Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Know Nothings

It was a Spring that never came
But we have lived enough to know
That what we never had… remains
It is the things we have that go.
-Sara Teasdale

To the Lacrosse players and their families, last Spring surely was a Spring that never came. That beautiful season of renewal, eternal rhythms, that season of confirmation of hope... instead was hijacked by the horror of this Hoax. And, what "never happened" (to paraphrase) STILL Spring became summer and, now… fall. But it is the last phrase of that poem that has been resonating with me lately, almost haunting me: "it is the things we have that go."
Yes, some things have gone. Even those of us outside the real circle of pain of this case, even those of us just reading, or posting, or blogging about the case...even we have lost something, I fear. How can you read about the injustice, the betrayal, the casual lies and misrepresentations...the cowardice and callous agenda baiting...and still remain unchanged. I think you can't.

I have always been a pro-prosecution, "where-there's-smoke-there's fire" type of gal. Never could I have imagined a District Attorney as flawed, as flagrant, as odious as Michael Nifong. Never. And even if somehow, I could have imagined such an egregious villain of the piece, I believed he'd be stopped in his tracks by good people, in positions of power, to whom TRUTH meant something. Dumb, huh? I guess I 've watched too many old movies…where people stand tall on principle, choose the harder right over the easier wrong...look straight into the camera and say, "This is wrong. This must stop." I've been waiting, for certain people in positions of power and influence, at Duke, in Durham, in North Carolina, in the take a stand and say these things. There have been a few. But too few. Most stand silent because truth is secondary to them. Secondary to what is good for their careers, their pocketbooks, town-gown relations, so-called righteous agendas, advancement of themselves and their cause. They REFUSE to look at this case as containing three innocent young men, victims of prosecutorial abuse.

When I was a child, the St. Patrick's Day parade in NYC was a grand event, as it remains today… supported by many wealthy and influential Irish Catholic families. One year, they invited the head of the IRA to be the Honorary Grand a time when bombs and gunfire were the mainstay of protest for that organization. When they would not rescind the invitation, the Cardinal did an amazing thing...not a political thing, not what was best for promoting his pet projects or donations to the Church. He pulled every Catholic school out of the parade and for the first time in history, as that much smaller parade passed St. Pat's cathedral… the doors of the Cathedral were shut, the stairs empty. For the first time ever the Cardinal did not hail the parade. One local paper ran a picture of those closed doors as its front page. My father put it on our refrigerator where it remained for weeks. The right thing is simple, clear, brave and strong. It's easy to see and easier to do...when unclouded by agenda and personal self-promotion.
In contrast, we have folks at Durham and at Duke...who now speak of this case in tortured convolution, because the simple truth is something they don't want to know. After all that has been revealed, all that is available to read, ALL we know of Nifong and his abuse of power… ALL THAT…and they, like the Dean of Duke Chapel...stunningly have no opinion. Brodhead apparently has no opinion. Governor Easley has no opinion. The officials in Durham have no opinion. Many want to talk about broader Issues… because that is SAFER FOR THEM than talking about THIS case, THESE boys, THESE families. They would never close the doors to the Cathedral. They'd be thinking of the wealthy families who'd stop giving to the church, the parishioners it might offend. The larger role of the Church in the World, how they might fare personally. They would speak instead of the joy Parades bring, their ignorance of Irish politics, the importance of participating in a day of Irish pride, or some other benign abstract. The kind of courage shown that long ago day in NYC is passé. Now it's... what's in it for me, how will this affect the ratings the donations, my career, my retirement. ME, ME. ME. The Me Generation married Political Correctness...and this is their Off Spring.

Tonight, we pray that the Sixty Minutes piece brings some plain speaking, clear truth and a focus on the Three young Lives in Jeopardy. WE pray more will move out of the safe cocoon of the grey zone into the bright light of courage. We pray for the families, for Reade and Collin and Dave.

My father called people who feigned ignorance for their own promotion, the "Know Nothings." He would tell us time and again that the Know Nothings were the worst of the lot. They had neither the courage of their convictions, nor the respect of either side. This case has brought the Know Nothings out in force. And, when the Hoax is ended, they will forever have to wear the tee shirt.
Joan Foster


Anonymous said...

I have a 15 year old son. After seeing what amounts to justice in Durham, I won't allow him to apply to any southern universities.

gc said...

Just lovely posting and so true. Thank you Joan.

Anonymous said...

