Mapping the Swamp: The Burn Book

The Burn Book and the Map
Robert Oscar Lopez

To map the Swamp, you have to understand what kind of map you are drawing. While the Swamp is in some ways geographic because there are control centers in places where political power congregates, most of the Swamp's map will be more a diagram of connected circles and squares. To understand the Swamp you have to understand all the various players and positionalities.

But more importantly you have to understand what connects them.

The biggest thing holding together the various parties who predominate politically inside the Swamp is not a set of shared beliefs or customs, but rather a set of shared tactics. They do not necessarily even have common enemies. Rather, they will mobilize across divergent interest groups to mob an isolated individual if there is a quid pro quo agreement between one Swamp player and another Swamp player. 

There is a long list of books and movies I will be discussing in upcoming weeks in order to educate people on the Swamp's tactics and how to expose and resist them. But one film encapsulates an enormous range of Swamp tactics. That film is, coincidentally, Mean Girls (2004), starring Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey. While the film purports on a superficial level to reveal the cruelty of female bullying, the film is also an instruction manual for Swamp aspirants. It is not insignificant that Tina Fey, who invested much of her reputation and professional spirit into Mean Girls, went on to use many of the film's very tactics against Sarah Palin in 2008 and later years.

The key to understanding Mean Girls is first to acknowledge the depth of human beings' capacity to deceive. The backdrop is a school, which is crucial. Educational institutions were the test tubes for most of the Swamp's power tactics. Schools combined both highly charged emotional vulnerabilities and sub-legal rules and regulations amounting to a jungle of red tape. The system of complaints, retaliation, ritual embarrassment, and grading allowed for complex and multilateral forms of conspiracy on both individual and group levels. The generation of people who are running today's Swamp marinated in educational institutions for an exceptionally long time because of their historical moment. They lived during an era, from the middle to late twentieth century, when educational institutions were particularly sclerotic and Orwellian.

So the first reason for consulting Mean Girls is the film's distillation of several tactics in a beautifully readable form. The "burn book" demonstrates a key shared tactic that holds together the sundry parties in the swamp. If you remember the film, the "burn book" is a mix of truth and falsehood. To get back at her rivals, Regina George takes the burn book in which she and others have recorded vile things about people, and then she adds some insults against herself, so that when she spreads copies of the burn book around, everyone will be mad at everyone else but she will appear not to have been one of the guilty parties. 

The "burn book" is the tactic of half-truths, the selective exposé, the "plausible deniability," and bait-and-switch. It is a marvelous conjoining of all these mind games that seem to attract Swamp dwellers and keep them beholden to one another.  We see everybody from the Washington Post to church leaders to high profile lawyers and politicians using the Burn Book tactics. They goad people to say mean things about others, often by lulling them into a sense of security, then they expose it, but with exaggeration, and pretend that they too have been victimized so that they do not look suspicious.

I have long suspected that such a Burn Book tactic was used against me by three Marxists at Cal State Northridge in 2010. Details of this particular episode can be found on page 28 of my archive of Swamp tactics:

One was a playwright, one was an Arab American "critical theorist," and one was a bizarre South African homosexual who was white but thought his viciousness toward me was not racist because he was African and "queer." These three men had held private meetings with my chair in the fall of 2009 to complain about my having been involved with a national security grant, which had actually been foisted on me by their ally, the lesbian dean of the college, who was tied to the Clinton Global Initiative. The dean had called me in her office around July 2, 2009, and told me that I had to take over a grant tied to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, which is tied through the Intelligence Community to the CIA. When I took the grant over, I presented to my department and was swiftly attacked in August 2009 at a department meeting, then denounced no the listserv by these three Marxists, who my chair (George Uba) also told me had lodged complaints in his office. Suddenly I was being heavily targeted by everyone in the College and the Clintonista Dean appeared innocent, choosing instead to make it seem as though a rabid conservative had brought the CIA to the university. I took a military leave of absence in 2010. While I was away, somebody wrote nasty things in red on my door flyers, tore my American flag, and dragged a knife or sharp object over the Army stickers on my door.

I returned from military leave to find that the door had been left with all this ugliness for months and nobody had addressed it. My friend Jason had written to me in Fort Leonard Wood to let me know it had happened. When I asked the chair, George Uba, about this, he discouraged me from speaking to campus police about it (indeed, they did not really investigate the incident even when I did ask them to.) But George Uba told me, "You should know that ----- and -----" both also had vandalism on their doors, referring to the Arab American Marxist and the Marxist playwright. Not long afterwards, someone came and told me that there was also vandalism on the door of the white South African queer. I had no way to proving or disproving anything because I was away during the months that this went on. But interestingly enough, once I did call the police about the damage to my door and spoke to the dean (whom I naively trusted at this point), the physical vandalism stopped.

