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Aftermath of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case

November 24th, 2013 - 9:35 am

Remember the so-called “Duke lacrosse rape case”? That was the scandal that briefly riveted the nation’s attention not once but twice. The first time was in March 2006 when a black stripper called Crystal Mangum accused three Duke University lacrosse players of kidnapping and rape. Yikes. The bien pensant commentariat went into overdrive to condemn not just the three lacrosse payers, but the entire Duke lacrosse team and indeed the “racist” culture of white privilege at Duke.

A few days ago, Ms. Mangum was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of her boyfriend who died from wounds she inflicted with a kitchen knife.  That hasn’t made too many headlines, but its is a sad, if ironically apt, coda to the whole sorry story.

Travel back to 2006. Syracuse University early on got into the act when it decided not to accept as transfers any students from the Duke lacrosse team—not just the three accused chaps, mind you, but anyone contaminated by having played lacrosse for Duke. “I think it would be inappropriate,” sniffed Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross. (Where is he now? Llama farming in Peru? Nope. Still athletic director at Syracuse.)

But there are at least two other aspects of the case that deserve comment. One is the role of the media, which pounced on the story with unseemly delight. Oh, how the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and countless other bastions of liberal self-satisfaction loved it! Race. Class. Sex. Victimhood. It was the perfect morality tale. Those white jocks at “the Harvard of the South” just had to be guilty. And what a good time we were all going to have lacerating the malefactors while at the same time preening ourselves on our own superior virtue!

The editorials, the op-eds, the comments, the analyses poured forth non-stop, demonstrating that one of the deepest human passions is the urge to self-righteous pontification. The novelist Allan Gurganus epitomized the tone in an op-ed for the Times in April 2006: “The children of privilege,” he thundered, “feel vividly alive only while victimizing, even torturing.” You don’t say? Even sports writers got into the act. Selena Roberts located Duke University “at the intersection of entitlement and enablement, . . . virtuous on the outside, debauched on the inside.” By August 2006, as District Attorney Michael Nifong’s case was betraying worrisome fissures, the Times published a 6,000-word article arguing—“praying” might be a more apposite term—that, whatever weaknesses there might be in the prosecution’s case, “there is also a body of evidence to support [taking] the matter to a jury.” As the Times columnist David Brooks ruefully noted after the tide had begun to turn, the campaign against the athletes had the lineaments of a “witch hunt.”

Indeed. Richard Brodhead, Duke’s president, got out his broomstick and suspended the accused students, fired the lacrosse coach, cancelled the rest of the team’s season, and pandered to every possible PC interest, but especially to those baying for the heads of the accused. (One commentator estimated that only 3 percent of Brodhead’s statements could be construed as supporting the accused students.)

And then there was the Duke faculty. As Vincent Carroll, writing in the Rocky Mountain News, noted, “the most astonishing fact, hands down, was and remains the squalid behavior of the community of scholars at Duke itself. For months nearly the entire faculty fell into one of two camps: those who demanded the verdict first and the trial later, and those whose silence enabled their vigilante colleagues to set the tone.”

Particularly egregious was the behavior of the “Group of 88,” a congeries of faculty activists and fellow-travelers who signed “What Does a Social Disaster Sound Like?,” a full-page manifesto published in April 2006 in the Duke student newspaper. The statement, which purported to be “listening” to students on campus, mingled anonymous student comments with racialist agitprop. “Regardless of the results of the police investigation,” ran part of the introductory comment, “what is apparent every day now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism.” There followed a mosaic of histrionic proclamations: “We want the absence of terror,” one student is supposed to have said. “But we don’t really know what that means.” “This is not a different experience for us here at Duke University. We go to class with racist classmates, we go to gym with people who are racists . . .”

