By Craig McKee
Truth and Shadows
Over his long and impressive academic career, Professor Anthony Hall has helped us all better understand how crises can be manufactured to manipulate public perception of narratives that serve the interests of established power.
Now, he is the victim of one of those contrived crises.
In the latest of a growing list of glaring assaults on academic freedom, Hall has been suspended without pay from his tenured teaching position at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada where he has taught for 26 years. As the result of an obviously faked and planted Facebook post, he has become the focus of a smear campaign by the Jewish lobby group B’nai Brith Canada, which is accusing him of being an “anti-Semitic Holocaust denier.”
The post appeared on Hall’s Facebook page in August without his knowledge. It featured an orthodox Jewish man being assaulted and was accompanied by text that called for the killing of all Jews. The face of the man actually doing the assaulting in the original photograph was “photoshopped” out and replaced by the face of cartoonist Ben Garrison, whose name also appears at the bottom of the text. The name of the person who made the post was given as Glen Davidson.
Hall has denied posting this and has said he was not even aware it had been there until well after its removal by Facebook. And indeed it would make no sense for Hall to make the post given that it does not reflect his views and it would be guaranteed to invite the very attacks he is now enduring. (It is worth noting a revelation reported on The Intercept by Glenn Greenwald that Facebook has been co-operating with the Israeli government to censor posts it claims to be “hate speech.”)
In an article on his web site American Herald Tribune, Hall writes: “What is behind the creation of the original post that set the controversy in motion? Who created it and why? Is this whole episode an engineered crisis?”
He goes on to question the purpose of the post itself and its text: “Quite possibly by design, the miniscule, densely compressed text is very difficult to read especially on small digital devices. Could this attribute be because the text was conceived not as a means of winning adherents but rather as a justification for political actions like the B’nai Brith’s current hate speech campaign highlighting my academic position at the University of Lethbridge?”
Hall’s suspension is pending an investigation by the university into whether the professor of liberal education and globalization studies has violated the Alberta Human Rights Act. In a statement released last week, the university did not offer details about how Hall is alleged to have violated the Act, nor will the administration offer further comment. Hall has retained a lawyer.
It is ironic that the university is looking into Hall’s potential violations of the Human Rights Act when it is Hall whose rights are being denied.
“This whole experience is causing me to say that academic freedom is menaced in Canada,” he said in an interview with Truth and Shadows.
B’nai Brith Canada, which is an affiliate of the worldwide organization B’nai Brith International, doesn’t seem at all concerned with whether Hall actually made the post. The organization has at the least grabbed the opportunity to push ahead with a nasty and slanderous campaign to get Hall fired from his teaching position. They initiated a petition calling for this and even got the Lethbridge police to look into the matter. Police determined no laws had been broken and closed the file.
“We must not allow the precedent to be set that there are things we can and cannot talk about,” Hall asserted. “Implicit in that is that universities become a place where we can’t have a questioning mentality because that might cause people to look at information that might be embarrassing to those in power.”
Hall says terms like “anti-Semitic,” “Holocaust denier,” “conspiracy theorist,” and even “9/11 truther” are weaponized terms that are used to discredit a person or point of view without any reference to actual evidence.
Hall co-hosts the podcast False Flag Weekly News with Kevin Barrett and is editor-in-chief of American Herald Tribune. He has also contributed to Truth and Shadows. He is the author of two widely praised volumes: The American Empire and the Fourth World (2005) and Earth into Property: Colonization, Decolonization, and Capitalism (2010). Hall has tirelessly raised awareness of the plight of North America’s indigenous people.
In his writings and public statements, Hall has apparently committed an unpardonable sin: he has criticized the ideology of Zionism and the extreme human rights violations committed by the State of Israel. He has stood up for the right of anyone to discuss and debate any subject – including the Holocaust. In Canada, of course, you can actually go to prison for challenging this. This is also true in a number of other countries, including Germany. In the U.S., you may not risk jail but you can have your livelihood taken away for this and for much less. (For some examples, see the sidebar at the end of this article.)
The university administration, and president Michael Mahon in particular, have been worse than weak through all this, making no attempt whatsoever to stand up for academic freedom, let alone freedom of speech.
