Godwin’s Lawyers: the van Leeuwen scandal revisited

https://i2.wp.com/www.nzetc.org/etexts/WhiIllAnci/WaikatoLogo.jpgHonorary Israeli consul and former president of the NZ Jewish Council David Zwartz is demanding that Waikato University apologise for its handling of Roel van Leeuwen’s thesis, which was pulled from the university’s library when its subject, former National Front secretary Kerry Bolton, wrote to the university to complain.

Zwartz may well argue that the university’s behaviour constituted cultural insensitivity – but if any apology is forthcoming, it should also be to the country’s academic community.

To be fair, the thesis has been back on Waikato’s bookshelves since July, when Vice Chancellor Ray Crawford told the Dom Post that “we don’t shy away from tackling controversial research”. You’d think that would be the end of it.

But there are several issues worth revisiting: the university did not notify van Leeuwen of the complaint. The university chose to withdraw a first-class honours thesis rather than face even preliminary legal action. And when it did withdraw van Leeuwen’s thesis, the university didn’t deign to tell him about it.

And within days of Crawford’s comments to the Dom, confidential documents were leaked to Nexus editor Joshua Drummond that revealed a deeply troubling milquetoast attitude from Deputy Vice-Chancellor Doug Sutton. Specifically:

“In this case, the possible conflict of interest was Professor Bing’s well-known and longstanding views against neo-Nazi groups and ideology which could be seen as preventing him from being objective in relation to this thesis.”

This is like saying Jewish academics cannot be trusted to produce research on the holocaust, or that South Africans should be dissuaded from discussing apartheid. If you think this is taken out of context, Sutton continues:

Irrespective of how well and how objectively Professor Bing supervised this thesis, the fact that his views are publicly so well known, leaves him open to criticism…”

To clarify, Professor Sutton is implicitly stating that private members of society (and therefore reputable academics) are generally neutral on the issue of white supremacist doctrine. It’s a ridiculous and indefensible assertion and it’s good to see that the university ultimately opted for, you know, rational thought. But the professor’s comments – in conjunction with the university’s initial actions – do nothing to reassure the university’s staff and students that Waikato is a place which nurtures and defends academic freedom. If anyone deserves a public apology apart from the Jewish community, it’s them.

3 Comments on “Godwin’s Lawyers: the van Leeuwen scandal revisited”

  1. K R Bolton says:

    It would be helpful if someone in media would actually consider the evidence against the thesis, and someone in academe too. This is not at all about ‘academic freedom’ but about scholarly standards. The Education Act, charters of the TEU and of the universities all predicate ‘academic freedom’ on responsibility and ethics. The Education Act provides for ‘public scrutiny to assure standards…’

    While my own background, both real, but largely imagined, has served as a red herring, few accounts have mentioned that there is also another complainant Mr Graeme Wilson, who happens to be a former friend of R v. Leeuwen’s and is acknowledged in the thesis as Leeuwen’s sole human source. Wilson in fact advised on the drafts of the first three chapters of the thesis. When Mr Wilson examined the entire thesis he was as appalled as myself.

    The terms of reference established by Crawford provided for the enquiry to examine not only examination and supervision processes, but to consider the thesis per se as to its standards and to seek advice from Norris Ward McKinnon as to whether the thesis was defamatory. The in-house enquiry did not consider the 100-200 pp of documentation provided separately by Wilson and myself. It did nothing. The outcome was based solely on ‘two well qualified academics’ having examined the thesis. No reports have been released. Nor did Crawford mention that the decision was reached after threats from the TEU.

