HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP
By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP
William Cronon and academic freedom: The attempt by Wisconsin Republicans to bully a moderate history professor into silence is shocking. Have they no shame?
Source: Guardian UK, 4-1-11
Scholar as citizen: Professor William Cronon. Photograph: Rees CandeeOn 10 March, the day after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s legislation to kill the state’s public service unions, the New York Times asked University of Wisconsin history professor William Cronon to explain the state’s background of public service collective bargaining laws. As Wisconsin’s homegrown and most prominent historian, it was a logical choice….
For most of his career, Cronon has been attacked from the left for celebrating competitive capitalism, and from the right for his distinctive brand of eco-history. A mild, moderate man, he describes himself as spending lots of time defending conservative contributions to liberal friends. In his research for the Times op-ed piece, he uncovered a strong connection between Walker’s anti-union initiative and a national, conservative, overwhelmingly Republican state legislation advocacy organisation called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or Alec. On his own time, computer and email, he posted his first blog as, appropriately enough, Scholar as Citizen. Scholar-like, the post drew no conclusions and made no accusations; it simply offered a study guide and lesson plan-length curriculum by which students and citizens could investigate the connections on their own.
On 15 March, the Wisconsin Republican party filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to view the contents of “Professor William Cronon’s state email account from 1 January 2011 to present which reference any of the following terms: Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union [and 12 prominent Republican state senators who supported Walker's bill]“….READ MORE
Should professors be political?: The Republican Party of Wisconsin wants to see what William Cronon has been e-mailing about. Through an open-records request, the state GOP is asking to see correspondence from Cronon, a professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin, that includes the terms “Republican,” “Scott Walker” and “collective bargaining,” among many other keywords and names.
Such fishing expeditions seem to be growing in popularity: The free-market folks at the Mackinac Center in Michigan have made a request to see e-mails from people in the labor studies departments at that state’s public universities. They’re looking for some of the same terms as the Wisconsin GOP but have added “Maddow” to the list.
What exactly they’re expecting to find is hard to say. Presumably, and at the very least, the Republicans are hoping to catch Cronon advocating for a particular candidate or political platform while using his university e-mail account, which would be against school policy…. – WaPo, 4-1-11
Editorial A Shabby Crusade in Wisconsin:
Source: NYT, 3-25-11
The latest technique used by conservatives to silence liberal academics is to demand copies of e-mails and other documents. Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli of Virginia tried it last year with a climate-change scientist, and now the Wisconsin Republican Party is doing it to a distinguished historian who dared to criticize the state’s new union-busting law. These demands not only abuse academic freedom, but make the instigators look like petty and medieval inquisitors.
The historian, William Cronon, is the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas research professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin, and was recently elected president of the American Historical Association. Earlier this month, he was asked to write an Op-Ed article for The Times on the historical context of Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to strip public-employee unions of bargaining rights. While researching the subject, he posted on his blog several critical observations about the powerful network of conservatives working to undermine union rights and disenfranchise Democratic voters in many states… READ MORE