What Poisoned the Pond?

Three years ago, I began a dangerous journey of questioning strange new policies at my institution, Bakersfield College. Since then, I’ve been subjected to smears, threats, and all manner of harassment and retaliation. The most recent episode centered on fabricated allegations of racism that several national media outlets debunked, but not before one of my college’s trustees took time during a regularly scheduled public meeting to articulate his desire to “rope” accused faculty and take us off to “the slaughterhouse.” In response, I have penned this open letter to the Kern Community College District (KCCD) trustees, and to Mr. John Corkins in particular.

Trustee Corkins,

My phone began buzzing before I even heard about your call to “cull” me and other faculty. Following that December 13 meeting of the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees, numerous KCCD employees and community members reached out and urged me to demand an apology, call for a vote of no confidence, demand your resignation, or lead a recall campaign. These are not my goals. Instead, I hope this episode can be a learning experience.

Please resist the temptation to ignore the media storm your words ignited (e.g., here, here, here, here, and here). No one enjoys being compared to the Nazis, but this article and others offer a thoughtful diagnosis of the core problem afflicting our institution. Your comments exemplify a sweeping and disturbing trend at our district and throughout much of the academy: a general willingness to ignore evidence-based arguments in favor of emotional appeals. While you may not be the monster portrayed in many comment forums, you are empowering a very dangerous philosophy that attempts to replace objective reality with emotionally satisfying nonsense.

Maybe you can be forgiven for not recognizing that the quotes presented to you in that meeting were brazen fabrications, but the obviously curated comments should have raised red flags. You might have thoughtfully asked, “What exactly did the professors say or do that was racist?” Or perhaps, “What did the accuser mean when she said that she could tell a professor was racist by merely looking at his face?” Instead, you and Trustee Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg fell for the race hoax and each contributed a performance of your own.

I recommend that you ponder the question, “Why was I so easily duped?” You might console yourself by believing you are especially sensitive to the plight of our students, but allow me to suggest another reason you so eagerly endorsed this race hoax. Before you suggested that some be culled for the good of the herd, Chancellor Sonya Christian made a veiled reference to me. You commented about “a familiar name” that was “poisoning the pond.” It seems you’ve been conditioned to see me and certain colleagues as contaminants. Perhaps the chancellor and her cadre of activists weighed upon you so often that you now truly believe any who question their agenda—policies your own constituents oppose—are “disruptive” and “disrespectful” and deserving of the constant attacks on our characters and careers.

[Related: “To the Slaughterhouse with You”]

Over the last few years, the administration has firmly aligned itself with a group of activists on campus. Together they radically transformed Bakersfield College into a place of implicit bias and microaggression training; racial quotas and affirmative action preferences; racially segregated programming emphasizing ethno-nationalist rhetoric; priority registration for preferred groups; subsidies for highly partisan propaganda and accompanying activist training; mandated masks, compulsory vaccines, and location-tracking software; diluted academic rigor with an ever-growing emphasis on social programs managed by a bloated administration; and overt hostility toward any who dare question these policies. This hostility comes from both administrators and their eager proxies among the faculty.

As a rural cattle guy, you may not be familiar with the various ways that a college administration can covertly inflict extrajudicial punishments. Retaliatory scheduling can impose inconvenient times and locations but also reduce teaching load (and compensation). Offices can be capriciously reassigned. Permissions may be withheld, and calendared events canceled. Strategic bureaucratic obstruction can table agenda items or slow the progression of signatures on necessary forms. The administration can refuse to confer expected and vital funds or even deny access to the very monies we raise ourselves. Overly curious faculty may be excluded from key decision-making bodies, as those with the right viewpoints enjoy stipends and reduced teaching loads for nonproductive projects.

Where these comparatively subtle means fail to bring about conformity, management might unlawfully release confidential personnel records, forge untrue documents, launch farcical investigations, or ignore legitimate complaints. Students may receive extra credit to criticize faculty they’ve never met, and employees can be threatened by HR officers who wield the power to produce and distribute demonstrably false determinations without ever consulting the accused. Through all of this, the administrative apparatus can rely on covertly subsidized allies in the local media to print fictions that make dissenters look like horrible human beings, people who desperately need culling.

You see, there’s a lot that you probably don’t know about.

The point of my letter is not to ask for an apology for your hastily spoken words. Instead, I want to bring your attention to the real poison in the pond. It is possible that you have been drinking the tainted water of self-interested ideologues for so long that you’ve lost your sense of taste. I ask you to consider the possibility that you and others have been fed a steady stream of orchestrated public comments, loudly whispered, vague allegations, fabricated testimony, counterfeit HR determinations, and outright lies that conditioned you to view those of us pleading for open, transparent discussion as enemies deserving of the slaughterhouse.

We are not your enemies.

