAD. (I'm not Polanski, just for the record.)

I've been querying KC about his selection principles for profiling on what is admittedly his blog where he is free to do whatever he pleases. I agree with Ralph Phelan who writes that paying attention to the "low hanging fruit" is important. And KC has done that extraordinarily well.

But my interest in Dorfman (and others that I mentioned) doesn't come from wanting to join whatever pile on that is criticizing KC (wrongly, I think) for what he details in his points numbered 1-5 above. I don't agree with any of those criticisms. Just so everybody gets it, let me say it really clearly. I think that KC is right to ignore criticisms numbered 1 through 5 above.

I am prompted to ask him to address Dorfman because:

1. KC has done a good job of responding to what the readers of his blog say as he rightfully points out in number 3 above. So in some ways, I guess that I'm making KC a victim of his own success.

2. I am not one of those people who have said that Chafe is not prestigious or not very very prestigious. He is. Therefore, I think that KC's attention to him is appropriate.

3. I brought Dorfman (and other figures) into this exactly because they are not "low hanging fruit." And as part of the much more highly hanging fruit, they added tremendous value to the G88 list.

4. In other words, thanks to KC's work on "Angry Studies" we know what is going on there, we know what the connection of that kind of "scholarship" is to the 88 project, and we know how very marginal the status of some of that work is.

5. What I was talking about when I referred to the "elephant in the room" was very well thought of others who lent dignity and, I don't know, gravitas, to the listening ad. Why should such folks escape scrutiny? Why should Litzinger (for example), who is part of cultural anthropology profiled today, who signed the listening ad and the clarifying statement, escape scrutiny?

KC seems to think that my asking about this stuff makes me part of those he points to in numbers 1-5 of his post at 2:55p who are part of the evolution of 88 defenders and their participation in these discussions.

But I'm not charging him with quoting out of context, I don't think he is doing anything anti-intellectual, I haven't charged him with *only* attending to marginal members of the group, I don't think that he is violating some rules of peer review, and I don't think that he has ignored prestigious members of the group.

So, rather than dismissing my points by lumping me in with folks who fit into numbers 1-5, how about responding to what I did say which was that Dorfman, as an internationally known artist and social critic of human rights and someone who is the most famous and prestigious member of the G88, is among the more mainstream members who has escaped scrutiny on this list.

It's okay, KC, if you want to say that you didn't and don't want to address the more mainstream members of that list, that Phelan is right when he says that it makes more sense to look at the "low hanging fruit." But by your doing so, the high hanging fruit (man, that sounds faintly salacious) escapes scrutiny. And the mainstream participants get a pass that they don't deserve or escape a butt-whipping that they do deserve.

Debrah said...

To all confused members of the Gang.....I ask:

Did KC disappoint you?

Leave a bad taste in your mouth?


You are all "one" in the academy, but most certainly not the same.

inman said...

ralph phelan

Just a point of clarification. Was the #5 ranking for "Anthropology" or for "Cultural Anthropology"? The web site said the former.

And were the true "Anthropologists" part of the '88?


Anonymous said...


Let's be painfully clear here: the emphasis of most pursuits-G88 is on vilifying white people, especially white men, because this hated group has produced just about everything we now refer to as Civilization: search engines, engines, rocket engines, DNA, etc.

What would happen to--sneeze--"cultural anthropology" if it didn't have white men as the bane of the universe?

Let me be even more clear: their work is inferior, and therefore does not deserve funding.

Anonymous said...

Arguably not on the topic on Social Anthropology, but the dog-executioner, Michael Vick, has decided to plead guilty. So now its OK for the sports-lovers (and sports-haters) among the 88 to go into print decrying the cultural factors that have led to this social disaster.

Anonymous said...


(Part 5 of 3)

We have seen that "Correctology," as it's called, is a religion because if it was policy, people would be able to argue against it. If it were law, it would be subject to repeal, and if it were an executive proclamation, we could impeach that proclaiming executive. It appears that political correctness has been haphazardly cobbled together from a number of sources much like what happened with the New Testament's Gospels.

Unlike most religions, Correctology is of recent vintage. Many of the old religions were invented to explain scary natural phenomenon. For example, the ancient Greeks believed that Apollo or Helios pulled the blazing Sun by chariot. The ancient Greeks got away with this because the height of solar exploration at the time was a coffee can with a pin hole poked through it.

Because of their construction so long ago, these older religions show a little wear and tear. The newer religions, discovered or invented during the era of science, must be where the Answer lies! Some of these religions, however, sputter out very quickly with mass suicides (i.e. Heaven's Gate) or will sputter out after a particularly bad morning's hangover (e.g. Raelism). In fact, I am convinced that Raelism is just an excuse to get women to a Star Trek convention. That leaves us with few modern religious choices and the question: Scientology or Correctology, which is the one true religion?


Both Scientology and Political Correctology have the suffix "-ology," which makes them seem really cool. They share the belief that each individual is adversely affected by events, which are stored for generations in the "reactive mind." The religions call the process of riding themselves of these ancestral traumas as "auditing" or "diversity quotas" respectively.

In both religions, there is an eerily similar creation story involving the enslavement of a race, which is brought to a distant planet or land, with the destruction of those souls leading to the creation of "ghosts" that continue to haunt the human soul.

The two cults attack their enemies unmercifully with lawsuits and other actions, and they have charismatic, if not eccentric, leading public figures in Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. One cult was started by a science fiction writer, the other just kinda happened.


Nobody (except for the clergy).


The good news is that the bad religions sputter out in time when they go out of fashion, another religion replaces them or science catches up. Moreover, any religion that loses its utility will be discarded. Correctology's days are numbered because each of those four circumstances are slowly making headway.

[NOTE: This concludes the trilogy. FURTHER NOTE: The parody above is the work of the author and should not be attributed to any rational person].

"Only K.C. Johnson can get away with inviting the Wolfman and Frankenstein to the same dinner party." The New Yorker (June 1980). MOO! Gregory

Ralph Phelan said...

Anon 3:14

"Hannity, Michael Savage, Limbaugh, Oreilly, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson"

All TV or radio personalities, in essentially the same line of work as Nancy Grace or Howard Stern.

Where are the outrageious statements from conservative academics? Where are the outrageous statements from conservative elected officials or candidates for office? Did any conservative activists make any false accuasations like the NAACP did? Oral Roberts and Pat Robertson at worst balance the horrid spew of Sam Wells (what exactly did they say?).

And I'd partially disagree about Limbaugh - a while ago I was forced to listen to his show when it was on someone else's radio, and none of the things he said about this case were nearly as outrageous as what KC has been quoting. It was a small sample, it's true, and I'm sure if I'd listened longer he'd have said something stupid. But with the folks KC quotes you have to search to find an instance of them saying something that *isn't* stupid.

Have you got a specific quote from him, or anyone else on this list, about this case in particular that you think is self-evidently false or inaccurate. (Pointing out the truth in an inflammatory way is not, to me, always wrong.)

