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ALIEN CREATURE NOT DEAD YET

The creators of the notorious indoctrination program at the University of Delaware are back with a new version of their astonishingly coercive plan. Call it Indoctrination II. This time around, they pose as respectful and hovering parental substitutes, promising to do something about student homesickness, offering helpful advice on how to study for final exams, sponsoring video game tournaments and even planning a show-and-tell day. (Residents will be asked to bring one of their favorite material possessions to floor meeting and will have the opportunity to discuss what it means to them….) The idea that students might prefer to be left alone in their dorms, not regimented into a pseudo-educational program run by residential assistants and assorted bureaucrats (with no input from faculty) does not seem to occur to the busy indoctrinators.

In the original residential life program, attendance was mandatory, with penalties for missing a training session made clear, though the bureaucrats later claimed that the program had been voluntary all along. Now, with niceness as its watchword, the office of residential life says “Students will not face penalties, perceived or real, for failing to engage in residential activities and programs.” The proposed new program, which will be accepted or rejected by the faculty senate on May 5th, seems very much like the old one, with cosmetic changes to make it more palatable. The old one frankly pressured students into accepting the values that the university wanted them to have. (Sample: “students will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression.”) The new version is a bit more subtle and vague enough to deflect some criticism (“Exploring concepts of citizenship is a meaningless activity in the residence halls in the absence of solid strategies for the development of residential communities.”) The topic “Gay Marriage & Civil Unions” was changed to “How do you define love?”

Heavy emphasis is still placed on “sustainability,” the deliberately vague term that masks a liberal-to-radical cultural and social program that the residential life officials clearly believe should be accepted in toto by students. Adam Kissel, who analyzes the Delaware program for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) does not believe the new program will be open or optional. He writes: “Simply calling the indoctrination ‘optional’ does not absolve ResLife (and ultimately UD and its faculty) of responsibility for the coercive pressure on students to conform to a highly specific set of view on a wide variety of social and political issues. ResLife can no longer be trusted on such matters.” The Delaware Association of Scholars has weighed in too, arguing that the program usurps the faculty’s historic prerogative to oversee education at the university. A statement by the association called the new version “little more than a re-tread” of the old one. “The proposed program still tries to change students’ ‘thoughts, values, beliefs and actions,’ while focusing on ‘student learning outcomes.’ (It) simply hides the original program’s intent in different language. Old program, new words.”

The Worst Campus Codeword

The academic left is fond of buzzwords that sound harmless but function in a highly ideological way. Many schools of education and social work require students to have a good “disposition.” In practice this means that conservatives need not apply, as highly publicized attempts to penalize right-wing students at Brooklyn College and Washington State University revealed. “Social justice” is an even more useful codeword. Who can oppose it? But some schools made the mistake of spelling out that it means advocacy for causes of the left, including support for gay marriage and adoption, also opposition to “institutional racism,” heterosexism, classism and ableism. Students at Teachers College, Columbia, are required to acknowledge that belief in “merit, social mobility and individual responsibility” often produce and perpetuate social inequalities. Even in its mildest form “social justice” puts schools in a position of judging the acceptability of students’ political and social opinions.

Now the left is organizing around its most powerful codeword yet: sustainability. Dozens of universities now have sustainability programs. Arizona State is bulking up its curriculum and seems to be emerging as the strongest sustainability campus. UCLA has a housing floor devoted to sustainability. The American College Personnel Association (ACPA) has a sustainability task force and has joined eight other education associations to form a sustainability consortium. Pushed by the cultural left, UNESCO has declared the United National Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014, featuring the now ubiquitous symbol of the sustainability movement – three overlapping circles representing environmental, economic and social reform (i.e., ecology is only a third of what the movement is about).