A petition calling for the resignation of university board of governors chairman Kurt E. Schlachter now has more than 350 signatories. From the petition:
“On October 4, 2016, tenured Professor Anthony Hall was unlawfully disciplined by the University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
“This followed external accusations made by virulent Israel lobby groups, echoed by national media. The accusation was about a third-party post in a thread on the professor’s personal Facebook page.
“The Chair of the Board of Governors of the university, Mr. Kurt E. Schlachter, has failed to prevent or to correct the unlawful discipline of Professor Hall…”
In a meeting with Hall on Sept. 26 (which did not include Mahon), university officials told him that it was time the university and he “go their separate ways.” Hall says the university handbook contains a provision that allows for the dismissal of a tenured professor if both sides are in agreement. This is clearly not the case here.
“As I am being smeared and defamed, the U of L is also being smeared and defamed, and the intelligent thing to do would be to join forces, not become acrimonious,” Hall said.
Support for Hall has come this week from the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association in the form of a statement by association president Andrea Amelinckx.
“We call on the board of governors of the University of Lethbridge to ensure that the allegations that have been made against professor Hall are investigated with the speed and thoroughness they deserve, using the legal and contractual procedures already in place in the Post Secondary Learning Act and the contract with the Faculty Association.
“The president’s [Michael Mahon] action violates provincial law and contravenes the university’s contract with its faculty, which provides a process for investigating complaints, such as those alleged against professor Hall, in a fair, speedy, and thorough fashion.”
Media take predictable stance
The mainstream media have been predictably complicit in the attack on Hall, using the “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” meme and the unfounded claim that he is a Holocaust denier.
Now magazine in Toronto carried a hit piece on Hall written by Bernie Farber, the executive director of the Mosaic Institute, whose mission statement reads: “The Mosaic Institute is a ‘think and do’ tank that creates platforms for learning and dialogue among diverse Canadian communities to advance justice, promote peace, and reduce conflict.”
In the article, we see familiar ad hominem attacks: “Hall gives every appearance of being both a conspiracy nutter and a classic anti-Semite.”
When Farber writes, “gives every appearance,” that’s code for “I don’t have to back this up with anything specific.”
Farber writes about how Facebook did not remove the offending post initially but later reconsidered: “Following a backlash on social media, Facebook sheepishly admitted it had erred in its assessment and the post was removed. To the best of my knowledge, Hall was never moved to delete this post himself.”
How would Farber know what Hall was and was not “moved” to do since he never contacted him?
Finally, the article connects anti-Semitism with challenges to the 9/11 official story.
“Like any good Jew-hater, Hall also engages in Jewish conspiracy theories. In 2009, after giving speech at the University of Manitoba, Hall reportedly linked Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, with 9/11.”
Is it really necessary to point out what is wrong with this statement? If you examine evidence that points to an Israeli involvement in 9/11, then you are engaging in “Jewish conspiracy theories.” And if you are doing that, you must be a “Jew hater.”
The message is simple: say anything critical of Israel and we will brand you an anti-Semitic bigot. Speak out publicly against actions of Israel and we will destroy your reputation and, if possible, your career.
Hall was interviewed on radio by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (an unsympathetic interview by host David Gray: here in its raw form and here the edited version that aired). In one article on the CBC web site, police are quoted as calling the post that appeared on Hall’s page “offensive and inappropriate” but confirmed that it did not meet the standard in the Criminal Code of Canada for “advocating genocide or public incitement of hatred.”
Police also confirmed that the post came not from Hall but from a third party.
The CBC article implies that one of Hall’s offences is that he is “alleged to be promoting conspiracy theories.” How can any reasonable human being think that “promoting conspiracy theories” is something that should put one’s academic career at risk? And what does it even mean? Conspiracies take place all the time, and the conspirators make every effort to keep them hidden from public view. Anyone who points this out, it would seem, does so at their own risk.
On hand at the CBC radio interview was American activist Jeremy Rothe-Kushel (he shot the raw video of the interview), who is fighting a battle of his own. He was arrested in May for simply asking a follow-up question of the featured speaker at an event at a library in Kansas City, Missouri (more on that at the end of this article).
The Lethbridge Herald, in an article by J.W. Schnarr, wrote that Hall was being investigated “in light of ongoing claims involving the alleged spread of conspiracy theories and anti-Zionist propaganda.”
