So, we’ve been following this Madonna Constantine story a little bit. You know, the black Columbia Teacher’s College professor who specializes in race and multiculturalism, who found a noose tied to her office door back in October? If you don’t recall, it was a huge deal. Columbia president Lee Bollinger said it was “an assault on all of us,” and Mayor Bloomberg rallied behind Dr. Constantine as she told the media. “I will not be silenced.” She was very brave and noble. But Dr. Constantine seemed a little less noble a couple months later, when it came out that she had been under investigation by the college for quite some time for plagiarizing her own students. And they never found out who hung the noose: For some reason, the college refused to release the security tapes. Which must be why a grand jury subpoenaed Teacher’s College over the noose incident, as the Post reported yesterday.
According to the Post, investigators may suspect that there’s a connection between the noose and plagiarism scandals, and they cite “sources” who suggested “a friend” might have put the rope on Dr. Constantine’s door, thinking it could “stir up support” for her. Today both the Post and the Times follow up, but Constantine’s lawyers didn’t return their calls. Both stories bear little news but seem to be holding their breath a little, like they know or suspect that maybe, just maybe, this story is going to become something bigger but they can’t say it yet. Like maybe —and we don’t know anything; we’re just letting our imaginations run wild here — they think this could become the story of a professor who was worried about getting fired for plagiarism and thus concocted a massive racial incident to make herself seem important and invaluable and untouchable, and of a very famous and respected university that suspected — knew?— that her story was false and covered it up to save face. Now that would be a big story. Especially right now when the topic of Americans attitude toward race is really au courant and fraught. But! Again! We don’t know anything! We’re just, um, coming up with ideas for Joyce Carol Oates’s next book. Come on, lady, it’s been six months, isn’t it about time you turned in a first draft already?