Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Brodhead & Steel's shrinking credibility (a repost)

Readers Note: The following post was published May 12, 2007, fifteen months ago today. I think most of you will find it interesting for many reasons.

I'm eager to read your comments. There's been some link-rot (Liestoppers, Durham H-S and Newsday), but the other links work.


Regarding Duke University's refusal to face problems revealed by it's bungled and in some instances shameful responses to the witch hunt and frame-up, citizen journalist Locomotive Breath, a Duke alum, recently observed at Liestoppers Forum:

One strategy Duke is using is to pretend to each mad alum that that person is a malcontent and all alone in his/her [upset at Brodhead’s caving to the “88” and throwing the players under the bus.]
He’s got that right.

Another strategy Duke's been using involves keeping people ignorant of what’s been going on.

Duke Magazine has yet to say one word about Professor James Coleman’s June 2006 letter calling for Nifong to recuse himself from the case; something Brodhead at the time insisted he couldn’t do, but then did eagerly and loudly in December, only a few weeks before events forced Nifong himself to finally request recusal.

What about the disgusting media attacks last spring on the Women’s lacrosse team whose “offense” was to assert the innocence of Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann? What about the death threats shouted at Reade Seligmann last May 18 in a Durham courtroom?

Nothing’s been mentioned about those events in Duke Magazine or in the “sunshine” emails and letters President Brodhead and Board of Trustees Chair Robert Steel keep sending “the Duke community.”

People of goodwill who don’t know what’s been going on are inclined to believe Steel and Brodhead’s emails and letters assuring them all is well at "dear old Duke."

Oh sure, there may have been a tiny flub or two last spring, but that was to be expected. After all, as Brodhead told the late Ed Bradley on CBS’s 60 Minutes “the facts kept changing.”

Yes, David Evans recently insisted “facts don’t change.” But are you going to believe a young, recent grad when President Brodhead himself tells you they do change?

But enough about "changing facts."

Steel and Brodhead want us to understand we’re “all united for Duke” and “looking to the future.”

However, despite Steel and Brodhead's strenuous efforts, it's obvious to intelligent people that their “sunshine and unity at Duke” pitch is very misleading.

This March the Raleligh N&O reported [excerpts]:
… "The one thing that I wish we would have done is just out, publicly say, 'Look, those are our kids. And we're gonna support 'em, because they're still our kids.' That's what I wish we would have done," [Coach Mike] Krzyzewski told Bob Costas, a sports commentator who has a television show on HBO. "And I'm not sure that we did -- I don't think we did a good job of that." …

Krzyzewski, who also bears the title of special assistant to the Duke president, told Costas he did not speak out last spring because Brodhead did not ask him to do so.

"I met with my college president. I told Dick Brodhead, 'If you need me ... you tell me, and then put me in a position where I'm not the basketball coach. But I am that special assistant to you,' " Krzyzewski said.

"Dick Brodhead did not bring me in."
Recently 1,000 Duke students signed a statement that appeared as an ad in The Chronicle.

The students condemned Duke faculty’s Group of 88’s “social disaster” statement which appeared as a full-page ad last April in The Chronicle. To date, no one has admitted placing the ad, and Steel and Brodhead haven't asked where the funds for the ad came from.

The students' statement said in part:
In a time of intense emotions and enormous stakes, when our community dearly needed a call for calm, for patience, for rational and careful thinking, these professors instead took a course of action which escalated tensions, spurred divisions along lines of race and class and brought our community into greater turmoil.

Their actions also further undermined the legal process and most likely emboldened a rogue district attorney.
The students demanded an apology from the Group of 88. They ended their statement with an appeal to Brodhead:
Brodhead, widely regarded as sympathetic to the Group of 88, has not responded to the students, just as he did not respond last March and April when “activists,” including some Duke staffers and students, distributed on campus within sight of his office windows “Vigilante” posters boldly targeting the white members of the lacrosse team and adding to the danger those students were already facing.

