Sunday, April 11, 2021

Rightwing Cancel Culture Efforts...

 A BILLIONAIRE-FUNDED WEBSITE WITH TIES TO THE FAR RIGHT IS TRYING TO “CANCEL” UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS


 The hypocrisy of the whining rightwing pigeon brained maroons.

On to the article...


The Intercept - WHEN PETE HATEMI, a political science professor at Pennsylvania State University, got an email from a student he didn’t know asking him to become a faculty adviser for a conservative group on campus, he did some research on the organization, Young Americans for Freedom, and quickly decided that he wanted nothing to do with them. Among current and former leaders of YAF chapters across the country, he learned, were declared white supremacists, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, and supporters of the Ku Klux Klan and the Proud Boys. Some were involved with neo-Nazi activist Richard Spencer. And at least one had participated in the assault on the U.S. Capitol, staged by hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump less than a week before the student’s email.

As a matter of policy, Hatemi never gets involved in student groups no matter their affiliation, he said, but he thought it his responsibility to make sure that the student was aware of the group’s ties to far-right extremists. So he declined the request and offered some advice. “Your timing, frankly, could be seen as offensive to many,” he wrote, referring to the January 6 assault. “It might be time to reflect on what you stand for and what your organization stands for.”

Hatemi said he put quite some thought into his two-paragraph response. “The right thing to do was to say, ‘Hey, you need to take a look at what you’re doing and this group you belong to,’” he told me in an interview. “If I say nothing, what kind of educator am I?”

Within days, Hatemi’s email to the student was published on Campus Reform, a conservative website that bills itself as the “#1 Source for College News” and whose stated mission is to expose “liberal bias and abuse on the nation’s college campuses.” The article accused Hatemi of having “lashed out” at the student and “responded harshly” to his request. Quotes from Hatemi’s email also appeared in right-wing publications like The Federalist, The Blaze, and the Post Millennial, and they spread on social media, where they were manipulated and stripped of context. A deluge of hate mail followed, directed at Hatemi as well as at his university’s administration. Some of it threatened violence, prompting campus police to intervene, though Hatemi declined to comment on the details. The university did not respond to a request for comment.

Kara Zupkus, a spokesperson for YAF, wrote in an email to The Intercept that the group “has regularly condemned white nationalism, mob violence, and extremism.” She also referred to a statement the organization issued shortly after the incident involving Hatemi.

“It is Penn State YAF’s constitutional right to exist on campus – whether this professor likes it or not,” the group wrote then. “To attack all conservative students and YAF by accusing them of supporting riots and violence with no evidence is disgraceful and unbecoming of a professor at an institution of higher education.”

Campus Reform is published by the Leadership Institute, a nonprofit that has trained conservative activists for four decades through the generous funding of billionaire donors like the Koch family. The institute reported more than $16 million in revenue in 2018 alone. Over the last several years, Campus Reform has targeted hundreds of college professors like Hatemi, leading to online harassment campaigns, doxxing, threats of violence, and calls on universities to fire their faculty. Professors featured in Campus Reform stories have felt isolated and confused as they came under attack, often over public statements they made but sometimes over things they said in class or even academic research they published. Campus Reform stories have regularly been picked up by a host of established conservative outlets, from Breitbart to Fox News, amplifying outrage and unleashing abuse in a manner that observers of the site note mirrors how far-right extremists attack their targets online.

“The effects of Campus Reform stories can be similar to the online harassment often deployed by white supremacists,” said Isaac Kamola, an assistant professor at Trinity College who studies the politics of higher education and closely monitors the site.

Kamola has tracked more than 1,570 stories posted on Campus Reform since 2020 and surveyed the 338 individuals they targeted, many of whose official profiles and contact details were linked to in stories about them. The survey, the results of which will be published by the American Association of University Professors’ Academe magazine, found that at least 40 percent of respondents received “threats of harm” following a Campus Reform article, mostly via email and social media but also often by phone, text message, or postal mail. One professor reported receiving thousands of emails, many of them laced with violent, racist, and sexist comments, Kamola said. In the most extreme cases, he added, online trolls published the professors’ personal information online, forcing them to change their phone numbers, leave their homes, and retain security. Less than half the people surveyed by Kamola reported receiving support from their universities’ administrations, and more than 12 percent reported facing disciplinary action as a result of a Campus Reform story. Three people said they lost their jobs.

The professors were targeted over a variety of liberal positions, the survey reveals, but a majority were singled out over their comments on race, and Black professors were disproportionately targeted. Those who discussed topics like antifa, Black Lives Matter, and Palestine were especially subjected to threats, the survey found. And the intimidation seemed to work, with nearly a quarter of surveyed professors saying that they dialed back their social media presence as a result of being targeted, even though others said that the experience bolstered their commitment to speak out about social justice issues.

“I basically know that Campus Reform has written something about me because I’ll just suddenly start getting vicious hate mail in my inbox,” said Asha Rangappa, a senior lecturer at Yale University who was twice the subject of Campus Reform stories and has described the site as an example of “domestic information warfare.”

“Within 24 hours, it will have been cited or replicated in an entire ecosystem of right-wing media,” she added, noting that professors who lacked the social media status to push back were particularly vulnerable. “It’s just never clear why it’s newsworthy; it’s portrayed as something crazy and outrageous, and it is never contextualized. But it very predictably turns into a barrage of targeted harassment.”

Campus Reform’s managing editor and the site’s chief spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment. Morton Blackwell, a conservative activist and the founder and director of the Leadership Institute, wrote in an email to The Intercept that the institute “was founded to train and develop principled conservative leaders for our country: men and women who share our country’s founding principles of liberty, individual rights, and equal justice for all under the rule of law.”

Cancel Culture

Campus Reform is emblematic of the raging battle in American public discourse over so-called cancel culture, which the site’s writers have regularly lamented even as they set out to cancel the reputations and jobs of the people they attack. Campus Reform is also the product of a decades-old conservative and libertarian effort to shape the values of U.S. higher education through a series of organizations that give the appearance of a diverse and organic conservative campus movement but are in fact part of the same coordinated network.

What we know for certain about the rightwing republicans, whether they be college students, a fortune 500 company, or a certain ex US president is this... They are all hypocrites.

Much more BELOW the FOLD.

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