Only recently have the goals and institutionalization of the movement become clear. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability is Higher Education (AASHE) says it “defines sustainability is an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods and a better world for all generations.” When the residential life program at the University of Delaware – possibly the most appalling indoctrination program ever to appear on an American campus – was presented, Res Life director Kathleen Kerr packaged it as a sustainability program. Since suspended, possibly only temporarily, the program discussed mandatory sessions for students as “treatments” and insisted that whites acknowledge their role as racists. It also required students to achieve certain competencies including “students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society.” At a conference, Kerr explained “the social justice aspects of sustainability education,” referring to “environmental racism,” “domestic partnerships” and “gender equity.”

Peter Wood, executive director of the National Association of Scholars (NAS) says, “It turns out that virtually the entire agenda of the progressive left can be fit inside the word ‘sustainability.” Adam Kissel of the educational watchdog group the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) wrote: “Documents written or promoted by residential life officials demonstrate that sustainability is a highly politicized comprehensive agenda including positions of such topics as affirmative action, gay marriage, abortions, corporations and worldwide distribution of wealth.” In addition, the movement apparently features codewords within the master codeword “sustainability.” “Secure livelihoods” and “strong economies” seem to mean redistribution of existing wealth, not economic development to create new wealth.

The sustainability ideology obviously comes with many problems attached. It is semi-covert. Though institutions such as UNESCO and AASHE acknowledge that environmental concern is only part of the program, most people have no idea what they are buying when they support sustainability. The program contains conventional liberal ideas, but it has a strong streak of hate-America radicalism, as well as contempt for free markets and traditional values. It is not an educational program at all. The social and economic nostrums are pre-packaged, with nothing in the literature about reaching out for discussion and analysis of nostrums the movement doesn’t already hold. Like many schools of social work and education, the movement has lost sight of the distinction between instruction and indoctrination. The leaders don’t want to discuss. They have doctrines they want to impose.

Fallout of Columbia 1968

The New York Times is not known for delivering sharp blows to people engaged in countercultural preening, but it delivered a nice one this morning. As the nostalgic veterans of the 1968 Columbia University protests (or uprising, or riots) gathered on their old campus to celebrate the wonder of their 40-year-old disturbance, Susan Dominus of the Times produced a report on a police officer injured during the student occupation of campus buildings. One proud student veteran of the old unpleasantness wrote yesterday that “the bloody riot” was a police riot: most students occupying building engaged in Gandhian passive resistance.” But of course, Gandhi never jumped from a second-story window onto the back of a police officer, as one maddened Columbia student did to Frank Gucciardi in 1968.

The day after the buildings were cleared, the students were still acting up, and Gucciardi, then 34, was one of ten officers sent to cope with the continuing disorder. As soon as they went through the Columbia gates, students attacked with tree limbs. Various objects, including books, waste baskets and glue, were thrown from windows. A student knocked Gucciardi’s hat off, and as he stooped to retrieve it, another student jumped from a second-story window onto his back, crushing part of his spine. The damage was permanent. After three grueling operations, he cannot walk more than a hundred feet without stopping to rest. He never sued Columbia and is not bitter about the students who attacked his group. He told the Times: “I don’t think they were out to hurt anybody seriously, but it’s unfortunate it happened.”

Incidentally, the reunion, described as a conference, does have panel discussions, but so far as we know, none of those panels includes anyone who dissents from the veterans’ view that their protests (or acting out, or group temper tantrum) was a memorable achievement.

One More Disaster at Columbia

Does a radical and viciously anti-Semitic professor deserve to get an award named for the great Lionel Trilling? Columbia University apparently thinks so. Its 2008 Trilling award will go to associate professor Joseph Massad for his book, Desiring Arabs. Trilling was an outstanding scholar known for his humanity and his liberalism. Massad is a hater who once claimed in class, according to a student witness, that the slaughter of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics had been perpetrated by the Israelis.

The prize, bestowed by the Columbia College student council and the Academic Awards Committee, honors a book “deemed to best exhibit the standards of intellect and scholarship found in Lionel Trilling’s work.” Like many awards, this one is a very political act aimed at restoring some lost luster to an idolized radical who has come under justified fire.