This past Thursday, former Duke Athletic Director Tom Butters was quoted in Newsday:
"I know I am probably stepping on toes when I say this, but it was absurd," Butters says. "I wanted someone to step up for Mike [Pressler, the former lacrosse coach forced to resign last April] and those kids."
Today we read in the Durham Herald Sun:
Duke University has to reassess how it treats students accused of crimes and make sure it doesn't contribute to unequal treatment of them by Durham authorities, the school's departing student government president told trustees Friday.

The lacrosse case showed "that we cannot have blind faith in the Durham police and the Durham district attorney to administer justice," said Elliott Wolf, who added that Duke also "must now shake the perception, whether legitimate or not, that it simply washes its hands of its students when they are in legal trouble."

Wolf's comments came during a morning meeting of the school's board of trustees, the last of the 2006-07 school year.

The junior singled out for criticism, in addition to the Durham Police Department's handling of the lacrosse case, its "zero-tolerance" crackdown two years ago on the Trinity Park party house scene.

He said comments police Capt. Ed Sarvis made to The Herald-Sun last year show that it was "stated DPD policy to punish Duke students more severely than other members of the community," and that authorities have frequently issued citations knowing they were "based on evidence that would not stand up in court." …
The entire H-S article’s here.

It ends with a statement from Brodhead saying Duke will be looking to “see what lessons we have to learn.” Does that surprise anyone?

A big hat tip goes to Student Government President Elliott Wolf for saying to the trustees what University President Dick Brodhead should have said to them many months ago.

I don’t know how Brodhead and Steel will spin Wolf’s presentation, but I know this: based on the communications I’ve been getting recently and what I’ve been hearing the last few days from members of “the Duke community” in Durham for commencement, the number of people who believe Steel and Brodhead's emails and letters is shrinking fast.


Locomotive Breath said...

Haven't commented much lately but I'm still here. Just talked to another Duke alum today. He and I originally met at "A Duke Conversation" in Durham where we both gave Brohead all the hell we could muster. We both hold the same opinion today.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me that all the information in your post was public 15 months ago and yet not one thing has changed.

Unless revelations in the civil suits cause demands for change I fear nothing at Duke will change.

Political correctness will remain the dominate force, students will be victimized, and sadly this could all happen again.

Anonymous said...

John -

After the Lacrosse hoax, and the way the university administration, starting with Brodhead, threw the players, along with the coach, under the bus, I fail to see why the university continues to attract top-notch students. Correspondingly, I don't see how any thoughtful person could choose Duke, given the racism found in certain departments, in particular, those where members of the group of 88 are present.

I might add that to this day certain individuals I know have the opinion that the kids were a bad bunch, and even if they didn't do what they were accused of, they still got their comeupance. Even after I explain how biased the story line from the MSM was, they continue to hold that opinion. That is the consequence of the university's failure, and in particular, Brodhead's utter failure, to seek the truth.

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

Jack in SS is right in that there are many out there (particularly in the area of the country where I live which see the three lax students as victims (yes) but who were responsible for what happened to them (akin to the belief tht if a girl has on a short skirt she is asking to be raped).
Political correctness has run amuck on most college campuses and has permeated both the elementary and secondary schools of this country. My own children (four in either college or graduate school) all have made mention of one or another professor (two were at the same undergraduate institution) that there are certain professors that one avoids because if one does not subscribe to their left wing credo then it will be impossible to succeed in the class. While it has been many years since I was either in college or graduate school full-time (I matriculated in 1970) and there were many professors who were vocal about their politics in the classroom, I did not feel (nor in fact did it) that my conservative views on many issues would prevent me from doing well in even the most strident left wing professor's courses and in fact, I found the interchange challenging and educational. Sadly, that is not the case today in too many instances.
Students choose colleges for various reasons. I do think, however, that any student who selects Duke as an institution of choice should be made full aware of the dangers that such a choice now entails. While there my be other colleges with fickle administrators and BOT, one knows for certain of the perfidy and cllousness that exists at Duke.

Locomotive Breath said...


By all reports Duke is still a great undergraduate experience as long as you keep your head down and don't interfere with the agenda of the PC police.

Anonymous said...

Jack in Silver Spring - You seem to believe that your opinions hold more validity than those who view things from an opposing perspective. Why?

