Category Archives: Professors/Teachers

I Went to Flagstaff for a Commencement

What is explained can be denied but what is felt cannot be forgotten.

Charles Bowden

What do you say, at age 61, as I am rubbernecking the constant superficial, seedy, consumer-caked world now as someone considered a major failure – a few dozens jobs, mostly sacked from, and a few dozen careers, and, I am slogging away at a homeless shelter trying to save myself from the constrictor of capitalism, that strangulating system that gets us all complicit in the crime, making us all little Eichmann’s in this murder incorporated killing, complicit in the hyper exploitation of man, woman, child, ecosystem?

Consumerism as a psychological wedge to allow for the synchronized event horizon of finance-government-surveillance-media-military to work on the masses as a suffocating fog pumped out across the globe by an elite bent on total dominance.

We can jump onto the global stage and see the battering truth:

Diagnosing the Empire with Sadistic Personality Disorder (SPD)

Western culture is clearly obsessed with rules, guilt, submissiveness and punishment.

By now it is clear that the West is the least free society on Earth. In North America and Europe, almost everyone is under constant scrutiny: people are spied on, observed, their personal information is being continually extracted, and the surveillance cameras are used indiscriminately.

Life is synchronized and managed. There are hardly any surprises.

One can sleep with whomever he or she wishes (as long as it is done within the ‘allowed protocol’).

Homosexuality and bisexuality are allowed. But that is about all; that is how far ‘freedom’ usually stretches.
Rebellion is not only discouraged, it is fought against, brutally. For the tiniest misdemeanors or errors, people end up behind bars. As a result, the U.S. has more prisoners per capita than any other country on Earth, except the Seychelles.

And as a further result, almost all conversations, but especially public discourses, are now being controlled by so-called ‘political correctness’ and its variants.

But back to the culture of fear and punishment.

Look at the headlines of the Western newspapers. For example, New York Times from April 12. 2018: Punishment of Syria may be harsher this time.

We are so used to such perverse language used by the Empire that it hardly strikes us as twisted, bizarre, pathological.

It stinks of some sadomasochistic cartoon, or of a stereotypical image of an atrocious English teacher holding a ruler over a pupil’s extended hands, shouting, “Shall I?”

Carl Gustav Jung described Western culture, on several occasions, as a “pathology”. He did it particularly after WWII, but he mentioned that the West had been committing terrible crimes in all parts of the world, for centuries. That is most likely why the Western mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists have been glorifying the ego-centric and generally apolitical Sigmund Freud, while ignoring, even defaming, Carl Gustav Jung.

The reality is, though, most of the revolutionaries like myself in this cesspool of capitalism have to slog ahead in the belly of the beast, without the rarefied air of being an international journalist like Andre Vltchek. The reality is most of us know that when 11 million babies under age two die of treatable maladies each year, or when bodies are shot through and extremities are shattered by the sadism that is the Gestapo-Apartheid “state/religion” of Israel, we push through the fog of rapacious consumerism and consort with our deep empathy for our brothers and sisters under the thumb of despotic regimes like USA, Russia, Israel, China, India, et al.

Because, now, no matter the level of melanin in a collective people’s skin or the desperation of the people, the globe has been infected by a virus called Capitalism-Finance-Unfettered Exploitation.

Exploitation is a pretty tame word for what I am hinting at: destruction, annihilation, extinction. As is the case with me, a rant percolates from the bowels of the commonness of my life, the microcosm of traveling from point A to point B. What happens in Vegas happens in New York City. What unfolds in little town USA is unfolding in San Fran.

Whatever it is, here I was, back in Arizona, first Phoenix, the cancer, the cancer, and then up to Flagstaff, oh that place before white man invasion sacred healing cloud island peaks. Arizona, as I’ve written extensively, is where I cut my teeth as a small town newspaper reporter, learned directly the value of radical conservation, became a brother in arms for Chicanoism, tried my hand at diving and helping bring across refugees of the proxy wars of USA in Guatemala, etc.

I’ve written poetically about the place – here and there, and have inserted the value of those formative years into almost everything I’ve written, taught, done in my 48 years since coming to Arizona young, 13:

Wrestling the Blind, Chasing Apache Horses, and Unpacking the Vietnam War – (September 4th, 2013) or page 12, Cirque

But this most recent trip, a weekend, I went to celebrate my 22-year-old niece’s matriculation, with bachelor of science degree, from Northern Arizona University. The old days when I was young, 19, and a journalist, and then, activist, like quicksilver in my brain, taking over not only my senses, but memory. Many of us saw the writing on the wall 40 and 50 years ago – this barely inhabitable place (a place of migration for Papago and other indigenous people’s), with a blitzkrieg of outsiders plowing the desert and eventually corralling the Colorado River into brackish canals to feed the malls and mayhem of winter baseball leagues and out of control military complex tax cheats. Three state universities, and then this new cheater, University of Phoenix . . . headquarters for the bizarre U-Haul . . . dry mothball arenas for the USA’s killing flying machines. Odd as hell place, with the likes of Edward Abbey running amok. I hear now Noam Chomsky is visiting prof at U of A in Tucson.

Humans build their societies around consumption of fossil water long buried in the earth, and these societies, being based on temporary resources, face the problem of being temporary themselves.

— Charles Bowden, Killing Hidden Waters

I kind of think of Charles Bowden from time to time, who was a reporter and novelist living in Tucson and covering the Southwest and northern Mexico. When I go into the desert, after looking at some shell of a rag that we now call daily newspapers, I feel this guy’s haunting – now dead going on four years:

When he got a hold of a story, he wouldn’t let it go, said former Citizen copy editor Judy Carlock. He had a very generous heart and a lot of compassion … he didn’t mince words.

The way I was trained up, reporters went toward the story, just as firemen rush toward the fire. It is a duty.

He was compelled to work; he had to write … in vivid imagery and concrete detail, Carlock said. Every Monday morning, the (Citizen) city desk would come in to find a long, brilliant masterpiece they had to find room for in the paper.

He lived at full tilt, fueled on caffeine and nicotine, said Carlock. Bowden had stopped smoking about two years ago, Carroll said, and was lifting weights, working on that second wind in his life.

He was no saint, but he was true to himself, said Carlock. I think he secretly relished being thought of as a rogue.

This amazing ecosystem, with syncopated Native American tribes and amazing Mexican communities turned into a wheezing series of six-lane freeways and spiraling communities for the infirm, the emphysemic and the insane.

It’s really difficult to find a place to start.  Sedona and the vortices? Flagstaff, from one-horse town to bedroom (climatically cooler but fire prone) to Phoenix? The 365 days a year fire pit danger, as heat comes earlier, rain disappears quicker, and the landscape is peppered with suburbia’s faux Mexican-Italian-Spanish-Greek designs as the ubiquitous 20-mile caravans of cars and trucks push the hot tunnel of air which is Arizona?

As a former newspaperman, I am compelled to read the dwindling local news anywhere I go, even five and dime advertising things, or corny local monthlies, and so just a few minutes with the Arizona Republic show me where the mass delusion, mass magical thinking and mass ignorance get set in. But, compelling, the stories slugs or ledes:

• Border Patrol punk who murdered 16 year old for throwing rocks, and the jury convicting him of involuntary manslaughter gets hung

• Animal abuse claims against the Havasupal Tribe’s section of the Grand Canyon – you know, animal lovers saying the pack animals used to ferry the tourists into the Canyon are treated like shit (abused) . . . . oh those do-gooders, just how many of them are animal-free product users . . . how many of them know how every stitch of clothing, every chemical smeared in their lives, every product of the modern age are placed in their realm with millions of rats, mice, dogs, and apes murdered for that consumer entitlement . . . ?

• PK12 teachers on the march for wage increases, class size reductions, more counselors, more money for staff and support personnel . . . and yet many of these Arizona scallywags want them to eat shit

• Flagstaff keeping homeless people from living – camping – on public property through ordinances from hell

• A great female representative from the state wanting dreamer children – undocumented – out of the Copper State, more of the same Trump et al giving children the boot while Trump’s monster wife calls for no more bullying

• God in the classroom, a civics literacy bill, more report cards for schools (to fail them so the charter schools get more easy pickings), and this drive for charter (for- profit, hedge-fund lined) schools to take from the public coffers and teach absolute shit

• More gigantic housing developments planned in the Sonora desert without any water delivery plans, without any water!

• Raytheon Missile Systems breaks ground on an expansion of its Tucson facility – 2,000 more Little Eichmann’s added to the already large 10,000 workers designing, testing, manufacturing and delivering via Amazon dot Com killing systems to include Tomahawk missiles and this new Stormbreaker small diameter bomb

• Mexican-American female columnist for the Arizona Republic newspaper bashing the possibility of socialist former Mexico City mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador making it as president of Mexico . . . “he’s a Hugo Chavez-style authoritarian tropical messiah who would turn Mexico into another Venezuela”

• The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community building lavish baseball stadiums for professional teams like the Diamondbacks

• HBO plans to debut John McCain documentary on Memorial Day – “John McCain; For Whom the Bell Tolls”

• soda or sugar taxes outlawed in the state
• non-English contracts will be voided in all insurance transactions, and beyond

• Abortion patient questions are now mandatory

Oh the compounding blasphemy. If this were a thematic essay, well, here are the components:

• Wanton excess in the state, with brand new, freshly washed expensive SUV’s, power cars, pick-up trucks

• Endless strip mall after strip mall and faux Spanish colonial kitsch and after faux Hacienda kitsch which propels the dribbling consumerism of 24/7 Superstore Grand Openings

• Zero tribute to the peoples of the real Arizona – Chemehuevi, Chiricahua, Cocopa, or Xawitt Kwñchawaay, Dilzhe’e, Apache, Havasupai, or Havasuw `Baaja, Hopi, Hualapai, or Hwal `Baaja, Maricopa, or Piipaash, Mohave, or Hamakhava (also spelled Mojave), Navajo, or Diné, Southern Paiute, Akimel O’odham, formerly Pima, Quechan, or Yuma, San Carlos Apache, Nné – Coyotero, or Western Apaches, Tewa, Tohono O’odham, formerly Papago, Southern Ute, White Mountain Apache, Ndé – Coyotero or Western Apaches, Xalychidom, or Halchidhoma, Yaqui people, Yavapai, or Kwevkepaya, Wipukepa, Tolkepaya, and Yavepé (four separate groups), Zuni, or A:shiwi

• Redneck clashing with wimpy liberal clashing with snowbird clashing with old Mafia clashing with Hispanic-Latino/a clashing with senior citizen Trump lover clashing with new money clashing with the Raytheon mentality clashing with the endless cancer spur that is Arizona

• My old stomping grounds, now despoiled by in-ground pools, putrid man-made lakes, endless track homes like carcinoma, endless twisting cul-de-sacs where minds end up mushed up in mojito-ville

• Hatred, man, the Trump way, McCain way, Goldwater, putrid former Maricopa County Sheriff and Minutemen militias on the border, and the Gestapo Border Patrol and the rot which is a state in the union emblematic of red state loafers and the hard-working people like those teachers

• A college, NAU, broken by a president who cheats faculty and luxuriates in the money thrown her way and the attention the local yokels give her

• Students fighting this female NAU president Rita Cheng who wants cuts to all sorts of important programs (in the liberal arts) so she can court those wanton criminal corporations and alt-right Koch Brothers

• The graduation I went to was embarrassing, dead, nothing in the way of speakers, controlled by this president, and was ten times more lackluster than a Missouri Synod Lutheran Sunday meeting

• Peter Principle of incompetents rising, as in the case of Rita Cheng and thousands of movers and shakers (sic) that run the state

• The inarticulate middle and upper classes of society exemplified in Arizona

• A state with more sun per year with nary a solar panel in sight

• The rotten belief that infinite growth, infinite in-migration, infinite giveaways to the corporate leeches will lead to prosperity

• The Caucasian and other Whitey people’s insipid Trader Joe’s-Dutch Brothers-Bed, Bath and Beyond systematic lobotomizing of the masses

• Sprayed-on lawns and Astroturf backyards scattered around the desiccating real lawns throughout the entire Phoenix and Tucson metroplexes

• Daily reminder of the old adage of “who the fuck thought white people and their poodles settling in Arizona made any sense”

• Like anywhere else, Arizona has no worthy newspaper of note anymore, and the news is not to be seen in the light of day

I’ve always said, that one slice of life is a microcosm, that splice onto one of the big fat four-hour reels of 70 mm movie film depicting the universality in the absurdity of being Homo Sapiens under the thumb of money changers, militaries and grand exploiters. Example: One shit-hole sugar cane fucker and his sibling (Fanjul Brothers) and his fucking family destroying the lives of thousands of slaves, upsetting the natural world, and sending the sweet sting of death to millions. One fucking family owning billions of dollars and billions of people and draining the Everglades. Something along those lines – just look at history of rubber, gold, oil, wood, fruit, minerals, raw labor, animals.

