In a piece nominated by Craig Henry (one of the savviest observers of the case) as the “most evil piece of punditry on the hoax,” Tom Ehrich, a local Protestant minister, opines on the lessons of the last 15 months.
Citing the Group of 88 as an example, Ehrich maintains that Duke currently embodies “a high-profile look at an epidemic of accountability-denial.” Indeed, it would seem to be so: after appointing a bevy of committees when it appeared as if the players might be guilty, the administration and high-profile Group members such as Bill Chafe and Paula McClain are adamant that there be no investigation into the Group’s apparent disregard of the Faculty Handbook.
Yet this isn’t Ehrich’s concern. Instead, in an extraordinary leap of logic, Ehrich argues that Duke needs to adopt the Group of 88’s agenda, even though the Group was, of course, tragically wrong in its commentary on the case. At the very least, Ehrich admits the basis of the Group’s ad: “condemning students’ alleged behavior.”
But, he reasons, the Group was correct to act as it did: “Even if the allegations were baseless, their deep concern for a university apparently losing its way should be seen as a wake-up call. The hapless DA didn’t stir their frustration; teaching Duke students did.”
Imagine if Ehrich were writing about contemporary foreign policy. Yes, he could muse, Vice President Cheney was wrong that Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops as liberators. But we should examine not why Cheney was wrong, but instead all look to implement Cheney’s agenda more aggressively.
Ehrich employs similarly bizarre logic in the rest of his article. “Citizens have much to learn.” Not the race-baiters in the Durham community, however. “The allegations of a black woman that she was raped by three white men ignited racial outcries—not because a DA was leading citizens over a cliff, but because racial tensions always simmer in Durham (and other cities) and occasionally erupt.”
Duke’s campus culture needs to be examined: “If the women [in the extremist anti-lacrosse protests of late March] were correct in describing a high incidence of sexual assault by male students, then Duke has a huge ethical issue, not to mention potential exposure to crippling lawsuits.” Ehrich doesn’t pause to consider that the campus ideology behind such protests, not the unsubstantiated allegations, might need examination.
“Duke,” he concludes, “should be leading the way in a national reassessment of student life, campus ethics, entitlement and privilege, academic freedom, gender relations, underage alcohol use, exposure to liability for failure to provide a safe environment, and the role of over-involved parents.” Indeed. Wahneema Lubiano can serve as the discussion facilitator.
And Ehrich can’t finish his piece without a parting shot at the three falsely accused players: “They have also seen,” he clucks, “how classmates perceived them as arrogant. These perceptions predated March 2006 and need to be taken seriously, if they are to be successful citizens and professionals.”Truly astonishing.