Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lorem Ipsum

In its public-spirited way, the Cabinet would like to help ASU's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy spread the word of a visitor whom it is bringing to campus to help conduct a "community conversation."  Dr. Jeremy Levitt, late -- and briefly -- of the University of New Brunswick -- will engage in a "straightforward exchange of ideas and dialogue" that "will keep the spirit of honesty and healing alive."  In the spirit of honesty, shall we introduce him?

In the CSRD's distinctive prose, the reason for the forum is this: "In order for freedom and justice to flourish and expand, especially with regard to the relationship between law enforcement and Black Americans, their failures and potential must be understood and explained in an accessible and solutions-based manner."  We are all for freedom and justice.  Being not that bright, we are also happy to have "their failures and potential" "explained" to us in an "accessible" manner.   The Cabinet is  prone to explaining things, itself, and we sincerely know the things we explain matter less than law enforcement abuse.  (#plagiarismmatterssortof, we whisper to ourselves as we fall asleep.) But who is it helping Dr. Whitaker lead us in dialog? Dr. Jeremy Levitt, former dean of the Law School at University of New Brunswick and former Associate Dean at the law school of Florida A & M. Among Dr. Levitt's qualifications are the fact that he co-edits a series at the University of Nebraska Press with Dr. Whitaker, co-edited a book within that series with Dr. Whitaker, and offers a glowing account of Dr. Whitaker's oft-questioned latest University of Nebraska press volume, on Amazon.  (Amazon wingman, who even knew that was a thing?)  As for all those "former" positions: Dr. Levitt was the dean at Brunswick for less than six months.  He voluntarily resigned last  week, in the wake of an investigation into charges of harassment brought by the teachers' union associated with the law school.  (That frees up time for a visit to ASU, nicely.)  Next year, Dr. Levitt will return to Florida A & M where, happily, one of the lawsuits brought by a former colleague against him was recently dismissed.  Congrats!  A second lawsuit against Dr. Levitt, brought by a second colleague, is ongoing, but optimism reigns that  its inappropriateness will soon be "understood and explained in an accessible and solutions-based manner."  As for suggestions that Dr. Levitt is also the "associate dean" accused of "abuse of power" in a 2013 American Bar Association report about Florida A & M's law school, and that he contributed to an "'inhospitable climate' for gays, lesbians, and women,"  who really knows?   And after all, Dr. Whitaker himself pointed out in a 2005 Arizona Republic editorial that gays and lesbians can simply pass as straight if they wish to be treated fairly. In his words, "It is necessary (not adversarial) to acknowledge that whether they do so or not, gays and lesbians can choose not to lay bare their orientation to avoid discrimination that might thwart their socioeconomic progress."   Hostile environment?  Get an umbrella.  Dr. Whitaker has explained it to you in an accessible and solutions based manner. 

Why did Professor Whitaker feel it helpful to offer that pronouncement in 2005?  What would he say, more expediently, now? And why has he chosen Dr. Levitt, of all people interested in the most essential topic of the year, for the upcoming "community conversation?" Who knows, really.  Moral guidance and opprobrium have long been the coins of Dr. Whitaker's unusual realm, and ASU for its own purposes has helped him mint them.  Is the coin counterfeit? In the "spirit of honesty and healing,"  the Cabinet leaves it to readers to decide.

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