|Will you get candy — or a rock? Illustration hat tip.|
We at Tenured Radical, normally so generous to the constituencies for whom this holiday is the apex of the year (little children, gay folk, college students) detest Halloween. We feel foolish when we dress up. We think candy is too expensive. Despite the fact that we are known to consume it, we also think candy is unhealthy. We resent the vast federal subsidies that go to an already fiscally plump sugar and corn syrup industry at a time when ordinary Americans are losing their houses and the basic requirements for living a healthy life are so difficult for the poor to access. In 2007, the Cato Institute estimated that sugar subsidies alone would cost taxpayers $1.4 billion over a decade; and that consumers of the numerous products containing sugar would pay a $1.7 billion annual surcharge because of these price supports. Corn, from which high fructose corn syrup is made, is the top recipient of federal subsidies, according to the Environmental Working Group, totaling almost $4 billion in 2009 alone.
And yet, despite thinking about what these dollars could accomplish for national health care, education or public transportation, our self-righteousness falters. We are unhappy when we think about the limits of our own politics as we turn our backs on people having fun. We loathe ourselves as we avoid the children howling for candy on our doorstep — children who have no health insurance, go to crappy schools and will probably have to enlist in the military to have a semi-decent life but who also just want to have a nice time one night out of the year. Is that too friggin’ much to ask? And yes, we know that our annual Halloween donation to the American Diabetes Association is not what children consider an appropriate substitute for the pleasures of mainlining glucose that is packaged fifteen different ways.
On the other hand, we rarely stay blue for long at Tenured Radical, and we would also argue that building an entire child-centered holiday candy represents false consciousness of epic proportions. We begin to understand why, during our over privileged suburban upbringing, cadres of stoned, vanguardist private school boys would roam the neighborhood tossing cherry bombs into pumpkins to indicate their disapproval for American capitalist investment in the sugar industry. Said pumpkins would explode in massive, pulpy orange carnage, a strategy intended to demoralize neighborhood families that would later be discovered and adopted by anti-American insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Because we are a blog that stands firmly behind non-violent strategies for change, this year at Tenured Radical we are having a virtual Halloween, in which we are giving virtual treats and tricks to virtual folk who show up in costume at our blog. If you recognize yourself, feel free to open your bag in the comments section, or alternatively, to egg our virtual car and toilet paper our virtual trees in the comments section.
If you come to our door dressed as an adjunct instructor, you will receive: A treat, because unfortunately you have already been tricked into thinking that, if you followed the rules and kept your nose to the grindstone, that there was a job waiting for you as a full-time university professor. Open your bag, and we will drop inside: a law school application (complete with a letter of recommendation from Tenured Radical — just fill in your name at the appropriate places); a free subscription to Adjunct Nation; and a two-year site pass to The Adjunct Advocate.
If you come to our door dressed as a Zenith student activist running an anti-affirmative action bake sale, you will receive: A treat, although we can’t give you a copy of Zenith’s affirmative action policy, because there isn’t one. Look in your bag after you leave our door and you will find a copy of Zenith’s Diversity Policy and its policy on discrimination and harassment; and a personal introduction from Tenured Radical to Morton Blackwell, the former White House Special Assistant to Ronald Reagan, conservative youth organizer and the founder of the Leadership Institute, which runs your umbrella organization, Campus Reform. You will also receive a large bag of fresh popcorn, with all the nasty burned pieces that got into your bag unfairly having been removed by our staff in advance of your visit.
If you come to our door dressed as a graduate student in the humanities going on the job market this year, you will receive: A trick. Laughingly maniacally, we will drop a letter-sized envelope containing a copy of your student loan repayment schedule; a post card saying that we have received your application; a credit card statement in which you will see that you have already been billed for expenses attendant to attending the conference interviews that you may or may not receive; and a brief letter stating that of the 450 qualified applicants for all the jobs you applied for, you were not hired. That letter will be dated July 15, 2011.
If you come to our door dressed as Historiann, you will receive: A treat! That’s right, Halloween celebrants who show up in full cowgirl garb will receive a free copy of the winter number of the Journal of Women’s History, containing a round table of feminist bloggers that includes Historiann‘s full account and analysis of what happens when you call a really famous and very sexist historian a tool.
If you come to our door dressed as Arne Duncan, you will receive: A Michelle Rhee action figure. As we go to press, we are not altogether sure whether this is a trick or a treat, but perhaps we will know more after the election next Tuesday. In any case, this temporarily unemployed icon of neo-liberal school reform is sure to be a collectible item; as a bonus, she will do test prep for your children and may
be willing to pay you off to give up your tenure.
If you come to our door dressed as GayProf, you will receive: A treat! Leaving our doorstep, you will find (to your great delight) a set of Wonder Woman bracelets in your bag which, according to our staff research assistant Wick E. Pedia, will “balance [your] Amazon strength with loving submission to the positive aims of civilization,” and help you “deflect…all manner of attack.” The bracelets are a particularly critical item for women, queer faculty and faculty of color, but may be particularly useful for all of you planning to come up for tenure, or organizing your colleagues into a group capable of collective bargaining with the institution for which you work.
If these items do not please you, head over to Legal History Blog, where Mary Dudziak is giving away copies of the Constitution.