Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pick the Duke Prof

Below are excerpts from two quite different statements which two African American scholars made last Spring in response to what was then called the “Duke lacrosse rape scandal.”

Your job is to pick which of the two scholars was a Duke Prof at the time the statements were made.

Once you’re read the excerpts and made your selection, I’ll identify the then Duke Prof and tell you a little about each scholar.

Scholar 1 excerpt:

Prosecutors are not just supposed to prosecute. They are supposed to prosecute the right people in the right way. In this case, prosecutor Michael Nifong has proceeded in the wrong way. ….

A lineup should include not only people suspected of a crime but also other people, so that it tests whether the accuser or witness can tell the difference, and is therefore credible.

But the stripper who claimed to have been raped by members of the Duke lacrosse team was presented with a lineup consisting exclusively of photographs of members of the lacrosse team.

In other words, whoever she picked out had to be a lacrosse player and would be targeted, with no test whatever of her credibility, because there was no chance for her to pick out somebody who had no connection with the team or the university. …

When a prosecutor acts like he has made up his mind and doesn't want to be confused by the facts, that is when the spirit of the lynch mob has entered the legal system.

When this happens on the eve of an election for the prosecutor, it looks even uglier.
Thank you, Scholar 1.

Now, are you ready for the Scholar 2 excerpt? OK, here’s goes:
[In] a forthrightly ethical setting with an avowed commitment to life-enhancing citizenship, such a violent and irresponsible group [as the lacrosse team] would scarcely be spirited away, or sheltered under the protection of pious sentiments such as "deplorable" - a judgment that reminds us of Miss Ophelia in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, saying that slavery was "perfectly horrible." …

The lacrosse team - 15 of whom have faced misdemeanor charges for drunken misbehavior in the past three years - may well feel they can claim innocence and sport their disgraced jerseys on campus, safe under the cover of silent whiteness.

But where is the black woman who their violence and raucous witness injured for life? Will she ever sleep well again? …

The shame of this is unconscionable. ...
Ready to pick the Duke Prof? Scholar 1 or Scholar 2?

Before you make your pick, here are a few facts which may help you.

The Duke Prof was heavily recruited by Duke with, among other inducements, a promise of tenure and an endowed professorship. His wife was also “recruited” by Duke and given a position on its faculty.

Now, whom did you pick?

Scholar 1? Sorry, you’re wrong.

Scholar I is Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. One of America’s most respected free market economic theorists, Sowell is the author of over thirty books. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal. Previous recipients include author John Updike, oceanographer Robert Ballard and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

The correct answer is Scholar 2: Houston Baker.

At the time Baker expressed his concern as to whether Crystal Mangum would “ever sleep well again,” she was pole dancing at the Platinum Club and he was George D. and Susan Fox Beischer Professor of English at Duke.

Baker has since moved on to Vanderbilt University, which recruited him from Duke. I don't know whether Mangum still works at the Platinum or has been recruited away by another club.

You can read more about Baker in this article in which the distinguished arts critic and biographer Terry Teachout says [excerpt]:
To be sure, Houston Baker, Jr., is no worse than the rest of his fellow literary-theory racketeers. He commits no literary offenses that cannot be found in a hundred other equally stupid books published by a hundred other professors of other colors. …

[But if] the author of Black Studies, Rap, and the Academy is truly representative of the best black studies has to offer, then it necessarily follows that black studies is a joke, a pitiful and preposterous burlesque of scholarship foisted on the academy in the holy name of diversity. …
Read the whole thing as they say.

And if you’re a Dukie, don’t forget to drop Vandy a thank you note.


Anonymous said...

Houston Baker referred to one of the Duke Lacrosse players as a farm animal. Baker has been described as a man of letters.

Baker looks more like a farm animal than any of the Duke Lacrosse Players. He is no more a man of letters than is Don Imus.