Friday, December 29, 2006

Bonfire of the Faculties
Maimon Schwarzschild

The Duke "rape" case is not only an example of prosecutorial misconduct and demagoguery, as Mike notes: it has also been facilitated, to put it gently, by the poisonous "race-gender-class" leftism that prevails among the Duke faculty and administration, as it does on so many campuses.  K.C. Johnson, who more than anyone else has fought the good fight against injustice in the case, puts it this way -  in a piece posted yesterday at Inside Higher Ed:

Academic debates can sometimes seem trivial, and it’s easy to understand the overwhelming temptation that some Duke professors felt last April to do the politically correct thing and denounce the lacrosse players.

This particular behavior, however, had significant consequences. Less than four weeks after the Group of 88 issued their statement, Nifong [the prosecutor] captured a hotly contested Democratic primary by a mere 883 votes. Given the political and legal fluidity in Durham last spring, it’s hard to imagine Nifong prevailing had 88 Duke professors publicly demanded that he respect their students’ due process rights rather than thanking the protesters who had branded the players guilty.

The behavior we’ve seen from Duke’s faculty — the frantic rush to judgment coupled with a refusal to reconsider — was all too predictable. The Group of 88’s statement was fully consistent with basic ideas about race, class, and gender prevalent on most elite campuses today. Reconsidering their actions of last spring would have forced the Group of 88, and sympathetic colleagues, to reconsider some of the intellectual assumptions upon which the statement was based.

Duke’s admissions home page promises prospective parents that “teaching is personal,” as the institution’s professors “teach and mentor undergraduates, not only in the classroom.” Students who don’t conform to the race/class/gender worldview, however, seem to receive a different kind of “personal” attention.

I’d like to think that most academics entered the profession eager to work with students; and that most professors would never prioritize advancing their own ideological agenda over protecting their students. Yet I see little reason to believe that [it would have been different] had this incident occurred at another major university. And that makes Duke’s failing a failure of the academy as a whole.

Read the whole thing.

The problem, of course, is not only at "elite" or "major" universities.  Lesser colleges and universities are as bad and worse.  You find the same ideological monopoly or virtual monopoly, the same bullying style, the same political religion.  There would be faculty and administration cheerleaders for a travesty like the Duke prosecution, I'm sorry to say, at plenty of schools.  On all too many campuses around the country, "it could (easily) happen here".

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Maimon Schwarzschild


"Lesser colleges and universities are as bad and worse. "

That's for sure--I work at a CSU campus, and it is the official religion, enshrined in the Ed Code. Well, at least we don't have a whiteness studies major!

Posted by: Pat | Dec 30, 2006 7:45:15 AM

The only solution is to starve the beast, no? The administrators at mainline churches are too distracted by the constant layoffs and closures to do much damage. If we stop giving money to our almae matres, they too will wither.

Posted by: sean | Dec 30, 2006 7:54:48 AM

It's hopeless. The left is too entrenched in the academy to do anything about it. Like the persistence of evil, it is something you have to live with.

Posted by: Banjo | Dec 30, 2006 8:04:07 AM

When I was applying to college in the pre-Internet era, my guide was Barron's Profiles of American Colleges. Unique among top universities, the Duke profile noted that racial "sensitivity training" was mandatory for all undergraduates.

Posted by: Timothy | Dec 30, 2006 8:12:17 AM

The Duke case is not unusual in American justice.

Corruption is Routine

What is different is that the lights have come on and people are watching. Nifong was not undone by bad decisions in this case. He was undone by bad habits that are not at all unusual in the "justice" system.

Testilying being a case in point. So epidemic we have a name for it.

Posted by: M. Simon | Dec 30, 2006 9:15:00 AM

U Chicago is not part of the PC pack.

