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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 11

Re: Who Is Jerome Clark?

From: Jerome Clark <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 98 20:51:56 PDT
Fwd Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 23:57:18 -0400
Subject: Re: Who Is Jerome Clark?

> Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 19:54:16 -0400
> From: The Duke of Mendoza <101653.2205@compuserve.com> [Peter Brookesmith]
> Subject: Who Is Jerome Clark? [was: Corso, Stacy & Birnes]
> To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>

> With the compliments of the Duke of Mendoza:

> >To: "UFO UpDates - Toronto" <updates@globalserve.net>
> >From: "Jerome Clark" <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
> >Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Stacy, Corso & Birnes
> >Date: Fri, 05 Jun 98 09:59:53 PDT

> >> There are even people who have thought that Phil Klass
> >> would chuck them into the Chesapeake Bay riddled with
> >> bullets, or some such thing, should they take up an
> >> invitation to go sailing with the Dread Debunker.
> >Don't know that guy, I'm afraid, though once Klass made
> >a "joke" to that effect to me, in the course of a fairly
> >abusive communication.

My, my. Aren't we hard up for something substantive to debate
about? One can only conclude that Mr. Brookesmith senses an
urgent need to bring in the most transparent of diversions.

> Presumably then it is some other Jerome Clark entirely, of whom
> no one but Klass - obviously suffering one of his habitual
> delusions - has previously heard, but of whom Klass writes in
> SUN #51 (May 1998), page 7 [see note below]:

> "I concluded my letter [of 8 April 1984] to Clark as follows:
> 'If business or pleasure should bring you to the DC area, I
> invite you to join me aboard the "Hanky Pank," but warn you of
> the dangers of the mysterious Chesapeake Quadrangle in which
> many UFOPs (UFO Promoters) have disappeared mysteriously. A few
> have been found with their bodies riddled with bullet holes.
> Some who are anxious to keep the Cosmic Watergate under cover,
> will stop at nothing.

Note, if you are able to read better than Mr. Brookesmith can,
that Klass here is taking off on something I find as absurd as
he: the notion that ufologists are at physical peril for looking
into cover-ups real or imagined.

> "Clark responded in friendly fashion, indicating that he
> recognized the foregoing was intended as a joke.

As why should I have not?

> So my May 14,
> 1984 letter to Clark concluded: 'The yacht Hanky Pank made her
> maiden voyage of 1984... Perhaps you will join us someday (and
> your body will be found floating in the Chesapeake).'

Note here further evidence of Mr. Brookesmith's inability to
read. Here the "joke" has Klass implying that it is he who will
have me murdered. Let's have a show of hands out there. How many
of you would take as a "joke" -- not even from a friend here,
mind you, but a longtime adversary -- a remark intimating a
desire to have one done in? No, Mr. Brookesmith, you've already
voted. Any other hands? No?

> "Clark replied on May 21, saying that he considered my May 14
> letter to be a 'death threat,' and not a joke. 'Unless you make
> a full, immediate and unqualified apology, all communication
> between us wil cease and I will have nothing further to do with
> you.'

The "joke" was so staggeringly tasteless, rude, and offensive
that an apology was clearly called for. How many of you out
there would make a "joke" like that? No, Mr. Brookesmith, as I
said before, you've already voted. Any further votes in favor?

> Now, I don't think this is a particularly funny joke. But, even
> if it were true that "[n]obody... has ever accused Phil of
> possessing a sense of humor that rises above the
> pre-adolescent", if this report's accurate, we may be forgiven
> for wondering - some people may make a book - if Jerome will
> *ever* be accused of having a sense of humor again

Yeah, I guess I'm a little sensitive about "jokes" from people
with whom I do not share a cordial relationship that have as
their object my being murdered. I even think "jokes" like that,
being offensive, merit an apology. How many of you out there
disagree? Mr. Brookesmith, please ... and by the way, are only
you and Klass obtuse enough not to know the difference between a
demand for an apology for an offensive remark and a sense that
one is genuinely under threat of having one's bullet-riddled
body tossed into the Chesapeake? Possibly you can't, which would
explain much otherwise inexplicable.

