The Political Benefits of Inexperience, Ignorance and Black Solidarity
"Who could be surprised that four years later Davidson became a leader of the Gang of 88? ‘Whether it happened or not,’ she and her cohorts knew that rape had been ‘possible,’ and therefore the lacrosse players, or some of them, had to be offered up as a sacrifice in the name of political correctness. Ultimately, Davidson will be remembered for only one thing, her coining the term ‘blog hooligan’ which the founders of Liestoppers hilariously embraced. People who have an instinct for the truth seem also able to turn an elitist slur into a source of ironic humor."
There’s no dispute that rookie United States Senator and presidential hopeful Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. is (1) the youngest serious presidential candidate, (2) the only serious presidential candidate with a black biological parent, (3) winning nearly all of the black vote and (4) much stronger among younger voters and voters usually described as “better educated” than he is with older voters and voters who have not graduated from college.
It seems to me that (1) Obama has been making a “virtue” of INexperience, (2) Obama is benefiting hugely from black voters and younger voters identifying with him, (3) what passes for “better education” isn’t, in important respects, and (4) the biases of America’s higher education system have paved the way for a charismatic, but inexperienced person like Obama to become a serious presidential candidate based on his charisma and non-threatening manner, general promises and frequent repetition of "magic" words: “change,” “hope” and “the fierce urgency of now.”
Unsurprisingly, the liberal media celebrated Obama’s big win in North Carolina’s Democrat presidential primary without really highlighting the importance of the black block vote in North Carolina’s Democrat primary.
That black block vote largely explains why disgraced and disbarred former Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong persecuted the Duke Three. Behind in the polls in a three-person race against a white woman who had been an assistant district attorney until Nifong was appointed district attorney and a black man without criminal law experience running his first race for elective office when “opportunity” knocked in the person of false accuser Crystal Mangum crying gang rape, Nifong saw his chance and swiftly posed as the champion of black people, treating an incredible black ex-convict stripper as credible, despite the facts.
It worked at the polls. Nifong won the Democrat primary and then the general election, each time due to his disproprtionately high proportion of the black vote.
In the recent North Carolina primary, Hillary Rodham Clinton won the non-black vote by a substantial margin, but Obama’s Rev. Wright, Professor Ayers and Bittergate problems did not phase the black block vote. Obama won the state big due to taking more than 90% of the black vote.
Is it a surprise to you that David Price, the white Democrat Congressman who represents Durham, has a 100% rating from the North Carolina NAACP, was silent during the prosecution that was a persecution and endorsed Obama?
In the Democrat Durham County district attorney primary held simultaneously with the Democrat presidential primary, Tracey Cline, a black woman who served under Nifong in the Durham County District Attorney’s Office and was expected to assist Nifong if the Duke Three had been tried, won, due to the black block vote.
Fox News’ Greta van Susteren, no conservative, was disgusted.
On her blog, Gretawire, in a piece titled “North Carolina!! What did she know? and if nothing, why didn’t she ask?,” Greta wrote: “If I were a voter in Durham County, I would have wanted to cross examine Tracey Cline about what she knew about Mike Nifong’s handling of the Duke Lacrosse case. She worked in the office at the time the case was the high profile case in the office…and I can’t believe it was not discussed a great deal. If it was not discussed, I would like to know why she did not quiz Nifong about it. Certainly she heard all the lawyers on TV and in the local press complaining about his handling of it as early as 2 weeks after the dancer was at the house. Important issues - including the withholding of evidence — were constantly discussed on TV. Every Assistant DA in that office while Nifong was handling that case should have had the courage to step forward….before I would vote for her, I would want to know why she did not. Prosecutors have enormous power — and communities must be confidant that those with great courage hold those jobs.”
But the black block vote in Durham County reflexively voted for Cline (and Obama)instead of scrutinizing.
NOT every black voter, of course. But the overwhelming bulk of black voters.
Amazingly, when blacks vote overwhelmingly for a black candidate instead of a white candidate, be it a black man like Obama or a black woman like Cline, it is simply accepted as an appropriate expression of racial solidarity or pride instead of race-based voting.
On the night of the Louisiana Democrat presidential primary, with exit polls showing blacks 90-10 for Obama but Obama taking “only” 30% of the white vote, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera was ranting that white racism was holding down the Obama vote.
Racism is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
Blacks are not inherently immune from the disease of racism. Racism is something bad of which persons of all races, not just whites.
