While Wahneema Lubiano—she who wrote, without any citation, that “many whites . . . might not ever be persuaded by appeals to reason, to what we ‘know’ and agree to be ‘truth’—that all men/women were created equal, for example”—is busy tending to all Duke undergraduates through her position as a departmental director of undergraduate education, three other Group members made news last week.
Duke’s Ariel Dorfman is a professor who:
- publicly asserted that something “happened” to Crystal Mangum, based solely on the version of events presented by the disgraced Mike Nifong
- publicly thanked protesters who had presumed the guilt of students at his own institution;
- committed himself to “turning up the volume” regardless of “what the police say or the court decides”;
- and, after the version of events about which he had expressed such public certainty turned out to be false, signed onto another statement in which he adamantly refused to apologize for his rush to judgment.
To give Dorfman the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it might be said that the Duke professor is a fanatical “anti-rape” activist, someone who believes that whenever a woman claims rape, the accusation must be treated as true; and that those targeted by such accusations must be punished to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of the evidence.
Such views, of course, would contradict the academy’s traditional support for due process—but, as we all learned in the lacrosse case, such views are in short supply among many Duke humanities and social sciences departments.
Even assuming the above, however, what explanation exists for the below screenshot, from the “Free Roman Polanski” petition?
So, to sum up: Dorfman believes that Polanski—a man who pled guilty to sexual misconduct with a minor, in an event in which his victim (and, given the guilty plea, she can be called a “victim”) claimed that Polanski had drugged her and then pursued her throughout the house; and a man who then fled the country before his sentencing hearing—should be freed; and he also believes that it was appropriate to thank guilt-presuming protesters in a case involving his own students, a case in which the claims against his students turned out to be false.
The guilty should go free and the innocent should be punished. That sounds a lot like the judicial philosophy of the Pinochet regime in Chile, against which Prof. Dorfman once wrote so eloquently.
Then there is the case of Group member Michael Hardt, whose latest publication was subjected to a blistering review from City Journal editor Brian Anderson.
Here’s the description Anderson provided of Hardt’s co-author, Antonio Negri: “Three decades ago, the Italian government believed that he was the secret intellectual leader of the leftist terrorists called the Red Brigades and that he was the architect of the group’s 1978 kidnapping and murder of Christian Democratic Party leader Aldo Moro. Unable to build a sufficient case to try Mr. Negri for murder—he has always denied the allegation—Italian authorities convicted him of ‘armed insurrection against the state.’ Facing 30 years in the slammer, Mr. Negri scooted to France, where he remained, a philosopher in exile, until 1997, when he returned to Italy to serve the remainder of a reduced sentence. He is a left-wing guru whose field work has occurred far from the faculty lounge.”
As for the book itself, here’s some more from Anderson:
For the revolution to succeed, three supposedly corrupt forms of the common must be destroyed. Some of the harshest language in “Commonwealth” targets the family: Mom, dad and the kids might not know it, but they are part of a “pathetic” institution, a “machine” that “grinds down and crushes the common” with “the blindest egoism.” Messrs. Hardt and Negri cry: “Down with the family!” The two other killers of the world’s spirit: the corporation and the nation. When the multitude seizes “control of the means of production and reproduction,” we’re promised, the evil trio will wind up on Marx’s ash heap of history.
The authors warn the rulers of the capitalist world that if they want to survive a little longer, they need to enact reforms, including global citizenship, a right to income for everyone and participatory democracy. But Messrs. Hardt and Negri don’t think that their warning will be heeded. Revolution will erupt—and soon. It could be violent, a prospect that does not seem to trouble them: “What is the best weapon against the ruling powers—guns, peaceful street demonstrations, exodus, media campaigns, labor strikes, transgressing gender norms, silence, irony, or many others—depends on the situation.” Pirates, the rioting Muslim banlieusards of Paris and the Black Panthers all are praised in Commonwealth as heroes of disruption.
Anderson’s devastating summary: “Messrs. Hardt and Negri make little effort to build arguments in support of their wild assertions and predictions. They write as if ignorant of the 20th century and of much else, including economics and social science.”
Finally: the case of Cathy Davidson. All who followed the lacrosse case closely know that . . . memory problems . . . bedeviled Prof. Davidson in 2006 and 2007. After all, this is the same professor who preposterously claimed that in the week between March 29, 2006 and April 5, 2006, Duke students "felt demeaned by racist and sexist remarks swirling around in the media and on the campus quad in the aftermath of what happened on March 13 in the lacrosse house. The insults, at that time, were rampant. It was as if defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann necessitated reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women."
In fact, during that week, Mike Nifong dominated the airwaves, virtually no one was defending the lacrosse players (much less doing so through "pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans," activists flooded the Duke campus with "wanted" posters of the lacrosse players, and Richard Brodhead made time to meet with African-American students who demanded recognition of the lacrosse players as guilty of a "hate crime" even as he refused to meet with the lacrosse players' parents or lawyers.
Now, Emory professor Mark Bauerlein has revealed that Prof. Davidson's . . . memory problems . . . predated her experience in the lacrosse case. Bauerlein notes that, in Davidson's 2004 apologia for the overwhelming political imbalance among the Duke faculty, "Either as a department member or a member of the APT [appointments, promotions, and tenure] committee, I've not encountered any Duke faculty member being harassed or discriminated against because he or she is conservative."
Yet Bauerlein has uncovered a letter from Davidson that contradicts her firm 2004 assertion. In an extraordinarily high-profile event from the pre-Keohane/Chafe Duke, then-English professor Stanley Fish (chairman of the department of which Davidson was a member) demanded that Duke not appoint any member of the National Association of Scholars to an APT or distinguished professor position. As Bauerlein noted, "Obviously, Fish's request marked a patent act of discrimination on ideological grounds."
Anyone who heard her 2004 statement might have assumed that Davidson was unaware of Fish's request. Yet Bauerlein has uncovered a letter from Davidson in the Fish Papers, in which she praised Fish's performance as chair. She also noted, "Although I do not agree with the tactics that he (reportedly) suggested with respect to the NAS debate, I also do not at all see him speaking for me in this matter and find it curious that, in the name of free speech, his voicing of his views is being condemned." (In other words: Fish wanted to exclude professors from appointments committees because of their political or pedagogical beliefs--and yet he was the victim in the affair.)
In any event, it appears that sometime between the early 1990s and her 2004 remarks, Prof. Davidson . . . forgot . . . about Prof. Fish's efforts to harass or discriminate against Duke faculty members "because he or she is conservative."
Given her recurring . . . memory problems . . . perhaps it is better that Prof. Davidson no longer does her own grading, and has ceded that basic professional responsibility to the students in her class.
Professors Dorfman, Hardt, and Davidson, it’s worth reiterating, are among the Group of 88's most prestigious scholars.