Anti-Zionist propaganda? Apparently, it’s only propaganda when you oppose Zionism. If you support it, then you’re fine. And, once again, you can accuse someone of spreading conspiracy theories without even having to define what you mean by that.
The Canadian Jewish News put it similarly, writing that Hall had been suspended for “disseminating Zionist conspiracy theories and encouraging speculation about the Holocaust.”
Shimon Fogel, the CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, praised the university for suspending Hall, adding that this “has affirmed that academic freedom does not include the right to promote hateful conspiracy theories.”
Hateful conspiracy theories? What is and isn’t hateful is in the eye of the beholder, it seems to me. It appears that anyone can say anything negative they want about a Muslim country that Israel considers its enemy. You can call Palestinians terrorists, or accuse countries like Iran, Libya, or Syria of state terrorism, and no one will bat an eye. But condemn Israel for its well-documented and decades-old history of state terrorism and its horrific treatment of the Palestinians then you have to deal with pro-Israel groups accusing you of spreading “hateful conspiracy theories.” It’s double standardism carried to a ridiculous but widespread extreme.
Academics have been coming to Hall’s defense and writing to U of L president Michael Mahon. One is retired English literature professor Robin Mathews:
“… the University of Lethbridge should realize that if steps were taken to forge a fraudulent image to post on the Facebook page of Professor Hall without his even knowing it was posted there – then attempts to slander and harm him may be in full spate. The University of Lethbridge and President Michael J. Mahon simply cannot be complicit in such activity. They cannot be seen or appear to be seen as complicit in planned activity intended to slander, harm, and destroy a member of their community.”
Retired Dalhousie University professor Dr. M.R. Islam points out that much more diligence should have been exercised by the university in even opening an investigation into this case:
“A tenured professor cannot be suspended as a precautionary measure. No, you don’t need to be a lawyer to understand this. You need just a bit of conscience and some ability to read the articles in a collective agreement. And no, accusations by an interest group about the persona of a professor doesn’t form the basis for even starting an investigation.”
It seems that in this age of creeping or maybe galloping McCarthyism you risk being drummed out of your job for criticizing Israel, condemning Zionism, or even challenging the official story of 9/11.
For academic freedom to exist, and regular old freedom of speech to exist for the rest of us, every person without exception must have the right, and assert it, to question anything, including the Holocaust, including actions by the State of Israel, and including 9/11, in any combination.
Other careers attacked or under attack
There have been a number of notable instances recently of educators and others being fired and even arrested for their political statements.
Steven Salaita sued University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after the university revoked an offer professorship as a result of comments he made on social media that were highly critical of Israel. Salaita received a settlement of $875,000 from the school. Including legal fees, the case cost the school more than $2 million.
Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, was suspended with pay in August by Oberlin College in Ohio for posts she made on Facebook charging that Israel and Zionists were behind 9/11 and the Charlie Hebdo event. The suspension came a full six months after the college learned of the posts.
As mentioned above, Jeremy Rothe-Kushel was arrested after asking author and diplomat Dennis Ross about the use of state-sponsored terrorism by the U.S. and Israel. When he tried to ask a second question a private security guard grabbed his arm and pulled him away. (You can see the incident here.) The guard and an off-duty police officer, both hired by the Jewish Community Foundation, pulled Rothe-Kushel out of the room and then arrested him. He has been charged with trespassing and resisting arrest. Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library, tried to intervene and he was charged with interfering with an arrest. He says he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee when a police officer kneed him in the leg. Rothe-Kushel said he would have left on his own had he been asked. This month, R. Crosby Kemper III, executive director of the city’s library system, came to the defence of those arrested, saying that the security guards were not acting for the library and had no right to arrest anyone for asking a question. “At this stage, I’m actually outraged,” he said. “This is a big violation of the very first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Last month, Nikolaos Balaskas, a laboratory technologist in the science faculty of York University in Toronto, was fired for social media posts that the university deemed to “target identifiable groups” and “denigrate particular religious faiths including those of the Jewish faith.”
History teacher Jason Ali was fired last month from his job at Woodbridge High School in Woodbridge, New Jersey after it was found that on his teacher’s web page he had linked to a web site that featured an article alleging that the U.S. government was responsible for 9/11.
