Tuesday Found Objects: What You Need To Subpoena From My Zenith Computer Today

March 29, 2011, 11:18 am

I was hanging out this morning using my university computer to download BDSM pornography and order Angela Davis posters (paid for out of my research account, of course) when I decided to take a break and check up on what my other radical colleagues were doing.

They’ve been busy!  So without further ado:

  • The Facts, Ma’am.  Jon Wiener, from his perch at The Nation, asks:  “What does it take to become the target of this kind of attack?”  Wiener points out that Cronon is “not Bill Ayers,” but a self-avowed political centrist who published “a simple fact” that Republicans in Wisconsin did not want revealed:  their close ties to a group that drafts union-busting legislation and creates public relations strategies for passing that legislation. This fact, Wiener argues, “disrupts the Republicans’ explanation of what they are doing in Wisconsin. They say the new law there ending collective bargaining with public employee unions is an emergency response to this year’s fiscal crisis.” However, “the goal is not to protect the little guy in Wisconsin but rather to help the big corporations that fund Republican operations.”  Read the whole article here.  
  • It’s Being A Professor Who Thinks That Is The Problem.  One issue that we need to resurrect is the neo-liberal charge that tenure promotes the prolonged employment of “dead wood” professors.  Clearly, it is Cronon’s failure to become dead wood that has made him notorious and, as it turns out, dead wood profs aren’t the ch!cks and d00ds that some right-winger wants to light up after all.  No, no: some poor, defeated old sot, shuffling off to class with a tattered little set of notes after a nip too many turns out to be our ideal scholar.  Tony Grafton, that guy you saw flying by your office window in a red cape, and with a big “H” on his scholarly chest, nails it in the New Yorker blog when he reminds us that, unlike politicians, historians are responsible for researching and relating the truth, and the truth sometimes hurts.  As Grafton concludes, “the Republicans seem remarkably fragile. A professor writing a blog post gives them the shivers. It’s a good thing they chose politics, and not the kind of career where the going can really get rough. Professors, for example, teach their hearts out to surly adolescents who call them boring in course evaluations and write their hearts out for colleagues who trash their books in snarky reviews. These Wisconsin Republicans may never have survived ordeals like that. Happily, Cronon has been toughened by decades of academic life. He’ll be blogging—and teaching and writing—long after Wisconsin voters have sent these Republicans back to obscurity.”  

(Which reminds me that I have students standing around my office door growling in a menacing way and shaking pitchforks at me as a reminder that I should be using my Zenith computer to get their grading done right now!)  OK, one more:

  • Yes, Historians Actually Care About The Rights Of All Working People.  Eileen Boris is in the business section of the HuffPo this week, which you probably missed as you were clicking through to the ads for package tours to Cuba.  Boris asks us to celebrate Women’s History Month and commemorate the Triangle Factory Fire by reminding ourselves that the vast majority of working class women, and men, are no longer employed in an industrial workplace.  While guaranteeing the basic employment rights of household workers are becoming the subject of new legislation, Boris points out, “one group of household laborers remains apart — those paid by governments to care for needy elderly and disabled people. The California proposal explicitly excludes In Home Supportive Service workers, the type of worker whose omission from federal law the Supreme Court upheld in 2007 and the Obama administration has yet to rectify through new labor regulations. Meanwhile, Republican governors, as in Wisconsin, are eliminating collective bargaining for home care workers. An irony of current struggles might be that these public employees end up with fewer rights and poorer conditions than those who labor for individual housewives.” 

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we at chez Radical admit that we have done little to celebrate it, so here’s my proposal:  I would like to nominate Bill Cronon as an Honorary Woman.  This is one of the few awards available to historians that he has not received, and I think it is time.  Do we have a second?  Thank you, Historiann!  All in favor?

The aye’s have it!  Sorry, Wisconsin GOP.  You lose again!

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