America’s premier Herman Melville expert, Professor Hershel Parker, recently put some of his thoughts about the Duke lacrosse case in general and the attack on the LieStoppers Board in particular in an email to me that he authorized me to share with my readers.
Professor Parker’s lengthy email (including a postscript) shows how higher education has changed and made a person like Obama a viable presidential candidate, despite his inexperience and now publicly known attitude toward religion and guns.
“Mike, I came late to the Duke scandal, realizing only in the Fall of 2006 that Richard Brodhead, Michael Nifong, and others might send three innocent lacrosse players to jail for 30 years. Then I began writing the only thing I knew to write, an academic article, about the pattern of Brodhead's rushing to the wrong judgment so as to destroy other people's reputations. I knew because in 2002 he had done his best to destroy mine. That article was published in Nineteenth-Century Literature (June 2007). Then in Melville: The Making of the Poet (2008) I again exposed Brodhead for ignoring basic scholarship in order to blacken my reputation. By late May 2007 I discovered you, Michael Gaynor, on the Internet but I did not find Liestoppers until the Fall of 2007, just before Nifong spent his one night in jail.
“Since then, I have observed Liestoppers with astonishment and awe. In Liestoppers dozens of public-minded citizens had banded together to establish the truth about the Duke scandal, which turned out not to be a lacrosse team scandal but a Duke-Durham conspiracy to railroad the innocent in the name of political correctness and personal ambition. Liestoppers included lawyers, policemen, teachers, professors in various fields, computer technicians, housewives--people with an astonishing range of expertise who labored together to find the truth and expose lies, of which there were plenty. Among other achievements, the Liestoppers archived items from newspapers, blogs, books, and reviews, as well many visual and audio records pertaining to the frame-up. They kept meticulous chronologies of electronic links and after a time could instantly retrieve the most esoteric-seeming evidence when someone was constructing, for instance, time lines for specific criminalities.
“I identified with these people, for my own academic career had been, through the 1960s onward, anomalous because it was fact based. When I started research on my dissertation in 1962 I met two candidates for the PhD at Columbia who were amused that Northwestern was offering doctorates and curious about what kind of dissertation I was writing that would involve my going to New York City. When I told them I was going to the New York Public Library or the New-York Historical Society every day to read nineteenth-century newspapers and copy out nineteenth-century letters about Melville and politics, they were dumbstruck. They had a great story to regale their fellow students and their teacher Richard Chase with at Columbia, this guy from the Midwest going to the libraries every day and looking at old newspapers and manuscripts! In 1962, a graduate student going to the archives as if the New Criticism had never triumphed! Almost every graduate student in the Ivy League knew that biographical and historical evidence was irrelevant to interpretation, just as the early New Critics had said in the late 1940s. And here I was coming all the way to New York to look for biographical information! They were too polite to laugh outright, but the way they kept rolling their eyes at each other showed they thought this was the quaintest damned thing they had ever heard. It probably was.
“In 1962 and for many years afterwards I would find that no scholar had ever called for a box of documents or that no one had called for it since one of my teacher's colleagues had consulted it in the 1940s. During the 1940s Stanley T. Williams at Yale had looked at the low quality of work on Melville and had determined that his best graduate students would do biographical-historical dissertations on Melville. When Williams retired in 1953, biographical scholarship died at Yale. Taught by one of Williams's students, Harrison Hayford, I built much of my career on meticulous establishment of chronology. Once in the 1970s, as I explain in my and Brian Higgins's Reading Melville's ‘Pierre; or, The Ambiguities’ (LSU Press, 2006), p. 199, I laid out the known documents in sequence and helplessly quoted to myself Mr. Compson from Absalom, Absalom!: ‘It just does not explain.’ Then I realized that none of us had seen one of the documents in full, and that document, sent to me from Houghton Library, solved the puzzle. My devotion to chronology remains: my computerized expansion of the 900 page The Melville Log (1951) (the work of a film scholar, Jay Leyda, not a professor of English) runs to around 9,000 pages. In the long course of transcribing nineteenth-century manuscripts and items from newspapers and books for my electronic New Melville Log in the 1980s and 1990s, I discovered dozens of wholly unknown episodes in Melville's life.
“While I was pursuing my own way, the New Critical repudiation of biographical and historical research continued under different guises, and more virulently. The original New Critics of the 1940s had been trained as scholars back in the 1920s and 1930s. They were ruling out consideration of biographical information in criticism, but they were quite familiar with their authors' biographies. Charles Feidelson, who replaced Williams at Yale in American Literature, had not been so rigorously trained, and each successive generation of teachers and each successive critical movement moved farther and farther away from scholarship until at last Yale was represented by Richard Brodhead and then by Wai-chee Dimock.