Some of the Group of 88 were common or garden-variety academic liberals—timid souls whose long tenure in the protected purlieus of the university surrounded by adolescents has nurtured their risible sense of self-importance and political enlightenment. But a good percentage were radicals more devoted to political activism than scholarship. Indeed, one scandal that still has not received sufficient publicity is the preposterous pseudo-scholarship purveyed by many trendy academics. A look at the CVs of many members of the Group of 88 provides a case in point, partly shocking, partly embarrassing. It’s 99 percent race-class-gender gibberish embroidered with a toxic dollop of ill-digested lit-crit-speak and infatuation with the dregs of pop culture. “Shuckin’ Off the African-American Native Other: What’s PoMo Got to Do with It?,” Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic, etc. This is scholarship at one of America’s best universities?

One of the central players in the scandal was Houston A. Baker, Jr.  A former president of the Modern Language Association, Baker has built his career through a carefully orchestrated fabrication of race scandals and juvenile cultural relativism. (Choosing between Shakespeare and Jacqueline Susann, he once wrote, is “no different from choosing between a hoagy and a pizza,” adding that “I am one whose career is dedicated to the day when we have a disappearance of those standards.”) Soon after the lacrosse scandal broke, Professor Baker called for “immediate dismissals of those principally responsible for the horrors of this spring moment at Duke. Coaches of the lacrosse team, the team itself and its players, and any other agents who silenced or lied about the real nature of events.” He joined the other members of the Group of 88 in signing a “thank you” letter to campus radicals who had distributed a “wanted” poster of the lacrosse players and publicly branded them “rapists.” After the more serious charges against the three students were dropped in December, the mother of another member of the team emailed to ask if he would reconsider his comments. Professor Baker’s response is illuminating:

LIES You are just a provacateur [sic] on a happy New Years [sic] Eve trying to get credit for a scummy bunch of white males! . . .

I really hope whoever sent this stupid farce of an email rots in. . . . umhappy [sic] new year to you . . . and forgive me if your [sic] really are, quite sadly, mother of a “farm animal.”

Houston Baker was the George D. and Susan Fox Beischer Professor of English at Duke. How proud the Beischers must have been! In the aftermath of the Duke scandals, Baker decamped to a distinguished professorship at Vanderbilt University. What does that tell us about the state of American academia?
Nothing good. But Richard Brodhead and the Group of 88 were not the only ones out of control. There was also former District Attorney, now the disgraced and disbarred former District Attorney Michael Nifong. In a disgusting spectacle of prosecutorial abuse, Nifong suppressed evidence about the case, cynically bartering the lives of three white lacrosse players in his populist bid to win reelection in racially divided Durham.

The second suite of attention-grabbing headlines came on April 11, 2007, when Roy Cooper, the North Carolina attorney general, announced that he was dropping all charges against the three Duke lacrosse players who had been indicted for kidnapping and raping Crystal Mangum. As Mr. Cooper stressed, he was dropping the case not because there was insufficient evidence—often a euphemism for “probably guilty, but we can’t prove it”—but because the three players were completely innocent of the charges that had recklessly been brought against them. Mr. Cooper went further: not only had there been “a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations,” but the case also showed “the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor.”

The story of this tawdry melodrama at Duke deserved an entire book, and it got a very good one in Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case by KC Johnson, a professor of history at Brooklyn College, and the journalist Stuart Taylor. They show in horrifying detail how “many professors and, to a lesser extent, administrators at one of the nation’s finest universities chose to grind their radical political axes at the expense of both their own students’ well-being and the academy’s traditional fidelity to due process.”

Many of people suffered because of the Duke farce. But what of Professor Bakers and his preening, activist colleagues? What of the Group of 88? Only one member apologized. The rest issued a statement that categorically rejected all “public calls to the authors to retract the ad or apologize for it.” I’ve often had occasion in the space to allude to Glenn Reynolds’s contention that higher education in this country is experiencing a dangerous and unsustainable bubble.  What happened at Duke, up to and including the grisly aftermath of the conviction of Crystal Mangum for murder, is part of that story of hyperinflation.  Travesty finally met tragedy.  But the Group of 88 and their enablers sail blithely on.  For now.