I hope we can all work together to bridle emotions and embrace evidence-based reasoning through civil discourse. Together we can shrug off the tide of ideological conformity and bring back curiosity, honest inquiry, rigorous examination, and intellectual diversity. I hope this difficult episode in your life leads you to see that unless we do something about it, we’re all stuck drinking from the poisoned pond.

Image: Unsplash, Public Domain


  • Matthew Garrett

    Matthew Garrett is a professor of history and ethnic studies at Bakersfield College and the co-founder of the Renegade Institute for Liberty.

19 thoughts on “What Poisoned the Pond?

  1. The truth lies somewhere between the narrative admin is spinning and Dr. Garrett’s narrative.

    Unfortunately, Dr. Garrett, a generally reasonable, intelligent, thoughtful person, has aligned with conspiracy theorists who make everything he says seem absurd to other generally reasonable, intelligent, thoughtful people. Dr. Garrett should be embarrassed to be associated with the Renegade Institute for Liberty. He is easily the smartest one of the bunch, but he has allowed his reputation as a disciplined, reasonable person to be dragged to hell through association.

    Is Dr. Garrett the epitome of evil? No. Has he made extraordinarily misguided claims and directed his energy toward easily debunked conspiracy theories? Absolutely.

    Dr. Garrett has many, many fair critiques of the BC and KCCD administration. He isn’t wrong about Chancellor Christian’s orchestrated (though completely provoked) campaign against him. But he also isn’t right about her motivations.

    Dr. Garrett, if I could give you some unsolicited advice: drop the anti-equity crusade. It will not go in your favor and just makes you look like an ass. The entire CCC system has made a very clear commitment and the governor has endorsed it. No one is doing anything illegal in drafting a state-sponsored EEO or equity plan. While I’m certain you disagree with their methods, consider reserving those notes for debate fodder, not your lawsuit.

    Instead focus on the read fraud. I know you know where it is.

    However, I beg you to spare the average BC administrator as they are simply exploited staff who have zero protections against very, very real retaliation. They do care about students, but you’d be surprised how few are left leaning. And I assure you, none care enough about this drama to put their paychecks on the line.

  2. Keep up the great work, Dr. Garrett. Do not allow red herrings to intercept the truth. A few points: If (1) English professors are qualified to instruct on racial theory and gender, because it is in someone’s literature, the professors are not sociologists, (2) Biological science professors are allowed to change definitions of sex and gender, when they are not MD physicians, or anatomy experts, (3) Students are allowed to determine truth, when they have been educated and reared in a post-truth culture, and (4) Activists are empowered to practice fabrications and employ strategies of personal destruction of careers, families, and professions by relying on erroneous theories of race, then it is obvious we are dealing with the most nefarious of efforts. Continue to fight for honesty and truth, sir. There are millions of us around the nation standing right with you.

  3. This is what has happened to our country. Powerful people chose sides and ignore any facts that do not fit their agendas. Both sides are guilty of this nationally. Politics in the school systems in CA–the only state I am familiar with in regards to this–are getting nastier and nastier. Teachers in grammar school, high school–if you do not belong to the right clique you get treated absymally (sp). Lies are spread, rumors are told, all the things mentioned by both parties in the College dispute. It is sad and sickening because both sides inevitably drag in the students who trust their teachers, their professors, and have no idea that this type of conflict goes on and on and seemingly cannot be settled. Shame on both parties. Shame on all those who drag students into their conflicts. Shame on those who lie and cheat. Shame on all involved for being so egotistical, so ego-centered that you cannot possibly believe that you could ever be wrong. Shame!

  4. I’m noticing here that this is a professor with a background in Native American history and that the complaining students are identified as African American.

    I’m not saying that it is the issue here, but the “who’s more oppressed” dynamic is something that I have seen elsewhere…

  5. Professor Matt Garrett has a way with words which strike truthfully & directly to the heart of the matter.
    The truth so eloquently, persuasively, & logical, which Matt reveals are unfortunately shocking, disturbing, and in great need of urgent remedy.
    If you can’t handle the truth and prefer comfort over challenging reality, don’t read this. If you seek truth and seek great understanding of the deterioration & usurpation of our local higher education establishments, this is a MUST READ.

  6. I think it is important to point out a few things here. First, Matthew Garrett is not an ethnics studies professor. He was hired to teach and only teaches history. His equivalency process was done against state and local standards- as there was never any ethics studies expert consulted. Instead and his extremist packed the little committee with like minded people aiming to dilute the value of ethnic studies. BC doesn’t even have an Ethnic Studies department. He presents to you as a concerned open person and he is the furthest from this. He has lied and maligned people on the BC campus for years.

    2) This man also fails to tell you what students said in context and what situations have really occurred. I encourage you to read what the student submitted to the BOT. He fails to mention he and his RIFL group post awful things against minorities and only recently took the worst of them down once people finally paid attention to this disgusting page.