    Leeuwen faked references and misinterpreted documents throughout. He claimed I was ‘raised a Mormon’ (I wasn’t) and that Maori weren’t allowed into the LDS priesthood until 1978, supposedly ‘well after’ I had left. He cites as his ref. The Encyclopaedia of Mormonism, entry “Blacks”, by Embry et al. Yet the reference makes no such claim. That this nonsense about LDS which covers over two pages of the scant thesis should escape the eyes of the supposedly eminent academics is bizarre, especially given that Waikato is the centre of LDS in NZ. A large number of publications are attributed to me that I’d not previously heard of prior to reading the thesis. I’ve still not read some. He cites many of these with unacceptably vague references such as ‘archives’ (sic). Because Mr Wilson was able to provide the three draft chapters we were able to prove that Leeuwen knew the true authorship, which he had correctly cited in the drafts, but that he simply changed the authorship in the final version. He also wrongly cites Wilson.

    Leeuwen claims he identified authorship with his own methodology, “writing style comparison” (sic), which results in his having confused me as being at least half a dozen people, including two Englishmen and the webmaster of ‘New Right’. He defines political concepts as ‘hardcore’ and ‘no bullshit’.

    In his blog site entries during the 2006-2007 period he was writing the thesis Leeuwen states that he knows he can ‘bullshit his way through'(sic) because of the obscurity of the subject sources and nobody would be the wiser. Elsewhere he laments that he’s running out of time, etc. As a tutor at Waikato at the time, he refers to his only good student (the others were badly flunking under his tutelage) as ‘dowdy and geeky’ to which one of his communicants replies: ‘the plain wall flowers are the dirtiest’. Leeuwen then exchanges banter about how he wished his (female?) students would write their essays on their breasts in Braille, then taking marking home would be a joy. Yet Leeuwen is being upheld as some kind of scholar harassed by evil neo-nazis. Another red herring.

    While Crawford claims that the supervision process was sound, Leeuwen himself stated that co-supervisor Fussell is a ‘quasi hippy type’ who occasionally asks him how it’s going. He has misgivings about Dov Bing because of Bing’s involvement in the actions against Dr Joel Hayward and Hans Kupka which Leeuwen describes as unfair and as encroaching on academic freedom. Now he postures as ‘exposing holocaust denial’, although the thesis has nothing on that. He comments that when he met Bing at the latter’s office they spent a scant four minutes discussing the thesis, with Bing remarking how well it’s going. Leeuwen writes that he thought to himself: ‘how the f…. would he know, I’ve never shown him anything of it?’ He wonders whether Bing has confused him with someone else.

    When I said much the same in regard to Bing and the Hayward and Kupka issues, I was threatened with a $300,000 defamation suit. Bing demanded that I publish in the media a so-called ‘retraction’ which was really nothing more than a repudiation of my own complaint, in which I was supposed to say that Bing had ‘done a most professional job at supervision.’ Bing also claimed via his lawyer that he had only advised on ‘structure’ of the thesis and at its final phase. The Leeuwen blog entries do not bare this out. For some reason Bing found it necessary in October 2008 to send me three crank e-mails two of which claimed that he had been told by Asst. to the VC Sarah Knox that I had been asked by Gillian Spry lawyer to remove supposedly defamatory material from a website and that I’d agreed. These e-mails were supposed to entrap me into admitting I’d posted certain comments about Bing’s background etc., even although I’d never written anything of an anonymous nature. Why he found it necessary to lie about Spry and Knox is difficult to know. After 6 requests for details of this supposed request went unanswered by the university and by Spry, after two requests from the Ombudsmen’s Office I received a letter from Spry confirming that Bing had made up the scenario including the claims about Spry and Knox. My complaint re. Bing’s actions, which was supposed to be part of the enquiry, went down the memory hole.

    When Wilson and myself found out about the TEU threats, which were based on obviously false information supplied in a letter jointly signed by Bing, Leeuwen, Fussell, Jim Veitch of Victoria Uni., and Doug Pratt of Waikato, we sent a joint letter to Sharn Riggs, secretary of the TEU, attempting to provide the facts. That letter has predictably gone unanswered. When the TEU posted an article about the thesis enquiry on its website, I sought to have the letter by Wilson and myself posted in reply. After staying in limbo for a week awaiting moderation, it disappeared.

    The matter is now with the Ombudsman who will investigate the manner by which Waikato handled the enquiry.