I still say that on this particular case the Right has a lot less to be ashamed of than the Left.

Anonymous said...

To: Ralph Phelan,

My point is that all these individuals take extremist positions, and I am not speaking exclusively of the Duke situation. Most are cartoon characters, to some degree or another. Just as Nancy Grace and her ilk. Yes, Limbaugh is a cartoon character. He is a rich cartoon character but his message is tailored to the bottom feeding lowest commond denominator, in most cases.

Debrah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph Phelan said...


By "low hanging fruit" I don't mean poor researchers, I mean "opportunities for lots of payoff with relatively little work."

To show what's wrong with the work of a minor or obviously politicized scholar is easy. To show what's wrong with the work of a highly regarded academic, you've got to be much more familiar with their work. As a historian KC's got a head start on doing Chafe. Doing Dorfman adequately would be a lot of work for him, and he's not getting paid for this.

And as to why folks like Litzinger for example escape scrutiny - luck. If I understand KC's project correctly, this isn't supposed to be an exhaustive analysis (which would also be exhausting.) It's supposed to be a representative sample.

We want to know how this bandwagon came to be, and clusters of politicized faculty who do poor work so far seems to be the single biggest contributing factor. I consider the question of why a few otherwise decent people jumped onto the bandwagon secondary and less urgent. If you're curious about it, you'll have to investigate it yourself.

As Inman could tell you, KC is quite willing to link to supporting documents.

Ralph Phelan said...

"I would say that the most effective solution would come from college administrators, although I would say that many have been ignoring the problem."

In Duke's case they're part of the problem (and not just Brodhead.) In Harvard's case they don't have the power - Summers tried to fight the PC faculty and lost. What then?

Anonymous said...

They should rename all Humanities courses as Prurient Studies,

Anonymous said...

OT -- but are the potbangers on their way to Mr. Vick's house? Are the banners ready? Has the Klan of 88 prepared their ad?

Anonymous said...

As a Jew I have always found it appalling that so many Jewish professors are rabidly anti-semitic. I am afraid that eventually we may reap the whirlwind which we have sown.

Anonymous said...

Several writers have mentioned Ariel Dorfman, and the apparent contradiction of him opposing government oppression in his native Chile and then signing both faculty statements. In the first place, Dorfman made his fame (and garnered a very high salary from Duke) as a professional exile. His writings and his career benefited from his opposition to Pinochet, but he is (or at least was) taken far more seriously in the US than in Chile (opposing Pinochet from the safety of an American university is not considered very useful or heroic).

The word in academic circles is that he was desperate to have the 88 modify their stance and issue some sort of apology or clarification, as he knew this issue would come back to haunt him. Unfortunately for him, the core group (Lubiano, Holloway, etc.) dug in their heels, and he was cowardly enough to sign the clarification statement as well. Don't worry, Ariel, you don't have much of a reputation to protect anyway (at least outside of Duke University).

AMac said...

DNAD 3:38pm --

Very helpful comment.

You wrote,

"So, rather than dismissing my points by lumping me in with folks who fit into [KC's 2:55pm points] 1-5, how about responding to what I did say which was that Dorfman, as an internationally known artist and social critic of human rights and someone who is the most famous and prestigious member of the G88, is among the more mainstream members who has escaped scrutiny on this list."

You got lumped, I think, because multiple anons were raising somewhat similar points at about the same time.

It's also something of a fine art for (some) blog commenters to strongly imply the point they wish to make without quite coming out and saying it. Combine that approach with anonymity, and you have the recipe for a guerilla style of advocacy that those of us who are interested in learning about the issues under discussion find quite tiresome.

So, DNAD, glad that that issue is behind you. I hope KC will re-address the question as you re-posed it.

no justice, no peace said...

The Princeton Review: Duke

Rankings & Lists:

Among others...

"Little Race/Class Interaction"

...I'm not sure there is another place on the planet with more discussion regarding race/class.

"College With a Conscience"

...this proves the ratings are total bullshit and that the staffs really sit around and get shit-faced coming up with pithy statements about schools they know nothing about.

First off a college cannot have a conscience. If one can have a conscience then it is derived from leaders who demonstrate some level of moral turpitude.

The only logical response is that it is true one can have a conscience because of the unconscionable behavior demonstrated at Duke by so many acts of commission and omission.

Regardless, Duke is more properly the College abetting the Unconcionable.

no justice, no peace said...

Inre: "...detailed syllabi on the public web site..."

This would include the reading lists/books which of course reveals what is important to the professor.

Weighting of work also provides some level of understanding as we all learned on the new math Kim Curtis utilized with her Duke students.

The lack of transparency is appalling and people have lost jobs, licenses, and been sued for much less.

What do they have to hide? What are a few bloggers going to be able do to remedy regarding their petty, anti-intellectual grievances?

Isn't the academy all about communicating knowledge? Advancing society?

Is it too much to ask what one is really acquiring for their $60,000 per year?

Debrah said...

Here at Bookwatch, camera-ready Orin was ready for his close-up.

I had no idea Starn was so interested in Durham's creek beds.


Renaissance Boy Wonder

Anonymous said...


Vick takes deal:

Is it me? I don't recognize any parallels to the Duke Hoax in this one.


Debrah said...

To 4:34PM--

I couldn't agree more.

mb said...

Reading this latest entry in the series had me feeling like a bystander who just witnessed an horrific train wreck and watched as blood, mutilated bodies, and body parts spewed everywhere. My heart raced and stomach turned as I witnessed the carnage. Then I looked at Nelson's picture and thought of my original recommendation for the title of this series: Point and laugh. It's really quite telling that the students at Duke sum things up much more concisely and accurately than many of their professors in the arts and letters arena. To wit, quoting Grant:
"I speak for myself and many of my friends when I say that it was truly embarrassing to Duke as a collective body of mature, free-thinking adults to witness a professor act in such a juvenile, unprofessional manner." Not just act, but appear as well. Check out the hair, and that collar! Clue time: Hey Di, it's called a "mirror." Sheesh...

So I'm once again feeling 'point and laugh' instead of 'train wreck.' Thank G*d for the internet!

Anonymous said...

My very brief analysis of Ariel Dorfman:

Dorfman worked in the Allende government. Allende was a politician in Castro's image, the type that nationalizes everything so they can control it and then lives like a king while the rest of the country suffers. And of course uses collectivist rhetoric, usually racial in overtones, pitting one group against another.

No one could possibly sign the listening statement who is a champion of individual rights.

Conclusion, Dorfamn is for abuse by the government when he agrees with or is part of that government. He is against abuse when it can get him a high paying job criticizing it.

Ariel Dorfman is a fraud pure and simple.


Stu Daddy said...

NJNP @ 5:08

With reference to what's acquired for $60K, if it's a Duke student's education for two semesters I think the figure is closer to $45K, but if it's the services of a tenured professor wouldn't it be closer to double the $60K, more like $100-120K in annual salary?

In any case the price is far too high.

mac said...

I'm glad you've clarified your points. I also would add that I've witnessed abusive, student-unfriendly behavior from mainline studies profs - (Western Civ, for example.)

I'd guess that the abuse wouldn't absolutely HAVE to come from borderline-studies and low-hangers, but the hypocrisy of the low-hangers is amazing: they depend, far more than others, upon the tolerance and mercies of others, and when time comes for them to actualy show mercy, they have shown none. Moreover, I would be really interested to see who might've challenged their dissertations. Doubtful that the challenges were very pointed.

On DIW, people have written about out-of-the-mainstream scholarship, and some have made it all-or-nothing: all great or all shit. Historically, however, out-of-the-mainstream scholarship in the sciences - (especially in the sciences) - the progenitors have had to deal with truckloads of criticism, ostracism and even persecution. Most were not recognized, much less rewarded, during their lifetimes. But then, their work proved itself, when others caught up to them, and finally understood the magnitude of their discoveries. Genius sometimes lives alone, and it likewise sometimes dies alone.

By contrast, here we have self-indulged and socially indulged "scholars," some of whom can barely hold a pen - (and some who might be challenged to extract a termite from a mound with a stick) - claiming to be in the same game, misunderstood geniuses, weathering a beating from torch-bearing hordes of illiterate peasants.

They are not - (geniuses, that is.) Their work will not stand the test of time; their scholarship will wither on the vine and they will only be remembered for standing up against and persecuting three innocent young men.

I agree that the high-hangers could use some exposure, but their epitaphs have been self-smeared well ahead of their passing. They'll have to live knowing that they will be remembered like Ezra Pound or Barry Bonds: there will always be an asterisk by their name.

Anonymous said...


Ezra Pound was a genius, although mentally ill. Suggest you look and marvel at his edit of "The Waste Land." Asterisk? I think not.

Barry Bonds before steroids proved he was 1 of the best players that ever lived. His mistake was trying to concentrate on homers; thus his problem with steroids.

As anyone who has studied baseball knows, Ruth spent 6 or 7 years as a pitcher, so his HR production was negatively affected. The real HR record is number of HRs per at-bat, and no one comes close to Ruth using that criterion.

Debrah said...

I think I'm going to be really upset when Wonderland closes.

I just went over to look at Liestoppers since I hadn't seen the place in such a long time, and it just doesn't do it.

There are lots of nifty cartoons, but the structure is disjointed and not as interesting or focused.

No central brain.

Lots of you guys are either independently wealthy or retired. Why don't you--and we--get a few million together for a KC Think Tank for Academic Purity?......not to be confused with purity of any other nature.

I think I might just be very upset!

mac said...

You are making my point:

Pound was a genius; Bonds IS a great player: the fact that Pound sullied his name with fascism and that Bonds has sullied his name with steroids makes the tragedy for each of them all the greater.

In Greek Tragedy, the virtues that raise a hero are usually the cause of the hero's downfall.

In the case of the high-hangers of the 88: they've been sullied by their unwillingness to make proper amends, and by their collaboration with the low-hangers - (hence, the comparison to Pound, and the use of the word "collaborators.")

inman said...

Debrah -- How about "The Foundation for Simple Truth and Correct Presumptions in Higher Education"?

Anonymous said...

Mac (at 5:49pm),

I see your point. I wish things were otherwise, but self-smearing might be as good as it gets for those individuals.


AMac said...

Anon 6:12pm --

When Mac wrote about "asterisks" at 5:49pm, I took him to mean that few people discuss Pound, the poet-genius, without mentioning his World War II anti-semitism and more in the next breath.

Likewise, when sports fans discuss Bond's amazing hitting streak, someone will wonder, "How many home runs would Barry Bonds have hit without steroids and human growth hormones?"

The academic and cultural stars among the Group of 88 will find to their dismay that they, too, have earned asterisks. This time, it is because of their conduct during the Hoax/Frame.

Locomotive Breath said...

KC, you're too modest. I was at the "Shut Up and Teach?" event and I'm pretty sure that Piot said that you, specifically, should shut up and teach. As you may remember from J in C's blog, Piot declined to release the text of his remarks with the excuse that he wanted to use them as part of a future "scholarly" publication.

Debrah said...

TO "inman"--

Sounds pretty good. The title can be decided by the one who brings in the most donations.


And that might be you!

Debrah said...

We need to hit up Mary D.B.T. Semans for several mil before she bites the dust.

She certainly should do something to counter her support for Dicky Brodhead through all this.

Wonder how she feels knowing about the huge settlement made by Duke?

Duke Endowment wastes millions on crap....including the city of Durham....all the time.

KC Johnson said...

To L.B.:

Indeed, I recall Piot had a specific person in mind with his admonition :)

It also does seem as if his long-awaited article based on his talk is going to be "perpetually forthcoming."

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for him, the core group (Lubiano, Holloway, etc.) dug in their heels, and he was cowardly enough to sign the clarification statement as well. Don't worry, Ariel, you don't have much of a reputation to protect anyway (at least outside of Duke University).

8/20/07 4:48 PM

Oh dear. By referring to black female 88ers by their last names but referring to Mr. Dorfman disrespectfully by his first name only you have revealed yourself as an ill-mannered patronising reverse sexist and racist. I thought the unacceptability of this sort of thing was made very clear in yesterday's thread. I sentence you to be banged about the head with a saucepan until you are entirely othered or disempowered, whichever occurs first.

Anonymous said...

Michael Vick has agreed to plead guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, proving it's all racism.

Will Vick get a special prosecutor to declare him innocent? Nuh-uh. Will the prosecutor who laid the charges be disbarred? No. Will anyone blog for this poor, rich man? Likely not. Well, okay, probably: but they won't be good blogs.

So what's the difference between this and the LAX case, except witnesses say Vick did it, and he admits he did it, and the dogs are dead?

That Vick is black.

no justice, no peace said...

The fundamental issue with Bonds, like the Gang of 88, Brodhead, and the abettors, is their lack of character.

Bonds first and foremost is an asshole. From firsthand experience, I know how is with children, my child and others, when no cameras and no adults were around - only other children (age 8-12 baseball fans). He's a penis only smaller, regardless of whether he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (legal or otherwise). He's a bad guy, he lessens the human experience; take it to the bank.

The steroid issue with baseball is more about the lack of any cogent plan to deal with what is coming.

The nanoscale will enable performances that most cannot contemplate in baseball and other sports. All historic metrics will become obsolete. There is no architecture in place to protect the integrity of the game (or historic metrics), much like there does not appear to be one at Duke.

Baseball and Duke suffer from woeful lack of leadership.

Anonymous said...

G88ers fret that their syllabi are being read and their "scholarship" scrutinized. Sounds like Royalists hoping that nobody looks too closely at the Emperor's "wardrobe."

