‘Jessica Krug was taking advantage of the rules set up by an identitarian economy that exists both inside, and now increasingly outside, the university: an economy that bestows status and access to financial benefits and prestige … based solely on the color of your skin.’

Terry L. Newman, Medium.

It is now accepted as fact in many academic fields that you cannot teach issues about specific groups if you are not a member of those groups. In my first article for Quillette, I wrote about a professor in my Master program who proclaimed to our seminar that white sociology professors were incapable of teaching courses on race. Of course this is not true. You do not have to be non-white to teach the subject of race respectfully and knowledgably. The same understanding has permeated qualitative research methods in the social sciences, the idea that only a member of an insider group can understand and research that group…

Campuses constantly hold talks about white supremacy and white privilege, as if lurking behind every corner. Speakers are brought in on pedagogical days to sensitize staff in already overwhelmingly progressive faculties in the humanities. Guilt has become something associated not with one’s actions, but one’s demographic. Is it any wonder why someone might choose to abandon the burden of their whiteness, and embrace, instead, the pristine, blameless identity of the marginalized?[W]e should recoil at the thought of our individual worlds becoming so small and so narrow that the only research we can participate in is research about ourselves. This is the insider doctrine…

[U]ntil we overcome the divisive insider doctrine which plagues us both inside and outside the academy, the idea that only members of groups can understand one another, [we will have more Jessica Krugs.]

Ballad of Jessica Krug; Or: What Did I Do to Be So Black and Jew

Sing it.

If I were a charlatan
A racial pretender
Would you hire me anyway
Would you give me tenure



If a faker were my trade
Would you still praise me
Publish all the bs I make
Standing right behind me



Save my ass through endless lies
Save my ass through wokeness
Forget my past as a Jewish lass
Be diggin my Black Folkness



If I were a sociopath
For the world to see!
Would you fall for it anyway
Would you be my colleague

Can anyone be surprised that in high school Jessica Krug was already a plagiarist?

[As a high school senior, Krug was] disciplined for having plagiarized a piece that ran under her name in the school’s literary magazine.

Jessica Krug, from The Cut.

A fellow academic who knew [Jessica] Krug back at the University of Wisconsin–Madison recalls how she used to identify as half Algerian, saying that her father was a white man of German ancestry who had raped her mother.

*****************

In addition to the position and resources Krug stole from academics of color, she also stole from the many students who viewed her as a trusted authority to help them make sense of the world and their own identities within it. The Cut spoke to four of Krug’s former students about reckoning with her deception in the wake of her Medium essay, and how they are coming to terms with her betrayal:

“For her to have built her entire persona on a lie is just so deeply hurtful, but also it’s coming to the point where it’s just like, Oh yes, of course a white woman will go and try to trick all these Black and brown students. … [T]he way I looked up to her, the way I wanted to impress her, [combined] with the power dynamics [and the fact that] the relationship was built on a lie is more important than the subject matter of what she taught.”

*****************

“[She] lied with such poise and ease … She ridiculed any students that were still in the learning process that didn’t understand things… It’s a very weird thing now looking back and just realizing that the whole class was kind of a mirage.”

******************

“We thought that we were being taught African history by a Black woman. And now it’s just like, What else was a lie?

*******************

“I thought I was reading a suicide note [when I read her confession]… [S]he was very adamant that she was from the Bronx — she had a very heavy accent throughout the whole class. She would come in with huge hoops and a nose ring and a crop top and tight, tight cheetah pants. She has a big tattoo on her arm of the socialist symbol [the hammer and sickle]… There was a good number of classes she didn’t show up to, that she canceled like 30 minutes before the class. It seems like she was a bit scattered or a bit out of place in what she was doing in her life. She wasn’t committed to showing up to this lecture.”

Akissi Britton, a Rutgers Professor, Recalls Jessica Krug.

Excerpts.

[T]old us her father was Tuareg from N. Africa. My ex, who’d lived and traveled extensively through Africa began asking questions that we never got satisfactory answers for.

