Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Why My Sabbatical Is Looking Good

One of my best friends called me today to ask if I was ok since I hadn't posted to my blog lately. I was tickled by her response to my lack of blogging because it illustrates to me how you can really build an audience who wants to know not just what you think, but how you're doing.

I apologize for my lack of blogging the last few days. I have returned from my adventures in California and brought back with me a head cold. I was pretty much out of commission yesterday and today I stuck to my writing plan. I didn't check emails or attempt to blog until I had put in my 2 hours of writing and attended to other errands.

I didn't get much on the page, but I did make a start and I think I know where to begin tomorrow, which is good. I very much like the office I have chosen to work in because it is really quiet and the people are great. If I need a break, I am sure to have a nice exchange with someone. If I need to work, people respect that.

After making dinner and ripping open bills tonight (yes, I am still incredibly jet-lagged so I am off by 3 hours), I checked email. The chair of my department sent along a link to this website. His message was entitled: "be glad you're on sabbatical . . ." I read the email and immediately went to the website to check it out. I have no idea if this is for real. I am simply too exhausted to do some real sleuthing here. But, if it is real, it is absolutely disturbing.

I guess when your President thinks it is legitimate to wire-tap its own citizens in the name of national security, then a group of conservatives can pay students to take notes about the "radical" positions that professors are making in class and expose them to this witch-hunt organization.

Another friend sent along this article discussing the state hearings on "liberal bias" in college classrooms. I couldn't agree more with this point:

William E. Scheuerman, vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, said universities fear the prospect of government micromanagement.

"Merely the threat of government intervention is enough, believe me, to frighten college administrators and some faculty so they are less likely to raise tough questions," he said.

Compound the threat of government intervention with the ruthless tactics of groups like Bruin Alumni Association and you have the opposite of free speech or free inquiry in establishments of higher learning. But that's the point isn't it? This administration and its enthusiastic supporters, like David Horowitz, don't believe that we have a right to openly criticize and challenge their policies.

I find it hard not to see how these organizations aimed at muzzling the voices of dissent and free exchange in this country are anything but a ministry of propaganda. My colleague who is from Sri Lanka commented on my chair's email that the Tamil Tigers used these exact same tactics at home, and hence, this is why he has fled his country to seek safety and the right to criticize the tactics of warloards and the government in Sri Lanka.

Yes, I am indeed grateful to be on sabbatical for a time. I plan to write a book that says exactly what I think, much of it will be critical of the conservative forces in our country, and I am finally free from the kind of unAmerican censorship of my ideas. When I come back to teach, I am hope that I don't lose the verve that I just starting to regain in this break from teaching.

UPDATE: See Jill's post at Feministe "Conservatives Supporting Anti-Intellectualism Since 1945." Also see Amanda's post "Smarty-pants strawfeminists, crisis pregnancy centers, and backlash justifications."