Don't know how KC has the stomach to wade through this academic sewer, but am extremely grateful he does.

Duke Prof

inman said...


I beg to differ. Race is not the difference.

Vick is guilty.

inman said...

Duke Prof,

Thank you for your involvement.

Good scholarship, like truth, should have an internal consistency, a never wavering resilience, integrity. Good scholarship ... yes ... theories that withstand scrutiny and the test of time do not rely upon slight of hand or clever nuance or obtuse definitional constucts.

Now, I have not evaluated the work of any of the '88 in any depth. And I suspect that among this group there is substantial scholarship and contributions to mankind and collective knowledge. I suspect that there may even be, among this group, some truly brilliant thoughts and thought processes. I also suspect and have sufficient reason to believe that there is some quite sloppy work product being produced by members of this group.

But whether their scholarship is good, bad or indifferent, I am absolutely certain of one thing.

Only a very small minority has offered an apology that I believe is owed not only to the true victims, but also the community of Duke at large,... and the larger notion of an academy.

It's relatively easy to bang pots. It is all the more difficult to sow the seeds of trust and humility and good will in "pots" intended to grow young minds.

Debrah said...

"Stein's teaching in the areas of Israel and Palestine history and culture, colonialism and nationalism, popular culture and consumption, gender and queer studies."

I meant to ask someone earlier today, but was distracted....(so much to talk about, so little time)...

Why? Along with every course taught by these people who have been covered in this series, does "queer studies" always have to be made a feature of their work?

Is this some current rite of passage for the progressive and happening ones?

Very tired. Not even clever.

Steven Horwitz said...

Once again, been on the road. So...

NJNP: thanks for your kind comments. "First adopters" is a much better term, yes.

Ralph: I think that Missouri bill is a disaster. I do NOT want politicians mucking around in higher ed, even state-financed higher ed, in those sorts of ways. After all, they are so good at everything else that they do...

Can you imagine the nightmare this would involve?

3. Each public higher education institution shall ensure that students are notified that measures to promote intellectual diversity are in place and how to report alleged violations of policy. When any student asks how to pursue filing a grievance about an alleged violation of policy or expresses the belief to an instructor that his or her viewpoint has been discriminated against, the instructor shall inform the student of all the options available for resolving the student's grievance.

The way to ensure intellectual diversity in higher ed is to encourage young people with views other than the dominant ones to stick it out and go into academia. And one way to do that is to make sure that conservatism and libertarianism are intellectually vital, forward looking, open-ended endeavors that attract the utopian spirit of the young. Standing athwart history yelling stop will not change a thing.

While driving Friday, I listened to a 1962 lecture of Hayek's on the topic of his famous essay on The Intellectuals and Socialism. It was excellent as is that essay, which I commend to DIW readers who are interested in the follies of the G88 and the possibilities of intellectual culture change.

What's interesting is that it was written in 1949, at one of the darkest points for classical liberalism, but nonetheless contains Hayek's long-standing optimism. I would argue that in the 60 years since, we HAVE seen a rebirth of conservative and libertarian scholarship. The problem is that the 60s and 70s leftists got tenure and got their hands on the levers of academic power and we are still feeling the ripple effects - as with many of the G88.

In the meantime, the rebirth of classical liberalism has happened largely at the fringes of academia and in the thinktanks and blogs. There IS a classical liberal "academia" - it's just not in the universities for the most part. If you read the really good classical liberal blogs (e.g, the Volokh Conspiracy) you can find it. You can also find it in the best work from various think tanks. But with very few exceptions (my alma mater George Mason being one) such folks do not have any real leverage in an institution.

If you want to change the culture of academia, you're going to have to do it the way the radical left took it over - one step at a time and by making intellectual work in that tradition meaningful again.

As Hayek said:

If we are to avoid such a
development, we must be able to offer a new liberal program which appeals to the
imagination. We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual
adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a program which seems
neither a mere defense of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly
liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty (including the
trade unions), which is not too severely practical, and which does not confine itself to
what appears today as politically possible. We need intellectual leaders who are willing
to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realization.

Unfortunately, too much conservative discourse is anti-intellectual and mean-spirited, including many of the attacks on the G88 here (who the hell cares what Nelson looks like?!). That's only going to empower the very people you want to weaken.

And one other thing the public can do: If you have money, donate it to foundations, think tanks, and educational institutions that support your values. That's a much better investment than spending your time in the comments section of DiW imagining that you (or I) matter to the G88.

rrhamilton said...

Generally, I disdain those who make judgments based on or comments about people's photos. In this case, however, that photo says a lot. Plus this gives me an opportunity to practice my html-thingy skills.

Transgendered of just a cross-dresser?

I mean, is it a surprise that she lists her interests as "gender" and "identity"?

Anonymous said...

CUNY–Brooklyn College
U.S. News ranking: 85th of all Master's Universities in the North

KC's great scholarship is leading BC up in the rankings!

You go guy!

haskell said...

inman made a great point in his 9:04 post, that there are some bright and scholarly people in the G88. Gregory made some superb points in his Political Correctness as Religion posts. Diane Nelson helped out with her observation that there is a need to actively make alternative histories, I disagree though, with her, since history cannot be fabricated, even though Richard Brodhead believes that facts have a way of changing.

I have been told, history is written by the winners. I believe that there is a role for cultural anthropology in clarifying the pathologies and fallacies of the ethos and mythos which underly the doctrines of Political Correctness. It is my belief that this underlying value system is based on fabrications and facile distortions of events. For example, inman says that the emancipation of slaves is a bifurcating point. I agree, but not for the reasons commonly assumed. Please look at the Wikipedia entry on Slavery, then google Slave Myths. What did Abraham Lincoln say about slavery and emancipation? Google Alex Haley and "Roots", a gospel of the PC movement. KC mentioned the KKK, at present unquestionably a hate group. Why was the KKK originally formed? To protect disenfranchised citizens from the depradations of the Republican state governments following the Civil War. Do we hear much about the northern equivalent of the KKK, the Loyal Union League? Google it, look for yourself. Reasonable people abandoned the KKK once governance was re-established and the KKK was in fact disbanded, to be revived and hijacked by terrorists. The Jim Crow laws grew out of the experiences of those who had suffered under Feedmen governments, these laws led to gross unfairness to those discriminated against. The civil rights workers who fought against these laws were true heroes and heroines, but that movement has been hijacked by the civil rights industry.

I do not defend, or argue for, slavery or the KKK. The point is, in knowing what really happened, and who made mistakes, and in forgiving those mistakes, a meaningful dialogue can ensue which may lead to reconciliaton. This business of rude ad hominem attacks is a losing strategy, which leads to alienation. I regret that many in the G88 prefer confrontation. Civility goes a long way, ladies and gentlemen. The ladies' behavior, for example, at the David Horowitz presentation, says more about them than it does about the speaker. I hope we can all follow the example of the LAX3 and Coach Pressler, and stay on the high road.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

10:45 How to open the eyes of various donors to foundations, think tanks, and educational institutions that support their values (today), that said organizations can turn around in a few years to oppose, subvert and nullify those values as soon as their Boards of Directors are hijacked by the processes used by most present University administrations?

