Monday, March 30, 2009

Checking In with Drs. Bowen & Farred

There were a few high-profile instances in the case in which events conspired to prove a figure of authority unequivocally and publicly wrong. The most spectacular example of the pattern involved the New York Times August 25, 2006 front-page article, which asserted, “By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case heading for the rocks. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence . . . shows . . . there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.”

In his April 12, 2007 press conference, Roy Cooper stated, “We believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges . . . we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house on that night.” With those words, the attorney general of North Carolina effectively asserted that the New York Times got a major story completely wrong: there was “no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house on that night” on April 12, 2007, just as there was “no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house on that night” based on the 1850 pages of discovery files that Duff Wilson purported to have examined in August 2006.

A similar error—whose magnitude has become apparent only as time has passed—involved the trio of William Bowen, Julius Chambers, and Danielle Carr Ramdath (the latter identified in the trio’s report, for no apparent reason, as an “African-American woman”). In April 2006, Duke tasked Bowen and Chambers—who then added the “African-American woman” to their team—with evaluating the administration’s response to the lacrosse case.

We now have a clearer sense of what the administration’s mismanagement (or malevolence) in the early stages of the case cost Duke—millions of dollars in legal settlements, continuing exposure to two massive federal lawsuits, and (according to filings of its insurer) legal costs that have already exceeded $5 million.

What caused such legal exposure? Among other things: (1) The administration’s failure to enforce the university’s own anti-harassment policies; (2) The administration’s failure to enforce the Faculty Handbook; (3) The administration’s disregard of student FERPA rights; (4) The administration’s allegedly one-sided public statements; (5) The president’s failure to properly supervise one of his employees, former SANE-nurse-in-training Tara Levicy, who offered unsubstantiated and varying versions of events to local law enforcement; (6) The firing without due process or cause of former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler.

Given that Bowen, Chambers, and Carr Ramdath were supposed to—in Bowen’s own words—“address a specific set of Q[uestion]s posed to us, all of them pertaining to how the Duke administration handled a complex and very messy situation,” a reader of their final document might have encountered some analysis of exactly what the Duke administration did that exposed the university to such massive legal liability.

A reader of the actual Bowen/Chambers report would, however, find none of the above issues discussed—with the exception of the Pressler firing, with the report authors praised as “merited,” with the caveat that it might have come sooner. Instead, as could be expected from “diversity”-obsessed authors, the report focused on the need for the Duke administration to have more “diversity” (except, of course, of the intellectual type).

In 2007, Carr Ramdath informed a lacrosse parent, “We stand entirely by the report, which no one has questioned.” The statement was blatantly untrue: in the highest-profile contemporary criticism, Stuart Taylor penned a National Journal column observing how Bowen, Chambers, and Carr Ramdath appeared determined to “slime the lacrosse players in a report . . . that is a parody of race-obsessed political correctness.”

Perhaps, I wondered, the Bowen/Chambers/Carr Ramdath trio was instructed by Duke to avoid mention of any administrative conduct that might expose the university to future legal action. I posed the question to Bowen in a recent e-mail, and he denied any such limitations: “We were given total freedom to ask the Qs we thought appropriate and give the responses we thought were correct, but all within the boundaries of our—properly limited—charge.”

What was his rationalization, then, for not mentioning behavior that has cost Duke millions of dollars in a report that was supposed to analyze the Duke administration’s behavior?No part of our charge involved the conduct of the local prosecutor, the merits of the case, etc.” But, of course, Duke’s legal liability didn’t come from “the conduct of the local prosecutor” or even “the merits of the case.” It came as a result of specific decisions made or not made by Duke administrators.

Civil suits, in an ideal world, are supposed to rectify wrongdoing while also deterring against future improper behavior. In the “diversity” world of Bowen, Chambers, and Carr Ramdath, it seems, there’s still nothing the Brodhead administration should have done differently regarding the behavior that cost Duke millions of dollars.



Another figure from the ideological fringe of the case recently returned to the news. Grant Farred—the Duke literature professor who parlayed a public denunciation of Duke students who registered to vote in Durham as “secret racists” and a book claiming Yao Ming was the greatest threat to the American empire into a promotion and a tenured position at Cornell—got a mention from Stanley Fish. The New York Times web columnist featured an item on a particularly odious development in higher education: demands for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

Farred, predictably, supports the move. “The boycott or the divestment campaign,” writes he, “is the mode of political protest that is left after all other forms of struggle have been tried.” Moreover, he has claimed that such a move is fully consistent with support for academic freedom, since, “Academic freedom has to be conceived as a form of political solidarity.”

