The William Troy leadership era of ASQ will go down in history as being beset by the strangest, backward management decisions ever. Not only has ASQ forced its members to go all-in on supporting China — even pushing the new Board Chair Elmer Corbin into telling the Chinese state media that ASQ has no problem with China’s positions on intellectual property theft — but they just can’t stop throwing their weight behind their resident racist white nationalist, Bill Levinson.
Levinson is an ASQ Fellow and Pennsylvania State Chair who was found to have written nearly 15 years of racist hate speech targeting Muslims, Blacks and other minorities, while arguing that the US should take a second look at Hitler’s policies. Levinson has openly called Blacks “niggers,” referred to both Blacks and Muslims as “subhuman,” and has routinely argued that minorities he doesn’t like are not fit to exist in society, aiming that label even at other American citizens. He has joked American Jews are “oven ready.”
And this wasn’t just material he posted 15 years ago, it is material he has consistently posted since that time, until the present day. These are not “youthful indiscretions.” In 2016, he wrote an entire article on how right-wing counterprotesters can run over Black Lives Matters protesters with their cars, something which later happened during the Neo-Nazi terrorist attack in Charlottesville. Levinson was then investigated by the FBI’s domestic counterterrorism unit for “extreme ideology” in his online posts.
Despite this, ASQ has refused to enforce their Code of Ethics, which was updated after the Levinson controversy to prohibit discrimination by ASQ members, opting instead for Troy to issue a comment saying that ASQ would not reject white nationalists, but instead be open to “ALL members, regardless of personal background.” This was essentially an invitation to racists that ASQ was a safe haven for them. Troy has since refused to issue even a generic statement on behalf of ASQ denouncing racism or white supremacy even in generic terms.
Now ASQ is found continuing their support of Levinson, having promoted a prior event featuring him in Pennsylvania, and now hosting him at the 2018 ASQ Northeast Quality Conference, where he is giving (ironically) a speech on “Culture.” He is also suddenly an expert in ISO 14001, and is giving a second talk on that subject. The same speech on “culture” was previously scheduled for a local event in Pennsylvania, but was cancelled; it was thought that ASQ had scuttled the event because of Levinson’s white nationalist views, but it now appears the opposite, that ASQ merely rescheduled it for the larger-venue regional conference.
One of the keynote speakers, motivational speaker Jim Ryan, admitted he was not aware of Levinson’s past, and is scheduled to give an awkward discussion on “8 Characteristics of Happy People,” even as Levinson sits in the room. Another speaker, Dom Kalil, who promotes New Age philosophies such as past life regression and “sacred healing Crystal vibration energy jewelry”, is also scheduled to speak nearly after Levinson, prompting additional uncomfortable juxtapositions. It’s not clear how these upbeat motivational talks jive with a guy who literally wrote that “we had better learn from the success” of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, and that “Hitler proved himself right.” Levinson once posted a grotesque fantasy where he imagines himself murdering a 13-year old Palestinian girl, complete with horrific photos of physical mutilation.
The ASQ event is being co-sponsored by statistical software developer Minitab.
ASQ is facing a dark time as the HQ, managed by Troy and the ASQ Board, faces discontent from the local Sections. Troy has ordered that all Section funds, historically earned and managed by the Sections themselves, be forcibly surrendered to the Milwaukee HQ, under the promise that the HQ will then disburse the funds back to the Sections. The move was revealed as an attempt by ASQ to collect all the monies earned by the Sections so that the ASQ central organization could gain interest on the funds, artificially boosting the organization’s books. This hints at serious financial troubles in the organization, something openly discussed by disgruntled members.
Now the Sections and local members have to contend with how ASQ will be using that money, for initiatives and expenses unrelated to the Sections themselves. This includes the promotion of Levinson events, thus providing continuing support to a known white nationalist, as well as the possibility of using those funds to pay for litigation, as Oxebridge reported on yesterday. The Sections did not raise money for either of these purposes, but may find their funds used for them anyway.
For example, the main ASQ website is using its resources to promote the Levinson event as well, as can be seen here. So the ASQ HQ cannot say it didn’t know about the Levinson appearance. It also means that if any of the appropriated Section funds — or the interest earned by them — were used in ASQ’s website or marketing budgets, the Sections are unwittingly helping to promote Levinson, whether they agree with his racist ideology or not.
In response to Oxebridge’s reporting, multiple ASQ officials and members have exacerbated the Levinson defamation campaign. ASQ secretary Jennifer Admussen has twice attempted to block my speaking at ASQ events, even as the group continues to promote Levinson. This puts ASQ in the uncomfortable position of having supported a racist, while working to punish someone calling on them to denounce racism. They have ruined any attempt to pretend to be neutral in the matter; Troy has taken sides with racists, even as he tries to expand ASQ’s membership.
In the era where even cynical companies are publishing largely meaningless anti-racism statements, and where other organizations are imposing more heartfelt policies against racists, you’d think ASQ wouldn’t take such a firm stance facing backwards. You’d also think that ASQ’s leadership and Board might care about the public relations ware they are already fighting on multiple fronts with their hamfisted management style of the Sections, and not want to open a new front by being accused of being a wholly racist organization.
[Full disclosure: in response to a negative review of his book on risk-based thinking, Levinson launched a defamation campaign against myself and Oxebridge, with the support of other members of ASQ. Before Oxebridge could sue Levinson for defamation, he filed a defamation suit in Florida. That suit is currently stalled, with much of it already thrown out. Oxebridge is preparing a Federal suit against Levinson in response, as well as against multiple other parties.]
About Christopher Paris
Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001:2015. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.