Michael Gaynor
May 10, 2010
Robert Larry Teel v. Timothy B. Tyson on the 1970 death of Henry Marrow
By Michael Gaynor

Tyson said that as a historian he did not believe everything he read in the newspapers. Likewise, everything in Tyson's self-serving, politically correct book and movie should not automatically be believed.

On February 19, 2010, a movie adaptation of the book Blood Done Sign My Name was released under the same title.

Fitting, Robert Steele, Duke University chairman of the board during the Duke lacrosse case, was responsible for bringing the book to the screen.

Wikipedia: "In February 2010, the New York Times reported that 'Blood Done Sign My Name,' a new film about race relations in North Carolina in 1970, was conceived when Steel read Timothy B. Tyson's book of that name and saw 'cinematic potential' in the story about his home state. Steel brought Tyson together with screenwriter and fellow Greenwich-resident Jeb Stuart, who wrote and directed the film. Steel is listed as an executive producer."

I wonder why Steel has not arranged for a movie on the Duke case that arose in 2006 and have it written to make him a hero instead of a villain!

The "Blood' movie description provided by that bastion of political correctness, the Washington Post, is as follows: "In 1970 Henry Marrow, a black Vietnam veteran, is murdered by a local white man, Robert Teel, and his sons. The Teels were acquitted by an all-white jury, which caused riots and arson in Oxford, North Carolina."

So much for the slightest deference to a jury verdict! (Post reviewer Michael Sullivan completely accepted the movie's historical claims and implicitly declared all the jurors racists in his politically correct review.

Sullivan:

"Based on the real-life murder of a young black Vietnam vet by white Southerners, 'Blood Done Sign My Name' is the story of an outrageous, if familiar, tragedy.

"In 1970, Dickie Marrow was shot and beaten to death in North Carolina for alleged flirtatious comments made to a white woman. But in the movie, by writer-director Jeb Stuart, the character (played by A.C. Sanford) isn't so much a person as a device. Stuart uses his death as a lesson: The struggle for racial equality often placed politics above the personal.

"'You think Dickie Marrow's murder is the worst civil-rights lynching ever? It doesn't even come close to the things that I've seen,' says Golden Frinks (Afemo Omilami), the dashiki-clad 'stoker,' or agitator, who arrives from up North to fan the flames of local resentment. Frinks doesn't care about Dickie, the man. As he explains to Dickie's friend Ben Chavis (Nate Parker) yes, the same guy who in real life went on to lead the NAACP and later founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network 'What's special about [Dickie's] death is it gives us an opportunity to make things better.'

"In that sense, the audience isn't really asked to care much about Dickie. Don't get me wrong: Stuart wants to tick us off and the film does that, effortlessly, beautifully it's just that the anger is less about Marrow than about the civil rights movement.

"That anger finds its expression chiefly in the travails and hand-wringing of a sympathetic white pastor, the Rev. Vernon Tyson (Rick Schroder), and, for the most part, not in the emotions of Dickie's family and friends. Tyson is really the main character here. His frustration in his efforts to teach tolerance to the town's rednecks, and his initial failure to understand why some whites might blame him for the unrest in the wake of Dickie's murder, at times threaten to dislodge the film's center of gravity.

"Who's the film about?

"But the emphasis on the Virtuous White Man is only mildly irritating in this story about black suffering. And, truth be old, it's fairly understandable, when you learn that the movie is based on a book by the minister's son, Tim Tyson.

"Despite its earnestness and valuable lessons, however, 'Blood' feels a little like preaching to the choir. Its intended audience is anyone with enough heart to be horrified by the events it depicts, but also with enough plausible deniability to point the finger of blame at someone else.

"It's a movie you can feel good about feeling bad about."

Robert Larry Teel, the "murderer" to whose wife those "alleged flirtatious remarks" were made, feels bad, not good.

The review in that other political correctness bastion that covered the Duke lacrosse case disgracefully, The New York Times probably made Teel feel worse.

Reviewer A. O. Scott writes with the assurance that the Times writers who excoriated the Duke lacrosse players and extol DA Nifong did:

"Jeb Stuart's 'Blood Done Sign My Name' scrupulously examines a page from the recent history of the South a racially charged murder that took place in Oxford, N.C., in 1970. The details of the case resemble those of many similar events that took place across the region at the height of the civil rights movement. A black man, Henry Marrow, was brutally killed and his accused murderers, members of a family of white business owners, were acquitted by an all-white jury as the town seethed and its leaders panicked. There were peaceful marches to the state capital, and also acts of looting, vandalism and arson."

