A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

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A FORUM FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND VIGOROUS DEBATE, CORNERSTONES OF DEMOCRACY
[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ].
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Gregory Pardlo

The following cartoon was sketched in 2015 regarding the egregious subjectivity of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, where identity politics, pc, careerist ladder climbing, networking et al always trump rare, critical rude-truth telling.
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Paul Muldoon

Below is a cartoon I sketched in 2003, over 15 years ago.  I post it now because I am once again contemplating the pitiful, blind, coopted and castrated, open-wide-and-swallow poets of the establishment.  In fact, I am trying unsuccessfully to locate the Pulitzer judges for the poetry prize for 2018 in an effort to out their likely egregious bias.  
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Monday, May 14, 2018

George Yancy

The following counter-essay was sent to the Chronicle of Higher Education.  It did not respond.  It was also sent to the student editors of The Emory Wheel.  They did not respond.  George Yancy, however, did respond... or sort of.  The counter-essay is posted here.  After all, who else would publish it?  The Washington Post?  The Washington Examiner?  The New York Times?  No way, Jose!  

The Ugly Truth of Being a White Professor in America… Who Dares Exercise Free Speech
Well, I was going to title this essay, “A Simple Solution for Professor George Yancy:  If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get out of the Limelight,” but decided instead to paraphrase Yancy’s latest contribution to the great racial divide, “The Ugly Truth of Being a Black Professor in America,” published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.    
Because I disobeyed a direct order from my bosses at American Public University to cease responding to criticism lodged against me, I was fired, uh “separated from the university.”  That was my last job in higher education.  In fact, for openly expressing my opinions, I was essentially fired from most of my other professorial jobs, including at Elmira College, Fitchburg State University, Davenport University, Bennett College, and Grambling State University.  Document accounts regarding each of them are published on The American Dissident website.  
I am white.  I never got tenure.  Generally, I have to self-publish my essays because I place truth above pc-compliance.  Yancy is black.  He got tenure, a lucrative sinecure at Emory University.  He gets to publish his essays in the New York Times and Chronicle of Higher Education.  Editors in general do not possess a sufficient appreciation for vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, to publish essays like mine.  Will the new Emory University student editors, Michelle Lou and Richard Chess, fall in that line?  Likely.  My experience indicates that most student editors do fall in that sad line.  But there’s always hope… or so they say.  
Professor Yancy incarnates today’s pc-culture of stereotypes and double standards, where the main issue tends to be racism, racism everywhere.  And indeed his latest essay is the same unoriginal racism, racism everywhere.  In it, he lists a litany of racist insults he received.  And, of course, I do not deny that he received them, nor do I excuse them.  After all, I am against the use of ad hominem, a puerile and intellectually-lazy substitute for reasoned counter-argumentation.   Calling whites racist is ad hominem.  
Sadly, Yancy is stuck, fully entrenched, in the past.  After all, he seems to make his living out of that entrenchment.  He writes that “Years ago, Malcolm X asked, ‘What does a white man call a black man with a Ph.D.?’ He answered: ‘A nigger with a Ph.D.’”  Racist stereotype!  Need I write that again for the ignorant with PhDs in pc-culture?  Racist stereotype!  All white men do NOT call all black men with PhDs, “niggers with PhDs.”  Yancy’s stereotyping of whites is insulting and downright racist.  And yet the editors of the Chronicle of Higher Education and New York Times are quite content to push that insulting anti-white racist narrative.  Why?  Readership?  Indoctrination?  
The litany of insults, including “dear nigger professor,” stems from Yancy’s op-eds.  But why does Yancy choose to ignore the points made by those like me, who did not employ ad hominem insults, but rather point-by-point counter-argumentation?  Why did Yancy choose not to respond to my email correspondence, satirical cartoon, and counter critiques:  “Blancophobia: A Case Study” and “The White Bad/Black Good Derangement Syndrome”?  Will he respond to this critique, which I shall also send to him and the student editors of The Emory Wheel?  Why do academics like him seem to abhor and reject vigorous debate?  Rarely do I ever receive a response from an academic whom I’ve criticized.  And I’ve criticized so many of them over the past several decades.  When I do receive a rare response, it tends to be fully aberrant in nature, completely avoiding the points I made, like the one recently received from Poet/Professor Dan Chiasson of Wellesley College and New Yorker contributor.  

In the interest of transparency I will also now forward to The Wellesley News, and to The College Police, the borderline harassing note you sent to me yesterday, and copies of the racist cartoons you attached. Please cease and desist contact with me and everyone associated with the College.

