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Is NMSU too woke?

NMSU business professor David Clements gained national attention for his YouTube video in which he criticized president Floros’ comments on the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack. He claimed Floros’ criticism of the Capitol riots paired with his “silence” during the Black Lives Matter protests represented an unfair double standard.

“If you’re going to call out violence, call it out but do it year round,” Clements said in a Jan. 20 appearance on the Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight. “Don’t just wait until it’s politically convenient due to what happened.”

Digital illustration by Claudia Silva

Clements gave himself the oxymoronic title of “middle-ground Trump supporter,” while claiming to have irrefutable evidence that the election was stolen. While he promises to be apolitical in the classroom and to treat all students equally, Clements’ radically biased political grandstanding and intellectual dishonesty outside the classroom leads me to seriously doubt the quality and integrity of the education he provides.

It was inevitable that the attack on the Capitol being rightly labeled as a terrorist attack would lead many like professor Clements to compare it to the protests that occurred over the summer. There is an important distinction between these events and I’m sure it has been explained to him time and time again.

“While he promises to be apolitical in the classroom and to treat all students equally, Clements’ radically biased political grandstanding and intellectual dishonesty outside the classroom leads me to seriously doubt the quality and integrity of the education he provides.”

The Black Lives Matter protests that erupted after the death of George Floyd stemmed from legitimate and life-threatening grievances. Communities were tired of seeing young black men and women being murdered at the hands of those tasked with protecting them.

After decades of peaceful protests and pleas for equality that fell on deaf ears, the climate of 2020 led to an eruption of frustration and pain felt all across the country. So, I apologize if the world doesn’t sympathize with the mobs of political has-beens who stormed the Capitol because they couldn’t handle losing an election.

Portland was not set on fire and Kenosha was not burned to the ground. Those cities are fine and are still there. In fact, a study by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project found that 93% of demonstrations linked to Black Lives Matter remained peaceful.

What happened at the Capitol, on the other hand, was not just property damage, as professor Clements insinuated. This was an attack perpetrated by people who intended to take and potentially execute political prisoners. These people were not simply breaking into a Target or Starbucks; they were attempting to overturn a national election.

In his video professor Clements encouraged his viewers to question everything they see. He questioned why police were seen opening gates and waving protesters into the Capitol. He questioned if it was really Trump supporters who did this or some sort of coordinated inside job.

He even had the audacity to question the actions of Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman, who is now being hailed as a hero for leading a mob away from the entrance to the Senate chamber.

We knew the answers to many of Clements’ questions long before this failed insurrection ever happened. The FBI warned Capitol police about extremist threats and calls for violence, and social media served as a hub for political extremists to communicate and even provided a record of their threats.

Among other claims Clements perpetuated is the false narrative that antifa led the attack on the Capitol citing a now deleted and unsourced video of a supposed member claiming responsibility. Unlike the many Trump supporters and Proud Boys who were seen in now historic videos, this man’s identity is unknown.

With the help of dedicated journalists, internet sleuths and the public, many perpetrators of the attack have now been identified and charged. Perpetrators like Proud Boys members, Dominic Pezzola and Robert Gieswein, took part in organizing the attack, confronted police officers and were among the first people to make it inside the building.

Other known participants included West Virginia lawmaker Derrick Evans, who filmed himself entering the Capitol, and Riley Williams, who is accused of directing people inside the building and stealing Nancy Pelosi’s laptop.

While I shudder in frustration at professor Clements’ biased opinions, I have to admit he made some good points in his contradictory mess of a video. I agree that it is not OK to label all Trump supporters as racists or bigots. It’s true that not everyone at the Capitol that day was there with the intent to cause harm.

While it is hard to understand why anyone would want to be on the same side as the guy with the Camp Auschwitz shirt, Trump supporters don’t look at it in such a black-and-white manner. There is often a huge difference between the right-wing white nationalist and your run-of-the-mill conservative.

While many of us worried about our boomer parents falling for conspiracy theories like QAnon, the reality is most of them had never heard of these conspiracies and had no idea what was really going on. Then the Jan. 6 attack opened their eyes to the insanity that had become the Republican party.

Many Republicans have even begun publicly denouncing the GOP altogether as over 30,000 Republican voters have changed their registration over the last month.

