by Dr. John Agresto*
John Dolan -- John Carrol Dolan – Berkeley PhD, sometimes author, and late of the American University of Iraq, decided he would write a petulant diatribe bemoaning the fact that he was fired from this university. It’s true; he was. That may be the only thing true in his rant.
It was a risk hiring him, I admit. Contrary to what Dolan states, we knew when we hired him that he was strongly against the War in Iraq. We read his resume, could see where he stood politically, and we didn’t care. We didn’t hire him because we wanted “intellectual diversity” or to show how open minded we were – we hired him to teach English, and didn’t care about his politics.
To be sure, we did ask him when we interviewed him why he couldn’t seem to keep a position in higher education for very long, but he convinced us that the forces of political correctness had done him in – he had standards and, in this lax age, administrators didn’t want professors with standards. It was a crock, but we didn’t know that.
Even when we searched the web to find out more about Dolan, we refused to believe what others saw. Yes, when we read the few reviews of his autobiographical book, Pleasant Hell, and saw him described as “pathetic,” “morally bankrupt,” a “misanthropic narcissist,” “twisted,” and “self-hating,” we were given pause. But when we read that the book was “useful as a case study in abnormal psychology” and, especially, “I hope to God that Mr. Dolan doesn't have children, for I would never let him near mine,” we thought the comments so over the top as not to be credible. Sadly, we were wrong.
The end for Dolan came not when any “neo-cons” wised up to his politics, but when two perfectly liberal and ordinary faculty members, perhaps fed up with his constant snide remarks about them and their colleagues, decided to read further than I had. They found the run-of-the-mill adolescent prose: George Bush is “slow witted, human-flesh-consuming,” his minions stand before mirrors “as the pus streams down their drooling, rotting faces,” “their desire to consume human flesh is relentless.” Some of it was less run-of-the-mill but perhaps more perverted. Here’s his description of his desire to throw a vial of smallpox at Judith Miller: “Let the pox eat away her face, and then stop it before it kills her. She'll have plenty of time to think about journalistic responsibility every time she puts her Khiels' seaweed mask on...and peels it off with yet another layer of her rotting pox-infested facial flesh.”
But the faculty here found more than jejune stupidity and perversity. Consider a most peculiar essay entitled Cleanse the World:
“We have a choice of two scenarios:
1. We can let the world demographic trend continue. In a century the population will be 14 billion devout imbeciles (a nice volatile mix of Hindu and Muslim -- what fun Saturday nights will be!). These headless mobs will sooner or later (bet on "sooner") extirpate whatever remains of the techno cultures that created them, then die back from plague and war….
2. We can prune now, using the weapons we possess.… We could kill Jesus, Yahweh, and Allah in one stroke by nuking the entire Middle East (except Turkey; Turks are cool). Jerusalem, the most fecund source of vicious delusions in human geography, will be transformed into a lake of glass that can never again infect a soul -- as will Mecca, Medina, and Bethlehem.
[We can also kill] the…population of all those states which seceded in 1861…. Think of the fascinating religious arguments that Southern Baptist fundamentalists can have in the Afterlife, where they will meet Muslim and Hindu imbeciles with the same range of interests and IQ! It's the right thing to do -- and a pleasure, too!”
As you might notice, putting the words “Muslim” and “imbeciles” together is one of Dolan’s favorite motifs. Quite sensible for a person who would like to continue teaching in Iraq, no? And no doubt conducive to the safety of his colleagues and the security of the university. Still, John Dolan was eager to teach these “imbeciles” provided the pay was good enough. But more on pay in a bit.
But more. One of Dolan’s more autobiographical pieces is headed “How to Lose Money Running a Speed Lab.” Elsewhere he admits to the joys of writing when drugged. (My, who would have guessed it!?) Perhaps future employers, in order to avoid the mistake we made, might want look at his interview in an article aptly titled “The Man Who Loves to Hate.” “I could have been a contender instead of a bum, which is what I am, a bum.” Of course, when one describes oneself as a “sullen, socially inept nerd with an aversion to bathing,” it’s actually hard to be a contender, at least in most civilizations.