This arithmetic is as clear as the day is long, in a world where this time, the so-called now time, is bereft of no logic, no ethics, no depth of knowledge, no truth except the rubbery huckster kind. While NAU had zero commencement speakers for all five graduation sequences, we now have to read about a world of Rex Tillerson — that son of a bitch lying, thieving, fossil fuel thug — now at a graduation for a military institute (what the fuck are we still living in a world of military academies – sic).

You can’t make this shit up in a work of fiction:

In a commencement speech at Virginia Military Institute, the camera-shy former secretary of state gave his most public remarks since President Donald Trump ousted him from the White House in March.

“As I reflect upon the state of American democracy,” he told the Class of 2018, “I observe a growing crisis in ethics and integrity.”

Tillerson’s emphasis on integrity echoed his parting words to colleagues at the State Department in March. Then he went even further:

“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”

Tillerson’s time in Trump administration was marked by tension. He reportedly called the president a “moron” eight months before he was fired and replaced by then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

But the oil industry veteran has yet to directly criticize Trump. His speech, which began with a discussion on the globalized economy and stressed “the value of friends and allies,” is the closest he has come to attacking Trump’s rhetoric and “America First” policy.

This from the moronic Huffington Post. Alternative realities, sure, Mister Exxon. The reality of propping up dictators, of hiring murderers to take over land, of stealing oil from any number of countries, and the complete environmental despoilment created by the great Exxon-Shell-Chevron-You-Name-It soul and soil eating machine. Imagine, this guy’s a thug, Tillerson, who has no concept of realities, except his thuggery, and a billionaire mentality. Yeah, Exxon and the alternative reality of climate change and the bullshit destruction of the earth from fossil fuel burning. What great record this keynote speaker Tillerson has, and, in the end, he’s as ballless as the lot of the millionaires\billionaires, afraid to criticize the deviant, stupid and reckless Trump.

Where do these people come from? Which DNA-warped womb do they exit from? Which felonious family raised them? Which two-bit schools educated them? Which insane people hire them and then promote them?

A two-day trip back to Arizona is like a two-year LSD trip, floating around with mushrooms on the tongue daily, as bottles of mescal run through the veins. I am telling you, when you get out of your routine – I am a social worker in a veterans’ homeless shelter, where the word “chaos” describes the totality of my time there, daily – and this rushing hot wave of air sucks the oxygen from the lungs for a minute or two. Arizona is California is Oregon is Washington . . . .

And exactly what is the US of A, with so much junk, so much materialistic droning, and yet, poverty is growing, big time, and the fear of the future in terms of no one achieving affordable housing and clean public transportation and free education and decent jobs is like us all whistling as we walk past the graveyard which is Western Capitalism.

Arizona, like any other state, is defined by the kleptomaniacs in government, on boards, in corporations and in the political class. Arizona is defined by a schizophrenia of faux opulence and real indebtedness and our fellow citizens struggling, dying, really, in a world that is upside down when it comes to clean air, clean water, real medicine, and affordable life.

Arizona is the mix of Eastern seaboard accents and southern twangs and amazingly mean people who are in it for themselves, for their backyard in-ground pools, for the 6,000 square foot Barcelona- style triple-decker home. We are talking about leathery skin from all the sun and leathery pools of empathy in the hearts and minds of most Arizonans.

Yet, here I am, 61, wishing my niece good tidings, as she embarks on the journey of medical school applications, and then, what? What world is it we have to give or anoint our children with? I am flabbergasted at the stupidity of the NAU graduation, the bloodlessness of the speakers, the lack of verve, the paucity of an event that for many has cost a pretty penny in debt for parents and children alike.

I end with 2011 commencement speech at Olympia’s Evergreen State College, Angela Davis:

Commencement speakers frequently assume that their role is to encourage graduates to go out and conquer the world. The task I have set for myself is much more modest. I want to urge you to be able to retrieve and sort through and rethink and preserve memories of your time here, which may very well turn out to be the most important period of your lives. Like the philosopher Walter Benjamin, I emphasize the past as the key to your future.

And so as you move on, some of you will go to graduate school, right? Some of you will find jobs. Unfortunately, some of you may not find jobs. Some of you will make families, some of you will engage in activism, some you will be involved in cultural work, and there are all kinds of permutations and combinations of all of these. But I would like you to periodically stop and reflect about the extent to which your lives were radically transformed by your experiences here. And I hope that you will have courage to draw upon the education you have received here from your most challenging professors, as you try to imagine more equitable ways of inhabiting all of our worlds. If you continue to think and act in the tradition of your college you will respect all of the inhabitants of our environments, and not simply assume that the environment must be preserved for the sake of future human generations, but rather for all the future generations of plant life, future generations of all animal life.

How do we extricate ourselves from enduring hierarchies, class, race, sexual, religious, geopolitical? This question, I think, is the question that needs to be posed. Posing that question is the mark of educated human beings. So I might then ask you to think about education as the practice of freedom. Education is the practice of freedom. And so freedom becomes, not an imagined condition in the future, not the set of achievements that will fulfill some desire, but rather an unrelenting, unending, collective effort to reconstruct our lives, our ways of relating to each other, our communities, and our futures. Congratulations to The Evergreen State College class of 2011.

De-Briefing Academics: Unpaid Intelligence Informants

Over the past half-century, I have been engaged in research, lectured and worked with social movements and leftist governments in Latin America. I interviewed US officials and think tanks in Washington and New York. I have written scores of books, hundreds of professional articles and presented numerous papers at professional meetings.

In the course, of my activity I have discovered that many academics frequently engage in what government officials dub ‘de-briefing’! Academics meet and discuss their field-work, data collection, research finding, observations and personal contacts over lunch at the Embassy with US government officials or in Washington with State Department officials.

US government officials look forward to these ‘debriefings”; the academic provided useful access to information which they otherwise could not obtain from paid, intelligence agents or local collaborators.

Not all academic informants are very well placed or competent investigators. However, many provide useful insights and information especially on leftist movements, parties and leaders who are real or potential anti-imperialist adversaries.

US empire builders whether engaged in political or military activities depend on information especially regarding who to back and who to subvert; who should receive diplomatic support and who to receive financial and to military resources.

De-briefed academics identify ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ adversaries, as well as personal and political vulnerabilities. Officials frequently exploit health problems or family needs to ‘turn’ leftists into imperial stool pigeons.

US officials are especially interested in academic gate-keepers who exclude ‘anti-imperialist’ critics, activists , politicians and government officials.

At times, US State Department officials claim to be sympathetic ‘progressives’ who oppose ‘Neanderthals’ in their institution, in order to elicit inside information from leftist academic informants.

Debriefing is a widespread practice and involves numerous academics from major universities and research centers, as well as non-governmental ‘activists’ and editors of academic journals and publications.

Academic participates in debriefing frequently do not publicize their reporting to the government. Most likely they share their reports with other academic informers. All claim they are merely sharing research and diffusing information for ‘science’ and to further ‘humane values’.

Academic informers always justify their collaboration as providing a clear and more balanced picture to ‘our’ policymakers, ignoring the predictable destructive outcomes likely to ensue.

Academics in the Service of Empire

Academic informants never study, collect research and publicize reports on US covert, overt and clandestine policies in defense of multi-nationals and Latin American elite which collaborate with empire builders.

US officials have no interest in ‘debriefing’ academics conducting anti-imperialist research.

US officials are keen to know any and all reports on ‘movements from below’: who they are, how much influence they have, their susceptibility to bribes, blackmail and invitations to the State Department, Disneyland, or the Wilson Center in D.C.

US officials fund academic research on militant trade unions, agrarian social movements, feminist and ethnic minorities engaged in class struggle ,and anti-imperialist activists and leaders, as they all serve as targets for imperial repression.

The officials are also keen on academic reports on so-called ‘moderate’ collaborators who can be funded, advised and recruited to defend the empire, undermine the class struggle and split movements.

Academic informants are especially useful in providing personal and political information on Latin American left-wing intellectuals, academics, journalists, writers and critics which allows US officials to isolate, slander and boycott anti-imperialists, as well as those intellectuals who can be recruited and seduced with foundation grants and invitations to the Kennedy Center at Harvard.

When US officials have a difficult time understanding the intricacies and consequences of ideological debates and factional divisions within leftist parties or regimes, ex-leftist academic informers, who collect documents and interviews, provide detailed explanations and provide officials with a political roadmap to exploit and exacerbate divisions and to guide repressive policies, which undermine adversaries engaged in anti-imperialist and class struggle.

The State Department works hand and glove with research centers and foundations in promoting journals which eschew all mention of imperialism and ruling class exploitation; they promote ‘special issues’ on ‘class-less’ identity politics, post-modern theorizing and ethnic-racial conflicts and conciliation.

In a study of the two leading political science and sociological journals over a period of fifty year they published less than .01% on class struggle and US imperialism

Academic informants have never reported on US government links to narco-political rulers.

Academic informants do not research widespread long term Israeli collaboration with death squads in Colombia, Guatemala, Argentina and El Salvador, in cases because of their loyalties to Tel Aviv and in most cases because the State Department is not interested in debriefings which expose their allies and their joint complicity.

Academic Informants: What do they want and what do they get?

Academic informers engage in debriefing for various reasons. A few do so simply because they share the politics and ideology of the empire builders and feel it is their ‘duty’ to serve.

The great majority are established academics with ties to research centers who inform because it fattens their CV — which helps secure grants, prestigious appointments and awards.

Progressive academics who collaborates have a Janus face approach; they speak at Leftist public conferences, especially to students and in private they report to the State Department.

Many academics believe they can influence and change government policy. They seek to impress self-identified ‘progressive’ officials with their inside knowledge on how to ‘turn’ Latin critics into moderate collaborators. They invent innocuous academic categories and concepts to attract graduate students to further collaboration with imperial colleagues.

The Consequence of Academic Debriefing

Former leftist academic informers are frequently cited by the mass media as a reliable and knowledgeable ‘expert’ in order to slander anti-imperialist governments, academics, and critics.

Ex-leftist academics pressure rising scholars with a critical perspective to adopt ‘moderate’ reasonable critiques, to denounce and avoid anti-imperialist ‘extremists’ and to disparage them as ‘polemical ideologues’!

Academic informants in Chile helped the US Embassy identify neighborhood militants who were handed over to the secret police (DINA) during the Pinochet dictatorship.

US academic informants in Peru and Brazil provided the Embassy with research projects which identified nationalist military officials and leftist students who were subsequently purged, arrested and tortured.

In Colombia, US academic informers were active in providing reports on rural insurgent movements which led to massive repression. Academic collaborators provided detailed reports to the embassy in Venezuela on the grass roots movements and political divisions among Chavista government and military officials with command of troops.

The State Department financed academics working with NGO who identified and recruited middle class youth as street fighters, drug gangsters and the destitute to engage in violent struggles to overthrow the elected government by paralyzing the economy.

Academic reports on regime ‘violence’ and ‘authoritarianism’ served as propaganda fodder for the State Department to impose economic sanctions, impoverishing people, to foment a coup.US academic collaborators enlisted their Latin colleagues to sign petitions urging right-wing regimes in the region to boycott Venezuela.

When academic informers are confronted with the destructive consequences of imperial advances they argue that it was not their ‘intention’; that it was not their State Department contacts who carried out the regressive policies.The more cynical claim that the government was going to do their dirty work regardless of the debriefing.

