Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Open Letter to Liberals and Progressives

Dear Liberals and Progressives,

I want you to know that I think it's a very good idea to bring attention to the issues of misogyny, rape culture, still-present racism, class warfare, equal pay, and many other problems we still face today. As our nation and world moves forward into the 21st century, we need to understand that these issues don't just go away if we decide ignore it. We still have some big fights on our hands, and that's what I want to talk to you about.

You need to stop talking about the Duke Lacrosse case. Immediately.

I know that a lot of you immediately latched onto the story back in 2006. The story of the black stripper who was allegedly gang-raped by the Duke Lacrosse team had everything: sex, race, class, privilege. It seemed like a clear-cut case of white, male privilege run amok. It was a rallying cry to bring attention to the plight of rape victims on college campuses. (An issue that is still very relevant today.) It was also a chance to take a look at the continued mistreatment of black females in our culture. (Also still relevant today.)

But there's one problem in using the Duke Lacrosse case as your example of everything wrong with the world. The accuser lied. There was no rape. The three men arrested for the rape were falsely accused. The evidence all points to the accuser lying about everything. The district attorney, Mike Nifong, conspired to withhold exculpatory evidence and was disbarred for doing so. In other words, this is not the story of white male privilege you are looking for. (For more on this farce of a case, here is a summary: part 1, part 2, part 3)

I had hoped that this shameful incident of the media's rush to judgment, mob justice, and a corrupt DA would be left in the past. However, author William D. Cohan has decided to return to this poisoned well with his new book 'The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities.' And rather than do anything actually approaching accurate research, he started with the assumption that "something happened" and then proceeded to throw out accusations that had been thoroughly discredited years ago.

This kind of thing is not helping the cause. If you tie your narrative of misogyny and white male privilege to this story, it undercuts your credibility. Because when your assertions about the Duke case are debunked, so too will your claims about all the present day threats facing women, minorities, and the lower classes.

How are we supposed to believe you about today's students getting away with rape on college campuses when you can't even be trusted with the facts about the Duke Lacross case? In fact, this is the kind of thing that your critics will pounce on, and they will use it to prove that you are full of it with all this talk about white male privilege. You are handing ammunition to the opposition.

Look, I understand that it's hard to admit that you were wrong about this one. The people you thought were the bad guys were actually the victims. It's hard to swallow your pride like that, but you need to. Otherwise, your continued support of a discredited narrative will be used against you and the people you are trying to help. 

Progressively yours,

Charles B. French

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