comment, highered

We Can Haz Moar Watchlist, Plz?

The early social-media era leet-speak in the title telegraphs the more important move I’d like to make here.

Like a lot of folks, I’m alarmed by the way that the Trump campaign emboldened (word of the year 2016) white nationalists, men’s rights activists, and a whole other set of toxins masquerading as political positions. I’m angry at the cocky way that the conservative and right wings of American politics have started leveraging their new positions to threaten their old enemies, all the while claiming that they didn’t mean any of it, really.

So like many others, I was annoyed when the new academic watchlist was announced. Any such list is an attempt at intimidation at the very least, and it must also minimally be considered a concerted attempt to undermine the autonomy of institutions of Higher Ed by creating an ‘enemies list.’

So I added my own name to the funny AAUP-sponsored petition to “Add My Name To the Professor Watchlist.” I even included a straight-faced satirical ‘confession’:

I teach the anthropology, history, and sociology of Religious Studies. As a consequence, I frequently refer to Marx, Durkheim, and Weber: a commie, a socialist, and a liberal. The first two were also Jews, which I gather is something you want to know, for reasons I’m sure are very complex and shouldn’t concern me as much they do.

These biases clearly disqualify me from a teaching position in the The Greatest Country In The World, and my curriculum should be replaced with true classics, like Evola, Eliade, Heidegger, and Schmitt, good fascists all.

I look forward with Fear and Trembling at the judgment that will decide whether I am admitted to this enemies list or not.

But I need to confess I’m also a bit exhausted at the level of outrage that has suddenly manifested itself in a largely otherwise apolitical academy. Oh, I know you hear all about how weird-liberal-radical the academy is, and there are in fact a lot of professors who adopt very leftist academic viewpoints. But there are also good reasons for jokes like these:

Q: How can you tell the marxist professors?
A: They’re the first ones to cross the picket line.

A group’s discourse is not necessarily closely related to that same group’s practices. Like any other group of humans, there are a number of Continue reading