Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good News at Liestoppers

Most of you may know this already but just in case –

“The Artist Formerly Known as Joan Foster” is back at LS with another poem “recovered using the ‘Gottlieb Method.’”

Welcome back, Joan.

Your wit gives "pokes and fits" to those who deserve them.

Just about everyone who knows your work appreciates and admires the way you and Baldo parody “the almost framers” and their enablers.

Folks, you’ll find Joan’s latest here and Baldo’s latest here.

When’s Duke’s Turn?

In yesterday’s New York Sun:

A weeklong hunger strike staged by five students at Columbia University could cost the institution $50 million.

Columbia officials said Wednesday night that, after a faculty committee grants approval, the university would spend the funds to pay for an expansion of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and a restructuring of Columbia College's core curriculum that would add faculty for courses on non-European civilizations.

The strikers are declaring the concessions by the Columbia administration as a partial victory, the fulfillment of a portion of their demands. . . .

Last week, five students started a water-and-Gatorade diet with a litany of demands on the administration. They asked for changes to what they said was a Eurocentric core curriculum, increased staff and funding for "ethnic studies" programs and more support on campus for minority students.

The students said they are also protesting the university's Harlem expansion plan, and a climate of "institutionalized racism" on campus.

In recent years, Columbia has amended its core curriculum to include a "Major Cultures" component, which requires students to take courses on Asian, African, and Latin American civilizations.

The strikers said the courses, which are held in lecture format, were marginalized because of the large class sizes, and that Major Cultures courses should be held in the same small seminar-style meetings awarded to courses on European history.

Calling the negotiations a victory for their cause, two of the strikers, a senior at Columbia, Bryan Mercer, 22, and a junior at Columbia, Emilie Rosenblatt, 22, yesterday ended their fast when health services threatened to place them on involuntary medical leave.

Two of the original strikers, who have been joined by a Barnard professor of political science, Dennis Dalton, and two more students said they would continue fasting until the university also made concessions on its Harlem expansion plans. . . .
You may be asking: How is Columbia going to justify this cave-in; and who’s going to be willing to pay for it?

The Sun tells us:
A task force on undergraduate education has been reviewing the core curriculum, officials said. The university, which is in the middle of a $4 billion capital campaign, has already earmarked $865 million to improve the undergraduate experience.

Spending $50 million on more faculty and resources for courses in "Major Cultures" was already accounted for in that fundraising goal, officials said
There’s more to the story including some students who object to the cave-in.

It’s all here.

Question: When’s Duke’s turn?

I don’t know, but I’m sure it will come very soon.

“Winning By Intimidation” is the college fight song of the Academic Left which dominates most campuses and routinely fleeces alumni and friends.

Duke’s alumni and friends, good people, are especially easy to fleece; and not just by faculty Leftists.

Have you watched the last year-and-a-half as Duke caved to Crystal Mangum’s and Mike Nifong’s lies so cravenly that its President, Richard Brodhead, proclaimed whatever the framed students did “was bad enough,” while refusing to say anything critical of Nifong even months after the NC State Bar launched an ethics investigation that led to Nifong’s disbarment?

Yet we’re told by Duke's Development Office that financial giving from alumni and friends is now higher than ever.

That’s why I say Duke alumni and friends are easy to fleece.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask Professors Houston Baker, Kim Curtis, Stanley Fish, Wahneema Lubiano and Charles Piot how easy it is to fleece Duke.

What "lynch mob" at Duke?

The Johnsville News does another fine aggregation job: This time it concerns a recent Chronicle column written by last year’s Duke Student Government President Elliott Wolf, in which he was highly critical of Duke Students for an Ethical Duke (DSED)and its public spokesperson, Ken Larrey.

TJN links to excerpts and, in a few cases “the fulls” of the most important documents, including Wolf’s column, Larrey's and DSED’s initial replies to Wolf, their request for “equal time” from The Chronicle (TC), and a post from Duke Professor Michael Gustafson in which he seeks to clarify and place in context a statement Wolf attributed to him in which Wolf quoted Gustafson as saying he told DSED: "I told them that I will not be part of this lynch mob."

You can access all the documents at The Johnsville News here. Be sure to read the thread on Wolf’s column.

I'm sorry for the DSED, Wolf, Gustafson, TC matters and confess I don’t adequately understand all of them.

So right now, I’ll confine my comments to the “lynch mob” reference and see how the discussion develops.

I was shocked when I read Wolf's column, particularly by the "lynch mob" reference.

I'd never before thought of DSED as anything like a lynch mob.

DSED has never rallied under a "CASTRATE" banner; circulated "Vigilante" posters on campus, or thanked those who did.

It wasn't DSED who shouted death threats at Reade Seligmann down at the courthouse.

The Chronicle editorial board has never said anything critical of the members of the Duke community who waved the CASTRATE” banner; or of the New Black Panthers when they threatened Seligmann.

So I hope you understand my shock when I turned to TC’s editorial page and read that DSED is “this lynch mob?”

Gustafson is now saying he was misquoted but he can understand how Wolf would have misunderstood him.

Gustafson says even small words matter (agreed!) and that he was talking about “a” lynch mob, not “this” lynch mob.


Did TC column editor get a 100% sure from Wolf that Gustafson had said what Wolf was quoting?

If TC didn’t get a 100% sure from Wolf, out of fairness to DSED and Gustafson, it should’ve eliminated any lynch mob reference to DSED.

Absent a 100% sure, shouldn’t TC also have scraped the lynch mob reference in consideration of its own reputation, now suffering because of a widely-held perception TC is on “a mission” to ignore and/or denigrate critics of its “Stay, Dick, Stay” policy and its obvious intent to “move on” with the Group of 88 and others?

If TC column editor did get a 100% sure from Wolf, wasn’t the next step to fact check with Gustafson?

If that had happened, it’s reasonable to conclude, based on what Gustafson says now, he would have told TC something different from what he was quoted as saying.

The public needs the answers to these questions to help it understand why a Duke professor was quoted in The Chronicle as calling DSED “this lynch mob.”

And it’s just simple decency for The Chronicle, Wolf and Gustafson to provide DSED those answers.

What do you folks think?

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Churchill Series – Nov. 16, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

I promised a post today on anti-British American feeling. It will be delayed until Monday.

The reason?

I’ve just picked up The Telegraph’s online obituary of Elizabeth Layton Nels, Churchill’s last surviving secretary from WW II who has died in South Africa aged 90.

In this post I want to provide you a link to the obituary. It’s heavily anecdotal and perhaps a bit too tough on Churchill but Miss Layton, as she was then called, shines throughout, reminding us what a great public servant can be.

I’m also going to provide here the portion of a letter she wrote fifty years after she left Churchill’s employ in which she responds to some ill-judged assertions. At the end of her latter, I provide another link to her obituary and add a few words.

Here’s the link to The Telegraph’s obituary.

In Search of History: A Historians Journey ( John Wiley & Sons, 1994) author Martin Gilbert reports: Fifty years later, Elizabeth Layton was to respond to a historian’s characterization of Churchill as "deeply ambitious, egocentric, often abominably selfish, difficult and ruthless" by sending a letter to the journal in which the comment hasd been published:

Many years have passed since those days but memory has not faded. Ambitious? Yes, I suppose so ; he could not otherwise have reached the pinnacle from which he inspired his country and the world. Egocentric and abominably selfish? No, these he was not, thought he was quite frequently inconsiderate, impatient (but he could be patient too), and demanding. But if he demanded their all from those who served him, he never spared himself in his mighty tasks.

Difficult? Yes, but nowhere near impossible; he was lovable, and one forgave him for being difficult. He had such an incredible storehouse of knowledge, such q quick intelligence, and yet something simple in his make-up too, so that he could not always see when he was being funny he was unconsciously so.

Ruthless? Chambers defines this as “pitiless, unsparing.” And here again I must disagree – pitiless never, unsparing possibly. (p. 167)
Mrs. Elizabeth Layton Nels obituary is here. RIP.

