Mike Adams: America’s Cleverest Conservative Demagogue

As Doug Giles’s hunting buddy Dr Mike Adams furthers his vendetta against North Carolina state senate member Julia Boseman (a person guilty of the offences of being Democratic and lesbian –  see below), it’s time to review his career.

Adams comes from Mississippi, and has been a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina since the early 1990s. According to his own account, he converted from being a “radical” Democrat and atheist in 1996 after visiting a squalid prison in Ecuador and talking to someone on death row in the USA:

A few days later, I snuck into Barnes and Noble at about 10:45 p.m., just before closing time. I didn’t want anyone to see me when I went to the counter to purchase a copy of the King James Bible. I had given my old Bible to my next-door neighbor in college. That was eight years earlier.

It took me about eight months to read the King James Version. It took an additional two years to read four more translations of the Bible (the NRSV, GNT, NIV, and NASB).  By then, I had found satisfactory answers to all of the questions that led me to atheism in the first place.

…I’m just glad that I had the chance to renounce the things I had said about Christians and Christianity during my years as a radical graduate student and later as a professor. I don’t think I would have said any of those things or held any of those views if I had just read the right things earlier. I should have read the Bible, C.S. Lewis, and Chuck Colson before I went to college to read Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner.

This conversion narrative is actually quite commonplace: the most pious Christian becomes the bitterest atheist, or vice versa, and the most dogmatic Marxist becomes the most strident neo-con. Of course, although Adams gives us the triggers for his conversion, we are left to guess at the underlying psychological aspects: however, his post-conversion fear and loathing of feminists and his assertions of masculinity are suggestive. In a January 2005 article, Adams tells us that he announced his atheism publicly in 1992, which would be four years after getting rid of his Bible. He had an unhappy break with his atheist girlfriend the very next day, although this was “my first step on the road to freedom”.

Aside from his links to Doug Giles, nothing much can be gleaned about his actual church or personal religious mentors, although he describes himself as a “fundamentalist”. He is particularly supportive of Creationism, asserting (“arguing” would be too generous a description) that macro-evolutionary theory is the “new religion of pseudo scientists who think that they are atheists” (Pharyngula responded to Adams’s pretensions in more detail than he deserved).

Adams’s date with destiny came in the weeks following 9/11. A UNC student named Rosa Fuller sent out an email criticising US policy in the Middle East in fairly strident and breathless language, to which Adams sent a dismissive and critical response (this is all covered in his book, apparently). Some other recipients replied to Fuller’s email threatening violence, and these senders were investigated by the authorities. However, Fuller also alleged that Adams had defamed her, inciting these threats, and an investigation followed. At first I thought this claim against Adams was rather weak, but, as SZ at World O’Crap has dug up, one of the threat senders (“People like you deserve to be dragged down the street by your hair..I hope you will have the good sense to keep you[r] liberal moth shut at a time like this. No one needs your shit.”) was a UNC student named Krysten Scott, who married Adams eighteen months later.

Fuller’s parents joined the controversy (her mother also teaches at UNC), and her father Dennis has a website on the subject. Alas, Dennis Fuller’s strong suit is not brevity, and he rambles on at length, bringing in obscure quotes from Hegel at more than one point. However, he makes one point worth consideration (although I haven’t been able to verify his quotes from the Washington Times):

On October 1, the Washington Times…reported that Dr. Adams had been charged with “harassment” and “contacted by university police,” because he supported US “intervention in Afghanistan” in statements he made “behind closed doors to a female graduate student.” This student is supposed to have “complained that [Dr. Adams’] position made her ‘uncomfortable.’” The facts: Dr. Adams was not charged with harassment but with having sent an abusive and libelous e-mail letter to an undergraduate, in violation of professional ethics and the University’s computing policy. He was not contacted by the campus police. He did not state his support of US intervention in Afghanistan. He did not discuss this matter with Rosa behind closed doors. Rosa has not said Dr. Adams’ position on US intervention made her feel “uncomfortable,” partly because Dr. Adams has not yet publicly declared his position on this intervention…He needs to turn this case into a story of his harassment by the “tyranny of the touchy-feely,” in Mr. Halvorssen’s [executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education] mordant words. He has to be seen as the victim of politically correct university administrators who “are terrified of being insensitive to certain views or certain minorities.” Hence: Rosa is falsely turned into a female graduate student, who has been made to feel uncomfortable, by the words of a male professor, uttered behind closed doors, and who vindictively charges him with (sexual?) harassment .