**CORRECTION** In the original posting, I had misidentified Michael Nifong.  He was District Attorney for Durham County.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
You have to immerse yourself in the mindset of politically correct racialists to understand why they felt no need to apologize.

Those Duke players were white. That's Exhibit A. They are politically guilty. They were guilty before the event and remain guilty after the event.

The Duke players are part of a system of white male capitalist supremacist patriarchy, to use bell hooks' favorite phrase. They have privilege as a result of that and of their imperial colonialist racist society. They suffer from "the male gaze," "the imperial gaze," "the white gaze," aside from the benefits of "cultural appropriation," the "Anglo hegemony" and marginalizing non-whites.

If you doubt that, you're not reading what I'm reading.

Recently, a science fiction anthology came out called "We See a Different Frontier," and you can bet they do. The theme is "postcolonialism" from the "voices" of the colonized, although only one of the 16 authors is indigenous to their country of birth and actually living in it, and that country, Thailand, was never colonized. All the above terms are used over and over again in the promotion of the book.

Predictably the result is a series of racial revenge fantasies.

A Pancho Villa alternate history has a desert "littered with burning, crashed American aeroplanes" with dialogue next to it like this: "It's magnificent! Beautiful! They thought they were invincible, but look at them now!"

The review at Locus by Lois Tilton states "a lot of fun – particularly for readers who enjoy revenge tales" Fun in the sense of a story of machine gunning a black flash mob at a convenience store would be fun or an ex-marine flying an airliner into the pyramids? "Payback's a b-tch!"

In another story an Englishman is happily killed in 1665 India, at least 100 years before the East India Company actually began to flex their muscles and transition from a trading monopoly into colonialists. One reviewer called that death "appropriately vengeful."

What's wrong with that? It spreads guilt racially backward and forward in time, presumably to the end and beginning of time, independent of an actual event. It's like assassinating the grand children and remote ancestors of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Revenge is detached from actual events and simply smeared onto ethnicity.

There is yet another anthology of SF with the same theme called "Long Hidden" coming out. Like the first, it will contain stories about "enslaved people, indigenous people, people of color, queer people, laborers, women, people with disabilities, the very young and very old, and religious minorities."

The four editors of the two anthologies all network on the internet. One hilariously and quite seriously claims on Twitter that she is "neither male nor female."

Also hilariously, its promo blurb states "We want to provide solidly grounded historical fiction to modern readers... " And in the paragraph before that: "We want to take a step toward righting an injustice that goes back to the dawn of time."

Got that? "Historical fiction" and "the dawn of time." That's what empiricism and evidence is worth to politically correct racialists: nothing. Guilt is in a face and it's forever.

44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The level of thinking that went into liberal commentary on this is exactly the same as that which produced Obamacare. Total certitude developed in contradiction to all known facts. Understand this and you understand how liberals think, or whatever you might call this odd process.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It was the perfect morality tale. Those white jocks at “the Harvard of the South” just had to be guilty."

It really was a witch hunt, compounded when all the accusers in the media, on the Duke faculty etc.never even apologized when Nifong's case fell completely apart.

For an insight into the liberal mind, such as it is, never forget the words of then Newsweek editor Evan Thomas, grandson of infamous socialist Norman Thomas, when the case of the hungry prosecutor fell apart...

"The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong."

Damn facts.

44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (65)
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If yer kids started at Duke (or Syracuse) since 2006, I ain't hiring 'em.

