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National Center for Science Education Defends Its Association with James Fetzer, Peddler of Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories

This gets stranger and stranger. The other day I called on the NCSE, the nation’s most prominent Darwin-lobbying group, to assure us it has implemented a new policy discouraging staff from engaging in public partnerships, on the evolution issue, with nasty, swamp-dwelling characters like Jim Fetzer. This all arose because NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch co-edited a controversial special number of an academic journal with Fetzer.
He and Fetzer have made defending their editing job a kind of ongoing crusade, which is why the New York Times reported on the ensuing fracas. The NCSE trumpeted Branch and Fetzer’s partnership here. The subject of the journal’s special issue was “Evolution and Its Rivals” so you can hardly argue that Branch was acting other than in his role as a leader of the NCSE. It’s not like he and Fetzer were co-editing a book on stamp collecting.
Nor can you claim that he had no idea that Fetzer very publicly peddles vile 9/11 conspiracy theories, saying that “9/11 was the joint product of American Neo-Cons (and possibly even European Neo-Cons) working together with the Mossad to bring about consequences that would be beneficial to Israel” — a modern blood libel if ever there was one. Or if you do claim ignorance on Branch’s behalf, then he was very sloppy about tying the NCSE’s wagon to Fetzer’s.
The correct thing to do now would be for Branch to say “Hey, partnering with Fetzer was a mistake. It won’t happen again. James Fetzer isn’t an appropriate person to work with on NCSE’s big issue.”
Instead, NCSE Programs and Policy Director Joshua Rosenau gets up again on his Internet platform, where he writes about evolution, and defends Branch with ridiculous cavils about whether William F. Buckley would maybe have allowed National Review freelance writers — as opposed to staff on the masthead — to write on a freelance basis for an old anti-Semitic rag, The American Mercury.
Rosenau botches things up even further by trying to associate Discovery Institute, absurdly, with imagined nefarious anti-Semitic swamp dwellers. He confuses one organization that we have written about supportively here quite a bit, the American Freedom Alliance — headed by a sweet and earnest Orthodox Jew called Avi Davis — with a totally unrelated organization bearing the same abbreviation, the American Family Association, founded by a Methodist minister called Donald Wildmon.
At some point Rosenau realized he’d goofed in mixing up one AFA with the other and crossed out some lines of his long blog post, but he let the rest of it stand, like this gem: “Klinghoffer himself has joined in the DI’s regular association with antisemite Don Wildmon, his hate group the American Family Association.”
Wildmon, whom Rosenau ignorantly slurs, isn’t now the head of that AFA. His son Tim runs the group and recently signed a pastors’ open letter, published in newspapers and supporting Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Banner headline: “Israel, You’re Not Alone. We Stand With You.” Does that sound hateful and anti-Semitic to you? No, not to me either.
Look, you could chase around in circles forever with a guy like Joshua Rosenau, and that would be a total waste of time. The bottom line is that the National Center for Science Education needs to clarify its position on associating with an anti-Semitic creep like Fetzer. When will they do so?

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



Dennis Venemaintelligent designJames FetzerJoshua RosenauNationNational Center for Science Educationnaturalism