Jane Portal (Lady William of Elwel) from the immediate post war years is now Churchill’s only surviving secretary. My latest information (two weeks old) has her in good health and living in London at age 90.

I hope you have a nice weekend. If you pray, remember in your prays Elizabeth Layton Nels and all who served Churchill. We owe them so much.


Hat Tips: and Sir Martin Gilbert.

N&O’s Sheehan & Community Silence

With two angry, grossly misinformed and racially inflammatory columns, the Raleigh N & O’s Ruth Sheehan helped launch the Duke lacrosse witch hunt and its massive injustices. ( “Team’s Silence is Sickening” and “Lacrosse team out of control” )

In her column today, Sheehan says its time for the community to make clear it won’t tolerate racism in any form. ( "We won't tolerate nooses" )

Here are extracts from her column followed below the star line by my commentary which takes the form of an email to Sheehan.

Sheehan begins:

It was little over a week ago that a toilet paper noose was found in a bathroom on the N.C. State University campus.

In the days since, we've seen a flurry of official activity, with the police investigating, Chancellor James Oblinger issuing statements of concern and District Attorney Colon Willoughby at the ready, eager to assist.

A part of me cannot help but cheer: Go Jim, go Colon. Round up the creep who produced this thing. . . .

At the same time, it is hard not to look at the official reaction on campus as a bit of overkill that, sadly enough, plays right into the perpetrator's hands. . . .

My first instinct: Flush it.

But I am brought up short by a quote from writer/philosopher/Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel: "Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Officialdom has had plenty to say about the noose at N.C. State. Students gathered Thursday night on campus. And busloads of residents from our area are heading to Washington today to rally for a federal intervention.

But what about the rest of us? What about a world, on campus or off, where a noose might be considered a joke?

There is nothing funny about this old racist symbol. Nothing cute. Nothing clever.

In small ways and large, this is a time for the community to make that clear.

In individual conversations, in water fountain chats and in community gatherings, we need to reiterate that racism is not tolerated here in any form.

There is no audience here for a noose of any sort, even a pathetic one made of toilet paper.

That is not what we're about. . . .

In Raleigh, the symbol of the noose might be powerful, but it is tissue-thin in the face of a community that will not allow it to hold sway.


Dear Ms. Sheehan:

You no doubt recall that on May 18, 2006 racists shouted threats, including death threats, at a young man outside and within the Durham County Courthouse where he’d gone to participate in a proceeding following his indictment for rape and other felonies.

The racists – members of the New Black Panthers Party and others – were so bold that in a crowded courtroom they shouted “dead man walking.”

Britian’s The Guardian reported the young man at that point "blanched."

The community response to the young man’s torment was silence.

The President of Duke University where Reade Seligmann was a student said nothing critical of the racists and nothing supportive of him and his family.

No Duke trustee, top administrator or senior faculty member spoke out. Neither did any Durham public official.

The community’s religious and civic leaders? They were silent too.

And you didn’t write a column about the threats and the silence.

The community would never tolerate white racists shouting death threats at a young black man. And we shouldn’t.

The community would never tolerate black racists shouting death threats at a young black man. And we shouldn’t.

But Reade Seligmann is white and the racists were black. So there was silence.

Elie Wiesel has spent a great part of his life encouraging us to face up to past wrongs so we can mitigate them as far as possible.

Wiesel believes that's essential if we’re to prevent similar wrongs in the future.

I hope someday you write a column that reminds us of May 18, 2006.


John in Carolina

The Churchill Series – Nov. 15, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In Churchill and America (Free Press, 2005) historian Martin Gilbert tells us of a concern Churchill had in February, 1952:

Churchill had continued to be concerned by anti-American feeling in Britain. But he was convinced that its extent was exaggerated. A delegation of American Senators who had visited several countries had come to London, he told the House of Commons, “and during their visit they asked to see me, and I received them in my home. I was impressed by the fact that this powerful body was greatly disturbed by the anti-American feeling which they thought existed in the House of Commons.”

Churchill had told the Senators: “Do not be misled. The anti-American elements in Parliament are only a quarter of the Labour Party, and the Labour Party is only a half of the House. Therefore, you may say that one-eighth at the outside give vent to anti-American sentiments. The Labour Party as a whole, and the Government of the day, supported by the Conservative Party in this matter, are whole-heartedly friendly to the United State, and recognize and are grateful for the part they are playing in the world and of the help they have given to us.” (p. 409)
Our media often seem to suggest anti-Americanism is something that began about the time President George W. Bush took office. What we’re just read helps correct that suggestion.

It’s worth reminding ourselves of the time in which Churchill was speaking: It was less than seven years after the end of WW II and Marshall Plan aid was in full flow to Britain and other democracies in Europe. Also, America was the free world’s bulwark against Soviet aggression in Europe and Asia.

Tomorrow’s post will also concern “anti-“ feeling between Britain and America, but we’ll look at things the other way: anti-British feeling among Americans.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Dems & “in bad shape”

Tonight the panelists on Fox News with Brit Hume discussed the progress on the ground in Iraq.

The panelists – Fred Barnes (Weekly Standard), Mara Liasson (NPR) and Mort Kondracke (Roll Call) - agreed if by next fall’s election most Americans see the situation in Iraq as “improved,” that'll be a plus for Republicans.

The panelists made clear, though, there would have to be sustained progress for that to happen.

Given how the Democratic-dominated MSM here and the anti-American MSM overseas “report” on Iraq, who doubts there’d need to be substantial progress in Iraq before Americans began to get even a hint of progress there?

General Sanchez’s recent speech reminded usof that and worse, didn't it?

Here's what I thought was the most telling remark by any of the FOX panelists:

Reflecting on the possibility Americans next fall will feel there’s been progress in Iraq, Mort Kondracke said “then the Democrats will be in bad shape."

Who doubts what Kondracke said?

Who doubts the Democrats and their media allies know the truth of what he said?

And who doubts the knowledge of what progress in Iraq means for them has influenced, is influencing, and will influence what many Democrats say and do?

America lost something very precious when many of us forgot or never learned politics is supposed to “stop at the water’s edge.”

God watch over our miliary and grant it success.

Kristin Butler Wins Journalism Award

JinC Regulars familiar with the outstanding Tuesday Chronicle columns of Duke senior Kristin Butler will be delighted but not surprised to read the following from Duke News Service:

Duke University senior Kristin Butler of Cary, N.C., has been named the 2007 winner of the Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. She will be honored for her achievement at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 26 in the Rhodes Conference Room at the Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

Butler is an opinion columnist for The Chronicle, Duke’s daily student-run newspaper.

She was honored for her March 6 article on “Soaking the Poor: With All Deliberate Speed,” which focused on how patients lacking health insurance typically are billed at higher rates at the Duke University Health System and elsewhere. Butler addressed the ethical implications of charging uninsured patients more for their treatment.

Selection committee members were public policy professors Bill Raspberry, Ken Rogerson, Ellen Mickiewicz and Susan Tifft, along with Duke Associate Vice President for News and Communications David Jarmul and Duke alumnus Richard Melcher.

The committee praised Butler’s argument for its precision and conciseness given the space limitations of an editorial piece.

“It is not often that we come across a young columnist who takes her reporting as seriously as her writing,” Rogerson said. “Kristin made a strong argument, supported by solid research and sources, crafted in a very readable prose. It was difficult not to read to the end.” (bold JinC's)

The Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism recognizes the best published article by a Duke undergraduate, and is sponsored by the Sanford Institute’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.

Butler is the first student to win the award for an opinion column.

Last year’s winner was Jeff Stern (’07), who is now writing from Afghanistan and whose work has been published in Esquire magazine and The Independent Weekly.

The Melcher Award was created in 2003 by Richard Melcher (’74), co-founder and principal of Melcher Tucker Consultants. Prior to founding the firm, he was a writer and chief of the London and Chicago bureaus of Business Week. As a student, Melcher worked for The Chronicle.
I put Rogerson's comments in bold because they express so well how most of us view Kristin’s columns and why we value her journalism.

