Work and Days

Crazy Campuses

Back at Duke

Houston Baker, the Duke faculty member who wrote the appalling letter about the alleged rape, got rewarded with a job offer at Vanderbilt where he is now distinguished professor. He has never apologized or retracted his Salem-witch trial like rantings.

Duke’s President Brodhead who cancelled the lacrosse season, lectured ad nauseam about racism and sexism, and pandered to the race/class/gender lobbies to preserve his own fides at the expense of the accused is still refashioning and repositioning his rhetoric in light of the present embarrassment (e.g., now saying of the wrongly accused, “They have carried themselves with dignity through an ordeal of deep unfairness”). Uh, uh.

Yet he should recall earlier statements such as, “ “We are eager for our students to be proved innocent.”

Mr. President, they were always innocent unless and until proven guilty by a jury.

Almost everything he was “worried” about was a lie. The real inebriated or drug-induced were the strippers, one of whom could hardly stand. The racist exchange, as little as it was, apparently started when a team member was called a racial and sexual epithet by the stripper to the effect that he was a white boy with a small penis.

The lying and perjury was all on the part of the “victim”. Sexual battery may well have occurred at some earlier point—since the “victim” had DNA evidence of sperm from several males—but we know not one was from a Duke student.

The sordid behavior was evident among his own faculty, some of whom signed a letter damning the students on no evidence, in efforts to promote their own agendas.

What Duke Should Say…

If the President were to reopen his mouth, he might tell the truth:

“The university advises strongly against students hiring “exotic dancers” at private parties. Besides the moral issues involved, many of such performers are habitual drug and alcohol users, and engage in dangerous promiscuous sexual activity, as well as having criminal records. Hiring such a performer only increases a student’s own exposure to a host of these obvious dangers, criminal, sexual, and drug-related.”

“As for as matters on campus, this sad travesty should be a reminder that the university especially must be a custodian of civil liberties and a protector of the right of individuals to due process. Instead the Duke community devolved to the rule of the mob, condemning the accused in print, rallies, and flyers in a way that was intended to cast pre-trial guilt upon their innocence. This is reprehensible. To the extent that I either participated in such a rush to judgment or, as your president, let it unfold without rebuke, I am deeply sorry. I failed the entire community. In efforts to appear liberal and unbiased I proved illiberal and prejudiced. At the very moment when the community was looking for a voice of reasoned calm I joined the storm of reckless emotion.”

Why won’t the Duke president or the culpable faculty apologize?

Because deeply entrenched among the Left is a notion of moral justice that transcends the law and is now to be adjudicated by elites versed in race/class/gender theories. In this way of thinking the “rape” is just a matter of semantics, the law an obstruction to the larger question still unresolved: a poor black woman performed sexually for white rich males.

De facto this is an indictment of our entire male-dominated capitalist system that put the poor, the female, the person of color in bondage to the white, male and wealthy.

In that prism, technicalities of law don’t matter and surely don’t address these larger pathologies so endemic in the United States, against which the university nearly alone exists to combat. That the “victim” lied under oath, ruined the reputations of innocents, was on drugs, was engaged in promiscuous sexual activity, and had a criminal record is simply proof of her victim status. This notion of a higher law unto themselves is used frequently by Left and Right, it is true, but never in such an injurious or hypocritical fashion as by the academic Left that on campuses has developed a real contempt for our laws of free speech and due process—again, seen as impediments to their version of heaven on earth.

Invade, Invade Everywhere?

Barrack Obama’s recent speech linking mass murder at Virginia Tech to everything from Darfur to outsourcing and Imus was about as pathetic an exegesis as one could imagine. And his calls to do something in Darfur were surreal, akin to the Democrats’ demands that we “get Osama bin Laden” as if invading or bombing nuclear Islamic Pakistan were a real option.

But we know both would be difficult, and the Democrats’ past record, from October 2002 to the present, would give us the script: vote for invasion, back peddle when things got rough (and they would in the Pakistani borderlands or the killing fields of the Sudan), and then blame others for brain-washing them. Five years from now I could imagine Mr. Obama assuring everyone that he was given faulty information about Darfur and thus, Kerry-like, was for the invasion before he was against it.

Wolfowitz, Don’t Resign!

