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The Noose Tightens

One of the weirdest stories of last year was the mysterious tale of the noose found on the door of a Teachers College professor at Columbia University, an African-American woman who claims to be a scholar of “racial micro-aggression” — which is to say, events like someone hanging a noose on the door of an African-American.

Her name is not Tawana Brawley. It’s Madonna Constantine. But you might be forgiven for confusing the two.

After Constantine revealed the supposedly monstrous crime, Columbia erupted in protests. The administration vowed to find the evildoer. The NYPD got involved. Columbia began acting oddly, refusing to cooperate with the NYPD. The NYPD produced a subpoena for the films from surveillance cameras in the hallway. They came up with nothing.

Then, suddenly, the NYPD announced it was closing the investigation. Columbia University, the parent of Teachers College, went silent. We learned the professor in question, Madonna Constantine, had a history of provocative acts, including a confrontation with a colleague whom she had sued for defamation.

Now, Teachers College has sanctioned Dr. Constantine for plagiarism — the conclusion of an investigation that dates back, it turns out, to 2006:

Teachers College of Columbia University confirmed today that it has sanctioned Professor Madonna Constantine after an internal investigation found numerous instances in which she used others’ work without attribution in papers she published in academic journals over the past five years. The investigation, which began in 2006, was prompted by complaints from students and one former faculty member who said language from materials they wrote was included without attribution in the articles.

Constantine, predictably, responded to this by wondering whether a “white person” would be treated this way. It is difficult not to draw the conclusion that Constantine discovered the writing was on the wall last October, that she was going to be caught out as a plagiarist, and that she dangled the noose from her own office doorknob as a way to make it impossible for Columbia to punish her.

Thus, the parallel with the Tawana Brawley case. Terrified she was going to be punished by her stepfather for a night out with a boy, Brawley staged her own false rape and claimed it had been at the hands of white attackers. It was a monstrous lie. But at least Brawley was seventeen at the time. Madonna Constantine is 44. And will soon be out of a job.



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