[Now] the story of a Puerto Rican grandfather began to come out.

As she started claiming more and more that she was Black I didn’t quite buy it but I honestly didn’t know what to do with it.

[S]he dyed her hair dark. Before it was a dusty blonde.

So many times she accused me of not being Black enough in terms of politics. She was hardcore and woker-than-thou with it.

I’d always talk to my ex about how her Black identity felt weird to me. Like I couldn’t get a grasp on her story. But I’d never come across someone who lied so extensively about her background. Lesson learned.

“I want to assure you that we are aware of yesterday’s shocking news concerning your teacher this semester, Prof. Jessica Krug. I know that many of you are deeply shaken and angered by Prof. Krug’s confession and questioning whether you can remain in her class. While I am unable to offer you any specifics at this time, we are working to see if the classes can continue this semester without Prof. Krug as the instructor.”

The chair of GW’s history department does the right thing – contacts students who signed up for her courses, writes openly about the situation, and announces that he’ll keep her out of the classroom. Now the larger university needs to say/do something.

Krug will of course hold out for a fat severance check (I’m assuming she has tenure), and she’ll get one, because GW is being ridiculed, every day, all over the world. If GW dawdles, she’ll get a lawyer and threaten a lawsuit. She likes to make noise.

And no – despite all the histrionic self-cancellation language in her bullshit letter to the world, no way will this woman have the decency to leave GW. She’ll plant her ass there until they pay up. She’s got a long life of vileness ahead of her, and will need to subsidize it.

GWU fraudster Jessica Krug was outed because ANOTHER GWU fraudster – Hache Carrillo – happened to come up in a conversation among academics.

In an interview with the New York Times, [one of the people who outed Krug] said the allegations [against her] came up during a discussion about [the] late novelist H.G. Carrillo.

Carrillo’s sister revealed after he died in April that he was not a black Latino, who fled Cuba with his family as a child, like he had claimed his entire life. 

His sister said he was an African-American born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  

[The] junior scholar came forward with claims that Krug had also been lying about her identity. 

Your blogueuse was herself on the tenure committee reviewing Carrillo! We turned him down because we simply could not make sense of his creative/scholarly portfolio, and also because he seemed a seriously troubled, unreliable person. He listed works that never appeared in his file; students reported that he could be strikingly irresponsible in his dealings with them… I don’t remember that many details now, but I remember rather liking his fiction writing, and tending toward wanting to award tenure. Almost everyone gets tenure… But it was as if he didn’t really want tenure – he was evasive and not terribly cooperative with our committee…

Of course, now that we know he was a fraud, his ambivalence makes sense – the closer you get to tenure, the higher your profile becomes, and the greater your threat of exposure.

Krug is not George Washington University’s first professor to fabricate their identity.

Novelist H.G. “Hache” Carrillo taught creative writing there full time for eight years until 2015. Carrillo’s true name was Herman Glenn Carroll…

Oy.

Jessica Krug: The Early Years.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency features Jessica Krug’s early years in Jewish Day School and in a Conservative synagogue.

What can I say? GW’s history dept really knows how to pick ’em. Prepare to hear from her colleagues about campus life with Jessica.

Ah hell. I’m not gonna excerpt stuff from this. Just read it.

“What was really, really scary to me, personally were the threats to our class, saying that it was our fault that [Matthew Harris] got fired from the university in that retaliation,” UCLA student Lina Campillo told ABC7 on Tuesday. “He even called out some of my former classmates by name in the manifesto.”

So much still to say about the curious case of UCLA philosophy lecturer/psychotic would-be mass killer Matthew Harris. For UD, the crucial question is – who hired him at UCLA? Simply put, how did a guy who apparently was a known problem — maybe even a danger — at his previous school – Duke – end up in front of a classroom at UCLA?

How long did UCLA keep him in the classroom?

******************************

Here’s the bit on his time at Duke.

