*Supreme Court – Finally Watch-able

Lights and Camera — Sunshine Laws and Shining Lights.

Few national political institutions open their doors to audio and camera and then shut them back down again, no matter how long our historic pandemic lasts.

Long before I knew that William Howard Taft designed the 1930 Supreme Court building and helped pass some of the most important reforms as the Chief Justice (his preferred position over the presidency), I got to wander the halls of the House of Representatives as a page in the late 1970s.  I tried not to spend too much time underground (so I got stuck at the end of the day with errands as punishment, which was fine by me).

We went to school in the Cupola of the Library of Congress.  I got to be the M.C. with the majority leader and future (now seen as corrupt) Speaker of the House, Jim Wright — who looked at me like I was “crazy” for suggesting that his tip to me would be to “imagine everyone in their underwear.”

Oh, and Jimmy Carter had already tipped my hat in the Rose Garden after I ratted out the corruption of the Capitol Page School.  At the State of the Union address, my own congressman got drunk and called me “Ruthie” and we all lifted a bit of the new carpet for our scrapbooks, knowing that television was next.

I had to plead with my mother two years in a row, and Congressman William Ketchum finally gave us a couple of minutes and told her to let me apply. I’d never win the essay contest — he had no seniority, he had no standing — and this was the better way to shut me up.

I had the feeling that he felt sorry for my mom, though he was far from the first authority figure trying to shut me up — that distinction goes to the junior-high principal when I was 12, and before that to my mother’s siblings and her father.  Plus I got to interview Ronald Reagan after he got denied the nomination in 1976 and the family thought that was a coup.  I could only see how purple his hair really was.

And by the time I prepared to go to Claremont Men’s College — while our relatives established Brown University (in its pre–Rhode Island days) — Ketchum was dead (dropped dead on the tennis court). Then Congressman Chuck Grassley called my mom to say she should be proud of me.

We got briefed by the CIA, the FBI, and other types of security to watch out for cockroaches tossed down from the galley, and to look out for big and small packages that might carry explosives — we were, after all, overseen by the office of the Doorkeeper.

My mother’s bargain was that I agreed to be banned from going to any “corrupt” East Coast establishment, especially the Ivies.  (Most of the 125 pages chose to go to “the city” or “the country,” which in California means Stanford or Cal, respectively; it had a different meaning on the East Coast.) The agreement was: no application to the dangerous-for-women Stanford, and why would you want to go to a college filled with engineers?  No going to her alma mater, UC Berkeley; I could transfer there, but I decided going to England and Yugoslavia would be more fun than heading up to northern California.

My mom wanted me to go to Scripps (she regretted going to Cal and leaving Mills). It was only by the skin of my teeth on the campus interview that the Claremont-wide student tour guide said Claremont Men’s College was a better place for me, being interested in politics.

So that I don’t digress, let me leave it like a westerner.  Once an institution gets a new carpet, they get new drapes, and the Supreme Court — thank goodness — is opening its doors to video. It’s catching up to the 1970s.

I, for one, will watch this even if I don’t watch the two hours of White House TV, DJT (reverse acronym, since I can’t punish my fingers to type the words).

Identities and Intersections, and Max Tomba’s Glorious “Insurgent Universalities” in Heretical Thought

To call a man feminine is interpreted as insulting. Now, this is different than someone saying “act like a man.” That’s even more insulting. Even worse, you’re “thinking like a woman.” So, David, I can easily concede that my phrase “SLAMs and SCAMs” is blunt, bordering on insulting. Yet that still begs the question of how do we make analyzing, scrutinizing, thinking, critiquing in ways all attributed to women, or feminism, or at least women being woke by feminism, universal? Or rather a language that boys, girls, women, and men will use? What is the vocabulary when we would like to observe and add our kudos to a boy or a man, or anyone of privileged status who acted like a person who made an ethic of care universal? Or that same person who made a “non-manalyzing” scholarly observation?

To be sure, blunt phrases like SCAMs and SLAMs can be off-putting. And perhaps I dampen the dialogue when I list privilege of straight conservative Anglo-Saxon men and straight liberal Anglo-Saxon men (SCAMs and SLAMs), aside from a predilection to try to shock or shake people into thought. These acronyms serve two purposes. Do-gooder liberal men are just as bad as, if not worse than, conservatives in exerting their privilege and reducing access to all those not sharing their privileged identity. Why? We know that by virtue of being, acting, doing what SCAMs do they are predators and probably at least complicit in rape culture. I’m challenging someone to give me a different vocabulary — and it’s more likely to come from SLAMs than SCAMs (unless they see the light).

