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UW-Madison professor worked to cancel her conservative grad student: FOIA documents

Conservative student, now a professor, says he was ‘blacklisted’

A University of Wisconsin-Madison professor worked to cancel her own graduate student, documents show.

Professor Louise Young attempted to cancel her own grad student, Jason Morgan, from a prestigious fellowship program after he made public statements challenging historians about World War II prostitution.

Morgan, now a professor in Japan, confirmed Young had tried to blacklist him after obtaining emails from the State Department via a Freedom of Information Act request. He was a doctoral student at the time.

Morgan (pictured) took the unpopular view among some in academia that Korean women were not conscripted into prostitution during World War II by Japan. Morgan recently explored the topic, and ensuing academic controversy, in a book with Harvard University law Professor Mark Ramseyer.

He detailed some of the controversy at the Big Ten university in the book, but provided the full emails to The Fix. Morgan is a former reporter for The Fix.

The cancellation attempt began 2015, during Morgan’s time as a Fulbright Fellow, a State Department program. Fulbright program leaders reprimanded Morgan after Young contacted them with concerns that he was sharing these views on “extremist right wing” outlets in Japan.

The Fix reached out to Fulbright and Matthew Sussman, the executive director of Fulbright in Japan at the time of Morgan’s fellowship to ask if the actions against him were appropriate given the program is government-run and therefore must comply with free speech protections.

Sussman told Morgan not to mention his Fulbright affiliation when talking to groups.

Sussman and the Fulbright program did not respond to multiple requests for comment sent in the past week.

According to a separate FOIA document that Morgan provided to The Fix, another professor in the UW-Madison history department, Viren Murthy, considered recommending him for a fellowship in France but was dissuaded from doing so in 2016 after Young expressed her unfavorable views of Morgan.

“I would strongly caution against recommending him,” Young wrote in the email. “He is really impulsive and apt to get ticked off about unpredictable things.”

Young also said that Morgan was “unemployable” in the email she wrote to her colleague. Additionally, she said that he is only interested in being a “martyr” for conservatives.

“I reluctantly came to the conclusion that he is not interested in reasoned debate,” Young wrote. “He just wants to provoke people until they attack him, so he could become a martyr to the great conservative cause.”

The Fix contacted Young, who is still employed at the university, to ask if it was appropriate for her as a professor at a public college to try to silence a student’s views that she disagreed with and whether or not she thought this infringed on free speech.

Young did not respond to multiple requests for comment sent in the past week.

Murthy did not respond to an emailed request for comment sent on March 15 that asked for comment on the situation, including if he would have handled it differently in retrospect.

The university’s media relations team also did not return a request for comment that asked if the school was aware of how Morgan was treated by its faculty and if it is normal for professors at the university to interfere with a student’s participation in a scholarly program.

Morgan, now a professor at Reitaku University in Japan, details his treatment by UW-Madison faculty and Fulbright leaders as well as his views on comfort women in a new publication he co-authored with Harvard Professor Mark Ramseyer titled “The Comfort Women Hoax.”

Ramseyer and Morgan explain in the book that they are not supporting prostitution but rather questioning claims of coercion as evidence for such claims largely stems from a fictional literary work by a Japanese communist.

The book also describes how Morgan was “blacklisted” by Sarah Thal, another history professor at UW-Madison, assigned by Young to become his new advisor.

Morgan says that Thal acted “eager” to recommend him for jobs he was applying to, however, after not hearing back from many of these jobs, he discovered that Thal had written several unfavorable reference letters on his behalf.

Thal did not respond to a March 12 College Fix inquiry about her past actions and any regret.

‘Shamelessness’ is a problem in academia, Morgan says

Morgan spoke out about his experience in an email to The Fix.

“Louise Young is fairly representative of the kind of people who run American academia,” Morgan wrote. “It’s a disgrace how she squelched debate and used personal attacks to silence me.”

“Louise ought to be ashamed of herself,” he said.

“I confess I expected more from Professor Murthy, but, sadly, cowardice, like shamelessness, is a prerequisite for most academic posts in North America,” Morgan said.

Morgan also said he believes faculty members at the university purposefully infringed on his freedom of expression.

“As for free speech, Louise Young, along with several other people at the University of Wisconsin, absolutely infringed my freedom of speech and academic freedom,” Morgan said.

“They did so deliberately and maliciously,” he said. “They did it again and again.”

“As far as I can gather, they did it because I refused to join them in lying about comfort women history.”

MORE: Check out the Campus Cancel Culture Database

IMAGE: Reitaku University

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About the Author
Jack Applewhite -- University of Georgia