Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Duke lacrosse: A letter to the Chapel Dean.

Rev. Canon Dr. Sam Wells
Dean of the Chapel
Duke University

Dear Dean Wells:

I'm a Duke alum. I publish the electronic daily,

I’ve often written and published on the Duke hoax and the witch hunt that's grievously victimized and endangered many innocent people, and done great harm to Duke and Durham.

As you know, the Durham Herald Sun recently reported statements it said you made. (“Duke leaders discuss ‘toll’ of lacrosse,” Sept. 30)

Newspapers often get things wrong.

That allows me to hope you didn’t make the statements the H-S attributes to you. Or if you did, that the H-S so misrepresented the actual import of your statements that you are taking steps to publicly correct the misrepresentation(s).

According to the H-S :

The Rev. Canon Sam Wells, Dean of Duke Chapel and one of [five panelists from Duke’s Campus Cultural Initiative committee], said he believes the university is in the third of three chapters.

The first chapter, Wells said, ran from the 1920s to the late 1950s, with the world -- as seen by Duke -- run by a particular class, race and religious tradition and summed up in one word: "Privilege."
The 1920s to the late 1950s “as seen by Duke” can be summed up in one word: “Privilege?”

That’s nonsense!

Most students in the “Privilege” period arrived at Duke carrying a few suitcases. Compare that to the loaded SUVs and U-Hauls today.

Before, during and after the Depression many Duke students couldn’t afford the cost of going home for Thanksgiving. There are people still alive in Durham who took some of those students into their homes at Thanksgiving.

You must know, Dean Wells, that none of your predecessors in those decades were privileged to accept anything like the handsome salary and benefits package the University “insisted” you accept when you agreed to “answer the call.”

From the “Privilege” period came the Duke men and women who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Many of them gave “the last full measure of devotion".

Do you really believe that university students from the 20s to the 50s– at least the overwhelming majority of them – who overcame the Great Depression, wars, Nazism, and Communism, and who witnessed in every part to the world sectarian violence and multiple genocides as well as the growth and spread of terrorism – saw or now see the world as “run by a particular class, race and religious tradition?”

What the H-S reports you said sounds a lot like what we often hear from leftist academics, including many at Duke.

Surely you don't believe or preach such nonsense.

Those leftist academics are as wrong and as fatuous as someone saying the period from the 20s to the 50s at Duke can be “summed up in one word: Privilege.”

That’s why, Dean Wells, I hope the H-S misrepresented what you said.

More from the H-S :
The second chapter, Wells said, was the 1960s, with the bastion being broken down by those who had been "wrongly" excluded in the previous chapter. .
Regarding the “second chapter” and “Wells said:” Does that H-S paragraph, Dean Wells, fairly characterize what you said about “the 1960s?”

You surely know of the great good done during the 60s by Dukies from the 20s to 50s classes. Dr. King often said the Movement couldn’t have made a difference without such people.

Many thousands from Duke’s classes in the 60s’ and from the classes in the decades preceding the 60s have contributed to a fairer and more just America. Members of those classes were and are leaders at the state and national level while others day-by-day helped to make justice grow in their communities. They continue to do that and each May they're joined by members of the newest class, most of whom will strive to “live the dream" and be what they preach.

But I didn’t find even a small mention of any of that in the H-S story. Please, Dean Wells, tell us what happened.

Next from the H-S :
"We're in chapter three," [Wells] said. "And what I felt was probably going on in the spring was a bit of nostalgia from some groups from chapter one, when you knew what rules were and everything was well with the world."

Combined with that, Wells said, was "a bit of nostalgia" from chapter two, when protest was the form of exchange and there was a sense of accomplishment by minorities.
Could the Dean of Duke Chapel and a leader of the University really say anything like what the H-S reports Wells said?

Dean Wells, you surely know what happened last Spring is that a hoaxer made a series of wildly improbable and contradictory claims that should have been the subjects of fair, thorough police investigations.

But, instead, very many in media, at Duke, in Durham’s leadership and community activists cadre, and in “rights organizations” endorsed and amplified the hoaxer's false accusations.

You must remember, Dean Wells, the righteous “pot bangers,” “community outrage,” “our President” who 'couldn't meet with their parents, “their sickening silence,” “faculty demands and the ‘listening statement,’” your own “naming [the] silences” sermon delivered the same Sunday the N&O published and distrubuted onver 200,000 “vigilante” posters targeting the lacrosse players , “Justice will be done, Rapist,” and “Dead man walking.”

All that righteousness and viciousness enabled what four months ago Duke Law Professor James Coleman made clear to the Duke and Durham communities :
According to the police account of the identification, however, the police officer who presided over the proceedings told the alleged victim at the outset that he wanted her to look at people the police had reason to believe attended the party.

