Faculty Fatuousness

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” have a confession to make. We seldom read the delightful academic periodical Transforming Anthropology anymore. Somehow or other, we allowed our subscription to lapse.

And this, as it turns out, was quite a mistake. For, in a recent number of said magazine, a rather stunning broadside appears. Entitled “KC’s World,” it’s a piece on the Duke lacrosse non-rape fiasco and the “weblogger” KC Johnson by a fellow called Charles Piot.

Mr. Piot, as his byline asserts, is an associate professor in cultural anthropology at Duke University. He was also–although his byline does not make this clear–among the so-called Group of 88, who signed the infamous faculty advertisement using un-attributed quotations to malign the Duke lacrosse players and to presume their guilt.

We called Mr. Piot’s piece of handiwork stunning for a particular reason: Despite its length, the article somehow manages to remain entirely un-convincing from start to finish. In fact, it strikes us as so charmingly un-persuasive that one could imagine it written as a hoax–Alan Sokal meets Duke lacrosse, if you will.

First and foremost, Mr. Piot is at pains to demonstrate that the infamous listening statement advertisement “was neither about the lacrosse players nor about the party they hosted in spring 2006.” To which the proper response is: What? Have you gone mad, man?

After all, the ad in question specifically refers to “what happened to this young woman,” i.e., Crystal Gail Mangum. Further, it thanks campus protestors for responding to the lacrosse team’s supposed antics. How could any reasonable person determine that this is “neither about the lacrosse players nor about the party they hosted in spring 2006”? The disingenuousness is startling.

As a smokescreen for his lousy, illogical argument, Mr. Piot attempts to paint the Group of 88 as victims. To this end, he relishes the obnoxious, racist e-mails and telephone messages various Group members received.

Naturally, such messages are vile and despicable. Yet, as Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson document in Until Proven Innocent, the lacrosse players and their coach were themselves the victims of threatening messages. And the Group of 88 was cheering on the protesters–some of whom were frightening the Duke lacrosse team.

Now, Mr. Piot can claim–as he does in his feculent article–that the Group of 88 didn’t support those protestors (the “pot-bangers” calling for the team to be castrated and hanging up “wanted” posters), but this is merely an exercise in after-the-fact self-exoneration. Surely a reasonable person would recognize that disgusting e-mails would flood in to anyone who was outspoken about the non-rape fiasco.

In the end, Mr. Piot–clearly “P-Oed” by “webloggers”‘ attention to the Duke lacrosse fiasco–concludes that KC Johnson is (wait for it!) a degenerate racist and sexist. Of Mr. Johnson he claims:

His demonizing of faculty who are largely African American and female–and of Duke’s Department of African and African American Studies–would appear to be rooted in deep anxieties about Whiteness and masculinity that are at the heart of contemporary American culture, with its worries about the implications of multiculturalism and immigration for White male privilege.

Wow: KC Johnson is Lou Dobbs. What a tour de force of fatuity. It never seems to occur to Mr. Piot that Mr. Johnson and others would find interest in the Duke lacrosse story because it exposed the flabby thinking and dubious antics of tenured radicals insulated from reality by the sort of mindless group-think his pathetic article ably demonstrates.

(Note: The crack young staff normally “weblog” over at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” where they are currently “weblogging” about Britney Spears because of their “deep anxieties about Whiteness and masculinity.”)

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