Conclusion

What is clear in virtually all know experiences is that academic informers’ ‘de-briefings strengthened the empire-builders and complemented the deadly work of the paid professional operatives of the CIA, DEA, and the National Security Agency.

Psychiatrist Louis Morissette Should Be Barred From Practice

Quebec medical tribunal will decide if psychiatrist-for-hire Louis Morissette was allowed to provide a hatchet job based on hearsay

The review committee of the medical tribunal of Quebec will decide within 90 days whether or not anyone anywhere, such as a political party or institution or individual in any province or state, can hire a Quebec expert psychiatrist to render a medical opinion about an opponent without interviewing or even informing the individual.

The said medical opinion could be made without any medical record or clinical evaluation or verification of information, and then used publicly or otherwise for political or institutional purposes.

This happened to me, with devastating consequences.

I only found out by chance, years later, thanks to an investigation into my 2008 dismissal from the University of Ottawa, which is still in litigation.1,2,3

I filed a complaint to the medical tribunal as soon as I could. I have publicly posted the entire complaint, the intake investigator’s conclusions, and my appeal of the said conclusions.4

This is what occurred, in the most neutral terms I can muster.

Dr. Louis Morissette, a psychiatrist licenced by the province of Quebec, agreed to conduct a secret medical evaluation of an individual who was critical of his employer.  The psychiatrist evidently agreed to the employer’s request that he work without informing the individual.  The psychiatrist never contacted the individual, never tried to contact him, and never even claimed that he tried to contact him.

The psychiatrist did not use any medical records whatsoever. Instead, he relied entirely on false intimate personal information provided by the employer, which he never attempted to verify, and on media reports selected by the employer.

On this basis alone, the psychiatrist wrongly labelled me a dangerous person, causing me to be exiled from my community, following his definitive recommendations to that effect.  Years later, when I found out that the psychiatrist had medically evaluated me, he refused to give me a copy of his report.

Morissette has a long documented record of evidence-based alleged and proven violations that the Collège des médecins du Québec has ignored.

These include the following that I added to my complaint, with the evidence:

  • judicially proven lying while giving expert testimony in court;
  • giving expert opinion in a criminal proceeding without consulting the relevant scientific research literature;
  • an appellate court finding of his reprehensible behaviour;
  • giving an in-court expert opinion of the harmlessness of mass-murderer Karla Homolka based on 3½ hours of interview;
  • being in conflict of interest while recommending release of double-child-murderer Guy Turcotte;
  • destroying his appraisal-session interview notes immediately and prior to termination of criminal legal proceedings and engaging in such disallowed practice since 1983;
  • requesting double payment for the same service by claiming the same accused person both as patient and legal client;
  • performing such a large amount of opinion-for-hire contracting for clients as to affect his professional independence, put him in conflict of interest, and influence the quality of his practice; and,
  • exercising his profession in a jurisdiction in which he is not a certified practitioner.

After eight months, the medical tribunal’s intake analyst, Dr. Michel Jarry, summarily dismissed my entire complaint, writing that there is no cause to bother the disciplinary committee since I am not a “patient” of Morissette. This remarkable result was handed down despite the many and repeated unambiguous violations by Morissette of the statutory rules of professional ethics.

I filed an appeal on April 2, 2018, and the review committee has 90 days to make its decision about whether this sort of thing is allowed.

It must not be allowed. Otherwise, we are no better than any totalitarian regime that mines rumours and false accusations to legitimize state actions, and psychiatrists are no better than opportunists-for-hire in such a system.

It is also of note that the vice-president-governance of the University of Ottawa who coordinated the collection of hearsay about my intimate personal information, for use by the hired psychiatrist to render his secret “psychiatric opinion”, was Nathalie Des Rosiers.

Des Rosiers subsequently became Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) for a time and is now an elected member (MPP) of the Ontario parliament and a minister in the government.

The university did not inform me of its actions, and vigorously opposed my access to the psychiatric report until the final hour of an appeal in litigation for access in 2017.5

  1. Academic Freedom? How Nasty Can a University Be?” by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, February 17, 2018.
  2. Denis Rancourt’s letter to president Jacques Frémont, University of Ottawa”, with three attached supporting letters from Hazel Gashoka, Jean-Marie Vianney, and Cynthia McKinney, January 8, 2018.
  3. Did University of Ottawa Persecute a Professor on Its Faculty? A Petition in Support of Denis Rancourt”, March 2018.
  4. Book Of Complaint Against Psychiatrist Louis Morissette With Appeal To CdR CMQ”, by Denis Rancourt, April 2, 2018.
  5. Book: All arguments of parties and intervener in Dr. Denis Rancourt’s constitutional challenge of Section 65(6)3 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, at judicial review, in the Divisional Court for Ontario, Court File No.: 17-DC-2279”, Ontario Civil Liberties Association, March 2018.

Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops

Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning. From metal detectors to drug tests, from increased policing to all-seeing electronic surveillance, the public schools of the twenty-first century reflect a society that has become fixated on crime, security and violence.

— Investigative journalist Annette Fuentes

Just what we don’t need: more gun-toting, taser-wielding cops in government-run schools that bear an uncomfortable resemblance to prisons.

Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools already contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.”

Now the Trump Administration wants to double down on these totalitarian echo chambers.

The Justice Department, headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has announced that it will provide funding for schools that want to hire more resource officers.  The White House has also hinted that it may repeal “Rethink School Discipline” policies, heralding a return to zero tolerance policies that treat children like suspects and criminals, especially within the public schools.

As for President Trump, he wants to “harden” the schools.

What exactly does hardening the schools entail?

More strident zero tolerance policies, greater numbers of school cops, and all the trappings of a prison complex (unsurmountable fences, entrapment areas, no windows or trees, etc.).

Just when you thought this administration couldn’t get any more tone-deaf about civil liberties, they prove once again that they have absolutely no regard for the Constitution (especially the Fourth Amendment), no concept of limited government, and no concern for the growing need to protect “we the people” against an overreaching, overbearing police state.

America’s schools today are already about as authoritarian as they come.

From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment he or she graduates, they will be exposed to a steady diet of:

  • draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior,
  • overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech,
  • school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students,
  • standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking,
  • politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them,
  • and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.

Young people in America are now first in line to be searched, surveilled, spied on, threatened, tied up, locked down, treated like criminals for non-criminal behavior, tasered and in some cases shot.

Roped into the government’s profit-driven campaign to keep the nation “safe” from drugs, weapons and terrorism, many schools have transformed themselves into quasi-prisons, complete with surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs, strip searches and active shooter drills.

It used to be that if you talked back to a teacher, or played a prank on a classmate, or just failed to do your homework, you might find yourself in detention or doing an extra writing assignment after school.

That is no longer the case.

Nowadays, students are not only punished for minor transgressions such as playing cops and robbers on the playground, bringing LEGOs to school, or having a food fight, but the punishments have become far more severe, shifting from detention and visits to the principal’s office into misdemeanor tickets, juvenile court, handcuffs, tasers and even prison terms.

Students have been suspended under school zero tolerance policies for bringing to school “look alike substances” such as oregano, breath mints, birth control pills and powdered sugar.

Look-alike weapons (toy guns—even Lego-sized ones, hand-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a “threatening” manner, imaginary bows and arrows, even fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in hot water.

Even good deeds do not go unpunished.

One 13-year-old was given detention for exposing the school to “liability” by sharing his lunch with a hungry friend. A third grader was suspended for shaving her head in sympathy for a friend who had lost her hair to chemotherapy. And then there was the high school senior who was suspended for saying “bless you” after a fellow classmate sneezed.

In South Carolina, where it’s against the law to disturb a school, more than a thousand students a year—some as young as 7 years old—“face criminal charges for not following directions, loitering, cursing, or the vague allegation of acting ‘obnoxiously.’ If charged as adults, they can be held in jail for up to 90 days.”

These outrageous incidents are exactly what you’ll see more of if the Trump Administration gets its way.

Increasing the number of cops in the schools only adds to the problem.

Indeed, the growing presence of police in the nation’s schools is resulting in greater police “involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers.”

Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers (SRO) have become de facto wardens in elementary, middle and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called “criminals” in their midst with the help of tasers, pepper spray, batons and brute force.

The horror stories are legion.

One SRO is accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting the cafeteria line.

That same cop put another student in a chokehold a week later, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury.

In Pennsylvania, a student was tased after ignoring an order to put his cell phone away.

When 13-year-old Kevens Jean Baptiste failed to follow a school bus driver’s direction to keep the bus windows closed (Kevens, who suffers from asthma, opened the window after a fellow student sprayed perfume, causing him to cough and wheeze), he was handcuffed by police, removed from the bus, and while still handcuffed, had his legs swept out from under him by an officer, causing him to crash to the ground.

Young Alex Stone didn’t even make it past the first week of school before he became a victim of the police state. Directed by his teacher to do a creative writing assignment involving a series of fictional Facebook statuses, Stone wrote, “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business.” Despite the fact that dinosaurs are extinct, the status fabricated, and the South Carolina student was merely following orders, his teacher reported him to school administrators, who in turn called the police.

What followed is par for the course in schools today: students were locked down in their classrooms while armed police searched the 16-year-old’s locker and bookbag, handcuffed him, charged him with disorderly conduct disturbing the school, arrested him, detained him, and then he was suspended from school.

Not even the younger, elementary school-aged kids are being spared these “hardening” tactics.

On any given day when school is in session, kids who “act up” in class are pinned face down on the floor, locked in dark closets, tied up with straps, bungee cords and duct tape, handcuffed, leg shackled, tasered or otherwise restrained, immobilized or placed in solitary confinement in order to bring them under “control.”

In almost every case, these undeniably harsh methods are used to punish kids—some as young as 4 and 5 years old—for simply failing to follow directions or throwing tantrums. Very rarely do the kids pose any credible danger to themselves or others. Unbelievably, these tactics are all legal, at least when employed by school officials or school resource officers in the nation’s public schools.

This is what happens when you introduce police and police tactics into the schools.

Paradoxically, by the time you add in the lockdowns and active shooter drills, instead of making the schools safer, school officials have succeeded in creating an environment in which children are so traumatized that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, anxiety, mistrust of adults in authority, as well as feelings of anger, depression, humiliation, despair and delusion.

For example, a middle school in Washington State went on lockdown after a student brought a toy gun to class. A Boston high school went into lockdown for four hours after a bullet was discovered in a classroom. A North Carolina elementary school locked down and called in police after a fifth grader reported seeing an unfamiliar man in the school (it turned out to be a parent).

Police officers at a Florida middle school carried out an active shooter drill in an effort to educate students about how to respond in the event of an actual shooting crisis. Two armed officers, guns loaded and drawn, burst into classrooms, terrorizing the students and placing the school into lockdown mode.

If these exercises are intended to instill fear and compliance into young people, they’re working.

As journalist Dahlia Lithwick points out:

I don’t recall any serious national public dialogue about lockdown protocols or how they became the norm. It seems simply to have begun, modeling itself on the lockdowns that occur during prison riots, and then spread until school lockdowns and lockdown drills are as common for our children as fire drills, and as routine as duck-and-cover drills were in the 1950s.

The toll such incidents take on adults can be life-altering, but when such police brutality is perpetrated on young people, the end result is nothing less than complete indoctrination into becoming compliant citizens of a totalitarian state.

Schools acting like prisons.

School officials acting like wardens.

Students treated like inmates and punished like hardened criminals.

This is the end product of all those so-called school “safety” policies, which run the gamut from zero tolerance policies that punish all infractions harshly to surveillance cameras, metal detectors, random searches, drug-sniffing dogs, school-wide lockdowns, active-shooter drills and militarized police officers.

There can be no avoiding the hands-on lessons being taught in the schools about the role of police in our lives, ranging from active shooter drills and school-wide lockdowns to incidents in which children engaging in typically childlike behavior are suspended (for shooting an imaginary “arrow” at a fellow classmate), handcuffed (for being disruptive at school), arrested (for throwing water balloons as part of a school prank), and even tasered (for not obeying instructions).

Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters—which one would hope would be the objective of the schools—government officials seem determined to churn out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

So what’s the answer, not only for the here-and-now—the children growing up in these quasi-prisons—but for the future of this country?