The reviewers assures us that the movie is about an "important piece of history" and its problem is that the writer of the screen version's "evident desire to respect the truth of the story in all its details leaves him without a clear, emphatic dramatic structure." The same political correctness exposed by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson in Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and The Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (2007) permeates the review, but President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's famous remark about never letting a crisis go to waste was not included.

The reviewer declared the film, "as a piece of historical reconstruction, a fitting tribute to [the] memory [of John Hope Franklin]," described in the review as "the great historian."

It does fit Franklin's political agenda, but how much is actually history and how much is fiction is vigorously disputed.

Wikipedia:

"Blood Done Sign My Name is an autobiographical work of history written by Timothy B. Tyson while he was a professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison. The book, published in 2004 and based in part on an M.A. thesis Tyson wrote in 1990 while attending Duke University, deals with the 1970 murder of Henry Marrow, a black man.

"Since 2004, the book has sold 140,000 copies and earned awards including the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion. UNC-CH selected the book for its 2005 summer reading program."

But...is it really history...or is it part fiction disguised as pure history and eagerly treated as such by the political correctness crowd that brought us the Duke lacrosse case?

Wikipedia:

"The book deals with the 1970 murder of Henry Marrow, a black man. This case helped galvanize the African-American resistance movement in Oxford, North Carolina, where the book takes place, and across the eastern North Carolina black belt. It helped establish local civil rights activist Ben Chavis's leadership in the black civil rights movement, which eventually led to his becoming the executive director of the NAACP and later an organizer of the Million Man March. This episode radicalized the African American freedom struggle in North Carolina, leading up to the turbulence of the Wilmington Ten cases, which grew out of racial conflict in the port city and the trial of Ben Chavis and nine others on charges stemming from the burning of a grocery store.

"Tyson, whose father was the minister of a prominent local church, explores not only the white supremacy of the South's racial caste system but his own and his family's white supremacy. He interweaves a narrative of the story and its effects on him with discussion of the racial history of the United States, focusing on the persistence of discrimination despite federal law and on the violent realities of that history on both sides of the color line. Tyson challenges the popular memory of the movement as a nonviolent call on America's conscience led by Martin Luther King. The vision of the movement in these pages is local as well as national and international, violent as well as nonviolent, and far more complicated and human than the myth of 'pure good versus bare-fanged evil in the streets of Birmingham,' as he puts it."

But was it murder...or is Tyson pretending that it was murder?

TimothyBTyson.com is not Timothy B. Tyson's website.

Robert Larry Teel created that website not to praise Tyson, but to bury him (figuratively speaking).

Like Marc Anthony's funeral oration for Julius Caesar, it is worthy of attention.

Academia honors Tyson.

Teel calls Tyson "a race hustler' and a liar. Tyson's book, Blood Done Sign My Name, was deemed movie-worthy by former Duke University Chairman of the Board Robert Steel and a damn lie by Teel.

What's true?

Wikipedia:

"Timothy B. Tyson (born 1959) is an American writer and historian from North Carolina. Tyson attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before he earned his B.A. at Emory University in 1987 and his PhD at Duke University in 1994."

"Tyson launched his teaching career at Duke University, where he taught 'United States History from the New Deal to the Present' for two years while finishing his doctorate in 1994. During that time, he was named Research Fellow at the Center for Ethical Studies at Duke University, for his work, 'Dynamite: A Story from the Second Reconstruction in South Carolina,' which was later published in Glenda Gilmore, et al., Jumpin' Jim Crow: The New Southern Political History (Princeton University Press, 2000.) He also won the Mattie Russell Teaching Fellowship for his course, 'And Still I Rise: African American Culture in the Twentieth Century.'

"In 1994, he became assistant professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison, where he taught 'Introduction to Afro-American History,' 'Race and American Politics,' and 'Freedom Stories: Writing Movement History,' and won the Lilly Teaching Award for 1996-97. With three colleagues...Tyson led a series of busloads of students from Madison to Chicago, Illinois and Nashville, Tennessee, and then on to Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery, Alabama, Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Duck Hill, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana. This course was called 'Freedom Ride: The Sites and Sounds of the Civil Rights Movement,' and won the 2002 Best Course Award from the North American Association of Summer Sessions. Tyson soon became full professor of Afro-American Studies. From 2002 to the present, Tyson was named Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historians.