“Even textual critics avoided scholarship or at least gave others a way of avoiding it. James Thorpe in the 70s then Jerome McGann in the 1980s championed not texts closest to the author's original intention but texts that got published with the help of family, friends, editors, and publishers--the ‘socialized’ product. The great appeal of McGann's approach in the 1980s was that it reduced or eliminated work: all the new textual editor really needed to do was identify a text supervised by an editor and base his edition on it. Certainly the textual editor did not need to try to read a difficult manuscript in order to recover what the author wrote, for McGann had repudiated the idea of the author as fiery creator and ultimate authority.
“My own Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons (1984) was less appealing because it celebrated the author's creative process as I established it from working with manuscripts and revisions. In Much Labouring: The Texts and Authors of Yeats's First Modernist Books (1997), David Holdeman said that I ‘might almost be regarded as ‘McGann's ‘anti-self’ (to use a Yeatsian term)’: ‘Like McGann, Parker contests the ontological assumptions of Greg-Bowers editing and of the criticism it underpins, but he interests himself entirely in authorial texts and meanings, constructing a hermeneutics that privileges manuscripts and those early creative processes that he believes are affected least by sociohistorical contexts.’ No editor wanted to hear about the creative process. One follower of McGann, Jack Stillinger, in the revealingly entitled Multiple Authorship and the Myth of Solitary Genius (1991), called me the ‘most extreme theorist of textual primitivism to date’; my greatest sin, he thought, was believing that ‘genuine art is coherent.’ Jonathan Wordsworth, another primitivist, and I should have rushed to embrace late, watered-down, dumbed-down ‘socialized’ texts.
“In the 1970s the latest chic form of the New Criticism was ‘Reader Response Criticism,’ which once again banished the author from consideration. What counted was the Almighty Reader, the true maker of the meaning. The trouble was that the author kept recurring because his or her name was attached to books. Roland Barthes in 1967 published his influential ‘Death of the Author,’ and in ‘What is an Author?’ (1977) Michel Foucault argued for denying the existence of the author while acknowledging an ‘author function.’ Yet inexplicably Foucault kept cautiously copyrighting his own books just as if he were the real author.
“In the 1970s and 1980s, American imitators of the French Deconstructionists played at dismantling texts but did no textual investigating of their own and ignored all the challenging examinations of major American novels then going on. New Critics and Deconstructionists alike preferred the Appleton The Red Badge of Courage (the product of the social process in which the editor, Ripley Hitchcock, made cuts which had disproportionately massive effects in the little book) while not wanting to read the original version (almost all of which could be reconstructed, I decided, and was in due course reconstructed by my student Henry Binder). Crane critics rushed to defend the expurgated Red Badge, on which they had built their reputations. Now, Mike, people who live in the real world rather than the Ivory Tower understand censorship when they see it. Hitchcock's arrogant hacking away at Zane Grey's texts is well documented, and Jon Tuska in his Foreword to his restored version of Zane Grey's Shower of Gold (2007) happily quotes me as the authority on what Hitchcock achieved with his censoring.
“In the 1980s the latest fad, ‘New Historicism,’ sounded far more rigorous than ‘New Criticism’ but it was not new ‘Historical’ research, not at all. Typically, a New Historicist like Wai-chee Dimock, hired by Richard Brodhead at Yale, acted as if all historical research had stopped early in the 20th century, say the 1930s. Real historians had done nothing after that on Manifest Destiny, she was sure. New Historicists (by now who was surprised?) dismissed the author and consciously tried to repress mention of the author lest he push the Almighty Critic out of the limelight. What was important was not Shakespeare the creative genius and real-life theatre man of his time but the general Zeitgeist, in which a particular author (and an author's particularities) were not of significance. Uniqueness and creative power was always to be distrusted and suppressed. The place of power was held by the Critic, and only Critics gained tenure.
“You can observe the perversely misused power of the academic establishment in strange places. Look at the horror Michael D. Coe coolly describes in Breaking the Maya Code (1992). After the dazzling work of amateurs (at 18 David Stuart was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship!) and some unruly, atypical scholars in deciphering the Maya hieroglyphs, most of the tenured Maya archaeologists turned their backs on the new discoveries. Coe reports that most field archaeologists ‘are almost totally illiterate in the Maya script’ and few “if any” know the living Mayan tongue.’ They can't read the hierglyphs and don't want to because the writing is primarily about kings, and they want to talk Marxist talk about the masses. As Coe says, ‘Imagine someone calling himself an Egyptologist who couldn't read a hieroglyphic inscription, or a Sinologist tongue-tied in Chinese! How can illiterate scholars pretend to study a literate civilization?’
