The Communist Party isn’t radical enough for Johnny E. Williams

During the last two days we’ve been looking at sociology professor Johnny EricTrin Williams, who, in June, over two decades after earning his Ph.D., finally did something to attract notice beyond the Hartford, Connecticut, campus of Trinity College, where he teaches: he wrote a couple of tweets in which he basically called for race war.

Johnny Eric Willams

One thing that’s interesting about working on this website is how you keep running into the same people. Googling away for clues to Williams’s past, we found very little – let’s just say he’s not exactly ambitious or prolific – but one thing we did run across was a document that linked Williams to a couple of our old pals on this site, namely world-class race hustler Cornel West, who is currently on the Harvard faculty, and Bob Avakian, head of the Communist Party USA. The document was a statement by an organization calling itself “Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia, of course, is a former Black Panther and cop-killer who was sentenced to death in 1982, whereupon bien pensant types around the world rallied to his support, presenting his conviction as a symbol of American injustice and racism and campaigning to have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. That effort eventually bore fruit in 2001; Mumia is now serving a life sentence in a Pennsylvania prison.

Bob Avakian

But on to the statement by the “Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal,” or EMAJ for short. The statement was critical of a November 15, 2014, event at New York’s Riverside Church, where Avakian and West discussed “Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion.” EMAJ, which noted that it had “supported the event beforehand,” was nonetheless unhappy with the discussion because of its “singular focus on one predominating voice, of its disrespect for black radical leadership and all leaders of color, and of its failure to uphold the radical democratic values needed in revolutionary movements.”

Cornel West

In other words, West and Avakian, the latter of whom, at least, is an advocate of violent, murderous totalitarian revolution in the United States, were not radical enough for the members of EMAJ. The EMAJ statement went on to quote an essay by Mumia and Angela Davis, who, as we’ve seen on this site, was an accessory to murder. The essay envisioned “a socialist future” that would involve “the abolition of institutions that advance the dominance of any one group over any other”; in writing their essay, they drew on “Black, indigenous and other traditions.”

Avakian and West at the Riverside event

This, complained the EMAJ, was something that West and Avakian, but mainly Avakian, had failed to do at the Riverside event. In the view of EMAJ, Avakian, who is white, had taken up too much time, which “was disrespectful of Dr. West,” who is black. To EMAJ, this amounted to “an implicit racism” and a sense of “white privilege and white supremacy.” EMAJ condemned “what we witnessed at Riverside: one white revolutionary lecturing for more than two hours while a Black revolutionary sat on the stage. This is not what revolution looks like in the U.S.”

The EMAJ statement was signed by fifteen individuals, most of whose listed affiliations with academic institutions – among them Evergreen State College, Columbia University, and Union and Princeton theological seminaries. Williams was one of them. This, then, is the kind of nonsense in which he has been involved in recent years when he might have been engaged in serious sociological research.

Matthew Hughey

Oh, well. The good news is that on June 26, the president of Trinity College put Williams on a leave of absence for his racist Facebook and Twitter posts. The bad news: the American Association of University Professors criticized Trinity for violating Williams’s “academic freedom” we suspect he’ll be back soon enough. Colleagues, too, rallied around Williams. From Inside HigherEd: “Matthew Hughey, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut and friend of Williams’s, said he ‘was merely the latest target of a campaign by the right-wing white supremacist outrage machine with the goal of silencing academics’ working to eliminate oppression.” (We’ve previously discussed Hughey on this site, by the way.) Our guess: Williams will be back in the classroom soon enough, likely doubling down on his hatred and infecting heaven knows how many students with it.

Johnny Eric Williams, race hustler

Yesterday we met Johnny Eric Williams, a sociology professor at Trinity College in Hartford who in June posted some virulently anti-white comments online.

Johnny Eric Williams

Who is Johnny Eric Williams? His bio has been scrubbed from the Trinity College website, but according to a bio at the Springfield Institute, where he is a member of the board of directors, he received an B.A. from Ouachita Baptist University in 1984, an M.A. from the University of Arkansas in 1986, and another M.A. (1990) and a Ph.D. (in 1995) from Brandeis. Williams’s book African-American Religion and the Civil Rights Movement in Arkansas was published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2003, and he’s written for “media outlets such as Black Agenda Report, Racism Review, CounterPunch, Ctnewsjunkie.com and The Mark News (Toronto, Canada).”