"Tyson won a position as John Hope Franklin Senior Fellow at the National Humanities Center in 2004-05. Tyson currently serves as Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, with secondary appointments in the Duke Divinity School and the Department of History. At the Divinity School, he teaches 'Christianity and Civil Rights' and 'The Christ-Haunted South: Race and Christianity in the Twentieth Century American South.' He also has a position in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"In 2007, Tyson taught an experimental course entitled 'The South in Black and White' that met at Hayti Heritage Center in downtown Durham, for students of Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the fall of 2008, Tyson and Mary D. Williams, a leading gospel singer, led a community-based course in Wilmington, North Carolina, called 'Wilmington in Black and White,' which met at the historic Williston School and sought to explore the ways that Southern history and culture might illuminate efforts at racial reconciliation and healing in one community."

Wikipedia goes on to discuss Tyson's co-authorship of Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy (which won the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America) and a special section on the events in Wilmington that Tyson wrote in 2006 (the year the Duke lacrosse case began) for the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News and Observer (which won an Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Wikipedia does not mention Tyson's comments on the Duke lacrosse case, but it discusses at length the Tyson book to which Teel greatly objects.

Wikipedia: "Tyson's books include Blood Done Sign My Name, published by Crown in 2004, a memoir and history of the murder of a black man, Henry Marrow, in Oxford, North Carolina in 1970. The book also documents the African American uprising that followed. This book was selected by UNC for its Summer Reading Program in 2005 and by community reading programs across the state. Blood Done Sign My Name was also selected for Villanova University's 'One Book Villanova' Program in 2006-2007. The book also won the Southern Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2006, Tyson was awarded the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for the book from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, which carries a $200,000 cash prize. 'Blood Done Sign My Name' was selected by dozens of college and community reading programs, including those at the University of North Carolina, Villanova University, the University of Iowa, Guilford College, the University of North Carolina-Asheville, and Greensboro College, and also 'One Book, One Community' reading programs in Wilmington, Rocky Mount, Wake County, and other North Carolina communities. Hollywood screenwriter and director Jeb Stuart, best known for The Fugitive and Die Hard, wrote a screenplay based on Blood Done Sign My Name and filmed the movie in Shelby, Charlotte, Gastonia, Monroe, and Statesville, North Carolina, in the summer of 2008. Nate Parker, the star of The Great Debaters, plays Ben Chavis. Rick Schroder of NYPD Blue fame stars as Vernon Tyson. An independent film, Blood Done Sign My Name will be released in 2009. Mike Wiley, playwright and actor, premiered his play, 'Blood Done Sign My Name,' based on the book, at Duke University's Shaefer Theater in November 2008. It played to a packed house and a standing ovation at city hall in Oxford on February 13, 2009."

The political correctness crowd that made the Duke lacrosse case possible and prolonged it are Tyson admirers, while Teel despises him.

Last February Tyson posted this Facebook comment that does not help his credibility: "I personally voted to hang the mfers. The jury foreman lied."

Teel is civil, but does not mince words of the website homepage. He claims that Tyson is "the poster child of race hustlers" who was "living off fabricated lies" "[l]ong before the Duke Lacrosse Hoax."

Teel:

"Why Oh Why didn't Henry Marrow just keep on walking on May 11, 1970?

"Timothy Tyson presents himself as someone who is a historian, but he doesn't deal in the facts of what actually occurred. Obviously, for Tyson, history is defined as 'his story.'

"Tim has fabricated, twisted and turned this tragic incident into what he calls a true story. Tim's scholarship as a historian should be questioned.

"My intentions are simple: To expose Timothy B. Tyson for fraudulence and for lying.

"My name is Robert Larry Teel. I was 18 years old at the time.

"The lies, slander, and libel that have been directed toward the Teel and Oakley families will be made crystal clear. Readers should see how Tyson has misrepresented the facts.

"Is the public going to continue to allow Timothy B. Tyson to teach their children fabricated lies? Unfortunately, this book is being taught in high schools and in universities around the country. Do you want a fabricated tale to be taught to your children as a true story?

"A fabricated book! And Now a Movie!

"All to deceive the public into believing there is a true drama instead of a tall tale invented for profit by Tyson.

