Friday, October 31, 2008

The Least Surprising Endorsement

In January 2007, just after Mike Nifong turned the case over to Roy Cooper, the Wilmington Journal (the paper best known for pushing the bizarre theories of "Cousin Jakki," a/k/a Clyde Yancey) published an op-ed on the case. The column contained a thinly veiled threat--that if the Attorney General wanted the votes of North Carolina blacks, he needed to push forward with Crystal Mangum's fantastic lies.

Cooper, to his eternal credit, refused to bow to such crude tactics. His office investigated the case thoroughly, and then let the facts speak for themselves: the charges not only were dismissed, but the falsely accused players were factually innocent.

In its pre-election endorsement editorial, the Wilmington Journal exacted its revenge:
Per another office, NC Attorney General, this newspaper has endorsed challenger Robert Crumley over long time incumbent Roy Cooper, though there really is not much new about attorney Crumley positions beyond that he would be a better AG.

In our opinion, Mr. Cooper lost our vote, and our respect, when he refused to allow a trial to go forth in the Duke Lacrosse rape case, and then declared the three white suspects who allegedly raped a young black female ''innocent.''

Sorry, Mr. Cooper. Attorney Crumley now gets our support.
Disgraceful. And a reminder to all North Carolina readers of DIW to vote for Roy Cooper next Tuesday.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reflections on the Mangum Opus

As could be expected from the work of a serial fabricator, Crystal Mangum’s memoir is little more than a tissue of lies.

1.) The book restated one of Mangum’s most transparent lies—that she was consistent in describing the “attack.”

Mangum writes, “My account of what happened next is the same as I have described all along. It has been said that I gave varying accounts but that just isn't true.”

This statement is nothing short of breathtaking. In fact, Mangum never told the same story twice.

  • The number of attackers varied (from 20 to 6 to 5 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 0).

  • Kim Roberts’ role varied (from accomplice in the “attack” to impartial observer to fellow “victim”).

  • The time of the “attack” varied (from no time, to just after 11.00pm, to—in the memoir—just after 11.15pm).

  • The laws of physics varied (Mangum’s spring 2007 version had the “attack” occurring as she was levitating in mid-air).

Even in her pre-indictment versions of the events, Mangum’s basic description of who allegedly did what wildly varied:

  • A green X corresponds to the story that Mangum told Tara Levicy on March 14, 2006.
  • A blue Y corresponds to the story that Mangum told Gottlieb and Officer Ben Himan on March 16, 2006.
  • A red Z corresponds to the story that Mangum provided in her April 6, 2006 official statement.

















Whether Mangum—as a serial fabricator—simply can’t tell the truth, or whether—as Attorney General Cooper speculated in April 2007—her mental problems lead her to believe her own lies is immaterial. For her to claim that she described “what happened” the same way throughout the case is absurd.

2.) Mangum is a great believer in conspiracy theories.

Everyone, it seems, was out to get Mangum (except for Mike Nifong and former SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy).

  • Bad stories about her character? The fault of former associates from the world of exotic dancing, who didn’t like her.

  • News about her medical history? The fault of her doctor, who must have leaked the information. (In fact, the first word of her mental problems came from an Esquire interview with her mother.)

  • The time-stamped photos that directly contradicted her stories? The photos were doctored, perhaps by Duke.

  • The DNA evidence that directly contradicted her stories? There’s secret DNA evidence, that some sort of conspiracy has prevented ever being made public.

  • The lack of any corroborating witnesses for her myriad tall tales? According to Mangum, “They are going to get away with it because Duke has paid everyone to be silent.”

  • Her hero, Mike Nifong, being disbarred for ethical misconduct? “The [unnamed] forces aligned against the case needed Nifong’s license.”

The media (especially 60 Minutes and CNN), defense attorneys, Kim Roberts, and bloggers also enter into various conspiracy theories against Mangum.

3.) The book continued Mangum’s tendency to consistently adjust her story to fit newly publicized facts that undermined her previous version of events.

Perhaps the best example of this pattern came in the Dec. 20, 2006 frame, in which she changed the time of the “attack,” abandoned her claim that Dave Evans had a mustache the night of the party, and said she no longer could be sure she was raped—all to address unimpeachable physical evidence that disproved her March/April 2006 stories.

The most apparent “convenient recollection” from her memoir came in her contention that her alleged second attacker “decided to penetrate me again. This time anally and painfully. He removed himself just before he had an orgasm and ejaculated on the floor.”

This item wasn’t described in that fashion in any of her (myriad) stories—but its inclusion in the memoir allows her to suggest a grand conspiracy to conceal evidence that somehow corroborates her story. She writes,

I also believe the police found one other DNA sample that has rarely been mentioned in any news accounts. That sample was found near the sink in the bathroom. From what I was told, it was semen from one of the individuals who had been at the party. Again, we will never know unless the case file is made public.

Despite Mangum’s insinuations, this information (coupled with the name of Matt Zash, someone Mangum twice failed to recognize when shown his photo) has been public since at least May 2006. Moreover, in (most of) Mangum’s stories, the “second attacker” was Collin Finnerty. Zash is just under 6 feet, with black hair and a stocky build. Finnerty is tall, with light brown hair, a distinctive face, and a lean, athletic build. In short, Mangum’s new “second attacker” looks nothing like her 2006 claimed “second attacker.”

At the very least, does Mangum apologize for making what even she now concedes was a false allegation against Finnerty?

Of course not.

4.) Inconvenient facts can simply be ignored.

The DNA from multiple, unidentified males found in her rape kit and concealed for months by Nifong and former lab director Brian Meehan?

  • Not according to Mangum: “I have seen reports implying that I had multiple sex partners in the days or maybe hours before the incident. This was not proven in the DNA samples that were taken at the hospital.”

The photos showing Mangum outside the lacrosse captains’ locked door (which was locked to prevent her from gaining re-entrance into the house)?

  • Not according to Mangum: She actually was inside the house when the door was locked.

Her loss of a driver’s license, from her previous conviction of stealing a taxi and then trying to run down a cop in a drunken rage?

  • Not according to Mangum: “Having a driver is part of the business for a vast majority of the girls. Not only does the driver make sure you get where you need to go but also serves as protection.”

The many photos, showing an incredibly dull party, with lacrosse players uninterested in Mangum’s performance?

  • Not according to Mangum: “It seemed as though the entire crowd was going to converge on us. They were so much more vocal than the people I danced for at the Platinum Club, and they looked as though they wanted to provoke a confrontation . . . we were confronted by a group of angry guys. It seemed as though they were yelling and screaming at the tops of their lungs . . . The crowd was extremely agitated . . . I could hear yelling in the other room. It sounded like the way people scream and cheer at a football game.”

5.) Mangum has reached the bottom of the barrel with her current enablers.

Anyone who followed the lacrosse case knows of the despicable performance of Al McSurely, the NAACP lawyer who published the August 2006 error-laden, guilt-presuming “memorandum of law” about the case.