Nat Hentoff called Massad “one of the more fervently biased professors in the Middle East studies department,” a keenly competed for designation at Columbia. Massad is one of the professors accused of demanding of one Israeli student, “How many Palestinians did you kill today?” At a Columbia forum in 2005, he used the phrase “racist Israeli state” more than two dozen times and argued that Arafat was in effect an Israeli collaborator for even talking about compromise.

Massad was the central figure in the 2005 controversy over student charges of anti-Israel bias and intimidation by pro-Palestinian professors in their classes. The students produced Columbia Unbecoming, a film about the behavior of middle eastern professors. Makers of the film said individual professors were “using their positions to promote a narrow political agenda that clashes with free and open inquiry.” A committee named to investigate the charges turned out a bland report hailed as “thoughtful and comprehensive” by Columbia president Lee Bollinger, but dismissed as a political whitewash by Hentoff, among others. This prize is yet another setback for seriousness at Columbia.

The Hazards of Telling the Truth

In 1994, Home Box Office and Pepsico celebrated Black History Month by producing a poster that was intended to show black achievement: It featured a large picture of the pyramids and many smaller images, including one of the Sphinx. Worse, the companies sent 20,000 copies of the poster to predominantly black schools. Honest teachers in those schools had to explain why a corporate seal of approval had been given to a historical claim that just isn’t true. This “celebration” marked the high-water mark of Afrocentrism, a movement that had begun in the academy in the 1980s and gained astonishing momentum with the publication of Martin Bernal‘s “Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization” (1989). According to various Afrocentric books and popular assertions, ancient Egypt invaded ancient Greece, Plato and Herodotus somehow picked up their ideas in travels along the Nile, and Aristotle stole his philosophy from the library at Alexandria. Though the arguments were contradictory and scattered, the point was that Western civilization had been founded on materials and discoveries borrowed or stolen from black Egyptians.

During this whirlwind of dubious scholarship, the academic world mostly remained mum, hiding behind the curtain of academic freedom and withholding its criticism lest a statement of simple truth be branded “racist.” For a 1991 column in U.S. News & World Report, I phoned seven Egyptologists and asked whether the ancient Egyptian population had been “black.” Of course not, they all responded, but not for attribution, since, as one said, “this subject is just too hot.” The scholar who did the most to break this silence was Mary Lefkowitz, a mild-mannered classicist at Wellesley College. Without fully understanding the abuse she would invite by speaking out against Afrocentrism, she accepted an assignment in the fall of 1991 to write a long review of the second volume of Martin Bernal’s “Black Athena” for the New Republic magazine. She was shocked to discover that the Bernal volume, and a stack of other nearly fact-free books on Afrocentrism, had made headway in the schools and even in the universities.

She concluded that the Afrocentric authors regarded history as a form of advocacy: Like other postmodernists, they believed that truth is impossible to know—that all “narratives” are socially constructed and thus possess an equal claim to legitimacy. At the time, traditional scholarship was generally under assault, but the classics were particularly vulnerable, because they purported to study the foundational texts of the West. Attacking the classics as a complex system of lies was emotionally important to those who wanted to take Western culture down a peg. Feelings and politics mattered, not scholarship. As Ms. Lefkowitz puts it: “[Bernal] seemed to be saying that the most persuasive narrative was the one with the most desirable result. In effect, he was preaching a kind of affirmative action program for the rewriting of history.” “History Lesson” (Yale University Press) is Ms. Lefkowitz’s personal account of what she experienced as a result of questioning the veracity of Afrocentrism and the motives of its advocates. She has advanced the intellectual case against Afrocentrism before, in “Not Out of Africa” (1997); here she takes a more personal approach, at one point mentioning the strain of the controversy as she battled breast cancer.

