Saturday, June 06, 2009

A D-Day Tribute

Readers Note: My tribute below was first published June 6, 2007.

One of the most outstanding military bloggers, Blackfive, has posted a great D- Day tribute here.

I hope you visit it and I thank Blackfive for linking in his post to one of my previous D-Day tribute posts.


The story of June 6, 1944 is familiar one which 63 years on still interests, awes and inspires.

We hear the date and can immediately say, "Sure, Normandy. They touched down around 6 or 7 AM, didn't they?"

We wonder at the courage it took to get to the waterline and then storm the beaches.

This tribute is in impressionist form: three brief "brush strokes" meant to suggest the whole.

The first tells about the Allied Supreme Commander; in the second we follow a correspondent who sailed for Normandy not with troops, but with doctors, nurses and corpsmen; and finally a correspondent walks along Omaha Beach after the battle and tells us why we must remember it.

On June 5 when General Eisenhower knew the invasion could fail. He prepared a message to be released in the event he had to order a withdrawal.

Eisenhower's penciled message on plain paper contains errors, including a dating of "July 5." Historians agree the errors suggest fatigue. In the months before D-Day, Eisenhower slept only 3 or 4 hours a night. But the quality of the man shines in his message:

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops.

My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do.

If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

July 5.

The men and women of D-Day had a commander worthy of them.

With June 5 giving way to June 6, correspondent Martha Gellhorn prepared to sail for France on a hospital ship. She described for readers what she saw.

Here's some of what she wrote which appeared in Aug.'44 in Collier's. (I couldn't find a net link. - JinC):

There was nothing to do now but wait. The big ship felt empty and strange.

There were 422 beds covered with new blankets; and a bright, clean, well-equipped operation room, never before used; great cans marked “Whole Blood” stood on the decks; plasma bottles and supplies of drugs and bales of bandages were stored in handy places. Everything was ready, and any moment we would be leaving for France.

Our ship was snowy white with a green line running along the sides below the deck rail, and with many bright new red crosses painted on the hull and painted flat on the boat deck.

Pulling out of the harbor that night we passed a Liberty ship, going the same way.

The ship was gray against the gray water and the gray sky, and standing on her decks, packed solidly together, khaki, silent and unmoving, were American troops. No one waved and no one called. The crowded gray ship and the empty white ship sailed slowly out of the harbor toward France.

And on the day following D-Day correspondent Ernie Pyle walked along Omaha Beach. Here's part of what he told Americans back home:

You can still see the foxholes they dug at the very edge of the water, in the sand and the small, jumbled rocks that form part of the beach.

Medical corpsmen attended the wounded as best they could. Men were killed as they stepped out of landing craft. An officer whom I knew got a bullet through the head just as the door of his landing craft was let down. Some men were drowned.

Our men were pinned down for a while, but finally they stood up and want through, and so we took that beach and accomplished our landing. We did it with every advantage on the enemy's side and every disadvantage on ours.

Pyle titled his account
"A Pure Miracle" , and explained why he wrote it:

In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front in this one sector entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.
Know, appreciate, and forever be humbly grateful.

A Note To Sceptical

Dear sceptical:

I'll post tonight concerning why I'm sure Nifong knew of the DL case well before Mar. 23, 2006.

I'll post tomorrow or Monday explaining why I feel certain he learned of the case on Mar. 14.

Thank you for reading and commenting.



Friday, June 05, 2009

A Letter To Sarah

Readers Note: After publishing KC Johnson Slimed Prof. Lubiano I received in letter form a comment from Sarah which I posted on the Lubiano thread.

While Sarah’s comment was critical of me for my Lubiano post, she closed saying her letter was written with “respect and regret.”

Its quality left no doubt of that.

We subsequently had useful exchanges on the thread which you can read here.

Sarah’s comments revealed her to be a person of grace and generous instincts.

I asked her to read
Senator Taft’s Lesson For Us All, which contains a JinC post published Apr. 8, 2006.

I’ve used that 2006 post as a guide and standard for my Duke lacrosse postings.

I promised Sarah I’d post her letter on the main page and reply to it there.

I said I wanted my reply to be a thoughtful, detailed and respectful one which, if it didn’t change her opinions, would at least give Sarah and others like her a better understanding of why I wrote the Lubiano post

Before reading further, I urge any of you not familiar with the posts I’ve just mentioned and their comment threads as well as
KC Johnson Now and its comment thread to please give them all a look before reading Sarah’s letter and my response.