Posted by: M. Simon | Dec 30, 2006 9:17:57 AM

National Review's Guide to Colleges, which comes out every few years, highlights those schools that require a balanced liberal-arts education for graduation. Not all are conservative schools, but attention to the historical trend of Western Civilization at least eliminates some of the worst excesses. While evangelical and conservative Catholic schools are prominent on the list, many secular schools are on it as well. I handed the book to my sons and said "You can go anywhere listed in here. Other schools by negotiation only."

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot | Dec 30, 2006 10:42:04 AM

Universities are becoming irrevelant in the task of creating an "educated" society. The commercial Teaching Company will become a more valuable source of knowledgeable citizens in the future. True, their professors are derived from academe but they are expert in their subject and gifted teachers to boot.
Stedents do not have to listen to the political propaganda, from left or right, being sold by some University faculties today.
I have an Oxford MA in Geology and a diploma from Harvard's Advanced Management Program but I am enjoying a CD course on Contract Law taught by a professor from the University of Texas.
Move on from the boring "politically correct, Hollywood hippie crowd".
Jim Wood

Posted by: Jim Wood | Dec 30, 2006 11:35:23 AM

As with all things, the liberal point of view (having already become passe amoungst the real "progressive" side (e.g., conservative), it'll die out from the universities also. The libs has succeeded beyond their dreams in completely destroying any value of a "liberal arts" degree. This was predicted by Blume in "The Closing of the American Mind," wherein he stated that the only hope for continuity of quality was in the science side...since even a liberal cannot change the solution of a differential equation (unless perhaps it dealt with racial difference....badda-bing!)

Posted by: The Cajun | Dec 30, 2006 11:51:31 AM

The leftists politics are just as bad here in the Northwest. I'm waiting for Washington State University to build small concentration camps on campus for thought crimes.

I hope and the boys who were expelled from Duke for what appears to be a non-crime, sue the frickin' pants off that university. I'm no lawyer, but I'd serve every member of the gang of 88 as well with a lawsuit. FYI, read up on Mao's gang of four to see that though times and faces change, leftists are thuggish by nature and never really change.

Posted by: jeff kline | Dec 30, 2006 12:49:08 PM

It's about time that the District Attorney, Mr. Nifong be asked to step aside in this case and that perhaps there will be more serious repercussions for him. He (Nifong) was hell-bent on ruining the lives of these young men, for no good reason.

I could not agree more with your statement, "The Duke "rape" case is not only an example of prosecutorial misconduct and demagoguery, as Mike notes: it has also been facilitated, to put it gently, by the poisonous "race-gender-class" leftism that prevails among the Duke faculty and administration.."

I only wish that there would be some consequences for the academics who have created such a poisoned atmosphere on this campus (as well as many others). No doubt there will be a retreat away from any support public of Mr. Nifong by these very same faculty members who will without a momnent's hesitation leave him alone to face any consequences.

Ofcourse there will also be the reponses to posts like yours that there is no 'bias' on campus which reminds me of Robert Brandon, chairman of Duke University's philosophy department who said a couple of years back, "We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire." Yes, no bias there.

Posted by: Tim P | Dec 30, 2006 1:39:57 PM

Duke is a school which lives off its past greatness. The events that unfolded in this case show that we no longer are speaking of the same school. The faculty are more concerned about ideology than justice. The abstract feelings of the faculty proved more important that the here and now.

I'm disgusted with Duke and the conduct of its leadership. Duke no longer is what it was. The past is gone and we are left with only the smallness of ideological zealots.

Posted by: bee | Dec 30, 2006 5:31:16 PM

Not sure Duke ever was what it was. I mean they're the ones who hired Stanley Fish, and had the English Dept that was the envy of (almost) all academia and was the laughing stock of everywhere else.
Read something a while back about Duke alumns who are pushing their kids to go to Davidson. That's probably a wise thing to do.

Posted by: AYY | Dec 30, 2006 9:32:34 PM

I believe that at the University of Tennessee, where I graduated twice and my father taught for 35 years, that the atmosphere is much the same as Duke.

Posted by: DADvocate | Dec 31, 2006 6:03:50 AM