The Plot Against AOC

Ruth O’Brien, Editor

Assassinating AOC? Wow. Trump seems to have literally succeeded in hiring a hit man the Trump way (no need to pay for it when you can incite folks to do the dirty work for free).  A good thing it didn’t work.

As a female professor in the nation’s biggest urban public university, at the campus with the strongest research record, years ago — in 2014 — I launched Heretical Thought, a book series I solo-edit with Oxford University Press, USA, that emanated out of my doctoral seminars in American political thought.  Now we are up to 4 books: Assembly, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri; The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism, by Catherine Rottenberg; Insurgent Universality, by Massimiliano Tomba; and Call Your “Mutha,” by Jane Caputi. This compounds my existing series, The Public Square, from 11 years earlier, including Jill Lepore’s award-winning The Whites of Their Eyes, about the Tea Party, and a forthcoming book by Anne-Marie Slaughter. The schtick about Heretical Thought is that if you don’t have a fatwa or witch-burning against you, your ideas aren’t significant enough to be published by the oldest university press in the world.

Global in nature, Heretical Thought takes an image my direct ancestor could relate to, since she was mentored by the only woman to be banished from the Mayflower community, who later got a patent of land in Gravesend (now Coney Island).  Once the British took over, Penelope returned with her large family to the soil she had first landed on, in Sandy Hook, present-day New Jersey, where her first husband was killed and scalped, and Penelope herself was scalped and impaled but survived, being rescued by a matrilineal indigenous tribe.

I was taught this history by a great-aunt who disguised her own gender, not once but twice, in Esquire — to publish an article alongside Ernest Hemingway. I listened to Great-Aunt Mary, who heard my entire 600-page dissertation from UCLA when she was blind, as she advised me that I didn’t have to be a Frick; I could relate just as much to the Stouts. I have tried to live up to the Penelope Stout name.  Like her, I’ve had a lot of firsts as a woman in academia in a field that practices systemic sexism — being a member of one of the first classes with women to graduate from Claremont McKenna College (as it is now known, though my diploma has the distinction of saying Claremont Men’s College even though I was born female), and the first female EO of the CUNY Graduate Center Political Science Ph.D. Program, where I hired three central lines, including Peter Beinart for the Writing Politics specialization that I designed.  Meanwhile, APSA has only now started writing reports about PS misogyny, to some avail, and its journal now has 12 editors who reflect diversity.  I have had the honor (dis) of being named a “doctoral major” haha.

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About Professor Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Faculty/Core-Bios/Ruth-O-Brien)