Published: Oct 13, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Oct 13, 2012 04:20 PM
No issue is quite so endearing to Americas colleges and universities as race-based preferences, which the Supreme Court revisited last week in an appeal brought by a white female denied admission to the University of Texas.
This time, the court might strike down reverse discrimination as a violation of the 14th Amendments Equal Protection Clause.
And well it should, because in many respects affirmative action in university admissions has been a cure as bad as the disease. But try to sell that idea to university presidents such as Dukes Richard Brodhead, whose institution is one of 14 that signed a friend of the court brief urging the justices to uphold racial preferences.
That is so late 20th century, demeaning to blacks and offensive to all others. At this point in the American experience, most of us had expected to be basking in the glow of a post-racial society.
In fact, we are moving toward that society, in fits and starts perhaps but moving nonetheless. The people who remain so undeniably blind to that reality are university administrators and professors.
Dick Brodhead, a Shakespearian who came to Duke from Yale in 2005, is one of the pre-eminent university chieftains wedded to the belief that, as the late Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in the 1978 Bakke decision, to get beyond racism, we first must take race into account. And into account, ad infinitum.
Brodhead deserves singular criticism because he was president of Duke in 2006, when the universitys gutless persecution of its mens lacrosse team and coach occurred. Brodhead did next to nothing to defend the rule of law. The particulars are well known, so suffice it to say that Crystal Gail Mangum, who falsely accused three team members of rape, is now facing trial on a charge of killing her boyfriend.
Brodhead and his Greek chorus, the infamous Gang of 88 faculty members who threw the lacrosse players onto the third rail, got away with their outrageous conduct. I dont remember so much as a public whimper from the Board of Trustees.
So it should come as no surprise that in March Brodhead was again the motorman on the subway. This time the sacrifice was economics professor Peter Arcidiacono, who wrote an unpublished paper with two other professors which, according to Brodhead, appeared to disparage the choice of majors by African-American undergraduates.
That is, the 2012 Duke Three cited research that some black undergraduates migrate from tough courses to easier ones to keep up their grade-point average.
Of course, this would never do at Duke, where political correctness is a civil religion. But were Arcidiacono and his co-authors really suggesting that black undergraduates are burdened, as Brodhead said in his annual address to the faculty, with inferior powers?
No way. The 2012 Duke Three were concerned about pre-college preparation of black undergraduates for the rigor of higher-level courses.
Even this was original sin. But just as damning in Brodheads view was inclusion of the 2012 Duke Threes paper in a friend of the court brief filed by opponents of Texas affirmative-action policy. Thus his astonishing denunciation of the 2012 Duke Three. but never the 2006 Gang of 88.
This was willful stifling of unsanctioned thinking, and Brodhead got away with it again. Will the Duke trustees ever wake up? I doubt it.
Bob Wilson lives in southwest Durham.