Translation: professors should be able to say or do anything they want regarding political issues, including in the classroom (as long, of course, as such actions are consistent with a race/class/gender worldview), and be able to call the action “academic.”

This was too much even for Fish—a figure who in the 1990s has defended speech codes and published a book entitled, There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech ... And It’s a Good Thing, Too.

But Farred’s anti-Israel extremism should come as no surprise: as I noted early in the case, a remarkable overlap existed between faculty anti-Israel extremists and faculty anti-lacrosse extremists. And, as with Bowen, Farred’s conduct suggests that he sees nothing wrong with his behavior in the lacrosse case.

Hat tip: E.F.


Gary Packwood said...

The Anti-Defamation League was watching Duke carefully in 2004 with respect to hate speech and activities on campus associated with the DukeDivest effort on the part of several faculty members.
An upcoming gathering of anti-Israel student activists at Duke University has the potential for engendering the same "extreme anti-Israel invective" that has tainted past pro-Palestinian events on campuses and contributed to feelings of fear and intimidation among Jewish students and faculty members, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

In the run-up to the fourth National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), scheduled for October 15-17 (2004) on Duke's North Carolina campus, organizers have declined overtures by Jewish student groups to denounce Palestinian terrorism while moving ahead with plans to invite an array of strongly anti-Israel speakers – including one well-known anti-Semite – to address students with a strongly anti-Israel message.
Googe > Duke Divest < for additional information.

Anonymous said...

As K.C. recognized early in this whole case, the REAL story was not the misconduct of the police and prosecution, as bad as it was. After all, police and prosecutors lie as a matter of course, and they have been lying for years.

Duke's actions ultimately were the real story, and they were the main reason why this thing had the early outcome that it did. When a university literally teams up with a corrupt prosecutor to indict and try to convict innocent people, then we are in a new dimension.

There is an ideological slant to what Duke did, or, to put it another way, Duke did what it did for two reasons: (1) to satisfy the ideology of its newest faculty "stars," those faculty members who were the worst on campus in their academic achievements, and (2) to try to mollify the community so it could have its cherished expansion of the "Duke Village" that the administration wanted so badly.

For all of this, we had people lying and breaking the law. Interestingly, the Bowen-Chambers Report was that fig leaf that covered the administration's activities. My sense is that the administration was hoping this report would somehow keep the administration of being accused of wrongdoing, or that it would serve as a defense if Duke were to be sued.

In fact, as we have seen in the university's legal filings, it is accusing the lacrosse players of indecent and racist behavior.

Debrah said...

Duke University and the city of Durham have a perverted relationship.

Built on usury.

There are a few groups in this country who would have no identity without perpetual grievance.

Make no mistake, as much as they scream and complain about being "marginalized" and "othered", they love the idea that they can self-segregate.

It's profitable in myriad ways.

Not the least of those ways being a built-in excuse to do things their way because they are "othered".

"Thingifications" is a word that people like Tim Tyson---(someone who couldn't lecture his way out of a paper bag if not for using religion and syrupy Southern tales)---has taken from MLK, who used it to characterize a very different set of circumstances.

We--(you and I and especially the academy)---have elevated such "leaders" from the black community as Julius Chambers and the late John Hope Franklin as well as others into people who have been authentically interested in equality and justice for a better world.

In truth, the bulk of everything they have ever done has been a kind of self-massaging and chronicling of their own lives. There is no doubt if anyone has ever sat through one of their presentations that the true objective is a kind of revenge or as Thomas Sowell puts it, "cosmic justice".

Even today, after such largesse has been extended for so long and continues to be extended, there is an attitude that what they want, they get.

If not, this is a "mean country". A "racist country".

To ameliorate what we see on the police blotter every day, people like Chambers and Bowen and the kindergarten academics at Duke were dying for Mangum's accusations to be true.

This wasn't just a "perfect storm" as some have described it.

It was the jackpot of a lifetime.

It was to be the story that would be used for their entire future careers as subject matter for their courses.

It was to serve as the the basis for innumerable "othered" and "thingification" stories to be told to their graandchildren.

Effectively, ensuring that the race business would continue to be lucrative for at least another century.

Even people like Julius Chambers who has billed himself as a pillar of society for justice could not let go of this lucrative and sexy fairy tale.

An affirmation of their very existence.....even if a fantastic lie.

Locomotive Breath said...

For those who don't know, Duke had Fish as Head of the English Department from 1982 to 1990. He is principally responsible for radicalizing and wrecking that department. While he and many of his hirelings have left, his legacy lives on in the attitude of many faculty towards their normal well-adjusted mainstream students.

