New York Times reporter Richard Fausset used his slot in the lead National section Tuesday to dump guilt on Duke University in the name of racial and social justice for rejecting permission to use their land to aid an expensive light-rail project: “Opposition By College May Quash Rail Project – Some See Duke’s Veto As Insensitive to Poor.” The online headline emphasized emotion: Durham Dreamed of a Transit Line. Duke University All but Killed It.”
Anti-Duke, anti-“privilege” animus seeps through each sentence along with horror that a supposedly “progressive” (at least for the South) institution would fail to go along with a liberal public boondoggle.
Political leaders in one of the most progressive parts of the South have dreamed for two decades about an ambitious plan for a transit line connecting Durham, the home of Duke University, with nearby Chapel Hill. Funds were pledged and renderings were drawn.
But in recent days, Duke, which has labored to turn around its reputation as a privileged cloister, has brought the plan to a shrieking halt. It unilaterally rejected the proposed light-rail route, which would have cut across its property. And the resulting moral outrage has felt strong enough to power a train.
Fausset reprinted left-wing hysteria without comment.
Representative G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat, said he was “appalled” by the university’s decision. Wib Gulley, a former mayor of Durham, compared it to the moment when Duke called in the police “to gas and beat students” amid civil rights protests in 1969.
And Kevin Primus, a former manager of the Duke men’s basketball team, said the rejection of the light-rail plan justified the school’s reputation among some African-Americans like him, who still occasionally refer to it as “the plantation.”
Duke officials have said they are not opposed to light rail in general, only to this specific project. But the school’s liberal critics, many of them proud Duke graduates, sounded almost betrayed by the university’s opposition, seeing it as anathema to Duke’s call to “use knowledge in the service of society.”
How, these critics wondered, could one of the world’s greatest universities -- one that produced so many of the liberal intelligentsia who run the region -- be so dead set against a big, bold, green idea like a light-rail line?
(The Times lamented the loss of the ridiculous pipe-dream of high-speed rail in California as well.)
One reason why the paper might be so enthusiastic -- supporting the train is a convenient way to sign on to liberal identity politics.
They also envision the train as a social justice engine, offering cheap, reliable transportation to the working people who scrape by, cooking and cleaning for the legions of college students in the Research Triangle, the area that includes the two college towns and Raleigh, the state capital.
Fausset documented the creepy left-wing rituals with seeming approval.
At a packed campus meeting recently, most people in the audience appeared to be in favor of the train, snapping their fingers in assent as speakers questioned Duke’s wisdom....
Fausset eventually noted that, by the way, the project is not perfect, the price tag is a bit steep, and there may be other options.
Still, some critics wondered whether Duke was using its stated concerns as an excuse for other, hidden worries about the train. Like many rail projects before it, this one is imperfect, and there are a number of opponents besides the university.
The proposed line would not go to the regional airport, for example, nor to Raleigh, although there are future plans for a heavy-rail connection to the capital. The cost of the light-rail line -- to be borne by local, state and federal taxpayers -- has ballooned beyond $3 billion.
John Morris, a member of a Chapel Hill residents’ group that opposes the train, said that new buses would be cheaper, and quicker to put in place.
The story included photos of disappointed-looking minority students who support the rail line and called Duke a “plantation.”
Local coverage by the Durham Herald-Sun, while basically favoring the project, also raised complexities that the Times either ignored or brushed aside.
As a reminder that the Times is the last place to get reliable objective information about Duke University, consider the relish with which they smeared Duke students during the lacrosse team “rape” hoax.
Fausset has long been concerned about the “hard right” swing in North Carolina. And in September 2017 he tastelessly attacked Texas conservatives for their "bizarre" anti-Washington sentiment, seeming to appreciate the red state being brought down a peg by the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey.