Duke’s Reign of Terror

By Arch T. Allen

Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case by Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson (2007, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 420 pp.)


It’s Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Case and the Lives It Shattered by Don Yaeger with Mike Pressler (2007, Threshold Editions, 321 pp.)


A Rush To Injustice: How Power, Prejudice, Racism, and Political Correctness Overshadowed Truth and Justice in the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case by Nader Baydoun and R. Stephanie Good (2007, Thomas Nelson, 260 pp.)



For “these professors,” it is “a war or a revolution. … In the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows. …” Those prescient words of Edmund Burke described intellectuals encouraging the French Revolution and foretold the Jacobin Reign of Terror — wrought not with gallows, but with the guillotine, an instrument of the intellectuals. Burke’s words, written over two centuries ago, resonate now regarding the Duke University intellectuals who rushed to condemn the Duke lacrosse players accused of gang rape at their infamous 2006 spring-break party.

Neither the gallows nor the guillotine awaited the Duke lacrosse players, but Jacobin-like protesters marched in the street to their house. They shouted threats through bullhorns, banged pots and chanted, “They must be rapists!” They declared: “You can’t rape and run,” decreed the players “wanted” and demanded that they “confess.” As punishment to fit the presumed crime, the pot bangers proposed “give them equal measure” and “castrate!”

The pot bangers and their Duke enablers are contemporary equivalents to Jacobins, and “reign of terror” describes their actions better than their own “metanarrative” about the gang-rape allegations. Under that narrative — derived from their academic theory that all people and events must be viewed through a race/class/gender prism — the accuser, a black female “exotic dancer,” presumably poor and paid by white boys to entertain at their party, had to be believed, and the white boys, presumably rich and “privileged” in academic jargon, had to be guilty.

These professors were defined in a Weekly Standard cover story as “Duke’s Tenured Vigilantes,” driven in their rush to judgment by “angry feminism, ethnic victimology” and “upgraded Marxism.” Some of the professors, who came to be called the Group of 88, published a full-page proclamation in the student newspaper of a “Social Disaster,” claiming they were “listening to our students” who were “shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman.” Published soon after the pot bangers had proclaimed the lacrosse players rapists and proposed their castration, the Group of 88 announced that they were “turning up the volume” and added: “To the students speaking individually and to the protesters making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard.”

The pot bangers’ noise and the professors’ proclamation played well in Durham, a former mill town rife with race and class resentments that energized its “progressive” agitators. With its largest employer now Duke University — an elite, highly ranked, largely white university — Durham presented the perfect setting for the race/class/gender narrative to define the white-on-black rape allegations. There, as a leader of the Group of 88 said, the accused lacrosse players with their “privileged” social standing presented “perfectness as offenders.”

With the exception of this magazine, the media, well-schooled in the race/ class/gender narrative, quickly portrayed the accuser as a poor-black-girl-done-wrong and the accused as guilty-rich-white-boys. Starting with The News & Observer, the narrative soon surfaced on the front page of The New York Times, on the cover of Newsweek and elsewhere. Basking in media coverage, especially by the Durham Herald-Sun, the Durham prosecutor, the now-disgraced Mike Nifong, capitalized on the narrative for his election campaign to seek votes from Durham blacks. Nifong assured them that “a rape occurred,” the rape combined “gang-like rape activity” with “racial slurs and general hostility,” and the lacrosse players were “a bunch of hooligans.” At a campaign rally, Nifong assured Durham blacks: “I’m not going to allow Durham’s view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham.”

Despite the narrative’s dominance, some skeptics spoke, such as one who recalled the Tawana Brawley false-rape hoax in New York 10 years ago, and called the charges “Tawana Does Duke.” More prominently, the late Ed Bradley of CBS’s 60 Minutes spoke skeptically and cautioned about such niceties as the presumption of innocence. As a result, and as defense lawyers for the three lacrosse players indicted by Nifong began to counter his prejudicial public statements, some media reconsidered. News & Observer columnist Ruth Sheehan recanted her earlier rush to judgment, and News & Observer reporter Joseph Neff countered the narrative with facts. The facts trumped the narrative, as New York Times columnist David Brooks acknowledged, while Newsweek’s Evan Thomas lamented, “The narrative was right. The facts were wrong.”

Because of the facts, the case collapsed. In sum: The lacrosse players’ lawyers exposed ethical violations by Nifong that forced him to turn the case over to the state attorney general, who after investigating the charges and interviewing the accuser (efforts not undertaken earlier by Nifong), declared not only that there was no credible evidence to support the charges, but that the three indicted players — whose names have been smeared enough and need not be repeated here — were “innocent,” as well. The attorney general added that the accuser, Crystal Mangum, had made many inconsistent statements about her allegations and may be delusional. Indeed, she made her first allegation only upon being confronted by police, after she had passed out in a second dancer’s car, and facing transport by the police to a mental health facility.

While the legal system has dismissed the wrongful charges against the innocent players and disbarred and jailed Nifong for lying to the court, much remains to be done in Durham. Some of its officials and Nifong now face civil-law claims in federal court alleging violation of the constitutional rights of the three lacrosse players and proposing federal monitoring of Durham police.

Much remains to be done at Duke, as well. The school has settled claims against it by the three players, reportedly paying them millions of dollars to protect not only itself, but also its employees, including the Group of 88. Duke’s willingness to protect the Group of 88 is understandable, but it is regrettable that these “tenured vigilantes” will not suffer civil-law consequences for the criminal-law prosecution they willed upon their students. In any event, Duke and its vigilantes are receiving much-deserved scrutiny, including three recent books.

