James Tracy: Teaching 9/11 to Students

MikeG

Senior Member.
I ran across this article on Memory Hole by James Tracy, the former Florida Atlantic University professor.

It struck me as an interesting counterpoint to my current class on conspiracy and U.S. history.
https://www.metabunk.org/college-course-on-conspiracies.t7085/

It also offers a few insights on James Tracy. [my emphasis]

Teaching 9/11 to Conspiracy Theorists

An enduring psychological effect of “the propaganda of the event” is a foremost element of all modern forms of war. Advances in hidden governance and concentrated media ownership have made the “war on terror” possible via increasingly fine-tuned trauma based mind control–in other words the enforcement of belief through overwhelming events subsequently placed in meaningful narrative context absent any contradictory information.

Such a phenomenon is readily apparent among the younger generations, particularly as they have come to rely on US government-sponsored conspiracy theories in order to make sense of momentous political events bearing upon their lives. Despite their irrational nature and profound shortcomings, such conspiracy theories are unquestioningly accepted as valid by an overwhelming majority of journalists and academics, who then repeat them as fact to their respective constituents.
Content from External Source
http://memoryholeblog.com/2016/01/17/teaching-911-to-conspiracy-theorists/

Tracy’s premise is interesting. He is basically inverting the idea of conspiracy theory and attributing it to the global power structure. From this perspective, centers of power are actually on the fringe.

Or, in the case of poor Noam Chomsky, a progressive academic is fashioned into an agent of powerful interests.

Despite the academy’s progressive veneer, with few exceptions 9/11 and similar deep events are actively eschewed even by self-professed “radical” scholars, otherwise quick to take up questions of social and political power, particularly as they pertain to race, class, or gender. Taking their cue from public intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky,[1] they conclude that such questions interfere with analyses of ongoing “oppression,” not to mention potentially jeopardizing personal economic opportunities (i.e. accumulation of “cultural capital”) inevitably bound up in professional reputation.
Content from External Source
His approach reminded me of what Michael Barkun called a “fact-fiction reversals” in his book A Culture of Conspiracy. (page 29)

Part of Tracy’s class involved “a brief informal survey” that asked his students about their September 11 experiences and the sources by which they obtained information about the event.

Students were also asked what media venues they consulted for information and how they were educated on the 9/11 events. Almost without exception their main sources included K-12 instruction, what might be gleaned in a few years of “higher education” (most are college juniors or seniors), and conventional news outlets–particularly network news and cable news channels, made-for-television documentaries, and to a far lesser degree traditional print media.

A final question asked, “To the best of your knowledge, what exactly took place on September 11, 2001?” Students almost invariably repeated the same conspiracy theory concerning 9/11 that has been touted by federal government officials and corporate news media alike since that fateful day: Our country was attacked by Muslim extremists who hijacked planes and flew them in to New York’s World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon in Washington DC. In one rare exception, a student who took a previous class with the author expressed skepticism, noting possible intrigue in the terrorist acts.
Content from External Source
Frankly, I found Tracy’s application of his premise in class to be professionally appalling. [Again, my emphasis]

The class proceeded to read and discuss Barrie Zwicker’s Towers of Deception: The Media Coverup of 9/11, and view several documentaries, including Massimo Mazzucco’s September 11: The New Pearl Harbor. As the term proceeded an almost uniform sense of cognitive dissonance, disbelief and denial among students turned to uncertainty, and eventually an acknowledgement that they had been compelled to accept as fact a carefully-crafted myth, one paving the way for the “war on terror” that has largely defined their lives and those of their loved ones. The myth has required massive government propaganda abetted by a “free press,” which to this day refuses to interrogate and bring to light the greatest mass murder of US citizens in the nation’s history.

As part of the final exam students were given an option of using the surveys filled out at the start of class to contrast the previous lack of knowledge about the specifics of 9/11 and willingness to accept implausible government explanations of the event with the established facts and critical insights gleaned throughout the term. They were further challenged to analyze what their previous assumptions suggest about the overall failure of educational and informational institutions in general. How could it be, for example, that young people sit before televisions and inhabit classrooms for tens of thousands of hours by the time they reach young adulthood, yet still harbor irrational and likely harmful state-sanctioned conspiracy theories about the defining event of our time?
Content from External Source
There are almost too many problems to point out, but here are a few just for starters.

Tracy indulges in an incredible amount of overgeneralization. How exactly were “tens of thousands of hours” of programming controlled and coordinated by the powers that be?

Given the fact that he is a professor of communications, I find it unbelievable that he discounts the different type of venues that Americans use to get news, particularly younger people like his students.

For example:
http://www.journalism.org/2015/06/01/millennials-political-news/

Tracy was not following his collective bargaining agreement under Article 5 Academic Freedom and Responsibility, which specifically addresses his obligations as a faculty member to:

Present and discuss academic subjects, frankly and forthrightly, without fear of censorship, and to select instructional materials and determine grades in accordance with Board and University policies. The objective and skillful exposition of subject matter, including the acknowledgement of a variety of scholarly opinions, is the duty of every employee.
Content from External Source

https://www.metabunk.org/sandy-hook...ication-of-criticism.t1086/page-3#post-173558

It is clear that he had no interest whatsoever in any variety of opinions or perspectives.

I will leave it at that for now. I am curious to see what other people think.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I am curious to see what other people think
about what?

that the above reads like he appeared to throw aside academic standards and brainwashed his students?

or the fact he is saying the government story is the conspiracy? because CTs and Truthers have been saying that for quite a while. There are even a few threads here of posters that espouse that theory.
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
about what?

that the above reads like he appeared to throw aside academic standards and brainwashed his students?

or the fact he is saying the government story is the conspiracy? because CTs and Truthers have been saying that for quite a while. There are even a few threads here of posters that espouse that theory.

You are right, there is some pretty standard stuff in terms of his approach. The "usual suspects" crop up.

I am looking at this class in the same way we discussed the J. Marvin Herndon article.

https://www.metabunk.org/debunked-j...es-in-current-science-india-and-ijerph.t6456/

In this case, I am more interested in teaching pedagogy as opposed to peer-reviewed research.

I have been teaching long enough to understand that objectivity is difficult to achieve.

Many education majors have passed through my classrooms. We have often talked about the need for a balanced approach with students regardless of level, K-12 or college.

It took me awhile to understand that teaching is not about winning arguments with students. Its purpose is to give them the tools and guidance to make informed decisions.

Tracy approaches his youngsters almost like a deprogrammer would address a cult member.

There is an irony here.

An enduring psychological effect of “the propaganda of the event” is a foremost element of all modern forms of war. Advances in hidden governance and concentrated media ownership have made the “war on terror” possible via increasingly fine-tuned trauma based mind control–in other words the enforcement of belief through overwhelming events subsequently placed in meaningful narrative context absent any contradictory information.
Content from External Source

Any educator know that students occupy a very vulnerable place. They are dependent on the ethics and veracity of faculty to learn. Tracy has taken it upon himself to create a course "absent any contradictory information."

In my opinion, he not only violated his CBA. He broke faith with his profession.
 

Gary Cook

Active Member
Obviously. State education tends to teach the perspective of the state more than private education does.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
Obviously. State education tends to teach the perspective of the state more than private education does.

Ignoring your obvious CT bend here, my friend is a professor in a Catholic college and she complains about the administration also.
 

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