Outraged by the nonscholarly approach of Afrocentric writers, she somewhat naïvely imagined that facts would put their extreme theories to rest. She noted, for instance, that Socrates couldn’t have been black, as alleged, because his parents were Athenian citizens and blacks, in classical Athens, were not eligible for citizenship. She noted, as well, that Aristotle would have had a tough time stealing his philosophy from the library at Alexandria, since he died before the library was built. Such arguments went nowhere, Ms. Lefkowitz writes, with those who saw Greek philosophy “as yet another case of a colonialist European plundering of Africa.” While Ms. Lefkowitz was being targeted by Afrocentrists nationally, she fell into a war on her own campus with Anthony Martin, a vituperative and litigious tenured professor of “Africana studies.” It was an odd battle. Ms. Lefkowitz kept trying to make it a debate about evidence and truth. Mr. Martin made it personal and added a large helping of anti-Semitism. Eventually he turned out a book titled “The Jewish Onslaught,” endorsed the crackpot theory that Jews had dominated the slave trade and demanded Jewish reparations to blacks.

When Mr. Martin sued Ms. Lefkowitz for libel—claiming that she had misreported an incident involving him—the dean of the college, Nancy Kolodny, declined to indemnify her. “It’s your problem, she said to Ms. Lefkowitz. “The college can’t help you.” Some turned on Ms. Lefkowitz for dividing the campus. Others shrank from criticizing a black professor or were simply intimidated by the explosive Mr. Martin. Nan Keohane, Wellesley’s president (soon to become the president of Duke University), offered little help. She urged one pro-Lefkowitz group to consider Mr. Martin’s feelings and introduced an extreme Afrocentrist speaker as “a distinguished Egyptologist.” In the end, Wellesley behaved well. The history department refused to give credit toward a history major for courses in the Africana Studies Department, and Mr. Martin was denied a salary increase. The Anti-Defamation League found a law firm willing to defend Ms. Lefkowitz. After six years of legal wrangling, she won the case. Both Ms. Lefkowitz and Mr. Martin are now retired.

Though much of academia is still lost in postmodern theory and relativism, Ms. Lefkowitz insists on what we might call a counternarrative: Teachers owe it to themselves and their students to get as close as possible to the truth. The academy has still not firmly answered the central question of “History Lesson”: What should the university do when a professor insists on teaching demonstrable untruths? No prattle about academic freedom, please.

Columbia’s Rebel Reunion

Columbia University is warily approaching the 40th anniversary of its greatest disaster, the 1968 student uprising and occupation of five buildings, which vigorous and sometimes brutal New York City police eventually ended. A three-day conference looking back at the unrest begins on April 24 and describes itself as an “event,” not a celebration or even a commemoration. The conference is being staged “at” Columbia, not “by” it. The university administration is not funding, sponsoring, or organizing the conference. But university president Lee Bollinger is scheduled for two appearances, which would seem to undercut the administration’s arm’s-length posture. Further, the university is allowing the group of former protesters organizing the event to use several campus buildings, and two Columbia centers are officially listed as sponsors of individual conference events. The conference program on the sponsors’ website promises to air a “wide range of viewpoints” on what happened and why, but the list of speakers shows no range at all—everyone seems to be a proud ex-protester or at least a familiar partisan of the Left.

While Todd Gitlin (formerly the president of Students for a Democratic Society, now at Columbia’s journalism school) is a sober and reflective thinker, most of his fellow speakers are far from that standard. They include Kathleen Cleaver, Eldridge Cleaver’s widow and a former Black Panther official; veteran activist Tom Hayden; several former members of the Weather Underground; and Ti-Grace Atkinson, a radical feminist from the 1960s who opposes all sexual intercourse. Not one member of the Columbia faculty from 1968 is participating. Event sponsors say that voices of non-leftists will be included in a “multi-media narrative,” the details of which are not clear; what is clear, so far anyway, is that the panels represent only one point of view.

It isn’t as though the event’s organizers didn’t know whom to invite. Columbia sociology professor Allan Silver, who was a member of a faculty group in 1968 that tried to work out a compromise before police cleared the occupied buildings, suggested that the conference include speakers from a broad range of groups, including the Majority Coalition, which opposed the strike; New York City police officials; aides to then-mayor John Lindsay; reporters who covered the events; current or recent Columbia students in ROTC programs; and “others, NOT from the left.” The conference timetable that the organizers issued in mid-March lists representatives of none of these groups. Nor does it include any of the organized “moderates” of ’68, such as the members of Students for a Restructured University (SRU), which helped create the University Senate after the traumatic events of that spring. “It’s going to be an all-Bolshevik conference,” said Neal Hurwitz, a 1967 Columbia graduate, former member of Silver’s faculty group, and SRU leader.

