Sometimes a reader comes upon a story that reveals more of themself than the subject being examined. And after reflecting on the link referenced below, one of my own failings was made apparent. That is no matter the length of exposure, I am simply unable to acclimate to the thin air above a certain altitude of hypocrisy. That the West’s open-bordered canopy now consistently hovers over Everest is thus a matter of some inconvenience.
This realization was prompted by a piece in USA Today by a Doug Maceachern. He being a writer either too naive or obtuse to realize that the absolute last profession where one may make overt displays of curiosity is journalism. So before Mr. Maceachern commences his career in landscaping, here is the question he posed.
Where has the Duke “noose” story gone?
In the middle of last week, the story of a yellow-rope noose found hanging from a tree in a commons area of the Durham, N.C., university’s campus was roiling from coast to coast. And across the coast. It was an enormous story. And considering the how racial nerves continue to be frayed, post-Ferguson, the news interest was obvious.
In terms of coverage, the media at first let no one down. It was everywhere, including follow-up stories to the original reporting describing efforts to address the seemingly pervasive problem of campus racism. The story was depressing in its familiarity and coverage was everywhere, on every angle.
Until it wasn’t any more. The noose was discovered about 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. By Thursday afternoon, the university had collected enough evidence about who did it that officials were able to announce that a student had been identified and had admitted to the act.
Citing confidentiality issues, the university refused to identify who the student was, other than to say the student was no longer on campus. Not everyone is buying that “confidentiality” line. But, notably, every major national news outlet that is no longer publishing “Duke noose” stories — which includes, basically, every national news outlet — seems to be accepting the university’s rationale for silence.
The burst of news and commentary came to an end by Friday. Interest in the story has fallen off a cliff. A Nexis search of stories with the words Duke” and “noose” published between April 3 and today turns up little more than news briefs parenthetically mentioning what we already knew.
Now, it may be that one of the news organizations that have blanketed the Duke noose story is digging feverishly into a story about who the confessed perp is. They may be crossing the “ts” at this moment, laboring to get a sensitive story right while anxiously looking over their shoulders to see if their competitors have beaten them to the punch. That’s the news business. The race to break a big story.
Only that doesn’t seem to be happening. Since before the weekend, the churn of outraged commentary has flattened, pond-still. That doesn’t happen with a story that news organizations are excited about telling before their competitors do.
The identity of the person who hung a noose in the middle of the night on the Duke University campus is of obvious and undeniable interest. If it is, in fact, a White student — especially one who may have left a trail of racism prior to hanging the noose — then that conceivably would validate much of the concern raised about the Black experience on campuses like Duke.
From the day the noose was discovered, Duke administrators made it clear they were determined to track down the perpetrator, whose intent they knew to be creating racial strife on campus. Said vice president for student affairs Larry Moneta: “To whomever committed this hateful and stupid act, I just want to say that if your intent was to create fear, it will have the opposite effect.”
Until the perpetrator is identified, all that fear remains. The administration, the news media — both local and national — all have a compelling interest in identifying who this person is. But they are showing no interest in doing so any more. Why?
Why indeed? I’m afraid that’s a question that can only be answered by every cat, canary, and senile grandmother. So, by established precedent, when a matter of racial incitement occurs on an American campus the acknowledged perpetrator is permitted to quietly decamp under a cloak of anonymity. I mean, students have rights and universities have responsibilities. A president can’t simply ignore due process for his own preening photo ops.
But that’s not entirely true, is it? My God, this was an act of pure HATE, as described explicitly by the administration. So we patiently await the now regimented series of events:
Identification of the civil rights assailant
Sententious public denunciations
University presidents and football coaches linking arms in marches of courageous solidarity
Legally waivered death threats and private residence encampments
Abject mea culpas and ritualized self-abasement
Finally, we proceed to the criminal penalties. Which, I will note, we just goddamn clearly established you fruit flies. Mr. Holder, please describe your view of nooses on campus:
“This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values.”
Exactly. And who else is more aligned with “our” values than Eric Holder? So what is the Justice Department’s (sic) response to this heinous crime against the inanimate?
The FBI and the University of Mississippi are continuing the investigation, while the Department of Justice’s civil rights branch will be prosecuting those involved.
He will be charged with conspiracy to violate civil rights in a “flagrant” move to intimidate students of color.
My lawn jockey feels safer already. So please keep the country advised of your department’s investigation into the Duke noose hanging. We must allow this bigot no respite. Our values depend on it.