Professor who found noose on her door is found guilty of plagiarism

(See my below exchange with a correspondent who says this blog entry is bigoted.)

Last October I wrote:

A noose is found hanging from the office door of a black female professor at Columbia University Teachers College. The usual ritualized shock is expressed, a demonstration is held, the NYC Police Department Hate Crimes unit launches an investigation. And all this happens without any reference to the endless series of previous claims of anti-black hate crimes of this nature which turned out to be faked by the alleged victim…. [G]iven the history of fake charges I’ve just referred to, there is an immediate reasonable suspicion that this too is a fake.

Ten days ago President Bush, speaking at the White House in honor of “Black History Month,” denounced the recent noose incidents as a sign of “gross injustice” in America. In the audience nodding in pleasure at the president’s remarks was Al Sharpton, the race hustler who 20 years ago orchestated Tawana Brawley’s charge that prosecutor Steven Pagones and several other white man had kidnapped her, raped her for several days, scrawled racist slogans on her body, and left her in a garbage bag covered in feces. The charge, which held New York State captive for a year and was then exposed as a total fraud, was the biggest single race hoax in America in modern times, and Sharpton, though found liable of slandering Steven Pagones, has never repented of his role in it. Thus President Bush not only invited the most famous racism-hoaxer in America to the White House, but, speaking to an audience that included that hoaxer, put his personal seal of approval on the recent noose claims, including the one at Columbia.

Yesterday Columbia University Teachers College announced that it had determined, after an 18 month investigation, that Madonna Constantine, the professor who had said a noose had been left on her door, had extensively plagiarized the work of another professor and two students, and that she will be punished for it. The school had previously offered not to publicize the plagiarism findings if Constanine would resign, and she refused. Constantine made the noose claim right in the middle of the plagiarism investigation when she evidently realized it was going south for her. And now Constantine and her lawyer are claming that the plagiarism charge is an attempt by the school—the most famously liberal institution in American education—to victimize her as a black woman. The New York Times article is below. But first see the photo of Madonna Constantine:


If you asked an artist to come up with the face of an entitled, full of herself, permanently angry, victimization-claiming black woman, he couldn’t do better than this. And white Americans think that the election of a “nice” black man as president will make the Madonna Constantines of the world go away! How could that happen, when he is married to one of them?

Here is a slightly abridged version of the Times article:

Columbia Cites Plagiarism by a Professor
by Karen W. Arenson and Elissa Gootman

A professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College who was propelled into the national spotlight when a noose was found on her office door last fall has been found to have plagiarized the work of a former colleague and two former students, the college has announced.

The college, in statements to the faculty and the news media, said an 18-month investigation into charges against the professor, Madonna G. Constantine, had determined there were “numerous instances in which she used others’ work without attribution in papers she published in academic journals over the past five years.” …

The college said Dr. Constantine was being penalized, but did not say what the penalty was….

Dr. Constantine, in an e-mail message to faculty and students on Wednesday, called the investigation “biased and flawed,” and said it was part of a “conspiracy and witch hunt by certain current and former members of the Teachers College community.”

“I am left to wonder whether a white faculty member would have been treated in such a publicly disrespectful and disparaging manner,” she wrote.

She added, “I believe that nothing that has happened to me this year is coincidental, particularly when I reflect upon the hate crime I experienced last semester involving a noose on my office door. As one of only two tenured black women full professors at Teachers College, it pains me to conclude that I have been specifically and systematically targeted.”

Dr. Constantine’s lawyer, Paul J. Giacomo Jr., who made Dr. Constantine’s e-mail message available, said in an interview that his client was the one whose work had been plagiarized, and that she would appeal to the college’s faculty advisory committee….

Dr. Constantine, a professor of psychology and education who specializes in the study of how race and racial prejudice can affect clinical and educational dynamics, came to Teachers College in 1998 as an associate professor and earned tenure in 2001.