Now to the letters.



Hi John

You have been a valiant fighter for the victims of the Duke lacrosse travesty, and I respect you a lot for that.

I am also sure you feel you have your reasons for writing what you did.

However I know how these divisions and squabbles are used by those who still seek every possible opportunity to hurt the victims, in order to mock and undermine them and their supporters.

You, KC Johnson and Liestoppers did great things in exposing the hatred, dishonesty and duplicity behind the hoax. By now turning on each other over what amounts to trivia, you are giving weapons and a great deal of comfort to deeply unsavory and twisted people.

To do so in support of someone as vile, dishonest and devoid of humanity as Lubiano, defies comprehension.

You are worth far more than those who are exploiting your words, but you are wrong over this issue.

Written with regret and respect,



Dear Sarah,

I hope you’ve seen A Brief Note To Sarah in which I explained my delay responding to you and expressed my appreciation for your comment on
Tribute To My Wife thread.

Before going further, and for the benefit of those who may not have read the Lubiano post thread, I to repeat a few of the things I said on the thread in response to you:

I was never valiant; the players and their families were.

During 2006 and into 2007 KC, LS and The Johnsville News all did great DL blogging.

That’s why back then I’d often urge people to read those blogs before deciding whether they’d time to also read JinC.

My DL blogging represented my best effort so I’m proud of it. But it was never great.

Your comments just noted reflect your generous instincts, remarkable for appearing in a letter in which you take me to task for a post you believe has done and will continue to do more harm to innocent people who’ve already endured grave harm, including many great injustices.

My goals in this letter are to:

1) - - state why the Lubiano post was necessary;

2) - - explain to you and others like you why the Lubiano post might also be in the interests of those whose well-being are your primary concern.

With those goals in mind we can agree, Sarah, that all and everything I said in
KC Johnson Now about Lubiano and KC is this:

I wish KC hadn't made that remark about what he termed Professor Lubiano's "drinking habits." It wasn't fair to her and reflected very poorly on him.
At that point KC could’ve said he was sorry he’d carelessly used the “drinking habits” term. He could have updated at the start of the post in which he made his "drinking habits" remark.

If that had happened, I'm sure most fair-minded people would have said something like: “Good for KC.”

Instead, in his response on the thread of KC Johnson Now, he elaborated on his initial slime which was based solely on an innocent remark of the kind most adults over 40 have made.

Lubiano simply said she couldn’t recall specific stories from evenings 20 years past in which she shared “food and drink” with colleagues while discussing academic issues.

Such evenings occur at every university and at academic conferences. Lubiano’s mention of “food and drink” in that context tells us nothing about her “drinking habits.”

When good parents teach their children not to slime people they often illustrate what they mean by telling their children the old joke about the politician who promised “a high road campaign in which I won’t mention my opponents drinking habits.”

I had a friend whose professional colleagues always told me she was an outstanding surgical nurse. But it was only in the last weeks of her life and a losing battle with breast cancer that she disclosed to me she’d been a recovering alcoholic for 28 years.

She disclosed because she was proud of her years recovering and wanted that mentioned at her funeral.

She had previously disclosed to very few because she feared people might use her early active alcoholism to slime with innuendo about her “drinking habits” the surgical teams on which she served.

Lubiano’s conduct has certainly been vile and dishonest. Among many awful things she's done, her lead role in publishing the “listening statement” helped make an already dangerous situation more dangerous not just for the lacrosse players, but for anyone else who might have been unintended victims of physical attacks meant to target the players.

Her educational and socio-political philosophies are inimical to America’s ideals of fair treatment and equal justice for all.

It’s those ideals which require we treat Lubiano fairly, just as they required the authorities to treat Crystal Mangum and the Duke students fairly.

Sarah, I doubt my Lubiano post will be much help to “. . . those who still seek every possible opportunity to hurt the victims[.]”

I think those odious people would have preferred I endorsed what KC did.

That way they could say: “See, here’s JinC agreeing with what KC did. That’s more material we can use.”

I’ve only a very limited understanding of the hard journey the players and their families have traveled; and only a very limited understanding of what lies ahead for them.

But of this I feel certain: sometime years from now there'll come to the victims an opportunity resulting from the suits.

The opportunity will come in the form of one or very possibly more than one settlement offers from the defendants.

