This hit-piece on myself—”The Professor of Paranoia”—has just come out in the Chronicle of Higher Education. It comes as no surprise to me, since it was clear throughout my conversations with Mark Dery that, despite his friendly overtures to me some months ago (we knew each other once upon a time, as he reports), he’s utterly repelled by what I’m doing, both as a professor and a public intellectual, and was seeking ammunition. I’ve only glanced at what he wrote, and will go through it carefully when I have time; but I wanted all of you to see it, and would, of course, be pleased to have you come to my defense with letters to the editor, if you should feel so moved.
I’m sure I’ll write my own reply; and, since I believe that such attacks should always serve as “teaching moments,” I’ll probably put all the raw materials for Dery’s hatchet-job up on my website, and share it with you: the two Zoom videos of my conversations with the author, and our extensive email correspondence. This will enable one to see what details Dery chose to string together, and— more importantly—what he left out, in order to create his caricature of a once-fine mind now spouting “right-wing bunkum.” (In that way it’s somewhat like a New York Times hit-piece on RFK, Jr., published in the Style section years ago, when Bobby was writing on election theft; only Dery’s piece is less respectful.)
Right now I’ll note what struck me most about the author’s attitude toward my many heresies: his total ignorance of all the controversial issues that we touched on, or talked about at length—the moon landing, Sandy Hook and Parkland, Andrew Wakefield and Vaxxed, COVID-19 and the “vaccines,” the Great Reset, etc.—and what seemed to be a certain pride in that ignorance, as if only nut-jobs and “deplorables” would even bother studying such things at all, as doing so would mean departing from what he kept on reverently invoking as “the consensus.” It was like talking to the New York Times itself, the Gray Lady having taken over Dery’s body (which, despite his animosity, I sincerely hope keeps functioning as usual, as he and his are “fully vaccinated”; and his faith in those “vaccines,” he told me, rather frighteningly, is “carved in stone”).
In any case, we carry on, despite this kind of thing—which is to be expected when you go against the grain. (I’m honored that Dery sees my online work as comparable to the “calamity-howling” of my friend Naomi Wolf, who also has been excommunicated by the Times and, therefore, types like him.)