The other key figures in producing the Mangum book? Academic “advisor” Myra Shird preposterously suggested that those who had determined that Mangum had lied—and was a figure of, to put it mildly, dubious character—were guilty of the kind of prejudgment that led to slavery and the Holocaust.

And co-author “Ed” Clark produced a preface that more resembled the work of a love-struck schoolboy (“My heart pounded. I had been waiting for the opportunity to meet the accuser”) than a serious writer.

Both Clark and Shird provide heavy helpings of race-baiting rhetoric—as could be expected from the ranks of the true believers.


The best evaluation of Mangum’s opus came from Joe Cheshire: “Her continued assertion that an assault happened is really pathetic . . . She’s clearly doing this to make money. By continuing to lie, she makes everything in the book, everything she says, a lie.”

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mangum Takes on the Special Prosecutors

While she praised the unethical efforts of Mike Nifong, Crystal Mangum had nothing but contempt for the special prosecutors who took over the case after Nifong recused himself. She especially seemed not to like Assistant Attorney General Jim Coman. In her first meeting with the new prosecution team, she recalled,

Both Mary Winstead and Jim Coman struck me as professional people, but I was a bit nervous. I thought that they were representing me and I did not expect them to be hostile. [emphasis added]

Mangum appears unaware that—unlike Nifong, who repeatedly referred to Mangum as “my victim”—prosecutors do not “represent” accusers. They represent the people.

The second meeting with the special prosecutors went worse—because state law enforcement officials, unlike Nifong, had the temerity to question Mangum’s myriad, often contradictory, versions of events:

There were four white males and one white female. Later a black woman joined us. The three white men were identified as members of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).

The extra people in the room made me especially uncomfortable. I was not expecting such a large gathering and the demeanor of those watching did not make me feel they were on my side. We all sat around a large conference table. There was an easel set up; I was given a long pointing stick and asked to go over the events of the night of March 13 while the people in the room stared at me. I was visibly uncomfortable. I struggled with my words and felt confused at times because I could not stand the looks I was getting. I was told I needed to describe again in detail what had happened. It was excruciating and humiliating, trying to tell my story to people who were visibly hostile.

After breaking down in tears, Mangum recalls,

Jim Coman launched into a series of rapid-fire questions. “Where were you raped? Which door did you enter and exit? Were they the same doors? Did Mr. Nifong tell you the names of your attackers?” I felt like I had answered all those questions a dozen times already. Mr. Coman’s delivery of the questions to be trying to frustrate me . . . Why was not someone on my side in this? I had met with the police and Mike Nifong and never once did I feel like I was not being respected.

Mangum’s response to these events? Blame everything on . . . Duke(!). She told the special prosecutors, “They are going to get away with it because Duke has paid everyone to be silent.” The serial fabricator also offered the wild claim that Duke had doctored the photos of the party.

(This, of course, is the same Duke that—in the grip of the Group of 88—did everything but take out a full-page ad in the New York Times distancing itself from the three students Mangum falsely accused.)

While Mangum discusses her first and second meetings with the special prosecutors, she doesn’t mention her final meeting with state law enforcement officials—the meeting to which she arrived impaired from a cocktail of prescription drugs. That finding, documented in the AG’s report, wouldn’t support her self-portrayal as a kind of anti-drug crusader in the world of exotic dancing.

Mangum’s reaction to the Cooper Report was, to put it mildly, bizarre: “I thought that if they did not want to pursue rape charges they could move forward. If nothing else, there should have been enough evidence to prove that racial slurs where used during the assault.”

The report, of course, concluded there was no assault. Even in Durham, it would seem impossible to use “racial slurs” in an “assault” that never occurred in the first place.

Reflecting on the demise of her hoax, Mangum did give a shout-out to her hero, Mike Nifong, for whom she felt “sorry.” And she again lashed out at defense attorneys, who she denounced as “free to go about getting as much money as they could from anyone they could sue. With his law license gone, Mike Nifong was vulnerable. He had served Durham for a long time and now on account of me, he was going to have to pay with his career. It did not seem fair and I believe the majority of people who think rationally know what the North Carolina Bar did was well beyond what was necessary or had ever been done in the past. Nevertheless, the forces aligned against the case needed Nifong’s license or there would be no grounds for the law suits that were to come.”

Mangum offered no evidence to corroborate her attack against the State Bar. Nor did she explain how “the forces aligned against the case” controlled the Bar’s actions. As the book proceeded, the anti-Nifong/Mangum conspiracy that the serial fabricator imagined had grown to enormous proportions.

In addition to castigating the special prosecutors and the State Bar, Mangum laced into CNN. It turns out that she had consented to a lengthy interview with Soledad O’Brien, at which she presumably told one of her myriad stories about what happened in the case. The result?

After allowing them into personal life and my home, someone at CNN decided this reporting was not something they wanted the public to see . . . Now, when I call CNN, no one will take my call(!!). They have nothing to say about what they saw.

Mangum appears unaware that—if only due to fear of a libel suit—most major news organizations will not give TV time to someone who’s offering a demonstrably false story.

In a line that could define chutzpah, the woman who leveled false allegations of a horrific crime against three innocent college students concluded, “I am left with hating the way it felt to be accused of being something I was not.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

Crystal's Many Enemies

The Mangum Opus is an oddly structured book. After introducing her invented reminisces of the party—drawn, seemingly willy-nilly, from her April 6, 2006 and December 20, 2006 stories—Mangum then provides a long section in which she criticizes her father, her mother (who was admitted to hospital for psychiatric problems), and her brother, while providing page after page of jealousy toward her sister. She also goes after one other family member, in the process rebuffing once and for all the Cash Michaels/Wendy Murphy claim that she was offered a $2 million bribe to drop all charges. The allegation—which was investigated and debunked during the case itself—was made by her “Cousin Jakki,” the sometimes car salesman, sometimes “performer” otherwise known as Clyde Yancey, who became something of a media sensation. Writes Mangum, “Even more disturbing was when some of my other relatives started to appear on television. People like my brother and my cousin Jackie. Even though most of the time they talked positively about me, they never once talked to me about the case.”

I emailed Murphy to ask if she would retract her (oft-made) claim based on Mangum’s denial. The adjunct law professor did not respond.

Mangum returns to the scene of the hoax by presenting a theory of the “attack” that most resembles her March 14/March 16 stories. During the “attack,” she contends, “the third attacker said, ‘I don’t want to. I love my fiancĂ© and we are going to get married.’ The other two attackers coaxed him into taking his turn. When he finally did, each thrust hurt and it felt like my insiders were being ripped out.”

Of course, no lacrosse player was engaged to be married—as Mangum, who has admitted that she followed media reports on the case, is well aware. Perhaps that explains why she modified her story from her original version, in which she had claimed that the third “attacker” was getting married the following day. Now he is only “going to get married” at some indefinite point in the future.

Mangum then added a new twist, contending that her second attacker “decided to penetrate me again. This time anally and painfully. He removed himself just before he had an orgasm and ejaculated on the floor.”

