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Why Blame Clark?


By Jendi B. Reiter

Dean Clark may not have the mediamanipulating skills of, say, Derrick Bell, And when he does speak to the press, he may not espouse the activist ideology that is garnering Bell such undeserved admiration. But these are hardly sufficient reasons to call for his resignation.

Clark's hiring of the infamous "five white men" resulted from a process of careful negotiation whose aim was to create a truce between the conservatives and the liberals on the Law School faculty.

Their own mutual enmity causes a fair share of the "mess" that the school suffers from. These scholars were selected because of their academic credentials and because they were relatively acceptable to both political camps.

It would be wrong to denigrate Clark's achievement in this matter merely in order to attack him about minority hiring. Moreover, is it not somewhat racist to oppose the appointment of these five scholars simply because they are white?

In its unthinking attack upon the "five white men," the staff reveals the source of its discontent with Clark. The staff's opposition to him is based primarily upon his lack of commitment to a liberal agenda. Refusing to admit that the rise of the left has caused a great deal of the problems at the Law School, the staff calls for more of the same.

Unfortunately, although Dean Clark occasionally stands up to the pressure groups at the Law School, much of the time he is only too willing to show servile deference to shrill activists practicing the politics of victimhood.

Dean Clark is indeed "retreating from his job," but not in the way the staff implies. He should deal more forcefully with those who have made Yale the preferred choice (over Harvard) of students looking for a legal education untainted by power politics and manufactured racial tensions.

As for the Law Review parody, Dean Clark did the only thing he could have done--the condemned it. He certainly could not have prevented it or punished its authors without violating their rights.

Why blame him for the insensitivity of a few students? No one calls for President Neil L. Rudenstine to resign during controversies over the content of student publications in the College. (We wonder if any administrator could long survive if it were standard practice to fire them whenever someone at Harvard feels offended by a parody or an editorial.)

Finally, we call on Dean Clark to cease his mollycoddling of those who would rather hold sit-ins than attend or teach classes. Civil disobebedience can be constructive, but anyone participating in it should expect to be disciplined. Moreover, those committed to minority hiring should consider a form of protest more productive than simply absenting themselves from the institutions they wish to change.

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