Victor Davis Hanson

The same ancient pattern of arrogance and retribution appears in the case of the Duke lacrosse team. Three Duke players were unjustly accused of rape and sexual offense by an African-American stripper. Local district attorney Mike Nifong, some of the Duke humanities faculty, the Duke University president, and the ubiquitous race hustlers Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton all swarmed on a perfect scandal for political advantage and self-promoting sermonizing.

After all, beer-drinking, rich white lacrosse athletes were supposedly brutalizing a poor woman of color, forced by her poverty to submit to them sexually.

Despite no evidence, the accused students were charged with felonies. The coach is long gone, and the entire team was disbanded for the year.

The academic mob added its own rush-to-judgment easy condemnations. Then Nifong won re-election as a populist crusader against supposedly racist preppie sex-offenders. Seemingly ignoring evidence that the victim was making the charges up, this lynch mob went headlong into mad excess.

Then, wham, Nemesis hit them, too.

Now these false accusers are getting their long-awaited due. The past anti-Semitism of Jackson ("hymietown") and Sharpton ("diamond merchants") is finally being broadcast nightly. Both preachers scramble to get on TV - only to be cross-examined as never before as they try in vain to explain away their own past bigoted slurs.

Meanwhile, Duke University, its president, and many of the liberal arts faculty - the latter in public statements and letters repeatedly tried and convicted those wrongly accused on rumor and false evidence - appear not just as opportunists, but mean-spirited ones at that.

Nifong now faces possible disbarment and civil suits. What saves the stripper who concocted all this from the fate of Scooter Libby is that her stories are so preposterous that so far she is thought to be a delusional victim rather than a perjurer deserving of a prison sentence.

At the heart of both the Imus and Duke scandals is arrogance. Overweening conceit inevitably led bigheads like Imus, Nifong, Sharpton, Jackson and many at Duke University to go one step too far - and thus at last earn their just deserts.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.