James Tracy, a tenured associate professor of journalism and media studies at Florida Atlantic University was fired earlier this year for allegedly failing to fill out certain paperwork. Tracy, who runs the Memory Hole blog, had been attacked by the mainstream media and others for his statements that the Sandy Hook event in 2012 was staged, and it appears that this was the real reason for his firing. Tracy is suing for reinstatement.
While it happened back in 2009, it is very much worth noting the experience of William Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He was investigated for alleged “anti-Semitism” for an email he sent out to students comparing the Israeli occupation of Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland in WWII. Robinson’s right to free speech was defended by the Foundation for Individual Freedom in Education (FIRE), which had threatened a media campaign against the university if it didn’t end the investigation. The university’s Academic Senate found in Robinson’s favor.
11 thought on “B’NAI BRITH SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST ANTHONY HALL REFLECTS WORSENING THREAT TO ACADEMIC FREEDOM”
Correction: Warsaw Ghetto was not in Poland but in Germany occupied Poland during WWII.
Poles did not create the Warsaw Ghetto, Germans did.
Poles had the greatest casualties of any country proportionately in world war 2. 5 million Poles were killed out of a population of 15 million, Jews and non-Jews, the vast majority of being civilians. It was a deliberate Nazi policy to transplant Germans. More Slavs were killed in ww 2 than Jews, the US currently threatening both Slavs and Jews in Ukraine with an anti-Russian Nazi-oligarch regime.
I look forward to reports on this as it proceeds through the courts. Very disturbing.
Is it okay to reblog this?
Suppose by some miracle every faculty member, every employee and every student at the so called “University of Lethbridge” in Canada suddenly left the campus today, this afternoon on strike in support of professor Hall. This type of unified action by all those who have a vested interest in basic Academic Freedom and Intellectual Freedom and Freedom of thought and Freedom to Criticize anyone anywhere anyplace no matter for what reason of no matter whose Ox gets gored, which would get the attention of the tyrants running this sorry excuse of a university but which is not in fact a university at all but a place of indoctrination, brainwashing and lies. In fact if the truth were known it is very likely this entire event was contrived from the start and involves all parties to it, except professor Hall, basically a criminal conspiracy to deprive professor Hall of his job and embarrass and intimidate him to use as an example for anyone else who does not follow their Nazi style dictates. All these despicable whores in the administration at this non university care about is public relations and money. In fact, think about this: Israel is a country based on one religion. These prejudiced bigots seek to use strong arm tactics, under the color of law, to intimidate any criticism of those who believe this religion. If this is the new policy of this fake “university” then does not it follow that no one should be appointed to an administrative position who also follows this prejudiced religion since obviously they can’t be objective in evaluating those involved in a criminal set up as professor Hall was all based on lies and fraud? Fraud is a criminal offense in most countries and I assume it has not been abolished even in this cesspool Canada today. No one who subscribes to the Jewish faith should be permitted to be an administrator if they are going down this slippery slope because they would have a conflict of interest in such decisions wouldn’t they? Of course they want it both ways; they are classic hypocrites, bigots, talking out of both sides of their mouths, one set of rules for their selfish whims, another set of rules for others.
Professor Hall could be any other professor or employee. Who is next? Everyone must stand up and loudly and clearly tell those gang rapists of intellectual freedom at this sorry non university to shove it or they won’t work there any more or attend classes there any longer. If this happened this sorry place would be forced to shut down pronto which is exactly what should happen. If professor Hall is forced out then the entire sorry excuse of a non university should be forced to shut down. Boycott Canada and this non university there. Do not buy anything made in Canada. Do not travel there. Give them a taste of their own medicine since they obviously are so ignorant and bigoted they have never learned the Golden Rule: “Do Unto Others as you would Have them Do Unto YOU.” Frankly the best outcome which could happen is that this entire sorry excuse of a non university be closed this afternoon. Why would any student want a meaningless degree from this intellectual whorehouse?
Win, good start but let me make some observations here and let’s try to unravel some stuff here.
The organization that created this upheaval involving Dr Hall is NOT the university administration, it is the external B’nai Br’ith that summoned their troops lying dormant as sayanim. Undoubtedly, a number of organizations were summoned, sort of like white faced hornets racing out of their nest.
