English professor gathers large following

Kaitlyn Scoville, Copy Desk Chief

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.…”

Being a podcaster, political commentator and more, Dr. James “Duke” Pesta of the English department is a perfect example of this. 

Pesta, according to the Heartland Institute, “received his M.A. in Renaissance literature from John Carroll University and his Ph.D. in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature from Purdue University.”

He has taught at several academic levels, and has focused courses on “Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, the Bible, Russian literature, Christian apologetics and C.S. Lewis,” Heartland’s website stated.

His most recent academic endeavor was starting at UW Oshkosh in 2008, where he became a tenured professor in the English department in 2014.

Aside from teaching at UWO, Pesta has had several collaborative opportunities off-campus that have accumulated a great social media presence.

His most notable and ongoing off-campus activity is the “Dr. Duke Show,” which runs weekdays at 6 p.m. on thefreedomproject.com. It has over 350 podcast episodes.

On Nov. 27, the Dr. Duke Pesta Facebook page announced the show’s newest series, “Mob Rule: Unmasking the Radical Left.”

Pesta is the executive director of The FreedomProject Academy, which, according to t

heir website, is “rooted firmly in the Judeo-Christian values as promoted in the Constitution by our Founding Fathers, who strove to guarantee the preservation of our God-given liberties.”

“FreedomProject teams up with churches and private schools to stream Judeo-Christian classes into brick and mortar classrooms across the country,” the website said. “This allows for the rapid expansion of faith-based schools across the nation … What better way to restore American values than to bring the worlds of faith and education together again?”

Ben Shapiro, a political commentator, media host and attorney, who has over 3.4 million followers on Twitter, endorsed the FreedomProject Academy.

According to Pesta’s 2017-2018 UWO Outside Activities Report (OAR), he made over $5,000 from the FreedomProject Academy annually, aside from his earnings from the university.

Pesta is also a policy adviser for the Heartland Institute, where their mission is “to discover, develop and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.”

Furthermore, the Heartland Institute “plays an essential role in the national movement for personal liberty and limited government,” according to their website.

From 2014-2016, Pesta discussed common core for The Bottom Line. According to The Bottom Line’s website: “Get your daily dose of current events with a Biblical World View.”

On Nov. 12, 2019, Pesta and Yvette Hampton of Schoolhouse Rocked did a collaboration episode of the “Dr. Duke Show,” discussing homeschool advocacy.

Pesta has also done several collaborations with Alex Newman of the John Birch Society and the New American, who “seeks to glorify God in everything he does.”

FreedomProject Academy and FreedomProject Media are all subsidiaries of the John Birch Society.

Pesta has been active with “Truth in American Education” since 2013. June 27, 2018 was his most recent contribution, where he and Newman’s FreedomProject Media episode was featured for discussing a proposed education & labor department merger.

He has also been a guest speaker for the Red Pill Expo (RPE). According to their website, their purpose is to “help truth seekers understand how the world really works – contrary, in many cases, to commonly held illusions.

“Bring[ing] together world-class experts to set the record straight on fake narratives, fake history and fake news,” the website continued. “In other words, we are here to dispel the illusions that often shroud the most important aspects of our lives.”

The RPE “speakers” page stated that Pesta spoke on the necessity of homeschooling, the decline of morality and critical thinking in the classroom, and “myriad ways colleges and universities indoctrinate students.”

Pesta has also done collaboration podcasts with Charlie Kirk of his nonprofit “Turning Point USA,” whose mission is to “identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets and limited government.”

“Turning Point USA believes that every young person can be enlightened to true free market values,” the website said. “Since its founding, Turning Point USA has embarked on a mission to build the most organized, active and powerful conservative grassroots activist network on high school and college campuses across the country.”

Pesta and Kirk’s most recent collaboration was on July 26, 2018, which discussed who could beat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

On Oct. 19, Kirk’s Twitter got blocked for spreading misleading information, which had 1.8 million followers. However, his active social media accounts still reach over 100 million views per month, according to his website.

Pesta has also done several podcast episodes with Canadian podcaster Stefan Molyneux, who is permanently banned or suspended from PayPal, YouTube, Twitter, Mailchimp and SoundCloud for hate speech.

When his YouTube was banned, he had over 650,000 subscribers.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Molyneux has been delivering ‘race realist’ propaganda, based on pseudo-scientific sources, to his audience on an ongoing basis for over two years, and thus has encouraged thousands of people to adopt his belief in biological determinism, social Darwinism and non-white racial inferiority.”

Some other Pesta/Molyneux podcast collaborations include “The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization”, Riots discussion, “Art! What is it good for?”, “The Devil is Inside!”, “Killing History” and “The Philosophy of Satan”.

Other social media accounts include his Parler @DukePesta, Twitter @DukePesta, Facebook at “Dr. Duke Pesta,” “FreedomProject Academy” and “FreedomProject,” and YouTube at “FreedomProject Media.”