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Thursday, July 13, 2006

The word being passed around that is originating from King Jordan is that somehow the whole fight to remove Jane Fernandes is a personal thing and it's not about the larger issues of promoting better deaf education.

There is a rumor circulating that the whole protest movement was started by one of the candidates to be president of Gallaudet who was rejected.

That is absolutely false. The protest movement was started by the apprehension of Ryan Commerson on May 1, 2006 when Jordan had Department of Public Security officers standing by, because he (Jordan) already knew that there would be discontent and a possible protest.

He already admitted in print that he knew there might be a protest. This shows consciousness of guilt on Jordan's part for his role in his behind-the-scenes maneuvering to get Fernandes selected. The way Jordan did it, mainly, was by being prepared years in advance and getting his pre-selected people put on the Board of Trustees as members (at least four people). Then, when the hiring process was being conducted, Jordan could step-back and show that he was not involved, when the truth was that his puppets on the Board were doing all the work for him and they were making it look like they were following "best practices."

What happened was that Jordan ended up being his own worst enemy, because it was the apprehending of Ryan on May 1 that started the protest. The audience was outraged at seeing the DPS officer grab Ryan and throw him out, when Ryan was being very peaceful and polite. Ryan did not interrupt anyone.

Honestly, no one knows at this point who created the mysterious flyer that Fernandes has on her Web site. History will show who it was. The point is, though, that the mysterious flyer was never seen in Tent City, and all of the protesters that I talked to said they never heard of it until it appeared on Fernandes's Web site. [Update: 9/9/12, it was created by a single protester acting alone and had very little distribution.]

I am certain that Jordan and Fernandes are being dishonest about why they started the "not deaf enough" campaign. Anyone who reads page 10 of the book by Christensen and Barnartt called Deaf President Now! will see that the "not deaf enough" phrase was taken from that book, probably by Jordan and that he suggested the idea to Fernandes as a way to fight the protest.

The book was published in 1995 and we can assume that Jordan knew about what was going to appear in the book long before 1995. One of the authors of the book, John B. Christiansen, was on the presidential search committee that hired Jane Fernandes. [Update, 9/10/12: Christiansen wrote a book titled: Reflections: My Life in the Deaf and Hearing Worlds, which was published in 2010.]

At this point we need to ask Christensen and Barnartt why they put the term "deaf enough" on page 10 of the book. They claim to be quoting Gary Olsen who was executive director of the NAD in 1988. They say that they interviewed him shortly after the 1988 protest. Did Gary Olsen really say that Jordan was seen by members of the NAD as not being "deaf enough" to be president of Gallaudet in 1988? I want to see proof from Christensen and Barnartt that he actually said that. What was the context of Gary Olsen's remarks?

The reason we need to know the context of Gary Olsen's alleged remarks to Christiansen and Barnartt is that yes, there is validity in the NAD rejecting Jordan's candidacy to be president of Gallaudet. Look what happened! Jordan became president of Gallaudet and he messed everything up. If that was the NAD's view in 1988, then they were absolutely correct. They should have pressed harder to have Jordan rejected and have Corson or someone else selected as president.

If Gary Olsen used the term "deaf enough" in talking to Christensen and Barnartt, then he needed to explain himself more and be more exact. The whole history of the Deaf Culture Movement shows that it doesn't matter what kind of background a deaf person has, they will be welcomed into the movement when they become interested at some point in their life. However, if they (newcomers) do not see ASL users as being their moral equals, then they shouldn't complain if they have difficulty fitting in.

It is confusing to say that such a person is "not deaf enough," because then the reference is vague and not exact. What is happening is that person is trying to have his cake and eat it to. The newcomer wants to be a member of the Deaf Community, but at the same time the newcomer wants to reject the moral equality of the ASL users and claim a special superior status. Then when the ASL users criticize that person, that person might try to to tell the ASL people, "You are being unfair! You are saying that I am 'not deaf enough.'"