The remark about having no sense of humor shows the depth to
which one has to sink when one chooses to apologize for Klass'
excesses. When we were friends, Mr. Brookesmith and I shared
many a laugh together. In a sense it's another example of what
I've long noted about debunkers (and other true believers): the
necessity to reinvent the world, not to mention other people's
personalities, so that the debunkers' biases and interests can
be served.

> It would be ironic, or poetic justice, or a case of squabbling
> pot and kettle, were Klass to be misrepresenting through
> selective quotation and distortion. Because in this very same
> post, we find Jerome repeating an ancient canard about Klass.
> Here it is:

> >Speaking of believing anything:
> >Klass believes that ufology is tantamount to Communism,
> >among other odd and idiosyncratic notions. Ah, what
> >one has to believe to be a Dread Debunker.

> And what economy with the truth one has to practise to demonize
> Philip J. Klass successfully.

> I see from the latest edition of Fortean Times (No 112), which I
> had cause to confiscate from a malingering tweenie-maid this
> morning (No 112), that in its correspondence columns as well,
> Jerome is repeating his carefully warped and essentially
> inaccurate version of the incident on which this slur is based.
> If you repeat not-quite-truths often enough, you end up
> believing them yourself.

Ah, the depths to which the ever-spinning Mr. Brookesmith has to
sink to defend Klassian excesses. My "The Debunkers versus the
UFO Menace" is available on at least one website, and in a
forthcoming listing, I will give the address (I don't have it at
hand at the moment) for those interested in the whole hilarious
and immensely revealing story. Even CSICOP chairman Paul Kurtz,
when given a chance to defend Klass' assertions about ufologists
and Communists, headed for the hills. Good to know Klass can
count on one friend, even if he has to look all the way across
the water to find him. Maybe it takes that sort of distance for
him to look rational.

> In that piece, Klass and his statements are variously
> represented as "peculiar", "ludicrous", "desperate", a member of
> the "debunking thought police", "scurrilous", "McCarthyite", and
> (by implication) "irrational", "crazy", "lunatic" and "nutty",
> for (allegedly) maintaining that ufology is tantamount to
> Communism.

They are, alas and sadly, all of the above.

> Ironically, the whole article is weakened somewhat by its
> author's incapacity to distinguish between the notion that fans
> of a UFO cover-up lend support to the Communist movement (which
> Klass maintained) and the notion that *ufologists as a class* do
> so (which Jerome maintains Klass maintained). Without knowing
> who were the cover-up artists to be featured at the Lincoln
> conference in question, a detail omitted by Jerome, it's
> impossible to judge just how eccentric Klass was being in this
> instance.

Thank you for making that crucial distinction, Mr. Brookesmith.
I am sure we are all impressed. Significantly, Klass himself
(see below) has never brought this distinction into his various
attempts to defend himself against my criticisms. Maybe Klass
should hire Mr. Brookesmith to handle his p.r., or maybe even
his thinking.

This seems as good a place as any to bring this up: Is there
possibly something wrong with somebody (e.g., Klass) -- or his
publication -- that he and/or it actually devotes space to a
private 1984 exchange between him and me, on a subject that
could be of no interest to anybody, except somebody with too
much time on his hands (e.g., Mr. Brookesmith)? Just wondering.

> In the course of following exchanges, Jerome failed to identify
> the cover-up artists in question, although he managed to say
> quite a lot else. But the difference between a bunch of
> conspiracy addicts and ufologists at large ought to be plain
> enough.

This is the sort of lazy rhetoric we have come to expect from
Klass apologists. Persons who believe a cover-up exists are not
necessarily "conspiracy addicts." Moderate and sensible cover-up
proponents from Keyhoe on have believed merely that the
government is keeping UFO secrets. "Conspiracy addicts" are the
ones who believe the Secret Government not only conceals UFO
truths but controls the world. Strange that Mr. Brookesmith has
suffered such a sudden failure of understanding, especially
after writing brilliantly (I am not being sarcastic here) on the
subject (in UFO: The Government Files, Chapter 6).