The Department That Fell to Earth -
The Deflation of Duke English

jamil hussein said...

After watching Indoctrinate U, I thought about why not having a movie or documentary about Duke Lacrosse Hoax. Hollywood movie is probably out of question, as it does not fit the narrative. Boston Legal may have an episode (in which Nifong-like prosecutor is a member of KKK and KC-like hero is head of NC NAACP).

So, only hope to see this someday on TV is to have a documentary. Of course, no MSM channel will show it and anybody involved with it will be blacklisted..What a sad country.

Anonymous said...

Is Bowen a Communist?

Anonymous said...


Well put.

Anonymous said...

Movie title:

"An Inconvenient Hoax"

qa said...

KC - you succinctly epitomize the PC mind-set in your “most spectacular example of the pattern” in this case “in which events conspired to prove a figure of authority unequivocally and publicly wrong” :

“...the New York Times August 25, 2006 front-page article, which asserted, “By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case heading for the rocks. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence . . . shows . . . there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.”

It reminded me of the inquiry into the arithmetic knowledge of a little boy raised in an entrepreneurial household.

When asked “ What is two plus two?” The little boy responded “ Buying or selling?”

Adapting the NYT spin to this perspective its assertion becomes:

“By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case for two plus two making three. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence . . . shows . . . there is also a body of evidence to support his decision that two plus two make five.”

skwilli said...

Fighting these entrenched ideologues must be like spitting into a hurricane or better yet trying to change the pH of the ocean with a little urine. But keep going KC, I'm listening, and apparently others as well.

Anonymous said...

“By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case for two plus two making three. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence . . . shows . . . there is also a body of evidence to support his decision that two plus two make five.”

Very smart.

Reminds me of a famous response by a 19th century intellectual (Josiah Royce?) who when asked what follows if 2+2+5, responded: "everything and nothing."

Duke Prof

Debrah said...


'Oscar Wao' chosen as Duke summer book
Mar 31, 2009

DURHAM -- "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz has been selected by a committee of Duke University students, faculty and staff as the summer reading for the incoming Class of 2013.

Published in 2007, Diaz spent more than a decade writing this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which tells the story of Oscar Wao, his unusual family and his epic journey across international and cultural boundaries.

A major appeal of the book, according to the Summer Reading selection committee, is that almost any reader can find a connection, in some way, with the story.

"There are certain qualities in the characters and experiences in this book that almost any Duke student can relate to," said Meg Foran, Trinity '10, a student member of the selection committee. "You might be struggling with weight, or feel unpopular, or have love troubles, or you might be from a foreign country. Oscar's experiences are the experiences we all go through."

Carol Apollonio, associate professor of the practice of Russian and co-chair of the selection committee, loves the book for its artistry and its readability. "To start with, this is great literature. I think it's the best fictional work we've chosen. Diaz is a master of words," she said. "At the same time, the story is engaging and very accessible. It's good food for the mind."

Summer reading for incoming students is intended to create a common touch-point for introductions, social and intellectual interactions, and community-building.

"The selection was close, but the students on the committee unanimously chose this book," said Todd Adams, associate dean of students for the New Students & Family program and co-chair of the selection committee. "It's a story that has the ability to appeal to 1,700 students from varying backgrounds and reading interests. I have no doubt this will generate great conversation."

A special printing of the book will be mailed to members of the Duke Class of 2013 this summer.

Gary Packwood said...

Locomotive Breath 3/30/09 :: 10:09 said...

...For those who don't know, Duke had Fish as Head of the English Department from 1982 to 1990. He is principally responsible for radicalizing and wrecking that department. While he and many of his hirelings have left, his legacy lives on in the attitude of many faculty towards their normal well-adjusted mainstream students.

The Department That Fell to Earth -
The Deflation of Duke English
Concerning the helpful article offered by Locomotive Breath, it is interesting to note that Richard Brodhead was on a external review committee for the Duke English Department back in 1992.

Apparently Duke had recruited many academic showmen (S.H.O.W.P.E.R.S.O.N.S) who were responsible radicalizing the department, as Locomotive Breath mentioned.

I can't help but wonder if the anti-Israel faculty activists on campus a decade later knew they were going to have problem with 'traction' if Duke was recruiting students from New York and New Jersey as lacrosse athletes.

It must be difficult to function as a radical anti-Israel faculty 'mob' with bright young students from the East Coast on campus.

Perhaps it was worth the trouble for the radicals to run off the men's lacrosse coach.



