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KC Johnson on New Duke Hoax Scholarship.--

KC Johnson has a long post taking apart a recent scholarly article on the Duke Rape Hoax by three faculty members — Wahneema Lubiano, Michael Hardt, and Robyn Weigman -- the first two of whom were involved in stirring up hatred against the Lacrosse players.

Apparently, some of the Social Text article is unintentionally funny:

Lubiano, Weigman, and Hardt had little difficulty in identifying the true victims of 2006-2007 events in Durham—themselves, and their fellow members of the Group of 88.

The victimizers? Not Mike Nifong, or Sgt. Gottlieb, or Duke administrators who failed to enforce the Faculty Handbook. Not the Duke professors who rushed to judgment or abused their classroom authority. No, the victimizers, according to the Lubiano Trio, were "the blogs."

According to the Lubiano Trio, "the most extreme marginalization was reserved for the faculty whose professional expertise made them most competent to engage the discourses on race and gender unleashed by the inaugurating incident — scholars of African American and women's studies. Instead, administrators, like the bloggers themselves, operated under the assumption that everyone was an expert on matters of race and gender, while actually existing academic expertise was recast as either bias or a commitment to preconceived notions about the legal case. Some faculty thus found themselves in the unenviable position of being the targets of public discourse (and disparaged for their expertise on race and gender) without being legitimate participants in it."

If the Group's expertise made its members "most competent to engage the discourses on race and gender unleashed by the inaugurating incident," there was nothing, to my knowledge, to prevent them from doing so. Instead, of course, Group members by and large pursued an opposite approach. They rushed to judgment in issuing their statement when most people presumed the lacrosse players guilty—and then, when the case started to collapse, they either refused to explain their earlier position or offered almost comical rationalizations for their spring 2006 statements and actions.

The Lubiano Trio's new narrative requires some . . . creative . . . re-interpretations of the past. To take some examples:

The Group of 88's Ad

Here's how the Lubiano Trio's article described the Group of 88's ad: It "sought to grapple with issues of campus life and the cultures of privilege sustained by elite institutions such as Duke University."

Yet here's how Lubiano herself described the ad in early April 2006, when she invited people to sign: "African & African-American Studies is placing an ad in The Chronicle about the lacrosse team incident [emphasis added] . . . We will not be listing the names on the ad itself (only the supporting departments and program units)."

The Lubiano Trio's article makes no mention of this inviting e-mail, nor the ad's unequivocal assertion that something "happened" to Crystal Mangum, nor the ad's thanking—"for not waiting and for making yourselves heard"—the protesters who had presumed guilt, nor the ad's claim that five departments officially endorsed its contents even though none of the departments actually voted on the matter. It remains unclear how any of the above items relate to "issues of campus life and the cultures of privilege sustained by elite institutions such as Duke University."

The Blogs

Intoned the Lubiano Trio, "The latter framing [focusing on the accuracy of the allegations] was embodied most prominently by Friends of Duke University, an organization formed to raise money for the defendants."

What are they talking about? FODU, a grassroots organization of Duke alumni and supporters, was created in summer 2006 not to raise money for the defendants but to urge the Duke administration to publicly demand that Durham authorities accord to Duke students the same due process rights granted to all other Durham residents.

The Lubiano Trio appears to have confused FODU (which wasn't a fundraising organization) with the Association for Truth and Fairness, the organization that did raise money to help defray the defendants' legal bills.

The only problem: the ATF wasn't a blog—which makes its existence irrelevant to the Lubiano Trio's commentary on the blogosphere.

The Media's Role

The Lubiano Trio informed their readers that "the television newsweekly 60 Minutes aired five segments on the topic, and stories appeared in the New Yorker, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated, on the editorial pages of every major newspaper in the country, and on local and national evening newscasts."

Actually, 60 Minutes ran three, not five, segments on the topic. And the New York Times, which most people (especially, I suspect, members of the Group of 88) would consider a "major newspaper in the country," did not publish an editorial on the case.

The Defense Attorneys and the Group of 88

After scouring the defense attorneys' change-of-venue motion, the Lubiano Trio concluded, "Since its publication, the ad has figured prominently in both campus and media debate and was cited as evidence in a defense motion for change of venue, on the assertion that the accused players could not receive a fair trial in a town in which prominent community members, including faculty, had failed publicly to defend their innocence."

In fact, the December 2006 defense motion contained no such assertion. (The Lubiano Trio's article contains a footnote citing the defense motion, but the authors, perhaps unsurprisingly, elected not to specify a page number in which this assertion allegedly was made.) To my knowledge, no defense lawyer, at any stage of the case, stated that "prominent community members, including faculty, had failed publicly to defend [the players'] innocence." Defense attorneys spoke about the presumption of innocence—a far different thing than an outright declaration of innocence. And many critics of the Group of 88, including me, spoke of the need for academics, of all groups in American society, to speak up for due process—which is also a far different thing than an outright declaration of innocence.

That the Lubiano Trio equated calls for professors to defend due process and the presumption of innocence with demands that academics actually affirm the players' innocence gives a sense of how skewed were Group members' conception of the justice system. . . .

Blog Criticism of the Group

Blogs, according to the Lubiano Trio, used "powerful tactics of harassment" against members of the Group. "Typically we [Group members] should . . . work as maids for the players' families [or] return to the slave quarters." Group members "have also been found guilty of numerous crimes, including treason, sedition, and tax evasion(!)."