The settlement(s) offered might be one(s) the victims would turn down now; but which at some future time they’ll view as acceptable for the settlement(s) granting some admission of wrong and apology, proper compensation for injuries and the unfair stigma and attendant risks the players will always bear, and other considerations.

Those who would make the offer(s) will be likely to do so sooner rather than later, and more full than otherwise, if they believe certain things.

One of the most important of those things will be the belief of those making the offer(s) that among their primary constituencies – the Duke and Durham communities – there will be sizable numbers of people who will at least accept, if not support, the making of such offer or offers.

To the extent all of us can avoid outright slimes and are willing to call out those advocating for the victims who do, we make a contribution to helping people who don’t agree with us to perhaps become, if not more agreeing, at least less strong in their resistance to what we say and the interests of those we support.

That’s why, Sarah, I think my “Lubiano post might also be in the interests of those whose well-being are your primary concern.”

What do you think?

I look forward to hearing from you.



Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Brief Note To Sarah

Readers Note: Sarah responded to KC Johnson Slimed Prof. Lubiano sharply critical of what I wrote in that post.

Sarah said she took me to task with “respect and regret.” The quality of her comment, made in letter form, left no doubt about that.

We’ve since had a few email exchanges, in one of which I asked her to read a post from Apr. 8, 2006 - - Senator Taft's Lesson For Us All.

That post helps explain a lot of my Duke lacrosse work, including
KC Johnson Slimed Prof. Johnson.

I’m now getting back to Sarah. You’ll understand everything in the note below as soon as you read it.



Dear Sarah,

Thank you very much for your comment on the A Tribute To My Wife post thread.

I’m sorry not to have been back to you yesterday as I promised.

As you know doubt know a large bank of severe thunderstorms moved West to East yesterday across the upper South yesterday, grounding for many hours flights from Northeast airports bound for, among other airports our home airport, RDU.

Our son was on one of those delayed airplanes and our daughter-in-law was on another flight at another Northeastern airport.

And here my wife and I were with three young grandchildren to look after while standing by to pick their parents up when they finally got here.

There’s more to the story but I know you understand it wasn’t the dog who ate my blog post to you.

Tomorrow for sure.

Thank you for your understanding.

If you leave me a note saying you've seen this, I'll feel better.



Response To Sceptical (Post 1)

Readers Note: Liestoppers Meeting blogger skeptical has criticized me for posting KC Johnson Now as I was attempting to close down JinC.

Sceptical and others say I shouldn't have waited until the last minute to criticize Johnson.

In that, they are wrong.

A fair reading of KC Johnson Now leaves no doubt much of the post documents questions I asked KC and criticisms I made of his work as early as Dec. 2007.

I’ve ignored most of the "last minute" criticisms based on the wise adage: “Consider the source.”

But sceptical and a few others making that criticism are people whose past thoughtful Duke lacrosse commentary entitles them to considered responses.

I told sceptical that on the thread of KC Johnson Now.

My first response begins now. There’ll be other responses in subsequent posts.


Dear Sceptical,

There should be no misunderstanding between us that I waited until "the last minute" before calling attention to some of the important errors and omissions KC Johnson’s Duke lacrosse work.

The KC Johnson Now post includes extensive paste-ins from a Dec. 2007 post to which I twice link and which I cite once by month and year.

As for those who say I tried to have “the ‘last word’ and run,” I ask that you please gently remind them there’s no “last word” in the blogosphere.

KC and anyone else is free to comment and attack as they choose “‘til Kingdom come.” They started doing that as soon as the post went up.

My being “shut down” simply means I’m less likely to see what they put out or care about it.

Mind you, I’m not saying I wouldn’t respond in certain circumstances.

In your first comment you said in part:

I believe [KC Johnson Now] was a petty choice on your part, when there are so many others still in power who promoted the hoax: Ron Hodge, David Addison, Kammie Michael, Patrick Baker, Bill Bell, Dick Brodhead, Sue Wasiolek, Theresa Arico, most of the Group of 88, and many others.
In a subsequent comment you said in part:
In my quick list, I left out the initial cause-- Crystal Mangum. She should not get a pass despite her history of mental illness.

I also left out the N&O hierarchy, who you have so rightly criticized, including Linda Williams, Ted Vaden, Melanie Sill, etc.

They poured gasoline on a fire and then refused to take responsibility for their mistakes.

