Thursday, March 24, 2011

Old Times Here Ain't Forgotten

Would-Be Provost Who Quoted Marx Withdraws:

Timothy J. L. Chandler, the co-author of a 1998 journal article with that quote about university hierarchies, is going to stay a step closer to actual work. On Thursday, he announced that he is turning down the position of provost at Kennesaw State University -- in part because of furor set off in the local area over the article, which applies class analysis and several times cites Marx.

Chandler's withdrawal came a week after he said he was not going to be deterred by the local controversy, and after Kennesaw State's president issued a statement defending the hiring. Chandler said at the time that he was "not inclined to withdraw from the provost position under the cloud of a Red scare."
This has been knocking around Twitter and the internet the past couple of weeks or so, and I was dismayed to find out it occurred near the city I grew up around, Marietta, Georgia. In fact, the article which caused the controversy came from the local fish-wrap, The Marietta Daily Journal, which I had no idea was still in existence.

Chandler's appointment at Kennesaw State seemed like a logical move up, given that he had served in the provost's office at Kent State, a growing public regional university. The controversy started with a column in The Marietta Daily Journal, written by three of the newspaper's top executives -- who did not respond to request for comment for this article.

The headline of the article suggests that Kennesaw State might need a new color (red) to go with its traditional black and gold. The column goes on to give a series of citations of Marx or of Marxist philosophy that appear in Chandler's 1998 journal article, such as "Increased competition results in increased ethnicity and racism." And: "Ownership is taken for granted in capitalistic societies and is central to the accumulation of wealth and domination. All ownership of land or material means of production was at one time or another obtained by force." And: "While the United States has the most sophisticated propaganda apparatus ever assembled, it is also the most violent nation-state in history."

The column closed by wondering whether Kennesaw State's alumni and business backers would want to work with the new provost. And in case anyone missed the point, a follow-up column said that those who wondered about the fate of Chandler's appointment were among the "Kremlinologists" trying to figure out the situation.
LOL. Here's more from the online screed:
MARXISM? GOOD.

Capitalism? Bad. Very, very bad.

And the United States? Why, it is "the most violent nation-state in history."

No, we're not quoting Nikita Khrushchev or Hugo Chavez. Not Moammar Gadhafi (sic) or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (sic).

Those sentiments and that quote can be found in a lengthy research paper by Kennesaw State University's new $228,000-a-year provost, Dr. Timothy Chandler of Kent State University, who will be the second-highest administrator and right-hand man to President Dr. Dan Papp.

Far more serious is Chandler's obvious fondness for Marx and vehement dislike of capitalism, which underpins much of their paper. Though Marx is mentioned by name only a few times in their magnum opus, they seem to have swallowed Marxist theory hook, line and sinker.

How the Chandler hiring plays with KSU's alumni and business supporters - nearly of them "capitalists," we would suppose...they might not cotton to the idea of having someone with an outlook so inimical to theirs helping run the show there (sic). They might decide to "vote with their pocketbooks" and withhold their contributions. That might get the attention of Papp, who is committed to raising the millions of dollars necessary to field a football team for KSU.

It all brings to mind the old joke about how there aren't any Marxists left in the old Soviet Union (sic) - because they've all found professorships in American universities.
One of the three authors of the hit piece on Dr. Chandler is the publisher of the paper, Otis Brumby. It doesn't say if it's Senior, Junior, or Trey, but the Brumby family is legendary in and around the Marietta area and throughout the state.

Full disclosure: I briefly attended the Otis A. Brumby Elementary School in the 1970's. The principal at the time, whose name escapes me, infamously told my employed mother that she should be "at home" and should be "ashamed of not being there for your children" because she was working.

Coming from New York and landing in the backwater that Marietta was at the time, you can imagine the shock my parents felt at the retro, sexist attitudes being expressed. And this was over 30 years ago.

So it's not really a surprise that the editors and publisher of this "newspaper" feel that the Cold War is still raging and that being called a "Marxist" is somehow relevant or meaningful in the 21st century (as I opined on Twitter, being called a Marxist today is like being called a Whig; or in other words, a what?).

But for some people, this kind of silly, "better dead than red" nonsense still rings true, and the newspaper's overt suggestion that donors and alumni of KSU "withhold their contributions" was enough to pressure Dr. Chandler to withdraw from consideration. The Brumby family should be ashamed.

Otis Brumby, Jr. was recently feted at UGA in 2010. The law school named him "the 2010 recipient of the University of Georgia School of Law alumni association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Scroll Award," and ironically, also established the "Otis Brumby Distinguished Professorship in First Amendment Law."

I guess that means freedom of speech, with the caveat: "unless I don't agree with what you write."

I'll defer to Faulkner on this one: "In the south, the past is never dead. It's not even past."

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