November 25 2013
Crystal Mangum, the former stripper on whose word hung the 2006 rape case against the falsely accused Duke Lacrosse team, has been sentenced to fourteen years for the 2011 stabling death of her boyfriend.
It’s a sad and sordid story. This dreadful end is not to say that somebody already with a checkered life—Mangum—should not have been listened to when she lodged her accusations against the Duke team. But the Lacrosse players should have been listened to also, especially as Mangum's story was flawed and she changed it during the course of the scandal. The case eventually was dropped but not before the accused were dragged through the mud.
The Duke Lacrosse players were tried and convicted in the press on Mangum’s word alone. Her accusations fit so nicely with the worldview of academic and media elites: it featured white jocks supposedly taking advantage of an undefended African American woman. How could they resist?
IWF put on a panel on the Duke Lacrosse scandal and, if you put “Duke Lacrosse” into our search engine, you come up with stories too numerous to be quoted this morning. The Duke faculty put out a statement against the accused members of the Lacrosse team.
Indeed, it was the Duke faculty that could be said to have cooked up the ambient language that came to clothe virtually all media descriptions of the assault case--that boilerplate about "race, gender, and class" (or maybe "race, gender, sexuality, and class") and "privileged white males" that you could not read a news story about the assault case without encountering, whether in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or Newsweek for example. The journalists channeled the academics.
Although outsiders know Duke mostly as an expensive preppie enclave that fields Division I athletic teams, the university's humanities and social sciences departments--literature, anthropology, and especially women's studies and African-American studies--foster exactly the opposite kind of culture. Those departments (and especially Duke's robustly "postmodern" English department, put in place by postmodernist celebrity Stanley Fish before his departure in 1998) are famous throughout academia as repositories of all that is trendy and hyper-politicized in today's ivy halls: angry feminism, ethnic victimology, dense, jargon-laden analyses of capitalism and "patriarchy," and "new historicism"--a kind of upgraded Marxism that analyzes art and literature in terms of efforts by powerful social elites to brainwash everybody else.
It was in this elite academic world that faculty members and the press were so blinded by their own prejudices that they would not ascertain who the real victims were. Roger Kimball has an excellent piece on the mindset that allowed the Duke faculty to side with Mangum, even though her story always had holes in it.