Professor Clements claims his only goal is to encourage “an environment where we can process facts,” but his actions, such as citing the Epoch Times — a radical right-wing publication with a long history of publishing false information — during a live Q&A, show his inability to discern credible sources from propaganda.

Moreover, Clements claimed without evidence in the Carlson interview “that [NMSU] is under a spell of Marxism,” and that “20% of the faculty members [at NMSU] identify proudly as Marxists.”

In a different YouTube video posted Jan. 22, Clements defended this claim citing the National Association of Scholars, a non-profit with a history of lobbying for politically conservative educational organizations. Clements also cited surveys that he admitted only included students and sociology professors.

Clements also blatantly chooses to misrepresent socialism and Marxism, often conflating the two. In that same video, he said he sees Marxists as anyone with a “worldview that revolves around an oppressor-oppressed narrative.” Clements sets up a straw-man fallacy in which even democratic socialism is unfairly and incorrectly aligned with communism.

I could go on for hours scrutinizing and debunking professor Clements’ many unfounded claims. At this point he has failed to convince me that he is a credible source who actually has any compelling or meaningful information to offer. He has failed to explain, for example, why Trump’s own legal team has not looked at any of the supposedly damning evidence he claims to have that would prove the election was stolen.

If you are a student planning to take one of professor Clements’ classes, proceed with caution. While he is no doubt a brilliant business professor, his willingness to perpetuate provably false narratives, share unsourced videos, push conspiracy theories and cherry-pick information is concerning to say the least.

Like professor Clements said, question everything you see. This includes overtly demagogic political rhetoric we have heard time and time again.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to New Mexico State University, the NMSU Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Kokopelli, or any other organization, committee, group or individual. 

11 Comments

  1. Why don’t you look at the evidence with David? If you wish to, there is plenty out there! If you do not with to, then what you write has not relevance on any newspaper, social media, or kindergarten class!

  2. I read your article with great interest as I too watched Professor Clements video and his interview on Fox. As someone with a healthy scepticism towards so called conspiracy theorists, I couldn’t help thinking how easy it is to mash up a video by inserting misleading content or editing to frame a particular narrative – surely we’re all used to this by now, the MSM do it all the time. But I also observed in your piece, other ruses perpetrated by what passes for journalism these days – misinterpretation (deliberate perhaps), attributing quotes that were not actually made, blatant falsehoods and smears. I had to go back and watch his video again as I was sure I hadn’t heard him say some of the things you attribute to him. I was right – he didn’t. You hashtag #NMSUJournalism; is this really a good example of honest, objective journalism of which NMSU should be proud?

    Then I noticed how much your language seems to parrot the ‘authorised’ narrative – your diminution of the BLM protests, your reference to ‘conspiracy theories, the Capitol riot as a ‘terrorist attack’ (by the way, I live in Northern Ireland, and I can tell you first hand what a terrorist attack looks and feels like and never in my observation of actual terrorist attacks were terrorists unarmed), … all of this made me see clearly that there is no original thought in your piece, just a regurgitation of hackneyed terms from the MSM lexicon.

    I think you owe Professor Clements a huge apology. You have wilfully (and probably gleefully) suggested that students should be wary of the Professor. For what? Telling the truth? Certainly he has done more truth telling than you have on the evidence of this article. It’s shameful that you should deign to take the moral high ground when all you have done is assemble together a string of half truths. lies and thinly veiled smears in a blatant attempt to defame a good teacher and scholar.

    I hope in later life, when you’ve had the opportunity to grow as a person and perhaps find out that much, if not all of what Professor Clements says was indeed true (Time magazine has already made a telling contribution: https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ ), perhaps then, you will reflect, with some regret and remorse I hope, that your attempt to malign this decent man, only had the effect of making you look small and foolish.

  3. Claudia:
    Your hit piece is totally misleading. Shame on you.

  4. David Eller

    This assessment is so problematic I feel embarrassed for the author. In writing an opinion implying that NMSU is NOT too Woke, She highlights 1) that it clearly is and 2) highlights the dangers of publishing these opinions without critique. Let’s take a look at some facts:

    1) Professor Clements claims to have irrefutable evidence that the election was stolen? Rather than claiming he knows the conclusion of what the evidence implies, he makes the raw evidence available so that people can Review the raw data and make their own decisions. (https://www.theprofessorsrecord.com/)

    2) Portland was not set on fire? Yes it was, many times. The Federal Courthouse, the Police Union, many Molotov cocktails, etc. (https://youtu.be/xi3k6REF-3Y) Kenosha is still standing? Misleading, the Kenosha of 2019 is not still there after the $50 million in damages. (https://www.kenoshanews.com/news/local/damage-due-to-rioting-unrest-in-kenosha-tops-50-million-2-000-guard-assisted-here/article_26473ec9-c08a-5490-9d09-cc2b840b65f1.html)
    These cities are clearly not fine as Minneapolis has experienced a 50% increase in the murder rate. Let’s be clear, people have died as a consequence of the riots and that is not fine.

