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Canada's nuttiest professors

From the conspiracy kooks to the commies, the radicals to the revolutionaries, meet the profs that students (and their parents) will want to keep far away from this school year.

Terry O'Neill - September 25, 2006

It would be illiberal to suggest that unorthodox, even subversive, thought doesn't have a place at institutes of higher learning. Still, we thought some students might want to know where radicalism lurks in its most extreme form; the better to make informed decisions about their education. So, as some one million eager, bright minds settle into classes at Canada's 90 universities, the Western Standard offers up a guide to Canada's nuttiest professors, those whose absurdity stands head and shoulders above their colleagues, whether it be through peddling half-baked or discredited theories or plain old bigotry. It is the first of what we're sure will become an indispensable annual guide to universities. If we've missed some loony who truly deserves inclusion, our sincerest apologies.

SUNERA THOBANI, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, CENTRE FOR WOMEN'S AND GENDER STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF B.C.
Thobani was among the first outside of Gaza to revel in the murder of thousands of Americans at the hands of al Qaeda's killers on Sept. 11, 2001. Scant weeks afterward, she told an Ottawa feminist conference that Americans were the real terrorists. The U.S., she said, was "the most dangerous and powerful global force unleashing horrific levels of violence . . . U.S. foreign policy is soaked in blood." Even B.C.'s premier condemned the speech as "hateful."

Still, universities are buying what this firebrand feminist is selling. The former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women is a rising star, having been appointed Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Professor in Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University in 1996 before she even finished her doctoral dissertation. She gained her current post in 2000. Though Thobani hails from Tanzania--where sharia law is still practised--she's said that we're the real misogynists, stating: "there will be no emancipation for women anywhere on this planet until the western domination of this planet is ended."

MICHAEL CHOSSUDOVSKY, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA
As overseer of the anti-U.S., anti-globalization website GlobalResearch.ca, Chossudovsky has manufactured a long list of eyebrow-raising accusations that often read more like wild-eyed conspiracy theories than serious political discourse: the U.S. had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks ("Of course they knew!"); "Washington's New World Order weapons have the ability to trigger climate change"; the U.S. knew in advance about the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but kept it to themselves (apparently so they could ride to the rescue of devastated coastal regions); big banking orchestrates the collapse of national economies. Of course, all that talk of banking conspiracies can lead one into some bigoted territory. B'nai Brith Canada has complained to the University of Ottawa about anti-Semitic postings on Chossudovsky's site.

SHANNON BELL, ASSOC. PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, YORK UNIVERSITY
Political science has never been this risqu?. But Bell doesn't exactly cover filibusters and Senate reform; try post-contemporary theory, fast feminism, sexual politics, cyberpolitics, identity politics and violent philosophy. The self-described "performance artist" holds workshops teaching the art of "female ejaculation" (also available on video for those off-campus). In 1998, she made news testifying in defence of a sadomasochist prostitute, saying such deviant sexual behaviour was "therapeutic" and that she was an experienced dominatrix herself. In 2000, she was found by police in an illegal lesbian bathhouse. In class, Bell says she dresses provocatively to get a rise out of her students. Early in the term, for example, she usually dons over-the-top feminine outfits. "Then, around the end of October, things are getting intense in terms of their assignments," she's said. "And I move into solid leather for about a month."

JOHN MCMURTRY, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH
McMurty is one of only a few Canadian academics with full membership in an organization called Scholars for 9/11 Truth, a group of conspiracy theorists who believe the George W. Bush administration staged the 2001 terrorist attacks as a pretext to implement repressive, war-oriented policies. Not that he had much use for the traders and brokers who populated the World Trade Centre to begin with; McMurty's strong distaste for capitalism is exhibited in prolific writings arguing, among other things, that free trade and the World Trade Organization are laying the groundwork for "global corporate rule." His books include The Structure of Marx's World-View ((1978) and The Cancer Stage of Capitalism (1999), and a 1983 article bears the provocative title, "Fascism and Neo-Conservatism: Is There a Difference?" McMurty's answer: not much. Though unlike the neo-con Bush administration, he notes, "Nazis are not explicitly opposed to measures like statutory emission controls which are required to preserve the air, the water, and natural life from pollution and destruction." So they've got that going for them.

SHADIA DRURY, CANADA RESEARCH CHAIR IN SOCIAL JUSTICE, UNIVERSITY OF REGINA
Drury insists that a cabal of extreme conservatives, linked by an allegiance to the teachings of the late University of Chicago political scientist Leo Strauss, controls the White House. Parliament, too, presumably, since she counts Prime Minister Stephen Harper among the neo-con clique. She's acknowledged Karl Marx is her hero because he "inspired the great reforms of the western industrialized world." Never mind that his philosophies inspired untold misery and bloodshed, Drury credits Marx for public schools and labour laws. On other influential historical figures, especially religious ones, she's less flattering. In a 2001 lecture, she called Jesus "bad-tempered," and in her book Terror and Civilization : Christianity, Politics, and the Western Psyche, Drury describes the Christian church as "a master of dissembling," through which it's been successful in "concealing [its] crimes."

MICHAEL KEEFER, ASSOC. PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH
Like his colleague McMurty, Keefer's a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and a contributing editor to Chussodovsky's Global Research website. He's also a member of a left-wing network, CampusActivism.org, that aims to empower campus radicals and "spark a powerful student movement that will fight for justice everywhere." Prone to making dramatic charges about world affairs, Keefer publicly predicted the U.S. would launch a nuclear attack on Iran in March 2006 (we're still waiting). The outspoken defender of Venezuela's Marxist president Hugo Chavez says the U.S. military is guilty of "terrorist bombings" in Iraq. Also a defender of political correctness and equity programs on university campuses, he says opponents of these policies aim for "the clear and pronounced transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich."

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