Plagiarism is a form of academic cheating which is universally condemned but nevertheless widespread because of growing dependence on electronic sources. There are other forms of academic cheating: (1) Having someone else write a paper for you; (2) Having someone else take an exam for you. These academic crimes are serious attempts at intellectual misrepresentation; the person who commits them is trying to represent himself as smarter than he really is. Academic cheating should result in the immediate expulsion of the student.
At the American Thinker, Jack Cashill has written a series of convincing articles showing that Bill Ayers is actually the ghost author of Dreams of my Father. This is based on a strong argument of literary criticism finding numerous and uncanny parallels between Obama’s Dreams and Ayer’s own memoir. Based upon their reading of Dreams, many have claimed that Barack Obama is a towering intellect, much smarter than George W. Bush. If Bill Ayers, the domestic terrorist, wrote Dreams of my Father then (1) Obama is an intellectual fraud, because he has represented this book as his own work; (2) Obama has also lied about his palling around with Bill Ayers–remember that Sarah Palin accused Obama of palling around with terrorists, and he denied that they were close; if Ayers wrote Dreams, or even had a significant role of any kind, then Obama has lied about their relationship.
Today, Jack Cashill has exposed the smoking gun, lines in a new book by Christopher Anderson, Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage:
In his new book, “Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage,” Best-selling celebrity journalist, Christopher Andersen, has blown a huge hole in the Obama genius myth without intending to do so.
Relying on inside sources, quite possibly Michelle Obama herself, Andersen describes how Dreams came to be published — just as I had envisioned it in my articles on the authorship of Dreams. With the deadline pressing, Michelle recommended that Barack seek advice from “his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers.”
To flesh out his family history, Obama had taped interviews with various family members. Andersen writes, “These oral histories, along with a partial manuscript and a truckload of notes, were given to Ayers.” Andersen quotes a Hyde Park neighbor, “Everyone knew they were friends and that they worked on various projects together. It was no secret. Why would it be? People liked them both.”
Andersen continues, “In the end, Ayers’s contribution to Barack’s Dreams From My Father would be significant–so much so that the book’s language, oddly specific references, literary devices, and themes would bear a jarring similarity to Ayers’s own writing.”
I cannot recommend Thomas Lifson’s American Thinker enough. It is one of the best sites on the WWW; it is the best source of conservative thought and reporting on contemporary events that I know.
Now Andersen gives no sources or names; the Obamas did not cooperate with him. Skeptics will argue that we have no way of knowing whether his claims can be verified, and we have no way of knowing the veracity of those he interviewed. Who, for example, was the Hyde Park neighbor he spoke with? Some might even argue that he reached his conclusion after reading Cashill’s original blog, without citing it. Andersen faces the same credibility problem Bob Woodward faces, since he is often charged with making outrageous charges in some of his books without offering any proof that conversations he could not have been privy to took place. But Woodward’s use of such a technique never has hurt his reputation. After all, he is Bob Woodward. Reviewers of Andersen’s book have had no compunction in labeling much of what he writes as pure “gossip.”
Update 2: I have taught in both Canada and Africa, and I have encountered dozens examples of academic cheating. I am absolutely appalled by it, because at the graduate level, and even the undergraduate level, plagiarism is the sure sign that the student should never have matriculated. In every case, the administrators of the school wished to take a more lenient stance than I. I was in every case forced to give in against my better judgment (and against the policy of the school which was not being enforced). For example, in most cases the plagiarizing student was allowed to redo the assignment. What kind of punishment is that? There is no deterrent if the student will just be allowed to redo the paper. Now we have a US president who has committed academic fraud. It will only be when he has made a complete disaster of the greatest nation in the world that we will see that plagiarism is a serious crime.
I found it humiliating once to have been reprimanded by an academic dean for giving an African my musings on plagiarism (written months beforehand) in which I said that as any monkey can imitate human gesture, so also any poor student can copy words from books and represent them as his own. The student felt that I had written these words as a personal attack of him, and of course, for Africans, being compared to monkeys is a example of racism. So I was made to apologize to the student who had committed academic fraud. As I become older, I am becoming less tolerant of fraud and less worried about what such administrators think of me.