    3) It is public record that he has been “frivolous” in his constant complaints in an effort to paint himself as the victim when he is the bully who threatens faculty with complaints if they dare speak or act in ways he doesn’t agree with. He has lost lawsuits and complaints time and again- outside lawyers were used to ensure unbiased investigations.

    4) The “debunking” hasn’t occurred. His posts and story only present on extreme sites – no real ethical investigative journaling has occurred outside an Inside Higher Education article which I would not say debunked anything he claims. Despite his best PR efforts he is failing.

    5) It is near impossible as one of his RIFL members reminded BC, to fire faculty. In fact, she said, it was impossible. So, if this man is potentially being fired it isn’t due to one bit of bad behavior. In fact, he is the one bringing this specific situation up as he is the victim when he was often never even a person of concern. He is taking the experiences and voices of students and stomping them into the ground with his big heavy boots of misrepresentations and lies in an effort to get you to look down when you should be looking up.

    1. Specificity lacking throughout, or did you notice? One example, “his RIFL group post awful things against minorities” (attach an example) second example, “He is taking the experiences and voices of students and stomping them into the ground”, what experiences, what is being said? All innuendo and no substance.

    2. Andrew Bond – why do you keep using anonymous accounts to troll articles on this topic? It must really eat at you that your allegations are losing steam, but you are never without a mouthful of fresh allegations (always absent any evidence). Here you allege Garrett is “not an ethnic studies professor” even as you admit he has been granted equivalency as an ethnic studies instructor. Odd. You allege he “maligned people” and suggest that he posts “awful things” but you provide no evidence, as usual. You allege Garrett lost lawsuits but online it clearly shows his one and only suit continues. And you denounce media that vindicates Garrett as untrustworthy. You really are living in a bizarre reality.

    3. I have to wonder whether the accuser is sneaking around, spreading falsehoods and, while doing so, I question which foundation is subsidizing his smear campaign? Standing back and looking at this situation . . . Sure does stink like a set up by a person who has zero idea about people’s qualifications. The accuser certainly has revealed his own motivation, yet apparently constructs his own facts and presumes his nefarious intentions upon the motivations of others. In this case, it is Professor Garrett. So obvious this is a smear campaign. I would not want my children in any class taught by this character. Just imagine how he is indoctrinating his students against the professor?

  7. Very nicely written. Taxpayers might be surprised to see how little some professors actually teach and who gets extra $$ for political activity. Are there any employment rules about which professors get awarded those course releases and extra stipends? The unions, of course, make sure that they get their own cut in the form of their course releases as well, so they don’t really care about fair labor practices; so long as they get that and the money for their “equity” events, they don’t mind.

    It would be nice if this kind of ongoing, pervasive politicization of academia (which is ongoing throughout many states and colleges) is given a fraction of the attention that Florida is getting by the mainstream press, but that would require journalists to carry out actual journalism.

  8. “Counterfeit HR determinations”? As I would tell my students: I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    Just because you don’t like the outcome of an investigation doesn’t mean it is “counterfeit.” For years, you have tried to play the victim in a conflict you created and in which have consistently been the aggressor and bully. You’ve exploited the conflict to get PR and funding for your faculty group and gain inroads in local conservative political circles. This all started when you levied false allegations against your colleagues im a public talk on campus, got called out on it, found to be in the wrong, and continue to spread false information, even adding to your catalog of fabrications allegations of racial quotas and segregated classes (among other hyperbolic, emotion-driven tantrum fuel). Anyone genuinely interested in truth would have acknowledged they were wrong, corrected, and moved on, but Matthew Garrett would never do as much. Instead, you double down, dig your heels in, and drag down everyone in your orbit with you. In the words of Radiohead: you do it to yourself…

    And now for the obligatory ad hominem attack from the author or his little attack chihuahua, Michael Einhaus:

      1. The hate infused comments of “Andrew” are indicative of the vitriolic element at Bakersfield College. Referring to a former Political Science Professor that won a huge settlement against the college for abuse as a “little attack Chihuahua” speeks loads of how hateful the left really is.

      2. Einhaus was a philosophy professor, not political science. Clearly you can’t even get the most basic facts straight!

    1. Andrew Bond – kudos for finally using your own given name on a post. Did you lose the login for the anonymous account above or is this an attempt to make it appear that multiple people share your strange views?

      In this one you allege Garrett “levied false claims against your [his] colleagues im [sic] a public talk on campus.” If true, you should have no trouble providing at least one direct quote from his public talk. To make that chore easier for you, here is the disputed lecture to which you refer. Please identify a quote that levies a false allegation against you or your comrade who filed complaints.

      And finally, I’m amused by the irony that you close with an ad hominem insult (“chihuahua”) to accuse another of using an ad hominem. Are you even aware of your hypocrisy?

  9. Diversity, inclusion, and equity have been weaponized and used as an indoctrination tool without regards to logic, reality, and common sense .. Rev Frazier

  10. Paul in Galatians 4:16, ask this profound question….
    So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?

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