In an interview with The Defender, Lynn Comerford, Ph.D., director of women’s studies at California State University, East Bay, detailed how — and why — she fought back against criticism for requiring her students to read “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health,” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D.
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When Lynn Comerford, Ph.D., assigned her students to read “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health,” she believed she was introducing them to a book that was “bursting with tested ideas” and had helped ignite “a paradigm shift in public health.”
Comerford’s students were receptive to the book, written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Children’s Health Defense chairman on leave, and the ideas it contained.
But the professor and director of women’s studies at California State University, East Bay, (CSUEB) found herself in academic hot water after an anonymous administrator alleged Comerford was “indoctrinating” her students.
In an exclusive interview with The Defender, Comerford explained how she was forced to “vigorously defend” her decision to assign “The Real Anthony Fauci” and another controversial book, “Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science,” co-authored by Judy Mikovits, Ph.D. — and how she ultimately prevailed.
‘No difficulty’ defending the book’s academic rigor
Comerford told The Defender that from an early age, she was introduced to ideas about defending freedom. She also explained how she was insulated from mainstream media propaganda.
She told The Defender:
“While at Fordham [University] as an undergraduate, I read Albert Camus, whose work strikes me as particularly poignant these days, especially his emphasis on the absurd.
“Camus believed, ‘The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.’ He also argued: ‘The welfare of people has always been the alibi of tyrants.’”
Comerford explained how growing up in Lexington, Massachusetts, “attending the reenactment of the ‘shot heard round the world’ on the town green every April 19,” she “learned viscerally to appreciate individual freedom, resist tyranny and sound the alarm when necessary.”
The slogan “‘Live Free or Die’ is stamped on every license plate in the neighboring state of New Hampshire — “powerful words for an impressionable kid,” Comerford told The Defender, adding that she “missed out on commercial TV as a kid” and has “avoided it as an adult.”
This is the background that helped inform Comerford’s decision to assign Kennedy’s and Mikovits’ books to her students, starting with “Plague of Corruption” in 2021.
Comerford told The Defender:
“Fall semester, 2021, California State University students, staff and faculty were mandated to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to access their campus.
“In February 2022, three students — out of 50 — complained to my department chair about my assigning ‘Plague of Corruption.’ I had to defend assigning this book to my class, Children in Families and Communities.
“My department chair at that time emailed me and said she was concerned the book ‘lacked academic rigor,’ that ‘the dean’s office was made aware of this’ and that ‘they are quite concerned about the use of this material.’”
Comerford said she had “no difficulty” defending the book’s “academic rigor,” telling The Defender:
“I think my department chair and the dean’s office may have been surprised by the facts I emailed to them about Dr. Mikovits and her book … because I think they may have only been familiar with the slanderous attacks levied against her in the media.
“It is tough for bench scientists like Dr. Judy Mikovits, who critique particular vaccines, to experience the opprobrium of an industry that in 2021 spent $6.88 billion on advertising in the U.S.”
Comerford said the matter was eventually resolved when the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, respecting the student complaints, asked Comferford to email her “a citation of a refereed journal article that presents a view that is different from those of Dr. Mikovits.”
However, more complaints followed when Comerford added Kennedy’s “The Real Anthony Fauci” to her assigned readings. According to Comerford:
“A chair from another department on our campus made a formal complaint to the chair of my department about the fact that I assigned ‘The Real Anthony Fauci.’
“The anonymous administrator complained to my department chair that by assigning the book to my class, I was ‘indoctrinating’ my students [and] also claimed that the ‘book is controversial and has no relation to the course subject matter.’”
The administrator also claimed the book does not “support the course description” or “student learning outcomes,” adding, “Although academic freedom protects an instructor’s right to select the materials to be used in a class … individual rights may be limited.”
lynn comerford, phd
College Administrator: "It's come to my attention you've assigned The Real Anthony Fauci, by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., to your class" by @lynncomerford https://open.substack.com/pub/lynncomerford/p/college-administrator-its-come-to?r=go90i&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web
11:04 PM · Mar 1, 2023
Comerford, who addressed these concerns in an essay on her Substack, took issue with these accusations.
“I cannot assign a book to a college class because one anonymous person thinks it is controversial?” she wrote.
“A book that critically examines the 50-year career of Anthony Fauci, who has directly impacted the health and welfare of all U.S. children in families and communities, ‘has no relation to the course subject matter’ of a course titled Children in Families and Communities? The charges are absurd.”