Although the Lubiano Trio's article does contain footnotes, the Group members elected to supply not even one citation for any of these outlandish claims. It doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out why.

What does the inclusion of these unsourced ramblings say about the editorial policies of the Duke University Press journal Social Text?

Here is what the scholars wrote in Social Text regarding the Group of 88:

[They] would become the objects not simply of hostility, on campus and off, but also of enormous faux-juridical speculation that sets forth the "legal" case against them and establishes the terms of the judgment they "owe" to make amends. (Typically we should resign, work as maids for the players' families, return to the slave quarters, apologize, or simply hide in shame. At the very least, as Joseph W. Bellacosa has argued in a Newsday opinion piece, "Duke Faculty Should Be Shunned by Students."). . . . In the language of the blogs, we were not just communists but traitors, and the fields of study we occupied were not areas of scholarly inquiry but pathological hothouses in the service of anti-American sentiment and reverse racism.

Here is the confusingly written footnote supporting the last quoted sentence:

A number of blogs have focused on discrediting the scholarly projects of specific members of the so-called 88 as a means of casting suspicion on their possible standing in the Communist Party and their complicity with terrorism and anti-Israeli sentiment. They have also been found guilty of numerous crimes, including treason, sedition, and tax evasion.

First, I strongly doubt that suggestions that the offending professors should "work as maids" or "return to the slave quarters" were "Typically" offered by their critics. Indeed, in a very quick Google search, I couldn't find any instances of these two suggestions. Such disgusting insults must have been relatively rarely made by their editorial and blogger critics, if made by them at all.

Second, the way that the footnote's comment about being a communist is presented makes it appear that such a claim is unwarranted. But according to a mainstream news magazine review of Johnson's book, Michael Hardt is a "self-described 'joyful communist.'" Is Hardt now implying that he was misquoted, or is he objecting to people describing him in the same terms that he describes himself? Certainly, there is nothing sleazy about calling a self-described communist a communist, just as it would be fair to call a self-described fascist a fascist.

Third, as KC Johnson notes, it was bad form for the professors not to have supported their claims about the blogs with actual citations to the offending posts. Assuming that the professors are not engaged in their own little hoax, I wonder whether their complaints about blogs aren't mostly about commenters to the blogs, rather than the posts of actual bloggers. Given the three professors' documented sloppiness with the truth and their unusual claims in their new article, the editors of Social Text should have required citations before allowing them to make such questionable claims in a scholarly article. (Indeed, it's not too late for the editors to publish an errata online giving citations for each claim I quoted and indicating which of them were actually made by bloggers themselves.)

Last, why do these Duke professors bother to write about the Duke lacrosse hoax if they are not going to deal with their own actions honestly? If they can't simply face the truth, they should put down their shovels and stop digging.

Sua Tremendita (mail):
Excellent post. It saddens me to think that children of the supposed "elite" will have to take classes from these clowns and - be still my pounding heart - maybe develop a world view on the basis of these classes.
5.8.2008 2:55am
swg:
I wonder if this sort of thing is bad for the future of these new "fields" -- "fields inaugurated by twentieth-century social movements (African American studies, women's studies, sexuality studies, ethnic studies)." When the scholars in these fields publish (and then vigorously defend) such poor work, I'm tempted to think that the low quality work is a product of the field and not the practitioners. So, "these Duke professors bother to write about the Duke lacrosse hoax" dishonestly because they can't do it any other way after having been indoctrinated in their field. (I imagine there'd be quite an uproar among scholars in one of those fields if one of their own came out in support of the lacrosse players...)
5.8.2008 3:11am
cirby (mail):
Social Text?

Social Text?

This Social Text?

Sheesh, they sure picked the right place for THIS article...
5.8.2008 4:02am
Asher (mail):
I go to Duke and was around during the whole flap, and I have to say that, while the signatories of this ad acted in a horribly unprofessional manner (and the ad wasn't the worst of it - one professor, Houston Baker, called for the players' expulsion and more or less said there was no doubt that a rape had occurred*), their sentiments weren't so far from the student body's. I never thought the story made much sense, but very few people I knew agreed with me. The conversation was at least much one over whether they'd "get off" than whether they really did it. And I should also say that Hardt, at least, is one of the brightest guys in Marxist Studies around, though "bright guy in Marxist Studies" may sound like an oxymoron. That being said, I hope we could all agree that offering courses on a thinker as (balefully) influential as Marx is more than defensible.

* Still, these women [women he teaches in his class and claims were terrified by the lack of a strong response on Duke's part] will surely sleep better this evening than the black woman injured at 610 Buchanan Boulevard by the white lacrosse team's out-of-control violent partying will ever again rest in her life.
5.8.2008 4:43am
ReaderY:
I didn't know Duke gave out scholarships for excellence in hoaxing. Do they have a hoax team? Is it harder to be on a Duke hoax scholarship then it is to be on a Duke athletic scholarship?

