Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Letter to the DePaulia from Thomas Klocek

While the Thomas Klocek beat is normally handled by John at Marathonpundit, I found a link to Professor Klocek's latest letter about conduct which got him suspended. Quick recap: Professor Klocek defended Israel's right to exist while speaking to students associated with Students For Justice In Palestine. The students filed a complaint with Dean Susanne Dumbleton, accusing him of being offensive and disruptive, including throwing papers and making obscene gestures to the students. Rather than have a proper hearing, Professor Klocek found himself suspended from teaching. In the above link, the Professor once again states his actions for public viewing.

This is one of those "free speech vs. protected speech" issues that needs to be brought to the attention of my fellow Illinoisans. A professor is being fired for providing a counterargument to claims made by a student group. If debate is stifled on a college campus, how are students supposed to be able to make well-informed decisions on political and social matters?

Thanks to Thomas Ciesielka for sending this on to me.

Friday, May 27, 2005

News Sentinel | 05/27/2005 | Battle for unit getting snippy

Snippy?

Why yes, yes it is. Springfield needs the 183rd Fighter Wing. The unit pumps almost $45 million into the local economy every year. Not only that, how are aircraft from Fort Wayne going to be able scramble in time to protect the skies over Central Illinois? If an unknown aircraft needs to be intercepted over Springfield or Decatur, how long will it take to get aircraft from Indiana or Missouri? 30 minutes? An hour? Isn't that too long of a time? Wouldn't it be better to have a figher wing in the area that can provide overlapping air defense coverage?

You're right if you think that Springfielders are getting snippy over this. A loss of military protection and a hit to the city's business is a great reason to get snippy over this. I hope that Congressmen LaHood and Shimkus are doing everything they can to keep the 183rd alive.

As you can see in previous posts, I do have a personal stake in this. I also don't want to see my hometown lose its ability to contribute to the air defense of this nation, either. Sorry, citizens of Fort Wayne, but we'll have to fight you over this one.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Looks like there might be a minor problem with indexing... I'll check back soon.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

CBS 2 Chicago WBBM-TV: Blogs Speculate On DePaul Professor's Firing

John Ruberry at MarathonPundit gets credited for his role in keeping the topic of Professor Klocek's PC-motivated firing alive. Maybe this will result in Professor Klocek getting his job back. I hope so. A professor who will stand up to students who preach violence (subtle or otherwise) is always needed on campus.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Connected with Chicago, NewsTalk890, WLS - No Illinois Bases to Close, but State Still Hit Hard

Well, looks like Springfield is off the closure list, thank goodness, but I wonder why it's being realigned with an Indiana unit? There will also be 160 lost jobs there because of the realignment. It looks like Springfield didn't completely dodge the bullet there.
News From The Associated Press - Pentagon Plans to Close 33 Major bases

Whoa. 33 bases. One of the bases on the block is Cannon AFB, in Clovis, New Mexico. That's where I served my years in the Air Force. First the Defense Department closed Lowry AFB in Denver in 1994, and now they're closing Cannon. It's like they're trying to shut down everywhere I've been. Okay, I know it's not that personal, but I do have good memories of both of those bases, enough to balance out all the boredom, frustration, and other bad memories. The local economy in Clovis is going to be hit extremely hard by this, and I could easily see Clovis lose half of its population and tax base because of this. There are about 5000 people at CAFB, and the children go to Clovis schools. Right there is a huge loss to their public education system. I don't think that just farming and feed lots will manage to keep Clovis up and running. I also think about a lot of my old hangouts in Clovis: Kelly's Bar, the Clovis City Limits, Northfield Mall, the China Star Restaurant (where I had dinner every Sunday night) and Pegasus Loft (the game store/aikido dojo). They'll lose a lot of money from this. It's a shame to the base go. I hope that the federal government will figure out some way of using the land to continue generating revenue for the city.

I also see that Illinois could be hit with the loss of a base, perhaps Springfield's 183rd Fighter Wing. That would be especially heartbreaking to me. Dad would take me out to the base when he was in the Air National Guard and let me see the planes. One of my earliest memories is of Dad in his old green fatigues with the brightly-colored unit patches of the 183rd Tactical Fighter Group and Tactical Air Command as he sat me in the cockpit of an F-4C. I remember seeing all the dials, buttons, and indicators and knew that I wanted to play with them, see how they worked, what they did. I apparently sounded like I was panicking according to Dad, but I loved sitting in that seat thinking I was a fighter pilot. Even at 3, I figured I would spend some time in the military.

