Two thoughts on the Duke case

The Weekly Standard has an excellent review of the Duke case in its January 29 edition, also available online ("Duke's Tenured Vigilantes").  In it, Charlotte Allen, the author, reviews the disgraceful conduct of the principal players - Nifong, a significant part of the Duke Arts and Sciences Faculty, the Duke Administration represented by president Richard Brodhead, and particularly the MSM - all of whom combined into what was in effect a modern version of a lynch mob.

After reading it, two thoughts came to mind:

A significant part of the Duke Faculty - always excepting the magnificent James Coleman, the Duke law professor who is the Atticus Finch of this affair, a righteous man unafraid to speak the truth in public - hates a significant part of its student body - white boys.  It is hard to see how the university can countenance this state of affairs.  The purpose of a teacher is to encourage his or her students to develop their talents to their maximum.  The role of a teacher is to rejoice in the success of the student.  If as a teacher you find you cannot do this, then you must find another line of work.  Anything else is malpractice, really evil, of the most egregious sort, since as a teacher you have been entrusted with the development of the student's character.

In one of his trenchant insights, Thomas Sowell said that given the opportunities of American society, if there is a divide, it is not between the haves and the have-nots, but between the doers and the do-nots.  And, I think, we see that in the attitude of the Duke faculty to the lacrosse players.  I personally, do not worship at the altar of the athlete and am embarrassed to admit that I find professional sports boring.  So I am practically un-American on this point.  I was a barely adequate athlete as a kid, not hopeless, but not a hero.  I only say this to indicate that I am doing no special pleading for athletes here. 

But the idea that the lacrosse players are "privileged" is simply absurd, except in the sense that all Americans are privileged compared to the rest of the world.  The whole point of athletics is that it is no respecter of position - that an athlete can only succeed based on what he, in this case, brings onto the field.  I know enough about lacrosse to know that it requires immense conditioning and hardiness, and like all contact sports, a certain amount of courage to put yourself out there on the field in front of the crowd.  Not to mention talent.  To be good with the stick and the ball, to be in shape to run up and down the field, to understand the sport well enough to contribute to the team, these are all the athletic virtues celebrated in any sport. 

The attack on the lacrosse players as privileged louts, which is a reasonable summary of the Group of 88's attack on the team, tells us all we need to know about the Group of 88 and nothing about the lacrosse players.  It is the jealousy, the envy, of the do-nots for the doers.

Which brings up the second point.  And that is the scholarly slovenliness revealed by the Group of 88 in their denunciations of the white lacrosse players.  After all, what is their claim on our attention?  Certainly not their power, heaven forbid!  No, it is their allegedly superior understanding of the world, their scholarship.  One of the problems of the social sciences is that it is so difficult to have a controlled experiment, since they deal with the unfolding of the human experience.  But occasionally we get such a controlled experiment, and we have one here.  And what do we find?  That the worldview, the "model" of society that is held and promulgated at least by this radical element of the Duke faculty is a failure.  Their fantasies of white power and privilege and their expectation of physical abuse of others reveal their own view of the world, not the reality of the situation.  Their model, their scholarship is a failure.  What does that say about the value of the courses that they teach?  Every time the radical left view of human nature or of society can be judged objectively, it fails.  As it did here.  Let's not forget it.  And let's not let the Duke faculty forget it.

The Weekly Standard has an excellent review of the Duke case in its January 29 edition, also available online ("Duke's Tenured Vigilantes").  In it, Charlotte Allen, the author, reviews the disgraceful conduct of the principal players - Nifong, a significant part of the Duke Arts and Sciences Faculty, the Duke Administration represented by president Richard Brodhead, and particularly the MSM - all of whom combined into what was in effect a modern version of a lynch mob.

After reading it, two thoughts came to mind:

A significant part of the Duke Faculty - always excepting the magnificent James Coleman, the Duke law professor who is the Atticus Finch of this affair, a righteous man unafraid to speak the truth in public - hates a significant part of its student body - white boys.  It is hard to see how the university can countenance this state of affairs.  The purpose of a teacher is to encourage his or her students to develop their talents to their maximum.  The role of a teacher is to rejoice in the success of the student.  If as a teacher you find you cannot do this, then you must find another line of work.  Anything else is malpractice, really evil, of the most egregious sort, since as a teacher you have been entrusted with the development of the student's character.

In one of his trenchant insights, Thomas Sowell said that given the opportunities of American society, if there is a divide, it is not between the haves and the have-nots, but between the doers and the do-nots.  And, I think, we see that in the attitude of the Duke faculty to the lacrosse players.  I personally, do not worship at the altar of the athlete and am embarrassed to admit that I find professional sports boring.  So I am practically un-American on this point.  I was a barely adequate athlete as a kid, not hopeless, but not a hero.  I only say this to indicate that I am doing no special pleading for athletes here. 

But the idea that the lacrosse players are "privileged" is simply absurd, except in the sense that all Americans are privileged compared to the rest of the world.  The whole point of athletics is that it is no respecter of position - that an athlete can only succeed based on what he, in this case, brings onto the field.  I know enough about lacrosse to know that it requires immense conditioning and hardiness, and like all contact sports, a certain amount of courage to put yourself out there on the field in front of the crowd.  Not to mention talent.  To be good with the stick and the ball, to be in shape to run up and down the field, to understand the sport well enough to contribute to the team, these are all the athletic virtues celebrated in any sport. 

The attack on the lacrosse players as privileged louts, which is a reasonable summary of the Group of 88's attack on the team, tells us all we need to know about the Group of 88 and nothing about the lacrosse players.  It is the jealousy, the envy, of the do-nots for the doers.

Which brings up the second point.  And that is the scholarly slovenliness revealed by the Group of 88 in their denunciations of the white lacrosse players.  After all, what is their claim on our attention?  Certainly not their power, heaven forbid!  No, it is their allegedly superior understanding of the world, their scholarship.  One of the problems of the social sciences is that it is so difficult to have a controlled experiment, since they deal with the unfolding of the human experience.  But occasionally we get such a controlled experiment, and we have one here.  And what do we find?  That the worldview, the "model" of society that is held and promulgated at least by this radical element of the Duke faculty is a failure.  Their fantasies of white power and privilege and their expectation of physical abuse of others reveal their own view of the world, not the reality of the situation.  Their model, their scholarship is a failure.  What does that say about the value of the courses that they teach?  Every time the radical left view of human nature or of society can be judged objectively, it fails.  As it did here.  Let's not forget it.  And let's not let the Duke faculty forget it.