Blogs > Cliopatria > Additionally Noted

Apr 4, 2006 9:30 am


Additionally Noted



My friend, Scott Eric Kaufman, at Acephalous wants to create a comprehensive list of"best introductions" to literature from the ancient world to the present. I'd appreciate it if you would go over and help him out, because he's trying to guilt me for not yet having linked to him.

Karen Reeds in Penn's History and Sociology of Science Program recommends UC, Berkeley's online Jan Kozak Collection: Historical Earthquakes, 875 slides depicting the aftermath of earthquakes around the world. Here, for instance, is its collection of visual images of the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

I haven't seen much attention to the publication of Christopher Waldrep and Michael Bellesiles, eds., Documenting American Violence: A Sourcebook (NY: Oxford University Press, 2006). Its jacket identifies Michael as the editor of Lethal Imagination: Violence and Brutality in American History (NY: New York University Press, 1999), but there's no mention of Arming America.

Ben Brumfield at Horizon and the folks at Wikipedia need some help from the military and naval historians among us. Did the Texas Revolution feature the first use of a steamboat in warfare?

Fareed Zakaria,"To Become an America," Washington Post, 4 April, is as fine an op-ed on the immigration to the United States as I've seen anywhere.

The United States has a real problem with flows of illegal immigrants, largely from Mexico (70 percent of illegal immigrants are from that one country). But let us understand the forces at work here."The income gap between the United States and Mexico is the largest between any two contiguous countries in the world," writes Stanford historian David Kennedy. That huge disparity is producing massive demand in the United States and massive supply from Mexico and Central America. Whenever governments try to come between these two forces -- think of drugs -- simply increasing enforcement does not work. Tighter border control is an excellent idea, but to work, it will have to be coupled with some recognition of the laws of supply and demand -- that is, it will have to include expansion of the legal immigrant pool.
Read the whole thing.

Jonathan Dresner,"The Other Apprentice," Frog in a Well, 3 April, reviews Lewis"Scooter" Libby's The Apprentice. Of course, Libby's got more pressing issues than merely being a bad novelist.

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries notes that my friend, Houston Baker, who edits American Literature and holds an endowed chair at Duke, calls for the immediate dismissal of the coaches and members of the University's lacrosse team. Yes, as she says, Houston's letter is"pompous" and"overlong," but it has a moral clarity that the administration's attitude toward inebriate/athlete/student culture there misses.

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Ralph E. Luker - 4/5/2006

I suspect that you're right about that, Chris. I admit to being less of a libertarian than you are and I do think that the University should avoid breach of contract claims. We do know, however, that in certain cases (i.e., speech codes and graduate student union organizing) a private institution has latitude to act that differs from that in a public institution. Due process at a private institution might not be the same as it is in civil courts. I don't know how the current student conduct code at Duke reads. I do hope that the University community will take this opportunity for serious reflection on what being a student at Duke means for conduct. Currently, there seems to be a considerable gap between faculty expectations of "political correctness" and student perceptions that there are few, if any, limits to behavior.


Chris Lawrence - 4/5/2006

I think any action beyond the existing student conduct guidelines would open the university up to some serious civil liability.

I expect the university will be better able to act when/if the DA can show probable cause before a grand jury and has some specific charges, rather than "46 people who may or may not have been at the party don't have anything to tell me while I'm hanging every crime in the book over their heads and had the temerity to hire attorneys." Of course, to get to that point, Nifong is going to have to find the political will to stand up to the community and immunize witnesses from the obstruction and aiding and abetting charges (because he basically has no rape case without that testimony).

Incidentally, the term "immediate dismissal" would seem to be the opposite of "due process," something that Baker is rightly slapped down for in Peter Lange's letter of response. Case in point: I wonder how he would feel if a tenured Duke faculty member was immediately dismissed based on allegations that he or she might have had some vague involvement in a serious crime to placate community pressure on the institution.


Ralph E. Luker - 4/4/2006

Michael, Do you assume that the word "immediate," in Houston Baker's mind, precludes the importance of an internal investigation that might result in expulsions? If an internal investigation concluded that the refusal of team members to tell the police what they know of the events, it would be sufficient evidence of "aiding and abetting." The distinction between the prerogatives of private and public institutions has become quite clear in matters such as "speech codes" and graduate student labor organizing. It isn't clear to me that students in private institutions have the full range of civil rights (the right not to incriminate one's self, the assumption of innocent until proven guilty, for examples) that they would have in public institutions.


Michael R. Davidson - 4/4/2006

Baker's precise words:

"Surely the answer to the question must come in the form of immediate dismissals of those principally responsible for the horrors of this spring moment at Duke. Coaches of the lacrosse team, the team itself and its players, and any other agents who silenced or lied about the real nature of events at 610 Buchanan on the evening of March 13, 2006."


Ralph E. Luker - 4/4/2006

No. He's saying that, at a private institution, there can be an internal investigation that does not have to await on the public courts -- with their political calculations (the DA is running for re-election; he's white; he has one white and one black opponent in a May primary). Expulsions based on an internal inquiry alone might seem to be high-handed; but the administration has allowed the inebriate/athlete/student culture at Duke to deteriorate to this point and it may need to do something high-handed to demonstrate that there is a line -- even if it's drawn in sand.


Scott Eric Kaufman - 4/4/2006

No sir, just ensuring you don't mistake me for spam.


Robert KC Johnson - 4/4/2006

I agree with Soltan on Baker's letter. Essentially, he's saying that students can be "dismissed" from school solely on the basis of an accusation. That's not a thoughtful position.

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