How do you convince a child who has been routinely handcuffed, shackled, tied down, locked up, and immobilized by government officials—all before he reaches the age of adulthood—that he has any rights at all, let alone the right to challenge wrongdoing, resist oppression and defend himself against injustice?

Most of all, how do you persuade a fellow American that the government works for him when for most of his young life, he has been incarcerated in an institution that teaches young people to be obedient and compliant citizens who don’t talk back, don’t question and don’t challenge authority?

Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College, believes that school is a prison that is damaging our kids, and it’s hard to disagree, especially with the numbers of police officers being assigned to schools on the rise.

Students, in turn, are not only finding themselves subjected to police tactics such as handcuffs, leg shackles, tasers and excessive force for “acting up” but are also being ticketed, fined and sent to court for behavior perceived as defiant, disruptive or disorderly such as spraying perfume and writing on a desk.

Clearly, the pathology that characterizes the American police state has passed down to the schools.

Now in addition to the government and its agents viewing the citizenry as suspects to be probed, poked, pinched, tasered, searched, seized, stripped and generally manhandled, all with the general blessing of the courts, our children in the public schools are also fair game for school resource officers who taser teenagers and handcuff kindergartners, school officials who have criminalized childhood behavior, school lockdowns and terror drills that teach your children to fear and comply, and a police state mindset that has transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.

Don’t even get me started on the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the phenomenon in which children who are suspended or expelled from school have a greater likelihood of ending up in jail. One study found that “being suspended or expelled made a student nearly three times more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system within the next year.”

By the time the average young person in America finishes their public school education, nearly one out of every three of them will have been arrested. Nearly 40 percent of those young people who are arrested will serve time in a private prison, where the emphasis is on making profits for large mega-corporations above all else.

Indeed, this profit-driven system of incarceration has also given rise to a growth in juvenile prisons and financial incentives for jailing young people. In this way, young people have become easy targets for the private prison industry, which profits from criminalizing childish behavior and jailing young people.

None of these tactics are making our communities or our schools any safer.

Without a doubt, change is needed, but that will mean taking on the teachers’ unions, the school unions, the educators’ associations, and the police unions, not to mention the politicians dependent on their votes and all of the corporations that profit mightily from an industrial school complex.

As we’ve seen with other issues, any significant reforms will have to start locally and trickle upwards.

For starters, parents need to be vocal, visible and organized and demand that school officials 1) adopt a policy of positive reinforcement in dealing with behavior issues; 2) minimize the presence in the schools of police officers and cease involving them in student discipline; and 3) insist that all behavioral issues be addressed first and foremost with a child’s parents, before any other disciplinary tactics are attempted.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, if you want a nation of criminals, treat the citizenry like criminals.

If you want young people who grow up seeing themselves as prisoners, run the schools like prisons.

If, on the other hand, you want to raise up a generation of freedom fighters, who will actually operate with justice, fairness, accountability and equality towards each other and their government, then run the schools like freedom forums.

Remove the metal detectors and surveillance cameras, re-assign the cops elsewhere, and start treating our nation’s young people like citizens of a republic and not inmates in a police state.

Idiocy 101: Arming Teachers To Stop Mass Shootings In Schools

So President Donald Trump now pontificates that he would run into a school building to save students during a mass shooting attack even if he was “unarmed!”

This empty boast is from the same Trump who failed the bravery test during the Vietnam War by dodging the draft — not for principle but because the poor guy had “bone spurs” on one foot (he can’t remember which).

Yes, that braggadocio is on top of other asinine blather from the Oval Office occupant. Trump, for example, made that boast while taking another shot at the police who failed to rush into that south Florida high school during the Valentine’s Day 2018 massacre that left 17 dead including 14 students.

The unwillingness of armed cops outside that Parkland high school to rush inside to confront an assault rifle firing shooter didn’t stop pseudo Tough Guy Trump from pushing the asinine proposal to arm teachers to help stop mass school shootings.

The Trump who wants to pay teachers to carry guns in schools is the same Trump who wants to slash billions of dollars in federal funding for education.

Arming teachers is a big pay day for gunmakers. It doesn’t make America great or safe.

Since Trump never lets facts stand in the way of his fantasies, he doesn’t care that a study conducted by his hometown police force – – the New York City Police Department –- found police only had an 18 percent success rate in hitting a person they were shooting at if that person was shooting back at them.

That begs the question: In arming teachers, does Trump accept that teachers will almost inevitably accidentally kill a few students while trying to shoot a mass shooter, given the NYPD certified fact that even trained police, who are regularly retrained on shooting guns accurately, have such a poor ‘good shoot’ percentage in shootout situations?

Trump made that pontification about his imagined bravery under fire during remarks to a gathering of governors that included Florida Governor and Trump supporter, Rick Scott – the Republican Florida governor with an A+ rating from the NRA.

In June 2014 the NRA honored Scott for his “strong” support of gun rights. The 2014 NRA press release lavished praise on the governor for the fact that he had “signed more pro-gun bills into law – in one term – than any other governor in Florida history.”

A 2011 NRA-supported law that Scott signed virtually barred Florida doctors and mental health professionals from even mentioning gun safety – a law overturned by federal courts last year. Also last year, President Trump signed a congressionally approved measure that shot down an Obama-era proposal to prevent persons with certain mental illnesses from purchasing guns.

The Florida Department of Children and Families, under Gov. Scott’s control, conducted a Fall 2016 investigation of Nikolas Cruz, the young man arrested for the Parkland Valentine’s Day Massacre.

The Art of Healing: Looking Back but Never Conceding Space

Radical — a person who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform; a member of a political party or part of a party pursuing such aims.
• synonyms: revolutionary · progressive · reformer · revisionist · militant ·
• chemistry: a group of atoms behaving as a unit in a number of compounds.
See also free radical.
• the root or base form of a word.
• mathematics: a quantity forming or expressed as the root of another.

What does it mean to reclaim space? I know there are those who want to reclaim ancient wisdom, or reclaim the commons, reclaim ancestry, reclaim a sense of community, reclaim the city, and reclaim the rural. Reclamation projects abound in theory – water, air, soil, cultures.

Reclaiming is also restorative, as in restorative justice or restorative ecology. That total reclaiming is a type of stewardship, and if done with radical intent – at the root seeking change or foundational purpose – then there is a social justice component. Always. Social justice leads to the rights of nature. Eventually, we have a world where replanting trees is the radical (root) approach to starting back to a reset.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.

— Ancient Chinese proverb

That radical approach can be scaled up and spread throughout the communitarian space of humanity. Imagine, while China is full bore capitalist in some sense, but, 60,000 Chinese troops will be deployed to plant trees:

China has reportedly reassigned over 60,000 soldiers to plant trees and increase the country’s forest coverage. The move is part of China’s plan to plant at least 32,400 square miles of trees by the end of 2018 to help tackle pollution.

In order to complete the reforestation, a large regiment from the People’s Liberation Army and some of the nation’s armed police force have been withdrawn from their posts on the northern border, The Independent reports.

The majority is to be dispatched to Hebei province encircling Beijing. This area is especially linked with the smog that plagues the country’s capital.

China is currently working to increase its forest coverage from 21 percent of its total landmass to 23 percent by 2020. By the end of this year, however, they hope to replant an area of forest that is roughly the size of Ireland!

This tree planting is such a metaphor of our times, in a world where all ecosystems are failing, all species are threatened, where earthquakes are caused by fracking, where climate chaos is scoffed at, where war is peace in the minds of Americans addicted to Grand Theft Auto.

This piece is on education, in that round about way my essays tend to flow. Yes, education is broken, and, yes, PK12 should be revamped – a Marshall Plan sort of revamping. And, yes, college and trade schools (are there any left?) should be reorganized and re-energized. Yes, this should be tax supported, one hundred percent, from levying and tolling the rockets Tesla’s Elon Musk shoots up, to taxing every box shipped out by Amazon – the tax being put on Bezos’ doorstep. We fully fund wars, US military, spooks, DoD, and every first-class trip made by Trump and cronies, the entire higher end government; i.e., cabinet level deceits, and, well, the reader gets it how a reappropriation of wealth and fraud and waste should take place to fund, err, communities.

But I was just on Yale 360, reading Carl Safina’s piece on how biologists – highly educated at elite schools, both state-funded and private – are going with the philosophy that extinction is part of evolution so saving species should not be a priority of conservationists. Here, more clearly, Safina:

In the early 20th century, a botanist named Robert F. Griggs discovered Katmai’s volcanic “Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.” In love with the area, he spearheaded efforts to preserve the region’s wonders and wildlife. In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson established Katmai National Monument (now Katmai National Park and Preserve), protecting 1,700 square miles, thus ensuring a home for bear cubs born a century later, and making possible my indelible experience that day. As a legacy for Griggs’ proclivity to share his love of living things, George Washington University later established the Robert F. Griggs Chair in Biology.

That chair is now occupied by a young professor whose recent writing probably has Griggs spinning in his grave. He is R. Alexander Pyron. A few months ago, The Washington Post published a “Perspective” piece by Pyron that is an extreme example of a growing minority opinion in the conservation community, one that might be summarized as, “Humans are profoundly altering the planet, so let’s just make peace with the degradation of the natural world.”

Pyron’s essay – with lines such as, “The only reason we should conserve biodiversity is for ourselves, to create a stable future for human beings” and “[T]he impulse to conserve for conservation’s sake has taken on an unthinking, unsupported, unnecessary urgency” – left the impression that it was written in a conservative think tank, perhaps by one of the anti-regulatory zealots now filling posts throughout the Trump administration. Pyron’s sentiments weren’t merely oddly out of keeping with the legacy of the man whose name graces his job title. Much of what Pyron wrote is scientifically inaccurate. And where he stepped out of his field into ethics, what he wrote was conceptually confused.

Ahh, sometimes what I fight for – a more robust and tax-funded education system – gets derailed by the likes of a Pyron. I read his piece, but Carl Safina’s piece is humane, logical and way beyond the wise use and utilitarian attitude of today’s thinker.

I took the plunge and went on a college tour, with a young (19-year-old) woman who is all about science and math. The act of going back to a campus and visiting it as an outsider was both interesting and triggering for me.

So is Education Planting a Tree for Life, the Future?

Neoliberalism is one of the greatest threats to the future of progressive education in the United States. The goal of neoliberal education policies is not to improve education, but rather to increase the profits of private corporations. Profit-driven models for education directly contrast the goals of progressive educators. The goal of progressive education is to educate students to be productive participants in democratic culture and to engage actively in critical citizenship. Such goals are not supported by neoliberal educational policy mainstays such as teaching to the test and standardized testing. Because neoliberal education policy tends to be data-driven it works against the development of a student’s ability to think critically, thereby undermining the formative culture and values necessary for a democratic society. As long as the United States continues to view educational policy and practice through the lens of market-based values, there is little hope that progressive education, with its aim of educating students for critical citizenship and social and economic justice, will survive.

— This excerpt from the book Neoliberalism, Education, Terrorism: Contemporary Dialogues, by Paradigm Publishers, first appeared online at Truthout.

I was just at the land grant college, Oregon State University, in Corvallis. My step-daughter is planning to embark there as a transfer junior from her current Alma mater, Mount Hood Community College. The hopefulness and energy tied to venturing away from home – Estacada, population 3,000 – to a small college town on a campus of 24,383 – was dynamic and pure in a very innocent way. Ironically, the college boasts a total of 30,058 with 4,503 coming from an “e-campus” AKA on-line and another 1,172 students in Bend, Oregon.

The campus tour was all about amenities, and campus life. As I have written a thousand times, campuses are now looking like Club Meds or 24-Hour Fitness joints. The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters by Benjamin Ginsberg looks at the gutting of the teaching class from 1985 to 2005. It’s a book looking at all the crackpot departments and staffing decisions at these private and state colleges. Ironically, the past 13 years have seen faculty hit the 76 percent mark across the USA as deemed adjunct, AKA precarious or temporary or vulnerable or job-insecure. Much of that is attributed to the rise of programs and plethora of deans, departments, non-faculty positions, and the like tied to promoting the school, and it’s not a pretty thing. Just do an internet search of “PhDs on Food stamps” or “adjuncts living out of their cars” or “faculty and freeway fliers.”

