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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Did the Duke "Gang of 88" falsify their 'listening' statement?

photo of 'listening statement' ad in Duke Chronicle, April 6th, 2006The infamous Duke "Group Gang of 88" after an ignominious scattered retreat has reappeared.

They have regrouped, reconstituted, and renamed themselves "The Concerned Duke Faculty." This after suffering dozens of silent desertions and a large ration of public scorn and humiliation for back stabbing their own students, the men's lacrosse team. They should have learned their lesson and resigned, retired, or at least apologized. But no.

Yesterday, they defiantly counterattacked in mass after months of individual hiding, sniping and grousing. Their weapon of "mass destruction" this time around was an open letter to the Duke community. One of the gang's ring leaders, Kara Holloway, also neatly coordinated the publication of their open letter to coincide with an inflammatory, race-baiting, slanderous article that she fed to the internet troll and race baiting maven, Cash Michaels. What a bunch of weasels this "Group Gang of 88" is to put so much time and effort into attacking their own students. It's disgusting.

The first gang, or group think stink attack on the lacrosse team was the potbanging rallying cry against the lacrosse rapists known as the 'listening' statement. That full page advertisement stitched together a string of emotional rants and was published on April 6th in the Duke Chronicle. It railed about an ominous "social disaster" just as the mobs were building in a potbanging frenzy to help capture and castrate the Duke lacrosse rapists.

The "Group Gang of 88" advertisement was kept on line (.pdf file) at the African & African American Studies Department website until the morning of November 10th. It was removed shortly following a posting of The Johnsville News' article, "The 'listening' statement." That post attempted to decipher and analyze who was making these alleged statements that the "Group Gang of 88" were listening to. Why did they get so nervous and remove their ad? And why didn't they simply re-post the original document yesterday as a courtesy to the people that want to read it? Instead they link to a copy that was saved from the Internet's dumper, ie Google's cache?

Anyway, the fundamentally question that was asked back in November still needs answering: who exactly were the "Group Gang of 88" listening to? The new 'clarifying statement' or open letter says:

The ad thanked "the students speaking individually and...the protesters making collective noise." We do not endorse every demonstration that took place at the time. We appreciate the efforts of those who used the attention the incident generated to raise issues of discrimination and violence.

There have been public calls to the authors to retract the ad or apologize for it, as well as calls for action against them and attacks on their character. We reject all of these. We think the ad's authors were right to give voice to the students quoted, whose suffering is real. We also acknowledge the pain that has been generated by what we believe is a misperception that the authors of the ad prejudged the rape case.

We stand by the claim that issues of race and sexual violence on campus are real, and we join the ad's call to all of us at Duke to do something about this. We hope that the Duke community will emerge from this tragedy as a better place for all of us to live, study, and work.
The Gang is again saying that they used quotes from real "suffering" students in their 'listening' statement.

Wahneema LubianoBut were all the quotes in the 'listening' statement' real, or were some of them fictional statements of suffering that were cooked-up and spliced together by the ad's author, professor Wahneema Lubiano? Advertisements are controlled messages and Prof. Lubiano certainly controlled the message in this case, as described in an ESPN article:
As March turned to April, Lubiano felt her students' frustration rising again, fueled by the feeling that in the wake of the scandal, no one was listening to them. The head of her department had charged her with giving African-American students a voice. Theirs were the dozen quotes that appeared on the page she was getting ready to submit. "We want the absence of terror. But we don't really know what that means … That's why we're so silent."

"I was talking to a white woman student who was asking me, 'Why do people' -- and she meant black people -- 'make race such a big issue?' … They just don't see it."

Lubiano thought back to the last week of March, to the night she'd first heard those words. About 75 students had crowded into a second-floor conference room at the John Hope Franklin Center, named for one of the most prominent African-American professors in school history. They were there for a forum on black masculinity, but the focus had changed to reflect the sordid drama playing out on campus. Tensions were high as the space filled. There were two white women in the room, Lubiano remembered, a few Latino and Asian students and a couple of white faculty members. Everyone else was black...
How exactly does someone remember verbatim several statements made a week prior? Isn't doing that a license to fudge the wording and let the author make up their own pithy quote?

Of the eleven "student" statements listed in the 'listening' statement, two were quotes from Audrey Christopher, a recent graduate of Duke, and one was from Danielle Terrazas Williams, a first-year student in Duke's Ph.D. program in history. Eight were anonymous statements allegedly made at the March 29th forum on black masculinity or "elsewhere."

The quotes from Ms. Christopher and Ms. Williams were lifted by Prof. Lubiano from an article in the Independent, dated March 29th, entitled, "Not your video ho," by Fiona Morgan. Therefore, Prof. Lubiano really started listening on March 29th. By the way, does clipping quotes from an article really constitute 'listening?' Bloggers do it all the time, but it's not called listening.