This item wasn’t described in that fashion in any of her (myriad) stories—but its inclusion in the memoir allows her to suggest a grand conspiracy to conceal evidence that somehow corroborates her story. She writes,

I also believe the police found one other DNA sample that has rarely been mentioned in any news accounts. That sample was found near the sink in the bathroom. From what I was told, it was semen from one of the individuals who had been at the party. Again, we will never know unless the case file is made public.

Of course, this information (including the name of the unindicted player, someone Mangum twice failed to recognize when shown his photo) has been public since at least May 2006. The passage represents nothing more than an attempt by Mangum to make unsubstantiated allegations against lacrosse players she didn’t manage to target the first time around.

Having alternatively portrayed Kim Roberts as a co-conspirator in the rape (3-14-06), neutral bystander (3-16-06), and fellow victim of rape (4-6-06), Mangum has now returned to her March 14 storyline, to wit:

The guys wiped me off quickly and attempted to straighten my clothes. Nikki entered the bathroom and helped them finish fixing my clothes. I wanted to run out of there, and I tried.

Mangum can scarcely conceal her hatred for the defense attorneys whose work exposed her attempted hoax. “It did not help,” she fumes, “that the attorneys for the lacrosse players called press conferences and appeared on cable talk shows more than anyone else. In their zeal to serve their clients, it seems as though they were calling as much attention to the case as possible.”

Of course, the attorneys went public only because Mike Nifong had elected to try the case in public, thereby tainting any potential jury pool. Mangum doesn’t seem to see a problem in Nifong’s ethically improper statements, however. “People can criticize how the district attorney handled the case,” she concedes, “but I am not sure he knew what to do either. The truth is I had very little contact with him over the course of the media spectacle. I did not sit down with him for an extensive interview until December 2006.”

(A Mangum-Nifong “extensive interview” in December 2006 has never been even hinted at before publication of the Mangum book.)

Mangum also lashes out at Ed Bradley and the 60 Minutes team, which uncovered the tape of Mangum dancing—in a most limber fashion—at the Platinum Pleasures Club eleven days after the “attack,” at a time when she was claiming massive injuries. Her assertion? “The alleged videotape of me dancing at the club was from several months before the incident at 610 North Buchanan.”

Her evidence for her claim? None. We should, according to Mangum, simply accept her word for it.

Having challenged 60 Minutes, Mangum then offers wild theories about the DNA evidence. “I have seen reports implying that I had multiple sex partners in the days or maybe hours before the incident. This was not proven in the DNA samples that were taken at the hospital. If the DNA confirms that none of the people charged left DNA on me, then the test performed their function. I cannot and will not argue with that. Nevertheless, I believe there are DNA tests in the case file that may tell a different story. Unfortunately, with the case file not being public record, we can only go on what the defense attorneys want to release to the public.”

Mangum offers no indication of what “secret” DNA evidence she’s talking about. Since the story of the entire DNA evidence was highly public—indeed, it formed the basis of the Dec. 15 Meehan hearing—her assertion is nothing short of bizarre.

But Mangum saves most of her venom for the lacrosse players whose lives she tried to ruin. Channeling the peculiar legal theories of Group of 88 member Grant Farred, she muses, “Would people feel different about things if they realized that a hate crime was committed against me? If nothing else, there is ample enough evidence to prove that racial slurs were used during my time in that house.

There is, of course, absolutely no evidence “that racial slurs were used during [Mangum’s] time in that house.”

Mangum also darkly hints that unnamed players destroyed evidence or otherwise obstructed justice:

It is dismaying to know the police did not go into the house until two days after the party. People would have plenty of time to clean the house of evidence. There was also time to contaminate evidence as well . . . With the records from the case being sealed, the only people who have any real knowledge about what truly happened in those two days are the people at the party.

Of course, all the “evidence” was still in the house.

In her race to the bottom, Mangum does manage to throw the Group of 88 under the bus. She writes,

It was always strange to see that people such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, professors at Duke, and many others who either spoke on television or went to the house at 610 North Buchanan to make statements. I really started to worry when none of them actually came to my house to talk to me and offer assistance. If they were so concerned, why had I never met any of them?

Mangum does praise two people—former SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy, and Mike Nifong.

Regarding Levicy, she writes, “I am convinced that the hospital staff that night did their jobs. I have not spoken to any of them since that night, but I assure you they were not manufacturing the injuries they reported finding on me.”

Of course, the point is that Levicy didn’t find injuries on Mangum—apart from non-bleeding scratches on her knee and ankle.

Regarding Nifong, she suggests, “I know now that the entire identification process was questionable, but I believed then and now that Mike Nifong was not directing anyone to harm anyone else. He was always kind and polite.”

The “kind and polite” Mike Nifong and the serial fabricator Crystal Mangum. A perfect match.

Crystal Does the Party

Mangum opens her “invent-all” memoir with her latest story about her introduction into the world of exotic dancing; and then a wildly non-credible recapitulation of the party.

Here’s the serial fabricator on how she allegedly got into exotic dancing.

It would be much more money than I could ever earn up on stage, and I didn't like the atmosphere in the clubs that much anyway. The one thing she pointed out about me was that I did not have a pimp like the other girls at the club. I wasn't a prostitute and wouldn't have all of what that meant hanging over me . . . Since I was going into this strictly as a performer, sex with complete strangers was not something I was ever willing to consider.

So from where, exactly, did all that DNA from multiple unidentified males originate? Mangum doesn’t even bother to try to lie: she just doesn’t mention the finding.

Here’s how Mangum describes getting to the party:

I know there has been some discussion and eyebrows raised about having people drive me to my gigs. Having a driver is part of the business for a vast majority of the girls. Not only does the driver make sure you get where you need to go but also serves as protection.

Mangum leaves out a rather significant point: the reason she needed a driver was because she had no drivers’ license. She lost her license after stealing a taxi in a drunken outburst and then trying to run down a police officer.

Her usual driver, she recalls, was fellow NCCU student Jerriel Johnson: “Jerriel also knew my boyfriend and that made it more comfortable for Mat to know that I was being watched after.”

Johnson, of course, is the person who admitted in his police statement that he had sexual relations with Mangum. The serial fabricator doesn’t say if they told her boyfriend about their affair.

Mangum devotes the bulk of her party chapter, however, to a blow-by-blow refutation of the Attorney General’s report, as if Roy Cooper, his prosecutors, and the State Bureau of Investigation had simply made up their report.

Writes she,

Frustrated and not exactly sure where 610 North Buchanan was, I called my dad for better directions. He pointed us right to where we needed to go. We arrived at the house at about 11:15 pm.

Mangum had previously claimed she arrived at the party around 11.45—a version of events corroborated by Roberts, neighbor Brian Bissey, her cellphone records, and the credit card receipts of “driver” Brian Taylor. In her December 2006 attempted frame, Mangum revised her arrival time to 11.00pm—to make up for the fact that both Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty had airtight alibis for the time of the alleged “rape” based on her 11.45 arrival. Now she’s split the difference and claimed she arrived at 11.15pm—which would still suggest (based on her cellphone records) that she was either planning or performing a nude dance as she happily chatted on the phone with her father, asking him for directions to 610 N. Buchanan.

