NEWARK, N.J. (CN) — A New Jersey college lecturer who lost his job after he touted Adolf Hitler as “a great European leader” does not have a case for defamation, a federal judge ruled.
Jason Jorjani brought the $25 million lawsuit last July against the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a state-run school where Jorjani had been employed as a lecturer until 2017.
That fall, NJIT suspended Jorjani following the publication in The New York Times of an op-ed that quoted statements Jorjani made while under the impression he was being interviewed about how right wingers are persecuted in academia.
Jorjani says his comments were edited to sensationalize and misrepresent his views, but U.S. District Judge William Martini granted the school summary judgment Tuesday on whether its repudiation of the lecturer was done with “actual malice.”
“The general allegation is implausible because the facts alleged do not support an inference that defendants knew the recording was edited to misconstrue plaintiff’s actual views,” the 11-page opinion states.
Jorjani also failed to sway the court that NJIT had defamed him in characterizing his views as racist.
Pointing to Jorjani’s own writings, Martini said it was also reasonable for the school to accuse Jorjani of having “peddled racial theories equivalent to those underlying slavery, Jim Crow laws and the Holocaust.”
Jorjani wrote in his online article “Against Perennial Philosophy” that advances in genetic engineering could make it possible, with “the right leadership and government planning,” to restore the genetic character of most Iranians to “pre-Arab and pre-Mongol” versions.
“I’m sorry to have to suggest that this might be necessary in order to Make Iran Great Again,” Jorjani wrote.
Judge Martini said the words speak for themselves.
“Advocating that the ‘right leadership and government planning’ could restore the ‘genetic character’ [of] a once-great nation through ‘genetic engineering’ is similar to the theories used to the Holocaust,” the ruling states. “Thus, even assuming the implied equivalence between philosophy and the theories underlying slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the Holocaust is a factual matter, it is true.”
NJIT opted not to renew Jorjani’s contract in February 2018. The school still faces a single count of retaliation.
Representatives for the parties did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Jorjani’s Hitler comments appeared in “Undercover With the Alt-Right,” a Sept. 19, 2017, op-ed for The New York Times by Jesse Singal.
In the piece, Jorjani is quoted as saying: “We will have a Europe, in 2050 where the banknotes 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’s just going to be seen as a great European leader.”