Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Neo-Non-Nazi or Not?

Okay, so this story may make your head spin.

Part 1:
From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
"Last March, Jacques Pluss was fired from his job as an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University soon after it came to light that he was a prominent member of the National Socialist Movement of the United States."

So, first it comes out that the adjunct professor is also a neo-Nazi radio show host, and so he gets fired. A number of people claim that his academic freedoms have been violated, but I'm pretty much thinking the same thing I did when Ward Churchill got canned- what exactly did they expect? Say you're a professor at Opus T. Penguin University, and you write an article for a magazine entitled either: A) "Why I hate the Jews" or B) "Why the Victims of 911 Are Comparable to Nazi War Criminals". And at the end of the article it says: "Jack Mehoff is a Professor at Opus T. Penguin University, and he hates the Jews, and thinks the victims of 911 got what they had coming to them." How exactly do you expect the University to respond? You expect a raise? Obviously, they're going to fire you! C'est la vie!

Part Deux:
Anyway, the story gets weirder, because get this, the Neo-Nazi prof was only pretending to be a neo-nazi to do research. According to his own article, "Now it Can be Told" he became a prominent neo-nazi "for the purpose of gathering research to write a book on a political subject in which I could personally partake and which was “fringe” in the most essential aspect of the word." I don't know if that's weirder or more boring actually. He also says:

"Throughout the course of my academic career, I came to hold in deep respect the scholarship of the French Deconstructionists, particularly Jacques Derrida and Michele Foucault (especially Foucault’s Archeology of Knowledge and his History of Madness). At the same time, my work – in teaching and in academic writing – has been heavily influenced by the notion of Geistesgeschichte, as articulated by one of the premier medievalists, Ernst Kantorowicz. All of those scholars stress, each in their own way, the need for the historian to “become” her or his subject in order to develop a relationship with it."

As Margaret Soltan has noted, the case really has taken a turn towards the boring. Is Pluss telling the truth now? Or lying then? Or should we care? Well, I believe him on Foucault. There is something all-too "Foucaultian" about coming up with half-baked ideas and then trying desperately to get attention for them while pretending not to care about that attention. But, to quote an undergrad: "Yeah dude,whatever!"


Bill White said...

Pluss is full of it.

Rufus said...

Yeah, well that's why the whole thing is boring. I think he's just wanted attention from the start, and it's hard to care at this point.