Or perhaps he and Duke thought he was on a scholarship but the donor's check bounced.
5.8.2008 8:11am
PersonFromPorlock:
There you go: everyone does have a right to his own facts.
5.8.2008 8:42am
common sense (www):

the most extreme marginalization was reserved for the faculty whose professional expertise made them most competent to engage the discourses on race and gender unleashed by the inaugurating incident


It seems that they commented, by erroneously attacking the accused. They were incredibly wrong. Why should they be given the presumption of competence? Why shouldn't they be marginalized when their track record shows an obvious disregard for the truth and legal process in favor of accusing people who did commit the crime of not fitting into their study groups by not being women or african-american. I'm all for academic freedom, but I already felt the Group of 88 deserved some censure, and this article shows they do not even realize they did anything wrong. I do not think people like this should be teaching. {Bias alert: I doubt the need for women's studies as well}

while actually existing academic expertise was recast as either bias or a commitment to preconceived notions about the legal case.

Didn't they do this recasting themselves? I took their public stand to be an expression of their views. Their views were obviously not based on facts but on accusations and lies. Isn't rushing to accusation with such little knowledge evidence of bias? Its at the very least poor science. If these teachers conduct their "research" in such a manner, I question the quality of anything they produce.
5.8.2008 8:45am
jvarisco (mail) (www):
Since when were African American and women's studies scholarly disciplines?

There are people who study race and gender in a scholarly way. They are in social science and biology departments.
5.8.2008 8:49am
ruralcounsel (mail) (www):
Seems as if they still haven't learned the basic life lesson ...

Actions have consequences.

But that tends to be consistent with their academic study areas (laments of the perpetual victims of society) too.
5.8.2008 9:21am
justme:
Since when were African American and women's studies scholarly disciplines?

Since academia needed a way to promote incompetent people who couldn't study a real subject.
5.8.2008 9:23am
Fedka The Convict (mail):

KC Johnson has a long post taking apart a recent scholarly article on the Duke Rape Hoax by three faculty members — Wahneema Lubiano, Michael Hardt, and Robyn Weigman -- the first two of whom were involved in stirring up hatred against the Lacrosse players.


That's not entirely true. Steven Baldwin, one of the two or three professors who spoke up for the players was viciously smeared as a racist by Robyn Weigman and forced to apologize and retract a letter he published in the Duke Chronicle.

Here's how Weigman responded to Baldwin's letter:


I read with amazement Tuesday's Chronicle and the opinion by my colleague Steven Baldwin, who finds the faculty response to the Duke lacrosse scandal one that warrants their being "tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail and removed from the academy." In a guest column in the same issue as a story about the panel at the law school last Friday, in which many participants proclaimed the over emphasis of media reportage of race, class, gender and privilege last spring, one can only wonder what symbolic world is being culled here and denied all at once?

Being tarred and feathered is the language of lynching, and the practice of lynching was rarely one that eventuated in a court case of any kind, let alone one in which the defendants claim 10 minutes on one of the most important television programs in the United States. My disappointment in Duke right now is that it wants to avoid the analysis of the language and history of race, instead of using this moment-in its broad social implications-to actually study it. We can all have our opinions about the court case, but the time now is for engaging, as a university, the harder project of cultivating a community of actors who value and perform studied critical thought. Journalism can aspire to that as well.


Robyn Wiegman

Margaret Taylor Smith Director Women's Studies

Professor, Women's Studies and Literature
5.8.2008 9:25am
Hoosier:
The REAL "real victims"?

Kiddos who are graduating Duke with $60-80K in student loans as the cost of an "education" delivered by Yahoos such as these.
5.8.2008 10:26am
rarango (mail):
At least Duke has a good basketball team; much of the faculty appears to lunatics.
5.8.2008 10:36am
Dude Cool:
What makes this sad is that it isn't about Duke. My college and law school would have reacted the same way.
5.8.2008 10:38am
The Ace:
The best part:

Crystal Gail Mangum graduated last week from North Carolina Central University. No sanctions were ever imposed on her by any legal authority or academic authority.

If the Duke lacrosse boys had made up a fake assault against a minority or group of minorities, we can rest assured that the Duke faculty would be sure that they were subject to discipline.
5.8.2008 10:45am
delurking (mail):

Being tarred and feathered is the language of lynching,


I thought being "tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail" was what they did to you when they caught you cheating while gambling. What is its relationship to race?
5.8.2008 10:47am
rbj:
Tarring and feathering is what colonists did to British tax collectors &Tory sympathizers before &during the Revolution. It was far different from hanging someone.
5.8.2008 10:59am
Mikeyes (mail):
It must be me, but I never associated "Tar and Feathering" with racial lynching. I can't seem to find instances of killing persons due to their race by this method but, as the Wikipedia article points out, it has been used as a method of public humiliation by vigilante groups for centuries and has a well known metaphorical use in literature. The transformation of T&F to lynching seems like a hard case to make in general, especially when the metaphor is true.

As an historical aside, the most common use of Tar and Feathers seems to be taking place in Northern Ireland, the home of my ancestors.

I will let you decide on the context and scholarly content of the above open letter by the Professor of Woman's Studies and Literature from Duke University.
5.8.2008 11:06am
James Lindgren (mail):
Ace,

Actually, I disagree with KC Johnson on whether NCCU should have disciplined Mangum. Whether off-campus crimes should be the subject of campus discipline is a thorny issue. Generally -- though not in every case -- I think they shouldn't.