"Do Jeb Stuart's cast and crew want to be known for purposely taking part in a project that misrepresented the truth? When the subject matter is so very serious and life-altering? Are they absolutely sure they know all the true facts? Or is Jeb going to deceive the public as well?

"Tyson has intentionally planted a bad seed in the reader's mind, particularly by use of the first sentence of the book.

"Tim has attempted to destroy my family's reputation by injecting race into everything and creating a story to make readers believe that racism was the reason for the altercation.

"I will show you Tim Tyson just wrote a book his derriere can't cash based on true facts. Timothy B.Tyson is race hustling only to benefit himself.

"Robert Teel, my father, operated a Barber Shop that was located between the laundry mat and appliance store of the complex. My father graduated from Barber school in 1953.

"Sold gas and oil to everyone. Owned a coin operated laundry mat where 85% of his customers were African Americans. Across the street he owned a coin operated hand wand spray car wash open to all the public.

"Operated a hotdog, hamburger, pizza establishment that served everyone. My father decided to close the food business due to the profit margin for the amount of time it took to operate it. That's when the food establishment was converted into the mini bike, lawn mower and motorcycle shop.

"There was also another man who leased and operated the appliance shop in the same complex.

"At NO time did Robert Teel or anybody else ever operate a grocery/convenience store in that location prior to the fire bombings that forced my father to close the businesses.

"Tim wants to bring up my father's criminal background. Prior to the carwash incident in April 1970, there were only two incidents. Both of them involved Caucasians. Teel has always believed in right is right and wrong is wrong.

"In April of 1970, he struck an African American man at his car wash which set everything into motion. That was Teel's first criminal offense toward any African American. Immediately thereafter Teel's businesses began being boycotted by African Americans. Teel began receiving harassing phone calls, death threats toward him and his family, along with threats to burn him out. Windows were being broken out along with other property damages.

"Faced with these circumstances, what would you do if a man came on your property with a knife toward your 18 year-old son? Does race matter at this point?

"I guess Tim thinks if the man had been white and coming at me with a knife, my father would have given him a free pass and said go at it?

"I wonder what Tim's reaction would have been?

"Tim Tyson makes a mockery of what the prosecutors said. They have never heard of accidental self-defense. Has anyone ever considered the situation of being taunted, threatened, and scared and being faced with these circumstances? Can anyone imagine the fear and the adrenaline rush that took place when my father and Roger (stepbrother) heard the screaming words "HELP LARRY!" ? Then a man, along with others, confronted his son with a knife. So I ask again: What would you do?

"I have asked myself thousands of times. Why did Henry Marrow even make that obscene remark to my wife, and I replied 'Hey that's my wife you are talking to.' Within those few seconds Henry Marrow had a choice to keep on walking! Instead he made the decision to come on our property with a knife advancing towards me. Henry Marrow and only Henry Marrow made that decision.

"Does race really matter when a obscene remark like this is made? My reply was an appropriate reply in 1970 and still is today. Would you reply if obscene remarks were made to your wife? Again, does race matter? Would Tim even have the balls to respond and try to protect his wife or daughter from such disrespect if it were hurled their way?

"Does he even understand the concept of honor among men?

"Let me be clear: The obscenities did not cause this accident. Henry's actions did. The Teel family had worked closely for years offering services to everyone with the majority of our customers being African Americans.

"But I'll be damned if I am going to sit idly by and allow Tyson to get away with spinning his web of lies and deceiving the public further!

"It is one thing to be a storyteller, another to be a Historian. But Tim Tyson has intentionally left out the truth, something a real historian would never do.

"We told the truth all those years ago. And I am retelling the truth now.

"I am not attempting to create conflict of any type.

"My sole purpose is to expose Timothy B. Tyson for grossly misrepresenting the facts."

Teel does not have the wealth, power and connections of some of the families of the Duke lacrosse players (indicted and unindicted), but...what's the REAL story? Teel should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. The truth should not and no one should be sacrificed for a political agenda.

Tyson's book obviously speaks for itself, and Teel's website includes seven evidence pages in rebuttal worth a look.

Read and decide for yourself.

But in considering the personal interest of eyewitness Teel and the personal, political and peciuniary interests of writer Tyson, please take into account what Tyson said during and after the Duke case.

