Duke’s Failed Presidency

KC Johnson’s remarkable blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, has generated 90,000 reader comments since it emerged as the most reliable source of information and analysis on the Duke/Nifong non-rape scandal. The following is an excerpt from a November 6 reader comment on Duke’s president Richard Brodhead and the book, “Until Proven Innocent” by Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr. The “Group Profiles” in the comment refer to Johnson’s devastating accounts of what some intellectually bankrupt members of the “Group of 88” Duke faculty members said and wrote before and after they launched their campaign against the lacrosse players. So far 87 of the 88 faculty members have not yet apologized for their role in stirring up the campus against the players.

A good deal has changed because of this Rape Hoax.
1. Richard Brodhead’s is a failed presidency. Everybody in higher education knows that, which is why practically nobody in higher education will say it. He will not disappear immediately, but he will disappear. And I mean disappear – not reappear as the president of some other institution. This may not be fair to Brodhead, who is an able person, and his successor is unlikely to be better. But nobody who has presided over such a genuine ‘social disaster’ can recover. And people will in the future reflect on why and how he failed.

2. Another development on the local Duke scene is the ‘raised consciousness’ of sensible alumni and institutional friends. There is a large effort from various sources trying to blunt the effect of this blog and what it has represented. To paint Duke’s critics as neocon, reactionary, racist ‘blog hooligans’ will now work for only a very diminished audience. There now is a very detailed, circumstantial, well researched and well written book that needs to be answered… Any intelligent Duke alumnus of whatever age should now realize that he or she probably has more sensible and constructive ideas than many prominent Duke faculty.

3. Do not underestimate the power of the derision and opprobrium heaped on various faculty members through various posting and especially the ‘Group Profiles’. These were particularly effective, because they were not name-calling but intelligently collected anthologies of the individuals’ own written opinions. It is one thing to shout out that ‘the Emperor has no clothes.’ It is another to present the Emperor in the buff before our own horrified eyes.


  • John Leo

    John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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