Volunteer!Volunteer!Twas the season, lo that merry month of December and on into mid-January, for the celebration of Christmas, Hannukah, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth.



In fact, as Dissident Prof writes national efforts at drumming up a civilian service through this day (now week, then month) of service continue, as do the speeches, the contests, the panel discussions, and all the other efforts to stimulate one segment of the economy, namely self-promoting scholars of hip-hop who display their wisdom on campuses and television programs on topics ranging from hip-hop, to dumb Republicans, to why racism still exists, and will exist, ever and anon as long as there is one Republican in office or one non-Marxist teaching freshman composition in Podunk Community College. 

Dissident Prof is thinking of self-declared "public intellectual" Marc Lamont Hill who spread his insights, even at Mary Washington University this high and holy holiday season to students in addition to multiple weekly appearances on campuses across the land.  At Fayetteville State University students received the benefit of Black Panther-turned-college professor Angela Davis's insights into the parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the civil rights movements, as well as her mathematical virtuosity in doing percentages among the 99% and 1% to prove that, yes, racism still plagues the land.

Such is the tenor of the speeches and activities of the ever-expanding MLK holiday.

Civility Wall, not from 1984Civility Wall, not from 1984Dissident Prof on that holy Monday thought of wearing a hair shirt to the festivities in downtown Atlanta but thought better of it, fearing the hate speech police might see some coded messages in whatever she might say, were she allowed to, like "It sure is cold out here."  Surely, sarcasism is not allowed in the "civil discourse" being promoted on our campuses far and wide--like at the interactive Wall of Civility at the University of Florida.  The purpose, we are told, is to teach students how to be civil when answering questions like, "Is wealth distributed fairly in the United States?"

Dissident Prof did not want to provoke Valerie Jarrett as she sermonized at Ebenezer Baptist Church on the evils of Republicans the day before the official holiday. She will be celebrating George Schuyler's birthday on February 25th in a manner he would have approved, with a nice bourban and a good cigar.  Okay, maybe not the cigar, but she will raise a toast to a patriot who had a much better way of achieving that noble goal, where no one in America will be judged by the color of his skin.  But economic independence just doesn't capture the "imagination" as much as endless marches do.

MLK's birthday throws a wrench into college schedules and Dissident Prof suspects that that is the reason her first day of class began on the 19th.  The semester will linger over into May.  May! 

Dissident Prof having been effectively excommunicated from all the academic conferences that take place during the "winter break," namely that of the Modern Language Association, worked on some big projects.  More to come on that!

She did read with amusement though about the handwringing continuing at the MLA about the loss and prestige and majors in English and language departments.  Deep into their texts on critical theory, the various genders dreamed up by Judith Butler, and thousands of spin-offs from Marx and Foucault, the professors could not see why students no longer want to major in English and why the world does not recognize their wisdom.  I guess they just can't be bothered with such mundane matters as plot or meter, getting insight into the human condition, or just having a fun time with a good book.

The history majors, however, went one step further as they "assessed" the "job crisis" at the American Historical Association meeting.  Being historians who revere Howard Zinn, they came up with the brilliant idea of ..... demand jobs from the government!  Yes, they tossed around a WPA for historians.  Well, as we know, the WPA was a great resource for out-of-work communist party members and a great recruiting tool. 

Appropriately, In These Times was at the AHA, and focused on a panel discussion titled "Jobs for Historians: Approaching the Crisis from the Demand Side"  It drew over 100 people! The session


"grew out of a strongly-worded online exchange between Anthony Grafton and Jim Grossman, the president and executive director of the AHA, respectively, and Jesse Lemisch, a professor emeritus at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. An October article by Grafton and Grossman, “No More Plan B,” challenged the profession to abandon the idea that tenure-track professorships are the only real measure of success for doctoral students. History PhD graduates have greatly outnumbered tenure-track openings for decades, sometimes by as much as two to one. 'Our only choice,' they say, '…is to train fewer historians or to find a more diverse array of employment opportunities.'”


Occupy Wall Street came up, even as the campers plotted in the comforts of their lofts and parents' homes on the next phase, beginning on March 30, a date just coincidentally when weather conditions are little more conducive to revolutionary activities.  The In These Times report continues:


"Lemisch countered in 'History is Worth Fighting For,' an essay that accused the AHA of "'a failure of vision, and an unwillingness to embark on a battle'” for more higher education funding to create more jobs for historians. Referring to Occupy Wall Street, he continued: “'It appears that those druggies, drummers, sex addicts and student debtors down there in Zuccotti Square are doing more for civilization, History and education than is the AHA.'”


That's what we need!  A national jobs program for historians.

On day three, though, it seemed that the panelists were vying for the position of Court Historian.  Predictably, if any fault could be found in Obama's presidency, it was in his "moderation" and bipartisanship.  The president who most closely rivals Abraham Lincoln, according to Joseph Peniel, should not be meek about imposing what is Good for the People as He Knows Best.

Our CiceroOur CiceroDissident Prof knows from receiving desk copies of textbooks that Obama is also universally hailed by English professors of rhetoric who demand instant inclusion alongside Lincoln's Gettsburg Address (if there is room amid selections by Anna Quindlen, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Howard Zinn). 

Until there is a national holiday for George Schuyler, Dissident Prof will not be supplementing her income with speeches at campuses round the country (as much as she thinks that the glassy-eyed targets of the Obama campaign need to hear about economic uplift and dignity).  She is therefore very appreciative of contributions recently from Don Moseley, Ewa Thompson, and Dan Duncan. 

She wants to assure her readers and supporters who might have missed these dispatches for the last month that she has been working diligently on bigger projects on behalf of the Resistance.  She has also had to attend to the Dissident Cat, Sparky.  He is improving, she is happy to report.  However, we will know that he is out of the woods when he returns to his former personality, a type he shares with Newt Gingrich.  Dissident Prof hopes to see his swagger come back.  She won't even mind the occasional nips on the calf, the flooded kitchen floor from the wave-making in the water dish, or the body slams against the bathroom door as she attempts to take a nice, relaxing bath.  Just get better, Sparky!

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