Well, it was the newcomer's fault in the first place for not accepting the ASL users as being moral equals. It is not because the person is "not deaf enough"–that person's background is not important. The Deaf Community doesn't care. What is important is the newcomer's attitude and their view towards others.

What would happen if someone who was born in a foreign country came to America and became a US citizen. That's fine. No problem. Now suppose that person runs for office and becomes a US Senator. Great! But what if that person then launched a campaign to revoke the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution?

Should we say to ourselves, "Well, we can't criticize him, because he will claim we don't accept him because he is 'not American enough.'"

Nonsense! Don't let them fool you and cause confusion. The phrase "not deaf enough" by itself doesn't mean anything. It has to have an appropriate context.

If that senator tries to revoke the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, then it is very proper to call his plan "anti-American." That doesn't mean there is something wrong with that person because of being born in a foreign country. Rather, it means that there is something wrong with that person's philosophy, including that person's politics.

The same thing goes for Fernandes. Who gives a damn about her oral upbringing? Nobody does. If the person that wrote the mysterious flyer was a genuine protester, then perhaps he or she mentioned it as a way to draw our attention to Fernandes's philosophy. I'm sure that person didn't give a damn either. [Update: 9/9/12, this is true.]

But now we see that Jordan and Fernandes have taken the "not deaf enough" thing from page 10 of the Deaf President Now! book, because they thought that the protest would only last a week and then it would be over. But now we have enough time to think about the whole thing and discover how Jordan and Fernandes were operating. The whole thing about her saying she wasn't deaf enough because she was responding to the flyer has to be a lie. The origin has to be the Christiansen and Barnartt book, and it has to be true that Jordan has been thinking about this for years and also thinking about strategies he could use to fight against a protest.

The "not deaf enough" thing almost worked. But now we know that it is a dirty trick. It confuses two different issues by mixing them together. Those two issues are 1) Fernandes's background, and 2) Fernandes's attitude/views/policies.

Nobody cares about Fernandes's background. King Jordan told the author of the book Dancing Without Music that he was "not a real member of the deaf community." That quote was circulated around during the time just before the Deaf President Now protest began in 1988. (And he had already said the same thing to the Washington Post in 1978.)

In spite of Jordan saying that, the Deaf Community still welcomed Jordan as being a hero when he became president of Gallaudet!

That proves that the whole "not deaf enough" thing, as reported on Fernandes's Web site, is a lie designed by Jordan and Fernandes--and that they know it is a lie. They are both big time liars.

It's not so unusual that I would say this. A lot of newspapers and magazines are writing about the fact that a lot of university presidents are acting dishonestly. It's a general American cultural trend, because a lot of university presidents are going after the big bucks. Academia as a whole is becoming corrupted. Jordan and Fernandes are no exception.

Fernandes knows exactly what she is doing. Look at her obfuscatory language in the May 5th Washington Post article: "All those things [growing up speaking and not signing, attending mainstreamed schools growing up and not learning to sign until she was 23] are markers that define what kind of deaf person I am..."

Look what she is deliberately doing with that language. She is deliberately mixing up the issue of her origins with the issue of her current philosophy and current views. Of course (!) we should criticize her for her current views if she thinks the Deaf Culture Movement is something she does not want to support. We must criticize her views! Should we just let Gallaudet go down the drain and the allow the residential schools to be closed because Fernandes tries to fool us into thinking we have to be "fair" and that we should not be able to criticize her views because of her background? Wow, what a trick!

There seems to have been a pattern. First Jane Norman makes reference to a mysterious document that she never produces. Then Fernandes comes up with the wild explanation about the late discovery of the A-5 document that was involved in her obtaining tenure.

Would any jury in the United States believe that the dean was simply "cleaning her file cabinet" after the protest erupted and just happened to find a missing A-5 tenure form? The truth is that the full membership of the CLAST Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee were never really given the opportunity to approve of granting tenure to Fernandes, due to the techniques of "management by intimidation" practiced by Kimmel. That's a fact.

