Prof accuses Jewish academic of backing Nazi-style eugenics
A recent forum of activists at the University of Arizona attempted to smear the Koch Foundation and the professors who receive its grants.
The “Kochs off Campus!” panel featured three history professors and a room full of community activists railing against what the called the malicious influence of "dark money" in the university’s Freedom Center.
"I'm Jewish, and the idea that you would smear me as somehow defending Nazism is so disgusting and is so taken out of context."
The panel was moderated by Dr. David Gibbs, a history professor at UA who has been an outspoken critic of the center and its scholarship.
As Freedom Center Professor Mario Villareal emphasized at the event, however, “our department is ranked as the top program in the world for political philosophy."
"Many donors want to support academic excellence and viewpoint diversity," he added. "In fact, Freedom Center scholars are about evenly divided between liberals, libertarians, and centrists."
The organizers of the April 3 event also distributed handouts referring to the Koch Foundation as a “Kochtopus,” and providing a graphic to illustrate “the reach of the Koch network.”
“The tentacles of the Kochtopus now reach into almost every university, legislature, government agency, and court system in the United States,” the handout reads. “The Koch network’s goal is to move this country to the right, and they have succeeded. Now is the time to reverse the trend.”
During the panel discussion, Gibbs brought up Professor Jonathan Anomaly’s research paper on using new forms of biomedical technology to alter embryos, implying that the scholar approves of Nazi-style eugenics against certain populations.
Gibbs went on to quote from the paper, underscoring Anomaly’s observation that “Nazi policies had dysgenic effects” and that “Hitler’s attempt to exterminate Ashkenazi Jews—arguably among the most intelligent and productive people of the twentieth century—was not only morally outrageous, but contrary to what any reasonable eugenics program would hope to achieve.”
“So that's the problem with the Holocaust, is that they killed maybe the wrong set of people I guess, and that maybe high IQ people should not be killed off,” Gibbs remarked. “Johnny Anomaly would likely not be here if not for the big money.”
Anomaly, who was present at the event, challenged Gibbs’ interpretation of his work, stressing that Gibbs was purposely quoting him out of context in order to score political points with the crowd rather than engage seriously with the argument.
“The paper on eugenics is defending liberal eugenics, which means that when we have the technology to select embryos we ought to allow parents to do that as individuals,” he said. “I'm Jewish, and the idea that you would smear me as somehow defending Nazism is so disgusting and is so taken out of context.”
"The funny thing is, I don't even get Koch funding at Arizona," Anomaly subsequently told Campus Reform. "Gibbs seems to think that since one of my colleagues got a grant from the Koch Foundation ten years ago, I'm somehow doing the Kochs' bidding."
In a statement to Campus Reform, Anomaly further blasted Gibbs for mischaracterizing his work, labeling his remarks as “absurd.”
“The idea that I'm a Nazi sympathizer, which Gibbs implied, is especially absurd not only because I'm Jewish, but because I wrote this harsh critique of the anti-Semitism of some people on the ‘alt right’ last month, and this follow-up,” he explained. “These articles have been heavily promoted by people on the right and left, such as Steven Pinker and Jordan Peterson.”
“It is especially noteworthy that David Gibbs goes after junior, untenured faculty like me, rather than senior scholars who are in a position to fight back," Anomaly added. "Progressives like to say they protect the vulnerable, but Gibbs and his colleagues have been going after me all year in an attempt to get to my department chair, even though I have nothing to do with past donations made to the department, and have never been asked to change my teaching or research to accommodate donors.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @shannadnelson