Posted by B’nai Brith on Aug. 29, 2016:
My comment posted Sep. 17, 2016
The image and text that appeared on Anthony Hall’s Facebook wall are absolutely appalling. It’s hard to believe that anyone thinks like that. Yet, the fact that such messages even exist help me to realize what kind of a world it is we live in. It makes me wonder whether they should be banned, as otherwise I would be unaware.
It is important to realize that Professor Hall publicly condemns that image and text. Go to False Flag Weekly,http://noliesradio.org/archives/119976, at minute 36, to see and hear his denunciation.
When I put on my “fairness” glasses and look at that image I see Tony Hall in the headlock, and the arms locking his head are the image and the text. Does anyone else see that, or are my “fairness” glasses defective?
Posted by B’nai Brith on Sep. 28, 2016:
My comment posted on Sep. 28, 2016
I will not sign the petition, and I would like to explain why.
I am not sufficiently familiar with the views of Professor Hall to know what all he believes, but I am sure that some of his beliefs are false. We all have false beliefs, and we’d change them if knew which they are, but try as we might to arrive at the truth in all things, we all have our blind spots. Professor Hall is no different, and in that respect is also no different from any other university professor.
Regarding his teaching, the question is whether in expressing whatever false beliefs he might have Professor Hall is doing it in such a manner as to suppress the ability of students to assess rationally for themselves what the truth is. When I read his students’ ratings I see some sharp criticism (as well as appreciation), but I see no evidence of his undermining the ability of students’ ability to think for themselves.
Regarding research and scholarship, should university administrators be in the business of ferreting out which of their professors have false beliefs? Is there not actually an advantage to allowing the expression of false belief, so as to provoke the sharpening of arguments that favour the truth?
The charge of antisemitism is indeed a serious one, and if true I might change my mind. However, I have my own definition. Antisemitism is the view that there is some category of people whose well-being is of less value than the well-being of others not in that category. Is there something wrong with this definition? Is there evidence that Professor Hall is an antisemite in that sense? If so, maybe I’ll change my mind.
He is a Holocaust denier, has blamed the Jews for 9 11 and more besides. The canary mission has a pretty good file on him.
My response, posted on Sep. 30, 2016:
Thank you Harold for your comment, which I take to be a response to mine.
I have looked at the file that Canary Mission has on Professor Hall and I find myself far more frightened by Canary Mission than I am by Tony Hall. The file is filled with assumptions that I do not know to be true, and also with descriptions that are unfair to anyone willing to wonder whether they are true. For example, the video in which Hall calls for open debate on the Holocaust is labelled “Anthony Hall Promotes Holocaust Denial,” but I see nothing in the video that promotes Holocaust denial.
Suppose, however, that Hall is a Holocaust denier, whatever that is. Suppose his beliefs are motivated by a hatred of Jewish people, and not by an honest search for the truth. By taking him up on his call for open debate he could then be exposed as an antisemite, and not someone who has merely dared to question some of the prevailing views on the Nazi era. The result would be the opposite of promoting Holocaust denial wouldn’t it? Or do you think it likely that people will be fooled by open debate?
One of the things that I have learned from what little I know of the Nazi era is that entire populations can be misled by methods of controlling the spread of belief and attitudes through intimidation and propaganda, as opposed to reason. One of the things the Nazis did was suppress academic freedom, for which Germany had been a leading light in the 19th century. An example is Hermann Oncken, a well-known German historian prior to the rise of Nazism. During the Nazi era he published a book critical of the French Revolutionary figure, Robespierre. The government did not like the implications regarding their own Fuhrer principle, and had Oncken dismissed from his university position.
Like Oncken Professor Hall has offended prevailing opinion. Are we Canadians going to be like Nazis, reinforcing our views by bullying and pressuring our universities to dismiss dissident university professors? Or are we going to take the democratic way, and open the issues up to honest debate, which is exactly what Professor Hall has called for?
Posted by B’nai Brith on Oct. 5, 2016:
My comment posted on Oct. 5, 2016:
Well you’ve been pretty successful. I see on the American Heritage Tribune that Tony Hall has been suspended without pay from the University of Lethbridge. I see this as not only a black day for academic freedom, but for democracy, which needs academics willing to call into question the taken-for-granted narratives that support the powers that be.
I am currently reading Hall’s Earth Into Property. The book is clearly opposed to antisemitism. I hope the university comes to its senses and reinstates him.
I added another comment to the same post on Oct. 12, 2016
Three cheers for the University of Lethbridge faculty association, which has come out in opposition to the precipitate decision to suspend professor Hall without pay.