Now let's put the rumor to rest about the protest being a "personal thing" against Fernandes. Such a tactic on Jordan's part is one of the oldest tricks in the book in the area of politics. Politicians are always accusing each other of waging "personal vendettas" and you can even see that in past issues of the Buff and Blue when student body leaders were going at each other. It's an old and tired tactic.

Here's the truth. I, Brian Riley, have not really been involved in the Gallaudet community hardly at all since 1991. I really had no idea what King Jordan was up to all these years, except that I sent him one e-mail a couple years ago and he answered back. I have no idea who the twenty-some people are who were rejected in the presidential search process. I am not in contact with them and I know virtually nothing about them. None of the people who are helping me behind the scenes are in contact with those presidential candidates. We never talk about them.

The only indirect contact I have had was when I was in FSSA and there was a meeting with some publicity people. Those publicity people had been hired (in the past) by one of the presidential candidates to help with his efforts to seek the presidency. (Yes, it was a male candidate. But they were no longer working for him and that candidate was not involved in their visit to FSSA.) I was only in that meeting for less than an hour and I did not have any further contact with those people. The FSSA members in that meeting ended up voting to reject their advice.

This now puts the rumor to rest. I, Brian Riley, have no possible motive for making this a personal issue. I have no job in the Deaf Community and I do not plan in seeking a job in the Deaf Community in the future. I have had very little contact with the Gallaudet Community from 1991 to May 1, 2006. I exchanged a couple of letters in the early 1990's with my ex-girlfriend from Gallaudet and I was also the best man in my ex-roommate's wedding in the early 1990's.

I was a homecoming "prince" (escort) for a homecoming princess at Gallaudet in 1985 and I sent her one letter in the early 1990's. She never wrote back. I got one phone call from a Korean friend from Gallaudet asking if he could stop by and visit while he was in California, but I wasn't able to see him. That, plus a few friendly e-mails to my old Gally professors, plus some Christmas cards sent out over the years to Gally friends, plus the one e-mail to Jordan and his response--that's the sum total of my involvement with Gallaudet people from 1991 to 2005. Then earlier in this year, my ex-roommate and I started corresponding by e-mail, but we never talked about Gallaudet politics or any issues of that sort. We never talked about the search for a new president. I didn't know about it.

Therefore, it is impossible to accuse me of simply being against Fernandes on a personal basis. What would be my motivation? I never met her until May of 2006 and I knew nothing about her prior to that. I never talked about her with anyone until May 1, 2006 when I wrote an e-mail to a friend saying that I thought the protest against her was unfair.

Yes, my first reaction was to support Fernandes. I changed my opinion over the course of the first 3 days of the protest by educating myself about the issues. The reason I am involved is because I see very clearly the issues that are at stake. What is at stake is the survival of Gallaudet and the survival of the residential schools. True business!

This is not an invention on my part. The 2005 Gallaudet University Strategic Goals document represents the official end of Gallaudet as being the driving force behind, and the center of the Deaf Culture Movement. This is all explained very clearly in the June 30 press release on Gallyprotest.org. The June 30 press release is absolutely correct and it explains why the Deaf Culture Movement is currently in danger.

Even if Fernandes becomes president, the Community will still have to come to grips with this reality eventually. The residential schools will start to close (a process which is already beginning) and a few years from now people will look back and say that the June 30, 2006 Gallyprotest press release was absolutely correct. By that time it might be too late and there might be Members of Congress and Senators who will vote to close down Gallaudet. Then it will be gone forever. All the hopes, all the dreams, all the labor, all the tremendous good that came from Gallaudet–gone.

Why should Gallaudet exist if it is not the center [Addendum, 9/9/12: or one of the main centers] of the Deaf Culture Movement? Remember, "culture" means a lot more than just "way of life," it also means civilization and learning. If Gallaudet is not the place to go to participate in the Deaf Culture Movement, then it will have nothing to differentiate it from any other university. Deaf students will simply use interpreters and go to any other university as mainstreamed students.