It looks less and less like Springfield will lose its Air Guard unit, but the thought of losing those places definitely brings back a lot of good memories. Except when I was stuck doing all the CAMS data entry for my shop. That sucked. I miss Cannon for the most part, though.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Another Professor Under Fire, This Time at DePaul

John Ruberry at MarathonPundit has been keeping up-to-date on the case of Professor Thomas Klocek, an adjunct professor at DePaul University who was removed for arguing with students about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Professor Klocek disagreed with the students equating Israelis with Nazis, and disagreed quite vociferously. John has a copy of a fellow Professor's defense of Dr. Klocek, written by Jonathan Cohen, Professor of Mathemeatics at DePaul. Read the letter as published in DePaul's school paper, then read the unedited version. Is the DePaulia trying to ruin the image of its school?

DePaul is still (supposedly) a Catholic university. It should try to keep Jew-bashers to a minimum on the campus, even if said Jew-bashers are enamored with a "glorious armed struggle" or however they're trying to describe their desire to cheer on murders based on religion and jealousy. Inciting religious-based hatred of a particular group is not exactly the best way to honor our previous Pope, now, is it? These shameful actions of DePaul's administration really make me wonder if I should even consider applying to DePaul's grad school for a Master's or Ph.D in History.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Daily Egyptian: Administrators worried about minorities in History Department

Again, the History Department mess continues. The Black American Studies program is trying to get Doctor Bean run out of the History department because he brings things to light that might make black students uncomfortable. Does Rev. Joseph Brown, the Black American Studies program director, think that bringing America's past of mistreating its black citizens is particularly comforting to white students? I can tell you that it isn't. But do we complain when these parts of our history are brought up? No. We learn from it. Perhaps it's time for Rev. Brown to stop hiding behind a shield of victimization. Perhaps he should bring up black racism in their studies classes. Perhaps even in history classes, as Dr. Bean tried to do.

Rev. Brown, the History department does care about its minority students, but it does not do this by shielding them from their culture's own past. That's not caring. That's blinding them to their people's own past mistakes. If the actions of a subset of the Nation of Islam is to be hidden and forgotten, should we also not forget and hide the horrors of the Tuskegee experiments? How about the lynchings, the Jim Crow laws? Should white people not learn about the problems of their own past? Or are you only looking for "history for me, but not for thee?"

Daily Egyptian writer Moustafa Ayad closes the piece with calls by the head of the Graduate and Professional Student Council to unionize the graduate students. Will this really help to keep the dark spots in black history from being revealed? Will it allow them to remain ignorant of their past? If so, perhaps then a unionized graduate student body should be avoided. As historians, we must see the whole story, warts and all. This article shows that some people want to pretend that those warts do not exist.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Daily Egyptian: History Department in need of healing

John Ruberry didn't beat me to this article, though! This bit of writing is from an opinion columnist for the Daily Egyptian. Said columnist is also a graduate student from SIUC's History department. Does this look at all like a professional bit of punditry? Will it pass a piece of polished writing in general? I don't think this is the case. It ran in the Daily Egyptian as an opinion piece dealing with the History Department mess, but is it just me or does it look like excess bloviating masquerading badly as serious thought?

It starts out as whining and ends with a "we can only stand by and do nothing" shibboleth. Ms. Adolphson is a grad student in a history program, something that I would treasure greatly were I in her situation. (Yes, I WILL get my Ph.D. someday.) The department is in need of HEALING? From what? A bunch of professors who I respected despite our differing political views have sought to damage the career of one of their colleagues, if not destroy it outright. Thankfully, Dr. Bean has the confidence of the College of Liberal Arts dean if the AP article below is correct. Is this the terrible incident that requires healing? No, that's not it at all. The terrible incident is that Dr. Bean used an article from a right-wing website as an optional source for his class, and that source dredged up some shameful history. That seems to be the source of deep spiritual wounding. For the crime of bringing up the past that the bien-pensants would like you to ignore, Dr. Bean should be removed from tenure.

