A Snapshot of the Right Wing Tactics
Andrew Jones is a man on a mission. A 2003 UCLA graduate and former head of the campus Republican organization, Jones is waging a war against the twin evils of women's and ethnic studies. He is also taking aim against specific devious leftist professors who poison the minds of freedom-loving students at UCLA with their anti-American foreign policy critiques.
In a most heroic move, Jones has created the Bruin Alumni Association, which targets 30 "dirty" professors and urges UCLA students to spy on their leftist professors by reporting them for deviant behavior -- anything that lies outside "normal thought," in Jones' words. Those who perform this patriotic service are to be rewarded with the bounties Jones has placed on the professors' heads.
This is all well and good and perfectly cheery. But, there is one serious problem with Jones' scheme: The bounty for handing in a suspect professor's class notes and materials is a mere $100. Such a low figure is a serious insult to a righteous cause.
Surely, Jones and his hardworking staff at the Bruin Alumni Association (namely, Jones, who is the staff) must understand the grave threat the leftist academics pose at UCLA. First, there are the cruel female professors who force young college women to think and reflect about their role in society when we all know -- thanks to Republican values -- that women are only supposed to exercise their upper body in the kitchen and their lower body in the bedroom. Then, there are black teachers who tell their students fairy-tales about white-imposed slavery, segregation, disenfranchisement, unequal housing, banking and state services. Last but not least are those anti-American professors whose detailed writings about the government's illegal wars apparently fuel the activities of terrorists abroad -- terrorists who, without UCLA academic research papers, would have absolutely no idea that people in their own countries and of their own faith are always being blown to pieces all around them.
Given this stark reality, I propose to Mr. Jones that he significantly raise the bounties placed on deviant UCLA academics. After all, al Qaida leaders and similar terrorist figureheads have multimillion dollar bounties placed on their heads. Why shouldn't those who aid and abet them right here in our universities also be subject to similar treatment?
Similarly, while I must credit Mr. Jones for raising the stakes a notch with intimidation tactics like hit lists and secret spying operations in the enemy's classrooms, I must say that Mr. Jones is dangerously close to erring on the side of girlie-men tactics. After all, why should we stop with mere spying and intimidating? Higher bounty rewards should be commensurate with even more patriotic, pro-American actions taken against these professors. This should include fly-by airstrikes, precision attacks and home raids. Only through this comprehensive process of ensuring true academic freedom will the beacon of liberty be secured in the homeland.
It goes without saying, of course, that I have painted the scenarios above not as serious suggestions, but only as a means of illustrating that the "logic" pursued by zealots like Jones can easily lead down the path of insanity if pursued to its ineluctable conclusion -- just as we have already seen happen when it comes to untermenschen (literally: underpeople) abroad.
Interestingly, the UCLA graduate's crusade against his university has alienated some fellow hard-right activists. David Horowitz, the leading proponent of the disingenuously named "academic freedom" movement, said Jones used to work under his tutelage but had to be fired for trying to strong-arm students into filing false reports against leftists. Horowitz also derided Jones' tactics as "baiting people" and accused him of stealing his donor list. Since being reprimanded by Horowitz for going too far in attacking academia is a bit like being lectured on boxing etiquette by Mike Tyson, this is no small matter.
Horowitz, though, is not the only one with reservations. Though Jones' little "alumni" spy organization comprises only himself, it boasts a number of "advisers" (read: wealthy right-wing activists). Three of these "advisers" have defected on grounds that Jones' vigilantism is harming the movement: Harvard historian Stephan Thernstrom, Los Angeles radio talk-show host Al Rantel and ex-congressman James Rogan. "Now what's happened is that the whole project is discredited. Now it looks like a bunch of crazies who were trying to go after innocent professors," complained Rantel.
Indeed, as of last Tuesday, Jones himself declared a partial surrender, dropping the bounties but vowing to continue as a "volunteer organization." But neither the handwringing of conservative activists who opposed the bounty idea for tactical reasons nor Jones' own limited retreat will bring a halt to "the whole project." Jones' venture cannot be written off as an extreme deviation within the conservative movement, for the rationale he provides for his campaign is a mirror-image of the philosophy behind the broader effort to destroy academics whose research exposes Republicans' most cherished ideals: white male privilege and the blowing up of people abroad necessary to sustain it.
Articulating his position a few days ago, Jones echoed the line long touted by his ex-mentor, Horowitz, "Everyone retreats into me-search. 'I'm black, so I'm going to study black issues.' White folks don't feel the need to do that." The remarkable idiocy of this statement is almost too much to fathom. Jones seems to believe that, in a country that spent the better part of the 19th century finding scientific rationalizations for theories of black inferiority, that placed blacks in plantation fields, war zones and rope nooses long before it opened its doors to them in institutions of learning that exclusively studied the "greatness" of Europe and America, the educational curriculum was not already oriented toward "white folks." Black studies, in the minds of Jones, exists as some kind of silly, selfish endeavor, instead of as a corrective antidote to 200 years of an official educational program that has been as contemptuous of blacks as the society that enslaved, segregated and marginalized them.
Since Jones, is, after all, a graduate of a school "overrun" by "leftist" faculty, it is impossible he could be ignorant of this historical reality. The only plausible explanation is that he is an irredeemable racist, or that UCLA's mental-health facilities are ill-equipped to handle patients suffering from severe memory loss.
Whatever the case, his self-centeredness and goal of silencing opposition is not 'extreme' within the conservative movement, but rather, completely in line with its anti-intellectual politics aimed against academia. One of the latest and most innovative twists on this victim-mentality play of those in power came in 2004, when rabidly conservative pro-Israel pundits and their front groups made hit lists and began compiling notes on academics who were labeled "anti-Semites" for basing their teachings on Israeli archival evidence (dug up by Israeli Jewish historians, no less), which proved that Israel committed massive war crimes -- including forced expulsion of Palestinians -- to create its 1948 borders. Conservative pro-Israel and other movements (spearheaded by Horowitz, among others) urged implementation of state-led mind control of academia, resulting in congressional passage of bill HR 3077 last year. HR 3077 is designed to weed out teaching deemed "anti-American" and "anti-Israeli" and to bolster education that "better reflect[s] national needs related to homeland security."
Jones' outlook, like that of his right-wing counterparts, is similarly neurotic when it comes to socialism. Before he removed his hit list of 30 "dirty" professors who made the mistake of not sharing Jones' penchant for stupidity, the No. 1 target was professor Peter McLaren, an academic respected in socialist circles, particularly in Mexico and Latin America, where neo-liberalism is the God that failed. Jones' "alumni" website labeled McLaren "a monster" and contained the following, weirdly obsessive description of a McLaren photograph: "He stands before the camera expressionless, long blond hair tousled just so, beady little sunglasses cloaking his knowledge of the evil which lurks in the hearts of men."
I have no idea what "beady little sunglasses" look like, or what special secrets of evil any pair of sunglasses can cloak (can I score a pair?), but the reference to the professor's hair "tousled just so" appears to be a dig related to another one of Jones' objects of hatred: "McLaren, in keeping with the radical left's identity politics, has been a friend to the gay community." Presumably, McLaren would have been a much better academic in Jones' eyes as an enemy of the gay community, bludgeoning their heads with his briefcase and strangling them with his suit jacket wherever he found them.
With his too-clever-by-half idea of bribing students to report their own teachers and his openly professed irrational hatreds, the UCLA graduate ended up crippling his own little crusade and earning the disapproval of other right-wingers who are trying to purge America of critical thinking in tactically sounder ways. Thus, Jones' methods have backfired for the moment. But his effort is a stern reminder that the line between American conservatism today and Germany's fascist anti-intellectual movement of the 1930s is thinner than a hair on a bald man's head.