Mangum darkly hints at a date rape drug, since “we will never be sure what was in the drinks that Dan gave us.” And yet she describes herself throughout the chapter as not under the effects of any drug.

Shortly after her arrival at the house, Mangum recalls racial epithets—joining Mike Nifong and Duff Wilson of the New York Times as the only people still clinging to this version of events:

Then I heard it for the first time; someone in the crowd was referring to us as “black bitches.” It was not said just once. It was almost as if that was our names.

And yet: Kim Roberts—a person, it’s perfectly clear, who was extremely sensitive to racial insults—never mentioned such obviously inflammatory behavior. Nor did Devon Sherwood—the African-American player on the team, who was present for the party.

Mangum continues her long-existing (and scarcely credible) pattern of treating Kim Roberts as the more disgusting of the two dancers:

We had only been performing a matter of minutes and Nikki had taken things way beyond anything I had planned. I glanced and saw her panties lying beside her.

Yet Mangum has to come up with some way to account for the fact that photos showed her both on the floor in both a sexually suggestive and seemingly drunk state. In an almost hilarious passage, Mangum claims that her utter shock (shock!) at Roberts’ loose behavior—and not her drunkenness/drug-induced status—caused her to fall on the floor and appear to be either drunk or high:

The way I ended up on the floor was completely an accident and the result of my complete and utter surprise at what was going on.

Again, all who believe that can sign up for Mike Nifong’s campaign to become the next Supreme Court Justice.

How did the dance come to a conclusion?

“We need to get out of here. They are going to try and use that broom on us,” Nikki screamed at me over the chaos. She looked scared and I felt it. By now I heard the words nigger, bitch, and other names. They were definitely not happy with the performance.

Again, Roberts—a person, it’s perfectly clear, who was extremely sensitive to racial insults—never mentioned such racist insults occurring inside, during the party. Nor did she ever tell police that she had said anything like, “We need to get out of here. They are going to try and use that broom on us.”

This version of events, it seems, combines the “timid Crystal” presented in the April 6, 2006 police report and the “Crystal-changes-her-story-to-address-all-the exculpatory-evidence” Mangum offered in the Linwood Wilson December 2006 frame.

Mangum, who admitted that she closely followed media reports about the case, sometimes attempts to fit into her story known facts that undermined her myriad claims. For instance, photos showed Mangum banging on the back door, with a smile on her face, trying to get back into the house around 12.30am. But Matt Zash had locked the door, in part to keep the clearly imbalanced Mangum out.

In Mangum’s new version of events, Zash locked the door after she returned to the house: “I felt even more in a panic when I saw one of the guys go to the door we had just entered, to close and lock it behind us. That struck me as odd since people had been moving freely in and out all night. That move seemed especially sinister in light of the way everyone was acting.”

How, then, do we explain the photos of Mangum outside the locked door? Perhaps the woman who alleged rape-by-levitation also believes she could simultaneously be inside and outside the house.

Mangum falls back on her April 6, 2006 version of the beginning of the “rape,” when one of her “attackers” uttered a 1950s-movie line: “Sweetheart, you can’t leave.” And such almost comical lines came amidst a wild party: “It seemed as though the entire crowd was going to converge on us. They were so much more vocal than the people I danced for at the Platinum Club, and they looked as though they wanted to provoke a confrontation . . . we were confronted by a group of angry guys. It seemed as though they were yelling and screaming at the tops of their lungs . . . The crowd was extremely agitated . . . I could hear yelling in the other room. It sounded like the way people scream and cheer at a football game.”

And here are some of the actual photos of these “angry guys” at this “agitated” party.

Wild, indeed.

As AG Cooper noted in his remarks, perhaps Mangum—due to her myriad psychological problems—actually believes some, or all, or the myriad, mutually contradictory, stories she has told. But the photos don’t exactly corroborate her wild claims.

Those who desire a minute-by-minute recapitulation of the party can find it in the AG’s report. The document directly contradicts virtually everything Mangum claimed in her “invent-all” memoir.

The Fantastic World of Vincent "Ed" Clark

After leading off with the almost laughable Shird preface, the Mangum Opus segues into a chapter from Mangum co-author Vincent “Ed” Clark, the figure who the N&O delicately described as “a self-employed publicist.”

Clark recalls for readers his first reaction upon hearing news of the Mangum’s fantastic charges:

I hated anything related to Duke sports.

So much for collaborator Myra Shird’s linking the dangers of prejudgment to slavery and the Holocaust.

Clark’s recollection of his first meeting with Mangum reads like the tales of a love-struck teenager:

My heart pounded. I had been waiting for the opportunity to meet the accuser. The case had been constantly on my mind. For some reason I felt as though I needed to know her. I needed to know as much as I could.

And Mangum didn’t disappoint her new, fawning friend:

From that moment [when Mangum first spoke to him] I believed something had happened, too. This person sitting in front of me was supposed to be delusional. I had met plenty of people like that and this person did not strike me that way.

Clark doesn’t share with readers his psychological training, or how else he is equipped to determine when a person is “delusional.” Nor does he reveal why his travels have caused him to encounter “plenty” of “delusional” people, and how he determined that these people were, in fact, “delusional.”

Indeed, Clark himself seems a bit delusional when he discusses the media’s handling of the case:

There was not one positive thing I had seen or read about this woman, and she had no way of knowing if I believed what I had read about her.

At other points in his introduction, Clark claims to have read everything he could about the life and times of his newfound, schoolboy crush. And yet he claims not to have encountered the myriad “positive” portrayals of Mangum as a hard-working mother—the paeans given to her by the potbangers, figures on the NCCU campus or at the state NAACP, and media personalities such as Nancy Grace?

When Clark gets to the facts of the case, his delusions only increase.

If people were willing to tell the truth they would acknowledge that people produced to discredit Crystal were facing their own legal troubles and were represented by lawyers who were members of the players' defense team. They would come forward and tell why Crystal’s medical records were leaked to the public to imply she had mental health problems. Others will say how they floated stories implying Crystal had been sexually promiscuous immediately before the alleged events when there was no proof she had been.

What case is he talking about? Mangum was “discredited” not by anyone coming forward, but by the public revelations of the procedurally flawed lineup, the exculpatory DNA evidence, and the myriad contradictions between the myriad stories she told. She was discredited, in short, by hard evidence, not by personal testimony from anyone.

And what of his claim that “Crystal’s medical records were leaked to the public” In fact, Mangum’s medical records were under seal, and have never been leaked—indeed, their specifics have never been publicly revealed. It’s true that those covering the case looked at the records’ existence “to imply she had mental health problems.” It seems to me—and Clark might disagree—that when a judge in open court holds up a psychological case file of around 1000 pages, the subject of that case file can be described as having “mental health problems.”

And what of Clark’s accusation that “others . . . floated stories implying Crystal had been sexually promiscuous immediately before the alleged events when there was no proof she had been.”

No proof? How, then, does Clark explain the fact that the DNA of multiple unidentified males was found in Mangum’s rape kit? Does he subscribe to Mike Nifong’s theory that this DNA might have come from Mangum’s young children?

