Dry rot in Durham

Thomas Sowell:

It has now become more and more obvious, even to some people who initially believed the "rape" charges against Duke University students, that there was never a speck of evidence to support the charges and a growing amount of evidence to the contrary.

However reprehensible District Attorney Nifong's words and actions have been throughout this case, it would be a serious mistake to see in this tawdry episode just the vileness of one man.

The larger tragedy is what this case revealed about the degeneration of our times and the hollowness of so many people in "responsible" positions in the media, in academia, and among those blacks so consumed by racial resentments and thirst for revenge that they are prepared to lash out at individuals who have done nothing to them and are guilty of no crime against anybody.

The haste and vehemence with which scores of Duke University professors publicly took sides against the students in this case is just one sign of how deep the moral dry rot goes, in even our most prestigious institutions.

The January 29th issue of The Weekly Standard has a devastating article about the lynch mob atmosphere created, not only by the Duke University faculty and administration, but also by writers for such "respectable" publications as the New York Times and the Washington Post, not to mention a professor of law at the University of Southern California and a former president of Princeton.

We have become a society easily stampeded, even by the unsubstantiated, inconsistent and mutually contradictory statements of a woman with a criminal record.

All it takes is something that invokes the new holy trinity of the intelligentsia -- "race, class and gender." The story of a black woman gang-raped by white men fit the theme so compellingly that much of the media had no time to waste trying to find out if it was true before going ballistic.

...

The current self-destructive misdirection of energies in black ghettoes cannot be explained by a "legacy of slavery" or "racism." For one thing, this level of self-destruction in black communities did not exist half a century ago, when racism was worse and the black population was generations closer to the era of slavery.

Moreover, a virtually identical pattern of self-destructive attitudes and behavior has been found among British lower-class whites, where none of this can be blamed on racism or a legacy of slavery. (See "Life at the Bottom" by Theodore Dalrymple.)

What the two self-destructive communities on opposite sides of the Atlantic have in common is hearing a steady diet of propaganda blaming all their problems on others, and depicting "society" as determined to keep them down, regardless of anything they might do to try to lift themselves up.

...

Race has become an excuse for failure and bad behavior by some. The victims of this conduct have generally been the blacks with this attitude who hold themselves back. In this case their lashing out against the "other" has made victims of some young white men, and they seem to care not at all about justice.

There were some courageous people at Duke who were also vilified by the lynch mob.

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