Palm Beach News

Facing Firing, FAU Professor James Tracy Doubles Down

The jig could be up for James Tracy, the Florida Atlantic University professor who believes the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was staged by the Obama administration. After harassing the parents of a Sandy Hook victim (to the point that said parents felt compelled to write an op-ed in the Sun-Sentinel asking him to stop), Tracy was notified last week that the university intends to fire him. He was given ten days to respond. 

Yet Tracy’s website, Memory Hole, has not gone dark. Instead, Tracy seems to have doubled down. 

On Sunday, the blog republished an article Tracy had written in 2014 critiquing Sandy Hook parents on the basis of "evidence" like their LinkedIn pages. That day, Tracy also posted an open letter written by fellow conspiracy theorist and former academic James Fetzer and a video by Fetzer suggesting that the parents had attacked Tracy, not the other way around. 

The letter, which Fetzer also posted to his own blog, urges the Sun Sentinel to dig into the "facts" surrounding Sandy Hook and to stop believing that the children who died in the shooting ever existed in the first place.

Tracy “may be the most outstanding member of the faculty but is being railroaded by those who believe everything they hear from the mass media,” Fetzer wrote in his letter. “I would like to think that you might be an exception. This is a gross miscarriage of justice.”

Among many jobs, Fetzer, 75, taught cognitive and computer science at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 1987 to 2006 — he has, in the time since, devoted his life to “exposing” government conspiracies. Fetzer calls himself a “professor emeritus” with Minnesota — the university, meanwhile, has said in the past the title effectively means “retired.”

Earlier this year, Tracy contributed a chapter to Fetzer’s latest book, titled Nobody Died at Sandy Hook. That book, Fetzer said, has since been banned on

Fetzer’s letter, which he also published on his own blog, walks readers through the bizarre chain of thought that unites most Sandy Hook truthers: That none of the kids ever existed, that the school itself had somehow been closed since 2008, and that the entire ordeal was orchestrated by the Federal Emergency Management Association, or FEMA. The theory is based largely on hearsay, images found on the internet, and unverified testimony. As such, the inconsistencies are obvious: Sandy Hook truthers paint the government as being smart enough to plot a multinational media conspiracy but, somehow, still dumb enough to forget to cover its tracks when people like Tracy or Fetzer come looking for signs of a coverup.

Take, for example, the parents of Noah Pozner, one of the children shot and killed in the attack. Tracy and Fetzer believe, because Pozner’s death certificate may have been written in a font they say doesn’t match most others and because the boy’s image may have been used in a 2014 protest in Pakistan, that the boy must never have existed at all. This apparently gives them the right to harass Pozner’s parents.

“I am a former Marine Corps officer who spent 35 years offering course in logic critical thinking and scientific reasoning,” Fetzer wrote. “Tracy is the only one on the FAU campus who has taken the time to study the case. No one else has done it.”

In the meantime, Pozner has, over the years, tried to counter the hoaxers' claims. In 2014, he explained how misinformation had snowballed out of control, how some fraudsters had tried to seize money intended for victims' families, and how the hoaxers had hurt his family. The site seeks to debunk all of the hoaxers' theories. 

Tracy and FAU have not responded to New Times’ requests for comment.

When reached by phone Tuesday evening, Fetzer said he would never risk his academic reputation for something or someone he wasn’t 100 percent sure about. (He was quick to remind New Times that he went to Princeton University.)

“James Tracy is impeccable,” he said. “He is being pilloried.”

He called Tracy his friend — he said the pair spoke just the day before — and characterized him as “very soft-spoken” and “as gentle a fellow as I’ve known.”

As for the Sun-Sentinel, “the publishing of these articles is an outrage,” he said. “It’s PR. It’s propaganda.” Those who trust that the shooting did, indeed, happen, he said, are either “deliberately dissembling or cognitively impaired.”