During

Tyson, then a senior scholar of documentary studies and adjunct professor of divinity and history at Duke University, said that what's happening in Durham is "profoundly revealing." He wasn't taking about Crystal Gail Mangum's bogus charges or disgraced former Durham County Michael Nifong pandering to the black voters to keep his job and treating the prosecution as legitimate after the DNA results were reported.

Tellingly, Tyson commented: "There is a widespread and growing suspicion that something has gone very wrong in our society that this story reflects, regardless of the legal particulars."

Would Tyson, like Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, falsify the facts for the alleged "greater good"? Framing innocent people, regardless of their color or family, is not a "legal particular." It's a crime.

Tyson on the case. "We act like we're in some kind of conservative period. But in truth ... we are in an environment that is much more free than it is just and safe."

Unfortunately, it turned that Mangum was free to lie without being prosecuted herself, Nifong spent only one night in jail, the indicted players were treated unjustly and none of the members of the 2005-2006 Duke men's lacrosse team felt safe.

After

On September 16, 2008, in his award-winning "Durham in Wonderland" blog (http://durhamwonderland.blogspot.com/search?q=%22Words+to+stand+by%22), KC Johnson reported that Tyson remained unrepentant, including video of Tyson to prove it:

"As noted below, when asked about his inflammatory remarks on the case, anti-lacrosse extremist Tim Tyson recently announced, "I stand by every word of it." Four clips of the words that Tyson stands by, in his own voice, are below.

"First, Tyson recalled his time in the potbangers' March 25, 2006 candlelight vigil, outside the lacrosse captains' house. His participation in this event almost certainly violated Duke's anti-harassment code; no record exists that he was ever punished for his actions.

"Then, Tyson lionized the false accuser, Crystal Mangum. (The photo in the below came from the same evening March 25, 2006 that Tyson participated in a candelight vigil for Mangum outside the lacrosse players' house. Earlier that day, Mangum had gone to UNC Hospital unsuccessfully trying to get prescription medication for the pain she claimed her 'attackers' had inflicted upon her.)

"Then, Tyson outlined a remarkable conception of due process and civil liberties, as he hailed the leadership of Richard Brodhead.

"Finally, Tyson played to Durham's race-baiting mob.

"Reflecting on all these statements earlier this year, Tyson congratulated himself 'that a person as impassioned and opinionated as me would have the presence of mind to consistently remind people to withhold judgment.'

Lest a reader think that Johnson quoted Tyson out of context, here's the 2008 email exchange between Tyson and a North Carolina newspaper:

"Q: In the days since we ran the story about your Southern history and racial reconciliation work, I have heard from a number of readers who thought the piece should have been more questioning. In particular, they wanted to ask about your statements on the Duke lacrosse case, which they see tend to see as a failure of vision on your part.

"Tyson: I agree with your critics that the piece you wrote on my work was incomplete and did not give a sufficiently complex picture of me. For example, I threw spitballs in Ms. Dorothy Ashley's English class in the seventh grade, and she was a saint, and also nearly blind. It was a low point. There have been others.

"But I disagree with your critics that somehow my utterances on the Duke lacrosse fiasco represent a serious stumble. None of us has a crystal ball and, if I could have had a God's-eye view and seen all the way to the end of the story, if anything ever really ends, I might have spoken a little differently. But in all honesty, and with a little surprise, I still would not go back and change what I said very much. I could be wrong, but it appears to me that some who have complained about my words did not hear what I said or heard very selectively.

"Following the first reports on the lacrosse incident, I made two public statements. One was printed in the News and Observer and the other broadcast on WUNC radio. In the newspaper piece, I criticized the Duke students for hiring strippers from across the tracks, which in my view put them in the position of using people as things, adding that 'the question of whether they also committed rape is one we must leave to the courts and to the police.' I also described the historical context in which these events occurred, which is not the same thing as saying precisely what occurred, which is not something I knew, even though I read all the press accounts, many of which turned out to be deceptive. But I am a historian and I do not believe everything I read in the newspaper.

"In the WUNC radio piece, I stated that 'it is important for us to remember that an investigation is pending, and the police are the only people qualified to figure out what happened in that house altogether, and we have to support [the police] as they do that dirty job of trying to figure out what kind of ugly things unfolded there. But it's clear even in the most favorable reading of this that what we have is young men of privilege who have somehow learned that other people could be treated as things.' I acknowledged that the accused may not be guilty, but stated that 'even if the charges of rape are not true, there was a terribly degrading spectacle unfolding that night.'