Trinity College, Hartford

Let’s just say that that’s a pretty unimpressive CV. Eleven years from B.A. to a Ph.D. in sociology? One book, published by a decidedly minor university press? A handful of articles posted at radical websites? Not a single publication in a serious scholarly journal?

Briefly put, Williams doesn’t seem to have left much of a mark on the world prior to the current controversy. We did manage to track down an account of a previous controversy in which he figured. In 2008, an anonymous blogger wrote about being a guest lecturer at Trinity “some years” earlier. During the time the blogger was at Trinity, a controversy erupted there over a racist remark that appeared on a campus-related website. The blogger recalled that Williams, an “oh-so-PC prof,” took the lead in organizing a protest. Williams claimed, according to the blogger,

Williams’s book

that because he is black “I’m uncomfortable all the the time on this goddamned campus.” To prove how uncomfortable he feels he referred to a handful of minor incidents over a 13 year period. There was some racist graffiti left on a tennis court, rude messages written outside some dorm rooms and students in Halloween costume which Williams found offensive. None of this comes close to a real violation of rights. But apparently it is enough for Prof. Williams to feel uncomfortable “all the time.”

The blogger noted that Williams, at the time, was teaching a course entitled “Race, Racism & Democracy,” which examined “ethnicity and race as reactionary and revolutionary ideologies,” and another course, “Race and Ethnicity,” in which he discussed “persistent and perpetual forms of racial oppression” and illuminated how “the structure and process of politics govern…the everyday lives of oppressed racial groups in capitalist democracies.”

What emerged from the blogger’s recollections of Williams was a portrait of a classic race hustler. (Incidentally, the blogger noted that the online racist comment that had triggered the campus controversy turned out – as is so often the case in such situations – to have been the work of a black student – who claimed that she had posted the comment in order “to ‘test’ the real racial feelings on campus.”)

We’ve found out a bit more about Williams. We’ll get to that tomorrow.

Hating whites at Trinity College, Hartford

Another day, another American professor who turns out to be consumed with a hate-filled ideology that threatens to poison the minds of his students.

Johnny Eric Williams

On June 16, Johnny Eric Williams, who teaches sociology at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, shared on Facebook an article from the Medium website entitled “Let Them F***ing Die.” The article (written by someone styling himself “Son of Baldwin”) consisted of a set of reflections inspired by the attempted mass murder of those Republican Congressmen by a former Bernie Sanders volunteer. Noting that Steve Scalise, the wounded GOP whip, is an opponent of gay marriage and that one of the two cops who saved his life was a lesbian named Crystal Griner, “Son of Baldwin” pondered the question: “What does it mean, in general, when victims of bigotry save the lives of bigots?”

Crystal Griner, the hero cop who saved the GOP congressional baseball team from a would-be assassin, threw out the first ball at the game

“Son of Baldwin,” who is apparently a gay black man, chided people like Griner who, despite being members of groups that are the objects of widespread bigotry, “think being the kind of thing that would sacrifice our lives for the very people who would reflexively slit our throats to create a fountain from which to drink our blood is noble.” Such minority-group members, he wrote, “imagine…that by becoming a shining example of this ‘righteous’ behavior, we might, somehow, guide these cannibals into becoming upright beings capable of following the very rules they enforce upon us.” This, “Son of Baldwin” asserted, is a misguided view. Instead of saving bigots, he wrote, people like Griner should let them die. He spelled out his point at length:

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.

If you see them drowning.

If you see them in a burning building.

If they are teetering on the edge of a cliff….[and so on]

Do nothing….

Let. Them. Fucking. Die.

And smile a bit when you do.

Sharing this article on Facebook, Williams used the hashtag “#LetThenF***ingDie.”

Chapel at Trinity College, Hartford

Two days after posting the link, Williams returned to his computer and banged out a couple of tweets in the same vein:

I’m fed the f*** up with self-identified ‘white’s’ daily violence directed at immigrants, Muslims, and sexual and racially oppressed people. The time is now to confront these inhuman assholes and end this now.

It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be ‘white’ will not do, put end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThenF***ingDie

Williams’s actions caused so much uproar that the powers that be at Trinity felt compelled to close the campus for the day on June 22.

Who is Johnny E. Williams? We’ll answer that tomorrow.