When women scholars’ scholarship is heeded universally, admired by both men and women, often this proves disappointing too. This time it’s not about hope, but disappointment that so many women join the men in patriarchal thought. In many cases, though certainly not all, women and men use the male-dominated language of scholarship (i.e. “manalyzing”). There is no s/he said. (No need for the He said/She said, since after all it should always be the intersubjective and simple s/he said. All people fight within themselves. No one has a static gender, race, ethnicity, let alone body.

Nor do I like the scholarship that simply says “Well, what about the feminist perspective?” What? First there is no “feminist perspective,” as this scholar got it so wrong last night at the GC in criticizing Max Tomba’s exciting book Insurgent Universality in the Oxford University Press, Heretical Thought Series, which I solo edit. There are feminism(s), as another fascinating scholar of sociology at Hunter and the GC explains, Lynn Chancer, titled her latest book

Identity-speak should be no more exclusionary than Harvard’s “Gov Speak,” the language the Harvard Government Department got criticized for uttering years back that was tantamount to the exclusion of all but SLAMs and SCAMs. Sure, it is easy to say we do not speak who we are. One would be hard pressed to find an essentialist, these days in the academy, at least. At the same time, it’s hard to find a non-essentialist — or a scholar — be they man or woman, who does not “manalyze.” Manalyzing is practiced equally by male and female scholars. It’s a criticism of the academy not having a scholarly language enough to stop universalizing critique with the universality of men analyzing.

David Waldstreicher politely and appropriately called me out on SLAMs and SCAMs being a bit blunt (i.e. rude).

A Public Square Author Won a Million

150506426 Congratulations, Martha!  Here is the University of Chicago’s story about their faculty member and Public Square author Professor Martha Nussbaum. As editor of the Public Square series, which has won over 17 prizes for only 9 books published over 14 years, I do not find this surprising.  After all, Professor Nussbaum’s Public Square book, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanitieswas a great success in more ways than one.  Not only does her work help democracy by helping to save the humanities, but the book sold exceedingly well.  As Rob Tempio, the in-house Princeton University Press senior editor of Philosophy, Classics, and Political Theory, explained it to me: Many philanthropic boards and universities bought copies of Not for Profit for their whole board to make the point that is in the title — Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. It’s a vital message, and I’m glad The Public Square was able to help Professor Nussbaum spread the word.

