Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, co-authors of Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, have a great op-ed in today’s Washington Post marking the end of the Duke case (now that former D.A. Mike Nifong is reporting for his 24 hour jail sentence). Apart from Nifong, Taylor and Johnson are keen to examine the role of the academy throughout the lacrosse ordeal:
Dozens of the activist professors who dominate campus discourse gleefully stereotyped and vilified their own students — and not one member of Duke’s undergraduate faculty publicly dissented for months. Duke President Richard Brodhead repeatedly and misleadingly denigrated the players’ characters. He also acted as though he had no problem with Nifong’s violations of their rights to due process.
To be sure, it was natural to assume at first that Nifong had a case. Why else would he confidently declare the players guilty? But many academics and journalists continued to presume guilt months after massive evidence of innocence poured into the public record. Indeed, some professors persisted in attacks even after the three defendants were declared innocent in April by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper — an almost unheard-of event.
Brushing aside concern with “the ‘truth’ . . . about the incident,” as one put it, these faculty ideologues just changed their indictments from rape to drunkenness (hardly a rarity in college); exploiting poor black women (the players had expected white and Hispanic strippers); and being born white, male and prosperous.
This shameful conduct was rooted in a broader trend toward subordinating facts and evidence to faith-based ideological posturing. Worse, the ascendant ideology, especially in academia, is an obsession with the fantasy that oppression of minorities and women by “privileged” white men remains rampant in America. Its crude stereotyping of white men, especially athletes, resembles old-fashioned racism and sexism.
Can this trend be reversed? The power of extremist professors will continue to spread unless mainstream liberal academics, alumni and trustees stop deferring to them and stop letting them pack departments with more and more ideologically eccentric, intellectually mediocre allies.