Your best yet Joan. It's about character, a personal code now missing in much of our society.

When is the last time you heard someone in a leadership position say, "I made a mistake". No excuses, no rehab, no nothing. Simply, "I made a mistake, I was wrong, what can I do to help make it right."

Thank you for blessing us with your insight.

Anonymous said...

Great job Joan!

"The Me Generation married Political Correctness...and this is their Off Spring."

Now we should all show respect to those that are stepping forward.

Anonymous said...

The truth is always simple, it's the lies which are complex.

RattlerGator said...

Anonymous at 10:09 a.m., if you have not learned at this late hour that this has nothing to do with Southern universities -- unfortunately, you have learned nothing of essence about what you just read. I do wonder when Americans will stop with the regional assumptions that are nothing more than another form of the bias this hoax represents at its core.

Well done, Joan. This entry is a fantastic piece.

Anonymous said...

Gov. Easley, who appointed Nifong; Mr. Brodhead, who enabled Nifong; N&O editors and reporters on the March 24 and 25 stories, who fanned the flames and helped create the atmosphere for Nifong — your silence is deafening.

Anonymous said...

Your eloquence is such a gift. You put the thought of many into beautiful, clear words.


Anonymous said...

Well said. I think most of us have been shocked at the repugnant 'know nothing' behavior of officials who should have intervened.

This is not the first time in North Carolina, however. Remember that the appalling 'Little Rascals' day care persecutions ground on for years despite being covered at least twice by 'Front Line.' Something isn't working right in N.C.

I have been wondering, too, about the assistant prosecutors in the District Attorney's office. Nifong seems to have personal problems, but not everyone on his staff can be a nut. Where are their ethical principles? How can they associate with such a degraded public office? What are their names? Can they ever put 'service' with Nifong on their resumes without a sense of shame?


Anonymous said...

Excellent point! Where has been the Legal community of Durham? Is the system so corrupt they all sit back and say nothing for fear of ruining a special relationship with the DA's office?

I thought Judges were there to insure fair and impartial justice?

Judge Stephens, where were you?

Why was Nifong allowed to run wild?

Anonymous said...

To comment 1: This is not about the south. Brodhead is Ohio/Andover/Yale and he is as culpable as Nifong. This could happen anywhere there is a corrupt racebaiting DA

Anonymous said...

I have been married a law enforcer with a top national agency. I was always pro-prosecution too (although, my husband said the GJ is so flawed), until this case arose.
Beleive me, I will now give much more insight to what the accused has to say.
God Bless the men and families involved with the lacrosse case.

ps-my husband is the first to agree this is the most flawed case ever!!!

Anonymous said...

Joan, That is one of the best pieces written. You are so right and that is what is wrong with our world today. EVERYBODY wants to be politically correct. No one with one ounce of intelligence thinks that even possibly a rape occured. How can NO ONE come forward and stop this big national disgrace to our justice system in America?

Anonymous said...

Here is the web page for the Durham County Bar Association.

Maybe it is time that this legal group began to hear just how horribly, morally corrupt they look in the eyes of the nation.

The entire Durham Bar appears to be a gaggle of ethical and moral retards. They are a disgrace to the traditions of law.

Another legal organization, the State Bar, clearly is not monitoring attorney misconduct as closely as it should be. Perhaps the legislature needs to establish a separate organization to handle this task. First the "Little Rascals" prosecution atrocity, and now Nifong, the State Bar publishes ethical guidelines, but it apparently doesn't pay any attention to them. An organization that will enforce those guidelines is badly needed in North Carolina.


Anonymous said...

The bottom line is the NC Govenor, judges, Durham Police Chief, the NC Bar Assocation etc. will not speak out against the corrupt DA because they are all covering up for their own corruption and covering their own tails. No one in NC who has the power to stop Nifong from terrorizing these 3 innocent young men and their families will do anything because they have no integrity, no honor an are spineless, useless elected officials. They are organized criminals and the NC tax payers pay for their salaries. The judge who stands up and says to Nifong, "Enough lies, enough coverups, enough intimidating witnesses" "hand over all the evidence... at least the evidence you haven't yet destroyed"... that judge will be a hero. But don't expect it. Don't trust the American legal system, don't count on the Constituion or Bill or Rights, don't believe everything you read or hear in the news. Big lessons the American public has learned from this case. Corruption is alive and thriving in Durham.

Anonymous said...

And running full steam ahead!