The “Duke 88” consisted of 88 Duke professors who signed an ad which implicitly assumed that Duke lacrosse players raped a black stripper, an allegation that proved to be entirely fraudulent. The ad praised protesters who had put lacrosse players’ photos on “wanted” posters, associated “what happened to this young woman” with “racism and sexism,” and suggested that the lacrosse players were getting privileged treatment because of their race.
The ad appeared almost four years ago. Stuart Taylor takes a look at what has happened since to some of the 88 thoroughly wrongheaded professors who signed it.
First, according to Taylor, no member of the “Duke 88” has publicly apologized. Many have expressed pride in their rush to judgment.
Second, sigining the ad seems to have been a pretty good career move. In 2007, one member of the group — Paula McClain — became head of Duke’s Academic Council, the highest elected position for a faculty member.
Three members of the “Duke 88” have been hired by other leading universities. One of them is the execrable Houston Baker. As I wrote here:
The demagogic Baker excoriated the lacrosse team for their “silent whiteness” and their “white, male, athletic privilege.” He called for the “immediate dismissals” by Duke of “the team itself and its players,” to combat the “abhorrent sexual assault, verbal racial violence, and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us.” After the innocence of the accused players had become clear, Baker received an email from the mother of a member of the lacrosse team (who hadn’t been accused) asking if he would reconsider his earlier statements. Baker responded, by typing “LIES” and indicating that his correspondent was the mother of a “farm animal.” Eventually Baker, a post-modernist if nothing else, fell back to arguing that it didn’t matter whether the rape allegations were true.
Baker was hired to teach at Vanderbilt. According to Taylor, Vanderbilt touts him as Duke’s “leading dissident voice” regarding the rape allegations. Of course, Baker wasn’t a dissident at first — he was part of the lynch mob. If he became a dissident at all, it was because of his refusal to back off (not apologize, just shut-up) once it became clear that the stripper’s allegations were bogus.
Vanderbilt’s conduct shows that smearing innocent whites is a badge of honor in major precincts of academia. That the allegations Baker defended were bogus made no difference; all that mattered was that the stereotypes and the hatreds he relied on to reach his false conclusions were the stereotypes and hatreds of the dominant academic left.
Grant Farred, also of the “Duke 88,” is another beneficiary of this phenomenon. According to Taylor, after the Attorney General of North Carolina declared the lacrosse players innocent, Farred called the players racists and perjurers. In 2007, Cornell hired Farred. The following year, it promoted him to director of graduate studies in the African-American department.
From Cornell’s perspective it’s a good decision. A man of Farred’s blind ideological adherence to the left-wing narrative of American race relations is perfect for the job of director of African-American graduate studies at Cornell. Indeed, to the extent that this appointment maximizes Farred’s exposure to people misguided enough to have entered a graduate program in African-American studies — and mimimizes his exposure to more innocent undergraduates — the appointment can be considered a good deal all around.
Finally, in 2007 the University of Chicago gave an endowed chair to Charles Payne, also of the “Duke 88.” According to Taylor, as the head of Duke’s African and American studies department, Payne had inappropriately authorized the use of university funds to pay for the “Duke 88’s” ad. The doubly unscrupulous Professor Payne is now with the Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. He specializes in education issues. Having suffered through Bill Ayers and Barack Obama (and, some might say Arne Duncan), the Chicago school system can only hope that Payne’s interest will be purely academic.
Meanwhile, back at Duke, the University has adopted a revised “sexual misconduct” policy. I will discuss this in a future post.