Did the Christian rapper Lecrae just plagiarize one of my blog posts? (UPDATED)

I agree with everything Lecrae wrote in the following tweet. That is because I said nearly the exact same thing on this blog last week.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad the popular Christian rapper is getting the message out, I just wish he had done it in his own words.

This morning I checked my Instagram and a friend had put Lecrae’s tweet on his story. I knew immediately that Lecrae was borrowing heavily from a paragraph in one of my recent blog posts. It was a post I did on Joe Biden last week. You get an eerie feeling when you see someone taking credit for your words.

Here is what I wrote in the original post:

If Christians really want to reduce the number of abortions, they will elect a president who wants to fund health care for women, deal with the systemic racism that keeps many black women in poverty, raise the minimum wage, and address the income gap between White people and people of color.

If Lecrae was in one of my classes I would be inviting him into my office to talk about proper citations, the meaning of plagiarism, and why it is unethical to take someone else’s words or ideas and claim them as your own. I would ask him to rewrite his paper.

What do you think? I realize that I am not the only person making this kind of argument about abortion, but the words Lecrae used here, and the timing, are a little too close for comfort.

Lecrae’s tweet struck me for two reasons:

  1. I just got done lecturing one of my classes about plagiarism and proper citations and I just finished–minutes ago– reading 30 student papers to make sure they cited their sources correctly.
  2. Last week I spoke to a group of graduate students about blogging and one of them asked me how I “protect” my posts from others who want to use my words as their own. I said that I am not sure there is any way of doing this in the world of blogging. I also said that I was unaware of anyone who took my ideas and claimed them as their own.

UPDATE (9:30pm):

I had a very nice exchange of messages with Lecrae. What we talked about will remain private, but it is clear that as a Christian artist he is the real deal:

Is Bellesiles in Trouble Again?

Michael Bellesiles is a disgraced historian who is trying to resurrect his career. It seems that some historians and pundits want to make it very difficult for him.

At the Volkoh Conspiracy, Jim Lindgren raises “serious questions about the veracity of Michael Bellesiles’s latest tale.” The so-called “latest tale” is a story Bellesiles told in a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education about a student in his military history course at Central Connecticut State University.

Here is Bellesiles’s description of that student:

On the first day of my military-history class, after a discussion of the concept of democratic warfare, I asked my usual question about veterans or National Guard members present, and if any students had family members serving in the military. Ernesto (I have changed names out of respect for this family’s privacy), a shy but exceedingly bright student, smiled with evident pride as he mentioned that his brother Javier had recently enlisted in the Army. We discussed his brother’s reasons for enlisting, which mostly focused on a sense of gratitude to a country that had given their family refuge.

Two weeks later, the class discussed Baron von Steuben’s training of the American Continental Army . . . . Afterward, Ernesto told me that his brother had been sent to Iraq. He admitted he was worried about Javier’s safety, but had read several articles indicating that the war was winding down.

Then, after a class . . . [on the Mexican War], Ernesto told me that Javier had called him the day before and described his first encounter with enemy fire, which had been chaotic and without consequence. A few days later, Ernesto gave an amazing paper on a woman who had disguised herself as a man so that she could join the Union Army . . . . In the minutes before the very next class, during which we explored Ulysses S. Grant’s strategy of attrition, Ernesto came to me and said that he could not attend class, as his brother had been shot in the head by a sniper and was in critical condition.

Sorrow was written across Ernesto’s young face. Here was a student I relied on for an astute observation and a ready smile; now he looked on the verge of tears. I told him to give no further thought to the class, but to devote himself to his family. Ernesto missed the wars against the Plains Indians and the Spanish-American War, but showed up in time for the Philippine Insurrection. I hoped that Ernesto’s presence meant that his brother had recovered, only to be surprised to hear that Javier was still in danger, his condition so serious that the doctors feared moving him to the military hospital in Germany. When I asked him why he had come to class, Ernesto insisted that he hoped his studies would take his mind off his worries for his brother.

That afternoon I asked my teaching assistant, a Marine veteran named Joe, to talk with Ernesto. Over the next several weeks, as we traversed the terrain of the 20th century with the two world wars and Korea, Joe spoke regularly with Ernesto, advising him on his final paper and on dealing with the military bureaucracy. . . . And then, just as we were coming to . . . Vietnam, I received an e-mail from Ernesto letting me know that his brother had died.

Lindgren argues, based on his research into casualties from the Iraq War, that the account in Bellesiles article is false. There were no deaths of United States soldiers in Iraq that fit the description of Ernesto’s brother Javier.

Lindgren then chides The Chronicle for publishing “claims from Michael Bellesiles that can’t be substantiated.” He also challenges Bellesiles to come clean.

As I read this post and a similar article on the subject at a website called Big Journalism, I wondered if indeed Bellesiles has gotten himself into trouble yet again. Hasn’t this guy learned his lesson?

But I also could not help feeling a bit uncomfortable with the way that pundits and historians are going out of their way to spend time and resources to catch Bellesiles (again) in the act of historical malpractice. What is going on here?

President of Malone University Resigns: Charged with Plagiarism

The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that Malone University president, Gary W. Streit, is retiring immediately after being charged with using “unattributed materials in some of his speeches.” Malone is an evangelical Quaker college in Canton, Ohio.

I am not sure what to make of this. According to the article, the president used the words of others without making proper attribution. If indeed he was “borrowing” from other sources and not giving credit where credit is due, this is plagiarism. All he needed to do, it seems to me, was admit his unoriginality by citing the source from which the ideas and words came. I realize that this is difficult to do in public addresses. There are no footnotes. Yet Streit seems to have taken words from Wikipedia and other sources and uttered them verbatim, thus leading his audiences to believe that they were his own. This, it seems to me, is unethical.

I wonder: what made these students track down the source of Streit’s words? Why did they suspect him of plagiarism? Or did they just coincidentally notice the similarities between Streit’s speech and materials from which he borrowed?

But is all this enough to force Streit out of office? I don’t know enough about Malone to answer that question. Whatever the case, this is a sad situation. It seems as if Streit was doing good things at Malone.

Here is the official Malone press release.

If you get a chance take a look at some of the comments on the Chronicle article.