Fedka,

Thanks for the info on Wiegman.
5.8.2008 11:20am
advisory opinion:
This has been addressed before. See this particularly illuminating comment from "Prof. Ethan" in the comment thread here:
I have checked with colleagues in my Dept who are knowledgable in African-American history, one of whom (Ira Berliln) is among the top three scholars in this field in the country. Both my colleagues said that in NO CASE--NO CASE--was tarring and feathering and riding the rail associated with lynching, including the lynching of African Americans. . . .

Wiegman the Head of Women's Studies either knew what she was doing--namely, fastening on a superficial weakness in Baldwin's letter and using it to obliterate the legitimate issue Baldwin had raised (which was the behavior of the Humanities faculty), replacing it instead with the explosive but utterly false issue of Baldwin's own "use of language associated with lynching of black people", or else Wiegman was a victim of the very hysteria which is associated with the Humanities and Social Sciences at Duke . . .

In either case, Wiegman did enormous damage to Baldwin on the basis of an utterly false accusation. Baldwin was forced to apologize publilcly, but in reality it is Wiegman who owes Baldwin--and the entire Duke community--an apology, for wrenching up the racial tensions in an already tense environment, on the basis of an utterly false accusation.
5.8.2008 11:20am
Houston Lawyer:
"the most extreme marginalization was reserved for the faculty whose professional expertise made them most competent to engage the discourses on race and gender unleashed by the inaugurating incident — scholars of African American and women's studies. Instead, administrators, like the bloggers themselves, operated under the assumption that everyone was an expert on matters of race and gender, while actually existing academic expertise was recast as either bias or a commitment to preconceived notions about the legal case."

So at least they understand that the rest of the world (1)calls BS on their claims for expertise and (2) knows what their agendas are. The university would be better off if it dissolved all of its ethnic and gender grievance programs.
5.8.2008 11:25am
Orson Buggeigh:
Good catch, professor L. I was going to cite this recent piece by KC Johnson and the Duke profs _Social Text_ article in a response to Latinist" on the post a few days ago referencing The Kors article on the degradation of scholarship by political advocacy in the humanities and social sciences.

For those who do not think this is a serious problem, think again. For Latinist, Kors cited several works by other academics which show how womens studies and African American Studies have advanced political tracts which do not conform to scholarly rigor as 'scholarship' for their programs. The same can be seen as well in American Indian studies - Ward Churchill is exhibit A. There are probably similar problems in any program based on identity politics. I think the best over-view ( in a publication by academics from a real, academic press, I might add) is: Gross, Paul R. and Norman Levitt. Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Ward Churchill's record has been carefully debunked by LeVelle and Brown, as well as the Rocky Mountain News. Garbage published by fringe publishers working out of garages for the most part. Allegedly first rate scholarly output from graduate faculty worthy of a PhD granting research university? Not at all, but it is what the historians who buy into this call 'usable history.' The same applies to much of what is published in any of the ethnic or gender identity studies. These are departments with a political mission, rather than seeking knowledge for its own sake.

As for the recent Social Text piece, well, Johnson demolishes any notion that it might qualify as scholarship in any self-respecting college or university. Unfortunately, it is not just Duke. Dude Cool is correct. His school would come down the same way, and I suspect most public colleges and universities would. The ones in my state seem to be pretty much in line with the underlying thought seen at Duke.

One last thought. How many more examples of this corruption do we need before academics realize that there is something seriously wrong in the ivory tower? Just another example of what's wrong. Thanks Dr. Lindgren, and Dr. Johnson. Academe is in desperate need of fumigation. Keep shining the sunlight in!
5.8.2008 11:28am
Hoosier:
Orson: The problem with letting the sunlight in:

In academia, "sunlight" is NOT the "best disinfectant." It is constructed as an assault upon those who are brought into the light. And, if they belong to a "protected group" . . .

Well, given the insights in your above post, I don't think I need to tell YOU how my sentence ends.
5.8.2008 11:38am
Keith in Dallas (mail):

...the fields of study we occupied were not areas of scholarly inquiry but pathological hothouses in the service of anti-American sentiment and reverse racism.


Wow, that is an incredibly concise and accurate description of these types of contrived social fields. I wish I could have thought of it.
5.8.2008 11:42am
wfjag:

ruralcounsel:

Seems as if they still haven't learned the basic life lesson ...

Actions have consequences.

But that tends to be consistent with their academic study areas (laments of the perpetual victims of society) too.


For people who aren't tenured Professors at Tier 1 Universities, I agree that actions have consequences. But, please remind me of what consequences members of the Gang or 88, or their howling crowds of supporters, have faced?
5.8.2008 11:56am
ejo:
at least working as a maid or toilet cleaner would be honest and less harmful to society than the garbage spewed by these "intellectuals" of the creative class.
5.8.2008 11:57am
Triangle_Man:

what consequences members of the Gang or 88, or their howling crowds of supporters, have faced?


They were blogged about. The horror!
5.8.2008 12:02pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

at least working as a maid or toilet cleaner would be honest and less harmful to society than the garbage spewed by these "intellectuals" of the creative class.