We have, as you may have guessed, only scratched the surface. But that’s fine. Dolan has discredited himself so well that he leaves only a little more to be done here. Perhaps the most important and interesting thing about John Dolan, however, is not that he’s a druggie or an unwashed nerd, but that he’s a liar and a fraud. In his article attacking Joshua Mitchell and me (not to mention his colleagues and his students), he says how amazed he was when, upon arriving in Iraq, he was given $5,000, just like that. That is amazing, as he was given (as everyone new was given on arrival) a mere $500, since payday was a month away and we were fairly sure everyone might need to buy some food, some provisions, maybe even some soap.
Outright lies and mean-spirited distortions abound -- like our paying Dolan in cash to reimburse him for his flight and lodging for the interview. I guess we could have paid him with an Iraqi credit card, or by an Iraqi check, but I’m not sure that would have done him much good back in Kirkland, Washington. (No good deed….) The receipt? Yes, we got receipts -- we took his airline, transportation, and lodging receipts. But the strangest lie was when he says, rightly, that he was on the verge of death and a Moldovan doctor here in Iraq saved his life. But it wasn’t his wife who found the doctor for him, as Dolan writes – it was Joshua Mitchell, chancellor here at AUI-S. Of course, Dolan cannot admit that any supposed “neo-con” could have saved his life since, in John’s universe, all neos are bad, bad, bad. But, it’s true, not only did neo-cons hire John Dolan, support John Dolan, and pay John Dolan, one of them literally saved his life. And that simple truth a person as mendacious and self-loathing as Dolan can never admit.
To be clear, some of Dolan’s fantasies I actually like. I like the idea of my taping $500,000 to my body and sneaking over the Turkish border into Kurdistan to start this university. I like the thought of my evading the guards, tunneling under the barbed wire, dodging the dogs. Sadly – and obviously -- not a word of it is true; but Dolan believes it and repeats it, oblivious to any rational distinction between the real world and his imagination.
But, still, why do I say that John Carrol Dolan is not only a liar but also an Academic Fraud? Here’s why: When members of the faculty brought me evidence of Dolan’s lack of suitability for a position at this or, I dare say, any university, what bothered them most was a picture he posted in one of his articles showing a blonde woman (ostensibly mocked-up to be Ann Coulter) smiling as she’s being graphically gang-raped by four Arab men. (“Short, dark and hairy Middle Eastern men,” as Dolan describes them.) (“Oh Annie, you little fascist flirt, you know you want it,” he writes.) It was a picture and text described by his faculty colleagues as “filthy,” disgusting,” “triple X pornography.”
It was this picture that I specifically cited when I wrote Dolan asking him if this was indeed his doing and, if so, that he no longer had a position at this university. (I did not make this determination on my own. It was the unanimous conclusion of a committee of two faculty, the chancellor, and me.) What was Dolan’s response? To publish an article pretending that this was all political, that the “neo-cons” were out to get him, and that he didn’t see anything wrong with the article I cited – indeed, he provided a link to it. The only problem is, the article he links us to now has the picture totally expunged! Any writer, any intellectual, any academic who tries to deceive his readers by changing what he wrote and depicted after the fact and making believe he never wrote it, is a fraud.
But, of course, while Dolan may sanitize what he will – and by doing so tacitly admit his shame – all one needs to do, as I did, is to use a reconstruction engine on the link, go into the archives, and download the original. For access to this article or for any that I’ve mentioned in this response, just Google “John Dolan/Neo-Con” or “John Dolan/Muslim imbeciles” or “John Dolan/hate.”
Oh, one last thing: The concluding statement in the article on Dolan called “The Man Who Loves to Hate,” quotes Dolan as saying, “How far would I go to get a tenure track job? I’d kill, literally kill, for a tenure track job.” Future colleagues of John Dolan, take this to heart: “literally kill.” Or, as one reviewer of his autobiographical novel said, “I am reminded of Columbine.” So are we all.
* Dean of the AUI-S Faculty