Readers Note: This post is the first of a three-post series the title of which states the series' theme.
Today's post includes a post, BRODHEAD'S FAILED, I first published on December 23, 2006.
That's followed by commentary concerning how the post looks to me today and a few words about the two series posts which will follow this one.
Let's begin with last December's BRODHEAD'S FAILED:
Back on March 25 Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, refused to meet with the parents of 46 students under investigation for multiple felonies, including gang rape. He hasn’t met with them since. He’s never said why.
On May 18 racists outside and within the Durham County Courthouse shouted threats, including death threats, at Duke sophomore Reade Seligmann.
Brodhead said nothing then and has said nothing since critical of racists threatening one of his students.
Duke News Service recently confirmed Brodhead’s silence on May 18 and since. But it said I needed to call his office to learn why he’s been silent. Calls to Brodhead’s office in which I identified myself and my purpose have not been returned.
On June 13 the Raleigh News & Observer published a letter from Duke Law School professor James Coleman in which he said Nifong had “undermined public confidence in the case” and should step aside.
For the next six months and nine days Brodhead declined to support Coleman’s request.
Instead, Brodhead urged us all to, like him, do nothing about Nifong’s conduct; and thus enable Nifong to bring David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann to trial in Durham where Brodhead said they would have their chance to be “proved innocent.”
Now, a week after a disgraced DNA expert admitted in court he teamed with Nifong to withhold evidence favorable to Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann, Brodhead announced he can support Coleman’s position after all.
What’s more, Brodhead is demanding Nifong “explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.” Excerpt from Duke News Service:
“The district attorney should now put this case in the hands of an independent party, who can restore confidence in the fairness of the process. Further, Mr. Nifong has an obligation to explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.”It’s a plus for justice whenever someone goes from silence in the face of Nifong’s travesties to endorsing what Coleman and so many others have asked for.
But excepting that, I’m not cheering Brodhead’s statement. It’s too little, too late and obviously self-serving.
Brodhead’s demand that Nifong “explain to all of us his conduct in this matter” would have been very helpful last spring or even a few weeks before November’s election which Nifong won with less than 50% of the vote.
By speaking out last spring, Brodhead might very well have helped prevent a witch hunt and the massive injustices it’s spawned.
Even if Brodhead had delayed speaking out until October, he might have helped defeat Nifong at the polls. In that case, Nifong would now have just over a week left in office.
Brodhead has often said the job of president of Duke University is a very tough one. He’s right. But there are matters and events that come a Duke president’s way that are very important and not really so tough. Yet Brodhead’s managed to fail at many of them.
What was tough about condemning the "Wanted" and "Vigilante" posters that circulated on campus and in Durham last spring? But Brodhead said nothing. Those posters endangered the lacrosse players most but they also endangered the rest of us.
How tough was it back on May 18 to speak out against the racists attacking Seligmann; or to say supporting words to him and his family? And if for some reason Brodhead didn’t think May 18 was the right day to speak, why hasn’t he spoken since?
What kind of university president remains silent for seven months about events like those of May 18?
Brodhead’s failed Duke and Durham. He needs to move on. The sooner, the better.
Looking back on that post, I wish I'd capitalized "spring." Otherwise, I wouldn't change a word of it.
The post contains fair, accurate descriptions of President Brodhead's actions and inactions which even his supporters don't dispute.
Brodhead's actions and inactions I cite are odious and, of themselves, enough to mark him as a failed president.
But unfortunately for Duke, I can say to you what Dave Barry is known for saying: "Wait! There's more."
The second post in this series will look at some of Brodhead's failures that relate to the Duke Hoax which were known last December but which I didn't discuss in order to hold the post to a reasonable length. For example, his decision to issue on March 29 a full and unconditional apology on behalf of the University to the woman who was at the time identified only as "the first 911 caller."
The third post will look at some of Brodhead's failures since BRODHEAD'S FAILED was published. For example, his failure to state what, if anything, Duke has done to determine whether the person(s) who "pulled" from GoDuke.com face photos of white lacrosse players which later appeared on the notorious "Vigilante" poster did so using Duke equipment.
I'm told by tech people that the answer to the question can be easily determined.
But apparently it's not an easy question for Brodhead; or at least it's not one he wants to answer.
I hope you all take a look at the BRODHEAD'S FAILED comment thread. There's a lot of excellent commentary there.
I also hope you're back for the second series post.
And what are your thoughts regarding Brodhead?