“Richard Brodhead either did not know that Melville had finished a book in 1853 and another in 1860 or else he lied about it in 2002 when he ignored decades of scholarship in order to make it seem that I had made these books up--which of course meant that I was not to be trusted on anything. In order to preserve the status quo in scholarship (that is, the 1921 status) he trashed me as a ‘demon-researcher’ on a voyage fated to sink, like Ahab's. Late in 2003 Robert Steel boasted that he was bringing a fine scholar to Duke. He brought the Brodhead who in 1996 had published THE SCHOOL OF HAWTHORNE without bothering to look in Sterling Memorial Library to see who had been enrolled in that class other than a few famous white men. In reaction, I gather from the preface, the forces of political correctness came down on Brodhead so brutally that he never risked their wrath again.
“The repudiation of the great creative genius continues. In the 11 April 2008 TLS Raymond Tallis looks at the latest form of this extreme exaltation of the Critic over the author, the invoking of ‘neuroscience’ in literary criticism: ‘Norman Bryson, once a leading exponent of Theory and a social constructivist, has described his Damascene conversation, as a result of which he now places the firing of neurons, rather than signifiers at the heart of literary criticism.’ As Tallis says, for many years now the literary work ‘becomes a mere example of some historical, cultural, political, or other trend of which the author will have been dimly aware, if at all. The differences between one author and another are also minimized.’ New terms (neurons!), old follies. Underlying all of these critical approaches which succeeded the 1940s New Criticism have been attempts to deny original creative genius (that is, to repress or expel the author from consideration, particularly an author with fierce originality) while exalting Critics themselves as the masters of the texts they are teaching.
“Why did not scholars, at Duke (and there still are a few such) rise up and denounce what Brodhead and the Gang of 88 did to the lacrosse players and their coach? Is there one real scholar in the Gang of 88 at Duke? In the early 1990s Cathy Davidson was hired as editor of American Literature, which had been the journal of record since its founding in the late 20s. It's where I published, in 1990, my discovery of the title of the book Melville finished in 1853, The Isle of the Cross. When I was a member of the editorial board, a decade earlier, articles had always been carefully refereed.
“Quickly, for publication early in 1994, Davidson put together a special issue on what she called the ‘New Melville’--conspicuously, Melville as wife-beater, a charge levied by an ambitious young critic who had discovered all by herself, on a library shelf, edited by Donald Yannella and Hershel Parker, a little pamphlet, cheaply printed and bound, held together by two staples. Why had this obscure thing, with no spine to announce the title, been secreted away from her in her childhood? We surely had meant to suppress what was inside it by making it so innocuous-looking. In fact, Yannella and I had put together commentary by Melville scholars in order to publicize some newly discovered documents on a crisis in Melville's marriage. We had, of course, tried to draw out commentary especially from the older people while they were still alive and might tell us what Melville's great grandchildren had told them. In the commentary was one quite dubious third-hand report of an act of violence by Melville against his wife. We had tried to publicize the news by sending the pamphlet to all members of the Melville Society and, free, to many dozens of libraries. But the reader of Cathy Davidson's issue of American Literature would understand that we had tried to suppress the news we pretended to be publicizing.
“Davidson's motivations were clear to me, as reported in the New York Times Magazine for 15 December 1996--she was out to sabotage my forthcoming biography. It was clear, also, that she wanted to remove Melville from his position as (newly recognized) Great American Author so that he (and other longer-recognized Great Writers like Emerson and Thoreau) could be given reduced class time, if not expelled from the classroom altogether. It took only months for Davidson's efforts in American Literature to achieve their goal, albeit in grotesque absurdity. Nancy Fredricks in Melville's Art of Democracy (1995) confessed just how powerful had been Davidson's special issue of American Literature: "The image of a drunken Melville beating and pushing his wife Elizabeth down a flight of stairs has imprinted itself on my mind's eye and caused me to hate him for abusing her. Whether it happened or not, I know it is possible.’ Unrepentant, indeed, gloating, Davidson in 2002 reprinted the 1994 wife-beating article in No More Separate Spheres!: The Next Wave American Studies Reader. Who could be surprised that four years later Davidson became a leader of the Gang of 88? ‘Whether it happened or not,’ she and her cohorts knew that rape had been ‘possible,’ and therefore the lacrosse players, or some of them, had to be offered up as a sacrifice in the name of political correctness. Ultimately, Davidson will be remembered for only one thing, her coining the term ‘blog hooligan’ which the founders of Liestoppers hilariously embraced. People who have an instinct for the truth seem also able to turn an elitist slur into a source of ironic humor. When is the last time Richard Brodhead laughed?