You also might like to take a look at the writing style. Is this a History grad student who really wants to be in that program or one who wanted to go into Creative Writing instead? This article is the equivalent of a warm fuzzy consolation hug. If I would have tried writing in this style in either Dr. Carr's or Dr. Stocking's classes, I'd have been thrown out of the class bodily. Ms. Adolphson is a member of a grim class of academics, a historian-in-training. Historians are supposed to be the studious nerds who use big words and enjoy hobbies that are just outright weird (like recreating the Battle of Crecy with smiley-face stickers, or watching BBC documentaries for the comedy value). No matter, when a historian writes, they should write grimly and dare I say it, like a historian. This article would be fine for high school English, but is very out of place even in a university newspaper.
Marathon Pundit: Associated Press runs story on SIU's Jonathan Bean

John Ruberry at Morton Grove's own Marathon Pundit beat me to the punch with this one. I don't know if he's a fellow SIU alumnus or not, but he's got an excellent summary of the AP article on the SIUC History Department mess. Thanks for the info, John!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Smearing of Doctor Jonathan Bean Continues

The doctor's accusers are finally bringing their evidence, such as it is. It looks more and more that the other professors at SIU are trying to deny that racism can occur in non-white people, and striking out against someone who says "No, this can happen and does happen more often than you think." Because of their philosophical differences on who can be racist, they want Dr. Bean out of the faculty. At the end of the article, the writer claims Dr. Bean created a "hostile environment" for minorities. Don't the black students at SIU have the gumption to challenge something that they believe is factually inaccurate? The last time I checked, they did. The article's author also makes use of a rant directed at Robbie Lieberman to help smear Dr. Bean some more. Dr. Lieberman was pretty much an avowed socialist when I was at Southern and her parents were members of the old Communist Party USA. The rant directed at her would have been appropriate in an article about her, but not in dealing with Dr. Bean.

Dr. Bean is doing some striking out of his own as well. The excerpted emails portray him as very bitter about the whole situation. No, he's not taking this situation lying down, but he's also not taking it professionally. He has a right to be angry, but needs to understand that the public is watching him. He's not helping his case any by being outraged and hyperventilating. I do find some irony in making this a free speech issue as well as an academic freedom issue. Then again, if academia can allow for Ward Churchill to spew about the World Trade Center victims being "little Eichmanns" how can they not allow someone like Jonathan Bean to raise questions about racist attitudes in minority communities?

I also have a question for Dr. Marji Morgan, my old Department chair: if Dr. Bean acted in this manner, and had been using sources that you found suspect, why did you nominate him for the College of Liberal Arts Teacher of the Year award? Would there not have been a trail of incidents like this where he used questionable material? If there was such a trail, why did you ignore it? I met you in 1998, when you were still Department chairwoman. Did you not see what was going on? Did you not want to leave your office and pop over to Doctor Bean's office (which was right across the hall when I graduated in 2000) to see what he was using for sources? Where was your peer review, Dr. Morgan? The fault lies with you for giving him an award that he didn't deserve if you didn't check his sources.

In all, though, this looks like it's boiling down to a difference of where racism can and cannot exist in society, and who may or may not discuss it. Dr. Bean is portrayed in this article as displaying attributes found in a stereotypical white man from the South. In fact, he's just using the same tactics that left-leaners have used for years, just in reverse. It's a taste of the academic left's own medicine. It's much like Jonah Goldberg said in his talk earlier this year at Northwestern. It's a matter of "free speech for me, but not for thee."

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Boston Globe on the SIUC History Department Witch-Hunt

Cathy Young, a writer for Reason magazine and Boston Globe columnist writes that a McCarthyesque persecution is happening at my alma mater. She's right. Doctor Bean is being persecuted for his political affiliations. It's shameful that a public school would allow such things to occur. I feel shame for my professors, since they have embroiled themselves in a ploy to destroy a colleague's credibility in the name of politics. I wish my professors (Doctors Carr, McGuire and Stocking) would feel shame for the scrutiny they've brought upon themselves. This diminishes the name of Southern Illinois University just as much as its party-school image did in years past.

Consider this: public schools are for everyone of every faith, both sexes, and all political affiliations. That's why we have so many open Marxists and socialists (and even the occasional fascist) on campus. Should conservatives and classical liberals (in the John Kennedy sense) be kept out of academia because they're not willing to ascribe state control to everything? Should they be kept out of academia because they're willing to act along the lines of their more totalitarian partners, like denouncing the mass murders and deplorable conditions of Communist nations while glossing over darker parts of American history? Wait, that's right, liberals and conservatives in the field of history don't gloss over evils like slavery, racism and destruction of native culture. As I said in last week's post, we historians are keepers of cultural memory. We must remember our failures as much as our accomplishments. We remember our failures to prevent repeating them, and we remember our accomplishments to challenge ourselves to achieve even greater things.

I urge my professors to rethink their positions. Challenge Doctor Bean's sources on their merits, but do not succumb to having him fired for his political affiliations. That will do more for our school's reputation than your current attempt at a purge.

(Thanks once again to PowerLine for keeping on top of this situation.)