Last week a GW University associate professor of history named Jessica Krug outed herself on Medium. Krug wrote that she was a “culture leech” who had lived as a black woman from the Caribbean for much of her life despite the fact that she was actually a white, Jewish person who grew up in Kansas. At the time, I found Krug’s confession off-putting. Rather than make me feel any sort of sympathy for her, it sounded to me as if she were begging for attention. Today, George Washington University announced that Krug had resigned her position:
Update regarding Jessica Krug: Dr. Krug has resigned her position, effective immediately. Her classes for this semester will be taught by other faculty members, and students in those courses will receive additional information this week.
— GW University (@GWtweets) September 9, 2020
This outcome wasn’t much of a surprise given the statement the Department of History published last Friday which called on Krug to resign or be fired:
The members of the faculty of The George Washington University Department of History are shocked and appalled by Dr. Jessica Krug’s admission on September 3, 2020 that she has lied about her identity for her entire career. With what she has termed her “audaciously deceptive” appropriation of an Afro-Caribbean identity, she has betrayed the trust of countless current and former students, fellow scholars of Africana Studies, colleagues in our department and throughout the historical discipline, as well as community activists in New York City and beyond. The discipline of history is concerned with truth telling about the past. With her conduct, Dr. Krug has raised questions about the veracity of her own research and teaching. Accordingly, the department calls upon Dr. Krug to resign from her position as associate professor of History at GW. Failing that, the department recommends the rescinding of her tenure and the termination of her appointment.
She’s made the department a laughing stock so I’m sure people there are angry at having their careers damaged by this. What I don’t understand is why Krug dragged out her own humiliation. Here’s a bit of her Medium post:
I believe in restorative justice, where possible, even when and where I don’t know what that means or how it could work. I believe in accountability. And I believe in cancel culture as a necessary and righteous tool for those with less structural power to wield against those with more power.
I should absolutely be cancelled. No. I don’t write in passive voice, ever, because I believe we must name power. So. You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself…
My politics are as they have ever been, and those politics condemn me in the loudest and most unyielding terms.
She was practically begging to be punished. She knew she had lost all credibility. So why put on the public show? Was she hoping people would see her abasing herself and offer her grace? Is she planning to write a tell-all book and this was the explosion of condemnation she needed for a good ending to her story?
This is what felt so odd to me about her story in the first place. If you’re really ashamed, you hide. You don’t stand up on a soapbox to denounce yourself. Why not resign quietly and disappear. She could have changed her name, gone home to Kansas, or fled the country. That would have made a certain sense under the circumstances. Instead she led her own cancellation campaign and waited a week to resign as if she hadn’t thought about that in advance. It’s all just very weird.
This bad situation is completely of Krug’s own making and she deserves to face all the professional consequences of lying to everyone she’s met in the last decade or two. At the same time, I hope she still has someone looking out for her because she clearly needs some help.