Having in mind several conservative donors whose eponymous Foundations are now anything but.

rrhamilton said...

Anonymous moron said at 6:20 AM ...
So you can tell something about a course from its title? .... I can't wait for your book-on-tape so I don't have to read, either, and just be told what to think!

1. If you can't "tell something about a course from its title", moron, What would be the purpose of the title? If you're not a Duke professor, you should apply for a job there -- you're a cinch.

2. You can't be told "what to think", because for that, being able to think is a prerequisite.

Debrah said...

I'm not going to get into a brawl with anyone over their own ideas of how to change the world. I do need to correct a fantasy that many have--and I must say from my experience, the Far Left majors in its denial--that how one looks or dresses is an insignificant issue.

Of course, we have all been taught from childhood not to comment openly on such things, and in the workplace, mums the word on someone's physical appearance.

We would not be alluding to physical malformation or any personal characteristic that cannot be changed about people.

However, how one dresses and grooms and how or whether that method is congruent with their status in the professional world IS VERY SIGNIFICANT.

For instance, Diane Nelson might be the next Albert Einstein and more; however, any woman who is perfectly OK with such a photograph of herself as she is presented to the world from an elite university, tells me that she is operating off center from most people.

And that can be cute for a fleeting moment. You can be as cute as you can afford to be.

Freedom of expression is precious to us all; however, there has to be some discipline before freedom.

Steven Horwitz said...

1109: that's why you need both strategies - funding and the academics in place to ensure it gets carried out.

rrhamilton said...

Analogy of the day

miramar: "they are parasites of the system they claim to despise"

KC Johnson said...

Good to see some high-quality arguments from the 10.49. I've always found that ad hominem attacks are a good sign of the weakness of the attacker's intellectual position.

I agree with Steve in part and disagree in part. I agree completely on the money angle: a good example of what can be done in a positive direction is John Tomasi's Political Theory Project at Brown--which is devoted, in large part, to enriching the Brown curriculum in creative ways.

As to encouraging students: most students at Brooklyn are from middle-class or lower middle-class families. I've had a few very good students who have considered graduate school in US political or US diplomatic history. (These students were as talented as any I taught at Williams or Harvard.) In each case, I couldn't, in good conscience, encourage the student to take such a path. The bias against these fields in the contemporary academy is so strong that the job prospects for students who want to study diplomatic or political history are very remote.

Of course, in other areas--economics, some political science departments--the situation is more optimistic.

inman said...


If my picture were posted, most would look at me with certainty that I had been attacked by a vicious airhose wishing only to bloat its prey.

Actually, my view of Diane Nelson is that she has a wonderful smile, nice teeth, an attractive demeanor (for the most part) but needs to find a new hair dresser and haberdasher. Oh...and she could lose the tie.

Let's strive for a mature discourse and leave petty observations of personal taste to those less discerning.

Unless of course the barbs can be couched in positive terms for which the reader must then decide intent. That, at least, requires cleverness.

Steven Horwitz said...

KC is right in that the odds of success certainly vary by discipline and by specialty, but someone has to make the effort or change will not happen.

rrhamilton said...

no justice, no peace said...
Inre: "...I wonder if you will find that the Israeli army still has the policy where they blow up a Palestinian house, if a member is suspected of terrorism. 27 years ago the Palestinians lived in large extended families in one house. The army would give a 10 minute warning before blowing it up..."

An outstanding deterrent. No doubt the balance of the Western world will find the need to follow in the Israeli foot steps if terrorists and their abettors don't quit committing terrorist acts. Don't think it can happen?

Actually you should study how the Americans handled pro-Nazi Arabs during the Allied conquest of North Africa in 1942-43 (this after we overthrew the pro-Nazi regimes in Iraq and Iran). The Arabs who had to deal with the American Army (during "The GOOD War"!) would tell the Palestinians that they are LUCKY to be dealing with Jews.

Come to think of it, I've heard that Mein Kampf is still a bestseller in the Arabic-speaking world.

Debrah said...

If anyone thinks that the events of the past year, KC's book, Pressler's book, Ed Bradley's last interview with Reade, Collin, and Dave...and all the other national elements of this case.....have not had an impact on people like the Gang of 88, think again.

No, there will be no drastic 180's, but when someone like the wirey little anthropology boy Orin Starn goes from windy 1000-word diatribes against an athletic team--making sure to hightlight their race--to sending in fragile can't we all just get along phony mutterings about how the races have blended.... can bet that a few presumptuous and dictatorial campus Lefties have gotten a message loud and clear.

inman said...

KC @ 11:19

What about the foreign service or CIA analytical or intelligence positions? Diplomatic and political history is central to their work. And the life of a foreign service officer can be quite interesting ... and NO, I am not suggesting the life of Non-Official-Cover ... true spy stuff ... unless of course, one has an interest.

KC Johnson said...

To Inman:

Yes, government service is one obvious area for those interested in diplomatic history (several people in my cohort of Harvard PhD's took that route); the law or international business are others.

Those are the paths that I've encouraged my strongest students.

Debrah said...

To "inman" (11:20PM)

You don't really mean that.

Those are nice platitudes, but as much as some might wish, that's not the way it's played by people each and everyday....

.....and we all must learn to negotiate the realities.

inman said...


Yes I do indeed mean that. It is all too easy for people endowed with beauty or skill or finesse to look askance at lesser endowments. You, if I am correct in assuming that your blog depicts your likeness, could be considered a beautiful woman by some.

But, I for one, prefer the Scottish and English persona and likeness. That is my preference. There is no moral or ethical judgment involved. Yes, you are probably considered "eye candy" to some...but Diane Nelson may equally be appealing to others.

One should not ever think that there are universal standards of beauty or appeal. For just when one does, the standard will change in a most extraordinary direction. Close examination of any person will reveal some sense of beauty. Close examination often eludes all but the knowing or the kind.

rrhamilton said...

On a lighter note, when I saw that there was a list of "The Ten Best Party Colleges", I was pretty sure that my alma mater would be on it. When I was there, I noticed people from other colleges would drop their jaws on the floor when they saw Texas parties. :)

Plus this is another chance to practice my html-thing.

Partyin' Hearty

One Spook said...

rrhamilton @ 10:49 writes:

Plus this gives me an opportunity to practice my html-thingy skills.

A +++ Excellent work!

And you're right, RR, "that photo says a lot" ... and what it says is actually quite sad.

One Spook

rrhamilton said...

Anonymous Prof at 11:57 AM said...
Let's be clear here. If Mac or Deborah or Iman were to ask one of the 88 for their syllabi, they probably would not be asking without malice aforethought...

