"To the students speaking individually and to the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard."
Monday, January 08, 2007
I feel compelled to respond to Duke University Professor Cathy Davidson’s recent guest column published in the News & Observer, and I’ll start with a quote from the Group of 88’s “We’re Listening” advertisement:
With that quote providing context, it is abundantly clear Professor Davidson's letter completely misstates what “this miserable incident,” as she calls it, really is. Contrary to Professor Davidson's beliefs, this mess did not become “the” media scandal of 2006 by virtue of the alleged rape, or even because one of approximately 40 party attendees made a racial taunt to one of the dancers as she was driving away (in response to a racial taunt of her own hurled at the attendees by that same dancer, as confirmed by her on 60 Minutes).
No, the reason this story stayed in the national news, and what the “miserable incident” really is about, concerns: a prosecutor’s feeding the media and the public misinformation for the purpose of furthering his career; a gullible media snapping it up without any investigation or verification; and activist groups and professors using the incident to further their own social agendas by conducting a very vocal and public, racially-motivated and gender-based, witch hunt.
Let’s get to that last point, because that’s the one that directly concerns Professor Davidson and the Group of 88. Any person with a shred of intelligence understands the “wanted poster” and the “vigils” that actually were pot-banging incidents, complete with powered bull-horn and banners reading “CASTRATE,” outside the students’ homes on a Sunday morning, had two purposes, and two purposes only. The first was clearly to harass, humiliate and intimidate the lacrosse players as members of a group that was targeted because of their race, gender and perceived social standing. The second was to get the names, faces and agendas of event organizers into the newspapers and on televisions, with the hope such coverage would be as broad as possible. As a former editor of the Herald Sun put it, these people “are being persecuted -- I use that word deliberately -- not for anything they've done, but for who they are.” And, Professor Davidson's column thanked the activist groups for doing just that. She encouraged and applauded people for their pre-judgment (that’s the English translation for prejudice, by the way) against her own students, on the basis of race and gender, and clearly was quite willing to sacrifice her own students to further her own social agendas. To suggest otherwise, as she has done, really is an insult to our intelligence.
Further, and in contrast to her statements, it is the Group of 88 who encouraged “hooligans,” namely, the protesters. It is the Group of 88, who supported and explicitly thanked, “hateful, ranting and sometimes even threatening” actions - of the activists. That is why they have been criticized. Further, Professor Davidson and the other 87 are supposed to be intelligent, enlightened human beings. Their own “We’re listening” advertisement explicitly states their intent to print it “in the most easily seen venue on campus.” They had to know your advertisement would be adding a large dose of gasoline to already-ignited fires of racial and gender-based hatred. They had to know it would be picked up nationally. Realistically, why else would they have written it?
Duke’s tarnished reputation isn’t based upon anything the lacrosse students did. Rather, it is based upon the entire nation knowing that Duke’s faculty was perfectly willing to sacrifice its own students, vilify them and applaud the exposure of three of them to the potential of up to 30 years in prison, in furtherance of their social agendas and their own gender and racial-based prejudices. And, to a certain extent, it is based on the perception that Duke’s administration did not have the backbone to stand up to the faculty when the faculty were supporting these actions and, according to the allegations of a recent lawsuit, actually failing students because they were lacrosse players.
The saddest part of this is, the Duke lacrosse players, and the team itself, apologized for their errors in judgment. On the other hand, the only things coming from any member of the Group of 88, other than silence, have been statements that we have misread the message and its intent (which really does say a lot about your transparently low perception of our intelligence) or other justifications for their actions. There has never been a public admission of error at all, let alone a published apology.
I hope Professor Davidson thinks about that as she looks at the drastic change in the demographics of the students in her classes, and reads the statistics on the dwindling number of applicants to Duke. I sincerely doubt these thoughts will give her any comfort. Given her actions, I’m not sure they should.