President’s Column: Strange Times and We Need Strong Academic Unions

Posted by  Margaret Butler   in       Nov 17, 2016     916 Views     Leave your thoughts  

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by José Padín, President

The unimagined has happened.

 

Because national leadership has aided and abetted growing privilege, widening inequality, and deepening economic insecurity, popular anger with the course of our country united in rejecting business as usual in politics.

 

Yet, the popular anger fragmented in a dangerous way in the elections that just took place.

 

Too many Americans felt alienated, and they stayed at home on election day.

 

Too many others were drawn in by the appeal of mean-spirited hatred of imaginary monsters conjured up by a presidential demagogue. Mexicans, he said, are all criminals and rapists. Muslims, are all terrorists and, he promised, will be safely locked into a national registry. Women … feminists at least, so emotional and uptight they don’t get it that sexual abuse is just locker-room banter. White supremacist thugs attacking citizens are “just passionate.” When nothing as sacred, and everything is up for negotiation, that is just being ‘like the Jews.” “The Blacks?” Love them (wink) but they are the most dangerous threat to America. The hate and fear list stirred up this election is horrific.

 

Adding tragedy on tragedy, the white working class voters who’ve seen in the President-elect some kind of messiah will themselves be among the casualties. Such has been the course of xenophobic, nativist, racist populism in American history.

 

Living in these strange times, one can hear echoes of Pastor Martin Niemoller’s mourning. “First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out … then they came for the Jews…”

 

Living in these strange times, AAUP-Oregon, and our national movement of academic unions and professional advocacy associations under the banner of AAUP must, and will, stand for justice and fairness in all its forms, because justice is one, and we’ve learned that a threat to justice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere. This means that in everything we do at our universities we will stand for tolerance and equity for racial minorities, immigrant minorities, sexual minorities; for women’s rights; and for economic fairness for all students, academic professionals, and faculty – not just some of these to the neglect of others.

 

Colleagues, bracing ourselves for strange times, we are called to stand for the rights of citizens to debt-free public education, for economically just universities, and for the university as a sanctuary to harbor and defend all the targets of intolerance. Together with students, administration, and public officials, we will.

 

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