An' if yer kids started before '06, they should'a graduated by now or I still ain't hiring 'em.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I own official Duke Lacrosse hoodies and t-shirts. Wearing them in public in Toronto is one of the cheap thrills of my life!
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Although I was disgusted with the leftists at the time of that incident, I think thoughtful white people should learn some practical lessons. Any time you're around tawdry blacks (I'm not saying all blacks are tawdry, I am referring to ones like this black stripper), you should not be surprised at some type of significant trouble. It could be a false accusation, it could be a criminal attack, it could be almost anything. But if you're a white person associated with wealth, you should stay away from people like that stripper because our society is anxious to blame white people. This doesn't mean at all that you should return hatred for hatred. It just means to be prudent in your actions and avoid situations where you're alone in a room with a black stripper. She's holding all the cards and you don't even know it!
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the leaders of the "Group of 88" was Cathy N. Davidson, Professor of English and at the time Vice-Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke. To my knowledge, she has never expressed any regret. Her "leadership" was rewarded when Obama appointed her to the National Council for the Humanities, where she helps decide who gets grants in the humanities.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
“It was unfortunate that some of the subsequent actions that were taken by the University didn’t really imply a presumption of innocence.”
Duke lacrosse player
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is comforting to know that somewhere a student at Duke is still a gentleman. That is certainly a proper, polite, measured response to being dragged over jagged glass.
You will never see the like from the rude Left.
Even if he does play lacrosse, a vile game, in my opinion.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The most narrow minded group on any campus visits the faculty lounge regularrily. They are examples of group think in spite of the fact we are told they think independently.
In some sense, the modern university and college faculty members find their solidarity with the 1920 and 1930 professors who were in the lecture halls of the Germany. Sell out to the prevailing winds of culture and politics.
The Gang of 88 and the Duke President and the defanged D.A. share on trait: They lot will never be accused of independent thought. If so, their plate is removed from the faculty table.
As one scholar wrote long ago, there is some "scholar" who somewhere that can be found to validate any crazy idea. Thus, in keeping with the ruined academcy, Obama's czars have come from the disgraced academy.
And we wonder why things have gone haywire?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
A previous post said the accused received monetary damages from Duke. Did they seek any satisfaction from the faculty?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The three sued the university. Not sure if other brought by other team members named individual faculty members.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Duke and other institutions will likely be more circumspect in the future before permitting this type of slander. A little known fact is that the three players who were charged settled with Duke for an amount rumored to be in the 8-figure range shortly after they were exonerated. That "free speech" wasn't all that free in the end.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're the expert, but are you taking bets? I think this type of slander will continue. The institutions will only be more circumspect in how they handle the publicity. The Gang of 88 is still in charge.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
What the radical faculty tried to do to the Duke Lacrosse team wasn't really all that much different than what was done to the Scottsboro boys, was it?

It's really the same mentality -- it's just a different race which falls under suspicion.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or to Mr. Zimmerman in Florida, or the Reese family in New Mexico. On the other hand, we have scoundrels like Eric Holder, clearly guilty of numerous serious firerarms charges in his "gunwalking " scandal Fast and Furiious, and a few other instances of serious perversion of power. Such scoundrels getting clear away with, literally, murder. Ths illegal supplier of a murder weapon is, when identified, often charged with the death just as if he'd pulled the trigger.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hope that doesn't make it ok.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think those that those who are commenting about the over hyping that was done on this case are correct. The media took this to new low in having the players 'guilty' before proven 'innocent'.

That being said, I don't believe for one minute that the inability to prosecute the players means that they were innocent. The were not found to be guilty by means of the inability to prosecute them for the crime of rape.

I believe that because this was a women of such poor reputation (not just her color) it was relatively easy to make the case go away.

Consider the clout that it took to override all of the hype and misinformation that was churned up by the media in this case. But these players and their resources were able to do just that.

I don't believe for one minute that they didn't have sex with this woman. And I don't believe that the sex they had with her was consensual. I'll just leave it at that.

44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment

I apologize for posting two comments, but I cannot EDIT my original. I went out and did some research.

FOUR (4) of the Duke laddies attorneys host a "forum"....this how we WON Q&A. I pulled the 2012 Presidential Contributors listing and THREE of them contributed to the O-Man and NONE to Romney....and if you google each one, you get all sorts of DNC and NC Democratic Party links.

BUT....back on POINT. The THREE lads, who were charged, each walked away with about $20 MILLION my estimate was a little is probably CLOSER to $100 - $125 MILLION.....yep...OVER ONE TENTH of a BILLION over a little "lie" by a lady that never received her support and scholarships that Revs Jackson and Sharpton promised.