Commentary on another of the sponsors’ websites expresses bitter resentment about the term “student riots.” The protest veterans still believe that in occupying Columbia buildings, they behaved well. Critics argue, however, that the aging strikers need to acknowledge some of their shameful deeds—holding a dean captive for many hours, trashing a conservative professor’s office and setting it on fire, and hurling paving stones down at police. Their hooliganism enraged the cops, setting the stage for confrontation and eventually leading to serious injuries to some protesters.“This conference is the first time that Columbia is actually attempting to come to terms with what happened, to overcome denial and a type of institutional post-traumatic stress disorder,” writes one of the event’s organizers, author Hilton Obenzinger. “It’s hard for me to believe the university is ready to put up a monument or some other kind of marker, at least not yet, but if it does, it may be one of the results of this effort.” Hurwitz offers a different, more compelling view: “This was a strike reunion from the start.” Someday, we may see a forum in which voices from all sides discuss the impact of the 1968 eruption.

But this isn’t it. 

Catholic bashing

Barack Obama isn’t the only presidential contender with a prominent bigot among his supporters. John McCain accepted the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee, who regularly attacks the Catholic Church as “the great whore of Revelation,” a “false cult system,” and “the anti-Christ.” McCain deflected concern about Hagee’s bigotry simply by saying he does not endorse all the opinions of people who back him. “He says he has never been anti-Catholic,” McCain added, “but I repudiate the words that create that impression.”

Like the hatred spewed by Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright, Hagee’s diatribes are available on videotape, but the mainstream media has barely reacted. The likely reason: reporters, editors and intellectuals aren’t much interested in attacks on Catholics. Minorities, women and gays are eligible for sensitive concern. Catholics aren’t.

Consider some recent provocations, mostly publicity-free. Comedian Bill Maher said Catholics are schizophrenic for believing that in communion they are “drinking the blood of a 2000-year-old space god.” A skit on Utah public radio said Mike Huckabee’s family likes “deep-fried body of Christ — boring holy wafers no more… Mike likes to top his Christ with whipped cream and sprinkles.” In Jerry Springer: the Opera, which played for two nights at Carnegie Hall in January, Jesus is an effeminate gay-like character who walks around in a diaper and is hailed as a “hypocrite son of the fascist tyrant on high.” The Virgin Mary is introduced as a woman “raped by an angel,” and Eve fondles Jesus’ genitals.

Bearded guys dressed as nuns are regular feature in gay parades, sometimes accompanied by a swishy Jesus. In painting and sculpture the bashing of Christian symbols is so mainstream that it ‘s barely noticed. Attacks on the Virgin Mary include Mary coming out of a vagina, Mary encased in a condom, Mary pierced with a phallic pipe, Mary as a bare-breasted Jesus figure presiding at the Last Supper and an Annunciation scene with the Archangel Gabriel giving Mary a coat hanger for an abortion.

Jesus on the cross can be wrought in chocolate (“My Sweet Lord”), as a homosexual sex scene, or on the cover of the New Yorker as the Easter Bunny. Advertisers and movie-makers feel free to mock Catholics too. An ad for Equinox fitness clubs featured young women dressed as nuns sketching a naked man while staring at his crotch. Elizabeth: the Golden Age took many swipes at Catholicism. Writing in the Newark Star-Ledger, critic Stephen Witty wrote that the film “equates Catholicism with some sort of horror-movie cult, with scary close-ups of chanting monk and glinting crucifixes. There’s even a murderous Jesuit…a second cousin to poor pale Silas from the Da Vinci Code.”