I, too, feel that certain Duke University administrators, particularly a relatively ineffective president, have done little good for the institution. It is a matter spanning beyond the "LAX Hoax", but this seems to be the only matter anyone wishes to address, so we will stick to that.

The fact of the matter is, this tiny blogging community (rest assured it is tiny compared to the rest of the world population) is harping about an issue that has fallen from the minds of many. Students still turn to Duke as a bastion of academic and athletic excellence. It is not a matter of who is in charge, but who is teaching the courses the students want to take. If one chose to go to a school simply based on who its president was, I would wonder about that person's interest in academics over social politics.

The fact of the matter is, crappy administration is prevalent throughout this country. We do what we can to resolve and improve matters, but we will always deal with bureaucratic pinheads wherever we go. Yes, Duke and its students deserve better. We will work for better. As is, we'd rather progress from what we have than whine about it and do nothing.

Sometimes the squeaky wheel doesn't get the grease. Sometimes it just gets tossed out instead.

Some of the 88 professors who signed a certain document may have had a certain agenda. Others may have just wanted to promote awareness of racism and sexism. Who knows? We certainly weren't at their meetings. "Oh, boo hoo, it's PC dominance!" Wrong. It's not political, it's about community. If we can't strive for harmony, we're doomed to repeat this crap regardless of who's in charge. Think about it.

I'm not saying anyone was justified in making, as my esteemed Professor Stephen Baldwin put it, "pariahs of [those] boys." I'm not saying the administrations meekness in the matter was justified. I'm not saying it was handled as best as it could be. What I am saying is that whining about it solves nothing. People have gotten over it and are actively working to improve on the quality of things. We're seeing that no damage has been done that can't be overcome.

"What about justice!?" What about it? That's for the courts to handle. If you have a problem, go offer your services to the courts, or maybe you could quit your job and work as a DPD officer or Duke administrator. After all, we deserve better, right? I'm sure you could give us better.

I want to get back to Jack's point about not understanding why top notch students keep applying to Duke: it's because there is something here that appeals to them. When you have that, nothing else really matters. Some come for a particular professor or program, others just come for a sport like basketball. Regardless, people come here for what they perceive as the good things that make them want to come here. No muddled case filled with false accusations will deter them.

Now, obviously, I have my opinion and you have your own. I am not trying to belittle you, but I am trying to give an alternate perspective that might answer some of your questions.

I hope it was helpful, because that really is my only intent.

In closing: We have Rebecca Ward, number one female saber-ist in the world and Olympic Bronze Medalist. Suck on it.

Anonymous said...

This blog takes the time to go against so called liberals, wicker on about the Lax frame, and then promote every Neoconservative policy and action coming down the pike. The attitude seen here and across the country set the stage for the frame. When we stopped respecting the rule of law and adopted the rule of our executive branch of government, we set in motion the frame not just for the lax boys, but of any group or individual the government decides to go after. That is why the government will not go after the police they run, will not go after the unconstitutional legislation they support, will not go after their justice system. Without the rule of law we are condemned to cycles of government against which group is out of favor.

In the rarefied atmosphere here, the lax frame should have been your personal wake up call to out of control government ruling our cities, counties, states, and country. Elliot Spitzer's rampage through Wall Street should have gotten your white collar attention, the bombing and aftermath of the USS Liberty should have been your foreign policy wake up call.

Some here will wicker on endlessly for lax team "justice" and the same people will turn around and ignore injustice done to people with a convenient label that identifies them with the current out of favor group, people they don't care about. Go figure.

It is going to end in your tears because eventually the government will turn on you. That is what happens in a country ruled by executive fiat instead of the rule of law. What are you going to do when they come for you?

Anonymous said...

The 9:22 comment had a lot to say. Although attacking Jack in SS, none of it imoo rebuted his opinion.

I'll only specifically address the closing thought and parting shot.

"In closing: We have Rebecca Ward, number one female saberist in the world and Olymipc Bronz Medalist. Suck on it."

How rude and how wrong. The Gold Medalist Mariel Zagunis goes to Notre Dame.

Anonymous said...

