Readers Note: William H. Chafe is Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of American History at Duke University and a signatory of the faculty’s Group of 88’s “social disaster” statement that ran as a full-page ad in the Apr. 6 Chronicle. From 1995-2004 he served as Dean of the Faculty of Duke University and Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education.
I just sent Chafe the following email with a link to this post. I’ll keep you informed.
Dear Professor Chafe:
I hold two degrees from the University and blog as John in Carolina.
My blog is not a Duke Hoax blog, but I post often on the witch hunt, the frame-up and their active enablement by many, including many in senior positions at Duke.
I read your extremely serious but unsupported charges in the Apr. 30 Chronicle:
"I am appalled at the way that bloggers who have targeted the 'Group of 88' have put words in our mouths, denied our individuality and racist and violent language to attack us-including sending us e-mails and making phone calls wishing our deaths and calling us 'Jew b-' and 'n-b-,'" Chafe wrote in an e-mail. "Most of us never presumed guilt."Yesterday KC Johnson posted regarding an opportunity he gave you to clarify your unsupported charges. You were quoted as saying:
“There were repeated phone calls and e-mail messages. I never claimed they were from you, but they were concerted.”To your unsupported Chronicle charges, it now appears you’re adding conspiracy.
Every decent blogger condemns those making physical threats to law abiding people. We also condemn those who make unsubstantiated charges that can often be false.
You surely know some people sending emails and making phone calls are not always who they claim to be and don’t necessarily believe what they say. What could you make of an email that said:
Dear Professor Chafe,Is the person really a grateful former student?
Thank you for never joining who’ve attacked us for our rally under the “CASTRATE" banner or for distributing “Vigilante” posters on campus and elsewhere.
We were all so encouraged last spring when you and the rest of the Group of 88 supported us in the “social disaster” statement: “to the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard.”
A Grateful Former Student?
Couldn’t the email be from a former student scornful of your silence in the face of demonstrable threats to Duke students; and worse, your signing on, in the face of those threats, to a statement widely regarded last April and now as thanking those whose actions made an already dangerous situation even more dangerous?
Just a few days before the “social disaster” statement appeared, Vice President for Student Affairs Moneta took the necessary step of cautioning Duke students concerning their safety while at the same time Duke and Durham police increased patrols on campus, in Trinity Park and the Ninth Street area.
Shortly after the "social disaster" statement appeared, Durham Mayor Bill Bell, North Carolina Central University Chancellor James Ammons and President Brodhead took the unprecedented step of placing full-page ads in area newspapers calling for community calm.
In such a tense and dangerous time, whatever possessed you, many other Duke faculty and 15 academic departments and programs to issue your statement and go out of you way to say: “to the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard?”
If you don’t feel you can answer for the others, will you answer for yourself?
In the last year I’ve seen copies of many hundreds of civilly worded emails sent to you and other “88” faculty members. They’ve raised important issues and asked reasonable, fact-based questions.
But rarely have those emails received similarly civil and fact-based replies addressing the issues raised and the questions asked.
I hope you will respond to this email.
I’ll publish your response in full up to 1000 words. I’ll make no response for at least a day so readers can have a look at what you say free of my commentary.
John in Carolina