Who dragged a knife across my office door? I know I did not do this, and I have a very solid basis on which to prove I didn't commit a hoax--I was on military leave and under 24-hour surveillance for months when this happened. I doubt my friend Jason did it; if he had done something like that while I was away, I do not see it as plausible that the chair, dean, and department would not have immediately summoned the police to catch him. Jason was a Marine, Republican, and conservative, aside from being friends with the unpopular Christian who was forced to run an intelligence grant on campus.

If this was a random student who hated me or the grant, isn't it odd that they would stop vandalizing my door at the precise moment that I made the other faculty aware that I was investigating whether it was them? I don't know; I have no proof--because the Burn Book Swamp terrorists know to terrorize you in ways that deny you proof. 

But the oddest thing about this story is in fact the most telling clue. The three people who told people their doors were vandalized were also the three people who were viciously coming after me. They were three people who collected doting student followers. In fact they even organized a counter-conference against my intelligence grant while I was away and got other faculty to invite many students to come and listen to the three of them denounce what I was doing...all while I was away on military leave and they knew it.

This is one part of the Burn Book tactic that you must study in order to understand and therefore defeat the Swamp. Of course the chances are that one of these three Marxists, or somebody acting at their prompting, took a sharp blade and dragged it across my door, tore my flag, and wrote "CIA" in blood-red letters. There is no other explanation that is plausible. They then vandalized their own doors to make themselves look innocent. Who would have vandalized their doors? I had no staunch supporters and I was away at Fort Leonard Wood, unable to communicate with anybody regularly or orchestrate a safe time for them to come and do this vandalism without getting caught. The police would have responded to their calls swiftly, and if there was somebody opposed to them and somebody opposed to me, it is illogical that they would commit repeated vandalism then stop as soon as I returned from leave.

To defeat the Swamp you have to understand how they frame people and try to create conflict without getting caught. Just as Regina George was smart enough to add a part of her Burn Book that made her look like a target just like the others, the Swamp creatures will often engage in "drole de guerre," making it seem as though they are being targeted when they really aren't, so people do not figure out their role in attacking people. The LGBT movement excels at this. For instance, in Texas, there was a popular bill that went to the state legislature, which would forbid transgender bathrooms in schools. A leading Republican politician kept sabotaging the bill in the state House, but then at a late hour he proposed an alternative bill that would have stated some concern about transgender bathrooms without actually stopping transgender bathrooms. The LGBT spokespeople quickly rose up and denounced the alternative bill. But Steve Hotze, a conservative activist in Texas, quickly pointed out the pool parlor game going on. The LGBTs had to look outraged so that the masses of deceived Texans would think that this Republican politician wasn't being induced by LGBT influencers to poison the bathroom bill.

When Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court by Obama, you may remember a wave of stories about how pro-choice feminists were concerned about her Catholic sympathies. This was Burn Book tactics. By making it seem as though she was being attacked by abortion lobbyists, she could get conservative Democrats and Republicans to think she wasn't going to the Court to advance the radical leftist sexually toxic agenda that Sotomayor has pushed unequivocally for the last eight years.

Why Schools Are Key

Those of you who are not college professors may not have had the experience that many academics have had with grand deceptions. I have been in the academy for just about 20 years. Professors like me experienced many of the psychological warfare tactics that are soon to be faced by anybody in society who defies the Swamp; we experienced it earlier, though, because of the nature of our job. Professors are highly targeted public figures who, in the course of their work, inevitably collect enmities. Professors have to teach and grade thousands of students over the course of their career, and it is impossible to know which of these students might fall into obsession or be easy prey to recruitment by enemies for a smear campaign. Students have the luxury of protections given them by privacy laws, plus they can often file accusations against professors through procedures that skirt due process. Students are allowed to file false charges without penalty but are protected from retaliation. Also, because students' lives are now immensely entangled with their campuses, there are many things about students' identities and experiences that can be public knowledge and mined by professors' enemies when they look for people to smear a professor.

One of the tactics Brittany Klein and I noticed early on, for instance, was the deployment of students with disabilities to file extravagant complaints against professors. A common experience I found with academics targeted by LGBT activists was a sudden bizarre and incomprehensible accusation coming from a student registered with the office for students with disabilities. There is a reason for this. Other people in the university have access to the list of students registered with that office. Many students are registered because they have emotional problems or learning impairments, which makes them very prone to recruitment by a professor's enemies and allows a professor's enemies to disavow the student if the plan backfires. 