2:39 PM - My point was never to "rebute" or "attack" Jack. My point was to offer a different perspective.

Obviously, I did that.

As for Zagunis: did you even watch the saber competition? The Zagunis-Ward match (amongst many others) was horribly called. If anything, Ward deserved the gold round. Fencing as she did for most of the day (bronze round excluded), I think she could have easily defeated Jacobson.

Zagunis certainly did, and she actually WALKED INTO Jacobson's blade at one point (re-watch the match if you doubt me). Zagunis is good. Damn good. Ward is better, though. Better record, better style. Go watch some of their other bouts.

Would putting a ":)" after that comment make it easier to take?

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 9:22 AM and others via Jnc --

I would like to thank those of you who viewed my comments in a positive light. To Anon at 9:22, let me say I do not believe that my " ... opinions hold more validity than those who view things from an opposing perspective." My opening comments were fact based, as was my closing comment. In the middle, I was pointing out something I continue to be quite surprised about. Obviously, others (those choosing to go to Duke) have a different opinion than I do.

I am fortunate that all my children have completed their college education. But, were I younger and had children of college age, at this point in time, I would steer them away from colleges that have faculty members who vindictively attack students professing a different viewpoint.

I thank Anon at 2:39 PM for pointing out that there was no real rebuttal in your comments to the points I made.

To Anon at 12:16 PM, I will get back to you tomorrow night, time permitting.

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

John and Locomotive Breath: I am convening an important leaders meeting for which I would like your input. Please contact me at jianco@aol.com
Your ideas could shape some real decision-making if you are willing to share some concrete steps that you would recommend if you could do anything you wanted to improve Duke.

Anonymous said...

I'm old so "suck on it" would probably never be easy to take.

Unfortunately we seem to have jinxed them both (only Jacobson outscored her Ukranian opponent):


No happy face here.

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 12:16 PM via JnC -

There is much that you say that I do not disagree with. There are four areas, though, where I do. Three are explicit and one, implicit. The first explicit one is where you say the following: "This blog ... then promote [sic] every Neoconservative policy and action coming down the pike." The second explicit one is where you say: " ... the bombing and aftermath of the USS Liberty should have been your foreign policy wake up call." The third is where you say: " the same people will turn around and ignore injustice done to people with a convenient label that identifies them with the current out of favor group ..."

I turn to the bombing statement first because I find the example so puzzling. In particular, I find it puzzling because I do not understand the connection between the bombing and executive rule. It has nothing with executive rule. (I note that several Congressional committees deemed the bombing to have been an accident.)

With regard to the statement about the Neocons, all I can say is that I do not see them as advocating executive control. They tend to be constitutionalists who, I think, try to read the Constitutional based on the Founders' intent.

Unfortunately, what I do see in your bringing up the bombing and the Neocons is a connection to Pat Buchanan paranoia that blames everything "bad" about US policy on covert Jewish conspiracies. I should mention that many conservatives recognize Pat Buchanan for what he is, and it isn't pretty. (You might take some time to view David Brookhiser's review [at nationalreview.com] of Pat Buchanan's latest book on WWII which he conducted with Victor David Hanson and Christopher Hitchens who wrote a book rebutting Buchanan.)

There is then the third explicit area wherein I think we disagree. My (wild) guess is that you are talking about Gitmo and about our suspicions vis-a-vis Islamists. As I read the Geneva Conventions, the plain meaning of those Conventions is that irregular fighters who do not wear military insignia are not covered by the Conventions, period!! I see the judiciary that gave them rights of ordinary combatants to be willfully ignorant of those Conventions. The executive here rules by dint of being Commander-in-Chief of military operations. As for our suspicions about Islamists, I think they are well placed, given 9/11, the bombing of the US Cole, the events in Mogadishu early in the Clinton Administration, etc.