Furthermore, they reined in Joe Neff after Nifong was ousted, not allowing him to investigate the police misconduct and malfeasance.
Those parts of your comments helped me realize I should have, in the closing weeks, made at least a few “summing up” comments about those you mentioned, among whom are some of those who did the greatest harm to the individual victims and to Duke and Durham.

I’ll begin with false accuser Gail Crystal Mangum.

I said often in Spring 2006 that she was entitled to a full, fair investigation of her charges.

In hindsight it appears she got that or most of that even before the Raleigh N&O “broke” the case on Mar. 24 in a shamelessly biased story which repeatedly called her “the victim,” thereby casting the innocent lacrosse players as her victimizers.

I’m very glad I supported full, fair treatment of her claims. If that had been all that happened, it would have been “case closed” and no Duke lacrosse frame-up attempt.

I knew who she was from day one but didn’t name her until late December 2006 after Professor Coleman’s comment that it seemed she and Nifong were almost “mooning the system” after she “revised” her story yet again.

This time it was so that her story would comport at least somewhat with the latest revelations in a Dec. 15 court hearing that Nifong and DSI’s Brian Meehan had conspired to withhold DNA evidence exculpatory for the players.

Right after Mangum’s “revision” and Coleman’s comment I named her.

I don’t regret not naming her at the outset because, while I knew the story of the 30 minutes of beating, chocking and rape in the bathroom was absurd, I couldn’t be sure in Mar. and early Apr. that something didn’t happen at the party that sexaully victimized her.

But I do regret not naming Mangum by no later than the beginning of May.

Had I done that, I’d have better served JinC readers and made a contribution to those struggling at the time to defend the victims.

The Johnsville News was right to criticize me in Spring ’06 for not naming Mangum. I thanked TJN for the criticism when I finally named Mangum; I repeat that thanks here.

As to what should happen now to Mangum, given the current circumstances, I think this:

NC attorney general Roy Cooper is someone I grew to respect while watching him as a young, new member of our state legislature.

I respect the full, fair investigation his office conducted of all the case evidence which led to the only honest conclusion possible: “Innocent.”

Cooper thought it best not to prosecute Mangum.

The players and their families seem resigned, at this point at least, to leave matters where Cooper left them, even as they carry heavy scares Mangum inflicted and has never had the sense or decency to ask forgiveness for.

To the extent I think of punishment for Mangum, Cooper and the victims’ actions weigh heavy with me.

Any mention of Mangum always brings Nifong to mind.

Was there ever a false accuser and DA more suited for each other?

There are many DA’s in America who I’ve no doubt are fine upholders of justice, just as there are many who aren’t what they should be.

From among all of America’s venal DA’s, it was geography that brought together the irresponsible, disingenuous, at least episodically addled, and always money-seeking accuser Crystal Mangum and Durham County DA Mike Nifong, an ethic-less, conceited, corruptible and blindly-ambitious man.

Nifong may have been the only one among all of America’s venal DAs dumb enough to seize on her wildly improbable, self- contradicting stories and attempt to turn them into a credible felony frame-up and his ticket to election to a full term as DA.

For want of a nail the kingdom was lost; and from a geographical coincidence the tragedies and injustices of the Duke lacrosse case were born.

Sceptical, as I look back over my work regarding Nifong I think it all stands up pretty well; and I see no place where I treated him unfairly.

I continue to believe he knew of the case well before what Joe Neff reported in Apr. 2007 without a hint of skepticism and which account Nifong related in June 2007 at the State Bar trial which resulted in his disbarment: that Nifong first learned about the case late on the afternoon of Mar. 23 when he allegedly “discovered” a signed copy of the NTO sitting on his office copier and exclaimed: “Holy crap! What is going on?”

That story is baloney.

I’ve no doubt Nifong knew about the case well before Mar. 23 and strong reason to believe he knew of it on Mar. 14.

I've no doubt discovery will confirm what I've just said.

Ruth Sheehan’s statements in
It’s Not About The Truth naming Nifong as the anonymous source for her May 27 column will stand up during discovery as well.

I want to end this post because it’s gotten awfully long.

So I’ll just say this about Nifong and come back in a day or so saying more about the others you said I should have commented on.

Nifong has lost a lot already: his office, his law license, considerable income and the respect of most decent people.

He has been found in open court to be a liar and served a day in jail.

