A long but absolutely crucial read on what was done to public education in Oregon. I know for an absolute fact that the exact same thing is being done in Illinois.
The other day an acquaintance asked me if Klara was going to the local public school for kindergarten. Uncharacteristically, I got so emotional I couldn’t control myself.
“No!” I yelled in a strangled falcetto. “Not my child! Never!”
I think I scared the acquaintance but you can imagine how all this feels to a person who grew up in the USSR. I mean, it was a lot better in the USSR. Our teachers were sad, beaten down schmucks, not sick, crazy skunks like the teachers described in the article.
I told Klara that we’ll do absolutely anything she wants today. Her reply was that she wants to stay home, cook borscht, and eat watermelon together.
This is major parenting success on my part.
Before people start saying that if this happened to me I’d feel differently, let me mention that it did and I’ll now tell you all about it.
A couple of years ago, I applied for a job. The job description sounded like it was written specifically for me. It had my research interests, my qualifications, everything.
But at the interview it became clear that the Chair hated my ideas. He’s into Derrida and despises Zygmunt Bauman even more than I despise Derrida. Every time I would say “neoliberalism, capital, and fluidity,” he’d wince, sigh, and roll his eyes in a very showy manner. At the beginning of the interview, they had told me that what they really wanted was a person who published a lot. Like A LOT. I was sorely tempted to interrupt the interview to ask, “look, I obviously publish A LOT. Why do you care so much what I publish about?”
Of course, the job went to a Derrida-loving person who doesn’t even have a degree in Hispanic Studies. Or in literature.
This was mildly unpleasant but I don’t consider myself cancelled by this Chair. I have a job in academia, I get promoted, I get published. Getting frustrated in your desires, even for ideological reasons isn’t cancellation.
It bothers me when people trivialize serious things and empty words of all meaning.
For example, the refusal of the UNC to grant tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones doesn’t mean she was cancelled. It’s a minor annoyance that will have no impact on her life. If she were really cancelled, that would mean everything she ever published would be deleted, her name would be erased from every publication where she appeared at any time in her life, she’d be fired and become unemployable. This is what happened to poet Joseph Massey who is now indigent and lives in obscurity. If Hannah-Jones experienced what Massey did, I’d absolutely speak out against that.
But the whole point is that this can’t happen to Hannah-Jones. Cancel culture doesn’t strike “both sides” because only one side has the cultural power to deliver such devastating results. The right isn’t too moral to destroy a person like the left destroyed Joe Massey. It’s too weak.
And the reason why the left has this power is that it’s really good at playing these word games. It has realized that simply denying the existence of cancel culture isn’t working. So now they are turning cancel culture into a meaningless concept by attaching it to every minor inconvenience they experience. And the right is once again buying into this game. I already saw a bunch of right-wing accounts in my Twitter feed subserviently declare that NHJ was cancelled and it’s a shame.