Defending Academic Freedom: Resisting the New McCarthyism
A reactionary so called public policy institute, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, supported by the Koch Brothers and Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart Foundation, is interested in reviving the dark days of McCarthyism - The House of Un-American Activities Committee and the senate Internal Security Committee, all focused on silencing dissent.
These were the demagogic tactics used during those abysmal days to frighten, intimidate and cause many professors to loose their jobs at universities.
Now, in a new twist to resurrect that period, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy joined at the hip with the Republican Party has requested under the Freedom of Information Act, the records from professors at the University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Wayne State University.
In addition, along side the Republican Party, it has filed a records request from a prominent Wisconsin University professor, William Cronon. Cronon, currently President of the American Historical Society, criticized the Republican Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to enact legislation to destroy unions. He did this in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.
These open record requests have focused on teachers of labor history. In Wisconsin, the Republican Party has filed similar requests at the University of Wisconsin.
Greg Schlotz, the Director of Academic Freedom for the American Association of University Professors, said, “We think all of this will have a chilling effect on academic freedom. We have never seen FOIA requests used like this before.
Let’s call these McCarthyite tactics exactly what they are – an attempt to intimidate and silence all opposition, both faculty and students. Thus, this includes all who oppose the reactionary Republican led governors and legislator clones in their attempt to bust unions.
The next step for these McCarthyites could very well be calling for new House and Senate Un-American Activities Committees. This is the trajectory of their anti-union drive - unadulterated McCarthyism.
We have a message for you, Mackinac and your billionaire backers. It won’t work. This is not the 50s. The Red Scare has been exposed. The scars of McCarthyism have not been forgotten. Academics will continue to oppose your totalitarian tactics. We will not be gagged. We will bring truth and facts to confront your lies.
You and your demagogic deceptions will wind up in the dust bin of history, along side your mentor, Joe McCarthy. We will seek you out in the corridors of the state capital, in the streets and at the ballot box. We will continue to do our research, write our blogs, obtain access to every newspaper, magazine, radio, T.V. and write our books. We will always advocate the peoples’ interests and defend the peoples’ voice and guardian - the American Trade Unions.
Kentucky Labor Institute Interim Director