It’s Not About the Truth, by Don Yaeger with former Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler, provides a poignant account of the case’s effects on the players, their families and their friends. The title comes from a retort to Pressler, convinced of his players’ innocence and protesting that Duke must stand for the truth, by Duke athletic director Joe Alleva: “It’s not about the truth anymore. It’s about the faculty, the special interest groups, the protesters, our reputation, the integrity of the University.”

The integrity of the University comes up short also in A Rush To Injustice, by former Duke football player Nader Baydoun. Now an experienced trial lawyer, he concludes that the Duke leadership was less interested in the truth than politically correct posturing to please the media and the faculty vigilantes.

The Duke leadership, the media and the vigilantes fare even worse in Until Proven Innocent, the authoritative account of the case. Its title comes from a statement by Duke President Richard Brodhead that the accused students must await criminal trial if they were to be “proved innocent.” Its co-authors are Stuart Taylor, a writer on legal issues with a Harvard law degree, and KC Johnson, a history professor with a Harvard doctorate. They are not intimidated by the pretensions of the Group of 88 or the prominence of Brodhead. Until Proven Innocent chronicles the wrongs of the Group of 88, the Duke leadership and others.

The wrongs were many: the accuser’s fabulist allegations; the rush to judgment by the pot bangers, their Group of 88 enablers and their media celebrants; Nifong’s political-play prosecution of the three players; and the apparent acceptance of the players’ guilt by Duke’s leadership, reportedly cowed by the Group of 88. If anyone at Duke looks good, it is not President Brodhead (even after his recent, belated apology to the players), his vice president, John Burness (who reportedly made disparaging off-the-record comments to the media about the players) or Athletic Director Joe Alleva (“it’s not about the truth”). Perhaps they can be excused for early reliance on Nifong. But some Duke professors and many Duke students were not taken in by Nifong. Condemned by a significant segment of their own faculty and by much of the media, the accused players, writers for the student newspaper and other Duke students showed better judgment than their tenured tormentors and better journalism than The New York Times. If Brodhead, Burness and Alleva cannot be proud of their own performances during the case, they can be proud of many Duke students. But Duke students should not be proud of them nor of the Group of 88.

It’s Not About the Truth noted: “College campuses are a breeding ground for radical left-leaning faculty. They are often anti-American, anti-white male and anti any other facet of our society that has enjoyed ‘privilege’ at one time or another. Duke’s campus was no exception.” In fact, at least since Stanley Fish’s influence in the 1980s as chairman of its English department, Duke has been a national leader in recruiting radicals to its humanities and some social science disciplines. The radicals displaced the traditional curriculum of great literature and academic history, contending that the canon was no more worthy of study than comics and popular culture texts.

Thus, it should have surprised no one that Duke students are exposed to popular culture idioms like comic Chris Rock’s joke thanking black grandparents for cotton shirts and the novel American Psycho’s story of skinning women alive. But when it was reported that a lacrosse player had used the cotton shirt line and another had used the American Psycho scene, critics ignored that Duke professors have assigned American Psycho in classes, its film version has been available in the freshman library, and a professor testified at a black rapper’s pornography trial that his racist and sexist lyrics were artistic expression. That academic world assigns many culturally degrading works and has become center stage for playing Antonio Gramsci’s script calling for destruction of the culture as a precondition to a Marxist revolution.

Leading characters following that script include some members of the Group of 88. One, Mark Anthony Neal, described himself in Duke’s alumni magazine as a “thugniggaintellectual” and promised to use his “intellectual persona” to do “‘gangster’ scholarship . . . just hard, hard-core intellectual thuggery.” Amid such thuggery, Group of 88 leader Wahneena Lubiano proclaimed that “sabotage has to be the order of the day.” No need to worry about her sabotage, however, as she has assured us that “we’ll all get along together after the revolution’s over.” Revolution is the order of the day for such radicals, as exemplified by another member of the Group of 88, Michael Hardt. A Duke literature professor and self-described “joyful communist,” Hardt has called for the end of the capitalist “empire.”

The Group of 88 has protested that they have been “misinterpreted,” and some of them have accused their critics of “McCarthyism.” In rejoinder, Until Proven Innocent accuses them of “academic McCarthyism.” Read Until Proven Innocent, and decide for yourself who are the McCarthyites — or really, who are the revolutionary Jacobins.




By Arch T. Allen

Among good teaching at colleges and universities, there are some bad usurpations of professorial platforms for indoctrination. The indoctrination efforts are exposed on anecdotal bases largely, but evidence exists of systemic efforts in some disciplines, such as neo-Marxist humanities and social sciences courses, especially gender, race and ethnic identity studies.

Indoctrination U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom (2007), by David Horowitz, exposes these efforts and proposes an antidote, an “Academic Bill of Rights.” For more information, go to www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org. Whether Horowitz proposes the correct cure for this academic ill remains to be seen, but his diagnosis exposes a cancer within the academy. Its malicious cells are multiplying like so many Ward Churchills, the fraudulent professor recently fired from the University of Colorado, and withstanding Horowitz’s proposed cure. Their exaggerations and misrepresentations of his proposal show that he has hit some sensitive nerves.

Indoctrinate U, a documentary film by Evan Maloney, has premiered at a film festival and is being promoted for public distribution. For more information, go to www.indoctrinate-u.com.