Standing at 5’5” and weighing barely 130 lbs — “Just say size eight,” she tells me during fact-checking — Professor Rachel Fulton Brown doesn’t look like the dangerous woman her critics describe. But she has become used to reading outlandish descriptions of herself since June 2015, when she published a blog post titled “Three Cheers For White Men,” effectively dropping a barrel of gunpowder into a burgeoning internecine war within Medieval Studies. Three years and hundreds of blog posts later, the tenured University of Chicago history professor is being casually referred to as a “fascist” at medievalist conferences, accused of inciting physical violence and rape against her peers, and avoided like a strumpet with bubonic plague. She has even been called out for bad language by Mark Zuckerberg’s sister Donna.
Fulton Brown’s blog post wasn’t, as her critics claim, a veiled defense of white nationalism, or anything like it. She was responding playfully to the “dead white male” trope in academia, gently pointing out that the wicked caucasian dudes of social justice folklore were responsible for, among other things, the development of chivalry, consensual marriage and, to some extent, the success of feminism itself. But her post went down like a cup of cold sick anyway. Dozens, later hundreds, of Fulton Brown’s colleagues declared war on her, incensed by her refusal to back down and apologize — and by the fact that she had blogged approvingly, a number of times, about a rising star in conservative media who was causing eruptions on campuses with his scathing commentary about the finger-wagging campus Left.