Harris received his PhD from Duke University in 2019. It has been alleged that while there, he engaged in a some inappropriate actions with or in regard to students, and that some faculty in the Department of Philosophy at Duke were aware of issues with his behavior; it has been alleged that some Duke faculty recommended that he not be left alone with students.

So far the above can’t be confirmed; and since everyone with any connection to Matthew Harris is currently running scared (he might be released on bond or sent to a low-security mental health facility), I wouldn’t expect anyone to say anything for awhile. But let us assume this information about his behavior at Duke is true. Let us assume that his madness definitely began to manifest at Duke, that the peril of the man was something of an established fact at Duke. How can we account for UCLA hiring, and for some time keeping, him?

Here are a few thoughts.

1.) Just as GW’s Jessica Krug had institutionally powerful enablers, so perhaps Harris had influential cheerleaders at Duke and/or UCLA. Sometimes it only takes one pivotal/assertive/aggressive advocate to tamp down misgivings other colleagues might have.

2.) Harris’s aggressivity, sense of grievance, and general strangeness might have been filed under “wounds of race” – just as Jessica Krug’s similar emotional profile — when people were under the impression she was black — was perhaps interpreted/mainstreamed in this way.

3.) Harris had great credentials – Duke, a respected thesis director, fellowships, prizes. I’m assuming he had strong recommendations. Nothing on paper argued against him, and it looks as though no one at Duke – formally or informally – shared anything worrisome. Or did they? Again, a strong enough advocate might find a way to neutralize worrisome information. (Interestingly, Duke was both Krug’s publisher and Harris’s graduate institution.)

4.) Once in the classroom at UCLA, Harris benefited from the praiseworthy tendency of universities to give professors enormous freedom in what and how they teach. But as a novice at the trade, Harris should have encountered more oversight than he apparently received. To make matters worse, the dissolution of disciplinary boundaries in the humanities means the absence of anything like an agreed-upon canon of readings to assign in any particular class. “[A] final exam … included an essay question about the hate-filled manifesto of Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer whose 2013 shooting rampage killed four people and wounded three others. Students were asked to consider the ‘oppression, disrespect and loss of dignity’ suffered by the homicidal ex-cop.”

Exactly the sort of assigned reading you’d expect in an undergraduate philosophy course. Before Hegel and Arendt, Christopher Dorner.

A reader writes to ask if I’ve noticed the developing Mackenzie Fierceton story.

Have I ever. UD has been circling this thing for a few days, waiting for more information to be released before she blogs about it.

The much-laureled U Penn student’s last name – Fierceton? – was the first thing that seemed strange to ol’ UD. No one else has it – the only mention of it I can find appears in a translation of the ancient Chinese Classic of Mountains and Seas – a book of myths whose translator puts the name “Fierceton River” on an obscure location.

Mackenzie’s last name used to be Morrison. Here her mother, Dr. Carrie Morrison, talks about breast density. Mackenzie dropped Morrison and added the dramatic Fierceton, which is fine, even fantastic, if you want to mark your separation from your roots, your own free fierce identity or whatever.

Fierceton’s roots are what you’d expect for someone born to a prominent physician: Private schools, horseback riding, cool vacations. But she has garnered all sorts of university goodies (scholarships, awards) reserved for underprivileged people, her argument being that her mother abused her, and in her teens she ended up in foster care. So she’s arguing that this means her background is foster care/abuse/underprivilege. Which a certain chapter of it is, but qua formulated humanoid she’s much more privileged than not, which puts into question the legitimacy of her underprivilege-based goodies.

Further – it certainly matters whether her claims of maternal abuse, amounting to broken bones, blocked breathing passages, and other nightmares, are true. All of the charges against her mother were dropped, and it looks as though hospital records list injuries much less nightmarish than the ones Fierceton claims.

