Sunday, September 30, 2007

Brodhead’s Statement: Why Now?

In a statement he read yesterday, Duke University’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, failed to explain why he hasn't criticized “activists” who circulated, within sight of his office windows “Vigilante” posters targeting white students.

Brodhead also failed once again to say anything critical of black racists who shouted threats, including death threats, at Reade Seligmann or to explain to Seligmann, his family and the Duke/Durham community why he hasn't.

But for the first time Brodhead said he was sorry he hadn't met with lacrosse parents eighteen months ago and been more supportive of their sons.

Brodhead’s “I’m sorry” contains a huge element of “Spare me,” but I’ll leave that for another post.

Today I want to offer my answer to a question folks have been asking: Why did Brodhead make his statement now?

In a word: Homecoming

Duke's Homecoming will be held October 11th through the 14th.

Alums will attend the usual "meet and greet" socials and panels on subjects of current interest. There'll be tours of new physical facilities; and parties and dances in the evenings.

Friday, October 12th, at 5 p. m. the Alumni Association is sponsoring a reception which DAA says “celebrates alumni who have been invited to participate in the Volunteer Leadership sessions." ( those are the alums who lead the class fundraising campaigns. – JinC )

There’ll also be at least one event at which alums will have a chance to listen to Brodhead deliver some “State of the University” remarks and then ask a few questions.

Brodhead and the trustees know there’s strong and growing disgust, even anger, among alums over the University's "throw the students under the bus" response to the falsehoods of Nifong, the Raleigh N&O and many Duke faculty.

With Homecoming in mind, let’s look at a portion of Brodhead’s statement yesterday that so far has received very little press attention :

My colleagues in the Duke administration are going over all our procedures to see what we can learn from our experience.

But these are complex questions, and they aren’t ones Duke can or should hope to solve on its own.

To work through these difficulties and see that their lessons are learned not only here but around the country, we will be hosting a national conference of educators, lawyers and student affairs leaders to discuss best practices in this important field.
It’s obvious, isn’t it?

All those embarrassing and probing questions alums might ask can now be finessed.

"He's apologized, you know."

“Yes, that concerns me too. But are we sure the students were told not to tell their parents? In any case, some of Dick’s top people are taking a hard look at that. I’m going to wait to hear what they say. Can I freshen your drink? ”

And Brodhead himself:
“Gee, yes, Reade Seligmann. Of course, of course.

Let me tell you something that just happened before I came over here.

Joe Alleva and I were talking in my office; and Joe said there was so much he really, really wanted to say about Reade Seligmann and everything else.

But he wouldn’t do that right now for fear that anything he said might be seen as trying to influence the outcomes of the national conference on best practices Duke will be hosting.

And I must tell you I think we’d all be wise to follow Joe’s lead. I know I’m going to."
Message to President Brodhead and the trustees: Most of us understand.

Closing comment: A hat tip to citizen journalist KBP for prodding me to write this post. Also, my thanks go to him as well for his incisive commentary throughout the Hoax and the encouragement he’s given others who care about Duke and justice.


Anonymous said...

Because of John the Emperor Brodhead has no clothes.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

My compliments to JinC for asking the questions of the newspaper nobility, and now Pres Brodhead, that cause said bureaucrats to become immovable objects in preference to responding.

Due note is taken that Pres Brodhead WILL NOT take further questions following his speech of 'apology' - knowing damn well that pointed questions would expose his lack of moral clothing.

Note to Brodhead: a University is supposed to be where the smart guys congregate, not only to teach students but even more importantly, to test opposing ideas by reasoned debate and probing questions. In the not-so-dim past, a professor could be challenged to a debate on his particular subject, and if defeated would be replaced by the smarter challenger.

By refusing to face such questions, you have resigned all claim to the mantle of Plato, Aristotle and all their intellectually competent successors. Better get thee to a monastery and write sensitive poetry for a decade or two.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!

Someone had to ask these questions and bring up these issues. You did it most intelligently, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the 3 comments here.

Nice work.

Anonymous said...

"Complex questions Duke can't solve on its own"!!!!

My GOD, there are enough good minds and creative genuises ( NOT the 88) at Duke to solve about any problem.