NOW....again, lest you think that this is babble and no FACTS. Google Reade Seligmann IRS Tax Evasion. The IRS owe $6.5 Million.....because you did NOT report your Duke Settlement as income (OK, maybe he was NOT the smartest White Boy on the team). Most tax attorneys and CPA's stated that his settlement would have been $20,000,000 or $20 Million. That was AFTER attorney's fees.....which is usually 25% OFF THE the lawyers, who were BIG O supporters got a cool $20 Million....

I hate it when my memory is a bit fuzzy....that is why I try to be on the LOW side of comments that I make....never shoot from the hip....just don't fire all your bullets.

BUT, since I missed it so BADLY on the LOW SIDE....I had to fix it.

Let us know what you discover.....
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your point is?

These guys were rightly compensated for what was done to them.

Does that make it right?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Would you kindly stop confusing us with the facts.

Don't you understand that when the facts conflict with the NARRATIVE, down the Memory Hole they must go.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment

I suggest you do some googling. The DA took DNA from the entire team, save one lad who was NOT at the party. In case you forgot, Crystal was an "exotic" dancer. I am NOT going to defend the Lacross teams' poor judgement in hosting a party and inviting exotic dancers....but these are the FACTS (BTW...our Raleigh paper totally supported Crystal and Rev Jackson and Al Sharpton condemned the entire state and the forefathers that formed it).

Back on point. The OTHER exotic dancer said that Crystal was "incoherent" and out of it and she had been with her almost the entire time at the party save when she passed out in the bathroom.

The DA TRIED to hide the DNA Evidence. What they found was that Crystal's virtuous undies had traces of DNA from about 7 or so males....and GUESS WHAT....HORROR OF HORRORS.....NONE matched ANY of the DNA from ANY of the Lacross team.

THEN, the "train" came off the tracks. Each of the condemners quickly picked up their stones, looking to see if ANYONE had seen them cast them, and then left (well a few slithered)....

These were the SAME folks that CHEERED when OJ was found "Innocent".

The local papers still will drop a little bombshell or tidbit. The three that were singled out (why only Mike Nifong knows) and charged DID get an 8 figure settlement....funny thing, THEY turned the tables on DUKE. They hired the MOST LIBERAL OBAMA SUPPORTING (he went to court with a briefcase and PC that the "HOPEY" Bumper stickers on them) attorney in NC....and WON.

It cost the Duke Liability Insurance companies at LEAST 20 million....and he got ONE THIRD. In addition, the "student fees" went up markedly to cover the NEW LIABILITY POLICY COSTS.

Duke settled with the Coach and then one of the IDIOTS in the Athletic Department besmirched him and made some comments about the settlement and he....RE-SUED and WON ANOTHER settlement.

The entire fiasco and that is the best and nicest word that I can use probably cost Duke about $5 MILLION OUT OF POCKET and at least $35 Million to their carriers.....after all the suits were settled. Recently the REST of the team lost their suit against Durham County....

The lads who were supposed to be "Entitled" are.....they won the lottery, so to speak, without even buying a ticket.

President Obama also got a NICE cut as many of the attorney's (plaintiff and defendant) are LARGE O he came out OK...

Lest ye think this is blather and it and read all the WRAL and N&O Stories.....BTW... the N&O was also the "selected" newspaper that had a SENIOR Political Editor "embedded" in John Edwards' campaign and never ONCE saw him "bed" Reille much for journalists that can look at facts and also separate their hero worship.....
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44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, part of the exonerating evidence was a bank ATM video showing one of the accused boys, with a time signature at the exact point he was supposed to be at the party ravishing the innocent captive. It helps actually to pay some attention to detail. (See also "Zimmerman, George.")
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Belief based on zero facts is beneath serious consideration by others.

I don't believe for a minute that you are not a rapist and a child molester. I don't believe that the sex you have had was consensual. I'll just leave it at that. See how that works?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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