Hey, how did I get left off that list?! Was it Art Buchwald who sued to get on Nixon's (actually John Dean's) Enemies List? I want to be on the 88's Ememies List, too!

Anonymous said...

Thanks One Spook at Midnight ... doubly scary!


Debrah said...

To "inman"--

I was attempting to speak generally, but you--surprisingly! LOL!!!--have chosen to use me as a comparison.

Let me say first of all--without any arrogance, just a matter of reality--that there is no similarity between Nelson and I.

Thank you for pointing that out.

I admire you and others for thinking the way you do. It's a release from the encumbrances that many--especially women--live with.

My point was mainly about dress and how or if one chooses a professional look.

Let me give you a timely and simple example:

The manager of a nearby market where I sometimes shop sees me all the time. When I have to run down there for a quick purchase, I usually am around in a sleepshirt and leggings--which can double as outside casual wear. I ball my hair on top of my head and slide a Japanese stick through it, put on a pair of sunglasses and go.

No one gives me stares. Who cares? Just a nondescript person running errands.

But every time I drop by the market really dressed with makeup, jewelry, and the heels, etc..., I am treated very differently. Much more attention and much more respect.

And this is just a trip to the market.

Don't deny it. Those things matter to people...whether they want to admit it or not.


One Spook said...

kc writes @ 11:30 in response to inman:

Yes, government service is one obvious area for those interested in diplomatic history (several people in my cohort of Harvard PhD's took that route); the law or international business are others.

Indeed, and like the academy, many far left ideologues have found a home in our intelligence agencies. There they have disrupted the functioning of those agencies because of their ideology, in precisely the same manner that you have described and complained about regarding the academy.

In my early years in intelligence work, most of the people I knew were apolitical ... I truly had no idea what their "politics" were. I did know they loved America, its way of life, and they were dedicated to protecting it.

That changed.

And, to quote Forest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."

One Spook

rrhamilton said...

Anonymous, of course, says...


You seem to think that "mainstream" is good in research, or did I misread you? "Mainstream" doesn't seem to me to help us find new ways of interpreting material or to evaluate new material. It's just same old, same old. So, if 84 % of the 88ers aren't mainstream, I say, great! And, I'm sure their students benefit.

8/20/07 1:48 PM

Aren't you confusing "new" with "good"? And since most of the "new" is really just regurgitated Marxian dogfood (didn't he write in the 19th century?), we really can't call it "good" or "new".

Anonymous said...

Can I just say that I think "ralph phelan" rocks! He, too, was dissed by being excluded from the "88's Enemies List".


rrhamilton said...

Anonymous said...

Let's be painfully clear here: the emphasis of most pursuits-G88 is on vilifying white people, especially white men, because this hated group has produced just about everything we now refer to as Civilization: search engines, engines, rocket engines, DNA, etc.

What would happen to--sneeze--"cultural anthropology" if it didn't have white men as the bane of the universe?

Let me be even more clear: their work is inferior, and therefore does not deserve funding.

8/20/07 3:45 PM

Amen, Brother. Or Sister.

rrhamilton said...

Oh. My. God.

mb said...
Reading this latest entry in the series had me feeling like a bystander who just witnessed an horrific train wreck and watched as blood, mutilated bodies, and body parts spewed everywhere. My heart raced and stomach turned as I witnessed the carnage.

This will sound crazy, but it's true. Back when I was an 18-year-old soldier in South Korea, I was in a convoy on a mountainous road. We came upon a rockslide. Beneath the rocks were the bodies of eight construction workers, all torn apart by the boulders (and all women -- Korea has a different concept of "women's liberation"). I walked to the edge of the cliff -- the road edge -- and almost vomited.

I swear, "mb", when I first read this particular post, I had that same feeling -- like I wanted to vomit. It's incredibly strange to see you use this analogy.

Anonymous said...

just to be clear:

Reading this day's post by KC game me that same feeling and it reminded me exactly of how I felt that day in Korea. I hadn't thought of that incident in years.


rrhamilton said...

inman said...

I beg to differ. Race is not the difference.

Vick is guilty.

8/20/07 8:52 PM

You're wrong. Chris Collins at Oklahoma State is guilty, too. They found his DNA in the vagina of a 12-year-old white girl. Like what's-his-name famously said, It's not about the truth. It's about race and only race. Well, except that black crimes on dogs and RICH whites get reported.

rrhamilton said...

Final post of the night:

He probably thinks of me as some sort of "Christo-fascist" (I'm really just a redneck, representing about 100,000,000 other Americans), but I think when KC leaves for Israel, this blog should be taken over by Prof. Horwitz.

Good post at 10:45, Professor.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why posters are so gleeful over Vick's travails.

He screwed up, and he'll pay the price. Perhaps he can be shown some charity.

Anonymous said...


No, I am not confusing "new" with "good." And if nothing "new" is "good," I suppose we don't want research professors. Please provide cites for your assertion that "most of the 'new' is just regurgitated Marxian dogfood (didn't he write in the 19th century?). And who decides what constitutes "most"? Are you the dictator of good research?

A side note: The historians and other academics I know/knew who went into the diplomatic corps were not necessarily diplomatic historians--in fact, they weren't at all--but rather people who were ABDs. Those who finished their PhDs all got jobs at universities, so far as I know.

FYI, members of the American diplomatic corps, as opposed to political appointees, have all kinds of educational backgrounds, mostly (gasp!!!) humanities and social sciences.

Anonymous said...

3:45 pm,

I'd suggest that the wheel and the first agrarian revolution, ie, transformation from hunter-gatherers, is way more important to civilization than the inventions you note. And, the earliest civilizations were not necessarily in Europe, home of the "white" man, but rather in today's Latin America, the Tigris River Valley, etc. Who invented the first alphabet? The number system we use? Or even gun powder, which is important, whatever the later applications...

Let's be clear that "white" is a constructed term and that plenty of people you probably consider "white" weren't necessarily considered the same at the time they invented whatever.

These kinds of claims are simply racist.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm new to blog. Very interesting topics; wish I learned about it sooner.


what is low-lying fruit?
anger studies?
significance of Nelson's photo?
does the director Roman Polanski sometimes post here?

I'm especially interested in low-lying fruit meaning.


Anonymous said...

1. Low-hanging fruit = easy to reach. In this case, an easy target.

2. Anger Studies = The name that some on the right, including some who contribute to this blog, give to African-American Studies, Women's Studies, Gender Studies, and other programs they deman.

3. No, of course, Roman Polanski does NOT contribute to this blog. I think the reference was an attempt to demean someone else discussed here.

Anonymous said...

Correction to 4:27


no justice, no peace said...

3:23 Inre: Vick, "...He screwed up, and he'll pay the price. Perhaps he can be shown some charity..."

Perhaps he can earn some respect first.

no justice, no peace said...

Inre: "...what is low-lying fruit?..."