I would not say that the work maids, toilet cleaners (and garbage collectors) do is Less harmful to society, I would say it is Beneficial to society.
5.8.2008 12:10pm
Fub:
Mikeyes wrote at 5.8.2008 10:06am:
It must be me, but I never associated "Tar and Feathering" with racial lynching. I can't seem to find instances of killing persons due to their race by this method but, as the Wikipedia article points out, it has been used as a method of public humiliation by vigilante groups for centuries and has a well known metaphorical use in literature. The transformation of T&F to lynching seems like a hard case to make in general, especially when the metaphor is true.
One of the most widely known references in American literature is John Greenleaf Whittier's 1857 satirical poem "Skipper Ireson's Ride", once known to ordinary high school graduates, but perhaps unknown to these learned Duke professors. Whittier was inspired by an 1808 incident in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

How anybody could construe that as racial lyching is beyond my comprehension.
5.8.2008 12:14pm
ejo:
you are correct and I would apologize to all toilet scrubbers, ditch diggers and other honest but messy lines of work. they do something positive and beneficial for society, unlike university race/gender hucksters.
5.8.2008 12:37pm
colagirl (mail):
What makes this sad is that it isn't about Duke. My college and law school would have reacted the same way.

Mine as well. I can even tell you who in my department would have been right out in front leading the charge for the students' blood.

I hope that at some point the academy will purge itself of this poison. Perhaps I'm unduly pessimistic, but I can't see it happening in my lifetime.
5.8.2008 12:51pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
I didn't know Duke gave out scholarships for excellence in hoaxing. Do they have a hoax team? Is it harder to be on a Duke hoax scholarship then it is to be on a Duke athletic scholarship?

It took me a paragraph in to figure out that he was never going to talk about a new scholarship that was being offered.

For gosh sakes, Mr. L., put "scholarship" in quotations, anyway. This isn't scholarship in any sense of the word. Shyeesh.
5.8.2008 12:51pm
Adam J:
I'm not sure I even understand what relevance their "expertise" had. Are they trying to say they are best situated to see what "favoritism" the duke players received because of their race and gender and the race and gender of Crystal? They should be embarrassed to claim they are "most competent", when they were so very wrong in the first place. Apparently, "experts" can't be criticized, even when they are wrong.
5.8.2008 1:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"the most extreme marginalization was reserved for the faculty whose professional expertise made them most competent to engage the discourses on race and gender unleashed by the inaugurating incident"

Well, they did comment. People thought they were idiots, and concluded the departments they represneted were a waste of time and money.

I wonder if it was the first time some of them experienced being told they didn't make any sense and had nothing to say?
5.8.2008 1:15pm
Kimberly (mail):
Triangle_Man:

what consequences members of the Gang or 88, or their howling crowds of supporters, have faced?

They were blogged about. The horror!


As they say on Fark, you win the internets with that statement. That's what the whole entire Social Text article boils down to - one very public snit about the fact that people outside the Ivory Tower judged these professors and found them to be biased and incorrect, if not downright incompetent and malevolent. These professors have suffered no other ill consequences from this entire affair - no censure, no arrest, no jail time, no crushing legal fees. Yet, because someone once made a snide comment about them on a blog, they are the "victims."

Pathetic, absolutely pathetic.
5.8.2008 1:21pm
Hoosier:
My area of 'academic expertise' is diplomatic history. Three points:

1) That expertise does NOT make me an expert on comtemporary international relations (though it also does not PRECLUDE this: Rather, I should have to DEMONSTRATE that expertise, as would anyone else).

2) If I were to be BLATANTLY WRONG in a published statement about, say, the 1890 failure of Germany to renew the Re-Insurance Treaty, this would be cause to call my "academic expertise" into question. NOT to call into question the people who pointed out the error.

3) Diplomatic historians are now an endangered species in universities, because "lines" are being used instead to hire people in these more tendy, more politicized fields.

4) "That's just the way of the world." (Flipper)
5.8.2008 1:22pm
Hoosier:
(Sorry. (4) wasn't a "point." Just me whistling past the graveyard.)
5.8.2008 1:23pm
whit:
i love academic-speak.

the false claim of rape is referred to as "the inaugurating incident"

"Actually, I disagree with KC Johnson on whether NCCU should have disciplined Mangum. Whether off-campus crimes should be the subject of campus discipline is a thorny issue. Generally -- though not in every case -- I think they shouldn't. "

i pretty much agree. especially in regards to a public university. the issue SHOULD be academics. otoh, why she wasn't PROSECUTED is a better question. sure, maybe there wasn't enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she willingly fabricated the story.

the more likely scenario is that it's politically incorrect to prosecute a "single woman of color oppressed rape victim".

the fact that she ISN'T a rape victim is of course irrelevant. it's the "metanarrative" that matters. see: dan rather
5.8.2008 1:28pm
Fub:
whit wrote at 5.8.2008 12:28pm:
the fact that she ISN'T a rape victim is of course irrelevant. it's the "metanarrative" that matters. see: dan rather
They're just kindhearted souls who metanarrative all abandoned and bedraggled, took it home, fed it, and set it free again.
5.8.2008 1:40pm
PersonFromPorlock:

"the most extreme marginalization was reserved for the faculty whose professional expertise made them most competent to engage the discourses on race and gender unleashed by the inaugurating incident"

Ah, the old appeal to authority; foundation of modern logic.
5.8.2008 1:41pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
"why she wasn't PROSECUTED "

IIRC they decided she was mentally unstable enough not to have been worthy of prosecution. The true villain was Nifong, who has been punished for his malfeasance.