    3) The people who marched into the Capitol intended to “execute political prisoners”? Do you have proof for this? It sounds like hyperbole considering there were no weapons arrests on the Capitol grounds per CNN.

    These factual mistakes are examples of why critique is necessary to fully understand events and narratives. When people who offer baseless or incorrect statements as facts, then present narratives that cannot be debated, the reputation of the institution suffers.

    The fact that this shoddy opinion piece made it into digital print without an editor pointing out to the author, the numerous factual mistakes proves that’s NMSU is very ‘Woke”. This appears to be a clear example of conclusion being regarded above the amateurish craft work used to derive the conclusion.

    There are many other problematic issues with this piece, from the misuse of oxymoronic to the lack of understanding of the downstream implications of Marxism. Before you spend any more time worrying about your “Boomer parents”, critique your own work. This piece proves NMSU is damaging it’s reputation.

  5. Claudia, I feel your hate. You made a lot untrue claims. My guess is you are parroting what you hear. It’s time for you to put research behind each and every one of your opinions. I will focus on one item. “Epoch Times — a radical right-wing publication with a long history of publishing false information”. List one article from theepochtimes that is false information.

    • Kokopelli Staff

      We appreciate your comment. Please follow the hyperlink to the Media Bias/Fact Check website for an in-depth review of The Epoch Times.

  6. This article sadly tries to condemn a very well thought out and extremely meaningful statement from David Clements. It solidifies the hypocrisy that truly exists among the ignorant. I graduated NMSU over 20 years ago with a MBA and would have been privileged to take a class with him! I actually discouraged my daughter from attending NMSU because of the their trending toward inappropriate indoctrination.

  7. Claudia, what can one say that you will hear? You are captive to a narrative built on concepts and abstractions fed to you by professors (probably sociology), that bear no reality to the actual reality most people live. Your narrative is destructive to life – especially children. Can’t you see that? You are probably young, have no REAL life experience and have no sense of how destructive your rhetoric and activism are and will increasingly have on children as time goes on. Do you think you or your children will be immune to the repercussions of this? Ha! You will regret these “activist days”, seamlessly foisted upon you by due to your youth by your tenured professors who believe they’re making a difference by propagandizing you from within the “belly of the beast.” Been there, lived that. You are transparent in you naivete as evidenced by your acceptance of a mob mentality, though intellectually framed, attack on those who hold a different view. Time and life experience will eventually teach you this. Oh but the destruction YOU will have helped to usher in. You are being used but you don’t see this. Diversity, huh? But not in thought. Where is the greatly touted tolerance by the left now?

  8. You’re characterization is absolutely false. The evidence is real. If you are a true fair minded academic, you will review the overwhelming information that the election was an absolute FRAUD! Time magazine even says it was FRAUD but of course with the excuse that it was for the right purpose. This is evil Ms. Silva and you know it.
    David Clements is a good honest man who is standing up for truth, integrity, the law and the constitution! You should be embarrassed of this smear piece.

  9. If everyone agrees elections should be clean, then WHAT’S THE PROBLEM with assuring that through investigation? How did supporting clean elections — lead to anti-semitism? That’s a leap that cannot be made, to attempt to do so requires a basis of lies, is parasitically twisted and lame in the extreme.

  10. You are a progressive so you definitely will not agree with professor Clements. If I were him however I would invite you to sit in on one of his Classes. I am surprised as a journalist you didn’t learn to do your research 1st… But perhaps Your Instructors were also progressive and didn’t teach you that. We don’t all have to see eye to eye. In fact it’s best if we don’t. Great ideas come from our differences. According to Jordan Peterson we need both liberals and conservatives. We also need to talk to each other and listen to each other. That doesn’t mean just listening to those who agree with us.

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