I left a congratulatory comment at The Chronicle.

I hope you'll make your own. Since Kristin is herself a JinC Regular if you leave it here she'll see it.

Thanks to Michael Gustafson for tip to Duke News announcement

Chronicle’s Taylor blackout: Who? Why?

Who imposed a news blackout on The Chronicle’s coverage of nationally known journalist and co-author Stuart Taylor’s Nov. 2 talk and Q&A on West Campus?

And why was it done?

Chronicle readers deserve answers.

The Duke community had a right to know Taylor was coming and The Chronicle had a duty to inform its readers

Taylor’s a nationally known journalist and a leading authority on the Duke Hoax.

With co-author KC Johnson, Taylor recently published the prize-winning book, Until Proven Innocent, a riveting account of the attempted frame-up and imprisonment of three Duke students for gang-rape and other felonies by rogue DA Mike Nifong and others.

The book’s angered senior administrators and some faculty because it details their enablement of Nifong and actions such as the Group of 88’s discredited “listening statement” which made a dangerous situation worse, and even thanked those whose actions heightened the danger.

However, administration and faculty anger shouldn’t have been the reason for The Chronicle’s news blackout.

But if it was, we deserve to know that. If it wasn’t, than what was The Chronicle's reason?

Duke Students for an Ethical Duke, the group which sponsored Taylor’s talk, promoted his appearance many days in advance.

See, for example, this Oct. 25 Raleigh News & Observer news item announcing Taylor’s Nov. 2 appearance at Duke.

I’m told by DSED it notified The Chronicle nine days in advance of Taylor’s appearance.

But The Chronicle printed not a word of Taylor’s impending appearance to which the entire Duke community and public were invited.

The Chronicle continued its news blackout of Taylor’s Nov. 2 appearance by failing to print a single word concerning it despite Taylor’s talk and the Q&A being extremely newsworthy as this Durham Herald Sun story makes clear.

Two weeks after Taylor appeared at Duke, we still have no “on the record” explanation from editor David Graham for The Chronicle’s news blackout.

The Duke community is owed an explanation.

I’ve contacted Graham once with an offer to publish in full his explanation for the blackout and a request that he ask Taylor to write a Chronicle op-ed containing the main points of his talk and Q&A.

I’ll contact Graham again, and include a link to this post.

I hope many of you will write letters to The Chronicle, contact Graham ( and anyone else you think can help the Duke community learn who put a news blackout on Taylor and why?

This is The Chronicle we’re talking about, not Pravda.

N&O's new exec's "love-hate"

Since Releigh News & Observer executive editor for news Melanie Sill's left to fill the same position at the Sacramento Bee, I've been asked dozens of times whether I think her successor, John Drescher, will be any better.

In an attempt to answer the questions, I've done the following: reviewed Drescher's background; reread his blog postings and reader comments at the Editors’' Blog; talked with journalists who know him; and observed him myself at public events.

So how do I think he'll compare to Sill?

At best, he’ll be about the same; quite possibly, he could be worse.

Keep this in mind: Drescher’s worked under Sill for years. He moved up in large part because he was a "company man." He's expected to continue Sill's three main initiatives of the past five years: tabloidization; leftist news orientation; and expanding the N&O's online presence.

During the next few months I'll look at different issues and give you my take on how I see Drescher stacking up against Sill.

Today let’s look at how Drescher stacks up against Sill on questions of anonymity.

I rate both MSM journalists as having a love-hate attitude toward anonymity: they love it when they can use it, they hate it when others do.

What follows includes some of a post from March of this year that makes obvious what I’m saying.

If you’re a friend of Drescher and I have any facts wrong, please let me know.

What fairminded readers can conclude from the facts is so obvious I'll just “let the facts speak for themselves.”

In March Drescher, then managing editor, was angry because many readers commenting at the N&O’s Editors’ Blog weren’t identifying themselves. (they must, however, provide a valid email address in order to comment) Drescher criticized those readers (whom he called “bloggers,” the better to obscure the fact his criticism was really directed at N&O readers).

You can read Drescher’s post here.

Among other things Drescher said was this:

If you are going to offer an opinion, you ought to say who you are, where you live and whether you have a professional or personal connection to the issue at hand.
I left the following comment on the thread.

After you've read it, I'll provide samples of readers' reactions to Drescher's post.

Dear Editor Drescher:

Why are you telling readers you’re concerned about bloggers’ anonymity?

Last Apr. 2 the N&O had no trouble publishing anonymously the notorious "Vigilante" poster which targeted only white male Duke students who played on the university’s lacrosse team.

You published the poster on your highest circulation day, a Sunday. You made it large (two-columns wide, 7 inches long) and placed it on the most prominent part of the page (top of the page, in the 4th and 5th columns of a six column page).

The N&O’s “Vigilante poster photo was large enough so that anyone with a little tech skill could further enlarge it and still have very good resolution for face identification of the 43 white Duke students targeted by the hateful people who produced the poster you took, published and distributed to what you say are your half-million Sunday readers.

All of that was done anonymously.

The N&O has never disclosed who produced the” Vigilante” poster.

You’ve also kept anonymous the names of the N&O editors who decided to publish the “Vigilante” poster even after Duke had expressed concerns that doing so would endanger the lacrosse players.

Who were those editors? You know you know who they are.

Some journalists tell me you, Managing Editor Drescher, were one of those who “gave the go” for publishing the poster photo?

Is that true?

And what’s the source of your problem with people who comment at the Editors Blog anonymously?

None of those anonymous commenters (who are also N&O readers) has done anything near as terrible as your publication of the “Vigilante” poster.

You had no problem publishing anonymously on March 25 above the fold on page one with five column-wide headlines what many at the N&O had to know was Crystal Mangum’s false witness.

You had no problem anonymously withholding from the rest of media and trusting N&O readers the critical information that, during the interview, Mangum had ID’ed Roberts and made statements about her which Editor Linda Williams admits were so significant she thinks the N&O would have been libelous to publish them.

You had no problem reporting the anonymous interviews you granted Mangum’s family members and friends so they could defame the students.

Given all of that, wouldn’t it be more honest, Editor Drescher, to admit you use anonymity often to sell the N&O and make your living?

And what do you say to this question other journalists have prompted me to ask you: when you find out who your anonymous reader/commenter/blogger critics are, won’t you treat them even worse than you treated 46 innocent white male Duke students?

Please stop attacking your critics and answer their questions. Mine, too.


John in Carolina

There were a total of 41 comments in response to Drescher’s post. Many of them, like mine, asked him direct questions. He never answered any of them.

Near the end of the thread one commenter, Jim Curry, called Drescher for his bogus claim that the readers commenting were really bloggers. Curry told Drescher:
I'm as much a "blogger" as the Duke false accuser is an innocent hard-working, full-time student, "exotic dancer." That is to say, I do not "blog."

To use that word to describe me is to distort the truth. I'm beginning to wonder if the N&O staff is aware that words carry meanings, and are vehicles by which knowledge is to be conveyed to the listener/reader. As such, words should be chosen with a certain level of care. Are you aware, N&O, that words have meanings?
It would have been very easy for Dreascher to say,
“Sorry I called you a blogger when you’re not one. I hope my apology helps convince you we do take words seriously at the N&O.”
That’s not so hard, is it? But it was too much for Drescher who said nothing.

Also near the end of the thread, AMac made this comment:
Wow, John Drescher, you made a clear and strong point in this entry ("Identify Yourself"). In response, you've been called to account for editorial actions of the N&O that speak directly to the matter you raise.

One of the thoughtful commenters is pseudonymous (John in Carolina). Another signed his name (Jim Curry).

Whose points are you going respond to? Only Curry's, since he signed? Or J-in-C's as well, since what he says goes to the heart of the N&O's journalistic practices in the crucial early days of the Duke Rape Case?