The 'listening' statement also said:
The students know that the disaster didn’t begin on March 13th and won’t end with what the police say or the court decides. Like all disasters, this one has a history...
Where is there proof of a history of racial and sexual violence on campus? When did all the other "concerned faculty" start listening? They all certainly stopped listening the day the advertisement ran, because they didn't want to talk about any form of "social disaster" until they recently crawled out of their holes to start making excuses for their collective lack of judgement.

La Shawn BarberTo put the "Group Gang of 88's" social disaster in perspective La Shawn Barber looked at it this way:
a white man [Michael Richards] calling a black man a nigger in a club garnered more attention than routine gang-murders of blacks in LA. The alleged gang-rape of a black stripper and prostitute captured the jaded minds of white liberals and their black lackeys all over the globe and caused so-called black academics to reveal how intellectually hollow and stultifying comical they really are. Yet, there will be no joint “Group of 88″ statement decrying the murders of decent black folks by latino gangs in LA...
Prof. Michael GustafsonDuke Engineering Professor, Michael Gustafson had these thoughts:
One thing the "Social Disaster" poster did early on in the case is couple, to some, the ideas of the students' guilt and the still-pressing problems we have on campus regarding class and gender and color and everything else. Unfortunately, by co-opting the energy of the moment in March, those faculty members and others may have pinned their hopes for a real discussion of important issues, knowingly or unknowingly, on a case that to me is not holding up well at all under the scrutiny that such a case rightly deserves.
Getting back to the quest to find the the Duke students who are "suffering" and want the "absence of terror." Since terror is serious business the "Group Gang of 88" should have contacted the Department of Homeland Security for help.

One of the terrorized "students" cited in the ad was Audrey Christopher. Ms. Christopher apparently graduated from Duke in 2005. Two of her quotes consitute 18% (2 of 11) of the "student" testimonials in the 'listening statement.' Ms. Christopher also has a blog at darkeyes83.blogspot.com.

Ms. Christopher, aka "Dark Eyes," does not sound like a "terrorized" or "suffering" student on her blog. Does reading someone's blog qualify as "listening" to them? Ms. Christopher ponders life, sex, romance, dancing, friends, classical music, law school, poetry, etc. On April 30th, 2005 Ms. Christoper did confess to being scared of three things while at Duke:
Three things that scare you
1. relationships
2. not trying
3. not being able to help my family
Sounds like college. Ms. Christopher did have one bad encounter during a night out in December 2005, when some man she knew seriously disrespected her:
And it bothers me even more when the disrespect comes from someone who knows me. Someone who should know me well enough to know not to disrespect me....

But I made excuses… he’s such a nice guy…and he’s drunk, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect me or my space, right?…I’ll just give him grace this once...

I pointed out, jokingly, that he’d just advised someone else to do the complete opposite of what he’d told me. My joking likely hid the very real hurt I felt underneath.
This insult seems to have stayed with Ms. Christopher until the March discussion used by Fiona Morgan for the Independent article. Is this real evidence of a "social disaster" on the Duke campus that has the "Group Gang of 88" all riled up? Like La Shawn Barber pointed out, aren't there bigger fish to fry, regarding "social disasters." Ms. Christopher is busy (in law school?) and she is not posting as much on her blog these days. The terror that was Duke has apparently passed.

Jane Stancill at ScrippsNews.com has an article reporting about the open letter: 'Duke professors post 'open letter.' She quoted Duke history professor William Chafe, as follows:
William Chafe, a history professor who signed both the ad and the letter, said the bloggers' interpretation of the ad has become the version people accepted. And that's wrong, he said. "We're trying to set the record straight and clarify that we never claimed the lacrosse players were guilty," Chafe said.
Setting the record straight is a good thing. Step one should be for the "Gang of 88" to document which Duke students made the other eight statements of "suffering" and "terror" that were used in their advertisement and where is there real evidence of a history of terror on campus.

Were some of the quotes used on the advertisement fictional statements invented by Prof. Lubiano? The 'listening' statement looks more and more like a rant from a Lubiano "sockpuppet."

Final question, do tenured professors usually back such weak scholarship? Or are they just affirming their tenured right to make public fools of themselves?

Duke Case: The 'listening' statement - The Johnsville News
Not your video ho - Black female students at Duke say they feel constantly under attack - by Fiona Morgan, Independent, March 29, 2006
'Group of 88' faculty hears criticism in wake of lax scandal - Duke Chronicle
Months later, unanswered questions haunt Duke - ESPN, Sept. 7, 2006
Dear Cowards, - list of all 88 members of the original Group Gang of 88 - Mike McCusker

KC Johnson: The (Rump) Group of 88 Strikes Again

LieStoppers forum: Duke 88 open letter
LieStoppers forum: Incendiary Charge by Cash Michaels, Claims of Racist Coments by LAX Players

'listening' statement (click to enlarge):

Listening Statement

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia