Apparently there’s a new sheriff in town, and its name is Professor Watch List.
In case you hadn’t heard, its a website dedicated to spying on and publicly decrying liberal college professors. Its mission is to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”
Anti-American values? That’s my middle name!
So far they’ve outed about a couple of hundred college professors, a rambling list that is organized by the professors’ first names because maybe . . . they couldn’t manage anything more sophisticated than hitting the Sort button?
From this long and growing list, highlighted for ridicule on the site’s home page are: a white woman, a Latino, a Jew, two blacks, and an Italian American who, gasp, is “an admitted socialist.”
A look at the longer list reveals some odd choices. Continue reading Dear Readers: Let’s Make Me Bad
Recently, a high school student contacted me because she had questions about racism in America. Specifically, she wanted to interview me for a school project on the topic of institutional racism.
Institutional racism is a tricky subject, and I did my best to introduce her to the complexities and nuances of something that often flies under the radar. Many white Americans are unaware of the issue, or have trouble understanding it if they are aware. And so after I answered her questions, I decided to re-print our Q&A.
Here is my conversation with a high schooler about racism in America.
Thank you very much for helping me with my project by taking the time out of your day to answer a few of my questions on the following questions/topics.
How do you define institutional racism? And how prevalent would you say it is in modern North American society?
We normally associate racism and bigotry with the intentional actions of an individual or group of people. But institutional racism is the result of larger social forces that can be difficult to detect. Instead of one person or a few people doing or saying something racist, institutional racism comes about when society at large expresses racism in more subtle and impersonal ways. Continue reading Talking to a High School Student about Racism
Five and a half years after its initial launch, this site is receiving a substantial update for the first time. Some of it is aesthetics, with new colors, imagery, and font. Some of it involves updating content.
The “Pages” at the top of the site (eg. “Me” and “Books I Done Written”) are not only renamed, but also updated. Click inside and see.
In addition, I’ve added two new pages: “Books I Might Write” and “CV.” The former contains brief overviews of book projects I’m working on. Beyond the infamous Communities book that was responsible for launching this site but has yet to see the light of day, there are also working manuscripts on music and misadventures from the road. The “CV” page contains my Curriculum Vitae, which is what professors call their resumé. Is our pretentious Latin name for it better than your pretentious French name for it? Who knows. The bottom line is, we’re all pretentious.
P.S. Yes, I’ll keep blogging here on the front page. If you’d like to sign up for email notifications, or get them via Facebook or Twitter, that’s just to the right near the top of any page. Viva la blog! (That’s pretentious Spanish for, “None of this stuff ends up on my resumé.”
I’m happy to announce that my second book was recently published by the University of Nebraska Press. Special thanks to editor Matthew Bokovoy,
editorial assistant Heather Stauffer,
and the entire UNP staff for all of their help and professionalism during the past several years in shepherding this project to completion.
The book is entitled Welcome to the Oglala Nation: A Documentary Reader in Oglala Lakota Political History. The UN Press website for the book is here. The Amazon page for the book is here. Continue reading My Second Book: Welcome to the Oglala Nation
In a massive upset that no one saw coming, David Brat
defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
in last night’s Republican primary election.
Well, I suppose God saw it coming. That’s what Brat seems to think.
“God acted through people on my behalf,” he told Fox News.
God keeps turning down my requests to do a guest blog at this site, so I probably won’t be able to get Him to corroborate Brat’s statement. But if I understand it correctly, I think Brat’s saying that God made people vote for him. Perhaps without them even realizing it?
As in, people who were expected to vote for Cantor sorta got tricked or manipulated by God into voting for Brat? Maybe He switched their names on the ballot at the last moment, like a divine electoral shell game?
Or maybe God just strongly suggested that He would prefer they vote for Brat. And you know how those suggestions go. God has a way of making an offer you can’t refuse.
Either way, it seems like Eric Cantor’s on God’s shit list, so he might wanna look into that. Continue reading Apparently God Wanted David Brat to Defeat Eric Cantor
This past Monday I hoisted my 500th post to this blog.
Wow, that went fast.
My first post was only three and a half years ago.
But while 500 in 45 months is a testament to what at times has been a dizzying pace, there are also signs that I’m slowing down, at least for now. And so I thought this benchmark might be a good opportunity to take stock of the website.
Back in 2010 I was looking for a way to market a book manuscript about the decline of American communities. My friend/agent at the time (he’s still a dear friend, though no longer my agent) alerted me to the harsh realities of modern publishing. The industry had been ravaged by the internet and that creepy monopolist Jeff Bezos. It was harder than ever for a first time author to get a book deal.
Yes, yes, I had already written an award-winning book, but it was an academic book, based on my doctoral dissertation and geared towards a scholarly audience. That kinda stuff didn’t count. In the commercial world I was still a first time author. And first time authors needed to build their own audience ahead of time, my agent/friend told me. You had to prove to publishers that you had a loyal following that could be counted on to buy your book.