He must now arrange for his own defense in suits I believe will go forward and cost him greatly in time and money to defend himself.

But for all of that I believe he should be tried for the very serious crimes he has committed.

Those crimes targeted three young men Nifong knew were innocent but indicted anyway to serve his and others’ malicious purposes.

In doing that he committed wrongs of the most grievous and dangerous kind.

He struck at the Constitutional foundation stones of America criminal law. His actions were those common in every police state that’s every inflicted itself on honest citizens.

He should go to prison for all of that and as a lesson to others.

If in the passage of time during a lengthy prison sentence he genuinely begins a process of redeeming himself, he’ll have my admiration and support for that if I'm still around.



Tuesday, June 02, 2009

About inmyhumbleopinion’s Comment

Readers Note: The brief note below explains itself.


Dear inmyhumbleopinion:

Under other circumstances I’d publish your comment. It’s fact-based and raises issues worthy of serious discussion.

But I want to shut this blog down just as soon as I respond to certain criticisms I’ve received from some people whose opinions I value.

I want nothing to distract from that goal.

I hope you understand what I’m doing and why.

Thank you.


To Liestoppers' Truth Detector: There Is No Mystery

Readers Note: Most of you know I’ve received both support and criticism for two recent posts: “KC Johnson Now” and “KC Johnson Slimed Prof. Lubiano.”

I’m very appreciative for the support. Almost all of it's come from sources I expected with a few pleasant surprises added.

On the criticism side, it’s been pretty much the same: those I can identify who are critical and the type and content of their criticisms have been pretty much what I expected except for a few instances.

If you’ve been reading here this past week you know one of those few is sceptical, who blogs at Liestoppers Meeting. Because of my respect for the good judgment sceptical has shown in the past, I’m putting together a few posts so I can feel I’ve done all I reasonably can to explain myself to skeptical and some other such people.

Those posts will be appearing very soon.

This post here is a response to another Liestoppers Meeting blogger, Truth Detector.

I hope you’ll read along to see why I’m responding to Truth Detector whose proper understanding of what I’ve done I value.

I’ll be sending this post to LM and asking that it be posted there.



Dear Truth Detector:

I notice in a May 29 post @ 5:24 PM on this thread you said in part:

At issue of course was the post by JinC about KC which I am surprised by. If John waited this long to express his thoughts, he probably could have shut down the site having said nothing. That will always be a mystery. I really have enjoyed John's site, both for his analysis of the hoax and particularly the Churchill Series. I will particularly miss those.
Thank you for you nice words about my blogging. I’m delighted to learn that, among other things, you appreciated The Churchill Series.

I also want to speak to what you call “a mystery.”

I didn’t wait until I was shutting down to express almost all of what was in “KC Johnson Now”
If you will reread it, you’ll see it includes extensive extracts to portions of a Q&A from Dec. 2007 with me the “Q” and KC the “A.”

I twice linked to the Dec. 2007 in “KC Johnson Now.”

In the first instance I clearly said I was extracting from and linking to a JinC post from Dec. 2007.

In the second instance I said clearly I was linking to the same post I’d previously linked to.

I want to you and everyone else to also know that many of the issues and matters discussed in “KC Johnson Now” go back to well before Dec. 2007. For that reason I’m providing you a paste in of the following posts.

Since LM posting won’t leave the links “active” visit JinC to check any link you care to.

Thank you for reading all this which should clear up any concern you or other reasonable person has about whether I waited to the last minute.




Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nifong an N&O anonymous source (Post 1)

The Raleigh News & Observer’s repeatedly said it didn't use anonymous sources when reporting the Duke lacrosse story. I know that’s preposterous but it has. (See, for example, here, here and here. )

Now there's strong evidence that one of the anonymous sources the N&O used last March to publicly frame the lacrosse players was then DA Mike Nifong.

Recall that in front-page stories on March 24, 25, 26 and in a March 27 news column by Ruth Sheehan, the N&O laid out its deliberately fictional Duke lacrosse script about a frightened young black woman brutally beaten and gang-raped by privileged white male Duke lacrosse players whose racist teammates had formed "a wall of solidarity" to prevent the police from identifying their gang-rapist buddies.

Nifong’s never mentioned in any of those stories or Sheehan’s column.

But when Nifong first began speaking publicly about the case on the afternoon of March 27, he followed exactly the fictional script the N&O had been shilling to the public and the rest of the media for four days.