*******************

One thing Fierceton has going against her is America’s really rampant culture of self-aggrandizing fakes, like UD‘s erstwhile colleague, Jessica Krug, an upper middle class Jewish woman from Kansas City who got all sorts of academic goodies by pretending to be a poor black person. Thanks to scads of identity scammers, we all have a vivid category into which to place Fierceton, whether this placement is in fact fair. Institutions are also hypersensitive – given this cultural background of scamming – to the possibility of being exploited by fakers, and in the case of Fierceton they have indeed started to come down hard on her. She is suing in response, so we will eventually know where at least some of the facts lie.

‘The person under discussion sounds as if she might be out of touch with reality… Granted, she shouldn’t have taken a job and money reserved for Native Americans, but had she somehow convinced herself that she was one?’

Put aside the ethical problems with professors who lie about their race/ethnicity, and thereby incalculably hurt other people and groups and the value of truth itself; ask yourself whether the problem with such people is not that they are contemptible, but that they are insane.

A person commenting on a New York Times essay on the latest identity fraud (this one’s a woman who claimed to be Native American to get ahead in academia) goes there: Is it not plausible that a person capable of spending her entire adult life pretending to be someone she’s not may be mentally unbalanced? Indeed, don’t we all expect to encounter Christs of Ypsilanti and Napoleons of Boca Raton only in institutions?

This woman, and Jessica Krug, and probably other fraudsters like them, went victimization-theft one better and harassed actual black and Native people they knew because the fraudsters found them inauthentic. Just as each of the three Christs impugned the Christness of the others.

Which is a real method in the madness thing, ain’t it? Talk about diverting attention from your own, er, lack of identity-evidence — look at that faker over there! And that one over there!

*********************

When personal, belligerent, enactment of minority identity becomes more important than intellectual legitimacy… well, you get what you wish for. You get the performative professoriate; you get high-kicking Jessica Krugs putting blackness over on… on almost everyone.

Yes – all of these tired pathetic tales feature non-insane observers attempting to point out that the political steam issuing from the head of the department firebrand is BS. But y’all know how love is…

We hired Jessie in a fever

Hotter than a pepper sprout

We been talkin about Jessie

Ever since the fire went out…

Yet many of you would hire her again; and the latest Krug remains in a good academic job, and keeps getting published by (wait for it) the same press that published Krug. Even though everyone at this point knows she’s a truly vile liar.

It’s kind of like – if American academia likes brazen amoral liars that much, what’s it got against Donald Trump? Why does it think academia is superior to Trumpland? Both places promote people – even nutty scuzzy people – who satisfy deep dark desires. Trumpland’s just more honest.

UD, a ‘thesdan hayseed, talks New York.

Although UD grew up right down the Amtrak corridor from New York City, she seldom traveled there; even as an adult, she’s visited shockingly few times. UD has spent more time in Ubud, Bali, than in NYC. Yet she notices that she has, over the years, developed a curious sort of home wisdom about one of the most prominent subcultures there.

These rough and ready truths of hers are not, of course, based on nothing; like many literate people, UD has been reading about that city and its inhabitants all her life; and from what she has gleaned, she has derived some modestly explanatory takes on some of its more notorious denizens.

Most broadly, she finds that firmly situating Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Cohen, Charles Kushner, Marc Kasowitz, and many other Trumpish madmen — but especially Donald Trump himself — in New York City helps us understand them. It’s helpful to see them as emerging out of a particular ecosystem in which their behavior is perfectly normal.

On a lower yet still fascinating level, firmly situating two recent high-profile identity-fakers (Jessica Krug and Hilaria Baldwin) in NYC also helps us understand them.

Let me start with the lunatic White House.

New York City, let us say, rears, attracts, and encourages hyperdriven hypercompetitive crazies who just go all the way. Their nature is to charge into everything – money deals, marriages, parenthood, politics – with supermanic frenzy and without a thought – without one thought, I tell you – for the morrow. Bankruptcy? Divorce? Jail? Fuck it. Trump ran headlong into a ridiculous quest for the presidency and look what happened! NYC people simply keep breaking through – that’s the thing. They don’t think of life as a series of steps which will if you’re not careful eventuate in bad outcomes which will pain you and those you love and condemn you to hell or whatever — they don’t think like normal people. The Big Mo on steroids – that’s their thing. Competitive capitalism unbound. Competitive everything unbound. No shame, no fear, no brakes.