Thus, the police not only failed to include people they knew were not suspects among the photographs shown the woman, they told the witness in effect that there would be no such "fillers" among the photographs she would see.

This strongly suggests that the purpose of the identification process was to give the alleged victim an opportunity to pick three members of the lacrosse team who could be charged.

Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice.

The prosecutor would not care if the pre-trial identification was subsequently thrown out by the court. The accuser would identify them at trial by pointing to the three defendants seated in front of her as the three men who assaulted her. The prosecutor would argue that she had an independent basis (independent of the identifications thrown out) for doing so.
What Professor Coleman is talking about is a frame up, not "a bit of nostalgia."

To ask again: Can you see Dean Wells why I hope you didn’t say the things the H-S says you said?

A final question, Dean Wells. The H-S says you talked about people who wanted to have a “nostalgia fest. If the H-S had that right, what’s a “nostalgia fest?”

Is it anything like asking President Brodhead what he said on or after May 18 when racists shouted “Justice will be done, Rapist” at a Duke student, Reade Seligmann, as he walked to the Durham County Courthouse.

And if I ask what you said publicly on or after May 18 about the racist's death threats shouted in the courtroom at Seligmann, “Dead man walking,” am I part of a “nostalgia fest?”

I look forward to hearing from you.




Anonymous said...

A knockout!

For once, words fail me. Terrific, John!

Anonymous said...

John sheds more light on the hoax enablers at Duke. And would Coleman be a good replacement for Brodhead?

Anonymous said...

Its time for Brodhead to resign.

Anonymous said...

Terrific! How about some lawn signs saying 'Coleman for Duke Pres.'

Anonymous said...

Re your letter:

Anonymous said...

Coleman seems to be the exceptional Duke faculty member, that can write a coherent sentence.

Anonymous said...

Terrific...look forward to the response...

DukeGradNCResident said...

I'm becoming increasingly convinced the Duke community that pines the most for the foregone eras is the current faculty.

It's quite ironic the University will spend a $1.5 billion over the next few years to make itself more relevant to the complexities of the world. According to Provost Peter Lange Duke's new strategic plan "Making a Difference," will guide development during the next five to eight years. “Is a very ambitious plan," Lange said. "At the end of it, Duke is going to be a different place in the way it is perceived and the kind of education it will provide."

Most of us work in environments where we have to almost continually re-engineer our jobs. The question is whether or not academia, specifically at Duke will adapt to the new paradigm. Let’s hope so.

Anonymous said...

Great letter, John. Let us know what the response is - if you get a response, that is.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful letter to show how absurd some intellectuals are. I am tired of the use of the word "privilege" as an excuse for their own bias.

Anonymous said...

John Mark Karr was not prosecuted after his computer was lost by prosecuters. They seemed to think that without concrete evidence they did not have a case. Where did they get that notion? They should have talked to Mikey to see how it is done.

Anonymous said...

You fired a torpedo running fast and true, JiC. Superb work. Wells' Holy Trinity seems more in line with Race, Gender and Class than with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Jack said...

Duke grad here, 1974. My dad was also a Duke grad, 1944 and 1947 (Divinity School). My dad didn't come to Duke with a few suitcases. He had one. He served as a preacher in the eastern NC Methodist conference for 38 years. He was privileged only in the sense that he loved people and his God. I knew many, many of his classmates, and none remotely resembled privileged in the financial sense. His brother, Robert, also graduated from Duke after serving in WWII. I would hate for my uncle to read Dean Wells' comments--my uncle, like all of us, loves Duke too much to hear such inaccurate murmurings. I have attended many services since Dean Wells came to Duke, and I find him to be wonderfully prepared, interesting, and sincere. I do wish, though, in this case, that maybe he had talked to a few of the alumni of the first period to discern whether they appeared to be the privileged, and by implication, the vacuous, elite.

Anonymous said...

you all are full of it. all the people at duke were priviledged, especially before the 1960's. duke was strictly segregated as was the rest of durham. there is no record of any substantial civil rights activity started at or existing at duke and duke was slower to integrate than schools like nc state and unc chapel hill. in addtition to perpetuating white priviledge, duke also perpetuated class predjudice among whites as well during those time periods and continues to do so as very few local people were or are accepted at duke as students. that is one of the reasons that duke is unpopular even among some of the local whites. writing a blog does not change history. thank goodness Brodhead and some of the others at duke are more honest about duke's history and the past town-gown conflict.

Anonymous said...

John, Get a refund for your Duke degree. Your interpretive and critical skills suck. You obviously cannot read without imposing your overt biases. If you look hard enough for anything, you will find it. Jez...