Now Sheehan admits that a major portion of the N&O's fictional script was provided to N&O journalists by Mike Nifong.

In fact, Sheehan says Nifong and “people” at the N&O who were in touch with him were the actual sources for her March 27 column attacking the players and demanding the lacrosse team be "shut down" until the players cooperated with police.

Don Yeager, in his recently released It's Not About the Truth (Threshold Editions, 2007), quotes Sheehan:

"I think on Saturday [March 25] we had the interview with the alleged victim. It was on Sunday I called into the office. I already had a column in the can because I run on Mondays.

But I called in about this story and they told me that there was another story with Nifong talking about how there was this wall of silence.

That's when I decided on that Sunday to write my first column about the case. [...]

I have to write a column about what people are talking about. And everybody was talking about it. It was so outrageous, the stuff that was in the paper. Her story, Nifong's recounting of it. Oh, my God. It was just like , . , you couldn't even believe it." (ellipses in Yeager) (pg. 154)
A little further on Yeager writes:
As she wrote, Sheehan made clear that in her mind the stories bubbling up from Nifong's office and the Durham Police Department were true. She was not alone. (pg. 155)
Yeager then tells readers Sheehan added:
"Back during that period, no one was telling us that the players had been cooperative," she said in a January 2007 interview. "I know now that was not true. If I had known that then, I would have never written what I did. I would have thought what is Nifong talking about? That's not a wall of silence then. How is that a wall of silence?"(pg. 155)
The N&O’s March 25 "anonymous interview" story refers to “authorities [who’ve] vowed to crack the team's wall of solidarity.”

It then continues: "We're asking someone from the lacrosse team to step forward," Durham police Cpl. David Addison said. "We will be relentless in finding out who committed this crime."

But neither that March 25 story nor any N&O Duke lacrosse story that appeared before March 28 mentions Nifong or some variant such as “the DA’s office said” as a news source.

No one at the N&O has challenged Sheehan's account of calling the paper on Sunday, March 26, and being told by journalists there details of what Nifong was providing the N&O.

In the N&O's recent report of Yeager’s book, staff writer Jim Nesbitt didn't even mention Sheehan’s account.

I posted on Nesbitt’s story here. I raised questions about why the N&O’s story said nothing about Yeager's reporting on Sheehan’s column or any other part of the N&O’s framing of the lacrosse players last March.

I emailed Nesbitt and asked why that was the case. I offered to publish his response in full.

I received no reply to my email or to phone messages I left for Nesbitt and other N&O staffers.

Sheehan’s disclosures to Yeager are, as far as I know, her most detailed public statements identifying Nifong as a source for her March 27 column.

I'm not aware of Sheehan ever before publicly disclosing Nifong spoke to journalists at the N&O by at least Sunday, March 26, and perhaps earlier. Or that journalists at the N&O used what Nifong told them to convince Sheehan to write her column viciously and falsely attacking the players. (Sheehan has since apologized for the column. - JinC).

But Sheehan's statements to Yeager are not the first time she's blamed Nifong for her May 27 column.

Last June 19 she wrote a column saying she'd been wrong to base her March 27 column on what Nifong had said.

I posted on her column the same day asking among other things how Sheehan could blame Nifong for her column when he didn’t begin speaking publicly about the case until AFTER her column had run.

I sent Sheehan an email asking that question but never heard back.

Well, we finally have the answer.

And that leads to a new question: Does the Pulitzer Committee award a prize to an anonymous source and a newspaper for working together to produce stories that led to monumetal injustices, harmed innocent people and damaged race relations in a community where most people were trying to improve them?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Senator Taft's Lesson For Us All

Readers Note: You'll see the post below was first published on Saturday, April 8, 2006.

That week began on Sunday, April 2, with the Raleigh N&O's publication of the VIGILANTE poster photo and prof. Tim Tyson's hateful screed telling readers what he and the N&O certainly knew was a lie: that the "law of the lynch mob" ruled at the lacrosse team party.

On that same Sunday, the dean of Duke Chapel, the Reverend Canon Dr. Sam Wells, delivered what he called "reflections" from the steps of the Chapel's alter.

Whatever Wells' actual intentions
, his reflections comforted the vicious frame-up attempters and their enablers while afflicting innocent Duke students whose care was his charge.

What is worse, Wells knew by then the students were at grave risk of physical harm.

