Sunday, August 20, 2023

Professor Dutta ducks below the parapet


It’s now more than three weeks since I challenged Professor Mohan Dutta (above) of Massey University to a debate, and still there has been no response.

In the meantime, he has locked his Twitter account after I urged readers of this blog to check it out. I thought people should see for themselves how incendiary – in fact borderline crazy – some of his tweets were.

Dutta would no doubt say he locked his account to protect himself from racist abuse, but another explanation is that he realised how bad it looked for him. Better to limit his readership to fellow zealots whom he knows won’t challenge him.

Before he ducked for cover beneath the parapet I cut and pasted bits of his Twitter feed as examples of his off-the-wall extremism. They reveal his overtly racist obsession with the evils of whiteness and how white supremacy “erases” minority voices in New Zealand.

He characterises free speech as an American idea that doesn’t fit New Zealand and needs to be “decolonised”. This from a man who (a) exercises his own right to free speech in a highly inflammatory way and (b) assumes the right to decide what’s good for New Zealand despite having arrived here only five minutes ago, metaphorically speaking.

An anonymous post on Wordpress provides a striking insight into Dutta's splenetic, vindictive rage. I can't verify the writer's allegations about Dutta, which should be treated with caution, but his Twitter and Facebook posts speak for themselves. 

For the record, I don’t dispute Dutta’s right to say what he thinks, irrational and offensive though it may be. He’s as entitled to freedom of speech as I am. In fact he has done us all a favour by obligingly exposing to the world the poisonous, polarising rhetoric he spouts from his privileged position as the Dean’s Chair in Communication at Massey.

My argument is not with Dutta’s right to express himself. But I do object, strenuously, to the fact that the state generously provides him with a taxpayer-funded platform from which to propagate ideas that undermine democracy and promote division; ideas that are fundamentally hostile to the society he has chosen to live in, and in a broader sense openly hostile to the values of Western civilisation that most New Zealanders (including the vast majority of immigrants) hold to.

In fact a crucial question that I would put to Dutta, in the unlikely event that we meet face to face, is this: Why is he here? Why choose to live in New Zealand when he clearly finds this country so vile? It was a downright perverse move unless you accept either or both of two explanations. One is that he came here with the aim of tearing down a civilised, tolerant, liberal democracy painstakingly built up over nearly two centuries. The other is that he was made welcome by a university sector that seems to have infinite room for second-rate imported academics pushing brazen ideological agendas, but which shows zero tolerance for any competing narratives.

Dutta may be a particularly conspicuous and egregious example of this phenomenon, but he’s not alone. The system is infested with people like him.

There is an argument that the best response to Dutta is ridicule, on the basis that his pronouncements are so risible they don’t deserve to be taken seriously. People say he’s deranged and that I’m only encouraging him. To take that approach, however, would be to ignore the damage he’s doing. He needs to be held accountable for his choleric, hateful rhetoric – as do the vice-chancellor of Massey (the Australian Jan Thomas, who famously and dishonestly banned Don Brash as a supposed menace to public safety) and the university council. After all, Dutta is operating with impunity under their imprimatur.

So I continue to wait patiently for the professor's response to my invitation. I also eagerly anticipate Parts Three, Four and Five of his promised five-part hit job on me, which seem to be taking some time to materialise. In the meantime, other people have been digging into Dutta's record – engaging in the type of online archaeology that the extreme neo-Marxist Left, as represented by people like the excitable Secret Squirrel conspiracy theorists at the Disinformation Project, normally specialises in.

Auckland lawyer Juliet Moses, spokeswoman for the New Zealand Jewish Council, has exposed Dutta’s support – along with another far-Left New Zealand academic, Professor Richard Jackson from the comically misnamed National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies – for a British academic with a history of anti-Semitic pronouncements.

Someone else has found evidence that Dutta was previously known by the surname Dutta-Bergman, raising the tantalising possibility that he is himself tainted by the ineradicable stain of whiteness. 

Meanwhile, Ben Espiner of The Platform has weighed in with a muscular and well-reasoned critique that concludes with the line: “It is generally believed that the most ignorant and indefensible of ideas wilt the fastest under the light of public scrutiny”. Public scrutiny is what Dutta, who's normally an incorrigible attention-seeker, now seems suddenly eager to avoid.


Jade Warrior said...

Professor Dutta clearly misjudges a lot of things, and I think he also misjudged you Karl. I suspect Dutta has an idea that all extreme "alt right" bloggers (which of course you are not) are essentially cowards and that all you need to do is highlight their various failings, and the blogger concerned will just slink off into the shadows and pretend that nothing has happened.

I think it would have come as a genuine surprise to Dutta when you responded by directly linking to his articles, e-mailing him personally to challenge him to a debate, and responding directly to the half-baked arguments in his Massey University articles with your far more reasoned and structured blog posts. I think he also underestimated your journalistic credentials - you clearly weren't expected to do your own research on him, highlight his Twitter account and delve into his personal history.

