Labour Day: 2005 Marx, Castro and Kirstein Suspension

See my response to David Horowitz blog comments of Feb. 12. 2006

Remember the Chicago Haymarket Martyrs: Precious heroes of labour’s struggle against capital. We need more of them today as we see the ramifications of class and race in the horror of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

August Spies
Albert Parsons
Oscar Neebe
Louis Lingg
Samuel Fielden
Adolph Fischer
Michael Schwab
George Engel

Also remember the great heroic Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld, who sacrificed his political career when he pardoned years later in 1893 those not hanged after their support of the great 1886 strike against the McCormick Reaper Works. Of course Chicago names its convention center, McCormick Place, after Colonel Robert McCormick, who owned, published and edited the Chicago Tribune. He was the grandnephew of Cyrus McCormick, the inventor of the reaper: a violent suppressor of the human person, strike breaker and vicious persecutor of innocent workers who slaved for nothing and struck for an 8-hour day that led to the Haymarket tragedy.

These photos were on my website and were taken to show students in a class on Capitalism and Socialism the gravesite of Karl Marx. It is world famous, contains interesting statements and lists of family members on the tombstone. Ironically, just across a little path from Marx’s tomb, is a simple gravestone for Herbert Spencer, the social Darwinist who actually coined the term, “survival of the fittest.” Doctor Richard Yanikoski, former president of St. Xavier University, telephoned me at home on November 5, 2002, that he was receiving complaints about several items that had been posted on my website. One of the items was the snapshots of Marx’s grave at Highgate Cemetery in London. While not explicitly ordered to remove them, the president informed me that changing my website might serve to pacify the growing outrage that had been precipitated due to a stridently worded antiwar e-mail to the Air Force Academy cadet. I was also asked, but not directly ordered, to remove a link to a speech that Fidel Castro gave years before he embraced communism much less before his successful revolution: “History Will Absolve Me.” If one reads it, one can empathise with his efforts in the 1950s to restore Cuba to the Cubans and replace the Saddam-like dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Recognising the legitimate criticisms of Castro’s rule, it is instructive to note that my politics and my efforts to engage in critical thinking on my website were under considerable pressure for revision at this time.

Six days after the request to remove pictures related to a world-historic figure and a major statement from the world’s longest serving head of state, which I complied with to avoid charges of insubordination, I was suspended. I have mantained for two and a half years that my suspension was less about a few rude sentences in an otherwise appropriate e-mail and more about stifling my mission of peace and justice and preventing me from articulating values and principles that shape my life and sense of being. When institutions try to please their publics, who are aroused by controversial and maybe even radical speech, their search for order and stability takes precedence over protecting academic freedom and insuring the free flow of ideas, controversial and otherwise, at a university.

I am not easily silenced and all those who read this should know that. I will continue to address issues of moral concern regardless of the sacrifice. For those who resent what I stand for and consider my views beyond acceptable ideological discourse, no one is compelling you to expose yourself to my views. I do, however, appreciate very much your taking the time to read my various writings here and elsewhere. I also have and will defend the rights of free speech for the right as well as the left. I have defended in articles and public addresses Nazi sympathisers and those on the left. Free speech must be preserved and not abridged unless under the most extraordinary circumstances.

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