All that was just some of what was going on Sunday, April 2, 2006 here in Durham.

as the week progressed things got much, much worse for common sense and justice at Duke and in Durham.

I'm republishing the post now as one effort to explain myself to those people I respect who've criticized me for saying in "KC Johnson Now" things I posted as early as Dec. 2007; and for speaking up for fair treatment of Duke professor Wahneema Lubiano.

No one should doubt I deplore Lubiano's conduct in the Duke lacrosse case.

To say her role in the case was and remains mendacious and pernicious is, IMO, to greatly understate what she did and continues to do to enable the ongoing cover-up of the Duke-Durham frame-up attempt.

I also deplore her educational philosophy, not least because it would destroy the constitutional principles for which Senator Robert A. Taft stood.

I'll say more tomorrow.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rape allegation, Duke lacrosse players and "Profiles in Courage"

At News & Observer news columnist Ruth Sheehan’s blog a reader made a comment that began:

The book "Profiles in Courage" doesn't include a chapter about men refusing to speak out about behavior that is unfit for a university student, an NCAA athlete, and a honorable person in general.
The person is right. There’s no such chapter in then Senator John F. Kennedy’s book, a tribute to U. S. Senators who’d shown extraordinary political courage by facing public wrath in order to uphold vital principles.

But there is in Kennedy's book Chapter 9, which begins:
The late Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio was never President of the United States. Therein lies his personal tragedy. And therein lies his national greatness.

For the Presidency was a goal that Bob Taft pursued throughout his career in the Senate, an ambition that this son of a former President always dreamed of realizing.

As the leading exponent of the Republican philosophy for more than a decade, "Mr. Republican" was bitterly disappointed by his failure on three different occasions even to receive the nomination.

But Robert A. Taft was also a man who stuck fast to the basic principles in which he believed--and when fundamental principles were at issue, not even the lure of the White House, or the possibilities of injuring his candidacy, could deter him from speaking out.

He was an able politician, but on more than one occasion chose to speak out in defense of a position no politician with like ambitions would have endorsed.
Kennedy went on to tell readers Taft was a warm, friendly man whose word was his bond. He cited many instances of Taft’s political courage before coming to the one he said:
“did not change history (but) as a piece of sheer candor in a period when candor was out of favor, as a bold plea for justice in a time of intolerance and hostility,(is) worth remembering here.”
The future President was talking about an event in October 1946 when, with congressional elections just weeks away and hoping to win his party’s 1948 presidential nomination, Taft took the hugely unpopular step of speaking out against the Nuremberg war crimes trials of Nazi leaders and the impending trials of Japanese leaders.

To help his readers understand why Taft did that, Kennedy first quoted a Supreme Court justice, and then explained what the Constitution meant to Taft:
"No matter how many books are written or briefs filed," Supreme Court justice William 0. Douglas has recently written, "no matter how finely the lawyers analyzed it, the crime for which the Nazis were tried had never been formalized as a crime with the definiteness required by our legal standards, nor outlawed with a death penalty by the international community. By our standards that crime arose under an ex post facto law. Goering et al. deserved severe punishment. But their guilt did not justify us in substituting power for principle."…

The Constitution of the United States was the gospel which guided the policy decisions of the Senator from Ohio. It was his source, his weapon and his salvation. And when the Constitution commanded no "ex post facto laws," Bob Taft accepted this precept as permanently wise and universally applicable.

The Constitution was not a collection of loosely given political promises subject to broad interpretation. It was not a list of pleasing platitudes to be set lightly aside when expediency required it. It was the foundation of the American system of law and justice.
Taft favored exiling the Axis war leaders as was done with Napoleon.

Kennedy reminded his readers that in 1942 Taft was the only Senator to speak out against the internment Japanese citizens and Americans of Japanese descent. Taft insisted they were entitled to presumption of innocence and due process.

There are many people here in Durham who will tell you they believe in presumption of innocence and due process, but they also want to know why Duke lacrosse players aren’t “sitting in jail right now.”

What’s more, they say by exercising their right to remain silent, the players are “telling us they’re guilty or know who are.”

A attorney friend calls such people “occasional constitutionalists.”

Senator Taft was never one of them. Neither was President Kennedy.

Remember all those times when anger and violence flared during the civil rights struggles?

President Kennedy told us the Constitution was meant to guard us all and that could best happen if we let the law take its course.

Profiles in Courage is available in many book stores, most libraries and online.