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Phantom Call

Former Williams professor KC Johnson has a brutal takedown of former Williams professor Grant Farred.

Grant Farred, an associate professor of literature, is one of the few Group of 88 members with any connection to athletics. He coached JV soccer at Williams College, and published a book on race and the globalization of the NBA entitled Phantom Calls.

Do we have any readers who were coached by Farred? I don’t recall junior professors doing any coaching back in the day. I don’t know of any coaching now. Am I missing something? How did an assistant English professor end up coaching soccer? Also, how was Farred as a professor back in the day? Does FacTrak go back that far?

In one sense, Farred’s musings might be dismissed as little more than an example of academic writing at its most absurd. In another sense, however, they reveal a mind preconditioned to see racism everywhere, even where it clearly doesn’t exist. This is, after all, a professor who produced a 95-page essay claiming that something that occurs every day in the NBA–a coach complaining about fouls called on his best player–actually showed how the “NBA is once again fraught with the ghostly presence of race, now refracted through the Asian body.” (p. 15)

A few days before the election, Farred published a Herald-Sun op-ed that demonstrated the same level of intellectual quality evident in Phantom Calls. The theme: the “secret racism” (sound familiar?) underlying the lacrosse case.

Farred could not hide his intense dislike for the lacrosse players. He denounced–without citing any evidence–“the lacrosse team’s reputed tendency toward arrogant sexual prowess.” (Imagine the appropriate outrage if a professor had made such a generic claim about, say, his African-American students.) He asserted that the team had a “criminal history.” (Yes, according to the Coleman Committee report: the same “criminal history” of hundreds of other Duke students who had alcohol-related violations.)

Read the whole thing. KC has done amazing work on the Duke False Rape Accusation case, perhaps the most notable miscarriage of justice associated with elite education in the last decade. His blog on the topic has probably been read by tens of thousands of people in the last year. Now, number of readers are not a great measure of quality [As EphBlog can attest? — ed.], but there is no denying the impact that KC has had on this topic. Remind me again why he isn’t at Williams anymore . . .