Or--since the conversation isn't going your way, will you just move on to something else?

By the way, am I anonymous? If I am, does that negate the content of my comment? You have my email--if you want to discuss the issue further, by letter or phone call, just write back. I'll respond.
So with all the above facts before you, you can judge for yourself how editor Drescher feels about anonymity and “bringing the news to readers.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Churchill Series - Nov. 14, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill; this post was first published in Apr. '07.)

November 5, 1940 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt is reelected for an unprecedented third term. His best remembered campaign promise: “I say it again and again and again, your boys will not be sent into foreign wars.”

Churchill telegraphs FDR from London, now enduring the third month of the Blitz:

I did not think it right for me as a foreigner to express any opinion upon American politics while the election was on but now I feel that you will not mind my saying that I prayed for your success and that I am truly thankful for it.
December 16, 1940 – Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold Stark, Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Army Chief of Staff George Marshall meet in Washington to review the year’s accomplishments

Stimson recorded in his diary the four leaders had gone beyond just reviewing the year’s accomplishments and agreed “this emergency could hardly be passed over without this country being drawn into the war eventually.”

According to the Imperial War Museum, London:
In early 1941, a feasibility study by Japanese naval aviation experts of the proposed attack on Pearl Harbor concluded that an operation was possible but would be dangerous.
Eleanor Roosevelt's remark comes to mind:"no ordinary times."
Ed Cray, General of the Army George C. Marshall, Soldier and Stateman. (W. W. Norton & Co.) (pgs. 178-180) provided most of the material for this post. The FDR quote is found in almost all his biographies. The Eleanor Roosevelt quote served, as many of you know, as the title of Doris Kearns Goodwin's prize winning book.

The N&O & Evidence Destruction: Questions

The Raleigh News & Observer reports under Anny Blythe’s byline concerning a judge's action to prevent evidence destruction.

Here's the story in full followed by my questions:

A judge has told authorities in Durham to preserve DNA samples taken last year from members of the Duke lacrosse team after a dancer claimed she had been raped at a team party.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens previously had ordered the destruction of the samples. But on Tuesday, Stephens put a stay on that order.

Stephens said he entered the stay in part because of a pending lawsuit filed by three players who were cleared of rape charges. The players are suing former District Attorney Mike Nifong, police and others who had pursued the charges against them.

Police took the DNA samples from all but one member of the lacrosse team in 2006, while the case was under investigation. In August, Stephens granted a request by a lawyer for one of the players, Bret Thompson, to have the samples destroyed.

Thompson was never charged in the case. Three other players did face charges, but they were dismissed in April by state Attorney General Roy Cooper, who declared them innocent victims of a prosecution gone awry.

Stephens order allowing destruction of the DNA evidence came before the three had filed their lawsuit. He said his stay would not prevent the destruction of the DNA evidence in the future. He also noted that Thompson had not been accused of any wrongdoing.
That’s the entire N&O story posted at as of 9 PM Eastern on 11/14.


Does Judge Stephens know who currently has possession of the DNA samples?

Did he say anything about that when he signed the order?

When did Stephens enter his stay?

Is Stephens concerned that as part of the frame-up attempt some evidence was “manufactured?”

He knows much evidence in the case was ignored by those working the frame-up attempt?

Does Stephens recall he issued an order directing Durham Police to preserve radio conversations for the night of March 13/14?

Does Stephens recall Durham Police erased those conversations?

Did N&O reporter Anne Blythe ask Stephens, Mike Nifong’s long-time mentor and close friend, those questions?

Did Blythe ask Stephens any questions?

Does the N&O know who has the samples?

If it does, why didn’t it report that?

Or does the N&O not know who has possession of DNA samples?

Does the N&O know why Judge Stephens, Mike Nifong, DPD, Durham City Manager Patrick Baker, Durham Mayor Bill Bell and others haven’t wanted to learn whose DNA those samples identified once they found out the samples couldn’t be used to convict three innocent Duke students?

That's an important question, isn't it?

Whatever the reason, why aren’t the N&O and Blythe, co-author with Samiha Khanna of the N&O’s fraudulent and racially inflammatory March 24 and 25 stories which launched the public part of the attempted frame-up, telling us what they know concerning possession of the DNA samples?

Who's had possession of the samples since April 2006 when they went from the state crime lab to DSI Security; the lab whose director, Brian Meehan, later agreed with the disbarred Nifong to withhold exculpatory findings based on those samples?

If an attorney were to ask today about "chain of possession," what could Stephens, Nifong, Meehan and the N&O tell her?

All the questions I’m asking need to be answered.

A good newspaper would have done that already, or told readers why it hadn’t.

A Monster Remembered

On the anniversary of his death, hundreds of thousands of his admirers gathered to honor the late terrorist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasir Arafat.

From the NY Times:

Hamas police officers rounded up scores of supporters of the rival Fatah movement here today, a day after a mass rally in honor of Yasir Arafat, the late Palestinian leader and founder of the Fatah, ended in violence.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, also threatened a political crackdown, saying in a statement that their leaders would “take measures” to ensure the “protection of internal security.”

At least six demonstrators were shot dead in Monday’s armed clashes, and over a hundred were wounded, mostly participants in the rally. Each side blamed the other for starting the violence.

Yet even as they mourned, Fatah supporters were buoyed by the massive turnout of the day before, estimated at more than 200,000, the largest show of support for the organization here since Hamas seized control of the territory last June.
The entire Times story is here.

Nowhere does it mention that Arafat was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

And nowhere does the Times mention Arafat was a terrorist who trained people to kill civilians as they rode buses, shopped in stores and held children in their arms.

The Times doesn't even mention the words "terror" and "terrorist" when reporting the "mass rally in honor of Yasir Arafat."

But Jeff Jacoby tells us what the Times wouldn't. From Jacoby’s Nov. 11, 2004 column:

Yasser Arafat died at age 75, lying in bed surrounded by familiar faces. He left this world peacefully, unlike the thousands of victims he sent to early graves.

In a better world, the PLO chief would have met his end on a gallows, hanged for mass murder much as the Nazi chiefs were hanged at Nuremberg. In a better world, the French president would not have paid a visit to the bedside of such a monster. In a better world, George Bush would not have said, on hearing the first reports that Arafat had died, "God bless his soul."

God bless his soul? What a grotesque idea!

Bless the soul of the man who brought modern terrorism to the world? Who sent his agents to slaughter athletes at the Olympics, blow airliners out of the sky, bomb schools and pizzerias, machine-gun passengers in airline terminals? Who lied, cheated, and stole without compunction? Who inculcated the vilest culture of Jew-hatred since the Third Reich?

Human beings might stoop to bless a creature so evil -- as indeed Arafat was blessed, with money, deference, even a Nobel Prize -- but God, I am quite sure, will damn him for eternity.

Arafat always inspired flights of nonsense from Western journalists, and his last two weeks were no exception.

Derek Brown wrote in The Guardian that Arafat's "undisputed courage as a guerrilla leader" was exceeded only "by his extraordinary courage" as a peace negotiator. But it is an odd kind of courage that expresses itself in shooting unarmed victims -- or in signing peace accords and then flagrantly violating their terms.

Another commentator, columnist Gwynne Dyer, asked, "So what did Arafat do right?" The answer: He drew worldwide attention to the Palestinian cause, "for the most part by successful acts of terror."

In other words, butchering innocent human beings was "right," since it served an ulterior political motive. No doubt that thought brings daily comfort to all those who were forced to bury a child, parent, or spouse because of Arafat's "successful" terrorism. […]

How is it possible to reflect on Arafat's most enduring legacy -- the rise of modern terrorism -- without recalling the legions of men, women, and children whose lives he and his followers destroyed?

If Osama bin Laden were on his deathbed, would we neglect to mention all those he murdered on 9/11?

It would take an encyclopedia to catalog all of the evil Arafat committed. But that is no excuse for not trying to recall at least some of it.

