Monday, April 18, 2011

A few thoughts on my home state this morning

Until Thursday, I will have few opportunities to post, so I just wanted to share some thoughts today. Just went on line and read the Journal Sentinel's article about Prof William Cronon, the brilliant historian at UW-Madison who got into trouble with Repubs for doing one of the things that professors are supposed to do - share their knowledge, and in this case provide some background on the great Wisconsin debate so that the public might better understand it. Looks to me like Cronon is a treasure for the university and the state, the more we hear about his credentials and the kind of person he is.

But one of the political horrors of our time is the attempt by right wing groups associated with Repubs to put a chill over knowledge and speech that undermines their agenda. You have to wonder always why one party, or a well-funded conglomerate of political organizations, get so upset when more of their intentions, plans, schemes, the shadow groups backing them, the money behind them, get revealed - or even, as in Cronon's case, a suggestion is made that we need to know more about such things - for example, the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council which is writing legislation for the Repubs to push through Congress and state governments.

Don't we want to know where proposed legislation is coming from, the stuff that will determine how we will live in our state and our country?

Visit his blog to read more about the controversy and how the university has responded to the request from the state Repub party for his emails. From Chancellor Biddy Martin, this ringing defense of academic freedom:

To our faculty, I say: Continue to ask difficult questions, explore unpopular lines of thought and exercise your academic freedom, regardless of your point of view. As always, we will take our cue from the bronze plaque on the walls of Bascom Hall. It calls for the ‘continual and fearless sifting and winnowing’ of ideas. It is our tradition, our defining value, and the way to a better society.

Many on the right, like the Koch brothers, would not agree. It is far easier to operate your anti-democratic agenda in the shadows, as the brothers have for so many years - until the exposure in the New Yorker last year and then through the revelations about their ties with Walker, Prosser and other state Repubs here in Wisconsin. These ties have resulted in things like allowing Koch Industries' Georgia-Pacific to increase their pollution of our waterways.

Did anyone ask us if we wanted to allow this mega-corporation to dump more toxins into our beautiful state? I'd kind of like a say in that, you know? Gov Walker, how many jobs does that create - except maybe in the future in the health care field as more people get cancers and other diseases caused by pollution.

This thought, too. Among his credentials, Cronon is an environmental historian. Meanwhile, as Assistant Attorny General, one of JoAnne Kloppenberg's responsibilities is environmental prosecutions.

You know, I'm just saying.... both these folks becoming targets of the Wisconsin right. It has become clear in our state, and other states, sadly, that environmental regulations are at the top of the list of what all this corporate money would like to rid from our political culture, from the laws of the land.

Among many things that impact the corporate bottom line are two really big ones: the cost of labor and environmental regulations. It doesn't take much imagination to see why both labor and the environment, our precious natural resources, are in the bull's eye of the corporate/Walker/Fitzgerald brothers agenda.

And in the case of Prof Cronon and the millions spent to demean, attack, and defeat Kloppenberg (including a questionable election result that has me very nervous about what's going on in Waukesha County), you see how the right wants to create an atmosphere in which we are not supposed to even talk about these things, much less publish about them before a public that urgently needs to know.

Urgently, because the changes are coming fast and furious and secretly, before many folks even realize what is in store for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment