As I’ve watched things appear on Durham-in-Wonderland lately I’ve been thinking that KC Johnson must finally be running out of material. Tonight’s post seemed to be more of the same, another episode in his recent fixation with Wahneema Lubiano, apropos of nothing. But then he totally outdoes himself by tacking on an impressive bit of third-hand scurrilous gossip.
It comes by way of Bill Anderson, based on “a conversation with a prominent Duke faculty member the other day.” According to Anderson this source heard Karla Holloway express a continued belief in the guilt of the three indicted lacrosse players, and she supposedly followed the claim up with some nonsense about “guilt as a social construct.” A long time ago I wrote that criticism flowed in and out of DIW like gossip, but this is ridiculous.
[Update: I’ve just received an email from Karla Holloway. In it, she says that Anderson’s claim is “an absolute and patent falsehood,” that he’s “reporting a conversation that could never have taken place” and that it “misrepresents [her] views.”]
It isn’t the first time that Anderson has claimed to be privy to the inside scoop on Holloway, either. He floated a rumor a couple of years ago (more recently, I’m sorry to say, he slipped it into my blog, too) that she “fixed” a sexual assault charge against a colleague. The two rumors are quite a combo—they make Holloway out to be an ultra dogmatic leftist feminist who’s also an utter hypocrite. Stranger things have happened, so I won’t claim it’s impossible. I don’t find either the new or the old claim to be credible. Even if I did, I can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would circulate such a story as hearsay.
I’ve had some long go-rounds with Bill Anderson. He can seem like a reasonably intelligent, thoughtful, and even gracious person at times. He’s also capable of passing wild judgments on the people he sees as ideological enemies, and of convincing himself that they’ve thought or said things that he’s in no position to know. The most jaw-dropping example I know of is a wild post on the Liestoppers forum last July, asserting, based on his understanding of the way those kind of people think, that local African American leaders had a supremely callous attitude towards the murder of Eve Carson.
Let us be honest here. There is a portion of Durham—and that includes Irving Joyner—that has an underlying approval for what was done to Eve Carson. I am not saying that Joyner approved of her murder, but he has said nothing that goes to the heart of the situation. He sees himself as a guardian of African-Americans in Durham, and I would not be surprised if he was hoping for an act of jury nullification so Atwater and Lovette could be set free.
Let us not forget that Joyner, McSurely, and the NAACP held that the biggest threat to Durham was the Duke lacrosse team. They desperately wanted these young men railroaded to prison, and in their minds, if Lovette and Atwater are acquitted despite the evidence against them, it will be a “fair trade” to the AA community for the lacrosse players not going to prison. Don’t kid yourself; this is how people like Joyner, Barber, and others think.
With respect to the latest claim about Holloway, Anderson assures us that his source “was not exaggerating, and he is an accomplished academic and not given to loose talk.” I don’t find that very reassuring.
There’s an update on KC Johnson’s post that registers the message I got from Karla Holloway. He also left a comment here, proving himself yet again to be a petty demogogue whose answer to any question or criticism is to point at someone else.
He starts the comment with a classic of sleazeball journalism à la O’Reilly—the “invitation” given out to someone whose been trashed, kindly allowing them to explain their side and get trashed some more. Then he takes up two questions I recently posed in a comment on the Duke Chronicle. True to form, he
has no real answer to the first one except packages his denial with the non sequitur suggestion that the “Group of 88” did worse things. On the second question, he points to the other guy (formerly the “towering figure”)—it’s his fault.
Q: Did Johnson end our exchange of comments on DIW with a moderator’s veto? A:
He doesn’t know He didn’t, “to the best of [his] knowledge,” but never mind that—the Group of 88 hasn’t defended anything they did, and Zimmerman is a public apologist for them.
Q: Why didn’t Johnson engage any critical reflection after Jim Coleman criticized him? A: It was up to Coleman, apparently, to translate the criticism into chapter and verse in DIW or UPI. Since he didn’t “corroborate his claims,” Johnson can do nothing but wonder why on earth would say such things.
Finally, he adds a paragraph about me, the messenger. In the lacrosse case, he says, the DA was trying to “railroad three innocent students at Prof. Zimmerman’s own institution. During the time those students were in harm’s way, Prof. Zimmerman… was silent about their fate, while 88 of his colleagues signed a public statement which… thanked protesters who had presumed the students’ guilt.” A year and a half ago I pointed out his habit of responding to challenges by pulling out that the formulaic indictment of the 88. He’s still at it. In this case it’s pure ad hominem—a lazy and cowardly response that discredits the messenger in order to deflect the message. And it’s especially effective with the thoughtless and bigoted.
Speaking of cowardly, his first order of business in the update on DIW is to pigeonhole me (“Group apologist Robert Zimmerman reports that he has received an email from Karla Holloway….”), but then he doesn’t have the guts to link to my post. It certainly calls for a link, and there’s even some bullshit in his comment here about public service I’m doing by revealing the (fictional) Group’s thinking. It won’t do them any good if they can’t find me.