Untitled Project 4

 

Does the UAB Biology Department have a nationalist problem?

 

Whitney Sides
Blazer News Reporter
whitsides@uab.edu

 

 

****UPDATE****    2:44 p.m. 

 

The UAB Students for Diversity and Campus Safety released a statement yesterday to the university. The statement urged the UAB Administration to take “a strong stance against all forms of terrorism.”

 

The statement demands UAB of the following:

 

  1. 1.  Address white supremacy as UAB would address any other terrorist threat. 
  1. 2. Apologize for lack of response and provide resources to students.
  1. 3.  Implement programs to raise awareness of these social issues on campus.
  1. 4. Require diversity training for all employees on campus .

 

Link to full statement here.  

 

 

****UPDATE****    11:47 a.m. 

 

Paulette Dilworth, UAB Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ph.D. reached out to express the following statement: “We want to assure you that as an institution, UAB is against racism, discrimination and hate, and the thoughts expressed in these posts are not shared by the institution and do not align with our values," Dilworth said. "If evidence exists that a policy or law has been broken, we will investigate and take appropriate action. UAB is a richly diverse and inclusive campus that is committed to protecting free speech while maintaining a culture of respect and civility that is aligned with our vision, mission and values."

 

 ************

 

Last week assistant Biology professor, Jeffery Morris' blog and tweets gained attention after his beliefs about ethnonationalism, white nationalism and Trump came to light. His beliefs have sparked conversations both locally and nationally. 

 

 

But Morris says he wishes people would talk to him.

 

 

"The saddest part of all of this is that no one talks to me,” said Morris. “People disappear or they talk around me. They talk about me, but only to each other. It's an awful thing."

 

 

His Twitter profile has since been deleted. In one of his tweets in question, Morris said, “the idea that ethnonationalism is intrinsically hateful or terroristic is just ignorant. It’s probably the most common form of social organization on Earth.”

 

 

Morris said his tweets are political, but others say it is hate speech.

 

 

Christopher Burton, a recent graduate in biomedical sciences, said he will now no longer consider UAB an option for graduate school as it is a no longer an inclusive environment.  

 

 

The biology department has received criticism for their lack of action on multiple recent issues regarding nationalism and its instructors. This includes Ph.D. candidate Michael Williams, who was identified less than four months ago serving as a pledge coordinator of the white nationalist group known as Identity Evropa.

 

 

When Burton found out about Williams’ alt-right affiliations last spring, he did what some other students did: protest. Students demanded Williams to be expelled, but they saw nothing happen. 

 

Williams remains an employed as a teaching assistant and continues to pursue his Ph.D. at UAB.

 

 

After hearing about Morris, it was the last straw for Burton. 

 

“Being biracial, white people often feel comfortable disclosing some of their racist thoughts to me,” Burton said. “I think it has to do with my proximity to whiteness.”

 

 

For Burton, Morris’s actions further display how dangerous his words really can be. 

 

 

“The fact that he can say, 'I am a racist and I find Nazis fascinating' and know the connotations just shows you how unabashedly racist and violent his beliefs really are,” Burton said.

 

 

Julie Easlick, a genetic researcher at UAB for 11 years, said she finds it hard to believe this type of incident could happen twice.

 

 

“UAB clearly isn’t doing due diligence to make sure people they hire in positions of power aren’t part of hate groups,” Easlick said. “Especially given how much UAB advertises how wonderful they are when it comes to diversity and empowerment of minorities on campus.”

 

 

Easlick also said you don’t have to look far to see inequalities within UAB’s ranks.

 

 

“It’s demographics. Them still being on staff is a bitter pill to swallow, because you look at who is in power and who is not,” Easlick said. “We allow this to happen with no respect for other employees of color, who are often low paid workers.”

 

 

In a post on his LiveJournal shortly after September 11, Morris quoted Osama Bin Laden and detailed his fascination with Nazis and death camps. He also said that fascism was the only system of government that “had the capacity to create a world I would want to live in."

 

 

“I am often called a Nazi by people. Sometimes, a fascist. And indeed, many things I say warrant such names being placed on me,” Morris said in the same post. 

 

 

Morris said to Kaleidoscope that some of his views have changed since years ago. 

 

“This was a long time ago, you know?” Morris said. “I was into some extreme music. I was just this black metal, creepy goth guy.” 

 

 

"I mean, from the three current systems of government, that would still be my option,”  Morris said when asked if he still would identify as fascist. “I did say something about being a fascist years ago, but I think I meant that I thought the only way you can have a fair society with liberty would be some kind of benevolent dictator that could keep everything safe and happy for everybody."

 

 

Morris said he still shares many of  the beliefs of Steve Sailer. Sailer, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is the founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute, a neo-eugenics online discussion forum where right-wing journalists and race scientists have promoted selective breeding of the human species. 

 

 

Sailer writes for VDARE, an alt-right site named for Virginia Dare, the first white child born in America. Morris previously listed VDARE on his blog as one of his favorite sites. 

 

 

“I definitely follow Steve Sailer and especially his work within human biodiversity,” Morris said. “I don't agree with every single thing he has ever said, but for the most part he is a pretty reasonable guy. I think his work is important and unfairly suppressed."

 

Morris said he considers himself a “civic nationalist” and believes he is the target of harassment for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. The First Amendment protects individuals being oppressed and censored by the government. 

 

 

 Morris said his beliefs don’t stem from hate, but rather patriotism. He says he voted for Trump and is an active member of the Libertarian party.

 

 

“I guess a lot of people were taking my identification as a civic nationalist as a really big thing. I guess just saying I’m a nationalist is an issue,” Morris said. “I could talk about all my work in the community or outreach but just sounds like pandering now, right. I work in the lab with women and I support diversity in STEM."

 

 

Burton said people like Morris often don’t make the connection to their beliefs being racist. 

 

 

“They know their feelings but don’t want that “white nationalist” label because it can result in them being ostracized in certain circles,” Burton said.

 

 

 Morris continues to publish on his public blog, Anti-Social Darwinist, that is linked on the Biology department site. He recently posted a blog entitled “Thanks Guys, I’m Famous” and also said he believed the recent blowback is all part of the “Future They Want,” referring to political liberals he believes wish him harm. He invited his readers to reach out to him is they wanted to discuss his political views. 

 

 

“If you’re on the UAB campus, come talk to me in person. I’m easy enough to find and my door is usually open,” Morris said in his blog. 

 

 

“Morris specifically mentioned a superior faculty member telling him the publicity, not content, of his posts was concerning and that they might have to distance themselves,” Burton said, referencing an experience Morris shared on his blog.  

 

 

 “If they really were so concerned, why didn’t they reach out to UAB HR to more firmly handle?” Burton said.

 

 

“Because UAB Biology has a racism issue.”

     

 

 

This article was last updated at 2:44 p.m. on 8.13.2019. 

About - Student Media

UAB Student Media is the home of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s student-run media outlets. They include Kaleidoscope , an award-winning weekly newspaper; BlazeRadio, our 24-hour online radio station live on the TuneIn app; Aura, a much-heralded literary arts magazine; and UABTV, original, web-based video programming. UAB students operate all media. The articles, posts, newscasts and opinions are solely those of its student writers, producers, editors, deejays, etc. and do not reflect that of the university, its administrators or the Student Media advisors.

 

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