Lacking facts to justify his assertions, Clark (as noted yesterday) regularly plays the race and class cards. “North Carolina,” writes he, “was not immune to unfairly prosecuting poor men. I just could not comprehend how having Joe Cheshire as your lawyer was being put at a disadvantage.”

And he continues, in a passage that could have been stolen from any of a number of Group of 88 members,

The idea of a white man abusing some black prostitute has appeal for some folk. Other white men consider black women there to be used, easily accessed, so it goes, and it has been that way since the first enslaved Africans came to America.

Clark concludes with a tribute to Durham, which he celebrates as a city ruled by African-Americans in which the “conservative block [sic]” cannot elect candidates. What’s Durham like, he asks. “Yes, there are murders, rapes, and other mayhem but nothing on the scale of what I saw when I traveled away from home.”

And where are these mysterious places to which Clark has “traveled away from home”? He doesn’t say.

The Shird Preface

The preface to the Mangum Opus was penned by a North Carolina A&T professor named Myra Shird—perhaps best known on campus for abruptly resigning her department chairmanship in the middle of the semester last year. Shird’s preface is . . . eye-opening.

Shird reflects on her introduction to the case, and the negative reception from the media she claims serial fabricator Crystal Mangum received:

Public ridicule? Should I even know the victim’s name so early in the investigation? Aren’t their [sic] laws that protect the victim [sic]?

Shird appears unfamiliar with basic U.S. law: there are no “laws” dealing with topics such as knowing “the victim’s name so early in the investigation.” (A side note: most college professors know the difference between when to use “there” and when to use “their.”)

Shird continues,

I can only imagine that every word out of the accused mouths was orchestrated . . . On the other hand, there was no one “real” there for the accuser.

The “accused mouths”? What is she talking about? (This, again, is the writing of a college professor.) And the assertion “there was no one ‘real’ there for the accuser”? Did Mangum have “unreal” associates?

As has become customary with those associated with the Nifong/Mangum effort, Shird plays fast and loose with the facts. “The Friends of Duke,” writes she, “raised millions to assist the Duke players with their defense.”

In fact, the Friends of Duke was a grassroots alumni organization devoted to returning the university to traditional academic principles of upholding due process. The group raised nothing—much less “millions”—to “assist the Duke players with their defense.”

Shird laments the unfair treatment she claims Mangum received because of the serial fabricator’s chosen profession:

If an exotic dancer is promiscuous and sleeps with five or six guys within a twenty-four-hour time period, do we find her less credible if she says that the seventh guy raped her?

Yes—if, as in this case, the “exotic dancer” denied having had sex not just “within a twenty-four-hour time period” before the party, but for a whole week before the party.

Shird occasionally veers toward uncomfortable conclusions. She reflects on AG Roy Cooper’s press conference announcing the players’ exoneration:

Cooper further explained, “We believe it's in the best interest of justice not to bring charges.” Whose best interest, Mr. Cooper?

Whose, indeed. Is Shird now suggesting that it would be in Mangum’s best interest for the state to bring charges against her for filing a false police report?

Shird wraps up her preface with two passages that offer an unintentional, if revealing, insight into her skewed mindset. She asserts,

I know women who call exotic dancers whores, but who find their own penchant to only sleep with BMW-driving, well-dressed, white-collar, college graduates who pay their bills as a simple act of self-preservation.

Who are these women? Shird, of course, doesn’t say.

And what is the appropriate historical context through which to interpret the reaction to Mangum? Shird makes Group of 88’er Bill Chafe (who said that the whites who beat, kidnapped, and murdered Emmett Till provided the appropriate historical contest through which to interpret the actions of the lacrosse players) look like a piker. Shird detects enormous implications to the alleged prejudgment of Mangum:

The hypocrisy of judging or labeling has led to major societal catastrophes such as slavery and the holocaust.

The Holocaust? Slavery? And Crystal Mangum’s treatment by the press?


Thursday, October 23, 2008


A few things in the lacrosse case have been certain. Former lawyer Mike Nifong would violate the Bar’s ethics rules whenever presented with the opportunity. Group of 88 leader Wahneema Lubiano’s “forthcoming” books will still be “forthcoming.” And serial fabricator Crystal Mangum—the woman who could never tell the same story twice—will continue to fabricate.

At one level, it should come as no surprise to see Mangum’s fabricating today—in the three released chapters of her “invent-all” memoir, or in a treacly morning press conference. At another level, however, the performance was shameless—this woman whose lies caused so much harm lacks the decency not to publicly offer new lies.

As Joe Cheshire correctly noted, “Her press conference and her continued assertion that an assault happened is really pathetic . . . She’s clearly doing this to make money. By continuing to lie, she makes everything in the book, everything she says, a lie.”

Three chapters of the “invent-all” memoir have been released; here’s a summary of the peculiar tales offered by Mangum and co-author Ed Clark, who the N&O delicately describes as “a self-employed publicist.”

The Big Lie

At her press gala, Mangum affirmed, “I am still claiming that a sexual assault happened . . . [her story] has never changed.”

It’s worth reiterating, I suppose, that Mangum never even told the same story twice, much less consistently. Among the changes:

--Mangum variously claimed that there were 20, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, or zero “rapists.”

--Mangum variously claimed that Kim Roberts, the second dancer, was an accomplice in the attack on her, a neutral bystander, or the victim of a “rape” by three other lacrosse players.

--Mangum originally asserted that the “rape” occurred in a manner consistent with the normal laws of physics, only to conclude the case by describing an “attack” while she was being suspended in mid-air (just after, it should be noted, she was chatting with her father on the phone during her exotic dance and even as one of her “attackers” was chatting on the phone with his girlfriend).

But the serial fabricator asserts that her story “has never changed.”

The “Star Student”

Mangum, Clark writes, “could talk about news events, politics, and sophisticated concepts in psychology.”

Indeed. And Mike Nifong is in line to become the nation’s next Supreme Court Justice.

In another factual whopper, Clark assures readers that Mangum has never really had a problem with drug abuse.

This is, of course, the same Crystal Mangum who was on several drugs during her final interview with the special prosecutor, and who seemed to be "hospital shopping" early in the case to get some additional Percocet from UNC Hospital.

Press Conference Bizarro World

Mangum unleashed a howler at the press conference, asserting that she had decided to write her "invent-all" memoir because she hadn't had a chance to tell her story.

This is, of course, the same Crystal Mangum who was sought for an interview by 60 Minutes, ABC's Law & Justice Unit, the AP, the N&O, and the Herald-Sun, among other media sources.

She also hinted that she never had an opportunity to tell her side of the story--even though she was repeatedly interviewed by the special prosecutors.

In the event, she had little interest in telling her side of the story at the press conference, declining to answer such basic factual questions as how often she met with Mike Nifong.

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Writes Clark,

I began to notice most of [Sean Hannity’s] rants were identical to [those of: sic] people such as Internet columnists Michael Gaynor, Stuart Taylor, and K.C. [sic] Johnson. I found it amazing that these non-local people invested so much time and energy on the case . . . A group of right-wing bloggers, . . . the people who peddled the libelous and slanderous stories about Crystal are the same people who have been behind the Terry Schiavo case and have worked on such causes as the Linda Tripp defense fund.