The last area where we disagree is implicit in what you say, which is that executive accretion of power is a recent phenomenon. It's not. It began in the Great Depression when there was a major transfer Congress of legislative authority to the President. It was in Congress' allowing the President to
legislate in the guise of rule making. So, we have the SEC (created by Roosevelt) making a rule about insider trading about which there is no legislation. Yet people are routinely taken to court and go to jail for that "crime." The only way the executive gets away with that is through a compliant judiciary. But I have said, over and over again, the problem is not in the stars but in whom we vote to be our legislators. The only way to reverse what is happening (and it will take a long time to do so) is to vote for legislators willing to reaffirm Article 1, Section of the Constitution, which says: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States ..." That means no more legislation by rule-making, and it means Senate consenting to the appointment of judges who are committed to enforce that statement of the Constitution.

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

@ Jack in Silver Spring

Sorry old chap, I believe your knee jerk reaction to calling out antisemitism in the face of those critical of Israeli wrong doing is simply a reflex. And like a physiologic reflex it bypasses the mind's cognitive realms.

Let's start with the attack on the USS Liberty:

"On June 8, 1967, US Navy intelligence ship USS Liberty was suddenly and brutally attacked on the high seas in international waters by the air and naval forces of Israel. The Israeli forces attacked with full knowledge that this was an American ship and lied about it. Survivors have been forbidden for 40 years to tell their story under oath to the American public."

"After surveilling USS Liberty for more than nine hours with almost hourly aircraft over flights and radar tracking, the air and naval forces of Israel attacked our ship in international waters without warning. Sailing in international waters at less than five knots, with no offensive armament, our ship was not a military threat to anyone."
and here:

Jack in Silver Spring said:
"With regard to the statement about the Neocons, all I can say is that I do not see them as advocating executive control. They tend to be constitutionalists who, I think, try to read the Constitutional based on the Founders' intent."

I wonder what this means - perhaps there is a typo. Surely you cannot be advocating the Neocon position as one in which the Constitution of the United States, the rule of law, and our God given rights are central to their political and ideological stance. I suggest there is confusion in your post between the CONSERVATIVES and the Neoconservatives.

Can we possibly agree on a definition of Neoconservative? I will propose a starting point, and hope that you will help me understand where your understanding may differ:

Neoconservatives are liberals who have "moved to the right" - they believe in a strong central government, believe patriotism is "natural" and should be "encouraged" by private and public institutions. Neocons have a well defined notion of who our "friends" are, and find military, legislative, and police actions internally and internationally our right as the most powerful nation on earth and in keeping the world in our control. They believe the Constitution of the United States and the rule of law can and should be legislated around, rationalized around, and or gotten around through executive and court fiat. I would like to round out this definition of Neoconservative with a quote:

"More recently, the modern-day neocons have come from the far left, a group historically identified as former Trotskyites. Liberal, Christopher Hitchens, has recently officially joined the neocons, and it has been reported that he has already been to the White House as an ad hoc consultant. Many neocons now in positions of influence in Washington can trace their status back to Professor Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago. One of Strauss' books was Thoughts on Machiavelli. This book was not a condemnation of Machiavelli's philosophy. Paul Wolfowitz actually got his PhD under Strauss. Others closely associated with these views are Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol. All are key players in designing our new strategy of preemptive war. Others include: Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute; former CIA Director James Woolsey; Bill Bennett of Book of Virtues fame; Frank Gaffney; Dick Cheney; and Donald Rumsfeld. There are just too many to mention who are philosophically or politically connected to the neocon philosophy in some varying degree."

"More important than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism are the views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general understanding of what neocons believe:

They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well as intellectual.

They are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing to use force to do so.

They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.

They accept the notion that the ends justify the means, that hardball politics is a moral necessity.

They express no opposition to the welfare state.

They are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly endorse it.

They believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.

They believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.

They believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run should be held by the elite and withheld from those who do not have the courage to deal with it.

They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill advised.

They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.

They believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.

Using American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable. Force should not be limited to the defense of our country.

[They believe] 9-11 resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too many.

They dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies to all strict constitutionalists.)

They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.

They unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with the Likud Party."

Read the rest:

Jack in Silver Spring said:
"There is then the third explicit area wherein I think we disagree. My (wild) guess is that you are talking about Gitmo and about our suspicions vis-a-vis Islamists."