HGB
5.8.2008 2:05pm
Railroad Gin:
I still don't understand why the US Attorney declined to prosecute Nifong for a civil rights violation. What exactly, would a prosecutor have to do in order to be criminally prosecuted?

Anyway, its long past due to get rid of these political movements masquerading as academic disciplines.

Imagine if there were a Department of Firearm Studies. All the professors were a card-carrying member of GOA, NRA, etc. The professors' resumes consisted mostly of shooting competitions and lobbying on behalf of the NRA and little, if any, scholarship. The only reading materials were those supporting an absolute right to own Stinger missles. Nothing was assigned supporting a mitia-centric view or a more limited individual rights view. Any student who dissented from the professors' orthodoxy would get a failing grade or be ridiculed and ostracized. Students who wrote elected officials to oppose gun control would get bonus points toward their grade and class credit would be given for wearing an empty holster to support guns on campus. The professors would also be de facto employees of the NRA, albeit paid get paid by the university, who spent as least as much time lobbying and organizing rallies as teaching or researching.

That would be the right-wing equivilent of the typical Womens' Studies Department and the like. Don't hold your breath waiting for this to happen. Nor should it happen. There should be a line between the political and the scholarly.
5.8.2008 2:55pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
"the most extreme marginalization was reserved for the faculty whose professional expertise made them most competent to engage the discourses on race and gender unleashed by the inaugurating incident"
I almost think that their idea was that if they had been allowed to handle the investigation, none of this would have happened. Mike Nifong would still be the DA, the LAX players would be in prison, and these experts wouldn't look silly and venal.

I think the justification for this is that the meta-narrative (as Whit calls it) that white privileged males are, by definition, exploiters, most others are their victims, and that this narrative is more important than the mere guilt or innocence of the LAX players or the reality of what actually happened. After all, even if these white male LAX players didn't actually rape this wacked out black woman, plenty of other white males have raped innocent black women, and that is more important than the truth here of who actually did what to whom.
5.8.2008 3:08pm
Carolina:

At least Duke has a good basketball team; much of the faculty appears to lunatics.


K.C. Johnson actually discusses this issue in his book. Over the last 20 years or so, Duke has tried in increase its scholarly reputation by hiring famous scholars away from other universities.

However, hiring famous scholars in fields like biology, law, engineering, computer science, etc is very expensive. Duke chose to do their hiring on the cheap, sticking to humanities departments where salaries are lower. Sadly, a large number of those who are currently regarded as notable or famous humanities scholars come from Marxist/Gender studies/Race studies/etc backgrounds.

Every school has some of the crazies on its faculty. But according to KC Johnson, Duke's hiring practices have left it with a considerably greater percentage of such faculty than comparable schools.
5.8.2008 4:13pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I am amazed that Social Text is still published. I would have thought that after Alan Sokal showed the editors to be perfect idiots they would have put their tails between their legs and disappeared. Anything appearing there has the credibility of an article in Mad Magazine.
5.8.2008 4:15pm
Carolina:

I am amazed that Social Text is still published. I would have thought that after Alan Sokal showed the editors to be perfect idiots they would have put their tails between their legs and disappeared. Anything appearing there has the credibility of an article in Mad Magazine.


Holy cow. I can't believe I had forgotten that Social Text was the journal Sokal published in. That is the icing on the cake of this whole thing. Bravo for reminding us.
5.8.2008 4:21pm
Smokey:
"Gender studies"?? "Marxist studies"??? "Women's studies"??

What a complete scam.

If every professor/department of 'studies' were eliminated following tonight's five o'clock news, the result would be to ratchet up the quality of higher education.
5.8.2008 4:28pm
Frege:
Calling some of these disciplines "pathological hothouses in the service of anti-American sentiment and reverse racism" is an insult to pathological hothouses. But I can see why it happens: the only understandable parts of much of their work is the Marxist parts. The other parts are mostly nonsense.
5.8.2008 4:33pm
Hoosier:
Calling some of these disciplines "pathological hothouses in the service of anti-American sentiment and reverse racism" is an insult to pathological hothouses.

Even in death, Frege is cautious with language.

Ditto for the Marxism observation. The Old Left was incomprehensible until one read just enough Marx to know what the terms meant. (Substructure, class-for-itself, Lumpenproletariat). Then you could debate those people.

The New Left brought in Marcuse, after which it became increasingly questionable whether things that academics wrote actually meant something.

But the Post-structuralist Left makes a fetish of incomprehensible jargon. I'll let them convince me that their work has merit on a case-by-case basis. Otherwise, like Frege, I'll leave it at "nonsense."
5.8.2008 4:42pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Reading Huckleberry Finn would disabuse anyone of the notion that tarring and feathering was racial. Even Duke professors should have managed to read it at some time in their lives.

Nick
5.8.2008 4:53pm
Karl Stucky (mail):
A special blog thread award to "justme" for posting:


Since when were African American and women's studies scholarly disciplines?

Since academia needed a way to promote incompetent people who couldn't study a real subject.
5.8.2008 5:56pm
Fat Man (mail):
Revoke Duke's tax exemption.
5.8.2008 6:17pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Inanities aside, Lubiano et al reveal the disconnect between their castles-in-the air and real life in their characterization of the important aspect of the affair as "discourses on race and gender". Actually, it was about an allegation of rape.
5.8.2008 6:41pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I was curious about Wahneema Lubiano and found her web page. Look at the picture. She bears a striking resemblance to Kim Il-sung in his later years.
5.8.2008 6:46pm
Gracie (mail):
Elliot123 said,

"I wonder if it was the first time some of them experienced being told they didn't make any sense and had nothing to say."