Just to correct the record—since I’m sure Clark wouldn’t knowingly include false information in his product:

Stuart formerly wrote for the New York Times (he was nominated for a Pulitzer) and currently writes for National Journal, a high-brow Washington publication that focuses on politics and public policy. Neither the NJ nor the Times are “internet” publications.

As for me: I opposed the Clinton impeachment, consider Linda Tripp a pathetic person with whose defense fund I had no involvement, and strongly opposed the Bush administration’s attempts to intervene in the Schiavo affair, which I viewed as emblematic of the dangerous influence of the GOP’s Christianist wing. Few people would describe as “right-wing” someone who publicly supports Barack Obama, abortion rights, and gay marriage—but perhaps Clark shares the Group of 88’s definition of “right-wing.”

Clark is, however, absolutely right in saying that I do not live in Durham. I congratulate him on getting something accurate in this passage.

The Race Card

Clark unsurprisingly plays the race card, suggesting that those who contended that (white male) Mike Nifong violated prosecutorial ethics or (white male) Mark Gottlieb violated normal police procedures were racists determined to uphold the position of white males.

Moreover, Clark contends, “hundreds” of prosecutors do what Nifong did, and go without punishment. He doesn’t list any of these prosecutors.

On the other side, he suggests, Mangum never employed emotion, and only wanted to get the facts out. The result, he suggests: “Whenever anyone wants to discuss the merits of the case, no one can really remember any of the facts.”

This claim is almost hilarious: if nothing else, those critical of Nifong were swimming in facts.

Clark continues with an even more astonishing assertion: “The weak link for the prosecution . . . was the accuser’s life story and not the facts of the case.” This attempt to rewrite history might even make the Group of 88 blush. Of course, the “weak link for the prosecution” was that Nifong had no “facts,” and constantly violated ethics rules to prop up his non-existent case. Mangum’s “life story” played almost no role in the defense presentations to the court in 2006.

Coming Clean?

Now that Mangum has publicly challenged the conclusions of the Attorney General’s report, will she finally release her psychological case file, so that readers of her “invent-all memoir” can evaluate her credibility?

For instance: has Mangum ever falsely accused anyone else—including medical personnel—of a violent crime?

When was Mangum first prescribed anti-psychotic medication—and was she taking her medication regularly in spring 2006?

Does Mangum have a history of hearing voices that order her what to do, or other symptoms associated with psychotic behavior?

When did Mangum first tell the DPD or Nifong of her serious psychological problems?

Clark asserts that the full Mangum Opus will be available tomorrow. I’ll review it when it appears.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Emory Talk

For DIW readers in Atlanta, my talk at Emory will be on Wednesday evening, at 7pm. The talk will be in White Hall, Room 110. And my thanks to everyone in Rye for the enjoyable event yesterday.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


“Take Back the Night” events are a mainstay of contemporary college campuses. Although they originated from a debunked theory (the idea that one in four women will be victims of sexual assault while in college), they are the sort of undertakings that can’t really be criticized: who, after all, wants to be attacked as “pro-rape”?

That said, the lacrosse case offers an example of how easily the cause can be overtaken by extremists. The 2006 Duke “take back the night” rally featured the distribution of the “WANTED” posters of lacrosse players—without, it seems, condemnation from the Duke administration.

Last weekend, Vanderbilt had its annual “take back the night” event. The featured speaker? Houston Baker.

That’s the same Houston Baker who:

--demanded three days after the case went public that Duke expel, without due process, every member of the lacrosse team;

--suggested, without evidence, that other lacrosse players had committed other rapes;

--published an open letter containing ten derogatory references to the race of the lacrosse players;

--from his Vanderbilt email account, referred to one lacrosse parent as the “mother of a farm animal.”

The event profile of Baker described this behavior thusly: “He raised a dissident voice against the University’s handling of accusations leveled against members of their men’s lacrosse team.”

(That’s one way of putting it.)

The profile praises Baker’s “wonderfully brilliant smile,” “mischievous wit,” “disarmingly friendly demeanor,” and “humility.” It hailed him for “not forget[ting] the intersection of race and gender” in his scholarship.

(Of course.)

And then author Kacy Silverstein, associate director of VU’s “Project Safe,” concluded: “When I think of Houston these days and all that he has done and all that he continues to do for women, the only word that comes to my mind is gratitude. Thank you Houston, for teaching us both within the classroom and outside it, for walking with us in this struggle to end violence against women.”

Some might say that Baker’s powerfully demanding that the academy abandon its traditional reverence for due process, and his lending his voice to a high-profile, bogus allegation of rape did more to undermine “this struggle to end violence against women” than most professors could do in their entire careers.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ekstrand Filings

Last week, Bob Ekstrand—on behalf of lacrosse players Breck Archer, Ryan McFadyen, and Matt Wilson—filed a lengthy series of responses to Duke, Duke Hospital, and various Durham officials.

Ekstrand urged a broad view of case, with events the unfortunate if likely outcome of the Duke/Durham policy of treating Duke students as second-class citizens in the city: “It was,” he wrote, “not the natural consequence of a false allegation made by a drug-addled woman who, at the time, was in the midst of an apparent psychotic break, in police custody, and in the process of being involuntarily committed. It was the product of a well-worn policy and custom of police to deprive ‘temporary residents’ of their constitutional rights in all encounters with law enforcement. So ingrained was Zero Tolerance in the police apparatus that, six months into the “fiasco,” when news reports unmistakably documented Sgt. Gottlieb’s miserable record of deliberate, inhumane violations of Duke students’ rights, the Durham Police Department’s Internal Affairs Chief reflexively held a press conference to say that Sgt. Gottlieb was following his ‘orders’.”

Some of the highlights:

1.) The lawsuit has a legitimate civil rights claim, since the matter involves an established city policy to deny rights to a class of individuals.

There is no doubt that the City and its Police Department, are responsible for the violations of Plaintiffs’ federal rights—just as Duke and its Police Department were responsible for the violations of Plaintiffs’ federal rights—through their official policies and their customs. That is particularly true of their jointly devised and jointly executed Zero Tolerance Policy, the application of which the [original complaint] describes in vivid detail, from its application in the time before Mangum’s bogus claim to the period covering the “investigation.”

2.) The March 2006 non-testimonial order, which Ekstrand correctly noted “fabricates and omits material facts,” puts both Durham and (through former SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy) Duke on the hook.

A reasonable officer in Gottlieb’s, Clayton’s, and Himan’s position would know—even to a moral certainty—that what they were doing violated clearly established law. Further, a reasonable officer would also know that leaking the NTID Order they obtained by fraud to the press to ignite a media firestorm and to publicly vilify [the lacrosse players] not only violates clearly established law, but is also arbitrary.

3.) Ekstrand easily rebuts the bizarre Duke (and, to a lesser extent, Durham) claim that the essence of the players’ case was an assertion that they had a right not to be investigated.