I said: "Some here will wicker on endlessly for lax team "justice" and the same people will turn around and ignore injustice done to people with a convenient label that identifies them with the current out of favor group, people they don't care about. Go figure."

Bringing up Gitmo is interesting, so I'll run with that. Extrodinary rendition includes Uncle Scam paying bounty thugs to deliver "Islamist non-combatants" into our clutches. The unfortunate ones literally snatched from the streets represent money paid to thugs for people who are completely innocent of the charges. Out of the over 700 prisoners who have been tortured and imprisoned for years at GITMO the overwhelming innocent majority of prisoners have left Uncle Scam with the mild embarrassment of conducting international pogroms against a group of people the Neocons have identified as our enemy. (This action is in keeping with Trotsky's vision, not the vision of our Founding Fathers.)

Jack in Silver Spring said:
"The last area where we disagree is implicit in what you say, which is that executive accretion of power is a recent phenomenon."

Finally, we do not disagree on this. I'm sorry if I led you to believe that I think this is only a recent phenomenon. The liberals of yesterday and yester-year have become the Neoconservatives of today.

Conservatives believe in a Constitutional Republic, the rule of law, the Constitution of the United States, and our God given rights. However, the liberals in Durham and the Neoconservatives in our federal government are two peas in a pod. When you look at their methods and practices you should see Trotsky at the helm, not George Washington.

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 12:16 PM and again at 2:58 PM via JnC --

I'm going to start with you second point about the Neocons and work back to you other points from there. I will stay away from adjectives and just point out some of the things you bring up.

Starting with the Neocons, you give no evidence whatsoever about the current crop Neocons holding any of the positions you attribute. Claiming something is the way you think it is does not make it so. Also, the past history of someone who finally sees the light (so to speak) should not be used to cast aspersions on the person's current standing. For example, David Horowitz used to be a Communist, but when he saw its contradictions, he became a conservative. When I read what he writes, I find it quite enjoyable.

Now let's go the list of the people you have selected as being Neocons by religion:

Not Jewish:

Christopher Hitchens
James Woolsey
Dick Cheney
Donald Rumsfeld
Bill Bennett


Leo Strauss
Paul Wolfowitz
Richard Perle
Eliot Abrams
Robert Kagan
William Kristol
Michael Ledeen
Frank Gaffney

I think the tilt here is obvious and I need say no more about it.

Turning to the USS Liberty incident, I might note that the previous day of the Six-day War Israeli aircraft bombed an armored column - it was an Israeli armored column! If that could happen, what makes it implausible for a comparable error to be made in the smoke and haze of a bombed ammo dump at night? In the fog of war, errors are made. (Think, friendly fire.) Morevoer, there was no reason for Israel to attack an American ship. Finally, Israel made restitution for its error. To keep bringing this error up and attaching nefarious motives, where none can exist, in a comment discussing domestic policies seems bizarre and bespeaks more of the commenter than the event.

Finally, in the question about Gitmo, at least some of those "innoncents" that you mention have had their bodies recovered by US forces after shoot-outs in the field of battle. They were not so innocent.

Jack in Silver Spring

Nat said...

What goes around comes around.
Did ya'll see the Aug. 13, 2008 issue of Forbes? They ranked all US colleges and universities and the fabled Duke is....80th! In view of the way Duke treats its students as evidenced by the lacrosse scandal, IS THIS ANY WONDER?
Forbes' rankings are based on "data gathered from a variety of sources...25% of the rankings on 7 million student evaluations of courses and instructors, as recorded on the Web site RateMyProfessors.com. Another 25% depends on how many of the school's alumni, adjusted for enrollment, are listed among the notable people in Who's Who in America.
The other half of the ranking is based equally on three factors: the average amount of student debt at graduation held by those who borrowed; the percentage of students graduating in four years; and the number of students or faculty, adjusted for enrollment, who have won nationally competitive awards like Rhodes Scholarships or Nobel Prizes. (Click here for complete methodology.)"
Duke's shameful treatment its lacrosse students and its abandonment of its own its own student/faculty code of conduct on the basis of political correctness contributed to its own students and alumni giving it a poor rating.