This typically refers, in the investment community, to the easiest sale(s), those prospective customers with showing the least resistance from incumbent/competitive forces, the fewest barriers to market entry, etc. It's more commonly called "low-hanging fruit", as in, easiest to reach.

Anonymous said...

Amendment - I should point out the "low-hanging fruit", like so many business terms, is over-used.

When I hear it used I often wonder it the person speaking has actually ever sold something...anything.

The reality is there is no low-hanging fruit.

So your term, "low-lying" may be better as it suggests that it is already on the ground, rotting, and probably not worth the effort.

Debrah said...

TO 1:50AM--

Yeah, right.

Ralph Phelan said...


In the world of manufacturing engineering, "low hanging fruit" are the problems that are both high in impact and cheap/easy to fix.

If you've got a yield problem in a wafer fab, then "Fix the broken HEPA filter over the coating track" is low hanging fruit. "Figure out how to tweak time, power, temperature, voltage, frequency and gas flow profiles in the plasma etcher so you don't get overetching in the outer 10mm of the wafer" is not. So you start with the first.

If you have a university administration that wants to fix the academic corruption that underlies this mess (this, of course, would refer to a university other than Duke), then "Don't hire anyone who's never published" is a simple rule to apply which won't have a high political cost, either in or out of the academy. The same goes for "Enforce the faculty code of conduct for everyone" and "fire professors who engage in provable grade retaliation". "Don't count membership in anti-American movements as positive contributions for purposes of tenure review" will have a higher political cost within the university, but low cost outside it. Implementing the above will remove about 84% of the people who caused the problem, and make a big change in the mindset that led to it.

These steps are your "low hanging fruit." Once they're implemented you may well be satisfied with the result and not have to go any further.

Figuring out why Ariel Dorfman joined and stayed in the Gang of 88 is more difficult. Once you figure it out, taking action against him or those like him will be more costly politically. You will affect fewer people and get far less benefit towards de-corrupting the campus climate. This is the kind of thing you don't bother with until you're sure you have to.

mb said...

OK, I feel bad about the snarky remarks I mad re. Nelson's appearance in her photo on the faculty website, but I believe Debrah makes a good point: The way one dresses and otherwise grooms themselves while in a professional capacity speaks to issues of judgment.

I like to dress like a slob, not bathe for a few days, etc., on the weekends, but if I showed up on campus like that folks who didn't know me personally would think I was a street bum and call campus security to come and get me. The Duke website is the main gateway to people researching universities on the web, so IMO it's a public venue and as such faculty and staff should treat it as a professional setting. Thus, even before a person delves into her 'scholarship,' many, if not most, will get a sense that this is a person who may be less than professional.

And so I'll put it another, hopefully kinder and more accurate way: I think that Nelson's photo casts her in an unprofessional light and thus presents her as someone lacking sound judgment.

rrh: Wow! I'm glad I connected with somebody, but sorry that it was such a powerful and horrible memory for you.

Steven Horwitz said...


No thanks! I have plenty to do on my sabbatical and dealing with the likes of this crowd on a regular basis is NOT going to be one of them. ;) (Love you too Debrah.)

I'll just add that I do think Nelson's photo is unprofessional for an official university webpage picture. However, that says nothing about the content of her work. It seems pretty weak to me, but that's a separate question from that of her picture. One of the strangest human beings I know is also one of the most brilliant economists I know. His demeanor, though not so much his appearance, would strike many as unprofessional or just bizarre, but it's irrelevant to his work.

AMac said...

Ralph Phelan 8:52am --

A great description of the application of the concept of Low-hanging fruit to the academic-culture aspects of the Hoax/Frame.

One could profitably apply the same reasoning to other contributing systems failures: with Duke's Administration (cf. faculty), the Durham Police, the Duke Police, DUMC's ED, the DA's office, in journalism.

(Of course, each of these institutions has to first recognize that a problem exists, and have some notion of what it might be: clearly not the case, yet.)

It's insights like 8:52 that keep me reading DiW's comments.

Anonymous said...

9:10 & the others who think there is something wrong with D. Nelson's photograph: I'd think there was something wrong with any cultural anthropologist whose picture looked "professional." She's not an economist or a business professor, after all!!! Would you expect people teaching art to have their pictures taken in white shirts and ties or whatever? I'd rather see them in paint-daubed smocks and a beret!!!

Anthropologists--especially cultural anthropologists--ought not look like they work on Wall Street, IMHO.

I find it a bit scary that you'll've gone from dumping on people's work to dumping on their pictures. I think I'd probably stop with this. You're creating v. good arguments for faculty not to have their picture on line!!! (Warning! Don't take his/her class. He has bad ties/his hair cut is bad/his glasses are nerdy/he's fat/I don't like his suit/his shirt and tie clash/her earrings are too big/her lipstick is too red.)

GET A LIFE!!!!!!!!

Debrah said...

Below are a few questions which Rebecca Stein should answer.....if she can peel herself away from Arab/Israeli rap videos.

This is an excerpt from comments in someone's letter-to-the-editor. I have intentionally left out his reference to G/d...since I am not in the business of religion:

Why is it that the world does not know that Israel only controls 23 percent of the territory that was promised to them in 1917 and again in 1920 by the League of Nations? And why is it that Israel must give up the mountains of Judah, and Samaria for a peace that never will come? And why is it that a country of only 6 million is able to withstand the onslaught of 60 million Arabs? Maybe more than man is involved in Israel's existence.

no justice, no peace said...

Ralph Phelan "...Implementing the above will remove about 84% of the people who caused the problem,..."

The 84% only consider those that signed-on. With time the list would have been much larger, don't you think?

Inre; to photo's, the great equalizer is one's smile. She has a nice smile as do some of the other Klan of 88 members. One, however, wonders how often they use the smile given how angry they are, and how busy they are at deconstructing everything?

Anonymous said...

My company has a website as well as various brochures and yearly financial statements. This is our "public face". If your photo is to appear on our website or in a printed document, the expectation is that you will be decently groomed and dressed appropriately -- that might mean a business suit or polo shirts/khakis depending on the office and work situation. This is a matter of simple respect for the company, our co-workers, our investors and our customers.

The Duke website is also their "public face." For faculty to place photos showing unkempt clothing and hair shows disrespect for their employer and their customers (and yes, they have customers). But....this is the Klan of 88...why am I surprised?

ITFTM said...

10:06 --

You were actually doing well until your childish outburst of "GET A LIFE!!!!!!!!"

To reply to the portion of your post that had dignity:

Professional dress is not always necessary. However, it is a social signal to others. It makes the statement "I can adhere to professional standards and will do so when it is appropriate to do so." Obviously, one's picture on the faculty website is an occasion when it is appropriate to make that social statement.

