Very scary stuff, kids–don’t let it happen to you! Seriously, go read Timothy L. Wood’s dark tale about someone assigning him the authorship of a fairly stupid-sounding essay about Barack Obama that goes straight from zero to Godwin’s Law. There was our innocent young Assistant Professor and expert in puritan studies last winter, thinking about anything but net-famousness as he plodded his way through marking final exams:
One deleted e-mail marked the beginning of my ordeal. It was finals week, just before Christmas break, when I received a strange message asking me to comment on some kind of online political essay that I had supposedly written. Since I’m not a blogger and make it a point to avoid the many rancorous political forums on the Internet, I immediately dismissed it as spam and hit delete.
But the notes kept coming, increasing in their fervor and frequency, until I could no longer deny it: I was receiving “fan mail.” Some writers called me courageous. Others hailed me as a visionary. A few suggested that I was predestined to play a pivotal role in the apocalyptic events foretold in the Book of Revelation. (Seriously.) Now, over the past 12 years I have published a scholarly book and eight journal articles on various historical topics, but I have to admit that through it all I never even attracted one groupie. So with my curiosity very much piqued, I began an online quest in search of the mysterious article.
I suppose it was inevitable that I was not going to like what I found. There, prominently displayed on a rather extreme Web site, was an essay (information about it can be found here) that likened President Obama to … Adolf Hitler. Underneath the title was the inscription “by Tim Wood.”
Awesome! Imagine that our Professor Wood is both the duplicitous, Satanic husband and the innocent bride in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Young Goodman Brown.” His own secret identity was so devious and so secret that even he didn’t even know about it! Continue Reading »