When you do a “Google Search” on the name Ray Donovan or you mention that name to any Generation Z person on a college campus these days, you are likely to hear about a popular television adventure series on Showtime by that name. It ran for seven seasons and was cancelled in 2020.
If you mention that same name to a politically astute person from the baby-boomer generation, you are more likely to hear about a former secretary of Labor from the Reagan era who was unjustly accused of a crime and had to fight for more than two-and-a-half years to clear his name. He was the victim of a politically-motivated Democratic district attorney in New York City as well as the target of a hostile media looking to harm the reelection chances of President Reagan by smearing a member of his Cabinet.
After two years of legal wrangling, a $13 million legal bill and an eight-month trial, the jury announced a verdict of not guilty to each of the 10 charges. Mr. Donovan said at the time: “It’s a cruel thing they did to me.” He then confronted the prosecutor and asked him famously:
“Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?”
To the press, he said he wondered whether he would be remembered for being exonerated or only be remembered as the first sitting Cabinet member ever to be indicted.
He knew then that he would be forever tainted no matter what the verdict.
That was in 1987. Unfortunately, some things never change. There is, however, a new strain of injustice with a new technique for launching politically-motivated attacks.
It is called “cancel culture” where even a single individual can simply “call-out” someone on social media for past actions (or alleged actions) or comments that they find offensive.
Loretta Ross is a visiting associate professor at Smith College who teaches a class called “White Supremacy, Human Rights, and the Calling Out Culture. In a recent interview she said:
“Well, a ‘callout’ is when you publicly shame somebody, throw shade on them, humiliate them for something you think they’ve said, or they’ve done. It’s always done publicly, either with social media or in real life. But the point is to humiliate the person because you’re seeking accountability.”
This is the new weapon of the left. There is no need for a grand jury, or a prosecutor sworn to uphold the law, or a judge, or a jury of one’s peers. Just launch a few nasty allegations on your computer and hit send. The arrow is launched on social media and the victim is instantly savaged and shamed with their reputation in tatters.
There is a case on-going at this very moment where a university math professor from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia (my alma mater) has been “called-out” by former students with allegations of racism, with the hope of getting him fired. Why? He dared to tweet anonymously his opposition to race-based reparations and questioned the effectiveness of bias training. This issue involving Professor Gregory Manco came to light thanks to a Philadelphia digital publication called Broad and Liberty, in an article titled “Cancel Culture Comes to Hawk Hill.”
Rather than uphold his contractual right to academic freedom, my university’s leadership shamefully bowed to the woke Twitter mob and immediately placed Mr. Manco on administrative leave while initiating an investigation.
The chief human resources officer went so far as to declare, in an email to Mr. Manco, that the tweets “are of a biased or discriminatory nature.” This was determined, and the suspension enacted, without any due process whatsoever.
In the weeks since, there have been a few blog posts and a piece on Newsmax TV, but the mainstream media has studiously avoided any coverage of the issue and the university is giving it the slow roll.
Fortunately, the American Association of University Professors weighed-in recently with a letter indicating the AAUP’s opposition “… to punishing academics for their expressions as citizens rather than scholars” and that the AAUP “… has long considered the suspension of a faculty member from his or her primary responsibilities as a severe sanction…”
Additionally, a growing number of Saint Joseph’s alumni have begun to weigh-in with concerns. In one such letter (of which I am a co-signer), a group of alumni celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation this year have indicated their displeasure and their commitment “… to do what we can to fight to restore the good name of Mr. Manco and also to restore the reputation of our alma mater as a place of academic freedom and genuine learning rather than an expensive “re-education camp.”
In Ray Donovan’s case in 1987, at least he was “officially” considered to be innocent until proven guilty and had no sanction laid upon him until a trial was held. Mr. Manco, on the other hand, has suffered the indignity of pretty much being declared a racist and plucked from his classroom in mid-semester based on complaints from a former student regarding personal opinions expressed anonymously on a private Twitter account.
This seems to be one more case of my formerly distinguished university joining the ranks of a long list of colleges and universities that have gone to the dark side where dissenting views must be silenced and only approved forms of speech are tolerated.
Mr. Manco has been sorely mistreated in violation of the university’s own rules and the university president needs to end the foolishness and restore him to his teaching position and apologize publicly for the reprehensible actions of the university.
The university’s steady drift to the left needs to be halted if Saint Joseph’s University is to avoid being tainted with the stain of indoctrination, political correctness and wokeness.
• Christopher M. Lehman Sr. served as a defense staff person in the U.S. Senate and in the Reagan administration as special assistant for national security affairs to President Reagan.