    If Leeuwen et al are permitted to get away with this under the guise of ‘academic freedom’ (sic) then one might as well say that cheating on exams and faking data are part of ‘academic freedom’. As for Zwartz, he transparently does not know what he is pontificating about, and no doubt like the media and academia doesn’t care about the facts or the far wider implications.

  2. R. van Leeuwen says:

    Since Bolton was made aware of my thesis last year, and having decided it was part of a Zionist plot to discredit him, he has produced a steady stream of commentary, invective and disinformation designed to obscure who he is and what he believes rather than any genuine quest for clarity or a fair go.

    The simple fact is that Kerry Bolton is a long term adherent of far right politics, having been written up as early as 1987 in Paul Spoonley’s book ‘Politics of Nostalgia: Racism and the Extreme Right in New Zealand’ and being a ‘person of interest’ to security services from about that time. During the timeframe that my thesis primarily discusses, Bolton had coupled his neo-Nazi politics with Satanism and in particular a form of Satanism which embraced the concept of Human Sacrifice, eugenics etc. From there he also developed a latent Holocaust Denialism into a major aspect of his publishing house and has written openly anti-Semitic or Holocaust Denial texts which are on offer there (the catalogue of which can be found at http://www.freewebs.com/renaissancepress/ ). He has also been the secretary of the NZ National Front before he was ousted in a political battle for control. In short, Bolton is no maligned citizen whose political philosophy has been taken out of context. He is a committed ideologue of the far right whose commitment and output has spanned not just decades, but effectively his entire adult life.

    In his post to this blog Bolton alludes to a number of reoccurring issues he has raised with my thesis. He has repeatedly said that I have misattributed articles to him, yet he requires me/us to take his word for this- the word of someone who has a proven history of lying and distorting his own involvement in various activities. Distortion ranging from the moderately trivial such as using false names on letters to the editor and bogus academic credentials (‘Dr’ Bolton, indeed!), to ghost-writing material that purports to be a historical enquiry but in reality was written as a personal polemic against former associates. That, coupled with the methodology of deceit which is Holocaust Denialism, means that Bolton has something of a credibility gap when it comes to taking his word for things- especially since he is now posing as a committed Christian and has an additional incentive to pass of an account of his Satanic sojourn as being a ‘smear against his good name’.

    I reply to his objections to my methodology by saying that I have explained my process in my thesis and if the reader thinks it is unsound, then reject it or only tentatively accept it as they see fit. This is what academic discourse is about. I did not say “this is the way it is”, what I said was “this is the way I think it is”, especially since my thesis is primarily concerned with literary/ideological analysis. I had somewhat anticipated that people who read my thesis would be able to undergo a such a simple evaluative process and it is my hope that at some point in the future someone will revisit the subject and build on the foundation work that I started- which would include a critical evaluation of Bolton and his objections.

    Having failed to obtain satisfaction via the University process Bolton then instigated two back-up plans. The first is an appeal to the Ombudsman and the second is a low-level, systematic, campaign of attempted intimidation against my supervisors and others coupled with campaign designed to discredit me personally. For a while, people were receiving anonymous e-mails from Bolton supporters full of dark mutterings- and at least one of these anon e-mails had earlier published a statement to the effect that all Holocaust museums should be bulldozed and the Jews got rid of. It is obvious where the politics of Bolton’s supporters lie as well as Bolton himself. If you can’t win fairly, make ‘em pay unfairly. This is standard operating procedure for these kinds of people and one I am not unduly concerned with as it is smoke and mirrors orchestrated with innuendo, misquotes and fabrications.