Comerford noted that the complaint was made anonymously, suggesting the administrator who complained was “not interested in discussing the strengths and weaknesses of arguments and data, and that they have likely not read ‘The Real Anthony Fauci.’”
“Instead of focusing on their own work, the anonymous administrator — a department chair from across campus — chooses to spend their time surveilling and attempting to manage and undermine a colleague,” Comerford said.
“I think a strong case can be made that the anonymous administrator is the indoctrinated party in this debate,” Comerford said, adding:
“The science is far from settled on zero-liability pharmaceutical injectables. In fact, we are just now entering a paradigm shift built on recent decades of research that has drawn conclusions supported by data in opposition to much of the research funded by multinational pharmaceutical corporations.”
The university’s campus newspaper, The Pioneer, also targeted Comerford, publishing two articles that labeled her as teaching “anti-vaccine rhetoric.”
“I would have preferred ‘anti-coercive mandator,’” Comerford said, adding that she “was disappointed these student journalists did not incorporate a critique of for-profit multinational pharmaceutical companies responsible recently for … the opioid crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans [and] the epidemic of ‘sudden deaths’ among young, healthy people after the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.”
Comerford drew analogies to Big Tobacco. “Before smoking was linked to lung cancer in mainstream thought, there were decades of published research findings linking smoking to lung cancer,” she said.
“It takes a long time and a lot of lawsuits to finally get the word out to the public when the injuring party is a powerful multinational corporation,” she said. “‘The Real Anthony Fauci’ lifts the veil on Big Pharma for the indoctrinated masses hypnotized by ‘Brought to you by Pfizer’ programming.”
“Given Pharma’s long criminal rap sheet,” she added — “see, for example, some of the crimes committed by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Novartis and AstraZeneca, I think it is irresponsible not to assign books like ‘The Real Anthony Fauci’ and ‘Plague of Corruption,’” Comerford said, adding:
“Isn’t it time to take a closer look at how Big Pharma impacts children in families and communities? Perhaps the anonymous administrator complaining about my assigned reading depends on funding from Pfizer or Moderna for their research?
“From my standpoint, I wonder if this anonymous administrator wants ‘The Real Anthony Fauci’ censored from my class because it may destroy illusions about current American health policies that the anonymous administrator cannot bear to let go.”
Pursuit of knowledge and truth ‘not a popularity contest’
Comerford said this was the first time the university or any of her colleagues interfered with her teaching.
“I had been given carte blanche to teach my classes in a way that reflected my training,” she said. Her student evaluations had always been good and the people she works with supported a faculty member’s right to be free to explore ideas based on their academic curiosity and background.
“If faculty are not free to ask questions — even questions that turn accepted orthodoxies on their head — there is no growth, and the purpose of the university ceases to exist,” she said. “The pursuit of knowledge and truth is not a popularity contest.”
This philosophy is what prompted Comerford to have her students read “The Real Anthony Fauci” and “Plague of Corruption.” She told The Defender:
“Because I took a critical, cost-benefit approach to COVID-19 mandates, I ended up learning that many of the lockdown decisions were at best misguided and at worst criminal. I felt a moral responsibility to share what I was learning with my students.
“I was motivated to assign each of these books because each filled a gap in my Children in Families and Communities class and because they were replete with current scientific research on the biological and socio-cultural impact of current health policy impacting children in families and communities in the U.S.”
Comerford said leaving out the books from her courses is what would have been “irresponsible,” because when she looked at the competing narratives, she saw that one side was motivated by profit and control.
“I took a science-based approach and relied on renowned scholars in their fields who came out early asking tough questions about mandates,” Comerford said. “If face masks were theater from a scientific point of view, what other problems lurked among COVID-19 mandates?”
CSUEB’s vaccine mandates also factored into her decision, said Comerford.
“Most of my students in the Department of Human Development and Women’s Studies are women of childbearing age,” she said. “When I learned CSUEB was mandating an experimental, zero-liability COVID-19 vaccine to pregnant women, I seethed. What could go wrong? I was reminded of the thalidomide catastrophe.”
Comerford said her students “appreciated being able to read science that offered data that differed from the global lockstep approach committed to censoring dissent. I remember one student thanking me ‘for doing my job.’”