“Get on the internet and make some noise,” my friend/agent suggested.
For the record, my dear friend is arguably even less technologically inclined than I am.
How would I get on the internet? How would I “make some noise?” Neither of us actually had a clue.
Around this time, I’d been talking to another dear friend out in California. Rae had been generous enough to not only read the book manuscript in question, but she had also offered very insightful feedback. And it also just so happened that Rae knew a little bit about making noise. Continue reading State of the Blog Address: My 500th Post
Israel is a modern, developed nation state, like many others. And like any other nation state, Israel is subject to legitimate criticism. In particular, there is the issue of Palestinian rights.
For many critics of Israeli policies and actions in the occupied territories, the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement (BDS) has become both a rallying point and a pressure tactic to help bring about change.
Since its inception, the BDS has gained momentum as a form of protest against Israeli policies and actions in the occupied territories, and understandably so. Boycott has sometimes been a very successful tactic for protest movements in the post-WWII world. The American Civil Rights movement and the South African anti-apartheid movement are just two examples of economic boycotts that had a profound impact and helped achieve positive change. In addition to economic ramifications, boycotts can also have the effect of bringing increased attention and scrutiny to an issue.
To that end, I respect the decision of those who commit to boycotting Israeli businesses that profit from the situation in the occupied territories. Personally, I have no economic connections to Israel but, for example, I would have no problem with my pension plan divesting from Israeli institutions that do business in the occupied territories (I don’t actually know my pension plan’s policy on the matter).
However, I want to address one specific component of the BDS with which I strongly disagree: the wholesale academic boycott of Israeli universities.
The reason for my opposition to the academic boycott is not a sign of support for Israelis policies or actions in the occupied territories. Rather, I am opposed to a wholesale academic boycott of Israeli universities because I am generally opposed to the academic boycott of any school or research institution that retains its own academic freedom and does not directly participate in colonial activities. Allow me to explain. Continue reading On the Academic Boycott of Israel
Part I of this essay identified major problems in American higher education.
A report released just this month by the American Institutes of Research (AIR) sheds some light on the problems afflicting American colleges. Entitled Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive? Changing Staffing and Compensation Patterns in Higher Education, the report examines spending at American colleges during the years 2000-2012. The findings are illuminating.
At first glance, the news is good. Between 2000-2012, the total higher education workforce actually grew by 28 percent, despite the Great Recession of 2008-present. Why did higher education grow while some sectors of the economy shrank? The short answer is: Millennials. Simply put, there’s an up tick in student populations. Another echo from the post-war Baby Boom, there is a bulge in the college-age demographic. Thus, even during the Great Recession, colleges hired new workers in an attempt (and not always a successful one) to keep pace with rising student enrollment.
However, most employee growth at colleges during the last twelve years has not been in the form of teachers. It is in the form of non-instructional employees, who comprise a clear majority of the college labor force. Among them, the report defines two classes: salaried administrators, whose numbers have grown substantially, and support staff such as secretaries and maintenance workers, whose numbers have actually dwindled.
The report notes that salaried “administrators have assumed a much larger presence on college campuses than ever before.” Continue reading The Crisis in American Colleges, Part II
My essay on the problems in American higher education first appeared at 3 Quarks Daily
as a single article. I am re-printing it here in two parts.
Part I: Identifying the Problems
American colleges have undergone substantial changes during the last three decades.
- Rising tuition costs, which have far outpaced the rate of inflation, are nearly universal.
- Most growth has come in non-instructional areas.
- Many schools have added layers of administration, seen their rosters of administrators substantially enlarged, and spent millions of dollars on non-instructional construction such as recreation centers, student unions, and administrative buildings.
- A serious re-shuffling of labor has degraded the ranks of teachers
- Tenured and tenure track (TTT) positions have been replaced by contingent faculty (ie. non-tenure track) who now make up the majority of teachers
- Contingent faculty fall into two broad groups: part-time labor (adjuncts and graduate students) and full time labor (mostly lecturers and visiting faculty).
There are many explanations for these wide ranging changes, as well as varying degrees of change among America’s hundreds of colleges. For example, private colleges are generally less dependent on public largess, though many of them do in fact receive public subsidies from federal, state, and even local governments. Meanwhile, the public colleges that rely more heavily on public spending face different circumstances depending on which states they’re in; each has different budgets and policies for supporting higher education. In some states there has been extreme volatility in funding while some have been more stable, though in almost all states, public funding as a share of public college budgets has declined.
This has led schools not only to raise tuition rates, but to also seek substantial revenue from fund raising, which runs the gamut from alumni contributions, to naming rights to campus buildings, to exclusive contracts with junk food venders. For example, many schools have cut deals with either Pepsi Co. or Coca Cola, Inc. granting one or the other exclusive rights to sell beverages on their campus.
Good luck finding something healthy to drink. Continue reading The Crisis in American Colleges, Part I