Chuck (Grassley) called my mom……

Representative (now Senator) Chuck Grassley called my mother when I was 18 years old.  Why?  I had just graduated from the Capitol Page School, with the nation’s highest-paid teachers in terms of money per student, with a 99.999999% graduation rate not just from high school but from some of the best universities in our nation.  I ratted the school out for the inferior instruction it offered.*  Congressman Grassley said my mother should be proud of me for being a whistleblower — and I guess he knew what I had weathered.  I don’t know. A good friend of mine says he is evil.  She is a litigator and understands how Grassley is gaslighting Professor Christine Blasey Ford.  I agree — what could I say other than “he called my mother”?  But to be honest, when he called my mother, she was not impressed, as I remember.  Only impressed enough to relay the quick call.  I didn’t think a thing about it until I spoke with my litigator friend (why would I?) — he became a Senator, and while he supports whistleblowers, they are largely the ones who whistle the Republican tune.  Look what he’s doing to Ford now! When it came time for college, most of my relatives faced a choice — the farm (Stanford) versus the city (Berkeley).  For me, the choice was not the farm versus the city.  My mom wanted me to go to a small women’s liberal-arts school, preferably the one she had attended, not one of those Seven Sisters schools.  Not only the Sister schools were excluded; my mom was also down on the Ivies, even though my ancestor helped start one — a proFESSor of religion, no less, helped found Brown University by proFESSing religion at the Hopewell Academy, which later moved to Rhode Island (Anabaptist country). No one was going to the East Coast Establishment. Meanwhile, Stanford — where they ruined women, I was told — and anything east of Los Angeles were out.  So I came home, back West to California, as was appropriate.  My mother managed to get me/allow me (she had no control, since I was writing my own applications far from home) to go to an all-male college that was turning co-ed.  Now that was no fun -— or was it fun?  Actually, I enjoyed it.  It had been Claremont Men’s College, and after coeducation they found a donor whose name began with M, and it became Claremont McKenna College, preserving the CMC acronym. But first they had to deal with the GCO Club — Get Cunts Out — of diehard misogynists.  Seems kinda like the club that Brett Kavanagh would join — or was that only in high school? Why won’t he allow the FBI to do a full investigation, anyhow?  Why does he want to enter the Supreme Court with a rapist cloud over his head?  After all, Clarence Thomas didn’t even speak in court for over a decade, knowing how little credibility he had/has.  Who made the last phone call to Anita — his wife, no less?  Wasn’t that bizarre?  My only guess would be she got hammered one night and is still mad about how Clarence cheated on her — or didn’t tell her the full story that she knows/suspects, and that’s about his predilection for pornography. —————– * I ratted them out despite being threatened in front of the whole school for maligning a 150-year-old institution, since I was the rat “going” over there — the Doorkeeper’s Door — and complaining that we weren’t getting enough education.  All the House of Representatives pages followed the few Senate pages’ problem — that pages could no longer go to school from 6:00 to 9:00, but instead from 6:00 to 6:30 or 7:00, including the breakfast break.  Then they reduced our classes to five, but we still only got as far as roll call before leaving.  I was in school, yet I was learning absolutely nothing, and the principal’s and vice principal’s defense was — anyway, full circle.  I ratted them out.  I was not the first or the last, and it was under Speaker of the House John Boehner that they got rid of House pages in 2011.

Why does WNYC/PBS in NYC think all public intellectual interviewers are men? — Don’t pledge until we all hear more diverse voices

 https://www.google.com/search?q=heretical+thought&oq=heretical+thought&aqs=chrome..69i57j0j69i60l3j0.2381j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

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Top 10, Top 20, Top 100 — you find your list.  Or even rely on Richard Posner‘s pre-9/11 list, and public intellectuals who are not SLAMs or SCAMs (and not fiction writers) are not women.  They are the default identity: straight liberal Anglo men or straight conservative men — the defaults or the embodiments of the “norms,” the 5 percenters.

I’ve been teaching this in Writing Politics for so many years it gets boring, old, trite, frustrating, maddening . . . oops, now I sound like a w/b-itch . . . something not nice, I suppose.  The first repair is please, please, please let’s forget Charlie Rose and Leonard Lopate and John Hockenberry and start filling the NYC airwaves with women public-intellectual interviewers.

The second repair — stop featuring how difficult it is to spot sexual harassment.  The definition is very, very clear, and the difference between civil and criminal law is VERY basic, yet even Brian Lehrer seem to have a problem with this.

The first thing is that you can’t say you didn’t know it was happening (male or female bosses either).  Indeed, the only reason sexual harassment — not pay inequity, nor paycheck discrimination — has had any impact since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is that the federal courts (including the Supremes) put their employers/managers/co-workers on the hook.  The whole head-in-the-sand approach doesn’t work — in CIVIL law (not criminal law, needless to say; criminal law carries a higher burden).

Aren’t we in the Anita Hill moment for public television and public radio, meaning her bravery despite Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas taking a seat was worth it?  Without her, NOW would not have increased and sexual harassment would have remained obscure (even though the press still can’t get a definition of it . . . or explain the difference between sexual crimes and civil crimes).

Here’s an exercise.  Compare the Forbes 400 with any top list of PUBLIC intellectuals and you might well find yourself on a stick, a broom, etc.  You get the idea.

Now, I get it for Roger Ailes/Rupert Murdoch’s baby Fox News(?), but public radio and public television, particularly in New York City, being conducted or run by mainly men?

To be sure, Terry Gross could don a cool cape and fly from station to station, but she’s only one person. . .

Here’s my challenge — don’t submit your pledge until we’ve heard bell hooks, Melissa Harris-Perry, or anyone but Doris Kearns Goodwin* absolutely refuse to interview for these openings.  This could be a call-in or petition campaign we might actually win!

* (who signed more than one settlement for more than one case of plagiarism — or one of the ultimate public intellectual civil crimes — unconscionable in my book 🙂 )