The deaf community in France became the first deaf community to join the Philosophy and Science Movement that was started by the ancient Greek philosophers. That was a major achievement. Then the movement spread internationally when Laurent Clerc come to America. Then, when the Columbia Institution was established and then later Gallaudet College, that was another major, major advance for the Deaf Culture Movement and for Western civilization.

Gallaudet became the "tree trunk" that created the residential schools, which are the "limbs and branches." The whole Deaf Culture Movement was headquartered at Columbia (later Gallaudet) sometime after Columbia was formed in 1857 to the year 2005. (The headquarters was originally in Hartford, Connecticut.) Then in 2005 the Strategic Goals policy was approved by the Gallaudet Board of Trustees and Gallaudet was no longer the center of the movement.

In 2005 Gallaudet became the center of a "disability rights" movement, which wants the world to see deaf people as disabled people who need financial help. See the picture? The world is ready to pour money into Gallaudet to help "those disabled people." When money gets poured into Gallaudet, people like King Jordan can earn over $500,000 dollars per year. Don't fool yourself. That's exactly what Fernandes wants–the $500,000 dollar salary eventually–and she is willing to squash anybody who gets in her way.

She doesn't really give a damn about deaf kids and their futures. Her behavior from the last 11 years as a Gallaudet administrator proves that conclusively.

This fight against Jordan and Fernandes is a fight to return Gallaudet to being the center of the Deaf Culture Movement. It has nothing to do with personal vendettas and it has nothing to do with fighting against Jane personally.

I already said on this blog that I watched a video of Jane in 1988 in Hawaii. I thought she seemed intelligent and attractive. I have reviewed her writings from those years in one of the newsletters and it appears that she was a good person in those days and was fighting to help save the school in Hawaii and she succeeded. I congratulate her for that.

The problem is what happened in August of 1995 when she became an administrator at Gallaudet and then became Jordan's protégé. She became a different person. She fired deaf people who were good and talented people who supported the Deaf Culture Movement. She used all sorts of tricks, such as "reorganization" and forcing people to reapply for their positions (in order to reject them), and other tricks such as having Kimmel be her hatchet person who goes around using the technique of Management By Intimidation ("MBI").

Now with Fernandes issuing the quote about how she is the "coxswain" who is throwing people "off the boat," the whole world can see that she is conscious of her guilt and that she is admitting part of it.

Jordan has now sent out a mailer by US Postal Service to the Gallaudet alumni members that does not support Fernandes. It appears that Jordan is only worried about his legacy now.

However, if he wants to save his legacy, he must immediately issue a public statement denouncing his prior policies of promoting deafness as being a disability to get tax money and he must denounce Fernandes. He must say clearly that the Board of Trustees has the legal right to fire Fernandes and he must take the appropriate action to make sure she does not get a termination payoff. There is no other appropriate thing for him to do. Anything else, and history will judge him to be a moral coward.

(If the payoff is just a university policy, then the policy should be immediately revoked. If there's a buyout figure per a clause in her contract, then it should be ignored and the Board should tell Fernandes to stuff it and they should fire her. She was dishonest in her years as a Gallaudet administrator and she may have even colluded in preventing the presidential hiring committee from seeing the very negative evaluation of her that was conducted by the faculty senate. All of that would mean her employment contract is null and void.)

If there are a few personal vendettas involved with some of the people, those people have nothing to do with me and they are not really helping the protest to succeed. I wish they would step out.

Brian Riley

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Addendum (9/10/12): See also THIS BLOG POST which mentioned the May 5th Washington Post article and discusses the topic of leadership roles among university presidents.

Addendum (7/30/18): Apropos the topic of lying, see also THIS SPECIAL ISSUE of the Buff and Blue.

(Small edits, 9/9-10/12; "acting dishonestly" hyperlink added on 8/19/18)

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