In 2006, the chairman of Dr. Constantine’s department, Suniya S. Luthar, passed along to administrators complaints that Dr. Constantine had unfairly used portions of writings by a junior colleague, Christine Yeh, as well as a number of students, Dr. Luthar said in an interview. Teachers College eventually asked Hughes Hubbard & Reed, a law firm, to investigate.

Dr. Yeh, who is now at the University of San Francisco, said in an interview Wednesday that she had left Teachers College in part because of her differences with Dr. Constantine. She called the college’s determination that there had been plagiarism “an important first step.”

“I’m really hopeful other people will come forward now,” she said. “When the initial charges were made, there were many students involved who didn’t feel they could follow up. They were too scared, and they were afraid of retribution.”

Dr. Yeh said that some of her work that had been copied concerned “indigenous healing,” or alternative methods, like acupuncture and Santeria, of dealing with medical and spiritual ailments. She said she has specialized in that subject for years.

Mr. Giacomo said that he and his client met with lawyers from Hughes Hubbard in August and that Dr. Constantine was confronted with 36 passages from her work, and similar passages from the work of others, mostly Dr. Yeh’s. He said Dr. Constantine had subsequently submitted documentation showing that the passages were her own “original work,” and “related back to prior works she had done.”

“We thought that was the end of story; we thought there was no way that they could overlook the documentation that we had presented,” he said.

In October, a noose was found on Dr. Constantine’s office door, prompting the police investigation and student protests at Teachers College, which cherishes its image as a bastion of multiculturalism. In January, Mr. Giacomo said, the college’s president and provost told Dr. Constantine that the investigation into her writings had concluded that she had used the works of others without attribution, but that if she agreed to resign, the report would not be publicized.

Mr. Giacomo said that despite objections and further documentation, the college did not change its position. He said he now considered it “not a stretch of the imagination” to suspect the noose was “an additional way of intimidating my client.”

When told of these comments, Ms. Horowitz, the spokeswoman for the college, said, “Accusations that the college had anything to do with hanging the noose are totally absurd and totally untrue.”

Dr. Luthar said that any suggestion that the inquiry was about race was “misguided and wrongheaded at best,” noting that she herself is “a woman of color,” as is Dr. Yeh.

The college, in its statement, said that Hughes Hubbard had “concluded that Professor Constantine’s explanation for the strikingly similar language was not credible.”

“In total, the investigators found a real pattern—two dozen instances of similar language from these three individuals,” added Ms. Horowitz, the spokeswoman for the college.

- end of initial entry -

A correspondent writes:

You sound like a bigot, you are driving people away, and the people you do attract will be bigots who want to see blacks put down at every point. You have long strayed from conscientiously putting forth the hard news about differences etc. You are indulging low dark prejudices.

LA replies:

My description of Constantine is: “entitled, full of herself, permanently angry, victimization-claiming black woman.” Are you saying that the type doesn’t exist? I have recently described Michelle Obama in precisely those terms, and you didn’t complain. Even the mainstream conservatives like Michelle Malkin and Powerline are appalled at Michelle O.’s narcissism and resentment at America.

Correspondent writes:

Leaping immediately from this woman to Michelle Obama is not warranted. It bespeaks someone on the lookout for black shortcomings to take down a black rising to prominence. What Michelle Obama has said is not equal to this woman and her specific dishonest doings. I am really and truly sick of this kind of thing coming from you.

LA replies:

You are not getting it. Read the entry where I discuss Michelle’s Milwaukee speech with her endless claims that a mysterious “they” are victimizing her husband, “raising the bar” on him no matter how well he does. Read the part where she says that after Iowa, “they” raised the bar on him again, when in reality the world was falling at his feet.

So here’s the truth:

Michelle Obama lives in a continuing fantasy of racial victimization (imagining that the world is putting her husband down when in reality it is deifying him).

Madonna Constantine lives in a continuing fantasy of racial victimization, thinking that the ultra left-wing Columbia University Teacher’s College is seeking to harm her and destroy her reputation because she is black.