What was my crime?  Well, I’d sent Chiasson three cartoons critical of the New Yorker, as well as an essay critical of his poet colleague Frank Bidart.  In fact, not one English professor at Wellesley College deigned to respond to that essay.  My “borderline harassing note,” whatever the hell that means, can be examined on the three-cartoon link.  Well, I digress… or maybe not.  
Professor Yancy needs to open his eyes.  He writes that after the publication of his New York Times op-ed, “Dear White America,” that “I needed police presence at my invited talks at other universities. It all felt surreal—and dangerous.”  But what about white conservatives like Coulter, Yiannopoulis, Shapiro, Murray, and others who needed police presence before he needed it?  Did he give a damn about that?  Not in the least!  He notes that “Some of my students of color have asked me, ‘Why talk about race with white people when at the end of the day everything remains the same—that is, their racism continues?’”  
What the professor fails to do, however, is evoke the existence of continued and encouraged black racism against whites.  For him and likely for those pc-brainwashed black students, such a thing does not/cannot exist.  Uncomfortable facts like black on white racist crimes, black slaveholders, and black slave traders do not/cannot exist.  Educated professors ought to stick to the facts and decry stereotyping and double standards.  Instead, Yancy and far too many of them reject facts and espouse stereotyping and anything else that fits the woe-is-me black narrative.  Yancy needs to be exposed, not espoused.  
Surprisingly, the professor notes, “It is probably true that I would not have my job were it not for affirmative action.”  Sadly, he cannot really deal with the implications of that statement, instead arguing that Affirmative Action “is not anti-white, but pro-justice.”  And yet it has clearly become anti-white for whites rejected by colleges or employers because blacks have been accepted or hired, thanks to Affirmative Action.  It sadly also places a big question mark on every black person accepted or hired because of the color of his or her skin, quite anti-MLK indeed.  And it is not as simplistic as the professor imagines.  
Yancy is a racist stereotyper and needs to be outed in his privileged ranks.  Other professors need to stand up and decry his stereotyping.  Where are they?  Where are they?  Yancy states, “It is as if white people are driven by a colonial desire to possess everything. Du Bois asked, ‘But what on earth is whiteness that one should so desire it?’ He answered, ‘Whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and ever, Amen!’”  Well, I have no “colonial desire” whatsoever to “possess everything.”  What an absurd, if not infantile and simplistic thought!  Apparently, “whiteness,” for example, does not include the ownership of South Africa, where racist blacks are now the owners of that country and murderers of white farmers.  
Clearly, severe indoctrination is a solution to the racial divide, but is it really a solution?  White students must be indoctrinated early on in the pc-principles of privilege and colonialism.  But what about black students?  They are being indoctrinated to hate white students and to be victims.  That part of the indoctrination process will not work to solve the divide.  The other solution is currently being adopted in South Africa:  genocide and the absence of diversity (i.e., the creation of a black-only nation).   In other words, that solution is separate nations for separate races.  Again, the pc-diversity solution is really a non-solution because its result is racial division ad infinitum.  

Finally, a solution for Yancy’s feeling of being “traumatized” would be, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the limelight, and don’t keep putting yourself into it with op-eds.  Other blacks do not echo Yancy’s complaints because they have learned to build backbone and have become staunch individuals.  Yancy concludes his diatribe with the same evocation he’d made in his previous op-ed, regarding what he wished he had said to his students:  “Fuck it all! It is not worth it. White people will never value my humanity.  So, let’s end this class session on that.”  But will the black Yancys of America ever value my humanity?  Well, actually, I don’t give a damn if they will or won’t, nor do I give a damn if white professors ever will or won’t.  I give a damn about truth, freedom of speech, and vigorous debate, not pc-compliance…

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Jack Hirschman


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This cartoon was sketched in 2006.

Christian Wiman


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This cartoon was sketched in 2006.

Lin Lifshin


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I sketched this cartoon in 2006.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