Perhaps his signal contribution to the practice of political terror was the introduction of warfare against children. On one black date in May 1974, three PLO terrorists slipped from Lebanon into the northern Israeli town of Ma'alot. They murdered two parents and a child whom they found at home, then seized a local school, taking more than 100 boys and girls hostage and threatening to kill them unless a number of imprisoned terrorists were released.

When Israeli troops attempted a rescue, the terrorists exploded hand grenades and opened fire on the students. By the time the horror ended, 25 people were dead; 21 of them were children.

Thirty years later, no one speaks of Ma'alot anymore. The dead children have been forgotten. Everyone knows Arafat's name, but who ever recalls the names of his victims?

So let us recall them: Ilana Turgeman. Rachel Aputa. Yocheved Mazoz. Sarah Ben-Shim'on. Yona Sabag. Yafa Cohen. Shoshana Cohen. Michal Sitrok. Malka Amrosy. Aviva Saada. Yocheved Diyi. Yaakov Levi. Yaakov Kabla. Rina Cohen. Ilana Ne'eman. Sarah Madar. Tamar Dahan. Sarah Soper. Lili Morad. David Madar. Yehudit Madar. The 21 dead children of Ma'alot -- 21 of the thousands of who died at Arafat's command.

Arafat was truly a monster.

What could be more fitting than that people were killed at a rally to "honor" him?

And what should we say of journalists who admireed and enabled him?

Those journalists call themselves “liberals” and “human-rights sympathizers.”

I think it’s better to just call them what they were: Arafat's admirers and enablers.

Jacoby’s entire column is here.

Look! It’s Sergeant Addison

When citizen journalists Tony Soprano and Baldo saw the news buried in a Durham Herald Sun story today, they immediately got the word out with posts at Liestoppers forum: David Addison, the Durham Police Corporal who as DPD spokesperson repeatedly and falsely stated a “horrific crime” was committed at the Duke lacrosse party, has been promoted to Sergeant.

The H-S story began:

Some of the area's heaviest-hitting civil attorneys this week joined two high-profile national litigators to fight a federal lawsuit arising out of false sex-assault allegations against three young men in the Duke lacrosse case.[...]

All three Duke athletes were declared innocent by the state Attorney General's Office in April.

[James] Maxwell, a past president of the North Carolina Bar Association and the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers, is representing newly promoted Durham police Sgt. David Addison in the federal litigation.

Addison is accused of conspiring to wrongfully prosecute Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans.
You can read the entire H-S story here.

My reaction?

I’m sorry it happened, and I don’t doubt that some of you are understandably angry about it. But Addison’s promotion will serve the interests of those seeking truth and justice.


A burden on the attorneys suing Durham City and DPD is to show that what police officers and their supervisors did to David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann was part of accepted practice (attorneys often use the phrase “usual and customary”); and that is was not just the actions of individual rogue cops acting in ways unacceptable to DPD and Durham City.

That being the case, isn’t DPD’s decision to promote Addison something you’d note if you were an attorney for one of the three young men?

By awarding him a promotion, Durham and DPD are saying, “What Addison did was fine by us. As a matter of fact, we promoted him.”

An informed Durham citizen might ask: “Who made the decision to promote Addison? Was it Izzy, Curly or Moe?”

Something else:

A number of Addison’s supervisors had to write commendatory notes, evaluations, etc. as part of his promotion process. All of those have to be reviewed by a committee on promotions.

There was more to the process, but you get the idea: a lot of DPD supervisors endorsed the promotion.

Usual and customary?

Message to Duke President Richard Brodhead and the Chronicle editorial board: The Duke Hoax case hasn’t gone away. And it will get “uglier” and “Dukier” regardless of how many times you tell people it’s all over.

In Closing:

The following five posts were published last February and March. If you are interested in the suits, I think you'll be very interested in the Addison Series posts below. They provide background to the events described in the suit filings and more.

The Addison Series #1 – “This horrific crime” 2/16/07

Addison Series #2 – “CrimeStoppers will pay cash” 2/20/07

Addison Series #3 – “Not my poster” 2/25/07

Addison Series #4 - "They call it 'squeezing'" 3/2/07

Addison Series # 5 – “Major Duke Involvement" 3/11/07

In the "squeezing" post I suggested what things might be like for Addison in the event a Federal inquiry into the Hoax frame occurred. Currently he's a defendant in a civil suit.

However, much of what I said in the "squeezing" post applies to his current situation.

In fact, I think he may be facing a far more difficult situation with the attorneys who'll depose him in the civil suit than he might with federal investigators. Have any of you ever seen Brendan Sullivan in action?

The Addison Series leaves no doubt that as the civil suit progresses we're going to learn a lot more about not only what Nifong and DPD did but about what Duke University did as well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Churchill Series – Nov. 13, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In the Summer of 1940 Britain and the free world wondered when and how Hitler would invade.

He made his final decision on July 31. It was nothing like what most of the world was expecting. Historian John Lucas recounts:

Hitler said later that he had needed “great spiritual strength” for his decision to turn against Russia. Yet revealing that to the generals and ordering the first preparations on 31 July gave him a sense of relief. He had faced the difficult question whether the English would or would not give up the struggle against his conquest of Europe. He still faced the consequent question whether to risk an invasion of England or not. Now there was an answer to those questions, and a third alternative. Once he destroyed Russia’s power, Churchill (and behind him, Roosevelt) would have to give up. …

Churchill did not know what took place … on 31 July. But he had suspected something like that for some time. As early as 27 June he wrote to [Field Marshal] Smuts: “If Hitler fails to beat us here he will probably recoil eastward. Indeed he may do this even without trying invasion. (p. 200)
The public didn’t learn of Hitler’s decision to invade Russia until the attack started eleven months later on June 21/2, 1941.

By Spring 1941 British intelligence was close to certain Germany was about to invade Russia; and warned the Russians. Stalin hesitated to act on the intelligence. Historians still debate why.

That’s a matter for books, not brief posts.

I hope you’re back tomorrow.

John Lukacs, The Duel: 10 May- 31 July 1940: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler. (Ticknor & Fields, 1990)

The N&O Remembers The Left

If you’re part of America’s Left, The Raleigh News & Observer didn’t forget you this Veterans Day.

On its front-page, above the fold Sunday, November 11, the N&O headlined:

A broken vow, a soldier's torment
Monday, the official observance of Veterans Day, the N&O’s front-page, above the fold headlined:
Mother's questions revive battle's horror
Patty Desens cannot escape the grief that swallowed her when her son died in Iraq. Guard leader Chad Stephens cannot escape her need to know more.
When you saw those headlines, you had to know the N&O cared about you, didn’t you?

The stories must have brought back memories of how hard the N&O and other Leftist news organizations worked to bring you those same Abu Ghraib photos dozens and dozens of times.

And remember the quotes from leading Democrats like Senator Ted Kennedy about Saddam’s prison system now under American military management?

Nothing's been too much to make our military in Iraq look as bad as possible.

Anyway the N&O can slime the military helps undermine what America’s government, currently led by President Bush, is trying to do in Iraq.

You and your fellow Leftists are cool with that.

But other people – the kind who put “country before party” - were catching on to what the N&O’s been doing, so the N&O now relies as much as possible on “psycho and misfit” stories.

You know how they work: Present the men and women who served in Iraq (and anywhere else) as pathetic, confused, and unable to fit back into civilian society and you help make what America is doing look bad.

So far the N&O’s “psycho and misfit” stories aren’t as bad as the slimes John Kerry and his “winter soldier” buddies peddled concerning Vietnam vets.

But they have the same purpose: to get people to back away from supporting America’s fight against terrorists.

It’s a simple but often effective formula the N&O uses:

1) Take a soldier or veteran who may have a war-related problem or may just be complaining of one, and hype it by turning it into a front-page story;

2) Ignore the vast majority of soldiers and veterans who lead purposeful and successful lives;

3) Above all else, ignore as much as possible successes the military has on the battlefield while publicizing as quickly and loudly as possible any charge, however suspect, America’s enemies level against the military.