"This all seems fairly self-evident to me. In fact, given what was being printed in the newspaper and the statements issued by the District Attorney. I am surprised that a person as impassioned and opinionated as me would have the presence of mind to consistently remind people to withhold judgment. Raising questions and making people think, as opposed to running for public office, for example, is the nature of my work, and 'provocative' is not an insult to a teacher. But people are free to disagree. Your head is not just a hair farm and none of us is going to see things in exactly the same light.

"Q: The statement that seems to rankle people the most is from the News and Observer essay, where you say that 'the spirit of the lynch mob lived in that house on Buchanon Street.' Many seem to believe that the real lynch mob was the one outside the house condemning the lacrosse players in advance of a trial. How do you respond to that critique?

"Tyson: First, I would remind readers first of what I said at the time, which consistently included that my view that the guilt of the accused was 'one that we must leave to the courts and to the police.' I continue to regard that as a reasonably thoughtful stance, especially given the statements of the District Attorney's office that appeared in the press. But more than that, let me remind you that even though it is obvious that the rape charges were false, as I said they might be at the time, that we had a room full of drunken Duke students, all of them white, using an African American woman as live pornography, and that one of them was apparently brandishing a broomstick and offering to use it as a sexual device. And one of the neighbors, who presumably has no axe to grind, reported racial epithets being hurled in the yard. That seems to justify the metaphor, in my mind. But of course, it is clear now that there was some mob mentality on both sides.

"Q: Given all that has transpired, what do you consider to be the lasting lessons of the Duke lacrosse incident?

"Tyson: Several things occur to me. First, when you set out to use people as things, you are headed for trouble. Many people act as if the young men of the lacrosse team are literally innocent, which is true in the legal sense of the word. I am glad they did not go to jail and I am sorry that they endured such an ordeal. But I continue to believe that hiring strippers or prostitutes for studentparties is wrong and also misguided.

"Ask yourself this: if hiring these women to perform live pornography is perfectly fine, why don't the sororities at Duke organize a Duke Escort Service to raise money for charity? It would be lucrative. And charities could use the money. But we would not do that because the university community regards its students as human beings, children of God, worthy of respect, and we don't want our sisters and daughters to be regarded as things to be used. Instead, when we want to degrade someone as an object, we pay someone to be not-quite-human. We hire people whom we feel less obligated to care about to do our dirty work.

"And those people are always the less powerful, whether because of their race or gender or their economic position. The negotiation in the market for human things is almost never strictly a free market, but instead those people are in a weak negotiating position. Their poverty, weakness and vulnerability their addiction to drugs, for example, or their position in a racial caste system places them in a poisonous labor pool, in the gutters of our society, where we prefer not to look, lest we see our own reflections. The heart of the problem, like so many others, is what Dr. King called the 'thingification' of human beings. The phrase is not quoted as often as 'I have a dream,' but I think these may be his most enduring message."

Even months after Until Proven Innocent, Tyson either did not know the facts or pretended that the facts were other than what they were. I have always criticized stripper parties, but let's not pretend that the Duke men's lacrosse team had the only stripper party OR that they ordered black strippers. (They expected a white and a Hispanic stripper, and got neither. These were not white racists hell bent on degrading black strippers (who. like all strippers, degrade themselves) and one intoxicated player responded to a derogatory remark about his manhood but suggesting that the stripper might prefer a broom stick. The stripper should not have made her remark and the player should not have allowed himself to be baited, but none of the strippers was in any danger. I don't suggest why Tyson did it, but, like Jesse Jackson before him, Tyson just ignored the presence of Devon Sherwood at the party and said that all the Duke players were white. That's news to the Sherwood family. In Until Proven Innocent, the description of the party by Sherwood, who would know, appears: "We were just sitting around. And there was nothing to it. It was very boring. I was itching to get out of there, because it was. I'd rather be going to sleep personally, to tell you the truth."

The truth is that Tyson did not demonstrate either foresight or hindsight with respect to the Duke lacrosse case. Instead, he used the case to promote himself and his political correctness agenda and in 2008, after the basic truth was generally known, praised himself, mocked his critics and claimed that the players had a "mob mentality."

Tyson said that as a historian he did not believe everything he read in the newspapers. Likewise, everything in Tyson's self-serving, politically correct book and movie should not automatically be believed.

© Michael Gaynor

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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