For instance, you can get a student with disabilities to accuse a professor of some kind of misconduct, and the "disabled" student is afforded all kinds of privacy protections during an investigation that gives the professor no protection at all. Because any student registered with the office is by law guaranteed certain anti-discrimination protections, there are sundry regulations that a professor can be accused of violating in the course of teaching such a student. If the student's accusation is disproved and shown to be wildly false, even insane, the student can be excused because of mental illness. If the student comes forward and says he/she was coached by someone and spurred to file the false complaint, the people who recruited the student can claim the student is crazy and speaking gibberish. They use off-the-record meetings with such students, and often gather "informal complaints" from the students with disabilities as unrecoverable backup for one "formal complaint." And because often LGBT students have mental health issues, there is a large pool of potential recruits who have the added benefit of being easily incited against a professor branded homophobic.

We see this trick in the case of Roy Moore, for instance, regarding both Leigh Corfman and Beverly Nelson. Corfman's history of behavioral disorders as tracked by Alabama's family courts gave the Washington Post cover on two fronts. People were going to be less likely to question her aggressively because they wanted to be "sensitive," and also, if her story does not add up (as it did not, as we saw with the botched details about the timeline and addresses she stated), the Washington Post has the plausible deniability to say that they were merely reporting what Corfman said. Gloria Allred tried the same trick with Beverly Nelson's yearbook. With Allred's own daughter recently caught soliciting accusers with financial incentives, it is rather likely that Gloria Allred held out some hope of a benefit to Beverly Nelson for producing her yearbook. But then when Nelson's story proved false, Allred could distance herself from Nelson and be plausibly believed because Nelson was so clearly unstable and seemingly traumatized by her difficult life.

In the recent case of Lindsay Shepard, we see a similar set of tricks being used, but there seems to have been a pitfall that prevented Shepard's targeters from landing a decisive charge against her. Initially she was called in for interrogation by Laurier University staff based on multiple complaints from anonymous students. Then upon the outrage resulting from her leaked audio recording of the interrogation, people became furious. The university was under unusually strong pressure to explain to the public what had happened. Specifically, they had to show Ms. Shepard details about who filed the supposed complaint. Finally the University had to admit there was no complaint from a student, but one from the LGBT office. 

My guess was that they could not find a student to put their name on the complaint, which they obvious ginned up based on faculty outrage against Lindsay Shepard. They might have felt that the public attention made it too dangerous at that point to recruit a phony complainer from the office of students with disabilities. You can also see a similar game in my case, documented in page 79 of the Swamp Archive. The Title IX office played many games with the source of the complaints against me, classifying lots of meetings as "informal complaints," which allowed Susan Hua (the interrogator) to write down her notes of what a student said and then pass that as evidence, when we cannot see what the student would have actually written as a statement. 

This matched the information brought to me in December 2014 by three different undergraduates who warned me that someone in the administration was contacting students in my classes and trying to get them to sign some sort of petition against me (I was still not told about any complaint until June 2015). There was at least one blatant lie regarding these informal complainants--Susan Hua claimed on June 10, 2015, that two "informal" complainants had come to her office carrying two brochures that they claimed someone gave them at the conference being investigated. Hua held up these brochures and asked me aggressively why these were given at the conference and when I said I could not remember them because it was so long ago, she tried to strengthen her argument by stating that the two "informal" complainants had dropped the brochure off days after the conference. Then when the Title IX report was issued in October 2015, it turned out that my suspicion was correct: one of the brochures, "77 Non-Religious Reasons to Support Man-Woman Marriage," was not distributed at the conference at any time. In the Title IX report, that brochure was revealed only to have been delivered to the Title IX office in May 2015, eight months after the conference. The fact that Susan Hua's claims were deceitful and false -- i.e., her claim that two women had rushed to the campus right after the conference carrying the brochure and feeling upset about it--was protected from rebuttal because in "informal" complaints no direct statement is taken from the student and therefore no paper trail exists to hold false accusers accountable.

If you have never been a teacher, you may be simply stunned and disbelieving upon hearing that people will be this deceitful. But if you have been a teacher, you have probably had to listen to wildly impossible excuses for why students didn't come to class or missed assignments. You may have had to field ridiculous complaints based on students' anxious projections, or read through evaluations that claim completely bizarre memories of things you know did not happen in class. In schools these forms of dishonesty and plotting are common. The Swamp at large has, I believe, absorbed some of this pathology through osmosis.

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