In other words, Dutta picked on the wrong person.

Even if you don't hear anything from Dutta ever again, I think this whole episode will be healthy for him as he may now realise that people who happen to disagree with his own narrow view of the world are not necessarily extremists, but ordinary everyday people who simply will not accept his view of free speech and democracy. In fact, this realisation has probably come as a major shock to him which might explain why nobody has heard from him lately.

Anonymous said...

A communist from three years old?

“As a three-year-old, I asked my uncle, a trade union leader in my hometown, if I could help him paint hammer and sickle on the red flags that were arranged in a long line on the roof of our house.”


Anonymous said...

Mohan J. Dutta of Massey University has, for at last one of his academic papers, one Debalina Dutta also from Massey University as a coauthor according to google scholar. Co author on another paper is a Uttaran Dutta of Arizona State University

Andy Espersen said...

I am so enjoying your sober assessment of Dutta and his academic abilities, Karl. Why should he not be hung out and openly criticised for coming out with such outrageous, irrational, racist statements and accusations?

But these days only retired, independent people like you would dare publish about Dutta what you are publishing - lest they ruin their careers or even lose their jobs. I wonder whether you would have been allowed to write it as a journalist or editor in our main media today.

He will now be ridiculed for not daring to debate freely with you - and rightly so.


Karl, you missed the obvious(to me anyway) reason for Professor Dutta being in NZ.
Couldn't get a job anyplace else.

Being as NZ hiring practices in academic and Government circles seems to be infatuated with hiring overseas applicants.

Many examples spring to mind, who turn out to be either frauds or charlatans.(Said Massey Boss included)

Anonymous said...

Dutta is in New Zealand because Massey failed to do due diligence on this Marxist before employing him : with his record of in intelligible papers no other serious university would take him . The vice chancellor of Massey should be forced to resign or explain why they employed a blatant raciest as head of communications - message for parents don’t let your children go to Massey to be indoctrinated with his ideology - a number of senior staff at Massey think he is wonderfull !! Obviously like minded fools being paid good taxpayer dollars to preach the philosophy of this charlatan .

Anonymous said...

Purdue university as in Purdue Pharma? Jeez.

Anonymous said...

I first encountered the notion of “whiteness” some 12 months ago via some YouTube lectures from Willie Jennings, an American academic from Yale. He was expounding the thesis of his book, “After Whiteness”. Key to his approach is seemingly his abstract trawling of some 350 years of western education in general, to create what we might term the “ideal product”.
Now; I have to confess, I have been among the most fortunate of people, having been educated in the first place at the secondary school level at an institution which goes back literally centuries, and then at tertiary level at two institutions, whose pedigrees are similarly old in the one case and in the other an exemplar of the UK “redbrick” expansion of universities. All of which, I have to say, formed a mind and heart, even a lively spirit, that bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to Jennings’ “product”. So disparate are the realities, alleged and true, in fact, that I must enter the fray here, with this adjunctive piece.
If ‘education’ waxes lyrical in the way it seems to be going, and its practitioners display the sorts of ‘tunes’ Dutta does, then the sooner the entire edifice joins the sewage ponds along with Paulo Freire’s theories (a mainstay among certain similar breeds it seems) the better. At least we may then more constructively spray the product upon fields to yield a more fruitful harvest.

Ken S said...

I think it's simply a case of the vice-chancellor employing imbeciles and charlatans so she won't stand out from the crowd.

Karl du Fresne said...

Re Purdue Pharma and Purdue University (which Dutta attended), I don't think there's any connection.

Anonymous said...

Claims from friends of Dutta's that the Platform and Sean Plunket at far-right extremists and linked to Hindutva extremists online:

Be careful, Karl, you'll be chanting Hare Krishna next!

Karl du Fresne said...

Strange as it may seem, I'm not remotely interested in these rancid forums. I'm not even sure I've done the right thing publishing the link.

Anonymous said...

I think there’s nothing wrong with publishing what is being said by various groups.

This group is one of many front groups of the same far left clusters that attempt to stir up division with trans stuff, for example.

Stirring is what they are up to, not what I am up to by posting the link to their material. Exposing the stirring for what it is, far left agitation - fingering and explaining it - helps to dispel it or show it up, in my opinion.

Neil Keating said...

A useful antidote to the stuff put about by Dutta et al is Northrop Frye's 'The Educated Imagination'.

Still in print. Or listen to it on Youtube as six lectures (1962) from Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Lecture 6 deals head-on with the issues involved in Dutta.

Prof Frye, Uni of Toronto, was arguably the 20th century's leading literary critic.

John Hurley said...

Dr Steve Elers says it's great a person with no academic qualification can come and lecture at the university. I get the feeling he isn't a great intellectual or perhaps, this is applied postmodernism (knowledge isn't universal)?

Anonymous said...

Same affliction that apparently affects NIWA, nobody they employ seems ever to have been born here, from what we see on TV.