Off-Broadway has produced many plays about corrupt cardinals and stupid nuns. In most cases these are not real plays, just political screeds by angry gays and feminists lashing out at the church over abortion or gay rights The anti-Catholic play almost writes itself. Just have a gay Jesus or a lesbian Mary have sex with a pope, Judas, or a farm animal, and contract a venereal disease or go to work in an abortion clinic. Nobody in the art world will object. Instead there will be lots of talk about artistic freedom.

The establishment in this country needs to do a bit more thinking about civility and transgression. Believers can expect open and honest argument about their doctrines and social teachings, and frank criticism about poor behavior. But it is not civil or honest to attack a religion by trying to degrade its symbols. The word for this is propaganda.

Welcoming the bomber

The University of North Dakota is sponsoring a controversial lecture by 1960s bomber Bill Ayers, now a “distinguished professor of education” at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Three groups invited Ayers to speak on April 3rd: the Department of Educational Foundations and Research, the College of Education and Human Development, and Students for a Democratic Society. Three other groups, Young Americans for Freedom, the College Republicans and Females for Firearms, asked the president of the university, Charles Kupcella, to condemn the Ayers invitation. Kupcella refused to do so, issuing a statement that said, “A good case has not been made – ever – that free speech (speech not otherwise unlawfully harmful) should sometimes or by some people be suppressed in the interest of freedom.” Kupcella’s statement is an unusually slippery one. The case has been made many times that colleges are right to deny a platform to certain egregious and unrepentant characters. Presumably the University of North Dakota would have had no compunctions about rejecting speeches by the Unabomber, the head of the Klan, a 9/11 terrorist or a visiting pro-slavery Muslim politician from Africa. Columbia University, under pressure from its far left Middle East faculty, should never have invited Mahoud Ahmadinejad, who runs a terrorist regime and favors, among other things, the obliteration of Israel and the murder of homosexuals. The folly was compounded by an intellectually impoverished Columbia dean who said Columbia would have invited Adolf Hitler, if the Fuhrer had agreed to debate and answer questions from students. The vision of a university as a community of scholars and students pursuing truth and defending civilization entirely disappears when bureaucrats see no problem in welcoming terrorists and mass murderers.

A report on the Ayers invitation in the Grand Forks Herald , perhaps to reassure readers, said that Ayers “never was convicted of a crime, and has since said violence is not the way to achieve SDS goals.” That’s misleading. Ayers would very likely have been convicted if prosecutors (guilty of misconduct) and the FBI (illegal surveillance) hadn’t screwed up the case. Yes, Ayers has said, sort of, that violence is not the right path, but he also told The New York Times, in an interview published on September 11, 2001,: “I don’t regret setting bombs, I feel we didn’t do enough.” He also told theTimes he has had a lifelong love of explosives. In his book, he says he participated in the bombing of the New York City’s police headquarters in 1970, the Capitol building in 1971 and the Pentagon in 1972. There reference to the Pentagon may not be true, since Ayers said his book mixes fact and fiction. Like his paramour, Bernadine Dohrn, he defended the bombings they committed in the name of ending the Vietnam War, on grounds that they killed no one, except accidentally their own members. Three allies in the Weather Underground died in 1970 in an explosion while making bombs in a Greenwich Village townhouse.  Ayers has danced around the subject of an apology for years, without flatly saying he regrets what he did. Asked by the Times if he would do it all over again, he said, “I don’t want to discount the possibility.” Come to think of it, maybe the University of North Dakota would welcome the Unabomber too.

A “Wildly Misleading” Self-Defense

Selena Roberts, a former New York Times sports columnist, now with Sports Illustrated , is still trying to justify her garbled coverage of the Duke lacrosse case. A Roberts column of March 31, 2006, devoted to pre-judging the lacrosse players, said they had been forced to provide DNA (untrue, they provided DNA and hair samples voluntarily), reported that “According to reported court documents, the accuser in the case has been raped robbed, strangled and made the victim of a hate crime” (there were no such “reported court documents” – Roberts was mistakenly referring to search warrants) and said the victim “was also reportedly treated at a hospital for vaginal and anal injuries consistent with sexual assault and rape” (the hospital records said nothing about “trauma in the victim’s vaginal area” and contained no evidence of rape). Roberts was so certain that the boys were guilty that she complained about the code of silence under which players protected one another (there was no code of silence – the accused talked freely and honestly about what really happened – no attack, no rape). She even suggested that the players were subhuman (“a group of privileged players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie their status as human beings. Whatever the root, there is a common thread: a desire for teammates to exploit the vulnerable without heeding a conscience.”)

