[The middle section of this post has been updated.]
The N&O has reported that, to date, the city of
An announcement from Duke yesterday: Lee Baker, an associate professor in cultural anthropology and African-American Studies, was named dean of
It’s unclear whether the search committee considered Baker’s decision to sign the Group of 88’s statement—which, after all, rushed to judgment in denouncing Duke students—and then to reaffirm that signature by joining the “clarifying” faculty in January 2007 as emblematic of what the institution means by “very sensitive to student issues.”
Baker joins fellow African-American Studies Department faculty member—and the far more strident Group activist—Paula McClain (Academic Council chair) in occupying two of the most powerful academic positions at Duke. Some might consider it remarkable that a department with a mere two percent of the overall Duke undergraduate faculty has managed to secure two such influential positions. Yet the African-American Studies department has defied statistical probabilities before: in a higher total than any other department, 80 percent of AAAS professors joined the Group of 88. The department also paid for the statement out of its official funds, in violation of Duke rules, and hosted the statement on its website for nearly six months.
Unlike many members of the Group, Baker is both a serious scholar and someone whose teaching has attracted praise. And had the institution shown any signs of critical self-reflection in examining why so many of its professors chose to advance their own personal, pedagogical, or ideological aims at the expense of their students’ well-being, Baker’s appointment would have been remarkable only in the unusual nature of such a nod going to an associate professor. (At Ivy League schools, for instance, the dean is almost always a full professor.)
Instead, the move seems to be part of a pattern of the institution placing in positions of power professors whose record in the lacrosse case raised serious questions.
[Update: An alert reader passes along the following item from January 2007, in which Baker rationalized the refusal of the Group to apologize: “We had a long discussion about what the word 'regret' means, and philosophy professors weighed in and we had a whole range of very detailed discussions in terms of the etymology of specific words. We were disappointed people did not understand the intention--it was never to rush to judgment, it was about listening to our students who have been trying to make their way in a not only racist and sexist campus, but country.”
Under this rationale, of course, no one would ever have to apologize for anything. A refusal to apologize could simply be explained away by citing a “long discussion about what the word 'regret' means.”
As for Baker's disappointment that people allegedly "did not understand the intention" of the ad: such a statement defies credulity. After all, Wahneema Lubiano solicited signatures for the ad by saying it was about the lacrosse incident, not the fact that the United States is supposedly a sexist or racist country. And it's hard to see how "listening to our students" required professors taking out a full-page ad at a time when a media mob had descended upon the lacrosse players, or declaring unequivocally that something happened to Crystal Mangum, or thanking protesters who had (among other things) urged the castration of Duke students, or falsely affirming that academic departments had supported the statement.
The comment above reinforces the sense that when the search committee for dean noted that Baker was “very sensitive to student issues,” they really meant “very sensitive” to issues for some students.]
Finally, an eagle-eyed DIW reader noticed the following item, posted in late May, from a company called “Fire Filmz”:
very well because I have been working with her for over a year to get her life on track. My company has agreed to publish her book and do other projects with her. [Perhaps the city of Durham can recommend good attorneys for the company.] Crystal
I know the conventional wisdom is that she lied however, there is always he said, she said and the truth. Things lie somewhere in the middle here. I think everyone will be surprised when they finally hear from her. She is very thoughtful and intelligent and things didn’t go down exactly like you suppose. [Again, we are talking about someone whose final version of events was that a sexual assault occurred while she was suspended in mid-air.]
Al and Jesse did come to NC but never met with her. There are a number of other things that have been mischaracterized but that would take too long. Let’s just say we have an upcoming television event that will deal with some of those issues. As for the book, it does deal some with the Duke case but it is more about her life and how she has struggled to get her life on track before and after this.
For the people who think ill of her, oh well. There isn’t much I can say to change your minds. For those who have the capacity to be patient and seek the truth, you will find a lot in her story that can teach valuable lessons. [Don't file false police reports?] None of what anyone has said about her is nearly the truth as I know it.
For people who say they are familiar with the case, I have seen the case file and most of the evidence collected and it tells a much different story than what we saw. I would just caution folks to think about who released the information about her medical history and such. They are the same people who have been going full tilt to hurt many other people for years. [The information about Mangum’s medical history was released by the court and by defense attorneys; it’s not clear how Fire Filmz determined that either “hurt many other people for years.”]
Anyway, least you think I’m an apologist for people who make false claims, I am very concerned about wrongful prosecutions and have worked on a lot of cases. [It is odd indeed, then, for someone "very concerned" with wrongful prosecutions to then seek out an attempted perpetrator of a wrongful prosecution.] You can view one of my films about just such a case called Breeding While Black. [This case, it should be noted, deals with an African-American man charged with dog-fighting.] As for the book and other information about
we will be launching the website and book sometime in early June. Crystal
Intrigued, I asked when the book would appear and noted that I would review it when (or if) it did so. I also noted that I, too, had seen the case file, and that I hadn’t seen items in it that “tells a much different story than what we saw.” I haven’t seen, however, Mangum’s psychological file (which was sealed by the court). So I asked whether the poster was referring to this material in discussing what the alleged Mangum book would reveal.
From Fire Filmz head Vincent Clark, I received a curious reply: “Unfortunately, we will have to respectfully decline your invitation to review the book and can/will not be able to provide any other information at this time due to contractual obligations.”
I’m not certain how a publisher can “decline” a reviewer’s ability to review a book (perhaps the book will be confiscated by Israeli customs?), and it’s hard for me to imagine what “contractual obligations” could allow Clark to publicly claim that he had read the case file but to refuse to answer whether he had read the psychological file.
In any case, we’re past early June, and the Mangum Opus has yet to appear.