If you’re a Leftist, remember to thank the N&O for its service.

“Governor Nifong” Questions?

Law professor Glenn Reynolds this morning at Instapundit:

ALL THE GOVERNOR'S MEN: The Spitzer scandal news just keeps on coming. You have to wonder if this fast-and-loose approach to the law suddenly started when he became Governor, or if it characterized his behavior as a prosecutor, too. Governor Nifong?
What about reaction to the "Governor Nifong" – I mean Spitzer story?

Has Duke’s President Brodhead issued a statement saying whatever Spitzer did “is bad enough?”

Is Brodhead looking forward to a trial at which Spitzer will have his chance to be “proved innocent?”

Will Chronicle Editor David Graham put a news blackout on the Spitzer story as The Chronicle did when Until Proven Innocent co-author Stuart Taylor spoke critically at Duke about some of The Chronicle's favorite administrators and faculy?

And what about Spitzer himself?

Will Spitzer use Brodhead's “the facts kept changing” defense?

Has Spitzer said "it’s time to move on?”

The disbarred Nifong told us here in Durham he “wants to help lead the healing.”

If Nifong offers to do the same in Albany, will Spitzer invite him up?

Stay tuned.

Update: A Chronicle news blackout reports Duke student newspaper's blackout of Until Proven Innocent co-author Stuart Taylor's speech at Duke.

The Chronicle has refused to explain its blackout.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Churchill Series – Nov. 12, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In posts last Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I detailed some of what the Chief of the Imperial Staff for much of WW II, Field Marshal Alan Brooke (later Lord Alanbrooke) wrote in his wartime diaries about Churchill. Among other things, Alanbrooke wrote that Churchill “knows no details, has only a half the picture in his mind, talks absurdities.”

Alanbrooke arranged for publication of his diaries while both men were alive. He sent Churchill a copy of the book with a fulsome inscription I quoted Friday.

Alanbrooke said in his inscription his comments about Churchill were only “momentary impressions” written at the end of long and exhausting days. Serving with Churchill, Alanbrooke wrote was “the greatest honour destiny had bestowed “ on him.

Churchill responded. It’s included, as quoted in Martin Gilbert’s Never Despair, in Friday’s post.

Now it’s Question Time:

Without agreeing with what Alanbrooke did, I can think of many reasons why a person in his position might publish the diaries while he and Churchill were both alive.

What I can’t understand is why he would send Churchill so fulsome a dedication which effectively disowned the seriousness of what he said about Churchill in his diaries.

What do you think?

Also, I wanted to be careful to treat Alanbrooke fairly and with respect for his considerable contribution to the Allies success. I hope I succeeded. What do you think?

What broken fences?

That's what blogger Don Surber is asking.

Visit his brief post and decide how you'd answer his question.

Hat tip: Instapundit

President Sanford’s Military Service

Today, the official observance of Veterans Day, I want to recall Duke President Terry Sanford’s WW II military service.

By doing that, I mean to pay tribute to him and all the men and women connected to Duke who served our country.

In 1942, married and an FBI agent, Terry Sanford was exempt from the draft. But he enlisted in the Army as a private, latter successfully completed OCS and qualified as a paratrooper. He was assigned as a 2nd Lt. to the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.

As part of the 517th, Sanford fought in some of the toughest fighting of the war in Italy, France, Belgium and Germany.

He took part in Operation Anvil, the successful Allied invasion of Southern France. During Anvil Sanford was the executive CO of a company ordered to jump behind enemy lines and seize a strong point. Through a navigational error the paratroopers in Sanford’s plane were given the order to jump while still 15 miles from their target.

Once on the ground, and unable to locate the company commander, Sanford began collecting the scattered paratroopers and leading them toward their target which they eventually reached and gained control of. For his bravery and meritorious service during the operation, Sanford was awarded the Bronze Star.

During Anvil he was in combat for 51 successive days.

Sanford served throughout the Battle of the Bulge and was wounded but remained with his unit. Howard E. Covington Jr & Marion A. Ellis in their biography, Terry Sanford (Duke University Press, 1999), recount :

On New Year’s Day, the 517th moved back into action as the Allies pushed west against steady opposition from the retreating Germans and the worst winter weather Europe had seen in years.

At night the temperatures ranged from zero to ten below. Soldiers in foxholes could freeze to death if they fell asleep. Snow was eighteen inched deep and lay on frozen ground virtually impenetrable to the GI’s entrenching tool.

Visibility was reduced to a few meters, and as Sanford and his troopers moved forward during one night maneuver they had to hold the equipment of the man ahead so as not to get lost in the darkness and dense underbrush.

The immediate objective of the First Battalion was the town of Bergeval, which [the battalion commander Maj. William] Boyle occupied with two companies before moving on under the cover of darkness to a position on a bluff east of the town. He had been told to expect other Allied units there. When he reached the high ground his small force was alone and there was evidence of German activity on his flank.

In an effort to better coordinate his position Boyle, Sanford and two others headed back to Bergeval. The four were moving across level ground in the darkness when they were challenged in German and dove for cover from machine gun fire, which hit both Boyle and Sanford. At the same time, heavier fire erupted at a point farther away.

The group finally made it to Bergeval, but by the time the two wounded men got to an aid tent, the regimental doctor thought Boyle was dead.

Sanford’s wounds were less serious. Medics patched up his left hand where he had been hit by a piece of shrapnel and though his injuries were serious enough to warrant a trip to the rear , he remain with Boyle, holding cigarettes for him as he waited to be evacuated. (Boyle recovered after months of treatment and later fought in Korea.)

In Terry’s next V-mail home, dated less than a week after he was wounded, he wrote: “Just want you to know that everything is moving along well in these parts.” He made no mention of his wounds.

On January 21 the Allies captured the Belgian town of St. Vith, effectively bringing an end to the Battle of the Bulge.

The 517th had been in continuous action for thirty-seven days and losses had been heavy; the unit had suffered more than seven hundred causalities. (p.80)
In 1946 Sanford was discharged from the Army having attained the rank of first lieutenant.

Sanford went on to serve as Governor of North Carolina, United States Senator and President of Duke University.

A 1981 Harvard University survey named him as one of the nations 10 best Governors since the start of the 20th century. He’s regarded as one of Duke’s great presidents.

Sanford died in his Durham home on April 18, 1998.

Again from Covington & Ellis’ Terry Sanford:
The 82nd Airborne volunteered to provide military honors, and soldiers in crisp beribboned uniforms, shiny black jump boots, and crimson berets carried Sanford’s casket to the front of [Duke Chapel] and stood watch until services began on April 22. …

[The traditional Methodist service Sanford had requested closed with a eulogy from his boyhood friend, Judge Dickson Phillips, who ] finished his prepared remarks and paused at the podium before returning to his seat.

Then the tall distinguished judge, who had spoken in such soft tones of reverence and love, looked at the row of paratroopers seated on the front pew, raised his fist in a high salute to the casket and said, “Airborne, all the way.”

As the service concluded, a bugler from the 82nd Airborne played taps while his comrades slowly folded the American flag that draped Sanford’s casket. The division deputy commander, Major General Thomas H. Needham, presented the flag to Margaret Rose before his soldiers carried her husband’s casket to the crypt below. (pgs. 508,510)
There were no University sponsored Veterans Day observances at Duke yesterday or today.
Besides the Covington & Ellis biography I drew material for this post from the Wikipedia “Terry Sanford” entry and news articles in the archives of the Raleigh N&O for the period April 19 to April 26, 1998.

Blacks, Victimhood & Dignity

Entertainer and social activist Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint, professor of psychiatry at Harvard, have co-authored the book, "Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors."