Before this B’nai Brith campaign against the academic freedom of Tony Hall I had always accepted the popular understanding of the Holocaust, and had not thought that there might be involvement in 9/11 by the state of Israel. But throughout history popular beliefs have frequently gotten distorted by politically motivated manipulation. Here on this site I gave the example of the Nazis and Hermann Oncken. Another example is the suppression of truth by Lysenkoism during the Stalin era. There are many such examples.
This petition makes me wonder how many other academics who question aspects of the conventional narratives of the Holocaust, or 9/11, have been subject to intimidation similar to that against professor Hall? How many academics do not want to question because they are afraid? Might intimidation of those who would otherwise study these things honestly and carefully, and pass along what they have learned, have distorted the popular understanding of these things?
These questions cause me to wonder if I need to revise my own acceptance of some of the narratives questioned or disputed by professor Hall. I must do more investigation. If this seed of doubt is by some definition “antisemitism” then by that definition I am becoming an antisemite.
There are many ways of defining antisemitism. I can only say that I do not regard Jewish people with any less respect than I have for anyone else, and I stand for a world in which the well-being of all people is given equal value.
I see in comments I’ve found on various sites in connection with this petition that there are some whose anger over the unfairness of the way it has so far played out has led to an unjustified negative impression of Jews in general. In this way B’nai Brith may be inadvertently creating a backlash leading to the kind of antisemitism to which all of us here on this site, myself included, are resolutely opposed. I am glad to see the University of Lethbridge faculty association attempt to remedy the situation.
Posted by B’nai Brith on Oct. 14, 2016:
My comment posted on Oct. 18, 2016:
Can somebody please explain to me how this is proof positive that Hall is a “Holocaust denier”? He does say that what transpired in World War II is open to debate, but how does that entail denying anything, and what exactly do you think he is denying? If he were denying the accuracy of the 1945 claim that 4 million were killed at Auschwitz, which The Nizkor Project says needed to be revised downward by 3 million in 1991, would that make him a “Holocaust denier”? (See http://www.nizkor.org/features/denial-of-science/four-million-01.html)
As for “Jewish conspiracies” there is talk in the video about Zionist conspiracies. So what’s wrong with that? History is full of conspiracies. Some conspiracy theories have been proven to be true, and some not. In some cases we’ll never know. Which ones should be ruled out as inadmissible for consideration in a university setting? Would it be wrong for a professor of American history to make the claim that she has come to the conclusion that the CIA was involved in the JFK assassination?
If Hall or Barrett were unwilling to give evidence for their claims I would have a problem with that, but is there any indication in this video that they are unwilling to give evidence? If you do a little digging you will find that both are willing to supply plenty of evidence. Perhaps the evidence they give is insufficient for the conclusions they arrive at, but until we’ve examined their evidence surely we would be begging the question to assume that it must all be nonsense because we don’t like those conclusions.
I would also have a problem if Hall were not willing to give a fair hearing to rational arguments against his views. Can you tell from this small snippet from a whole course that Hall would not be willing to do this? Suppose someone can provide evidence that Hall indeed has given short shrift to some argument against one or more of his views. At that point we would need to ask whether an instance of impatience on his part, or perhaps passionate disagreement, would be adequate grounds for investigating him for engaging in hate speech. But where in this video is there such an instance?
Maybe Hall deserves to be criticized for not providing a sufficiently comfortable atmosphere for those who do not share his views. But making this criticism is a far cry from suspending him without pay. I am sure that there are biology professors who make creationist students uncomfortable. What about professors in agriculture studies doing research that makes vegetarians uncomfortable? To be sure, academics should do all they can to provide an atmosphere conducive to rational inquiry, but if a professor doesn’t always get this quite right, especially in an area where strong passions are easily triggered, and in which their own views are heavily beleagured, at what point should university administrators step in and deny tenure? Where is the line in this video that Hall crossed which took him too far?
Academic freedom is a very precious value. It must be protected if we are going to have a healthy democratic society. Do we not agree with the Universities Canada 2011 statement on academic freedom that “faculty must be free to take intellectual risks and tackle controversial subjects in their teaching, research and scholarship”? (http://www.univcan.ca/media-room/media-releases/statement-on-academic-freedom/) If we do agree, then it is inevitable that some will take offense. It comes with the territory.
Perhaps B’nai Brith found this last comment too provocative. A few days later all my comments were removed from their site. I have not tried commenting on their site since.
Despite the treatment my comments have received from B’nai Brith I still take what they say at face value, that they stand for human rights and against antisemitism. I stand with them in this stand. I do wonder, however, if their approach to antisemitism is counterproductive.
There is also the question as to whether there are some within B’nai Brith who deliberately use the good motives of its members to help crush legitimate criticism of Israel. In this regard, it is worth considering professor Rafiq Islam’s article, The B’nai Brith and the History of the Mounting Assault on Academic Freedom in Canadian Universities.