Reminded me of the report that a Dartmouth professor has threatened to sue her students.

http://thedartmouth.com/2008/04/28/news/classactionsuit/

For one thing, when a student disagreed with her and the others clapped, she had to cancel class and says she was "facing intolerance of ideas and intolerance of freedom of expression."

It's just my guess but I do believe that as a rule, certain members of the academic community are not accustomed to criticism and do not take it well, at all.
5.8.2008 7:16pm
LM (mail):
I have no brief for Lubiano, Hardt, Weigman, the Group of 88 or anyone else who jumped on that bandwagon. But to the extent the argument is that having been notoriously and defiantly wrong means they're not qualified to work in their areas of expertise, then Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol and many others of their cohort would also be in unemployment lines. Employability seems to have a tenuous relationship at best with the accuracy of one's assessment of current and future events.
5.8.2008 7:39pm
Javert:

they decided [Mangum] was mentally unstable enough not to have been worthy of prosecution.


But apparently sane enough to graduate from college.


But according to KC Johnson, Duke's hiring practices have left it with a considerably greater percentage of such faculty than comparable schools.


The seeds of this hoax were planted about 15 years ago by then president Nan Keohane (a feminist) and Stanley Fish -- former czar (I mean chair) of the English department. The current administration has increased the hiring of cutting edge "scholars" in race/gender/class "studies". Such "scholars" have been showered with resources and authority. Women's Studies and Black Studies were turned into departments. They were recently given new, multi-million dollar offices. Some of them control the administration (three academic deans).

One of the real villains behind the hoax, Karla Holloway, is the former Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Unless one has lived under censorship, it is hard to grasp the chill factor that the G88 created among the students and few faculty who disagreed with them.

The other remarkable fact -- particularly relevent to this blog -- is that, other than James Coleman, the law school remained silent. However, they were busy speaking out against environmental "crimes" and the conditions at Guantanamo Bay.
5.8.2008 7:58pm
PersonFromPorlock:

But apparently sane enough to graduate from college.

Well, she may be going into Women's Studies.
5.8.2008 8:11pm
Hoosier:
Bill Poser: Don't undermine my theory that she is actually Biff Henderson:

www.tomladshaw.com/images/BIFF_TOM_PR2.jpg
5.8.2008 8:37pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
If they can't simply face the truth, they should put down their shovels and stop digging.

Oh, no professor. That would deprive us the spectacle of people who fail to grasp why their stature diminishes the deeper they dig.
5.8.2008 10:12pm
Victor Erimita (mail):
Javert has hit the nail on the head. The Stanley Fish-led popularization of French poststructuralism at Duke is the root of the problem. Fish and his accomplices at trend-obsessed Duke turned poststructuralism into an epidemic that has swept through the U.S. university system like a super virus. Poststructuralism at the hands of these charlatans was never more than a jargon-obfuscated relativism that freed "scholars" from, well, scholarship. Quaint notions like "truth," "facts" and "reality" were blythely ridiculed by these deep thinkers in favor of the "narrative," which means...whatever they say it is. No words, concepts, events or actions have a fixed reality in their contention. Except for certain words, like "tenure" and "salary raises," which seem to have an immutable and very fixed reality among these deeply profound thinkers, nothing anyone could assert could be defended as "true" or "false." Except, as is always the case with relativists, all their own contentions about the utterances of others having no reality or truth were advanced as themselves having reality and truth, a fact their cowardice and intellectual dishonesty never allowed them to consider, let alone admit.

It is with absolutely perfect irony that one of the most aggregious examples of the application of this relativist drivel that Duke was so responsible for popularizing among our universities...to their incalculable detriment, should visit itself upon...yes, Duke itself. Of course, major elements of their faculty would assert with perfect seriousness that mere facts had no relevance to...the "narrative," or the "metanarrative," or other academically fashionable terms of obfuscation that all reduce to "what I say and think trumps anything that actually happens or that anyone else says." Perfect narcissism, dishonesty, cowardice and prejudice. Hate speech shabbily disguised as deep intellectual insight and moral posturing. The proud legacy of Stanley Fish and Duke itself.
5.9.2008 12:09am
Robert Zimmerman (mail) (www):
Is Johnson an authority because he has a PhD from Harvard? Or because everything he writes hits the ideological nail on the head? Because when he turns to Duke his analysis is nowhere near the rational examination of hard facts it's cracked up to be. A half-decent undergraduate would be embarassed by some of the things that pass for reasoning in Durham-in-Wonderland. But Johnson hits all the right ideological notes, and if that's what you want to hear I suppose it's best to be credulous.

Did Prof. Lindgren actually read the article or just take Johnson's hatchet job as gospel? Wiegman, Lubiano, and Hardt make some dubious claims in the article and plenty of debatable points. I'd think Lindgren could manage his own critique--it would surely be more informative than Johnson's.