The book’s themes run through an op-ed they published recently in The Christian Science Monitor [excerpts]

[…]We know there are forces that make the ability to escape poverty seem bleak: overburdened single-parent homes, a high dropout rate, joblessness, gangs, drugs, crime, incarceration, deaths at an early age from guns fired by angry black men. We know that systemic racism and governmental neglect still exist.

Yet we in the black community must look at ourselves and understand our own responsibility. We sometimes inflict ourselves with a victim mentality, feel hopeless, and do self-destructive things that make our lives even worse.

Many people who are trying to make it find themselves struggling against fellow African Americans so lost in self-destructive behaviors that they bring down other people as well as themselves.[…]

This is not the future for which our ancestors escaped slavery or resisted it. None of our forebears sacrificed their lives so that their children's children could call each other "nigger."

We cannot accept this current state of affairs. We must realize – and believe – that, for all the external hassles we face, we are not helpless.

We can overcome the odds and succeed in spite of the obstacles. And we must try. Despite the fact that racial discrimination has not been eliminated, black strength lies in the resolve to keep on keeping on, never quit, never give up, never yield to the role of cooperative victim.

Since the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to end school segregation, black people have achieved extraordinary accomplishments on all fronts that seemed unthinkable 50 years ago.

As black people face the future, we must remember our successes in American society.

One way slaves survived brutal conditions was to turn the Christianity they had learned into a liberation theology. The stories of the Hebrew slaves became their own.

Even as slave owners used the Bible to justify slavery, black people used the Bible as God intended – to give people hope for a time when there would be true justice.

For black people to hold their heads high even today means getting rid of internal feelings of inferiority.

This can be difficult given that white supremacists had real clout in this nation for nearly 250 years.

Take, for example, the very definition of a "black" person in America. Historically, a person with any known black ancestry was defined as black, making African ancestry a taint on white purity.

The way race is defined in the United States makes no biological or genetic sense. It's been used primarily as a tool for political and psychological oppression – providing economic gain for many white people. […]

We wonder how … embedded stereotypes affect black people today. Are we too dependent? Do we rely too much on white people or "the system" to rescue us? Do we lack faith in our own ability to run things? Has the legacy of slavery affected even our current mental state?

Too many people, including some black people, believe many poor black youth – particularly males – cannot be educated. This position harkens back to the notion of poor genes determining poor performance rather than poor environment, poor schools, or a music scene that imparts destructive, degrading values.

The good must be separated from the bad while treating black people with respect and not demeaning an entire culture.

Black neighborhoods today must adopt that same can-do attitude and take action. They must be enterprising and work hard to improve their own economic situation – and by so doing, help improve the community.

This tenacious drive to be victorious is a quality that will help us meet the current challenges in our neighborhoods.

We can pass this sense of strength on to our children by strengthening black families, whatever their structure, and nurturing our youth with love and guidance.

We must put children first and sharpen our parenting skills in both single-parent and two-parent homes. Fathers must play a bigger role. They cannot be absent. Children do better when fathers are actively involved in their lives.

With the help of supportive social policies, we can shoulder the remaining challenges and overcome the barriers to black success.

The driving force for change has been the activism of African Americans and others who take up our cause.

The key word is activism, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We must be actively involved in empowering our schools and participating in the political process by exercising our right to vote.

Being passive takes us nowhere. Activism is what gets us where we want to go.

It is time to think positively and act positively. A people armed with the will to want to get better, armed with the will to win, and armed with knowledge of the past and present, can move forward and take action, succeed, and reclaim their dignity.
I don’t agree with Cosby and Poussaint concerning “government neglect.” And I’m not sure just what they’re saying about how race is defined in America.

But those two matters excepted, I agree with everything they say here.

Most of it sounds just like what generations of immigrants to America did and taught their children to do.

Millions of them, including some I knew first-hand and grew up with, came to America directly from places where their situations were every bit as bad or worse than slavery.

As I recall those who were successful said things just like what Cosby and Puissant are saying: "We can help ourselves." "If we don’t do it, nobody can do it for us."

Things like that.

On the other hand, here’s some of what Duke professor Karla Holloway said recently in an Orlando Sentinal op-ed about what Cosby and Poussaint are urging blacks to do:
[…] Bill Cosby made his career earning our laughter, but his recent "call-out" to black communities --- in which he blames the multifaceted perils of black children (whom he has called "dirty laundry") on their parents' lack of interest in their success -- only serves to solidify our biases about privilege, potential and race. […].

Cosby lobs these critiques about troubled lifestyles and dangerous decisions that haunt too many urban youth and families with a style of argumentation that is easily persuasive but analytically thin. Argument by anecdote -- the storytelling mode he has adopted about parents who . . ., or children who . . . , or black males who . . . -- easily captures his audiences' attention and affirmation.

But Cosby's error is not only stylistic; a critical dimension of his storytelling is equally problematic.

When, for example, Cosby tells stories of how studious and responsible black children are teased by peers and accused of "acting white," he validates the associations made by those who do not consider the charge a specious association.

Because he fails to critique the presumption of this insult, he solidifies the ridiculous notion that education, poise, standard grammar and ambition are properties of a particular racial identity.
What Holloway says about Cosby isn’t a bit like what Cosby and Poussaint are actually saying, is it?

Cosby and Poussaint have high expectations for blacks. They want blacks to empower themselves.

Holloway rejects what they say; and endorses the status quo.

Yes, she does talk about moving beyond distinctions of race, but does anyone seriously believe Holloway wants to do away with race-based programs such as affirmative action?

Holloway expresses what she’s really hoping will happen when she ends her op-ed with: “I think it is time for us to hear less from America's favorite father.”

You can read Holloway’s op-ed here and Cosby and Poussaint’s op[-ed here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

When Words Fail

Last Tuesday I posted Duke Ignores Its Brave Defenders.

The post included extracts from Duke senior Kristin Butler’s beautifully written and extensively researched Chronicle column calling attention to Duke’s shameful disregard of the University’s men and woman who’ve served in our military, including those who made the supreme sacrifice.

I said I was posting mainly to alert readers to Butler’s column and promised to comment further in a few days.

I’ve not posted comments yet because each draft post has been inadequate to the importance of the subject Butler placed before us – and not just those of us who are Dukies, but all Americans and citizens of other lands whose lives are more secure and better because of the service and sacrifice of our military.

I’m working on a draft now I hope to have ready tomorrow. In the meantime, I want to place Butler’s entire column before you for your own reading and in the hope you will copy and share it with others lest we forget.

Here’s Kristin’s column:

When the rest of the country pauses to honor America's military personnel (both living and dead) next Monday, Duke University won't join in.

There will be no on-campus remembrances a la 9/11 or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Classes will proceed as normal. Even our University calendar-which advertises activities like an open house tour for the Home Depot Smart Home Nov. 12-makes no mention of the occasion.

Considering how much we have to honor, that sort of neglect is a University-wide disgrace.

Veterans Day at Duke should be a time to acknowledge the service of thousands of former soldiers receiving treatment at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, to remember our brave classmates serving overseas and, most important of all, to pay tribute to the thousands of selfless alumni who fought and died for our country in times of war.

Excuses abound for Duke's current policies, among them the difficulty of fitting federal holidays into a jam-packed academic year. But the thought that this University-with its thriving ROTC programs and relatively large numbers of alumni in uniform-does so little to recognize former students' courage and sacrifice is all but inconceivable.

As we edge toward national Veterans Day festivities, there is still time to end a larger cycle of broken promises at Duke.

Let's start with the sorry state of our physical tributes to the fallen. At present, Duke has only one war memorial, a low wall dedicated to alumni killed in World War II.

When it was built many decades ago, this humble remembrance stood against a grassy hill along the right side of the Chapel (recall that there was no Bryan Center, no engineering campus and no research labs behind West Campus back then).

Today, with the encroachment of the Westbrook Building and Goodson Chapel, the fixture stands as little more than an airshaft between large buildings. It appears on no campus map, is absent from guided tours and remains unnoticed by longtime students, faculty and employees alike.

