Marquette’s Own Kevin Barrett: Wacky Conspiracy Theories in a Class on “Post-Modern” British Literature
But sometimes professors believe things that are just wacky (although usually left-wing wacky).
Thus it was with 9/11 conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett, who taught a course about Islam at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
And thus it is with John Boly, who is currently teaching English 146, “The Postmodernist Period in British Literature” here at Marquette. Boly is teaching classic “dystopias:” 1984, Brave New World, Clockwork Orange. Boly thinks the dire predictions of these books have come true in American society.
He has spent a lot of class time talking about conspiracy theories. Yesterday (June 11) for example, he spent 10 minutes of a 95 minute class analyzing texts, and the remainder outlining his conspiracy theories for students.
And he has quite a lot of them. He spent considerable time near the beginning of the term, for example, explaining how Prescott Bush, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and Calvin Coolidge supported (supposedly) the work of a scientist who later worked for the Nazi regime in Germany, and whose work is still important to the procedures of the Food and Drug Administration.
Why don’t historians reveal the full scope of this evil? Because “Harvard historians” have been bought off with Rockefeller money.
Conspiracy theories have kept reappearing as the summer has moved along. At one point, he asked students to identify a recent “mother of all false flag operations.” A students answered “the 9/11 attacks,” and he replied that she was correct!
The term “false flag,” widely used by 9/11 conspiracy theorists, means that the supposed terrorist attacks were mounted by the U.S. government, using people posing as Arab militants.
He then proceed to recite some of the standard 9/11 conspiracy lore, such as that the fire in the World Trade Center towers was “not hot enough to melt steel,” and that the towers were brought down by a “controlled demolition.”
At another point in the class, the discussion concerned Orwell’s 1984, and a “character” in the book named Emmanuel Goldstein, a hated enemy of society. Goldstein, according to some interpretations of the book (and Boly’s own interpretation) did not exist, being merely a character invented by the Party to be the target of society’s hatred.
Boly asked the class whether they knew of anybody like that today. A student answered “Osama bin Laden,” and was told that was exactly the right answer!
Boly also spents considerable time in class condemning the Federal Reserve Bank, which he views as a large conspiracy of “New York bankers” which produces “money printed out of thin air.” This situation, he believes, is so outrageous that “if Americans knew how the banking system works, there would be a civil revolution.”
He has commended a rather obscure book called The Creature from Jackal Island which according to one Internet blurb is:
. . . the story of how the US Reserve bank was spawned at a secret meeting on Jackal Island. The US Reserve Bank is really a cartel of bankers and the USA government and has made the banks very wealthy by allowing it to lend non-existent money (paper money) to the government and charge a very healthy interest on it. This all has not been in the interest of the American people.The JFK Assassination
Of course, Boly believes that a conspiracy killed JFK. He discussed Operation Northwoods, a real series of plans for some rather dirty covert anti-Castro operations produced during the Kennedy administration – at the behest of Kennedy administration officials.
According to Boly, Kennedy’s failure to implement Northwoods resulted in his murder.
Evidence Not Needed
When asked for evidence on these points, Boly has blandly replied that “it’s on the Internet.” Of course it is. As is the “fact” that aliens from space have not only visited the Earth, but live among us.
We e-mailed Boly to ask him about his theories, and he supplied the following cryptic response:
I teach some dystopian novels, but these are works of fiction. Unlike conspiracy theories they make no claims about actual events.Facts documented, presumably, by Internet sites.
As for history, I’m sure all of Marquette’s faculty encourage students to respect well documented facts.
Students, who at first seemed to by taking all this in with wide-eyed credulity, have turned skeptical. Hallway conversations among class members show a consensus that Boly is bonkers.
Is this situation some kind of outrage? We can’t see how, since students are much more likely to be mislead, indoctrinated and bamboozled by our more plausible sounding liberal colleagues than by Boly.
Does academic freedom protect Boly’s right to teach all this? In principle, not necessarily. In practice, yes.
The classic cannons of academic freedom don’t protect the right of a professor to spout off about issues far from the subject matter of the class. But arguably the claim that evil things that Orwell and others predicted have come true is relevant. Academic freedom also does not protect the right of professors to indoctrinate students. Yet actually defining indoctrination is such a sticky issue that nobody – liberal or conservative – can want a ban on “indoctrination” enforced.
Clueless Humanities Professors
This has to be placed in the larger context of how academics, especially in the humanities, spout off about factual matters of which they are basically clueless. Our students, for example, have been indoctrinated by Philosophy and English professors to believe that blacks are over represented on death row. The truth, which any criminologist would know, is that blacks are under represented on death row.
Likewise, English professors bluster about supposed “racial disparity” in the incarceration of blacks. One such professor was challenged by a student we know who interned with a law enforcement agency. She asked “don’t blacks commit more crimes than whites?” The professor replied “no, it’s the fault of racist cops,” and then added “you’re part of the problem.”
But it’s not simply cluelessness at work here. Professors, especially in English and Philosophy, live in a narrow world of political correctness where absurd notions – provided they demonize the right sort of people – are routinely accepted. Boly, for example, was among an overwhelming majority of English professors at Marquette who signed a statement saying that returning to the “Warriors” athletic nickname would be “offensive” to Indians, a notion that is embraced by only a tiny minority of Americans, and indeed by only a tiny minority of American Indians.
So what we have here is one little case emblematic of a much larger academic reality: the corruption of academia generally, and especially the humanities, by attitudes that are fundamentally hostile to sound history and sound social science.
And unlike Kevin Barrett (formerly at Madison), Boly has tenure.