“Mike, a Postscript:
“ When Cathy Davidson sent out that reckless ‘New Melville’ issue of AMERICAN LITERATURE in 1994 I interpreted it, rightly, as an attempt to shut down the biography everyone knew I was working on. In the January 1990 AMERICAN LITERATURE, still edited the old way, as a refereed journal, I had published the coolly worded but startling article on ‘Melville's The Isle of the Cross’--a title not previously announced publicly, although I had told two older 1940s Yale scholars about it when I found it in 1987. In the 1980s and 1990s the academic leftists were gaining power in various ways. One was by creating the new Heath Anthology, which was an outgrowth of RECONSTRUCTING AMERICAN LITERATURE: COURSES, SYLLABI, ISSUES (1983), Paul Lauter's attempt to reduce or eliminate the works that had been canonical and authors who had been canonical in order to put into anthologies many more women, many more minorities of all races.
“Now, the desire to open up the canon was one I was in great sympathy with, but always with me the criterion for inclusion was literary merit. I had many long discussions with Paul Lauter, the editor of RECONSTRUCTING, at the very beginning of his work. I was with Paul in the bowels of the Americana Hotel when boxes with the first copies of the book arrived, and I possess the first autographed copy. Later Lauter and I parted company over quality. The political-minded academics did not care if writing was good as long as it furthered their goals of exposing inequalities of race, sex, and class in the dominant society. To make this clear to you, Mike, I was the editor of the 1820-1865 section of THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, the one the Heath anthology was trying to dislodge. As it turned out, they co-exist comfortably.
“Cathy Davidson knew that my biography would contain new episodes of Melville's life based upon my archival researches--sometimes startling news, such as the new letters about Melville's completing THE ISLE OF THE CROSS. There had been NO such biography since the documentary collection THE MELVILLE LOG in 1951. I assume that Davidson was afraid my biography might contain so much exciting new material that people would want to work on Melville and other ‘great’ writers just when she was determined to direct AMERICAN LITERATURE away from the study of ‘great’ or ‘major’ writers and to open it up to much greater emphasis on women and minorities regardless of quality.
“In fact, Davidson and Lauter were not wanting to open the canon wide--they all but excluded Midwestern writers and excluded most southern writers and excluded whole categories such as books in which characters wrestled with religious ideas. I protested about their not really being open about opening! They made Greatness a very dirty word, and everyone understood that I stood for greatness as the main criterion for inclusion in an anthology. There had been a big forum at the 1990 Chicago Modern Language Association meeting in which the main speakers were Lauter and me. I talked about my own part-Choctaw and part-Cherokee ancestry and said I did not need to read fourth rate poetry by a part-Cherokee cousin of mine in order to feel good about myself. I gained self esteem from understanding Shakespeare even though he was not part-Cherokee or part-Choctaw. That is, I explicitly rejected portraying myself as victim. The article I published from that speech, ‘The Price of Diversity,’ is for sale online, I see.
“Anyhow what I am trying to clear up is that Cathy Davidson had a lot invested in trying to stop my biography. I threatened her fight against greatness and her fight to minimize the writers who had been treated as great. I talked about what she was doing at the 92nd St Y in NYC in January 1996, where the reporter Phil Weiss heard me and wrote a big article in the NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE 15 Dec. 1996 which starts off about AMERICAN LITERATURE under Davidson. She saw a major biography of the biggest figure of the period as a threat to her attempt to deny the significance of aesthetic value in literature. What counted was race, class, gender, not great literary genius. See how this fits into what I wrote about the consistent attempt since the 1940s to minimize the author and promote the critic. The reason I got pummeled so much was that I consistently was interested in great creative genius. Talk about someone dangerous!
“You need to see Cathy Davidson in relation to what had been getting worse since the late 1940s, the abandonment of research, the increasing exaltation of the Critic to the position of power in literary studies, the repudiation of the idea that we would want to spend our time on ‘great’ writers.
“Does this make things clearer?”
It’s even clearer to me that what passes for progress in higher education often is bad instead of good!
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.