Did you see either of the films based on Madoff? In both films, if I recall correctly, someone at some point looks at him and says something like Why did you do it and why didn’t you stop? The why did you do it part has no NYC resonance; the not stopping part – not stopping until THE ENTIRE WORLD ECONOMY TANKED AND HE COULD NO LONGER PAY OUT REDEMPTIONS – is echt Trumpy NYC. If you’re a Trumpy New Yorker, only some form of global collapse will stop you. Recall that up to the moment of his arrest Madoff was a singularly respected, highly placed, and well-connected New Yorker. A pious New Yorker – Yeshiva University’s treasurer!

Hell, Trump’s the president. And in case you haven’t noticed, he’s not planning to stop being president. Susan Glasser writes:

… Trump has remained … obnoxiously unrepentant. … He does not want to let go, to cede the spotlight, to renounce his outsized claim on our collective consciousness….

And you know that at no point in the real Madoff story did anyone ask him why he didn’t stop – that line was edited in for hayseeds outside NYC like UD, cuz otherwise the film would make no sense in any moral world she and her like can imagine. No one around Madoff ever stopped doing anything lucrative or personally advantageous, no matter how sordid, and Madoff would never have stopped either.

Once Trumps and Madoffs are truly a spent force, once they decide it’s safe to slow down and decamp with their winnings (even spitfires get old and lose their fire), they make a purely lateral cultural move – to their house in Florida.

*******************

People look at Donald Trump as a singular, ab nihilo dude; they can’t fathom his past behavior and they certainly can’t fathom his present. But he and Giuliani are behaving exactly the way people pickled in their brine always behave: Advance, Advance, Advance and the world can fuck itself.

Central to NYC-style heedless advancement is lying. You misrepresent yourself; you misrepresent your financial worth; you misrepresent the value of anything you have to offer. And of course you lie about other people; you make up obviously jackshit stories about Obama being born in Kenya and George Soros controlling Congress and Joe Biden stealing a presidential election. Advance, advance, advance, lie, lie, lie. In your NYC world everyone’s obscenely on the make and everyone lies. Lie it forward. No lie is too edgy, absurd, out there, shameless. Bigger the better. Keep going. Seems to work fine in DC too.

************

Look at Harold Brodkey’s take on this slice of NYC culture. His perspective is that of an artist, not a crazed capitalist, but he evokes the same Trumpian world, one part mania, one part lying:

I was always crazy about New York, dependent on it, scared of it – well, it is dangerous – but beyond that there was the pressure of being young and of not yet having done work you really liked, trademark work, breakthrough work. The trouble with the city’s invitation was that you were aware you might not be able to manage: you might drown, you might fall off the train, whatever metaphor you preferred, before you did anything interesting. You would have wasted your life. One worked hard or not at all, and tried to withstand the constant demolishing judgement. One watched people scavenge for phrases in other people’s talk – that hunt for ideas which is, sometimes, like picking up dead birds. One witnessed the reverse of glamour – that everyone is jealous.

It is not a joke, the great clang of New York. It is the sound of brassy people at the party, at all the parties, pimping and doing favors and threatening and making gassy public statements and being modest and blackmailing and having dinner and going on later. (Renata Adler used to say you could get anyone to be disliked in New York merely by praising that person to someone nervous and competitive.) Literary talk in New York often announced itself as the best talk in America. People would say, “Harold, you are hearing the best in America tonight.” It would be a cut-throat monologue, disposable wit in passing, practiced with a certain carelessness in regard to honesty. But then truth was not the issue, as it almost never is in New York.