The cost of education extends way beyond the $1.5 trillion student loan debt. But here, a small college, nothing big time, OSU Beavers, is a place to start the indebtedness. Goldman Sachs vampires love students going to college. Just for in-state fees, one year, going to OSU for those coming from outside the city but in the state is as follows: $26,341 to attend Oregon State University on a full-time basis. This fee is comprised of $10,797 for tuition (note that is 2017-18 — tuition increases are on the horizon for 2018-19!), $11,445 for room and board, $1,551 for books and supplies and $1,651 for other fees, $2,083 for miscellaneous things, and then there’s transportation. That’s 27% more expensive than the national average public four-year tuition. For out of state attendees, make that $29,457 a year for tuition, plus the other fees, adding up to over $45,000 for one year.

This is a crime, and no matter how many scholarships, grants and other decompensations my step-daughter might receive, the idea of putting this big of a tab (or some percentage of it, times four years) onto one’s debit card; i.e., student loan agreements, is appalling. In fact, my student relative wants not just a graduate degree, but a doctorate in physics.

Here, Alan Nasser, great economist and who is never quoted in the MSM:

No, it’s not possible for student debtors to escape financial devastation by declaring bankruptcy. This most fundamental of consumer protections would have been available to student debtors were it not for legislation explicitly designed to withhold a whole range of basic protections from student borrowers. I’m not talking only about bankruptcy protection, but also truth in lending requirements, statutes of limitations, refinancing rights and even state usury laws – Congress has rendered all these protections inapplicable to federally guaranteed student loans. The same legislation also gave collection agencies hitherto unimaginable powers, for example to garnish wages, tax returns, Social Security benefits and -believe it or not- Disability income. Twisting the knife, legislators made the suspension of state-issued professional licenses, termination of public employment and denial of security clearances legitimate measures to enable collection companies to wring financial blood from bankrupt student-loan borrowers. Student loan debt is the most punishable of all forms of debt – most of those draconian measures are unavailable to credit card companies. (Maybe I’m being too harsh. Sallie Mae recently announced that it will after all forgive a debt under either of two conditions: in case the borrower dies or becomes totally disabled.)

Bearing Witness Hurts But Works

It’s almost impossible for me to go anywhere, participate in anything, whether going out to eat, hitting a movie, driving, or taking this innocuous tour without seeing the faults of capitalism; i.e., the predatory, inefficient, shallow, extremely violent psychologically and structurally, this for-profit-at-all-costs world is. New buildings on campus (business college)? My question is why?

This is capitalism, full-bore, getting youth, a female going into STEM, no less, (science technology engineering mathematics), on the hamster wheel of predatory loans, expectations, and a world, or future (one decade out for her, maybe) that has in this casino capitalism tied to empire predicating her future employment opportunities for such a rarefied degree (she wants astrophysics, hinting at wanting to do research and be a professor, yet another pie in the sky).

The tour took us past the football stadium, named Reser Stadium, named after donors Al and Pat Reser, owners of Reser’s Fine Foods. For most of us in the Pacific Northwest, that’s Reser’s potato and macaroni salad fame ( the couple both graduated from Oregon State in 1960, and are major donors to the university and Beavers athletics).

The stadium has a capacity of 45,700 with plans for expansion. It’s always the football team, the season, the homecoming, the chance at a title now, is it not? In fact, the college president at OSU is also an NCAA big-wig.

The debate about exploited college athletes takes up a lot of space, and it is a corollary here tied to the OSU event, since this president is NCAA true and through, from Shaun King of The Intercept:

That very obvious dynamic undergirds a lawsuit filed by former NCAA athlete Lawrence “Poppy” Livers asserting that scholarship students who play sports are employees and deserve pay. The Livers case argues that student-athletes who get scholarships should at least be paid as work-study students for the time they put in.

What the NCAA did in response to the lawsuit is as vile as anything going on in sports right now. I had to see it for myself before I believed it. At the root of its legal argument, the NCAA is relying on one particular case for why NCAA athletes should not be paid. That case is Vanskike v. Peters.

Only there’s an important detail: Daniel Vanskike was a prisoner at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, and Howard Peters was the Director of the state Department of Corrections. In 1992, Vanskike and his attorneys argued that as a prisoner he should be paid a federal minimum wage for his work. The court, in its decision, cited the 13th Amendment and rejected the claim.

The 13th Amendment is commonly hailed as the law that finally ended slavery in America. But the amendment has an important carve-out: it kept involuntary service legal for those who have been convicted of a crime. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” the amendment says. It’s that phrase — “except as a punishment for crime” — which allows American prisons to force their inmates to do whatever work they want or need them to do.

And yet, how many employees of OSU are coaches, assistant coaches, and all the staff tied to running athletics, and managing games, tickets, sales, promos, etc.?

Edward John “Ed” Ray (born September 10, 1944) is an American economist who became the 19th president of Oregon State University on July 31, 2003. Prior to joining Oregon State, Ray was executive vice president and provost of Ohio State University for the previous six years. As president of OSU, Edward Ray earns a gross salary of $414,377 in 2010. He also serves as chairman of the NCAA’s Executive Committee.

At-Will, Part-Time, Precarious Nation in the Age of Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump-The-Next-King

Yet, as I have written so many times when I was an active faculty from 1983 to 2013 and adjunct union organizer for a stint in Seattle and Washington with SEIU, we are the backbone of education, and education and student outcomes pay the price for treating adjuncts as migrant workers. Here, a report from OSU through AAUP:

Non-tenure track faculty members at Oregon State University often are overworked and underpaid, and they deserve better treatment, officials of the American Association of University Professors chapter at OSU said Wednesday.

Some 68 percent of all OSU faculty members — from instructors to researchers to professional employees — are adjuncts. They work under fixed-term contracts, with none of the job security of tenured professors, and they often earn far less money, AAUP leaders said during a lunchtime presentation to discuss the findings of a campus-wide survey.

“Like much of the rest of the American economy, American universities have come to rely on a large pool of cheap migrant labor,” said philosophy professor Jose-Antonio Orosco, president of the Oregon State chapter of AAUP.

“OSU is not different from these national trends.”

The study, titled “We Power Orange” in reference to an OSU promotional slogan, was conducted last spring. Questionnaires went out to 2,771 non-tenure track faculty members, with 1,262 responding.

Top concerns varied somewhat among instructional, research and professional faculty, but in general the biggest issues were low pay, lack of job security and limited prospects for advancement.

My own battle at just one college1,2,3,4:

But the new normal is to have these huge pimping moments at these colleges, paying college presidents base salaries of half a million a year, as in OSU’s case, but worse is these pampered fools’ housing is paid for, so is a car, trips with families, and, most problematic, cash outs for insurance policies and severance pay in the millions.

Look at this:

1. Michael Crow, President, Arizona State University $1,554,058

2. William McRaven, Chancellor, University of Texas system $1,500,000

3. John Sharp, Chancellor, Texas A&M University system office, $1,280,438

4. W. Kent Fuchs, President, University of Florida, $1,102,862

5. Michael A. McRobbie, President Indiana University system $1,067,074

6. Eric J. Barron, President, Pennsylvania State University at University Park, $1,039,717

7. Michael V. Drake, President, Ohio State University, $1,034,574

8. Michael K. Young, President, Texas A&M at College Station, $1,000,000

9. Jean E. Robillard, Interim President, University of Iowa, $929,045

10. Raymond Watts, President, University of Alabama at Birmingham, $890,000

So, it goes without saying that walking on this campus, Oregon State University, “home of the beavers” (as opposed to the other big Oregon School, “The Ducks”) working as a social worker, with two master’s degrees, at $16 an hour to case manage homeless veterans, I want pikes and heads on those pikes. Proverbially, this entire country, from sleazy Chamber of Commerce corner to Sleazier FIRE (finance insurance real estate) corner, is run by scammers. I used to get the same hourly pay, more or less, as a college English teacher (hours put in grading and regrading drafts and final drafts of student essays and assignments).

The social services are screwed, education is screwed, and this upside-down world of Americans all teary eyed over the shallow prognostications of shallow and infantile thinkers (sic) which are basically entertainers with a big fat Propagandist Tapped Over Their Eyes is also one of the prime slights to any thinking human being.

Did you get that hourly rate above, being paid to me? Living in the Portland, Oregon area? Hmm? This is the best of the best, in terms of which non-profit I am working for. Big name brand.

For veterans who are aging, getting dementia, on the streets, PTSD and all those substance abuse issues.

Daily, I try to find something better, and in that sense, does that make sense, starting a job with a client base, and keeping one eye open for a higher paying job? Is that how the US of Israel works? We can never stay in one place because the pay is obscenely low and the rent and cost of living are obscenely high?

Linked In Is Clueless in Seattle, et al

I abhor social media as much as I despise mainstream media and faux left media. I just linked up with that bizarre thing called, Linked In, a business connection site, with the most despicable narratives, really, of the abusers in Capitalism – all this fawning over the CEOs, the Jeff Bezos types of the world. It’s a Whose Who of people thinking that connecting on this platform is more sophisticated than Facebook.

But it’s the same, or worse, and the people either self-censor or lock-step into the dungeon that is Capitalism. It’s about how to sell oneself, how to make money, how to get a raise, write a cover letter, add points to one’s business profile. Typically, it’s sort of the USA Today version of the Wall Street Journal with some Forbes Magazine thrown in, and how to be a successful manager for icing on the top of the drivel.

You write your profile, try and connect to your connections and other’s connections, for I do not know why, since my job profile is way outside any linear or even seasoned employee’s trajectory.

I see no connections that would help me get an in into the work I really excel at – writing, editing, radical urban planning, radical social work, teaching, organizational change.

In the end, though, I put up the Linked In as part of my unemployment insurance gig, working with a silly class on cognitive behavioral therapy – a class set up for people on food stamps or TANF, to try and get them in 12 sessions to change their thinking. Instead, the class was peopled by white males and females, all of whom had had jobs for years and then got sacked. The instructor said the grant for the course, “Rethinking Job Search,” was geared for chronically “dependent upon welfare folk.”

The course is as bad as it sounds, the teacher terrible and infantile, and the lack of true engagement typical of today’s poverty pimps and quasi-unemployment officers. This class I attended in order to teach the class, but that was an interview from hell, and I eventually stopped going. The push for me to stop attending was when all these white people started waxing Christ and God and the Good Book – really, they yammered on how getting closer to Christianity was what was helping them through unemployment and being sacked at an older age. No matter where you go in this country, it’s the Chronicles of Narnia over and over and over.

The final straw was when the instructor brought up some book written by some former female Facebook executive who faced the death of her bigwig husband, and our teacher said this book was a must read, truly inspirational:

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg was on vacation in Mexico in 2015 with her husband and friends when her husband, tech executive Dave Goldberg, passed away unexpectedly of a cardiac arrhythmia.

Sandberg, 47, was left as a single mother of her two children with Goldberg. She writes about recovering from the tragedy and working through the grief in her new book, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.”

I tried to convey to the instructor that this millionaire (several times over) has zero relevance to someone like me, who has been precarious all his life, who has had at-will employment, 11th hour appointments, and who has seen his careers – newspaper journalism, teaching, social work and novel writing gutted by the very people this Sandberg and Goldberg represent. I also reminded her that I was also a social worker with employment specialist as a title helping recovery clients, re-entry clients, homeless clients, clients with physical disabilities and mental challenges and felony records get shitty jobs in shitty warehouses with two-hour one-way bus trips to work at ungodly hours.

This is the magical thinking of middling people, and Option B – finding joy – was really no option for my clients, but forced choices of poverty, food boxes, five to a room, tents in alleyways, rotting teeth, disease at age 50 were/are their only options. Clients with thousands and thousands of dollars owed to legal financial obligations (LFO’s), hospital bills for ER visits, bad credit because of bad policies. No “Finding Joy” in “Option B.”

Nope, I was not about to hear her tell me the crocodile tears of tech executives would inspire, but alas, that is middling America – rooting for the inured K9 dog, sending in money for its surgery, while denying a panhandler a quarter. A book, no less, on Oprah, I am sure, and loving by the M & B Obama clan, I am sure (Michelle gets over $30 million for her November 2018 “memoir“, titled Becoming, another book of inspiration for incarcerated folk).