    Examples of these kinds of misquotes can be found in Bolton’s post to this blog. Bolton reports that I posted on a personal blog that I could make stuff up and no one would be the wiser, which would seem to imply that I has happy to fabricate material. What he doesn’t mention is that in the very next line was an adamant refusal to do so for the sake of academic integrity. Needless to say there is no discussion of context surrounding that particular post either- the context being I was dealing with a cross-checking of hundreds of pages of material, most without an index system or even page numbers. Needless to say this was extremely frustrating and the fact that I said I wouldn’t take short-cuts in an aggravating and mechanical period of research isn’t acknowledged by Bolton. Another example is my comments about being unsure of Prof Bing as a supervisor- included in order to support Bolton’s proposition that I was a sock-puppet for Bing- is of course tripe. While I was initially uneasy about Prof Bing as a supervisor because I had not worked with him as an undergrad and he is a no-nonsense kinda guy whom I didn’t know, as it turns out, he was an excellent supervisor and my concerns were over nothing. As for the breasts comments, that is no more than attempting to raise a storm in a tea cup. Again what is not mentioned is that the other people (multiple) in that thread were all women, and without context the quote is next to meaningless- I certainly did not instigate the breast thread and hardly participated in it. As for my failing as a tutor because 1/3 of the class failed the test- what is also not mentioned is that 80% passed the paper and my tutor appraisal forms were all exceptionally good. What escaped Bolton’s notice is that first tests are often set hard to wake people up- but then as ‘Dr’ Bolton has never attended university (or even finished secondary school) it is perhaps unsurprising that he missed this.

    And so on and so forth.

    What all that has to do with my thesis, I don’t know. But then again if you cant play the ball, play the man rather than deal with the issues- which in this case is Bolton’s leading role in a Satanic/neo-Nazi group, and, to a lesser extent, his on-going commitment to anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denialism. To this end he has so far remained largely silent and has not offered anything much in the way of explanation for his actual involvement in the project. Rather than deal with the fundamentals, he bitches about the peripheries. Rather than offer proof, he make assertions.

    So, in short, I am being taken to task by someone who has an established and proven reputation for literary dishonesty and who, at times, seems to find it difficult to follow the printed word. While I expected some backlash from Bolton and his supporters over the thesis (it is simply par for course), what I had not expected was the degree of whining. Bolton was a Satanist and was/is a neo-Nazi. Own up to it, take it on the chin and then get back to whatever it is that you were doing.

  3. K R Bolton says:

    R v. Leeuwen begins with a red herring and continues throughout, in addition to throwing in several other fallacies. I did not say that the thesis was part of a Zionist plot, I wondered to what extent several Zionists had prompted R v. Leeuwen in the direction he took, given that the initial subject of the thesis seems to have been about other matters. Leeuwen himself states that Dennis Green ‘sowed the seeds…’ I was merely trying to understand how such a shoddy piece of work was passed glowingly by supervisors and examiners, if there wasn’t some personal malice involved that put their critical faculties into suspension.

    Leeuwen continues to maintain a number of fictional accusations about me, on the basis that I’m supposedly a neo-nazi and that theretofore I can be accused of anything. For e.g. he found it necessary to prove I’m a ‘racist’ by falsely stating that I wrote an essay on eugenics that claimed ‘inter-racial marriage dumbs down civilisation’. If one consults the essay, The Coming God Race, it makes no mention of race other than in the generic sense of the ‘human race.’ Leeuwen knows all this of course. Likewise, his unreferenced contention that I advocated ‘separate racial states’ can only gain credence if he knowingly misidentified me as the author of sundry works I did not write.

    Leeuwen has now added another whopper – that I was ‘ousted from the National Front…’ I resigned in late 2004 or early 2005 when Kyle Chapman was still running things. I did so precisely because I did not agree, and did not have the influence to change, the neo-nazi and white supremacist sentiments that were being expressed. Leeuwen then had recourse to claim that I was the head of a breakaway group, New Right was and its webmaster, quipping that the NR’s site showed my lack of computer skills. More nonsense. After a few months I quit my minor role in NR, again because of certain racial sentiments being expressed. All this is on record with the University, including signed statements and contact details of signatories. I was known in the ‘Right’ as an opponent of white supemacism and neo-nazism. My critique of ‘nazism’ for e.g. is glossed over by Leeuwen as disingenuous, because like much else it doesn’t serve the dishonest evaluations he sought to make throughout the thesis.