Plaintiffs do not contend that they have the right to remain free of investigation or that investigations by nature are extreme and outrageous conduct. Instead, the difference is that in this instance, the fabrication and other actions of the City Defendants were used to continue the investigation, in furtherance of the Conspiracy to Convict, even after they knew that neither Plaintiffs nor their teammates were guilty of anything, and thereby continued to subject them to public trauma and humiliation.

4.) Duke’s September 2006 suppression of the Duke Students for an Ethical Durham voter registration drive (which included the three Ekstrand plaintiffs) exposes the University to civil liability.

The voter registration effort was a lawful attempt to redress Durham’s discriminatory custom and policies that abused the criminal laws and processes in all matters where “permanent residents” complained of “non-permanent” residents of North Carolina. Defendants’ seizure of Plaintiffs and the confiscation of their registration forms violates federal voter registration law and was in furtherance of the unconstitutional Zero-Tolerance Policy for “non-permanent” residents. This is an overt violation of Plaintiffs’ First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment Rights.

5.) The efforts of Durham employees (chiefly CrimeStoppers head/acting police spokesperson David Addison), figures to whom Durham had improperly delegated authority (Mike Nifong) and various Duke employees, including faculty members to “break” the lacrosse players’ alleged “wall of silence” violated the players 1st amendment rights.

The complaint alleges multiple admissions by Defendants who openly confessed that the conscious object of their conduct was to coerce Plaintiffs into speaking, or, in the language of the element, to chill Plaintiffs’ exercise of their protected right not to speak. For example, on March 25, 2006, Addison admitted publicly—on television—that there would have been no NTID Order (and, of necessity, no fabricated, sensationalized Affidavits) if the Plaintiffs had cooperated with Gottlieb and Himan. Nifong later admitted in sworn testimony—twice—that his sole purpose in publicly vilifying Plaintiffs was to coerce their speech.

5a.) What motivated the campaign of vilification? Ekstrand theorizes that the goal was to coerce a false story from the lacrosse players:

The motives of the conspirators [in going public with their false claims of a crime, from 23 March 2006 through mid-April 2006] were to retaliate against Plaintiffs for exercising their right not to speak or submit to police interrogations, to coerce Plaintiffs into providing false inculpatory testimony through the continuing threat of a prosecution that Plaintiffs knew to be a frame up and to prevent the disclosure of the enormity of their misconduct so they could not be held accountable for it in a federal civil rights action such as this one or in a federal criminal prosecution for obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy.

6.) Tara Levicy was a critical component of the conspiracy, since her repeated alterations of her story—to conform to whatever theory of the ‘crime” Nifong happened to be espousing—suggested a “meeting of the minds” between Duke (through Levicy) and Durham authorities.”

The falsifications in the [March 2006 Levicy report] were plainly designed to fabricate a forensic medical record of things that did not happen, responses Mangum never gave, and evidence that did not exist, all designed to corroborate the sensationalized version of Mangum’s account that Gottlieb falsely reported in his factual sections of the application for the NTID Order . . . Another “meeting of the minds” involving Duke SANE Defendants is Levicy’s proffered testimony calculated to save Mangum’s identifications from suppression. The evidence that Mangum was incoherent, if not suffering from psychotic delusion, in the early morning hours of March 14th was a significant basis for excluding any in-court identifications. Levicy proffered testimony to rebut the evidence of psychosis that initiated her commitment proceedings. Nearly a year after the SAE, Levicy agreed to testify falsely that Mangum “could always speak articulately” and that she was “very alert.” Levicy proffered the foregoing fabricated testimony on the evening of January 10, 2007 just before Nifong quit the case.

7.) Despite the assertions of Duke attorneys, the lacrosse players never alleged medical malpractice against Levicy—the standard, Ekstrand contended, is entirely different.

To the extent that SANE Defendants could possibly be construed as presenting a question of law, the law in North Carolina on this issue, is well settled that there is a very important distinction to be drawn between the work performed by a forensic nurse examiner verse providing health care to a patient. See, e.g., N.C. GEN. STAT. § 90-171.38 (2008). Levicy conducted the examination of Mangum in her capacity as a member of the DUHS and Duke University nursing staff and the DUHS SANE program as a SANE­in-Training, having been retained to provide forensic medical evidence collection and analysis services in conjunction with and for the purposes of the police investigation of Mangum’s false allegations. Defendants fail to recognize that in this capacity, Levicy acted under color of state law.

Ekstrand’s filings also address several other arguments raised by Duke and or Durham in their responses to the civil suits. He contends that the showing of racial animus toward the players by both city and Duke employees provides grounds for a civil rights suit, even though this provision of the law usually is reserved for minorities. And he also effectively challenges the Duke/Durham arguments that the case should be dismissed because players were never charged.

Perhaps the most interesting sections of the Ekstrand filings comes when he addresses the troubling pattern of the defendants—especially Duke attorneys—”in recasting Plaintiffs’ allegations to find a foothold for their arguments” Many elements of original complaint, he noted, were never addressed, in part because both Durham and (especially) Durham authorities mischaracterized the players’ claims.

He adds that “the SANE Defendants make several arguments for dismissal of Plaintiffs’ negligence claims, all of which fail because they all engage in cherry-picking and recasting the Plaintiffs’ allegations in an effort to inaccurately redefine the active course of conduct alleged by the [original] Complaint.”

This pattern most clearly manifests itself in the oddest Duke assertion—that the lacrosse players’ suit against Levicy asserted that Levicy should be liable merely because she provided evidence of a crime to police officers. Ekstrand’s reply:

The SANE Defendants forget the facts as they are alleged when they assert that allowing Plaintiffs to proceed on this Cause of Action would “deter witnesses from coming forward with evidence.” Plaintiffs hope that this action has a deterrent effect, but disagree as to what conduct will be deterred. As alleged in the [original complaint], the conduct at issue is not the act of “coming forward with evidence”; rather, the conduct to be deterred is that of the SANE Defendants: the formulation and execution of a calculated, deliberate scheme pursued by multiple parties to abuse the power of the State for the purpose of convicting innocent persons for a crime the defendants knew did not occur.

Why Duke attorneys Jamie Gorelick and Dan McLamb gave Ekstrand such an opening by wildly mischaracterizing the claims of the lacrosse players remains one of the mysteries of the civil case.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nifong's Guitars

The N&O reports:
Mike Nifong might have to part with his cherished guitars.The trustee overseeing his estate in federal bankruptcy court has asked a judge to order a public auction of the instruments Oct. 12 at 361 Ja Max Drive, Hillsborough.

This all is a result of the bankruptcy filing employed by Nifong in a thus-far unsuccessful attempt to escape from the civil suit filed by the three people he unethically prosecuted. Nifong attorney Jim Craven previously had stated that Nifong would not pay more than $34.99 in any civil suit judgment.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Attorney McSurely

In the lacrosse case "hall of infamy," few figures are more worthy of inclusion than state NAACP attorney Al McSurely. This is, after all, the man who authored the August 2006 guilt-presuming, error-laden 82-point "memorandum of law," [scroll down] which stood as the NAACP's legal "analysis" of the case.