Probably even the Math professors could solve all this because the equations have to add up and they have NEVER added up in the LAX.

They don't need another study with outside experts.

When my house gets dirty, I don't need somebody to tell me my house is cluttered and dirty. I just need my housekeeper to come and help me clean it up.

Duke is perfectly capable of cleaning up its own house, if some of the MORALLY responsible faculty and alumni will step up to the plate.

Corruption to the core is not hard to detect. Follow the stench!

Anonymous said...

John: If I may, I'd like to make a few observations concerning the lessons hopefully learned by the Nifong frame-up.
Both liberals and conservatives (if they are honest with themselves) have been forced to accept the fact that many of their presumptions about the world need some major revisions.
Liberals have had to look at the cost of the gender/class/race paradigm and how it has impacted higher education. They have seen the angry studies racists run roughshod over many of our most precious traditions by pushing the "white innocence=black guilt" nonsense. Forcing colleges to pretend that buffoons like Wahneema Lubiano and Houston Baker have any value to education has forced society to pay an extraordinarily high price and has cheapened the university tradition.
Conservatives, on the other hand, must now face the fact that "law and order" might sound pretty good when a right-winger is running for office, but there are far too many Nifongs, Wendy Murphys, and Nancy Graces willing to throw any poor slob to the wolves knowing that the average schmo has to rely on public defenders--well-intentioned and dedicated, but no match for a determined prosecutor--to defend against "the state." Our three young men were damned lucky to have the caliber of attorneys that came riding to their rescue--most victims of the system don't have that luxury. Conservatives must realize the system is full of Nifongs and we must be vigilant to guard against their abuses. They must avoid unquestioned support for prosecutors and begin questioning them.
I earnestly hope that we can proceed from this juncture and reformulate our justice system so that abuses like the Duke frame-up will one day be the exception.

A retired intelligence and security agent

kbp said...

Thanks John!

Another fine job by the master at working to expose a hidden gem!

There's always a reason or more tucked within when somebody like Brodhead gives a non-apology.

I'll bet you dollars to donuts that he was smirking at the headlines the next morning, thinking "those idiots can't even understand what I actually said, just as I'd planned".

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John, for your ingenious way of expressing the doubt and growing cynicism we all have about Brodhead and his intentions.

If I weren't going to Europe I might attend my first Duke Alumni function in 35 years. I dare to hope that something significant really will happen... between the martinis, somebody might actually make the party a little uncomfortable... Of course, Brodhead could alleviate that if he announced his retirement quickly.

I also appreciate the perspecive of our "security agent" poster.

However, as a conservative, I am somewhat offended that he would think that we would even remotely consider Nancy Grace to be one of us. She's a shameless disgrace to her profession and her program has nothing to do with news. It is just sensational narcicissm.

I have become more and more disenchanted with both the liberal and the conservative view points, because I am afraid they have both basically sold out truth for agenda.

Who was it in Greek mythology who lit his lantern and went in search through the night for an "Honest Man"?

Did he ever find one?

This whole stinking mess has left me with a curious dichotomy of hope and disgust. I yearn for some of these cases to go to court, and for the truth to come out.

BTW: I surely do not think that we can call Nifong a conservative, just because he was in the legal profession. Law and order do not belong to either political party.
Law and order are a constitutional right.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, John. Every night you write something illuminating. You are hitting your stride.

What bothers me about the apology is Brodhead saying he regrets not meeting with the players' families. If I'm not mistaken, he not only did not reach out to the families, he refused to meet with the families when they reached out to him. His was not a passive sin of omission but an active sin of commission. That action had to make the families feel completely abandoned by Duke.

It is obvious that the apology was more of an intellectual exercise than a sincere soul searching. He covered his tracks rather than admit he bullied the players by not talking to them and canceling their season and firing the coach. Can anyone imagine him treating the basketball team the same way? It's as if he had Ted Kennedy's Chapaquiddic lawyers advising him.

For the 9:58
It was the Cynic philosopher Diogenes Laertius who lit a lamp during the day and went through the market place looking for an honest man. He was not a mythological character.

