The NJIT community was taken by surprise after a video published last week by The New York Times pushed Dr. Jason Jorjani’s involvement with the Alt-Right into the spotlight.
The video was part of an undercover report produced by Patrik Hermansson, a Swedish graduate student working for the British advocacy organization, Hope Not Hate, and was embedded alongside an Op-Ed piece published in to The New York Times on Tuesday, September 19.
Dr. Jorjani and Hermansson met in a New York pub where the conversation took place. While having this conversation, Hermansson wore a wire and hidden camera for recording purposes.
In the video, Dr. Jorjani spoken of “a Europe, in 2050, where the bank notes have Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great. And Hitler will be seen like that: like Napoleon, like Alexander, not like some weird monster who is unique in his own category — no, he is just going to be seen as a great European leader.”
The video has caused a stir on campus, because many interpreted his quote to mean he endorsed Hitler. Late Wednesday afternoon, September 20, after word had gone out about Dr. Jorjani’s statements, NJIT President, Joel Bloom sent an email to faculty and staff – but not students – stating Dr. Jorjani’s statements were “repugnant and antithetical to our institution’s core values.”
A day after the video was published, Dr. Jorjani made a blog post titled, “Why I Left the Alt-Right”. There, he recollects that the conversation with Hermansson took place over two hours instead of the five minutes shown in the video clip. “My nightmarish prediction of a future that would follow from Western policymakers’ failure to address the Muslim migrant crisis in the present has been taken out of context.”
The Hope Not Hate organization defines the “Alternative Right” movement as an “international set of groups and individuals, operating primarily online… whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack from pro-multicultural and liberal elites and so-called “social justice warriors” (SJW).” Richard Spencer, a leader in the movement, has also described the movement as “identity politics for white people.”
What do students think?
In an interview with The Vector, Dr. Kevin Belfield, the Dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts, echoed Bloom’s statement. When asked about his thoughts on the matter of Dr. Jorjani staying on as a lecturer, Belfield refrained from answering stating, “I’d rather not comment on that.”
He said NJIT has launched a review into the situation and that he was not involved in the process. “The review is being handled by the top level,” he said. NJIT has begun conducting a review on the matter and will release an official statement when ready.
During this time, NJIT students have been sharing the news all over social outlets such as Facebook and the school’s unofficial blog on Reddit.
“I was pretty shocked because he never expressed his views while he was teaching… I was surprised this was the same guy,” said Donnell Recuerdo, a senior civil engineering major and a student of Dr. Jorjani’s in Science, Technology & Society 405 course last Spring.
Jason Jorjani was officially brought on as a staff member for the 2016 Fall semester and currently instructs students taking Science, Technology, and Society (STS) courses as a university lecturer within the College of Science and Liberal Arts. According to the NJIT course schedule, Dr. Jorjani is instructing two introductory STS lecture courses alongside one senior seminar in Humanities and Social Sciences called The History of Ideas, totaling approximately 125 students.
Like all university lecturers, Dr. Jorjani has a one-year contract that is renewed every spring at the discretion of the university. He is also does not have a tenure-track position.
According to Dean Belfield, Dr. Jorjani’s year-end evaluation scores – submitted by students – are generally positive and that there have not been any reports stating that he uses the classroom setting as a platform to share his political ideology.
When speaking to students who have taken class with Dr. Jorjani, several NJIT students said they had positive experiences in his class.
“I had good healthy debates with him,” said Aneesh Muthiyan, a senior majoring in Information Technology. Muthiyan said Dr. Jorjani’s knowledge of various religions was impressive, stating that he [Jorjani] knew about as much about Hinduism as himself after a long-winded discussion with him after class. Muthiyan added that, “Whenever the topic of politics or anything controversial was brought up, he made it a point of not discussing it in class.”
Who is Jason Reza Jorjani?
Dr. Jorjani’s rise in prominence within the Alt-Right movement took place after members of the Alt-Right gathered at the National Policy Institute conference in Washington D.C. on November 19, 2016, to revel in the victory of Donald Trump during after last year’s election. By then, he was also the editor-in-chief of a far-right book publishing company, Artkos Media.
After the keynote address, provided by AltRight corporation founder, Richard Spencer, followed by Nazi style salutes chanting “Hail Trump”, Dr. Jorjani was invited to the podium and described himself as a “long-time student of the glorious history of the Aryan nation of Iran.’’
He then went on to claim, “…nearly everything allegedly ‘glorious’ about Islam was parasitically appropriated by Arabs and Turks from the Caucasian civilization of Greater Iran. Moreover, this parasitic appropriation of a mutilated Iranian civilization took place in the wake of a murderous campaign of conquest, rape, plunder, and destruction that can only be described as history’s first and greatest white genocide.”
What were his connections with the “Alt-Right”?
Dr, Jorjani and Spencer had frequently spent time together as both are founders of the Alt-Right corporation, which they formed January 2017. As detailed in Dr. Jorjani’s most recent blog post, he recalls a time where both he and Spencer shared an apartment together in New York for a few days.
Richard Spencer is the face of the Alt-Right and was one of the organizers in the Charlottesville rally. Spencer first coined the term “alternative-right” in 2008. After his success in 2010 as the executive editor of Taki Magazine, Spencer was offered the lead position at the National Policy Institute (NPI) and Washington Summit Publishers. This new platform played a key role in the rise of the Alt-Right movement expanding even beyond U.S. borders, as seen with European New Right supporters taking an interest in the Alt-Right in America.
Up until the events that transpired in Charlottesville, the Alt-Right had been mentioned numerously by media outlets. The movement began to capture the public’s attention during the 2016 election when Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, lambasted the Alt-Right movement during the presidential debates. The movement gained more notoriety in late January when the leader of the movement, Spencer, was punched on live television. Afterwards, video clips of the strike were spread across the internet.
Why did he resign from his position?
Although the video published by The Times casts Dr. Jorjani as the “architect of the Alt-Right Corporation” – a title that would agree with – he and Spencer have since had a falling out following the events after the Charlottesville rally.
In the Sept. 20 blog post, Dr. Jorjani said he resigned from AltRight Corp. and Artkos Media because Spencer did not carry through on his promises to bring investors to their organization. In addition, he was upset at seeing “the corporation that was my brainchild turn into a magnet for white trash.’’ He also felt frozen out of the decision-making process following a dip in his percentage of shares over time.
“I was supposed to be the conduit for a major investment during the formative phase of the Alt-Right Corporation, and thereby assume its leadership – at least as far as fundamental questions of ideology were concerned,” he wrote.
In an earlier blog post, published August 15, Dr. Jorjani wrote that he resigned to begin a new venture in the form of the Iranian United Front – formed approximately around the time of the Charlottesville rally.
The organization is dedicated to creating a new world state that would be based on Indo-European values of the Persian empire.