Triggers Everywhere I Go

I’ll end where I began – OSU. First, I did stop by the Caesar Chavez Cultural Center (Centro Cultural César Chávez)  on campus, near the stadium and Welcome Center, and I talked with a few of the Latinx folk there. In a few minutes, I was being asked why I wasn’t teaching, and that they kept insisting OSU needed teachers like me. You see, this is a daily trigger for me – young people being taught by middlings, and the radicals like me, well, they never see real Marxists and socialists in their classes, as their faculty.

A few minutes explaining my own teaching narrative, my own life, my own perspectives, well, on one hand I felt honored and proud that the four Latinos/as thought of me as that person, that little Che in their moment on that campus. They wondered why I was not teaching anywhere.

Again, we need me’s on campuses throughout the land. Having a Cornel West is great, but in the end, he is still celebrity, limiting in his reach. Young people need older people to teach them how to revolt, rebel, hack the system and learn a narrative that is not in their lives. I teach writing and composition and literature, and they need strong role models and writers and people who have not got the golden ticket or brass ring.

We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success,” defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.

— Chris Hedges

I told one of the fellows about Jimmy Santiago Baca, that he’d make a great speaker at OSU, for Poetry Month, April. The fellow asked me where he should get his news, his information, so I listed a lot of alternative sites.

People say what distinguishes us from the animals is that we think. Well, then why the hell don’t we extend some compassion to those under tremendous duress? There’s this whole idea that you work really hard so you can deaden your soul to the universe and enjoy yourself only in ways the Sierra Club will let you. But what about enjoying yourself by getting into the whole melee of poverty and racism and violence and murder and drug addiction? Get in there, roll up your sleeves, and do something! Nobody does it.

— Jimmy Santiago Baca

Yes, a bit of ray of sunshine, the Cultural Center, and the Native American longhouse …. and the campus watch on Nazis and white supremacists coming to town.

Yet, on that campus, the supposed jewel of Oregon, the student newspaper is a joke, coming out once a week, and thin as toilet paper.

Young people have a lot to navigate now, and the conflicting messages like Pyron’s above are overwhelming. I did get to pick up the science magazine, Terra, and in that rag, of course, highlights/features of the science faculty at OSU:

1. Energy Matters looks at public policy around how citizens engage in energy issues
2. Bury It Deep looks at pumping carbon dioxide into underground capture sites
3. Reclaiming Native Space is about cultural identity for Native Americans and engaging in forgotten histories
4. Towing the Line is about 60 years of marine sciences new Newport on the Pacific
5. The Oregon Ocean Acid Test is about citizen scientists working to track water chemistry from Astoria to Gold Beach
6. The Giving Trees is about OSU forestry researchers helping restore forest in Haiti, Lebanon and other troubled spots

I’m a wonky kind of guy with marine biology in my veins and an holistic interest in the sciences tied to climate, ecosystems, energy and sustainability. Good stuff, this magazine, but yet, the underlying issue in all the pieces is the lack of funding, big time, for the projects, and the lack of public engagement, lack of political will and the writing in the rag is still a bit dumb-downed and hopeful. There is no mention of feedback loops, and there is no real discussion of how all these systems have been degraded not by accident but by the policies of capitalism, and corporations worldwide.

The irony is that the carbon sequestration piece on trapping CO2 will not solve climate change. The big irony is that the scientists working on trapping CO2 underground are the same scientists who helped the fossil fuel industry to extract black liquid from geological formations.

The fabric of this magazine is based on spin and media control and messaging, and making OSU look good, AND not giving the public who might pick up a copy of Terra or the students at the school too much of a dismal picture of our world. About giving hope.

Hmm, Option B, again? That hopey dopey thing, uh? Old piece from Derrick Jensen, Beyond Hope:

When you give up on hope, something even better happens than it not killing you, which is that in some sense it does kill you. You die. And there’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that they — those in power — cannot really touch you anymore. Not through promises, not through threats, not through violence itself. Once you’re dead in this way, you can still sing, you can still dance, you can still make love, you can still fight like hell — you can still live because you are still alive, more alive in fact than ever before. You come to realize that when hope died, the you who died with the hope was not you, but was the you who depended on those who exploit you, the you who believed that those who exploit you will somehow stop on their own, the you who believed in the mythologies propagated by those who exploit you in order to facilitate that exploitation. The socially constructed you died. The civilized you died. The manufactured, fabricated, stamped, molded you died. The victim died.

  1. Paul Haeder. Springtime in Amerika – Bump those Adjuncts Until They Hurt, Dissident Voice, March 26, 2014.
  2. American Faculty Association. Adjunct Faculty Dr. Keith Hoeller Files Unfair Labor Practice Complaint Against Green River College and Faculty Union (AFT/NEA), November 3, 2015.
  3. Paul Haeder. Wrapping the ‘Precarious’ and ‘At-will’ labels on 150 million USA Workers, Dissident Voice, January 26, 2014.
  4. AdjunctNation. Washington Pters Allege Union Corruption & Cover Up, Ask NEA President for Trusteeship, February 9, 2013. Note: A long one about Green River Community College where I was sacked for organizing students.

Arming Educators: Trump, Gun Violence and Schools

It had been in the works.  Instead of engaging in the traditional revulsion associated with a mass shooting, or even digesting the grief of outraged students and grieving parents, US President Donald Trump’s solution to guns violence was elementary.  To target the perpetrator, it was necessary to arm instructors, mount the barricades, and raise the stakes.

His address of February 15 was hackneyed but drew the lines of barriers and defence.  It was a description of a dysfunctional environment, one further bloodied in the wake of the shootings in Parkland, Florida.

No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school.  No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning.

A week later, he had met some of the survivors of the shootings at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, adopting the familiar pose as radical agent of change, a person who would do things differently from his impotent or indifferent predecessors.  At the very least, he would do something.

I listened to their heartbreaking stories. I asked them for their ideas, and pledged to them that we will take action, unlike, for many years, where people in my position did not take action.  They didn’t take proper action.  They took no action at all.  We’re going to take action.

In fact, he claimed confidently, work was already being done by his administration to target guns – and criminals. Little distinction here is made between the armed gangs he boastfully targets, or the ill individual who prefers to resort to using weapons in a fit of disturbance.  “So we’re working on getting violent offenders off the streets and guns out of the hands of the dangerous criminals.”  He also promised firmer background checks, the removal of such incidents of the problem as bump stocks.

One of the more telling aspects of Trump’s latest approach to guns is his insistence on how best to deal with the “sick guy” behind the trigger.  Nikolas Cruz had “so many sides” befitting a mental patient. But alas, communities in the United States had taken a stance over the years against the mental institution, citing costs and in some cases the liberty of the patient, as reasons for mass closures.

So, we’re going to be talking seriously about opening mental health institutions again.  In some cases, reopening.  I can tell you, in New York, the governors in New York did a very, very bad thing when they closed our mental institutions, so many of them.

Not that Trump is particularly enthused by a model of care and compassion.  The sick of the United States are not to be treated in tender fashion but subjected to something amounting to pseudo-incarceration.

You have these people living on the streets.  And I can say that, in many cases throughout the country, they’re very dangerous.  They shouldn’t be there.

And what of the school children themselves?  They would be protected by their guardians and teachers at school, not by discouraging the use of weaponry but encouraging competent armed responses.  Arm, for instance, up to 20 percent of teachers.  Security guards, alone, were inadequate.  They did not, like deputy Scot Peterson of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, “know” or “love the children”.

This arming strategy would also be selective.  On Friday, the President suggested that not all pedagogues would be anointed with the task, merely those “that have great ability with weaponry, with guns, those are the only people I’m talking about.  They’ll protect the students.”  An environment of true, trigger conscious mayhem.

In this regard, Trump’s proposal is not drawn from a crazed air.  Sponsorship programs in various US states exist encouraging gun loading and training for administrators and teachers.  The phenomenon of the armed educator has taken root in very troubled soil.  FasterColorado does just that in Colorado, a confession that guns are less to be controlled than embraced with care.

Laura Carno, co-founder of Coloradans for Civil Liberties, is one figure Trump speaks to.  It was Carno who, in a brainwave of inspiration, brought the Ohio-based Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency (FASTER) program to Colorado.  The language of the program is not that of schooling but urban warfare.

In the fantastically grim voice of security public relations:

FASTER training enables teachers, administrators and other school employees to stop school violence quickly and administer medical aid immediately.

Carno’s sociological vision is primitively fatalistic.  The enemy can be defeated – with force.

We need to talk about fortifying doors.  We need to talk about a lot of things, but we also need to talk about arming staff, because everything can be defeated.

For Trump, a crude deterrence theory passes muster.  The person behind the gun is a coward who, on knowing that there are no gun free zones, will resist temptation.  Such apocalyptic scenarios remain the stuff of gun policy in US debates, and suggesting a crude irony at work: to keep people safe, they must be reassured they are in gun zones.

With such a stance, the right to bear harms remains unabridged and unchallenged.  What matters is the mentality behind using them.  Given that such individuals are often broken on inflicting carnage, rational appraisals of deterrence seem weak.  What Trump’s America looks like after the Florida school shootings is a more militant, and militarised space rife with suspicion and pathological insecurity.

Rachel Notley Sides with the Enemies of Tenure, Peer Review, and Academic Freedom at Alberta’s Universities

Dear Premier Rachel Notley:

I am writing you this open letter to defend myself against your attack on me personally and professionally. What is the evidentiary basis behind your characterization of my academic work as “repulsive, offensive and not reflective of Alberta”? Why have you decided to set yourself up, Premier Notley, as some sort of arbitrator to decide what scholarly work in Alberta universities meets the criteria of being “reflective of Alberta”?

Is your opinion about what is, or is not, “reflective of Alberta” to become a new test of how curriculum will be created and how faculty members will be chosen in this province? There are serious implications for academic freedom and free speech in this province when an Alberta Premier chimes in about the need to reflect her own conception of Alberta values in higher education.

What lies behind your decision to disseminate a caricature of me “standing at the head of the class” in order to “spread lies and conspiracy theories”?1

Since I began teaching in the Department of Native American Studies at the University of Lethbridge in 1990, I have never once seen a student evaluation that reflects the kind of accusations you are pressing publicly on me. How is it you think you know more about me, including what goes on in my classroom, than my own students?

After a year and a half of being subject to a ruthless trial-by-media, a new process is only now being initiated that from my perspective allows me to come forward for the first time to tell my side of the story before an investigating tribunal operating within the terms of our collective agreement. The process is going forward because of a court contestation that the U of L Board of Governors lost because of its unwillingness to adhere to the laws of labour relations in Alberta.

Whose advice was the Board depending on when its members put themselves in such an untenable position? Was the Board listening to the same stream of bad advice that you are now absorbing in constructing me as the anti-thesis of your simple-minded vision of higher learning in Alberta?

Before we have even started the process that has come about because of the determined stand of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), you, Premier Notley, chose to inject a politicized salvo into the onslaught of vituperation against me that began on August 26 of 2016.

Here is how the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association described your ill-advised political intervention:

15 Jan., 2018

Re: Premier’s statement re Anthony Hall

The Faculty Association wishes to express its disappointment in the Premier’s words. As the union that represents Professor Hall in his employment relationship with the University of Lethbridge, the Faculty Association has endeavoured to have a fair and objective process employed for adjudicating Professor Hall’s academic scholarship and accountability through procedures in the collective agreement. We finally achieved this following significant effort and cost on our part and have a great deal of confidence in the appropriate academic procedures to which Professor Hall is now subject.

Having the Premier draw conclusions about the acceptability of Professor Hall’s academic work prior to any decision rendered by an expert panel of qualified academics has the potential to undermine this very process we have fought to achieve. At worse, though, these words have the real potential to bias the outcome of any such fair and objective process.

The Faculty Association has greatly appreciated the hard work the Premier and her government have done to advance the rights of post-secondary labour. We believe it is a dangerous precedent, however, for elected officials to intervene so directly in a complex labour matter such as this one.