And the same is true of many, many blacks.

That’s what I said in today’s blog entry, and it is a true statement.

You write:

“It bespeaks someone on the lookout for black shortcomings to take down a black rising to prominence.”

That is what is always said about people who speak non-liberal truths, that they are projecting their sick prejudices onto the world. In reality, I’m not on the lookout for something. I’m responding to and trying to make sense of the world as it is presenting itself to me. I did not create Michelle Obama. I did not create Madonna Constantine. Observing and thinking about the various people and phenomena the world presents to us results eventually in our making generalizations about those people and phenomena. Liberalism, which is closely allied with nominalism, bans all such generalizations as prejudice.

LA continues:

It’s too bad you didn’t see Michelle O.’s Milwaukee speech. If you had, you would understand that I am not drawing unfair comparisons. I was not saying that Mrs. Obama makes up noose stories. But her claim of the “bar being raised” on her husband after his Iowa victory was irrefutable evidence that she lives in a self-righteous, victimological fantasy world, as so many blacks, including Constantine, do. Are you saying that this is not true, and that it is not a legitimate subject?

Van Wijk writes:

In light of all the recent talks about blacks’ attitudes towards whites, I found a picture that is quite revealing. It shows the disgraced liar Mike Nifong, of Duke Lacrosse infamy, being released from jail. In spite of all the evidence against him and his own admitted guilt, a black woman extends her hand to the liar, her other hand holding a sign that says:

“We believe in your integrity and goodness.”

[To see the photo go to this page. And here is another account of the incident.]

Blacks support Nifong simply because he prosecuted whites on a black’s behalf. The truth never enters the equation.

I’m left wondering if the truth has ever really mattered to blacks, or if they’ve always had this amoral tribal mentality.

LA replies:

My previous correspondent would probably say that Van Wijk’s comment is bigoted. But consider that Nifong himself had admitted his concealing of the exculpatory evidence, that the accuser was a certified liar and so on. Yet this black woman was still defending Nifong. By “integrity” and “goodness” she meant “anti-white.”

Then remember the reaction of black America to the O.J. Simpson acquital, the ecstasy and joy that was expressed in openly racial terms, as though Simpson, who was always popular with whites, had been singled out and framed by whites. Only a person bent out of shape by anti-white animus could believe that. That event should have altered forever white America’s view of black America, but the media went into overdrive relativizing the black response and the white response, and the moment of awakening that might have been was aborted. The truth remains that racial animus and desire for racial revenge lie just below the surface of black america, when they are not right on the surface. These things should be remembered when people contemplate the election of Obama.

Which is why I’m hoping that Hillary Clinton can make a come-back.

Alan Levine writes:

Your diagnosis of Madonna Constantine’s personality defects—I am being gentlemanly—seems dead on—but how can you tell it from her FACE? It just seems bland to me.

In a related vein, I have read your remarks about Michelle Obama and think you are overanalyzing what is arguably normal political hot air and a wife’s exaggerations in support of her husband. She may be every bit as bad as you say, but I do not think you have supplied solid evidence. I confess I am troubled by some of what you and others say about the hostile personalities of black women in general, as this does not accord with my experience. Those I have met do not seem more hostile than other New York women, at any rate.

LA replies:

You write: “You are overanalyzing what is arguably normal political hot air and a wife’s exaggerations in support of her husband.”

Are you serious? Did you see her Milwaukee speech, which I have described? Have you ever seen the wife of a leading presidential candidate give a long speech charging that sinister forces were out to drag down her husband no matter how hard he tried? Have you ever seen the wife of a leading presidential candidate describe American life as an epic of misery and oppression, where “they” are constantly moving the bar, so that no one can get ahead no matter how hard he tries? Have you ever seen the wife of a leading presidential candidate say that she’s never felt proud of America in her entire adult life until her husband became a leading presidential candidate?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 21, 2008 10:32 AM | Send

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