Among its whoppers:
  • “The only Black [lacrosse] player, a freshman, left the party before the dancers arrived.” [This statement was untrue; even Nifong had never made such a claim.]
  • “The lacrosse team member asked the women to dance and simulate sex acts between them, similarly to scenes from a book and movie that several of the Lacrosse team members enjoyed reading and talking about—American Psycho.” [No evidence for either part of this assertion existed; even Kim Roberts never made such a claim.]
  • “After about three minutes of dancing . . . there were racial remarks made.” [This statement was untrue; indeed, Kim Roberts expressly denied the claim.]
  • “Other men noticed Ms. M seemed quite vulnerable after drinking the clear liquid.” [No evidence exists that “Ms. M” drank any “clear liquid”—the statements of both Roberts and the captains held that “Ms. M” drank a rum and coke, which is not clear; and, of course, the tox screen on “Ms. M” was negative.]
  • “Around 12:20, some men who saw the vulnerable Ms. M returning to the house called their friends who had taken cabs and gone to get some cash from an ATM. Some returned. Sometime between approximately 12:21 and 12:53, Ms. M has stated she was kidnapped into the bathroom, beaten, robbed, choked, and vaginally and anally raped.” [The memo, alas, was based on a timeline and theory of the crime that Nifong abandoned; the purpose of this item seemed to be to suggest that Reade Seligmann could be something other than demonstrably innocent.]
  • “The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) at Duke Hospital confirmed [the accuser’s] injuries matched her reports when she was examined about 2 hours later.” [As Nifong himself eventually conceded, this assertion was wholly false, since neither physical nor forensic evidence exists of rape.]
Well, McSurely is back on the case. The registered agent for the outfit publishing Crystal Mangum's tell-all memoir? None other than Al McSurely.

Hat tip: B.A.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Lacrosse Case & the Khalidi/Ayers Controversy

A few years ago, I testified before the Senate Education Committee about the diminution of the academy’s intellectual diversity. I spoke as a registered Democrat, and contended that the issue should concern Democrats as much as Republicans, since neither party has an interest in an academy dominated by race/class/gender groupthink.

Indeed, it seemed to me both then and now that the Democrats have much to lose from the current state of affairs in higher education. First of all, Democrats no more than Republicans should want a generation of students trained in ignorance of U.S. political structures and culture. Second, as Emory professor Mark Bauerlein most persuasively has argued, “when like-minded people deliberate as an organized group, the general opinion shifts toward extreme versions of their common beliefs.” A campus environment overwhelmingly dominated by people who occupy one side on issues of race, class, and gender has allowed extremist voices—such as the Group of 88—to become an increasingly public face of the academic “left,” thereby providing Republicans with an opportunity to discredit mainstream Democratic liberalism.

Alas, few, if any, prominent Democrats have expressed concern with the academy’s ideological one-sidedness. From the standpoint of a political realist, I suppose this disinclination shouldn’t surprise: race, class, and gender correspond politically to civil rights activists, unions, and feminists—three pillars of the Democratic Party’s base. But, as recent attacks on Barack Obama have revealed, the Democrats might have profited from addressing academic extremism before now, because the ideas of academic extremists (whether the Group of 88 in the lacrosse case or the records of Obama “associates” in the current campaign) are all but impossible to defend in the public square.

On Saturday and again yesterday, Sarah Palin brought to the surface the largely surreptitious GOP effort to link Obama with former Weathermen terrorist and current UIC education professor William Ayers. (It was ironic to see a patriotism guilt-by-association attack coming from someone whose husband belonged to a political party advocating secession from the Union.)

Yesterday, Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reported McCain campaign officials planned “to highlight Obama’s alleged contacts with individuals who they say have been linked to terrorist organizations, including controversial Columbia Prof. Rashid Khalidi . . . and Ali Abunimah, . . .who received a grant . . . approved by Wm. Ayers, Obama and Khalidi. Khalidi and his wife held a fundraiser for Obama in 2000. One strategist said: ‘Obama needs to understand he will own his friendships with individuals that are in some cases anti-American, anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist. The American people can decide whether Obama’s buddies reflect their values.’” (That Obama has been denounced by Chicago pro-Palestinian activists and has enjoyed strong support from Chicago Jewish leaders doesn’t fit this narrative, and rarely is mentioned.)

For the GOP attack to work, Ayers and Khalidi have to be viewed as exceptional figures—wholly unlike nearly all other professors. Obama’s judgment can hardly be questioned if his “buddies” were not marginal characters but instead people who resemble lots of other academics, especially since Obama lived in an academic neighborhood (Hyde Park) and spent several years teaching at the University of Chicago Law School.

Yet the truth of the matter is that the basic pedagogical and academic approaches of Ayers and Khalidi fit well within the academic mainstream. Ayers is, after all, a prestigious professor of education (hardly a field known for its intellectual diversity, as I have explored elsewhere). Khalidi was of such standing that Columbia hired him away from the U of C, and named him to chair its Middle East Studies Department. From that perch, he presided over a wildly biased anti-Israel curriculum, even as he informed readers of New York that students of Arab descent—and only such students—knew the “truth” about Middle Eastern affairs.

I agree with Palin that there’s a scandal here—but it’s not that Obama, among his hundreds of associations with academic figures, was acquainted with, and received support from, Ayers and Khalidi. The scandal is the evolution of a groupthink academic environment that has allowed figures such as Ayers and Khalidi to flourish. The tolerance for extremism is on one side and one side only: the academy doesn’t offer carte blanche endorsement to some types of unrepentant domestic terrorists or to figures who suggest that politically incorrect ethnic groups know the “truth.” Imagine the chances of someone who had bombed abortion clinics in the 1980s becoming a prominent education professor. Or consider the likelihood of a man who claimed that Jewish and only Jewish students knew the “truth” about Middle Eastern matters becoming chairman of a major Middle East Studies Department.

As anyone who followed the lacrosse case understands, professors with worldviews like those of Ayers or Khalidi are hardly out of the norm in the academy. Indeed, they would look like moderates compared to some of the Group members (notably Wahneema Lubiano or Grant Farred). If Khalidi or Ayres were employed at Duke, doubtless they would have joined the Group of 88. Likewise, many Group members enthusiastically supported Khalidi’s pet cause of divestment from Israel, just as they had backed the “diversity” educational agenda that Ayres has championed.

In this respect, the GOP attacks against Obama are fundamentally dishonest: the focus should be not on Obama but on an academic culture that has created figures like Khalidi, Ayres, or the Group of 88. Unfortunately, the Republicans have no partisan reason to focus on the educational problem, while the Democrats, because of their past record, aren’t in a position to expose the GOP’s dishonesty.

[A modified version of this post initially appeared at Cliopatria.]

[Update, 10.39am: Sol Stern, whose work I very much admire, addresses the question in today's City Journal. I agree 100% with everything he says about Ayers, and also agree with him that it's perfectly reasonable to "ask Obama what he thinks of Ayers’s views on school reform."]