Resisting the New McCarthyism


HUAC Chief Investigator Robert Stripling and Richard Nixon.

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.

Seymour Slavin

Kentucky Labor Institute Interim Director


  1. in_awe says

    Well, the inquiries are intended to determine if the esteemed professors were involved in partisan political activities while on the job at a public university and using public assets (computers, network, internet connection) to pursue those activities. Good government principles forbid such activities – even if they are regularly flaunted by activist professors on the left.

    Where is your outrage about the intimidation campaigns to force business owners in Madison to publicly support the unions with storefront signs or face boycotts and picketing? Even the local police and fire fighter unions sent letters with thinly veiled threats of non-timely responses to 911 calls if the business owners didn’t display the signs and publicly apologize for not supporting the unions over the past few months political battles. Of course, you also have the hundreds of death threats made to conservative legislators in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. In one case, the local police decided not to arrest or charge a Wisconsin teacher for the most bloodthirsty and specific threats against legislators and their families, based upon the police officer’s determination that she didn’t look like she would be violent! (She has a police record with an arrest for a previous violent act.)

    I won’t bother mentioning in detail the unending calls to silence all those who oppose progressive policies and outcomes.

    Chilling effect indeed.

  2. says

    It won’t work if the millions of educated, aware, decent citizens in America who are committed to our democracy don’t let it work. If we are intimidated, complacent, or too busy to resist, it just might. As usual it all comes back to us.

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