Friday, July 3, 2015

Godot Takes a Bow

The first plagiarist whose wares the Cabinet displayed on its shelves, and the last one to have escaped all consequences for his actions, has at long last been caught out.  As of this week, Arizona State University's directory pages quietly list Professor Matthew Whitaker not as a Foundation Professor, nor even as a professor.  Instead, he is now that most thwarted of academic beasts, an associate professor.  The directory also, after some rapid back and forth, has revealed that a co-director will be appointed for the Center of the Study of Race and Democracy, which until now has been most assertively Professor Whitaker's sole domain. The Cabinet was at first tempted to use words such as "belated," and to ask wearily whether those who have been publicly accused of debased motives for pointing out Professor Whitaker's serial misconduct, will receive apologies. But there is no point to recriminations.  And make no mistake: this is a sharp and heavy blow.  For years, Professor Whitaker deflected all consequences for his misconduct onto the very people who sought to reveal it.  And then, at last, he no longer could.

What in the end made the difference?  ASU is a public university and  must follow rules of disclosure, despite the wishes of some to stonewall and even menace those who ask for public documents. At least some of the facts will soon come out. And it is in the University's interest that they do. By sharply penalizing Professor Whitaker, ASU has taken a great risk.  It's chosen justice over the appearance of justice, which is never a safe play. Professor Whitaker has been assiduous in claiming the mantle of Phoenix' moral guardian, and it surely cannot be ripped from him in this fashion without those who remove it being accused of their own debased motivations. (The Cabinet will take no pleasure in others facing the opprobrium its shelf-stockers have known.)  ASU may also have displeased corporate sponsors such as APS, to whom Professor Whitaker was far more valuable as Foundation Professor, than as, well, you know.   Buck up, ASU!  The little Cabinet stands ready to offer what comfort it can to the bright and shiny New American Behemoth. You're welcome!
Now, other than looking into the basis for the university's decisions, there seems only one last observation to make.  It appears painfully evident that  Professor Whitaker was knowingly facing disciplinary proceedings while he pursued a $268,800 no-bid contract to teach police officers how to do their jobs with integrity. In the City Council and Mayor's discussion of their decision to award the contract in such haste and without competition, Matthew Whitaker's good standing as an ASU Foundation Professor was repeatedly cited as essential.   So, the City has more or less hired someone who suppressed evidence and misled the community, to train police officers how not to abuse their authority.  Is it possible to die of irony?    No? Everyone still here?  All right, then.  It appears all shall be well. We'll post more if something of use to academic or public integrity comes forth.  If not, the Cabinet will happily dim its lights until some new exhibit comes to town.


  1. I think ASU is engaging here in what during Watergate became termed as a "modified limited hangout." Admit to some vague form of wrong doing (but not what you've been accused of), accept a lesser penalty, and hope enough people are satisfied with the lumps you've taken the whole thing quietly goes away.


    on the editorial board of three journals, endowed chair in sikh studies, many journal issues dedicated to his book, but he even plagiarized his response to the critics!