Now, does it make any sense to differentiate by field and say "These are the fields in which faculty should dress professionally for appropriate occasions, and those are fields where it is less important, unimportant, or even counterproductive"? Perhaps. But what then makes the determination of whether a field belongs to "these" or "those"? Why should cultural anthropologists be classed with the artists and not with the economics professors? What's the rhyme or reason?

If I were to make an argument why artists should be exempted from the expectation of professional attire I would say, "they engage in creative endeavor, which only reaches its heights when it defies expectations. Asking them for conformity one minute and creative expression the next dulls the edge of the creative expression." But does this transfer to cultural anthropology? I see no reason why it would. Cultural anthropology can not be reduced to numbers and variables to the degree that economics and business frequently can, but that does not mean it is a field for "creative expression"; it is still a field for academic rigor, for sticking to the facts, for restricting oneself to hypotheses supported by the facts. In short, it is a field which requires adherence to professional standards.

And IMHO the problem with far too many of the faux-scholars we have encountered in the course of this case is that they can't adhere to professional standards and so they are trying to erase those standards and replace them with new standards more convenient to them. Suddenly sticking to the facts is so "European" and it becomes more important to "creatively" interpret politics, history, the social order. What's important is the "metanarrative", as if we were judging on storytelling ability and not adherence to rigor. The one thing that they don't mind taking from the European tradition is the respect traditionally accorded to scholars, but unwilling or unable to earn it through academically rigorous work, they try to invent their own new standards under which they can get the rewards without the work.

Ralph Phelan said...

Steve Horwitz

"I do NOT want politicians mucking around in higher ed, even state-financed higher ed, in those sorts of ways. After all, they are so good at everything else that they do...

Can you imagine the nightmare this would involve?"

Yeah, pretty bad. But worse than the current situation? Given the state of, say, the MLA, or the news that Duke's Cultural Anthropology Department is considered tops nationwide, or the fact that the folks who thought Ward Churchill was a prize catch who deserved fast-tracking are still making hiring decisions, that's a serious question.

What I like about the bill is that it mostly piggybacks off of existing affirmative action laws and practices - it's more of a "use the same sauce for the goose as you use for the gander" initiative than a definition of what the sauce should be.

If I recommend it for my own state I'll tweak it to make the linkage even closer, so that the political pressure is focused as sharply as possible on "Let in people you disagree with or stop letting in underqualified 'minorities.'" That way no matter how the university reacts I'll consider it a victory.

Anonymous said...


You work for a company & how you dress for a photograph appears to be dictated by your company's sense of what is correct. Fine.

Universities are not yet--thank goodness-companies where a faculty member is told to wear a suit (not pink, white, or bright green, one supposes) or a polo shirt and khakis. Please don't expect university faculty to dress like you do, because they don't do what you do.

I actually don't think it's a good idea to have faculty pictures on line, because they aren't public figures like politicians or film stars. I don't think parents really need to know what their college-aged kids' professors look like. Moreover, reading some of the petty responses to this posting tell me how narrow are people's ideas of what's proper.

What is proper and appropriate varies with the environment. What's with you that you don't get this? I looked at that woman's picture and simply thought a) she looked very young for her age (lucky her!) and b) she probably did her hair in a reflection of those she studied. Struck me as typical anthropologist.

It's like KC Johnson's bow tie. The bow tie may be fine for certain kinds of historians (with tweed jacket and leather elbow patches???!), but there are a whole lot of others who wouldn't be seen in one. Both attitudes are ok.

The website is, indeed, Duke's public face. This woman's face is tucked way back in her department. You have to look for it.

Point of fact: my experience is that it's the people in the hard sciences, including math, who look really odd. Even when they aren't trying. But, I don't judge their ability on their fashion sense.

Anonymous said...

After reading and re-reading Houston Baker's response to my Email the followoing became crystal clear:

1. He is a bigot and a racist.
2. The rape and assault allegations against him were likely true.
3. He is pathetic.

rrhamilton said...

Anonymous moron said...

....And who decides what constitutes "most"? Are you the dictator of good research?

8/21/07 3:29 AM

I get to decide what constitutes "most". Therefore, it means "more than half", "a majority", or "the largest amount". In the dictionary next to the word "moron", there's a picture of you.

same Anonymous moron said...
3:45 pm,

.... And, the earliest civilizations were not necessarily in Europe, home of the "white" man, but rather in today's Latin America....

8/21/07 3:35 AM

And just where was this "earliest civilization" in Latin America?

If you're white, you're "Exhibit A" against the argument of peculiarly white intelligence.

rrhamilton said...

Anonymous at 10:06 AM said...
9:10 & the others who think there is something wrong with D. Nelson's photograph: I'd think there was something wrong with any cultural anthropologist whose picture looked "professional." She's not an economist or a business professor, after all!!! Would you expect people teaching art to have their pictures taken in white shirts and ties or whatever? I'd rather see them in paint-daubed smocks and a beret!!!

Um, is this a joke? Cuz she's wearing a white shite and tie ... plus coat! I'm going to have to assume this anonymous commenter is joking, else I'll have to retract what I said about the last anonymous commenter's picture being next to "moron" in the dictionary.

Ralph Phelan said...

I forgot to add to my 1:36:

Such bills don't even need to pass to be useful. The mere fact that legislatures are seriously considering such things might get the academy's attention and motivate them to clean up their act before someone else cleans it up for them.

Anonymous said...

Dear thinks-you're-so-smart-at -just-after-one...

In Latin American, try, for example, the civilization in coastal Peru that developed--apparently--without the use of clay pottery. Don't believe me, check with the Field Museum in Chicago.

Ok, dooofffusssssssssssssssss?

BTW, did you devlop an extraordinarily large mouth to put your feet in or is your foot, like your brain, small???

Anonymous said...

1:06 post,

Isn't that the point? The woman is wearing the shirt & tie some demand, and they still don't like her picture.

Anonymous said...

This "League of Nations" thing is a joke. So they gave away territory that wasn't theirs? I'd like to see you live with that.

Israel hasn't exactly proven to be a great ally to the US, by the way. Ariel Sharon, Golda Meir, they made their names as anti-Western-occupation TERRORISTS who blew up British and other Western ships and soldiers and sailors for their "independence".

I'd also refer you to the INTENTIONAL sinking of the USS Liberty off the coast of El Arish (where, not coincidentally, it is alleged that a mass butchering of surrendered Arab troops was taking place, after they dug their own graves at gunpoint).

They also tried to -- along with England believe it or not -- trick the US into a regional war that threatened a confrontation with the USSR, a potentially catastrophic proposition based upon lies by the British and by Israel.

As for the violence between Israelis and Arabs, there is blood on both sides' hands. It is incredibly ignorant of history, however, to claim it is a one-sided affair with good guys and bad guys.

Finally, lets see you praise the League of Nations or the UN when they decide to give up YOUR land in order to remedy the horrific acts of a random nation that had nothing to do with you. Sure you'd be happy with that.

I thought you all hated the UN? Now you want it to give away land that already belongs to someone? Pathetic.

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