Incidentally, it's completely absurd to say that Steven Baldwin was forced to apologize. He's a tenured professor. He came out with his rhetorical guns blazing. What kind of force is a letter to the campus paper from another professor? Lots of people are convinced that Duke's PC stormtroopers ganged up on Baldwin. The only evidence anyone can come up with is one measly letter to the Duke Chronicle. But when you have such a perfect story, who needs evidence?
5.9.2008 12:13am
stevieray:
I think the reason bloggers are held out for special contempt is simple: They can't get to them.

These identity studies tyrants rule the roost in most humanities departments; indeed, many times the entire faculty quakes before them. Their use of their exquisitely cultivated victim status render them immune to real criticism in the gossipy little world of the college campus. They are used to getting their way through intimidation, not the merits of their arguments.

The bloggers are outside the tyrant's tantrum range, and are impervious to the standard intimidation tools used to silence the opposition. And let's face it... the only way these frauds can win is by stifling the enemy.

In the Afterlife of the Duke Case is nothing but a scream of impotent rage.
5.9.2008 12:31am
Javert:

Is Johnson an authority because he has a PhD from Harvard?

No, because what he writes is true.

Or because everything he writes hits the ideological nail on the head?

What "ideological nail"? He supports Obama.

Perhaps the "ideological nail" you mean is the collectivist group think that Johnson identifies as a root cause of the hoax. Naming that as a cause does qualify him as an expert because he is right.
5.9.2008 1:01am
Nifonged:
'A half-decent undergraduate would be embarassed by some of the things that pass for reasoning in Durham-in-Wonderland. "

As opposed to the reasoning by the gang of 88 or the folks at the Bat Cave? If you're going to throw out accusations, at least have the guts to point them out.

This fiasco has been a disaster to the academic Left, and again it seems the response is "move along, nothing to see here."

Two words: Useful idiocy.
5.9.2008 1:39am
Orson Buggeigh:
You have it correct, Javert, Victor Erimita, and Stevieray. Mr. Zimmerman, like all the apologists for the Klan of 88 and the academic Jacobins everywhere, simply states his belief that Johnson's work is poor, but, unlike Johnson, he offers no specific examples or quotes, just quips: "Because when he turns to Duke his analysis is nowhere near the rational examination of hard facts it's cracked up to be. A half-decent undergraduate would be embarassed by some of the things that pass for reasoning in Durham-in-Wonderland."

So what would the half decent undergraduate find embarrassing? Some specific quotes and cites to Professor Johnson's poor scholarship would help make the case. However, none are offered. Actually, I think the reason the Klan of 88 is so irate, and members of it like Lubiano have requested Johnson not contact them is because their own words confirm that Johnson has, in fact, put their incompetence in plain view for anyone who can read English at an 8th grade level.

Professor Johnson, unlike most of the 88 faculty and the administrators close to this frame up, understands that when one makes an error, one should acknowledge and correct it. He has done this routinely throughout the operation of his blog. I have yet to see evidence of that from Lubiano et al. Instead, they continue to try to justify their behavior.

One does not need a Ph.D. from Harvard to understand what Duke was doing. One simply needs to read and comprehend English at an 8th grade level, and understand some simple concepts like truth and facts. The problem with much of the postmodern theory utilized by Fish and his cronies is that it dismisses the existence of facts and truth. Relativism and literary theory are possibly useful tools for the study of literature, but they are inadequate for the understanding of any fact based reality. That is why literary theory and postmodernism are inappropriate for the study of history, government, politics, the natural sciences, and so on. People like Lubiano who try to do this are easily shown to be talking fashionable nonsense. This is not difficult, except to people who believe that there are no facts, and one interpretation is as valid as any other. Like the 40 something year old graduate student who claimed that there was no such thing as a fact, just cultural constructs. Someone pointed out that we were in a third story room,and that anyone trying to prove that gravity was a cultural construct was likely to be seriously injured or killed by stepping out of the window to prove the point. Most rational people understand this, and do not have to have this explained to them. Some, like the person in question, and some of Duke's finest, simply prove Orwell's comment that some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could take them seriously.

It is interesting to see so much enthusiasm for the academic fashionable nonsense of the Duke threesome's article in Social Text, while recollecting that within the past couple of months, academics have been horrified by the idea that someone would commit academic incompetence in the field of biology by discussing Intelligent Design. (For the record, I absolutely agree that ID is not science, and has no business being taught in biology - but if the theology department wants to make that claim, that's their right and good luck to them). Biologists, correctly, point out that ID is not something that can be argued from a scientific understanding. Professor Johnson is a historian, and he is pointing out that the attempts to argue the understanding of history that Lubiano et al offer fails to meet the norms of historical scholarship. Now, Mr. Mr. Zimmerman, if you want to show how Professor Johnson's analysis of the Duke Lacrosse frame fails to measure up as history, please be my guest. But, let me point out that so far, no one has been able to do it. Least of all the faculty and administrators at Duke. Arguments to authority won't work. This is a fact-based field, unlike literary criticism. Don't confuse the two, thank you.
5.9.2008 1:53am
Orson Buggeigh:
Mr. Zimmerman,

Would you be Robert Zimmerman, Visiting Professor of Music at Duke? The Reharmonizer posts at Durham in Wonderland and the Reharmonizer blog seem familiar. If I am mistaking you for the music professor at Duke, my apologies. But, it certainly seems possible, because your defense of Duke seems a lot like "Reharmonizer."
5.9.2008 2:09am