There is a strange leftist fixation on Paul Wolfowitz. By any standard of DC protocol, he has done nothing even approaching scandal at the World Bank. Indeed, he seems to have taken inordinate lengths to apprise the Bank of his relationship with his companion there. And it almost appears that such consideration revealed to his enemies not moderation and conciliation, but politeness seen wrongly as vulnerability. During past administrations, Wolfowitz lobbied to pressure autocracies in the Philippines and Indonesia to reform. And in the 1991 War he was a lone voice of dissent, calling for support for the Shiia and Kurds, and the injection of some morality in US foreign policy.

Apparently, the left hates him especially because he is an intellectual and academic, and therefore de facto must be “liberal” in their own doctrinaire sense. The result is that he becomes for them some sort of mirror on their own ideologies, a professor that had the same training, education, and career, but instead reached far different conclusions about human nature and global morality. And that proves infuriating—‘How can a PhD and professor use our education to become like “them.’?

He should never resign, and will emerge stronger when this lynch mob subsidies. The existential question remains, however—in a world in which China has $1 trillion in foreign reserves and still champions itself as protector of the global poor, do we still need the World Bank?

The Killer

What do you have to do to get attention as a madman? Terrify your teacher? Empty a classroom by your creepy presence? Light fires? Be referred for mental health treatment? Have a judge review your dossier? Live a complete life of solitude?

I had a somewhat similar, though very minor experience with an unhinged student in 1971, in fact, with a roommate, my first semester at UC Santa Cruz.

He will remain unnamed (and eventually became quite successful), but when I moved in the first week, the room was full of weapons—knives, spears, clubs, brass knuckles, and various literature about martial arts, violence, killing etc. He slept most of the day, was up all night, skipped all classes, and bragged that he had not bathed in 6 months.

At first I wasn’t too worried, since in rural Fresno County where I grew up, those in high school with nothing left to lose, unlike this fellow, punched first, and talked second—and seemed a lot scarier, despite my new roommate’s hair to his shoulders, no shoes, strong odor, and large size.

He played Stones records all night long and drank 2 quart-sized beers each evening, after a prior long history of drug use. I told him that I would report him to resident authorities and preceptors, and finally did but they insisted that they couldn’t find another dorm room for him.

The university finally recommended counseling after he shot flaming arrows off the dorm roof at students. Then he fled from the orderlies who came to our room to straight-jacket him, and had to be forcibly removed.

A week at a mental detention facility seemed to help, but he was expelled or left school shortly thereafter. As I said, years later he straightened out, and is now a successful businessman, and likewise years later told me that he blamed the university for not providing a more structured environment.

That semester I’d call home for advice when the university at first did nothing, and my father would warn, “No one can protect you. Only you can do that. So be ready. Sooner or later you’ll have to defend yourself. He’s nothing any more dangerous than you’ve seen out here on the farm.”

This warning about the need for self-reliance was essentially a reiteration of what he had been saying since I went to a rural, wild school at 8 where fighting and intimidation were the norms, and he feared he could not be there to protect me nor had much confidence—he was an educator himself—in the school to do so.

My older brother earlier had been jumped in high school. My father helped the police track down the toughs who did it, and came away disgusted that they were turned loose after reprimands, despite his offer to both of having a go with them in “a fair fight” (a 45-year old versus two 19 year old toughs).

So back in the dorm I then put my bed on stilts, and slept with my uncle’s Louisville Slugger (36 oz.)

Finally, we had a 20-minute, all out-fight, knocking things all over the room, a real battle to the finish. Apparently, I had cleaned the room and he became enraged at me for using air freshener. Luckily I won—and after that he was quieter, at least to me, though the arrow incident soon followed.

All this lasted 15 weeks. His “problem” was known to the college at the time, to the point that former roommates had warned me on arrival that my assigned roommate was somewhat volatile.

I bring this up in real empathy with the students, since I don’t believe that the university can protect any of them. Its mentality is therapeutic. And in the age of law-suits, and fourth-chances officials always err in the direction of the accused’s rights. I say that not in hindsight or criticism, but in sadness that the best advice one could give a child going to the university would be something like: “You will meet very eccentric people there, with all sorts of problems and strong passions, most of them antithetical to your own. Don’t expect moral guidance necessarily from your professors, or physical protection from your colleagues or the administration. Ask for such help, but don’t count on it. Instead keep you eyes open and at all times expect the worse.”

I am sorry if that sounds pessimistic, but I find it better advice than something like the college brochures’ promises of four years of intellectual and lifestyle stimulation in a cordial tolerant environment.

Sadly, it just ain’t so.