Conservatives are waging war on US academia; campaign to harass and intimidate professors will end in bloodshed

For several years, American conservatives have declared war on scholars and institutions of higher learning, repining that their religious values, repudiation of science and bigotry towards others because of their race, creed, gender or who they choose to love are not welcome on campus. They have long bristled at purported ‘political correctness’, which restrains them from using epithets to describe racial and religious minorities as well as women and LGBTQI persons without consequence. They believe that they are being forced to accept persons as their equals when their Sky Tyrant beliefs tell them otherwise.

To fight these outrages they are waging a systematic, nationwide campaign to intimidate the physical and economic security of scholars in effort to silence them. They have formed numerous ‘watchdog’ organisations that monitor faculty and developed lists of ‘dangerous faculty’. Their ally in this war is Fox News, which commands the highest viewership. Their most effective weapon is stochastic terrorism, which is individually random, but predictably uses violence or threats to achieve their fascist goal: silencing intellectuals.

I know first-hand: Since December 2016, an array of conservative organisations I refuse to name to avoid giving them traffic have launched, at least three systematic campaigns of threatened violence against me and my university’s community: including faculty, staff and students. Their tactic, in each case, has been to publicise my private speech, which has been unremittingly in opposition to the white, Christian, cis-male supremacist ideology promoted by the White House and its allies in contemporary American society in an effort to crowdsource thousands of threats to me and my employer. Their goal has been to intimidate and bully my employer to fire me.

I am not alone. At least 50 professors in the United States are literally being targetted at home and in the workplace using stochastic terrorism. A conservative author wrote a book targetting 101 of the “Most Dangerous Academics in America”.

 Conservatives are waging war on US academia; campaign to harass and intimidate professors will end in bloodshed

Representational image. Reuters

A popular website called The Professor Watch List provides an alphabetical listing of us. We all have one thing in common: we use our private speech to argue for an inclusive America where all persons are equal before the law and under it irrespective of our gender, race, creed, or whom we choose to love. Apparently, this genuine belief in the promise of democracy for all is anathema to contemporary American conservatives who, in recent years, have opined about the “white genocide” they insist is depriving them of their right to discriminate in the workplace and elsewhere. “White male rage” has been mainstreamed by Fox News personalities like Tucker Carlson who use their platforms to galvanise crowd source swarms of stochastic terrorists.

I became a target of conservative stochastic terrorism following my criticism of a right-wing shill who wrote an editorial in The Washington Post claiming. “I’m a Muslim, a woman and an immigrant. I voted for Trump.” In response, on 22 November, 2016, I wrote about 10 tweets to her about this post noting that she has normalised racism, Islamophobia, rape culture, and even the noxious Nazis, who made their first public appearance in the capitol city the weekend after her post and prior to my pointed criticisms of her piece. There was nothing special or even obscene about those posts: they stated facts. When she sent me a cloying personal message, I instructed her to “go to hell” and reminded her to register for Donald Trump’s promised Muslim registry, which she supported.

She lugubriously opined to conservative media that a noted university professor told her to “go to hell” and slanderously accused me of harassing her for two months. Outlets that carried this specious claim without supporting evidence. Given the individual’s long-standing relationship with Fox News, the network created a news cycle over my private speech over several days on programmes hosted by the network’s most inflammatory personalities. What ensued was two months of vitriolic threats to me as well as my university. I next found myself on various watch lists.

The next campaign happened when I persuaded my fitness club to oust the leader of the American tiki-torch carrying American Nazis out of deference to the racial and religious minorities as well as women who work there. Once again, the right-wing zoo swarmed its stochastic terrorists to assail me at home and work and to intimidate my colleagues and students.

The most recent campaign began in early October over my scathing criticism of the weaponised misogyny evidenced by the Trump administration in putting forth an alleged serial assailant as a nominee for the US Supreme Court. During his confirmation, he comported himself with utter disdain towards the female senators. This round of stochastic terrorists heavily comprised white nationalists and the new phenomenon of deeply misogynist men who self-refer as “Incels” or “involuntary celibates”. Incels have conducted mass shootings of women and advocate raping women such that we will “learn our place”.

This time, the stochastic terrorists focussed on my university: threatening my colleagues and students. Their consistent focus upon my students is particularly vile because many of my students have worked in hostile environment such as Iraq and Afghanistan and many have PTSD. This is simply unconscionable.

As a designated “dangerous professor”, the right-wing speech police monitors my social media. I have observed a chilling pattern: organisations ‘hire’ undergraduates with no training or interest in journalism ethics to stalk out my social media and that of others. Should they find something potentially irksome to the right-wing speech police, they draft an insipid screed aiming to inflame. They seem to be paid around $100 for these hit pieces.

Usually, these articles result in little harassment except from persons I call ‘frequent flyers’ who taken a stalker-like interest in my speech. If the undergraduate dragoon is lucky, a higher-end right-wing outlet will pick up and amplify their incendiary drivel, distorting the truth further along the way.

If the writer is extremely lucky, Fox News will pick it up and one or more of its baleful personalities will further distort the original offending speech. I have observed that the foot soldiers are generally disciplined: the vast majority know how to threaten within the bounds of US law. They also are capable of learning lessons as conventional terrorists do.

In the last campaign, they did not generally target my home; instead, they concluded that my university is a ‘softer’ target. Indeed, I am a hard target. Long before Incels knew my name, I dealt with Pakistan’s intelligence agency. I don’t intimidate easily; but it turns out that universities do.

My university and I decided that given the volume of harassment — 50 calls per hour in addition to emails — that it was prudent that I go on (paid) research leave to protect my students. This was what the stochastic terrorists wanted: To remove me from the classroom, where they presume I spread a toxic ideological brew that all humans are created equal! This is the true face of conservatism in America: Violence-wielding troglodytes who yearn for an America that never was. We've seen these tactics before. With guns more easily available than affordable healthcare in America, this ends in bloodshed.

C Christine Fair is the author of In their own words: Understanding Lashkar-E-Tayyaba and Fighting to the end: The Pakistan Army's Way of War.

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Updated Date: Dec 26, 2018 13:41:50 IST