Premier Rachel Notley
Office of the Premier
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B6
Dear Premier Notley,
I am writing in response to the following statements you made about Professor Tony Hall:
“There is no question that the views of this individual are repulsive, offensive and not reflective of Alberta. Our classrooms are a place for freedom of speech and expression but that does not mean individuals get to stand at the head of the class and spread lies and conspiracy theories. I am terribly disappointed to learn that this individual has been reinstated, but let me be clear that legislation that our government introduced did not give him his job back. I can confirm that this individual is now under investigation by a committee at the University.”
I urge you to moderate your public statements about Professor Hall, primarily because I believe Professor Hall to be a man of integrity and thus undeserving of your condemnation, but also because your statements are likely to sway the judgment of the investigation committee, which should be free of government pressure.
Your suggestion that Professor Hall stands in front of his classes spreading lies and conspiracy theories is totally unfounded. To begin with, as you would discover through reviewing student evaluations Professor Hall has received over the years, he presents issues from a neutral perspective in the classroom, allowing students to examine evidence and arguments on all sides of a subject so they can make up their own minds. Outside the classroom he is naturally more willing to express personal views through social media, but these views are honestly come by and based upon responsible research.
I have followed Professor Hall’s work for years and have never found an instance in his writings or presentations that exhibits even a hint of racism or prejudice. Because of this, I can only assume that your characterization of his views as repulsive and offensive must be due to your learning about the image on his Facebook page that said “KILL ALL JEWS NOW!”—the image that influenced President Mahon to suspend him from the University of Lethbridge without pay. Perhaps you are unaware that Professor Hall was not responsible for the appearance of that image on his Facebook page and that he also finds it repulsive, offensive, and deeply disturbing.
The most critical charge leveled against Professor Hall is that he is a bigoted anti-Semite who is prejudiced against Jews and violates their human rights by publicly inciting hatred against them. This charge has no basis in fact, which can be ascertained by a careful review of his writings and presentations. Although he frequently deplores the role of Zionist supporters of the Likudnik regime in Israel, among whom he includes a proportion of fundamentalist Christians as well as Jews, you will never find him referring to “the Jews” as a people in this critique.
This is the crux of the matter, and the reason vested interests are trying to silence Professor Hall by expelling him from the university. As you must know, the great preponderance of nations of the world have consistently condemned Zionist aggression against Palestinians, as evidenced by over 45 UN resolutions condemning the occupation, all of which Israel has ignored. Professor Hall has a long history of supporting oppressed peoples, especially the indigenous peoples of the Americas, so it is no surprise that he would join most of the world in condemning the repressive policies of the Israeli regime. The essential point to understand here is that Professor Hall is being unfairly branded as an anti-Semite when he is merely anti-Zionist.
You have accused Professor Hall of spreading lies and conspiracy theories. Although Professor Hall has demonstrated a willingness to explore contentious issues about which reasonable people often disagree, this is far different from spreading lies. And using the term “conspiracy theory” is simply a convenient way to deflect any questioning of possible government deceptions, especially those that significantly betray the trust of the people. The term was first introduced by the CIA to discredit those who did not accept the Warren Report’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing JFK. The US Congress later determined that the evidence in fact pointed toward Oswald’s having accomplices, but the term “conspiracy theory” persists even to this day as a way to dismiss allegations of government complicity in criminal activity. Such conspiracies are quite common, however, as is evidenced by scandals like the Tonkin Gulf deception as a pretext for the Vietnam War, George H.W. Bush’s deception about incubator babies as a pretext for the First Gulf War, and George W. Bush’s deception about WMD as a pretext for the Iraq War. Critics who called attention to these deceptions at the time were dismissed as conspiracy theorists, but they later turned out to be right. Professor Hall has been called a conspiracy theorist for raising doubts about the official explanation for the 9/11 attacks. Future historians may or may not vindicate these doubts, but Professor Hall’s “conspiracy theories” about what really happened on 9/11/2001 are clearly in the best traditions of academic freedom, as defined in the University of Lethbridge Faculty Handbook:
“Academic freedom … entails the right to participate in public life, to criticize University or other administrations, to champion unpopular positions, to engage in frank discussion of controversial matters, and to raise questions and challenges which may be viewed as counter to the beliefs of society.” (Article 11)
If you have long ago made up your mind that the conspiracy theorists could not possibly be right about 9/11—as many have done—and you do not want to waste time revisiting the subject, I urge you to watch this recent half-hour YouTube video by a NIST whistleblower, Stand for the Truth: A Government Researcher Speaks Out. In this short video a 14-year NIST employee discusses the government cover-up of the fact that all three of the WTC towers collapsed due to controlled demolition, not due to office fires created by burning jet fuel as alleged by the Bush administration.
In addition to being pilloried for raising questions about 9/11, Professor Hall has been demonized as a “Holocaust denier”. It should be emphasized, however, that Professor Hall has not questioned whether the Holocaust occurred or that it was a terrible tragedy for the Jews. He simply points out that the details of the Holocaust should be open to historical analysis in the same way that we can debate the details of the genocide of indigenous peoples in the Americas, or what occurred during the Armenian genocide, for example. The very survival of our democracy depends upon an informed and enlightened citizenry, and it is only through allowing debate about controversial issues that we can be sure of the truth about them.
Because Professor Hall’s willingness to raise and examine contentious issues demonstrates the most admirable values of the academy, which should be willing to explore any controversy in open debate, and because Professor Hall’s record shows him to be entirely free of any prejudice against Jews or any other group of people, I urge you to support Professor Hall’s right to continue teaching at Lethbridge University and to retract your negative statements.
Chuck Millar, Ph.D.