Sincerely,

Andrea Amelinckx,
ULFA President
Cc Honourable Minister M Schmidt

One of the core points I intend to bring forward in my self-defense in the forthcoming process is to describe the mounting of a negative media campaign against me based on the atrocious contents of a maliciously-engineered Facebook post. According to B’nai Brith Canada, the core agency in orchestrating this media deception, the post appeared on, and then disappeared from, my Facebook wall during an interval of a few hours on August 26, 2016. I did not invite this digital item onto my Facebook wall. I did not sanction its abhorrent contents. In fact, I condemned the post’s contents publicly in mid-September when I first became aware of the digital item and the way that it was being deployed to destroy my reputation.

You, Premier Notley, were presented with a deceptive account of my relationship to the Facebook post long before I even knew about the B’nai Brith Canada operation. Recently I learned from the results of a FOIP investigation of the Alberta Ministry of Justice that on August 27, 2016 you and other Alberta cabinet ministers were sent a slanderous account of the Facebook post as if it “came from my lips.” People in the inner circle of your office reported you had seen the communication that slanderously misrepresented me as an “advocate for the murder of Jews.”

If you would actually take a genuine interest in my academic work, Premier Notley, you would realize I have a record of studying all sorts of genocide and condemning this crime against humanity in all its manifestations, including in the Jewish Shoah.2 You might have taken into account that in 2004 I won the Wilfred Eggleston Award for the best work of non-fiction by an Albertan author. In its review of this work, The American Empire and the Fourth World, Alberta Views described the volume as “the first truly important Canadian book of the century.” It appears, Premier Notley, that you are contributing to making Alberta a dangerous and unwelcoming place for authors, artists and scholars that don’t stick to the party line on government-dictated orthodoxy.

Perhaps the people who lied to you about me in late August of 2016 are still holding you captive in terms of filtering the information that has caused you to think whatever it is you believe you know about me. The President of the University of Lethbridge, Dr. Michael J. Mahon, went along with the Facebook deception to suspend this tenured full professor on October 3 and 4, 2016. I was pulled from the classroom in mid-term and banned from stepping foot on campus. This purge took place entirely outside the terms of the collective agreement between the university’s faculty and administration. Are you even aware of this central fact in the academic freedom case at the University of Lethbridge?

The suspension, initially without pay, essentially declared me guilty until proven innocent. Severe punitive measures were imposed on me all without even an ounce of adjudication by a neutral third-party. From the correspondence I have been receiving from all over the world, I can say my suspension quickly became a shot heard throughout the global academic realm, a shot signaling that an Albertan university is leading a precedent-setting attack on the institutions of tenure, peer review and academic freedom.

Now you have joined in that attack too, Premier Notley. You have allied yourself with the position of B’nai Brith Canada, the organization that recently interfered in the leadership race for the new leader of the federal NDP. The NDP federal leadership candidate, Niki Ashton, was attacked by the same organization that set in motion the trial-by-media campaign aimed at bringing about my professional and personal ruination.

According to B’nai Brith’s CEO Michael Mostyn, Ms. Ashton’s concern for the violated human rights of Palestinians people made her “an advocate for vile terrorists” and “convicted murders.” It was said to have revealed Ms. Ashton’s “defective moral compass.”3

What is your view, Premier Notley, of the condemnation directed at the new NDP federal leader, Jagmeet Singh, when B’nai Brith Canada took aim at him for intervening to provide a venue at the Ontario provincial legislature for a presentation by academic advocates of the rights of educator Nadia Shoufani. The condemnation directed at the current NDP federal leader came about in late August of 2016 when Mr. Singh was MLA for the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton and Deputy Leader of the Ontario NDP.

At the same time as it was attacking Jagmeet Singh, B’nai Brith Canada was leading the effort to have Ms. Shofani, a Canadian of Palestinian and Christian background, criminalized by police and fired from her teaching job in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board. The criticisms directed at Ms. Shoufani are similar to those directed at Ms. Ashton.

Similarly, the effort to criminalize Ms. Shoufani and bar her from the classroom anticipated the similar treatment to which I was about to be subjected later in 2016. The attack on Ms. Shoufani’s job and her reputation was based on allegations about her supposed “terror-supporting remarks” made in a Quds Day speech in Toronto in July of 2016.4

It seems, Premier Notley, your political intervention on the wrong side of the University of Lethbridge case reflects your reactionary alliance with the thought police and speech police at B’nai Brith Canada and its network of related agencies. Your reactionary stance identifies you with the backward policies of former NDP leader, Tom Mulcair, when he purged pro-Palestinian candidates from the federal election of 2015. This atrocious move was in all probably a significant factor in the disappointing electoral showing of the NDP as it lost its position of Canada’s Official Opposition Party.5

Now in February of 2018 B’nai Brith Canada has resumed its efforts to quarterback the NDP, lobbying aggressively to stop a resolution from being put on the floor of the recent NDP convention.6 The vote, nevertheless, was close, 189 for putting the resolution forward and 200 for sidelining it. The resolution included provisions on a Canadian boycott against products produced in the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank.

Those supporting the boycott resolution included the unanimous backing of the Young New Democrats, 28 electoral riding associations covering six provinces, and many current and former MPs. Geneviève Nevin, a supporter of the resolution from Victoria, observed, “There’s a generational divide on this issue.” In his account of this divide within the NDP, journalist Derrick O’Keefe suggested Jagmeet Singh would be wise to look to the example of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. Mr. Corbyn has mobilized on behalf of the Labour Party considerable electoral support from his attentiveness to the plight of Palestinian people under Israeli occupation.7

By siding so strongly with the U of L administration’s collaboration with the Israel lobby including B’nai Brith Canada and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, you have identified yourself and your government with agencies that condemned Hassan Diab wrongly as a terrorist. B’nai Brith Canada played a major role in calling for pulling the sociology teacher from his Carleton University classroom in Ottawa. This intervention helped set in notion a miscarriage of justice that saw the Lebanese Canadian academic incarcerated for a decade in Canada and France for a crime he didn’t commit.8

You have identified yourself and your government, Premier Notley, with notorious enemies of academic freedom who brought forward during the 50th anniversary of York University all sorts of false allegations much like those I am facing now. This fiasco unfolded when B’nai Brith Canada, the CIJA, the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Jewish Defence League tried to shut down an academic conference on Israel/Palestine at York University in 2009.

The effort to sabotage this academic initiative was foiled because the York University President, Mamdou Shoukiri, and the York University Board of Governors stood up for the imperatives of academic freedom.9

In 2018 in Alberta the equation is very different. The President and Board of University of Lethbridge have adopted the position of the Israel lobby. Now, Premier Notley, you have intervened to strengthen this political coalition favouring the stifling of free and open debate at Alberta universities.  Please consider revisiting you provocative and intellectually bankrupt position on this matter.

Yours Sincerely,

Anthony J. Hall

Professor of Globalization Studies,
University of Lethbridge

  1. Chuck Millar’s Letter to the Alberta Premier—11 January, 2018. Premier Notley indicated on November 24, 2017: “There is no question that the views of this individual are repulsive, offensive and not reflective of Alberta. Our classrooms are a place for freedom of speech and expression but that does not mean individuals get to stand at the head of the class and spread lies and conspiracy theories. I am terribly disappointed to learn that this individual has been reinstated, but let me be clear that legislation that our government introduced did not give him his job back. I can confirm that this individual is now under investigation by a committee at the University.”
  2. See, for instance, Hall, Earth into Property” Colonization, Decolonization, and Capitalism (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010), Chapter 14, “Genocide and Global Capitalism,” pp. 655-711.
  3. Tony Hall, “Palestinians, B’nai Brith and Canada’s New Democratic Party”, Canadian Dimension, 30 July, 2017.
  4. B’nai Brith Canada, “NDP Deputy Leader Facilitates Pro-Shoufani Press Conference at Queen’s Park,” 24 August, 2016.
  5. Marion Kawas, “New Democratic Party Purges Candidates over pro-Palestinian positions in lead up to Canadian elections“, Mondoweiss, 24 August 2015.
  6. Aidan Fishman, “A Massive Defeat for Anti-Israel Forces as Pro-BDS Resolution Stalls at NDP Convention”,16 February, 2018; Shiri Moshe, “Israel Boycotters Face ‘Massive Setback’ at NDP Convention But Concerns Persist“, Algemeiner, 16 February, 2018.
  7. Derick O’Keefe, “Palestinian Resolution Narrowly Stopped from Hitting NDP Convention Floor“, Richochet, 16 February 2018.
  8. Judy Haven, “After 10 Years Hassan Diab is Finally Free,” Independent Jewish Voices Canada.
  9. Susan G. Drummong, Unthinkable Thoughts, Academic Freedom and the One-State Solution for Israel and Palestine (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014); Jon Thompson, No Debate: The Israel lobby and free speech in Canadian universities (Toronto: Lorimer, 2011).

Academic Freedom? How Nasty Can a University Be?

The present era of reactionary institutional responses to violations of political correctness is exposing the fact that “academic freedom”, of both professors and students, does not really mean much, except what it has always meant.

In the concluding paragraphs of her chapter on academic freedom in her 1986 book No Ivory Tower, Ellen W. Schrecker brilliantly states what modern academic freedom has always been and was always meant to be:

The academic world of Schaper and Cattell, Ely and Nearing, was to change considerably over the next few decades. Especially in the years following the Second World War, the American system of higher education was to expand in size and to become a more democratic and less genteel place. Yet its treatment of political dissidents changed little. The same pattern of pressures and responses that set the early precedents determined the later cases as well. There were some differences to be sure, especially in procedural matters. There was more faculty participation, for example. This was largely the result of the academic profession’s success in establishing the principle of tenure. Though its possession did not invariably protect controversial professors from being fired, by the 1940s and 1950s it did usually ensure that they got some kind of a faculty hearing.

Procedures apart, however, there were fewer differences than we might assume. Institutional loyalty was the overriding concern. In almost every situation, faculty members and administrators responded to outside pressures for the dismissal of dissenting faculty members in accord with what they believed would best protect or enhance their schools reputation. The rhetoric of academic freedom obscures those concerns, as, in many instances, it was designed to. After all, even the famous academic freedom statement that the University of Wisconsin released after the Regents reinstated Richard T. Ely in 1894 was planned in part as a piece of institutional promotion-as, in the words of the man who suggested it, “an excellent advertisement for the institution.” Stripped of its rhetoric, academic freedom thus turns out to be an essentially corporate protection. And, as we trace its development during the Cold War, we should not be surprised to find that it was invoked more often to defend the well-being of an institution than the political rights of an individual.1

Nonetheless, it is interesting to ask: Just how far can a Western university, in a so-called free and democratic society, go in violating the freedom of expression and the professional independence of a tenured professor?

My own case gives a graphic answer to this question.

First, here is the background of what was actually happening in the classroom. This letter from a parent on one of my students was published in Canada’s largest national newspaper on February 9, 2009:

“Free to Learn” by Julia Debono

Windsor, Ont. — In 2006, while shadowing my daughter, then a student at the University of Ottawa, I attended one of Denis Rancourt’s classes (Professor Makes His Mark, But It Costs Him His Job – Feb. 6). Prof. Rancourt, clearly a dedicated, principled teacher, moderated a spirited, engaging, intellectually provocative discussion in which about 50 students eagerly participated.

Other undergraduate classes that I attended consisted of the professor lecturing while students chatted, surfed the Net or took verbatim notes. Few asked questions and there were no discussions, even when the professor asked for some.

Prof. Rancourt’s class resembled classes I had at the University of Michigan’s Residential College in the mid-1970s, right down to the use of narrative summaries instead of grades to evaluate learning.

His class was an example of the kind of educational experience I sent my daughter to university to be a part of.2

There were hundreds of such letters to the university and to media, and a large petition. Here is my report of how my first-year (freshman) physics course had developed: “How to Not Teach Physics”.3

In addition, I was publicly critical of the university administration on my “U of O Watch” blog and I practiced reform wherever I could legally do so, given the on-paper guaranties of my academic freedom and professional independence.