Over the past three years, I walked by that wall more than 500 times before noticing its purpose, largely assuming that it prevented soil erosion or honored Divinity School donors.

And it's not just the wall's low profile that rankles, either. Before this monument was dedicated in September 1993 (following an unexplained delay of more than 40 years), administrators announced that it would "bear the names of those students killed in World War II and subsequent wars."

In the 14 years since, not a single name has been added, leaving soldiers killed in Korea, Vietnam and both Gulf Wars wholly without tribute.

Meanwhile, Duke administrators went on to effectively re-sell the University's only other war monument less than two years later. Donated in 1922, the Alumni Memorial Gym stood in honor of Trinity students who died in World War I for more than 70 years.

But by the mid-1990s, the structure had become decrepit, prompting officials to rename it the Keith and Brenda Brodie Recreation Center in exchange for repairs and expansions. That Duke's tribute to fallen WWI alumni is one of only a handful of buildings on campus to ever meet this fate says something troubling about our institutional priorities.

For perspective, it's worth noting that this level of indifference is by no means common among our peers.

Recognizing the need for this type of unified, appropriate tribute two years ago, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill officials raised $300,000 to expand their existing Memorial Hall into a tribute that acknowledges "these people were here, and now they're lost." Other institutions scatter smaller remembrances throughout their campuses, grouping the fallen by conflict.

No matter which tactic Duke favors, there is a clear need to do better by our war dead. Heroes like Lt. Charles "Buddy" Mason, a 1964 graduate who was killed in Vietnam in 1967, have waited more than 40 years for a place where friends can properly remember his "gracious" spirit.

Others, like Sgt. James J. Regan, a standout men's lacrosse player who died last February in northern Iraq, underscore the importance of a space where current students can mourn a classmate described as "a best friend to everyone he knew."

A proper memorial will not make these untimely deaths any less tragic, just as on-campus observances will never repay the debt we all owe living veterans. But such efforts do show our collective gratitude for the sacrifices made by our classmates in uniform, along with our respect for the contributions they've made to the University.

This Veterans Day, let's channel our admiration for Duke's current and former soldiers into a tradition that is finally worthy of their service.

Honoring those who served

The Manchester Union Leader pays a tribute to our veterans that is so poignant and complete that it would be awkward for me to comment afterwards.

I’ll just say here before posting it that, like most of you, I’m deeply grateful to our veterans living and dead, and to their families who sacrifice with them:

Veterans Day will be officially observed tomorrow, quite probably with too many shopping sales and too few people pausing to thank a veteran of our armed forces or to just stop and reflect for a minute on what life would be like without our veterans -- past, present and future.

The late Paul Scott Mowrer, who ended his days in Chocorua as poet laureate of New Hampshire, prayed in the following poem that the cause for which America sends her youth to serve and die be just; that it "stay till end of time the oppressor's rod."
Mowrer, editor of the Chicago Daily News and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, was writing in the aftermath of the First World War, whose end was commemorated by the first Veterans Day, then known as Armistice Day. Alas, the "oppressor's rod" has yet to be permanently stayed.

We owe it to our veterans, then and now, not only that our cause always be just but that we treat well and honorably those who serve and sacrifice.

By Paul Scott Mowrer

Let but the cause seem beautiful, dear God,
If we must die. Make us believe, in truth,
For all mankind we thus forswear our youth,
To stay till end of time the oppressor's rod;
That but for us, harsh power would ride rough-shod
Through freedom's delicate gardens, and the tooth
Of hatred rend our people without ruth;
So might we sleep contented, under the sod.
For else, who knows what gladness here on earth
Was destined us, what nobly high employ?
Oh, hard it is that youth should cease to be!
For now came love, with a great glad rebirth
To company our way, and now came joy!
Not death we fear, but death's futility.

A Chronicle news blackout

A week ago yesterday the Durham Herald Sun reported [excerpt]

[Stuart]Taylor, who co-authored "Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case" with K.C. Johnson, a New York City-based history professor and author of the Durham-In-Wonderland Web log, [spoke last night at Duke at invitation of] the student group Duke Students for an Ethical Duke (DSED).

In a Levine Science Research Center auditorium, readers of his book and followers of the lacrosse case hung on the author's every word.

And he detailed his involvement in the case from start to finish.

Taylor excoriated everyone from the news media to Duke University administrators and professors to disbarred Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

But most of all, he decried the political correctness and mob mentality he said overtook many people.

"The picture of what you can paint of what these people did here is even darker than what we portrayed in this book," he said. "As it unravels, I believe it will just get uglier and uglier and uglier."[…]
The entire H-S story is here.

It’s very newsworthy, especially for what Taylor had to say about Duke as an institution and individual administrators and faculty.

But Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, failed to report the event.

The Chronicle even refused to inform the Duke community of Taylor’s planned appearance. That despite what DSED says was nine days notice it gave The Chronicle of Taylor’s Nov. 2 appearance.

When no Chronicle reporter appeared to cover Taylor’s talk, DSED says it offered to bring the paper the video of the speech the next day but the offer was ignored.

I’ve just sent the following email to Chronicle Editor David Graham. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything back from Graham.


Dear Editor Graham:

Re: The Chronicle's failure to provide any coverage of Stuart Taylor’s Nov. 2 talk and Q&A at Duke.

A talk at Duke by a nationally known columnist and editor who’s recently co-authored a widely-acclaimed book detailing the Duke Hoax and its enablement by many at the Univeristy is a news event The Chronicle should report to the Duke community.

But The Chronicle failed to tell readers Until Proven Innocent author Stuart Taylor would be speaking in Love Auditorium on Nov. 2 and that the Duke community and the public were invited.


I understand The Chronicle was given nine days notice of Taylor's appearance.

How does The Chronicle's justify not informing the student body and others of Taylor’s appearance, especially as he had offered, if any Duke professor cared to, to change his talk format to a debate with the professor?

And why did The Chronicle decide to not report a single word of Taylor's talk and the Q&A which followed? Other media reported on them.

Many in the Duke community and elsewhere are puzzeled and troubled that you and the editorial board now echo the “time to move on” meme promulgated by Mike Nifong, President Brodhead and their supporters.

But we respect your individual right, and The Chronicle’s right, to echo the "move on" meme if you believe that’s in Duke’s best interest.

However, The Chronicle’s news blackout of Taylor is quite another matter.

The Chronicle was never meant to publish only news that fits its editors’ views.

I urge you to do two things:

1) Issue a full, written explanation of why The Chronicle failed to inform readers in advance of Taylor’s appearance and why you failed to cover it.

2) Contact Taylor and invite him to write a column in which he can include the mainpoints of his talk and Q&A comments.

Chronicle readers deserve nothing less.

I’ll publish your response in full at my blog and provide links to other blogs.

I look forward to your "on the record" response.

This email is the main part of a post you can read here:

Thank you for your attention to this email.


John in Carolina

Hot Sauce on Veterans Day

I'd like to tell you about Operation Sauce Drop

The mission of Operation Sauce Drop is to deliver free of charge great-tasting sauces to US military personnel stationed abroad.

A small North Carolina Company is running the operation on a non-profit basis.

The company wants to help thank our troops for their sacrifices with a small token of appreciation - "a taste of home."

There are seven different themed gift boxes of sauces, from mild and zesty to hot and fiery, from which any serviceman or servicewoman stationed at an APO or FPO address may choose which are then sent to their APO or FPO address at absolutely no cost to them.

The average cost to purchase and ship (with insurance) a gift box is around $20.00.

I'm posting this bacause I know the family which owns the company and they're legit. What's more, JinC Regular AC knows the owners and has already contributed $200.

You can go HERE and learn more about things and how to give. It's easy.

Note that important part of Sauce Drop: our service the guys love it - read this.

So far the company's shipped 70 boxes but has orders from the troops for 90 more. So please help. Go HERE. As if you needed an incentive, you get a 10% discount if you donate sauce to the troops.