In a recent interview on the sports site, The Big Lead, Roberts offered this cleaned-up version of what she wrote in 2006:

“Basically, I wrote that a crime didn’t have to occur for us to inspect the irrefutable evidence of misogyny and race baiting that went on that night. Not a popular stand. I received lots of hate mail, some of it threatening. I think the intense response came from Duke-player supporters who felt threatened when someone, whether it was me or another columnist, started poking at the culture of affluence and entitlement. We’re always dissecting the African-American and Hispanic communities – is it gangs? is it the rap lyrics? – when trouble strikes minority athletes. Obviously, some segments of the Duke lacrosse crowd did not enjoy the scrutiny of their world.”

These remarks are “wildly misleading,” according to K C Johnson, the Brooklyn college professor whose site, Durham-in-Wonderland provided daily accounts, detailed and accurate, for the length of the Duke lacrosse case. The problem wasn’t that “the Duke lacrosse crowd did not enjoy the scrutiny of their world.” It was that the scrutiny by Roberts got almost everything wrong. Johnson, co-author with Stuart Taylor, Jr., of the definitive book on the Duke case, Until Proven Innocent, wrote that “for anyone who followed the lacrosse case closely (Roberts) sacrificed her journalistic credibility in an attempt to advance a preconceived ideological agenda.”

Barely relevant notes on Bill Buckley

* He never wasted a minute. One night at the Buckleys, Bill rose from the dinner table, patted his breast pockets absently and excused himself, saying he had to find his cigars. When he returned seven or eight minutes later (cigarless), it seemed clear he had batted out a column at warp speed. He and Pat were leaving early the next morning for Gstaad. Why not use that downtime between entrée and dessert?

* He had a phenomenal ability to convert critics into friends. As a snotty young liberal, editing a liberal Catholic paper in Iowa, I once wrote that Buckley’s attempt to generate an army of young conservatives was an illusion, since this alleged army could convene comfortably in the back of a Volkwagen. This unastute judgment drew a thunderous printed retort from WFB, who for some reason had been reading the Catholic Messenger of Davenport rather closely. An invitation to meet him duly followed and we became friends.

* He taught a generation of debaters and polemicists that adversaries were to be opposed, but not loathed or hated. (Gore Vidal was the understandable exception.) His style was to fight tooth and nail, then invite his opponent out for a drink or dinner afterwards. His detractors saw this as a ploy to unsettle opponents. Occasionally it was. But debate was about ideas. It wasn’t personal.

*  In the early debates, I regularly made money betting someone that Bill would use at least two of these three terms: “paradigm,” “charismatic” and “mutatis mutandis.” When audiences caught on to these words, he dropped the first two. But he loved the rhythm of “mutatis mutandis” too much to let go.

*Until about the mid-60s, he occasionally would descend into slippery rhetoric, such as “mincing” and “epicene” for protestors of the Vietnam War, and “tribal” for the black caucus. He seemed astounded by this accusation of unpleasant meta-messages, and as far as I could see, he dropped them.

*  In 1965, when he ran for mayor of New York City, with no danger of winning, he tossed out a number of ideas that were clearly ahead of their time (bike lanes, for instance, and charging drivers a dollar to enter Manhattan during the day). He drew 341,000 votes and may have put John Lindsay in office. Lindsay won by 102,000 votes.

* The key to serving fresh seafood on his boat was simple—he pulled up somebody’s lobster trap, removed several lobsters, put way too many dollar bills in a bottle to pay for them and placed the corked bottle in the trap. Shopping made simple.