> >If Klass had actually done that, Mr Clark, I might. As it
> >was, you spent a great many words dancing on a distortion
> >of Klass's position. Which was - let us spell it out
> >again, the way we have to with everything - that
> >ufological cover-up artists undermine the credibility
> >of the US Government, and that as there is "no scientific
> >evidence to support the claims of the presenters... these
> >organizations, by publicly questioning the government,
> >lend support to the Communist movement." However eccentric
> >that position is - and, please note, I don't quibble with
> >your calling Klass meddlesome, etc - it is patently not
> >the same as the generalization that ufologists are to be
> >equated with Soviet agents.

Mr. Brookesmith here maintains a tactful silence on Klass' other
excesses, which are really far more serious than his idiotic
equation of ufologists with Soviet agents: namely, his legal
threats against the university and his role in its decision not
to permit any further UFO/Fortean conferences on its campus.
Since you won't hear that part of the story from Mr.
Brookesmith, you'll have to go to my "UFO Debunkers versus the
UFO Menace." There you will also learn about Klass' threat to
sue Omni, after I'd written about the episode. Omni's lawyer
called me and asked me for the documentation, which I provided
and which he pronounced satisfactory. Klass was heard from no

Thus it is doubly amusing to hear this belated charge from Mr.
Brookesmith, who may be the last person (possibly including even
Klass himself) who thinks, or represents himself as thinking,
that I misrepresented Klass' curious sentiments.

Incidentally, in subsequent correspondence with me, Klass went
on to compare university sponsorship of a UFO conference to
sponsorship of a Ku Klux Klan or Nazi Party meeting. He also
contended that proponents of a UFO cover-up were in effect
accusing Presidents of treason, a "slanderous" charge.

> >The ad-hominemery here is inextricable from the
> >distortion, for the one follows from the other. So,
> >if I were you, I should worry more that those who
> >were capable of observing how you travestied Klass's
> >position might wonder to what extent your other writings
> >are built on misrepresentation and factitiousness. I say
> >that without regard for our ufological differences, too.
> >You may like to think about that.

Mr. Brookesmith, if I may speak as one concerned for your soul:
search it, the sooner the better, before it abandons you
altogether. And let us rise from the depths of Klass
apologetics, to which I would like to think Mr. Brookesmith is
superior on his better days, of which this appears not to be

> To judge from his somewhat dyspeptic and ad-hominem response to
> this, and his blithe repetition here of this hoary old canard,
> Jerome did not think about it much at all.

Let us here insert, as a way of clarifying issues rather than
(as seems Mr. Brookesmith's intention) clouding them further,
with an exchange between Klass and me (IUR, September/October
1992, p. 19; I apologize for not being able to bring in the bold
type with which Klass colorfully expressed his argument, such as
it was):

To the editor:

In his editorial in the March/April issue of IUR, Jerome Clark
claims that in my August 23, 1983, telephone conversation with
Robert Mortenson of the University of Nebraska, "[bold
type]Klass pronounced ufology virtually tantamount to
Communism[end bold type]." (My dictionary defines
"[bold]tantamount[end bold]" as "[bold]equivalent to" [end

Clark's editorial continues: "Speaking over the phone to an
astonished University of Nebraska administrator, he declared
that `as a patriotic American I very much resent' ufologists'
cover-up charges against the U.S. government. In making these
charges, he reasoned (if that verb applies here), ufologists
`seek what the Soviet Union does -- to convey to the public that
our government cannot be trusted."

IUR readers deserve to know that Clark [italics]intentionally
omitted[end italics] the sentence preceding the one he quoted --
which I supplied to him in 1983 -- in which I said, "[bold]I
emphasize to you that I am not, repeat not, suggesting that any
of the people or any of the organizations[end bold] [involved in
the conference] [resume bold]are in any way affiliated with
Communist Fronts or with the Soviet Union [end bold]."