The call to action was a result of the fact Dr Hall scored some points against the group, he was dangerous with his verbal rapier and they didn’t like his gaining influence. It was a very defensive maneuver.
I think it is heavyhanded to lambaste all university staff for this brouhaha they, too, are under the same stressors when they venture into attack mode, or truthtelling mode, as you might call it. The average professor cowers in the corner afraid of losing his job and his chance for promotions, honors, etc. Courage is difficult to come by when so much is riding, especially if you are junior faculty. Blow your tenure track and you will be stillborn, count on it.
So, let’s admit that while freedom of speech is nice and may be everything in certain environs like academe, it is wise to realize that there is hallowed territory one must be careful around and within. Will Barrett and Tracy get their jobs back? Not until we go back to the rule of law, that’s when. A few iconoclasts can be neatly handled and made examples of, we see this all the time.
Upon reflection,do we all think Dr Hall managed things the right way all the time? Not by a long shot. We all gotta know when to hold ’em and when to folk ’em. You venture into hostile territory and if you score some points against your enemy, you might find yourself in dire straits.
I would be remiss were I to excoriate all university staff, professional and otherwise, as blithering idiots who precipitated this crisis. The prime mover was Dr Hall. I wish he talked to me before he ventured into the Badlands of Academe.
You say he was always truthful, that’s fine, but since when is the truth always adequate to extricate onself from those Badlands? His episode is no different from those of the WW2 revisionists, the Holocaust revisionists, and those who noticed that communists were aplenty in our post WW2 government. Truth is not always wanted, look at our political scene. Mendacity is rewarded these days, look what’s at stake with al these NWO threats. Like, the entire world could face extinction of billions of people.
I do believe, Winfield, that a walk-out by students and staff would bring attention to the crisis that most likely involves the entire civilized world. I’d say that the USA had better get with it soon or else we will find ourselves going down the Kohler vortex. This world is about to explode, there’s never been a better time to let the oligarchs know we have had it with tyranny. Now is the time, now or never.
U of Lethbridge faculty union president speaks out against Prof. Hall’s suspension.
That is disgusting; prof. Hall is in no way anti-Semitiic. He is legitimately attacking apartheid Israel who apparently retaliated through a local Zionist organ. It is dangerous and frightening that a Canada university is as bent as US universities in being amenable to this kind of threat against tenured faculty.
It is no wonder that most academics are so timid about Conspiracy Theories and other intellectual garbage dredged up by the truth pimps in the media. These kinds of smears need no proof at all to destroy a career. Tenure increasingly s meaningless if courageous truthers can be fired for simply telling the unconventional and Unmentionable truth.
And why Ben Garrison is attacked in this way is apparently as mysterious to him as to everyone else. But he is attacked by the Nazis.
Is there an increasing connection between the Zionists and the Nazis as there is in Ukraine? They are both racist, and the racism can be directed as needed. And at anyone. This kind of thing is vicious, and can destroy not only the person but the movement he advocates.
Wherever this rape of Academic Freedom at the so called “University of Lethbridge” is discussed, it is too easy on them to simply say “Bnai Brith” is making the complaint. All names and addresses and possible conflicts of interest of each person involved in the complaint must be published. This must be done wherever these bigoted loudmouth Jewish groups are seeking to demean and intimidate and obstruct freedom of speech and thought anywhere. These prejudiced groups are tiny minorities everywhere but have been granted majority status as they have in the U.S. Let’s return to majority rule. We must stop allowing these gutless cowards from hiding behind a front terrorist organization like this one or many others they use to stifle free speech everywhere when they are “offended”. These speech and thought terrorists must all be told in no uncertain terms to “shove it”. Graphic language wold be more appropriate for these despicable terrorists of the academy. Freedom of speech is far too important than to be surrendered to gutless cowards without a fight. After all just look at the efforts the Founders of America made in this direction. Free speech in America in Amendment NUMERO UNO or NUMBER ONE of our precious Constitution. Evidently Canada seeks to live in or return to the Dark Ages.
“It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do, but what humanity, reason and justice, tell me I ought to do.” Edmund Burke
This vid also covers the recent shooting at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.This is the same campus that Prof. Steven Salaita was denied employment after being hired due to the fact that he supports Palestine.Coincidence?
Steven Isserlis has very interesting thoughts he shares about deniers and protestors.