...In retrospect, the report of an external review committee that visited the department in April 1992, toward the end of Fish’s term as chair, has an eerie, prophetic power–as if written by a chorus of Cassandras.

The reviewers, Richard Brodhead, Myra Jehlen, Del Kolve, and Jerome McGann, issued a number of stern warnings. "The need to acquire distinguished faculty and to create the conditions that would lure them properly dominated the department’s agenda in recent years, and made civic issues–issues of the faculty’s duties at the school it moved to–a recessive concern," they wrote.

Was the graduate program "sufficiently rigorous"? the committee wondered. Eight courses, they noted, were all the course work required to obtain an English Ph.D. at Duke–significantly fewer than elsewhere. (The reviewers had the same reservation about the undergraduate requirements, noting that "the number of courses that make a major in English at Duke–eight–is strikingly low compared to other schools of comparable quality.") At the same time, they observed, graduate students were expected to carry a relatively heavy 2—1 teaching load beginning in their second year. (Presumably this policy allowed the department to compensate for the sweet deals that guaranteed its star hires permanently reduced teaching loads and other special considerations.) Too little foundational course work and too much grad student teaching, the reviewers implied, added up to–if not exploitation exactly, then at least inadequate preparation for a tenure-track job. "We are not persuaded, in view of the dismal job market all Ph.D. programs have recently faced, that Duke’s light requirements for extensive expertise are the sole cause of its sorry recent placement record," they wrote, "but it is a fact that the structure of its program virtually discourages generality of preparation.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Farred would blame the murder of Eve Carson on "white privilege" as he does everything else.

Jim in San Diego said...

Locomotive Breath, at 10:09, attaches an intriguing link to his comment.

In 1998, Duke apparently conducted an "external review" as part of a "routine six year evaluation" of the English Department. The review concluded the English Department had deteriorated badly since the prior review, and steps needed to be taken to arrest the decline.

Question: Does Duke conduct "routine external reviews" of ALL departments? Has Duke conducted such an external review of, say, AAS or its sister departments, ever? Has there been any external review done since the trend towards giving tenure to applicants with no genuine scholarly credentials began?

This reader, raised and educated in an alternate universe which rewarded merit and made decisions based on verifiable facts, has always wondered from afar if there is some higher review of what has happened within certain academic departments? Or not? Does anyone have additional information?

Jim Peterson

kcjohnson9 said...

To Jim:

Yes: all departments at accredited universities have to undergo periodic outside reviews.

In the case of the Group of 88-dominated departments, however, the reviewers would almost certainly be outside professors sympathetic to the Group. (Unless the administration is hostile to a department--obviously not the case with the Group at Duke--departments get substantial informal input into the selection of the outside evaluators.)

Anonymous said...

as I noted early in the case, a remarkable overlap existed between faculty anti-Israel extremists and faculty anti-lacrosse extremists.

One of the striking things about the Group O' 88 is there is just one member of the hard sciences in the group, physicist Ronen Plesser.

Who is an Israeli.

My prediction? The destruction of Israel will not come from the arabs, but from the self-hating Jews...

Debrah said...

TO (1:44 PM)--


Wish you weren't posting such a fallacy anonymously.

Perhaps then an honest conversation might take place instead of such a broad generalization.

The Jews have survived through the ages.

Having been special genocidal targets all over the globe as well as inside the steaming cauldron of the Middle East whose vast majority wish to remain locked inside a 7th century mentality.



Debrah said...

Take a look at this for a dose of corruption in the justice system.

One Spook said...

In this post, KC Johnson writes:

"With those words, the attorney general of North Carolina effectively asserted that The New York Times got a major story completely wrong"

And The Times continues to get it wrong.

The US House of Representative is presently conducting hearings in its House Judiciary subcommittee on potential violations of federal election laws by ACORN.

During the 2008 campaign, New York Times reporter, Stephanie Strom, was working on a story on ACORN activities with information provided to her by a confidential informant at ACORN.

Testimony during the hearing on March 19, 2009 revealed that reporter Strom stated that her editors at The New York Times wanted her to kill the story because “it was a game changer.”

This is eerily reminiscent of the removal of Times reporter, Joe Drape, who had covered the Duke lacrosse hoax initially, as KC wrote in July 2007, “In fact, the initial Times reporter on the case, Joe Drape, was given extraordinary access to defense sources in late March and early April.”

