In Duke Case, A Rogues’ Gallery

Stuart Taylor Jr., National Journal, May 22, 2006

My rogues’ gallery does not (in all probability) include any Duke University lacrosse player. That’s because the available evidence leaves me about 85 percent confident that the three members who have been indicted on rape charges are innocent and that the accusation is a lie.

The gallery does include more than 90 members of the Duke faculty who have prejudged the case, with some exuding the anti-white racism and disdain for student-athletes that pollutes many college faculties.

The gallery also includes former Princeton University President William Bowen and civil-rights lawyer Julius Chambers. They went out of their way to slime the lacrosse players in a report on the Duke administration’s handling of the rape scandal—a report that is a parody of race-obsessed political correctness.

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I’ll start with Houston Baker, a Duke professor of English and of African and African-American studies. In a public letter dated March 29, he assailed “white . . . male athletes, veritably given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech” and “sport their disgraced jerseys on campus, safe under the cover of silent whiteness.” He all but pronounced them guilty of “abhorrent sexual assault, verbal racial violence, and drunken white, male privilege loosed amongst us” against a “black woman who their violence and raucous witness injured for life.” And on he raved, oozing that brand of racism which consists of falsely smearing decent people as racists.

Baker was hardly alone. Three academic departments, 13 programs, and 88 professors at Duke took out a full-page ad in the campus newspaper on April 7. Treating the truth of the rape charge almost as a given, and applauding protesters who had put lacrosse players’ photos on “wanted” posters, the ad associated “what happened to this young woman” with “racism and sexism,” implausibly complained of “racist classmates,” and falsely suggested that white lacrosse players were getting privileged treatment.

Bowen and Chambers were equally race-obsessed. A curiously unbalanced team to evaluate the handling of this case, both have spent much of their careers peddling preferential treatment of racial minorities and women at the expense of white males. Not to mention Bowen’s two books blasting college athletic programs.

So what remedy did they prescribe in their May 4 report for wounds caused by what they had ample reason to know was a probably-false rape charge victimizing innocent white males? You guessed it: more “diversity”! More racial and gender preferences in doling out top administrative jobs!

The report unsurprisingly commended Duke President Richard Brodhead, who had appointed Bowen and Chambers. They especially liked Brodhead’s “eloquent” statements implicitly associating the lacrosse players with rape and “dehumanization,” with “memories of . . . systematic racial oppression,” with “inequalities of wealth, privilege, and opportunity . . . and the attitudes of superiority those inequalities breed.”

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Bowen and Chambers were not asked to evaluate the lacrosse team. That did not stop them from implying that its members did not show “respect for other people.” Or from criticizing Duke’s athletic director for having called them “wonderful young men.” Or from uncritically parroting unnamed “community” members’ views that the lacrosse team is “a manifestation of a white, elitist, arrogant subculture that was both indulged and self-indulgent.”

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