    As Leeuwen knows, nobody had to take my word for anything in regard to the matters that both myself and Graeme Wilson (remember him) have raised in regard to the thesis. Wilson has copies of three draft chapters of the thesis, which we simply compared to the final thesis, showing that Leeuwen had lying misattributed authorship on many documents; further that he identifies me as being about 6 different people through his odd ‘writing style comparison’ methodology. When he is called upon to finally explain himself, his answers should prove interesting.

    Considering that the documentation presented to the bogus University enquiry by both Wilson and myself comprises over 100 pp. nobody has to take anyone’s ‘word’ for anything. The evidence was presented but ignored, disregarding the terms of reference that had been established for the enquiry.

    Leeuwen now back tracks on his opinions of Bing, having regarded him as not knowing what he’s talking about. Bing claims that he only knew Leeuwen during the latter phases of the thesis and only advised on ‘structure.’ So is Bing lying – again?

    Again I am portrayed as a villain behind some type of campaign against Leeuwen’s supervisors. There are insinuations about anti-Semites writing at my direction. Tripe, to use his terminology. Very dishonest, as one would expect. He castigates me for claiming I think his thesis is part of a ‘Zionist plot’ against me, yet comes up with outright garbage about this ‘neo-nazi plot’ against him, of course directed by me.

    Not only are my academic credentials questioned, typically without references, but now Leeuwen has added a new twist. I ‘didn’t finish secondary school’. Where the heck does that come from? Out of the same delusions that produced the claim that I was ‘raised a Mormon’ perhaps? I had even sent the pseudo-enquiry several academic references, from genuine scholars, in regard to appraisal of my thesis and papers, and have many more, mainly from actual scholars (as distinct from whatever it is that infests New Zealand’s institutions) most of whom have no personal axe to grind in my favour.

    Leeuwen claims that his blog entries which are quite telling, state that while he could have b.s.’d his way through the thesis he didn’t want to. However, other glob entries make it plain he was running out of time, the thesis was difficult, was interfering with his social life, etc. As to whether he did in fact succumb to his own inabilities, that should surely be judged by considering the thesis itself in relations to the evidence presented by both Wilson and myself.

    Leeuwen calls it ‘whining’ because he has been caught out as a compulsive liar who was only saved because of threats from the TEU. The Ombudsmen is my only resort in such matters, when the University is too corrupt or intimidated to undertake the enquiry I was told it would. Interestingly, at no time does Leeuwen mention his old friend Graeme Wilson, (who had likewise exposed Leeuwen as a liar), his only acknowledged human source for the thesis, but must resort to the usual red herrings and ad hominems.

    That Leeuwen now throws in that I ‘never finished secondary school’ once again shows that he has a very troubled mind. I spent four years at Hutt Valley Memorial College finishing with UE and Higher School Cert. While working at menial jobs I completed several courses in psychology, and more latterly a number of courses in Biblical Studies and dissertations in theology. This new whopper about ‘not finishing secondary school’ goes right beside the new claims about anti-Semites sending anonymous mail under my direction. And have you heard the one about ‘brown skinned men not being able to enter the LDS priesthood until 1978’ ‘well after I left’ the church – supposedly? I thought it was really dumb for you to fake that reference, but how much dumber was it for Veitch, Coldham Fussell et al as supposed religious studies scholars, not to have questioned it?

    This is a straight out matter of scholarly standards, and even if the bilge Leeuwen continues to accuse me of were true, how does any of that mitigate his being a liar and a fraud? More red herrings.

    This matter will be decided I am sure in a more honest manner by the Ombudsmen’s Office, which will presumably find that the University will have to actually undertake the enquiry it promised. I doubt whether the Ombudsmen’s Office will succumb to the disgraceful threats of the TEU at the behest of such a disreputable pack, all in breach of sundry clauses of the Education Act, TEU charter and University codes.

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