I challenge Clark to find anything in my four books dealing with
UFOs or in my numerous published papers to substantiate his
charge that I believe that "ufology is tantamount to Communism."

Philip J. Klass
Washington, D.C.

Jerome Clark responds:

Klass both misquotes me and misrepresents what I said about him.

First, the words he ascribes to me were written matter-of-factly
in Roman, not frantically in bold, type. Second, if I had meant
to write "Klass believes that ufologists consciously serve the
interests of international Communism," I would have said so. No
other reader could have misread my meaning as Klass does or,
more likely, as Klass pretends to.

My point was simply this: In disputing official pronouncements,
Klass contends, ufologists are equivalent to Communists in their
effect, which is to undermine faith in the American government.
("Tantamount" means, according to Webster's New Collegiate
Dictionary, "equivalent in value, significance, or effect.")
Note, moreover, that to make his meaning perfectly clear, Klass
explicitly made patriotism the issue, remarking that "as a
patriotic citizen" -- as opposed, presumably, to other citizens,
such as the ufologists and the Communists to whom the former are
tantamount -- he deeply resented disbelief in
Washington-certified versions of reality.

His final paragraph takes us to a new depth of balminess. Well,
not exactly a [italic]new[end italic] depth. Consider his
promises to donate $5000 to CUFOS if I can find in any of his
"[italics]published books or articles [end italics]" ... an
accusation that UFO cover-up theorists serve Soviet policy ends.
Of course, he adds hastily, the offer "does [italic]not[end
italic] apply to my expression of personal opinion during a
private telephone conversation" with Mortenson. I responded by
stating the obvious -- that I had never charged him with
committing the sentiment to print -- and added, "Amusingly, in
making his `challenge,' Klass seeks to exclude the very evidence
that bears on the issue."

Klass wants to have it every way it can be had. In what he
thought would be a private conversation, he likened ufologists
to Communist agents. Then, as if ashamed or embarrassed when the
rest of us learned about it, he threatened legal action against
the university after the revelation surfaced. (He also
threatened once to sue Omni when I mentioned the episode in an
article in that magazine.) Since then, as if the proud,
self-described "patriotic citizen," he defends and reaffirms the
ufologist-Communist equivalence in personal correspondence (most
recently to me in a November 26, 1991, letter). Meanwhile,
portraying himself as the wounded victim of a vicious smear, he
challenges critics to show where he has ever made the charge
[italics]in print[end italics].

We can only conclude that Klass lacks the courage of his strange

> I've long found it interesting too that in his treatment of the
> RB-47 case in his UFO "Encyclopedia", which is so admirable in
> so many other ways, Jerome dismisses Klass's interpretation of
> the data as a series of unlikely coincidences. But he doesn't
> mention that Klass presented that interpretation to the RB-47
> crew, who agreed that the "UFOs" were the product of human error
> & excitement combined with ghost echoes on the radar. This is a
> key item in Klass's analysis. Surely it was not just dislike for
> the man that led Jerome to omit it?

I refer readers to Brad Sparks' extended treatment of the case
in The UFO Encyclopedia, Volume 2, pp. 761-90, for an eye-
opening study of the numerous fatal errors Klass made in his
imaginative recreation of the RB-47 case. Thanks, Mr.
Brookesmith, for giving me another opportunity to draw list
members' attention to this seminal analysis of what Sparks holds
"is arguably the most important UFO incident in history ... the
first scientific proof of the existence of UFOs." As Sparks
concludes, "This evidence does not prove what UFOs are or where
they come from. But mimicry of an air defense radar is a
technological effect hardly comparable with, say, a nonsentient
`plasma'." Not to mention a psychosocial effect, an earthlight,
or whatever happens to be in fashion in Mr. Brookesmith's
circles at the moment.


Jerry Clark (lifelong ufologist, knee-jerk liberal, and

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