Thursday, January 26, 2017

The ugly implications of the Professor Watchlist website in the age of Trump

The ugly implications of the Professor Watchlist website in the age of Trump:

The ugly implications of the Professor Watchlist website in the age of Trump

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According to Turning Point USA, I am one of two hundred professors, “who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” Consequently, by way of its dubious Professor Watchlist, TPUSA contends that its purpose is to inform alumni, parents, and students of, “specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”
But TPUSA’s insidious real aim is to intimidate and single out educators. This complements President-elect Donald Trump’s rising number of like registries for their faith, in the case of Muslims, journalists, and employees within the State Department and Department of Energy who advocate, respectively, for the rights of women and the LGBT community as well as the health of our planet.
The creation of lists that target intellectuals and educators echoes loudly in history. One reverberation is described by historian Karl Dietrich Bracher in his classic work The German Dictatorship: The Origins, Structure and Effects of National Socialism (1970). Another is in the movie the Killing Fields (1984) based on New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg’s coverage of Cambodia’s civil war of the 1970s.
In the former, Hitler—who was no socialist but used the label to attract the left-behind working-class of Germany—and his Nazis killed targeted professors, intellectuals, and bureaucrats that he believed threatened his regime. For the latter, a scene demonstrates how Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge tricked imprisoned teachers and other professionals into identifying themselves only to be executed by suffocation.
There is a lesson here: thinkers threaten totalitarian rulers. So members of the intelligentsia must be branded and dealt with accordingly.
Charlie Kirk, the 25 year old Founder and Executive Director of TPUSA, culled my name for identification from a Campus Reform post written by Anthony Gockowski, who utilized a cooked version of my extra-credit assignment of the spring 2016 semester for a US History survey course. Gockowski also misrepresented its guidelines.
The exercise—one of several such opportunities I offer to promote civic engagement, critical thinking, and effective writing—encouraged students to contact their assembly and senate representatives in the California legislature to express how tuition of the California State University affected them and their families.
From this experience, I envisioned first-generation college students learning to format a business letter, discover (if they did not already know) who their elected representatives in the legislature were, and understand how to petition their government for a redress of grievances, if they had any.
Contrary to Campus Reform’s mendacious blog post, my instructions did not mandate the content of student letters. As context, however, I did provide essays I wrote on the subject that argued for a fully subsidized system of public higher education.
But in the Age of Trump and his gaslighting propaganda (i.e., a program of deception and deceit) and that of his surrogates, what does truth and accuracy have to do with anything?
Despite the disingenuous spotlight of TPUSA and Campus Reform, I again offered the business letter to elected officials as an extra-credit option this past fall semester. As The ugly implications of the Professor Watchlist website in the age of Trump:


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