And, from UPI, " early April Drape called [a lawyer for a lacrosse player] and said that there would be no article [on the evidence of innocence provided by that lawyer] because he was 'having problems with the editors.' 'From my perspective,' [the lawyer] recalled later, 'the interest of The Times in defense information came to a slow crawl with the departure of Drape. (my emphasis)

"And soon after Drape privately told people at Duke and, presumably, at the Times that this looked like a hoax, his byline disappeared from the Duke lacrosse story. The word among people at Duke and defense supporters, including one who later ran into Drape at the race track, was that the editors wanted a more pro-prosecution line. They also wanted to stress the race-sex-class angle with dwelling on evidence of innocence. They got what they wanted from Drape's replacement, Duff Wilson, whose reporting would become a journalistic laughingstock by summer..."

Same craven, dishonest behavior by The Times; different subject.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

And I might add, that the public editor as much as admitted it when, following the Cooper findings and the Nifong disbarment, he addressed the issue following numerous letters to The Times on that very issue.

Anonymous said...

Also, the make-up of most humanities departments is not entirely accidental -- NEA / NEH grants have historically been disbursed in a pattern that helps to create a very uneven playing field.

Debrah said...

Former Washington Post editor to teach at Duke.

One Spook said...

In the article about the former Washington Post editor, Phillip Bennett, linked above, he has plenty of company in former "journalists" looking for work. But be careful not to read these lines if you're drinking coffee near your computer monitor:

“We expect that he [Bennett] will catalyze our effort to explore how, as developments render the old business models obsolete, the watchdog function of the press can be sustained,” said Sanford Institute Director Bruce Kuniholm in a statement. "

To me, it's amazing how the dead tree media continues to delude itself that its failure is due to "old business models."

Newspaper subscriptions have declined steadily since 1970, long before "developments" such as the internet came to affect newspapers.

And, the idea that the media even remotely performs a "watchdog function" is laughable in the extreme. The mainstream media is a slavering fox watching the hen house. It has lied to the American public to a far greater degree than those institutions it purports to "watch" could ever hope to do.

Sadly, the examples of the biased and false reporting of the Duke lacrosse hoax and the same in many, many other important events are the rule rather than the exception. The extant lack of ideological diversity that precipitated the decline of the mainstream media should serve as an important harbinger for the academy.

KC Johnson and others have sounded that alarm in the academy, and the example of the lack of concern about race, class, and gender cabals, such as Duke's Group of 88, does not bode well for the future of the American academy.

Newspapers will not disappear but they are today about as useful and relevant in communication as sealing wax.

One Spook

bill anderson said...

Gee, maybe our friend from the Washington Post can explain to Duke students why his paper's coverage of the lacrosse case was so dishonest, exceeded only by the "Newspaper of Record," the NY Times, and the Durham Herald-Sun.

Here is another hack -- and that is what he is -- being dressed up in academic robes. Who is the next "distinguished" journalist that Duke will hire? Duff Wilson? Tom Jolly? It would fit the profile that Duke has created.

Debrah said...

This just in:

While on a whirlwind schedule of lecturing at various universities in Prague, Wahneema Lubiano was extended an invitation to dine with the President of the Czech Republic.

April Fools!

Debrah said...

Nifong's former lawyer, David Freedman, is now defending a former assistant district attorney for her criminal deeds.

bill anderson said...

Now, this is very interesting. The state is bringing "obstruction of justice" charges against these people, yet the investigative apparatus of the State of North Carolina was unable to find any way to investigate Nifong, Levicy, and the Durham police?

It seems to me that the state, in retrospect, decided to punt the case to the feds, and the feds punted it back to them. If they can bring charges against people like Cindy Jaeger, why did Nifong get off scot-free? If the traffic case was "obstruction of justice," just what the heck was the Duke Lacrosse Case? If that does not define obstruction of justice, what does?

Anonymous said...

This item is from the Wilkes Barre PA Times Leader:

"Former Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan pleaded guilty on Feb. 12 to charges they accepted more than $2.6 million in kickbacks in exchange for rulings that benefited two juvenile centers."

These two justices(?) had an arrangement with the two, privately run, juvenile detention centers to receive kickbacks for every juvenile they sentenced to the centers.

Juveniles were brought in on ridiculous charges, given very brief, peremptory hearings, denied access to counsel and then sentenced.

I saw an item about one of the justices facing legal action. His defense against the suit is, he had immunity for anything he did from the bench, even if what he did was corrupt. The item was in the Myrtle Beach Sun News.

I have seen nothing in the news, however, whether they were nifong classmates. This defense seems to be the defense nifong is trying to put over.

bill anderson said...

The more I think of it, the more I realize that there is a literary example of the G88: the Snopes family from William Faulkner's The Hamlet. How ironic that these fraudsters came in after Stanley Fish took over the English department!