Twice the university disciplined me for allegedly not following the curriculum. Both times the university was rebuffed by binding arbitration decisions and the discipline was removed. I established that in Ontario a university professor is allowed to be political in the classroom, in addition to covering the curriculum, even in a science course. This irked the reactionary administration to no end.

As a result, sometimes the political activism would spill over into students demanding their rights within the institution. There was an upsurge of student activism in the years that I taught, which I mostly attribute to reactions against oppressive policies and an influx of politically savvy international students. But, of course, the administration blamed me and scribbled network diagrams about it in their notes (I saw this in access-to-information records).

In one such “spill over”, the president — experienced trial lawyer, former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and former Liberal prospective candidate for Prime Minister of Canada, Allan Rock — was publicly exposed intimidating a student complainant, in the president’s office. The student’s audio recording was played on regional cable TV, and a link of it was sent to all the university’s students by email. The president never did that again.

Within a few weeks after the cable TV show aired, my many research graduate students and I were locked out of our laboratory without notice and, as I learned in 2017, the university destroyed my large collections of valuable scientific samples, and immediately made the laboratory inoperable.

The violations of my academic and constitutional rights that also occurred prior to and after the lock out are difficult to grasp, but they did occur, and many “respectable” high officials were knowingly involved. Now I want the new president to fix this and the university to be accountable. This recent letter is how I presented the case to the new president:

January 8, 2018

Jacques Frémont
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Ottawa
550 Cumberland, Room 212
Ottawa, ON  K1N 6N5

f: 613-562-5103
e: ac.awattOunull@tnediserp
By email and by fax

Re: Ending the University of Ottawa’s unrelenting punishment of me

Dear President Frémont,

I was a professor in the department of physics at the University of Ottawa from 1987 until 2009.  I occupied the highest academic rank of Full Professor beginning in 1997.

I am recognized as an expert in my profession and have taught thousands of students.  I am a much appreciated teacher and research supervisor and I have published over 100 articles in leading journals in several areas of science (my present h-index score is 35).

I taught the Senate-approved course “Science in Society”, which I created following campus-wide student demand, in the largest auditorium on campus.  It was informally known as the activism course.

I was a critic of the university and I defended students against what I saw as institutional discrimination and racism.  In so doing, I used Malcolm X’s political term, “house negro”.  I did this in the context of a struggle for justice and in good faith, as attested to by the attached letters to you from community activists: Hazel Gashoka, Jean-Marie Vianney, and Cynthia McKinney.

The university dismissed me in 2009 using the pretext of my having assigned high grades to all 23 students in one advanced physics course, and then spent over $1 million sponsoring a large defamation lawsuit against me.

You have emptied out my bank account by court order, you have repeatedly threatened to take my family’s home, and you have asserted that you will continue to enforce recovery of your legal costs in excess of $1 million.  Therefore, I am not able to pursue my work as a teacher and scholar, since you would take every penny.

You destroyed my career and took everything I have. You have done enough. I’m hoping that your sense of decency will cause you to grant this request for relief.

The university’s punishment of me has been relentless, including the following.

Destroyed scientific samples

Recently this year, as I sought to continue my scientific work, the university said that it destroyed my large and unique collection of scientific samples — when it locked me and my students out of our laboratory while I was still a full professor.

Many of the samples are irreplaceable and priceless, and I considered myself their custodian on behalf the scientific community.  The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) has assumed my $1.25 million grievance concerning this destruction.

The destroyed scientific samples included:

(a) The only large non-oxidized piece of the Santa Catharina meteorite, in which the meteoritic metallic phase “antitaenite” was discovered.

(b) The only large sample of remnants of the K/T boundary meteorite that may have killed the dinosaurs, collected in the field by a leading-expert collaborator, and kept in a sealed atmosphere.

(c) Unique suites of synthetic layer silicate compounds, which led to several fundamental discoveries.

(d) Suites of loess-paleosol samples (ancient soils) from two sites, in China and Eastern Europe.

(e) Preserved samples of sediments from 100 lakes in Canada, from the largest study of its kind in the boreal forest.

(f) Several suites of samples of synthetic compounds and alloys having unique electronic, magnetic, and magneto-volume properties.

For years the university threatened to destroy my personal papers, too.  Since 2008, the university refused to give me access to my belongings from my personal office in the physics building.  The materials were research notes, original course content, unpublished book manuscripts, two decades of correspondence, specialized books, and much more.  Only recently, thanks to your direct intervention, was I able to recover the more than 200 cubic feet of paper materials.

Student spy

The university hired a student spy (Maureen Robinson) to covertly surveil me for more than one year while I was a professor.  Her actions were condoned by her immediate supervisors (the dean and the legal counsel of the university) and included using a false cyber identity (“Nathalie Page”) and falsely representing herself personally to third parties.  The student spy provided weekly reports about me to the university.  Her role was described by an Ontario appellate-court judge in his motion ruling in the following terms:

Maureen Robinson

[15] The circumstances of Maureen Robinson’s involvement in this entire matter is troubling at best.  Throughout the relevant portion of the Award by Arbitrator Foisy, Ms.  Robinson’s written notes were referred to [as] “the report on Professor Rancourt’s address prepared by a University of Ottawa student”.

[16] Pursuant to the Udell Affidavit, and based on evidence from the hearing, the student being Maureen Robinson was the editor of the student newspaper who had been hired by the University in what the University described as in a clerical capacity to assist Professor Rancourt in his office, without his input on her hiring.

[17] Either in consultation with her employer, the University, or on her own, she monitored the activities of Professor Rancourt both on and off campus and reported her finding back to the University.  In an email to Dean Lalonde, she admitted to having a “personal grudge” against Professor Rancourt and went so far as to liken her monitoring of Professor Rancourt as “posing as a young girl to catch a pedophile”.  Ms. Robinson was not called as a witness at the hearing and, the parties agreed that her “report” would be considered as an “aide memoire” only.

[18] The University referred to the “report” thereafter as a transcript which such description was objected to by the APUO.  Similarly, Arbitrator Foisy made certain findings which appear to be based solely on the report which was not evidence.  [Underlined sub-title in original]

Covert psychiatric report

In 2008, the university’s VP-Governance coordinated a capture of my intimate childhood information for use by a hired psychiatrist to make a written “psychiatric opinion” of me without my consent or knowledge.

The university thereby violated my constitutional privacy rights, my personal dignity and integrity, and numerous ethical codes regarding expert medical diagnoses.

The university followed this by not informing me of its actions, and by vigorously opposing my access to the psychiatric report until the final hour of an appeal in litigation for access in 2017.

You have a reputation as an advocate of human rights, and you recently took charge of the university’s case with me.

I write to you now to ask for a fair resolution that will allow me to resume my work as an educator and scientist, and to earn my living in this way. As it stands, the university would seize all of my income, just as it recently seized my bank account. The interest alone that you seek is more than $30,000.00 per year.

Please assure me that you will instruct the university lawyers that a settlement is needed that will allow me to resume my career.

Yours truly,

[original signed]

Professor Denis Rancourt
[address]

Encl.:  Letters from Hazel Gashoka, Jean-Marie Vianney, and Cynthia McKinney [three attachments in the original].4

That is how nasty a university in a free and democratic society can be. I know other public institutions behave the same way but we rarely find out. I have been dedicated to uncovering as much as I can.

I have been guided by this quote:

One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.

— Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.5

  1. The two last paragraphs of Chapter I: “An Excellent Advertizement for the Institution”: The Development of Academic Freedom, 1886-1918; in Ellen W. Schrecker’s No Ivory Tower – McCarthyism and the Universities, Oxford University Press, 1986.
  2. Letter to the Editor, Globe & Mail (National Edition), February 9, 2009.
  3. Rancourt, Denis. How to Not Teach Physics. Dissident Voice, January 2, 2013.
  4. “2018 01 08 Letter to end the University of Ottawa’s unrelenting punishment of Denis Rancourt”, and direct link to the document as PDF file.
  5. Human Nature: Justice versus Power”, Noam Chomsky debates with Michel Foucault, 1971.

Pakistan: Teachers and Farmers Protests Brutally Crushed in Sindh

In recent weeks, as much of the Pakistani media remained fixated on the internecine squabbles of the country’s ruling elites, authorities in Sindh have been brutally cracking down on sections of workers and farmers in the province who’ve had the temerity to defend their rights and fight for improved living standards and working conditions.

On December 25, primary, secondary and high school teachers in Karachi held a defiant protest against the Sindh government due to its refusal to provide them with permanent jobs despite having agreed to do so in 2014.  The provincial government is refusing to honor its agreement even after forcing teachers to pass a rigorous examination conducted by the National Testing Service and the University of Sindh.

Teachers from all over the province took part in the demonstration, including teachers from Hyderabad, some of whom marched the entire 140km distance to Karachi in order to participate.  The teachers were attacked by the police when they tried to march toward the Chief Minister’s House.  The police used water cannons, batons and tear gas against the protesting teachers and scores were arrested.  On Tuesday, the Sindh authorities claimed that two dozen teachers were detained and that all have since been released.  However, according to officials of the All Sindh Primary Teachers Association, more than 150 teachers were arrested and many others were injured by the heavy-handed tactics of the police.  Despite the violent response of the police, the teachers have refused to back down until their demands are met, with negotiations between teachers’ representatives and the Sindh government ending in a stalemate on Friday.

Monday’s police attack against demonstrators in Karachi was one of several such assaults on teachers in Sindh in recent weeks. While the tactics deployed against teachers have been brutal, the sheer ruthlessness with which the Sindh government recently cracked down on protesting farmers was nothing less than shocking.

On December 11, scores of increasingly impoverished sugar cane growers from all over the Sindh staged a protest in Karachi against local sugar mill owners as well as the provincial government.  The sugar cane growers have been asking the government to fix the price of sugar cane at Rs185 per 40kgs, but sugar mill owners in the province have been paying the farmers as little as Rs130 per 40kgs, even though the government has officially set the price at Rs182 per 40kgs.  During the protest, farmers denounced government corruption and slammed provincial officials for colluding with sugar mill owners at the expense of poor farmers.  The sugar mill owners are refusing to pay the correct price despite the fact that they have received billions of rupees in subsidies from both the federal and provincial governments.

The peaceful protest, in which many women and children participated, was baton-charged by police only 30 minutes after it began.  When this failed to have the desired effect, tear gas and water cannons were used against the farmers, with many falling unconscious.  According to farmers’ representatives, many sugar cane growers were injured and around 80 were arrested.  While Sindh authorities were able to crush the protest in Karachi, the sugar cane growers have only grown more incensed and are unlikely to give up their struggle. On Thursday, a sugar cane grower set himself on fire during a farmers’ demonstration in Mirpurkhas that called for mill owners to pay the sugar cane price fixed by the government.

Far from a problem unique to Sindh, police brutality is par for the course in Pakistan, where a tiny clique of capitalists, landlords and military elites have lorded over and exploited the working class and rural poor since the country’s establishment.

The police in Punjab are notoriously corrupt and usually the first to resort to violence.  On more than one occasion, police in Punjab have even used violent tactics against blind workers protesting for more job opportunities and the implementation of disabled-friendly policies in the province.  Meanwhile, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, doctors and nurses have repeatedly been attacked by police when organizing protests to demand better working conditions.

The response of the state to protests and movements of workers, the rural poor and other oppressed groups contrasts sharply with its strategy of appeasement and accommodation when dealing fascistic Muslim clerics and other reactionaries when such forces hold protests and launch movements.  Throughout the month of November, Islamic extremists were allowed to wreak havoc in the capital city of Islamabad for 3 weeks, complicating daily life for thousands of ordinary people.  As usual, no meaningful action was taken against the religious right, despite violent behavior by the protestors.  The Punjab Rangers chief as even caught on video distributing cash to the demonstrators and allowing them to take selfies with him.  Eventually, the federal government caved in to the clerics’ key demands, further empowering the clergy and emboldening extremist elements.

Indeed, while Pakistan’s ruling elites won’t hesitate to use brutal force against the poor and marginalized, they are unwilling to take any action against the Muslim clergy. The clergy benefit from the enduring legacy of the Partition, which incorporated communal divisions in the state structure of South Asia, elevating the status of the clerics in Pakistan and giving them tremendous sway over the country’s political life.