So, it looks like Adams did cleverly use the situation he was in to present himself as a conservative victim of all that is PC, and this propelled him to Clash Radio fame and Townhall glory.

In September of this year, the Wilmington Star News carried a profile on Adams, to which some of his colleagues contributed:

Now, as a man who maintains that “feminist scholar” is an oxymoron along the lines of “jumbo shrimp,” and believes that homosexuality is incompatible with the Bible, Dr. Adams is a divisive character of the first order. Some think he provokes debate; others think he’s a hack and a hatchet man.

“He’s a valuable asset at the university,” said Lee Johnston, a professor of political science at UNCW who likens Dr. Adams to the boy who says the emperor has no clothes. “A university is supposed to be a place of dialogue, of examining ideas. You can’t examine an idea if everybody says the same thing on everything.”

“He’s a pathological liar,” said Lynne Snowden, also an associate professor in the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department.

In his chapter “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Dr. Adams accuses her of making unsubstantiated sexual harassment complaints against the former department chairman and of being of being of questionable mental health. She said she thinks Dr. Adams is mentally unbalanced. She said she had not read his book.

Adams posted online the section of his book dealing with Snowden after this article appeared. It’s a rather odd account in which Snowden appears at a meeting making accusations of harassment and, more bizarrely, of someone damaging a watchstrap. The question is not so much whether Adams is making it up or not as what the point is he’s trying to make. Is he just getting revenge on Snowden for something, or is the message the rather boorish one that women, especially those who claim harassment, are nuts? Or the commonplace one that sometimes people don’t always tell the truth?

Despite his sneer that ‘”feminist scholar” is an oxymoron’, Adams is very thin skinned when it comes to religion, and would find the parallel statement that ‘”Christian scholar” is an oxymoron’ an affront of Neroic proportions. Many of his columns deal with supposed persecution of Christian groups on campuses, and he now paints his dispute with Boseman as one of Evangelicals being persecuted for daring to offend a homosexual. The facts are simply that, during the election campaign, a one-time co-writer with Adams named Charlton Allen (who had founded the conservative collegiate magazine at UNC) decided to publish an advert attacking Boseman for being gay and accepting support from a gay lobby group called the Victory Fund. Said the advert:

The FIRST Openly Gay or Lesbian State Senator in North Carolina History

What is Julia Boseman’s Agenda?

Julia Boseman seeks to become the first openly gay or lesbian legislator in North Carolina. She has been soliciting and accepting thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from outside the state gay and lesbian organizations and individuals. She even held a Washington, DC fundraiser (a “Champagne Brunch”) on October 3rd at the home of known lesbian activists.

…we felt it was important for you to know the truth as represented in the excerpts from victoryfund.org…

As a result of this piece of work the Wilmington Star dropped its support for Woody White (Boseman’s rival) and, afterwards, Boseman won the election. But this was not because Allen miscalculated – according to Adams, it was because White had been smeared as a hater. The smug and legalistic Adams would have us note that the above contains nothing that was untrue or was not taken from the Victory Fund website. Those of us who detect an appeal to homophobia are no doubt just out to abuse good Christians.

However, Boseman has also threatened Adams with defamation proceedings, as Adams had claimed that the child being raised by Boseman and her partner was the biological child of Boseman’s brother, when she claims the sperm was from an anonymous bank. Adams was reduced to bluster, claiming that Boseman had not corrected the draft article he had sent her, so it was her fault rather than his, and he followed this up with some sneering about the immorality of using a sperm bank (one wonders if Adams actually wrote Allen’s advert, as in both cases much of the condemnation is in the tone rather than the wording.). In his latest article, however, he seems to plead justification, claiming inside knowledge of Boseman’s family affairs. He also, though, subtly changes the terms of his accusation, again relying on legalism: he now says that he merely noted that Boseman was raising her nephew (i.e. that her partner is the biological mother). However, the word “nephew” does not appear in the allegedly defaming article, although there are a number of cracks about inbreeding (i.e. hinting strongly, but not actually saying, that Boseman is the biological mother of her brother’s biological child).

So, will this fizzle out? Will Boseman launch a court case that will confirm Snowden’s opinion that Adams is indeed a “pathological liar”? Or will she, like Fuller, serve only to further the media career of one of the cleverest conservative demagogues in the business today?

(Updated and expanded)

Mengele’s Moustache

I’m a bit busy at the moment; in the meantime as a filler here’s a nice detail about the last days of Joseph Mengele, courtesy of The Guardian:

Fear of being discovered made him chew the ends of his moustache, resulting in a ball of hair blocking his intestines.