She said some of her students were surprised to learn some basic facts about Big Pharma, including its advertising, lobbying and political contribution spending.
“Students shared that just asking questions about COVID-19 mandates at their workplace or in their private lives often led to emotionally charged interactions rather than even-keeled discussions,” she said.
“There is an old German proverb: ‘Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is,’” Comerford said. “There was a lot of fear promulgated during COVID-19, I think learning about COVID-19 science from different perspectives empowered students during a challenging time and made the proverbial wolf smaller.”
Female colleagues not concerned about COVID vaccines, risks
Comerford expected similar support from her colleagues — but found few allies.
“I wrote my colleagues a lengthy email the week the COVID-19 vaccines became available in the Bay Area in early 2021 and I included many links to early articles highlighting concerns about these rushed, experimental, zero-liability vaccines,” she said.
One colleague replied — and concurred. “I had found a confidant.”
In a situation she described as “Kafkaesque,” Comerford said her female colleagues did not openly share any concern about the risks posed by the COVID-19 vaccines — and vaccine mandates — to women.
“I assumed that raising ‘my body, my choice’ and health privacy rights would resonate with my fellow female colleagues on campus,” Comerford said, describing a Zoom call she participated in with 25 other female faculty.
“Not one woman responded to me. It was Kafkaesque.”
Ultimately, Comerford said, the tenets of academic freedom won out.
“Fortunately, one anonymous administrator, and a few student complaints, were not enough to censor my assigned course reading,” she said. “I owe this to my own tenacity and to even-keeled administrators in the dean’s office and my department who respectfully listened to complaints about my assigned reading and allowed me to defend myself successfully.”
Principle of academic freedom ‘a legal and moral concept’
Comerford stressed the importance of preserving academic freedom for both students and faculty, saying that “Colleges and universities are supposed to serve as ‘protected havens’ where students and faculty are free to challenge conventional thinking without worrying about imprisonment, censorship or job loss.”
“‘Protected havens’ also protect students and faculty from being forced to make ideological remarks to get or keep their position,” Comerford added. “Outside-the-box views need to be protected and no one should ever be forced to conform to groupthink.”
Comerford referred to the American Association of University Professors’ 1940 statement on academic freedom, which states “The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.”
Comerford told The Defender:
“The principle of academic freedom is both a legal and moral concept. It comes from the belief that the free exchange of ideas undergirds a good education [and] encourages critical thinking and independent analysis which are the foundation for innovation.
“It is chilling an anonymous department chair across campus would violate so many principles of academic freedom.”
Comerford said she encouraged such academic freedom in her classroom.
“I created an environment where students knew they were free to express themselves without holding back,” she said. “Although I assigned the reading material and wrote the lectures, I did not take a formal position. I introduced material and, like during the rest of the course, students knew they could respond in any way they liked.”
Citing the example of Stanford University professor of medicine Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., Ph.D., who was “harassed and censored after he co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration in October 2020,” Comerford said, “Academic freedom is clearly under threat.”
“I think conformity and groupthink has always existed in universities [but] it was starkly exposed during COVID-19. I think it correlated to the billions spent by Pharma on media, lobbying, campaign funding and research grants.
“To the extent that universities and academics seek funding from private corporations and government agencies, the potential for ‘administrative and research drift’ exists. Academic freedom is under attack if money is a corrupting factor on campus.”
Comerford noted that as part of the $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, U.S. colleges and universities were allocated billions of dollars on the precondition that they complied with COVID-19 mandates.
In another example, she said, Yale University received, in 2022 alone, $607 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), compared to $475 million in student tuition. Indeed, since 1998, Yale has received $9 billion from HHS — $1 billion of which has been disbursed since 2020.
“If university campus science centers are ‘brought to you by Pfizer’ … and grants are needed to do academic research, and universities take a large share of faculty grant money, does statistical deceit and collusion between pharmaceutical companies and research scientists occur?” Comerford asked.
Faculty at universities and academic institutions who do not share the establishment view on COVID-19 or other issues should “find the courage to stand up to those who come after us,” Comerford said.
Citing the words of Martin Luther King Jr. who said “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed,” Comerford told The Defender she “feels hopeful,” as “a lot of battles over the last three years were fought and won by incredibly brave Americans.”
THANKS TO: https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/lynn-comerford-the-real-anthony-fauci-required-reading-students-csueb/?utm_source=luminate&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=defender&utm_id=20230425