Financing a Farce

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


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A news story the other day gave me pause.  Duke University, reported the Durham Herald-Sun, has launched a fundraising campaign from which it plans to raise three and a quarter billion dollars.  The campaign, which “already has taken in about $1.325 billion during its planning, or silent, phase over the last two years” and will run until June 2017, is meant to “benefit each of the university’s 10 schools and…other university programs” and to pay for “major upgrades to…athletics facilities.” Rick Wagoner, chair of Duke’s Board of Trustees, told a meeting of donors: “We asked the question: What kind of future do we envision for Duke? What resources do we need to achieve that future?” And Duke President Richard Brodhead boasted that the university seeks to “define a new model of education….You know the thing about Duke is that it has only begun to be what it can be.”

Brodhead, let it be remembered, is the same fellow who was president of Duke back in 2006, when a black stripper accused white Duke lacrosse players of rape.  Though the stripper’s story was dubious from the start, several dozen humanities professors, including 80% of the faculty of the African and African American Studies Program (AAAS), joined in a campaign to paint her as a victim and the athletes as racist brutes.  Brodhead’s response?  He sided with the mob – smearing the athletes, forcing their coach to resign, and piously pontificating about the evils of racism.  Thanks to his cowardice, to the faculty’s ideology-driven rush to judgment, and to an unscrupulous prosecutor who was clearly out to railroad innocent young men, the players’ lives were almost destroyed.  Their exoneration made national headlines.

Brodhead and many others at Duke could’ve learned from that disgraceful experience.  They chose not to.  Brodhead, who had repeatedly “cast…aspersions on the lacrosse players’ characters” (as KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr., put it in their book on the case), reacted to their exoneration by rewarding the professors who’d tried to destroy them, recommending full departmental status for the AAAS.  As former Duke basketball star Jay Bilas summed it up at the time, “From the beginning, President Brodhead abdicated his responsibility as Duke’s leader to stand up for fairness and truth. Instead, President Brodhead chose the path of political expediency. He failed to effectively counter factually inaccurate and inappropriate statements about Duke and its students, failed to forcefully speak out against procedural irregularities, and failed to take appropriate action in response to repeated attacks upon the due process rights of Duke’s students….Brodhead’s mishandling of the challenges presented has proven him incapable of effectively leading Duke into the future.”

I mention this episode at length not because I mean to single out Duke and Brodhead, but – on the contrary – because it is beyond doubt that many other college presidents, if confronted with the same situation, would likely have conducted themselves exactly as Brodhead did.  His shameful abandonment of those lacrosse players, and his readiness to echo the damning rhetoric of their  critics, reflected a mentality that’s deeply rooted in all too many American universities.  In today’s Orwellian academy, there’s no longer any such thing as blind justice – certainly not colorblind justice.  Morality comes down to questions not of right and wrong but of race, sex, and class.  To put it a slightly different way, evil comes in three forms: racism, sexism, and classism.   Hence the innocent can be guilty, the guilty innocent.  Of the several dozen Duke profs who coldbloodedly convicted the lacrosse players without a trial, few if any expressed remorse afterwards.  Even though those athletes turned out to have done nothing wrong, their detractors on the faculty felt morally pure because, in the larger battle against racism, sexism, and classism, they’d been in the right.

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  • Chezwick

    One would guess that at least some of these funds come from rich Middle-Easterners….who have already bought the respective MESA depts of these universities and now want to expand their influence.

  • PaulRevereNow

    If frauds like Richard Brodhead truly were fighting "classism", they would reduce tuition at Duke to something approaching affordable, for many lower-income students. Instead, many of these corrupt institutions of higher learning charge a king's ransom to attend. And perhaps the greatest part of the tragedy is that many students at these schools won't have a job waiting when they graduate; but will have a mountain of debt. THAT should bother Brodhead and Wagoner more than any of their pathetic PC notions. A school I attended, George Washington University, is similarly corrupt, although fate has spared that institution from the trauma of an event similar to the Duke rape case. I wonder what the Duke lacrosse players paid to attend Duke. For their money, what did they get?

    • Jim

      You have to be right on that. Why else would any one twist the moral issues so grotesquely .

    • Jim

      What did they get for their money?? Well the best educated lynch mob money can buy

  • tagalog

    Classism, for the university, is one of the three great evils of current times? Geez, that's too bad because I'm a classist and I think universities should support classism with all their power. Classism being the idea that a college student should attend classes and let the problems of the outside world wait until the student has enough education from faithfully attending classes to deal with those problems responsibly.

  • Ghostwriter

    It's a shame that stuff like this is going around. This sort of thing will blind people to when REAL racism shows up. Nobody will believe it,because of all the false claims of racism.

  • Your Inner Voice

    Criticizing classism is not what one does when insulating ones self from the undesirables below ones station, amongst the comfortable company of ones own kind at the cocktail parties. One of the main comforts status provides is the protection from uncomfortable exposure to those not of ones own high cultivation and composure. The point of donation to the universities of ones choice is to provide/maintain that status for their children and the children of other alumn, and to smooth their way to their own insulated comforts/privileges.

    Liberals, who almost exclusively run higher education, are ALL about class power/privilege, and the subtle classism that mainly seeks to keep people in their own caste in society, hopefully by the simple and efficient means of paying them to stay in voluntary servitude, serving/voting for those born to a higher caste.

    • PaulRevereNow

      From the tone of your comment, you realize that college students don't need the status that's undeservedly enjoyed by administrators such as Richard Brodhead. I agree that the libtards who run higher ed all about class, power, and privilege; but that shouldn't be the case, and they and their insane behavior codes and their tolerance of radical professors and radical zeitgeist on campus; have contributed mightily to their graduates lack of work ethic, and general ignorance of American laws, customs, and history. And now we have a President who is not only a product of their corrupt system, but has milked that system, and the American people, for all they're worth, and then some.

  • fmobler

    Push back is starting, but it will take time. Right now, donors whose gut tells them something is wrong are, unfortunately, not up to the task of articulating the problem. And the walls that "University Advancement" teams have built between donors and faculty prevent the sort of interaction and alliance making that could help.

  • Old Joke

    As the old joke told Satan; "Catch that farce, – and paint it purple."