Thursday, February 19, 2015
DID UNC LEARN NOTHING FROM THE 1960'S?
One of the more shameful things I have done is be part of what was called the "60's" Yes we marched to end racism, the war, sexism but so many of the participants then went on summer vacation to Europe or to just travel around. They could take the risk of getting arrested, missing class, taking a semester off because they had safety nets at home. While I did not have a similar safety net it was clear to me at one point that is was as much about having fun as anything else and our presistent ridicule of others who were not "cool" was hardening the attitudes of those who opposed what we were for. Most of the people I was with had no inkling of what it meant to be disadvantaged. It was largely middle class and upper middle class frat party with pot instead of beer. Maybe it helped end the war earlier and that is no small thing. But it also hatched or pormoted many other bad things like the everyone gets a trophy movement, trigger warnings, sanctimoniousness, and anti intellecualism.
So what does that have to do with UNC and safety nets? Most readers have probably read about closing the Poverty Center and no doubt some will read this and say I agree with that. I don't and regard it a tragedy created by the Right Wing nuts who now control North Carolina.
But being class conscious I cannot help but note that all the publicity is about the Director of the Center and the possible impact on his Academic Freedom and virtually none is on the impact on those who were made better off by the center.
This reminds me of what I learned about safety nets in the 60s and how your own safety net may make you gamble with the fates of those who have no safety nets. In this case, the person who is portrayed as being wronged had the freedom to say whatever he wanted to say and not worry about his job, his salary, his house (or houses as someone wrote), his car, medical care or where he would eat. That gave him the freedom to piss off some people who were dangerous not to him but to those who do worry about those things. I used to know Nick and a harder working and nicer guy would be hard to find. And, I am not suggesting there is a thimbleful of hypocrisy here. There is, however, the possibility of being too full of yourself and playing a dangerous game with the fate of others. That does not make you a hero or martyr when you have a safety net -- there was nothing to lose.
I see the UNC Dean has quoted one of the more trite Dylan lyrics. Lot of good that does now when he forgot the Jim Croce Lyric -- "don't tug on Superman's cape" (even when the Superman is a thug.)