Displaying a nuance that he’s never offered when discussing lacrosse—a sport that he doesn’t play—Starn contended, in a 2006 essay, that “any black-and-white view of golf’s political incorrectness misses the multiple, sometimes unexpected layers of history, experience, and involvement that make the sport something more than just another form of conspicuous consumption.” (The essay thanks Group of 88 members Anne Allison and Grant Farred and “shut up and teach” stalwart Charles Piot for their insights.)
Translation: sports perceived as upper-class in which Starn participates have multiple layers of history. Sports perceived as upper-class in which he doesn’t should be purged from the University.
Starn also went out of his way to sprinkle the program with figures who have demonstrated little or no expertise in golf but have distinguished themselves for their ferocious attacks on different groups of Duke students. Starn himself, of course, has aggressively exploited the lacrosse case to further his crusade to transform Duke into the Haverford of the Triangle, a school with Division III or club sports. Starn appears to believe that Division III or club athletes do not hold spring break parties, and therefore if Duke were a D-III school, the lacrosse case never would have emerged, although he has never offered evidence for this insinuation.
Selena Roberts: A Lexis/Nexis search of articles penned by Selena Roberts shows that the New York Times columnist has penned one article on golf in the last 12 months (on Michelle Wie, the subject of her presentation).
But Roberts possesses impeccable credentials in attacking Duke students. Her Wie article appeared two days after Roberts produced a piece that praised the potbangers for their moral integrity, incorrectly described a search warrant as a “court document,” incorrectly claimed that the lacrosse players had constructed a “wall of silence,” and compared the lacrosse players’ behavior to that “of drug dealers and gang members engaged in an anti-snitch campaign that is frustrating authorities.”
Grant Farred: The Literature professor (on leave from Duke this term, so the conference offers an all-expense-paid trip home) appears to have no obvious expertise in the study of golf. He has written about sports, it is true—fantastically asserting that Houston Rockets center Yao Ming “is, precisely because of his complicated ideological heritage, the most profound threat to American empire.”
Like Roberts, Farred sports impeccable credentials in smearing the students of his own institution. In a late October op-ed, he accused those Duke students who registered to vote in
Hanif Omar: The conference moderator appears to lack any expertise in golf. But Omar has had things to say about Duke students.
Last spring, many members of Duke’s women’s lacrosse team wore armbands of headbands expressing sympathy with the three men’s players targeted by Mike Nifong. The decision showed courage, and has been wholly vindicated by subsequent events.
Omar, however, decided to give a “shout-out” to the Duke women’s players (scroll down to bottom of page, “fastbreak pundits”; I have transcribed the remarks):
My initial thoughts were, “Wow, what a bunch of ignorant, pompous, misguided young ladies.” Are they not aware that women in this country, white and black, have fought for so long to have equal rights and to be respected on the same level as men?
So, let me tell them: Hey, Duke women’s lacrosse team—rape is a heinous form of violence against women, and until all the facts come out, you should not publicly speculate.
And, for a group of so-called bright and intelligent women to come out on the side of male suspects in a rape case shows that there are several parents wasting over $40,000 a year in tuition . . .
See, it is this type of same condescending and arrogant mindset and sense of entitlement that led to the trans-Atlantic slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, and ultimately to Washington Duke being one of the biggest tobacco tycoons in the South.
After contending that “we do, in fact, know” that Reade Seligmann, Dave Evans, and Collin Finnerty were guilty of “obstructing justice” (so much, I guess, for the assertion that people should not “publicly speculate” about the case), Omar concluded:
Usually, I would have absolutely no interest in a lacrosse game, but this weekend, I’m going to be rooting against you, Duke women’s lacrosse team [in the national semi-final against Northwestern]. Regardless of what slogan you write on your collective headbands, the ironic twist in all of this is that now the Duke women’s lacrosse team is now guilty, themselves, of stupidity, at least . . . Now I hope you get your butt kicked. I really hope you all get your butt kicked. I really hope you get your butt kicked, on the field, that is.
To my knowledge, Farred, Roberts, and Omar have not apologized for their comments, much less retracted or modified them as Mike Nifong’s case imploded.
To sum up: Orin Starn has managed to invite to his conference three figures who unapologetically savaged the character of three different groups of Duke students. Selena Roberts compared the men’s lacrosse players to drug dealers and gang members. Grant Farred labeled the hundreds of Duke students who registered to vote in
But, as we know, Duke’s anti-lacrosse faculty care deeply about their institution’s students. They just have an odd way of showing it.