Brant Jones

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

To the retired security agent at 8:22-

"Conservatives, on the other hand, must now face the fact that "law and order" might sound pretty good when a right-winger is running for office, but there are far too many Nifongs, Wendy Murphys, and Nancy Graces willing to throw any poor slob to the wolves"

Stop right there. This line of though ran off the tracks right after 'law and order'.

Law and order means that the laws will be honestly kept, and order established equally for all.

Nifong didn't do that. Wendy Murphy and Nancy Grace violate no laws, perhaps excepting those of libel and slander, but they deliberately cultivate disorder of a lynch mob model. None of these 'examples' represent law and order, unless they're straw men dressed up with badges.

Conservatives - and liberals too - who believe in the rule of law need make no adjustments to their presumptions. Of course conservatives must be vigilant for rotten apples, but so must everyone else.

'Enforce the laws' makes more sense now than it ever has. And believing in them (or working to correct the laws AND ADMINISTRATIVE PRACTICES that deliberately skew justice toward one subclass or other) is even more so. The alternative is G88.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was Diogenes, but I forgot that he was a philosopher. Did he ever find an honest man?

Could we take up a collection and buy Brodhead a real bright searchlight for Christmas? It will take more than a lamp.

kbp said...


We have the Neveready power to keep it dim.

Anonymous said...

hahahahah. Blogging is bad for your sleep!

Anonymous said...

Insufficiently sensitive: You have made my point much better than I could. As for Murphy and Grace, one is a defense attorney and "victim's rights advocate" and the other is a former prosecutor. Too many "conservatives," in my opinion, tend to believe that a "law and order" supporter must unquestioningly support all prosecution efforts; in effect, "bring the guilty bastard in and give him a fair trial." My experience has been that many people who call themselves conservative are prone to assuming prosecutors are always right. It is that tendency that must be overcome. I didn't make my point very clearly, did I?
intel/security agent

Anonymous said...

intel/security agent

"My experience has been that many people who call themselves conservative are prone to assuming prosecutors are always right."

Take off the blinders, bub. The folks who railroaded the lacrosse players were big city liberals.


Ralph PHelan said...

"Complex questions Duke can't solve on its own"!!!!

You really shouldn't need a national conference to tell you that:
(1) You don't tell students being inverstigated for a felony not to tell their parents and not to get a lawyer.
(2) When the parents want to have a meeting you should have a meeting.
(3) You shouldn't let posters with the accused's faces on them be distrubuted on campus.
(4) You shouldn't allow your faculty to make public statements insinuating their guilt.
(5) You shouldn't allow your faculty to fail them out of spite.
(6) You shouldn't say things like "whatever they did was bad enough."

The weasel is still trying to claim that the wrong actions he or his suportdinates took weren't obviously wrong at the time.

Anonymous said...

intel/ agent

Quit knocking the conservatives. Your experience is obviously limited and biased.

My own limited and biased experience is that conservatives are interested in truth, and liberals are self-interested in spin.

But actual fact is that there are people of integrity on both sides, and rat finks on both sides.

Truth has NO political party.

Anonymous said...

Fine job, John. I appreciate all the comments as well. I did note that the overwhelming defense of due process and presumption of innocence in the lax case (in the first 6 months) came from conservatives. They do not always have a "corner on the market"; however, in this case they surely did.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Homecoming is the proximate cause. I believe Jay Bilas' letter is the catalyst. I expect Dan Blue's e-mail has been red hot.

Keep up the good work--you have been spot on from Day 1.--Buddy

Anonymous said...

Not a Duke alum,but have enjoyed your comments.I agree Mr. Brodhead was using his mea culpa as a fire wall.It may be too little,too late.
And he's not addressed the problem of his "rogue group of 88".I don't think he will survive.
Some of your readers have commented on the practice of giving University position to nonsense studies and profs.These people have as a sole stock intrade indignation.However cleaning his Aegean stable would cause him to lose hhis last base of support.And the final tally of damages given to th LAX players hasn't come due yet.He's in a very shaaky position.
Now a query to those of you(Prof Anderson et al) who are in acadsemia.Do these Group of 88 type people know they're ffrauds or is their defense mechanism so strong any criticism becomes an attack?
Kudos for your good work.