New York City is also where we find the highest-profile imposters – people who, like fictive Manhattanite Jay Gatsby, lie all the way down to their corpuscles. Jessica Krug: White, Jewish, affluent; Gatsbyized black, hispanic, poor. Hilaria Baldwin: Offspring of people whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower; Gatsbyized a Spaniard with a strong accent and a shaky grasp of the English language.

Plenty of distinctions to be made amid all of this, I know. Hilaria (real name Hillary) ain’t much of a story. One… theatricalizes, mythologizes, oneself to be more interesting in the big city crowd. To stand out in hypercompetitive NYC. Baldwin is a strange woman, given to exhibitionism and self-praise, but who cares? Kim Kardashian for the west coast, and, for the sophisticated east, NYU-educated Hilaria Baldwin (though Kim comes by her exotic Armenianness honestly).

Krug’s far more insidious NYC tale carries ugly social implications having to do with the ideological corruption of universities and other institutions.

But both women share with the mad Trumpian lads that NYC thing: fake it til you fake it. Fake it more. Nothing exceeds like excess.

“[A]dministrators are making surprise inspections in class to make sure courses are actually taking place.”

Remember the fallout from the massive 2013 University of North Carolina Chapel Hill fake courses scandal? When it finally became known that for decades tons of administrators and more than one professor had colluded to provide hundreds of bogus courses to generations of athletes (football and basketball players are far too important to bother educating), all professors at the school had to endure spot checks to make sure they actually met their classes. To make sure their classes actually existed.

UD thought of that sordid humiliating history (history? for all I know, UNC still does it) when she watched this little film featuring responses of some George Washington University history students to the revelation that one of their professors has been faking blackness.

One of them said this:

We’re all gonna have to be tested now on whether we’re telling the truth [about ourselves] … I’m gonna have to take some DNA test to prove I’m half Jamaican…

Ya see how trust makes the academic world go ’round? And when you take advantage of that trust by creating a vast kingdom of fake courses, or by creating a bogus black identity for yourself, you destroy the whole trust infrastructure, right? So now people have to surprise you while teaching — minders have to roam the halls checking on whether you actually have the basic morality to bother meeting your students. And people may need to administer DNA tests to make sure you’re the minority you claim you are…

Of course, it’s not only about trust. Department chairs, deans, provosts, hell – BOTs! – colleagues who read your work with care and get to know you, scholars from the larger disciplinary community who sit on panels and committees with you, student evaluations (if anyone at GW had bothered to lower herself so far as to check Krug’s Rate My Professors page, the university might have avoided this disaster – the students were madly signaling that this woman was full of shit) — all of these and more are supposed to verify that you have scholarly and personal integrity.

So this is in part an unfair question:

Why the clever teachers and students at GWU didn’t twig that this was all a bit forced, all a bit am-dram, is something worth interrogating.

Krug’s RMP page makes her fraudulence quite clear; and UD feels confident that many internal GW student evaluations amplified the RMP verdict. We’ll never know for sure, cuz I figure GW is busy shredding them. It’s faculty that didn’t twig, though it was all right there in front of them.

I mean, it’s not as if Krug hid her killing kids is a revolutionary act remarks – she made them at a scholarly conference at Columbia University, mes petites.

The Jessica Krug fiasco was made possible by a toxic mix of total indifference (why bothering reading the work of your colleague? and RMP is bogus, everyone knows that…) and raging political correctness. Someone up or down the line of people who were supposed to act responsibly in regard to tenuring for life a new colleague knew exactly what they were doing: Krug was a comrade, woke to the need to kill enemies of the people and to abuse black and brown people for not being radical enough.

Understand? Someone knew all of this about Krug and, precisely because of what she was, wanted to tenure her!

Knowing there are rancid ideologues like this in your department/administration, why the hell would you pass on this sort of decision? Do you not understand that you are a gate-keeper?

“The first time she lied to me was in an email exchange in 2017. I had asked her how to pronounce her name. She answered, ‘Thanks for asking about my last name. It’s actually ‘Cruz’ and is pronounced as such.'”

Jessica Krug’s book editor is also pissed.

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