Andrew Breitbart Attacks Me for Comments at Pro-Adjunct Union Teach-in at St Xavier University

http://washingtonindependent.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/breitbart.jpg

Andrew Breitbart has used his website through a surrogate writer, a Mr Lee Stranahan, to attack a colleague of mine and me for denouncing the economic system that has so immiserated Americans and for supporting the rights of adjunct faculty to organise under the banner of the Illinois Education Association. Mr Breitbart you will recall is the commander-in-chief of the sex police (Anthony Weiner revelations). He is the king of misinformation: remember Shirley Sherrod, an African-American who Mr Breitbart accused of persecuting white farmers by distorting a statement she made. It got her fired at the Department of Agriculture. The government later apologised, offered to rehire her when they realised the racially inspired Breitbart action was a hoax. He slanted and altered an ACORN video with a prostitute plant. ACORN is another African-American group concentrating on housing and other community issues. His latest gambit is to attack me and a colleague for daring to be human.

His facts  in this case are accurate but opinions are certainly worth responding to. Faculty members should critique a quasi laissez-faire capitalist system with 50 million uninsured, with one out of seven on food stamps, with a true unemployment rate of about 12-13%. 49.1 million Americans live in poverty at a level never seen before in the Free World Collossus’ backyard. Poverty is also a product of endemic Jim Crow racism “and for the first time, the share of Hispanics living in poverty surpassed that of African-Americans, 28.2 percent to 25.4 percent.” (Huffington Post). For whites the poverty rate is 9.9% that is a tragedy for those affected but much less than for people of colour.

We need radical alterations to a capitalistic system that has failed America and that has utterly eviscerated economic distributive justice. We need to expand existing American socialism that is applied to seniors, Medicare and Social Security, to the entire population. I am not for slogans. I am for reasoning. Socialism may indeed be compatible with capitalism. That is what a mixed economy is. One need not choose one or the other. I choose to significantly increase the socialist emphasis on the 99% as it were and demand public policy that reduces the chasm between the rich and the working poor and utterly destitute. Even Warren Buffett has asked for greater taxes on cap gains etc. It is unAmerican for us to continue on this path of greed, corporate blind pursuit of profit and no-pun intended, unilateral globalisation.

This is the portion of his posting that attacked comments I made at an adjunct pro-labour teach in. Mr Breitbart’s BigGovernment website attacks me for supporting the rights of adjunct faculty to form a union on campus. The link with quotations from the Xavierite student newspaper: http://biggovernment.com/lstranahan/2011/12/08/chicago-professors-communist-occupy-speech-reveals-selfish-union-agenda/

“The topic of adjunct unionization has been a sensitive issue, with tensions heightened after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled last spring that SXU did not pass the “substantial religious character test,” and thus was not exempt from the NLRB’s jurisdiction. SXU is currently appealing this decision. Executive Director of Media Relations Karla Thomas was in attendance and pointed out during audience discussion that very few adjunct faculty have approached President Christine Wiseman to discuss the issue. Kirstein was quick to answer. “You don’t have to be sweet when you want a union. It’s not equivalent,” said (Professor of History and Political Science Peter) Kirstein.

“Got that? You don’t (sic) to be “sweet” when you want a union. Sweet means talking about your concerns with the University Presdient, apparently. What’s a good example of non-sweetness? How about the #Occupy movement? The article continues:

Both Aisha Karim, associate professor of English and foreign languages (who also addressed the crowd), and Kirstein drew connections between the Occupy movement and the adjunct unionization efforts. Karim said it is necessary for adjunct union supporters to be “savvy” for their fight while the Occupy movement is going on. Kirstein said supporters need to occupy SXU, calling attention to the Occupy movement’s history of consciousness.

“The thoughts of one undistinguished Chicago college professor who supports unions and the Occupy movement would hardly matter–if that didn’t also describe the President of the United States of America.”

My response to the “sweet” comment:

I appreciate the insult: one can’t merely debate public policy without using ad hominems. Just like 2002 all over again! Unfortunately the “sweet” comment was only a portion of my remarks concerning the lack of consultation between the adjuncts and the president prior to seeking Illinois Education Association affiliation under NLRB jurisdiction. I noted that in 2010, prior to Chris Wiseman’s presidency, the adjuncts had their initial vote for collective bargaining and organising a union. It did not succeed and the adjuncts wanted to stay the course and conduct a second vote. I noted that the president was undoubtedly aware of adjunct angst prior to her tenure and that she might have initiated contact with them knowing the recent history of dissatisfaction over wages, benefits, respect and other work-condition maladies. I believe in amplifying what I actually said, the “sweet” comment is placed in a more precise context. Mr Breitbart’s website restricted their source to an issue of the excellent Xavierite, the student newspaper. However, BigGovernment could have contacted me to verify either the accuracy of the account or to inquire if there were additional comments that were made at the teach-in. That is what good reporting does. That is what bad reporting did.

This entry was posted in Academia/Academic Freedom, Freedom & Socialism. Bookmark the permalink.