George Yancy

The White Bad/Black Good Derangement Syndrome
“Should I Give Up on White People?” is Professor George Yancy’s latest New York Times op-ed.  Just about everyday, the Times publishes at least one white bad/black good op-ed.  All the news that fits the narrative!  I’d written Yancy several years ago and sent the cartoon I’d sketched on him, as well as the  counter op-ed I’d written vis-a-vis his “Dear White America” op-ed also published in the Times (2015).  He, of course, did not/would not respond, nor would the Times.  
Yancy begins his article with complaints—“a wave of white hatred and dehumanization”—of being threatened and otherwise mistreated by mostly faceless internet anti-black racists, who of course exist… as do faceless internet anti-white racists.  Sadly, however, he does not recognize the latter.  He says he shared one critical letter he received with his grad students and ended up in tears and walked out of the class for a moment.  “Looking back, I wish that I had said: “To hell with it all! It is not worth it. Too many white people will never value my humanity. So many whites in America will never be honest about their hatred of black people.”  
Well, why should I value the humanity of a person who makes his living by constantly judging those like me on the color of our skin?   To paraphrase Yancy, so many blacks in America will never be honest about their hatred of white people.”  Now, how does that sound, Mr. Yancy?  And at least I have had some personal experience with that regard.  Three blacks attacked and robbed me in Baton Rouge, for example… and The Advocate would not even publish my account of that racist occurrence.  Thankfully, the black student editors at Grambling State University, where I was teaching at the time, were open-minded and thus willing to do so!  
Evidently, Yancy has benefitted partly thanks to his skin color.  He now has a hefty salary and lifetime job security as a tenured academic at Emory University.  As for me, I never did get tenure… because I chose and choose to speak rude truth even and especially when that perturbs academics like Yancy and especially their narrative.  I was fired from my last job in academe (American Public University) because I disobeyed my chairperson’s order to cease engaging in vigorous debate.  
Yancy notes when he came back to class his students “bore witness to my vulnerability, my suffering, the sting of unmitigated hatred. And they saw the impact in an otherwise safe academic space.”  What to say about that?  Well, if you can’t take the heat, then stay out of the limelight!  Don’t keep publishing anti-white stereotype articles in the Times!  Or accept that not everyone is going to love what you write.  
“I wanted to model for my students what it is like to be a contemporary philosopher who remains steadfast in the face of hatred,” declares Yancy in typical Yancy half-truth fashion.  For in reality, he reinforces that very hatred by joining in the PC-stereotyping of whites.  And yet, he seems to think he is some kind of modern-day Jesus: “I was pushed to rethink what I assumed was a mission of love, the kind of love that refuses to hide and requires profound forms of vulnerability.”  
Until Yancy embraces reality, he will remain just another tenured fraud.  If he is going to blather about white privilege, then he needs to examine poor white people w/o privilege and white farmers in South Africa and the realities of slavery, which the PC-crowd seek to coverup.  He needs to take a close look at black on white crime.  But of course he will not/cannot do that.  
“I am convinced that America suffers from a pervasively malignant and malicious systemic illness — white racism,” he declares.  Political correctness demands adherence to that conviction.  Truth, on the other hand, demands non-adherence to ideology.  PC demands turning a blind eye to Affirmative Action black privilege, the existence of wealthy blacks like Yancy himself, black race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson, who make a living off of that, and overt black racism (think of South Africa, Nation of Islam, BLM, etc.).  
“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster,” wrote James Baldwin.  Yes, Yancy actually quoted that line in his article, but is so blind that he cannot see his own eyes are amongst those shutting to reality.  Victimization always causes cecity!  
Yancy’s reasoning is simplistic—black and white without nuance—and certainly is surprisingly lacking for a grad school professor.  For Yancy, because whites sold slaves long ago, then all whites today are guilty and should be shamed if not punished.  Yet, blacks sold slaves to whites long ago in Africa.  Should not all blacks thus be shamed if not punished?  And what about Muslim slaveowners who exist today?  Should not all Muslims be shamed if not punished?  And what about Aztec ritual murder and Spanish slaughter of Mexican autochthones?  Should not all Mexicans be shamed if not punished?  Yancy is so simplistic in his thinking that these things—and many others, including the many black Americans who owned and traded slaves—are not to be evoked.  They are to be erased from history.  The narrative demands it!  

In conclusion, Yancy’s own anti-white racist stereotypes not only evoke but promote anti-black racist stereotypes.  With so many Yancys out there today, the racial divide will ever increase.  Yancy’s wo-is-me victim op-ed reminds of Hillary and Comey’s wo-is-me victim books, book tours, and book interviews.  It’s the sales, stupid!  In fact, Yancy is pushing his own wo-is-me victim book:  Backlash: What Happens When We Honestly Talk About Racism in America."  Honestly?  Bullshit!  Ideologically would be a hell of a lot more accurate!  And so I send this counter-essay to the Times, Yancy, his Philosophy Department colleagues, and Editor-in-Chief Michelle Lou, Executive Editor Richard Chess, and Editorial Page Editor Madeline Lutwyche of The Emory Wheel, the student newspaper.  If all of them are inline with groupthink requisites, then I shall hear nothing at all… or perhaps a little ad hominem.  Will the student editors possess the independence and courage to publish it?  And how about the Times?   Full disclosure:  I am not a Nazi.  I do not believe in socialism.  During my past career as gypsy college professor, I knew far too many Dr. PhDs in the Humanities to hold any respect at all for the title—I too hold a PhD.  Instead, my respect is held for the rare few staunch individuals on the left or right who not only brook, but encourage vigorous debate and freedom of speech… 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Frank Bidart

Open Letter to Poetry Professor Frank Bidart
Why the Need for Hullabaloo in the Poetry Milieu?
It is truly amazing that few, very few if any, intellectuals question the literary prizes and wonder what might be the biases of the faceless judges awarding them.  In the world of establishment literature, just that thought alone constitutes blasphemy and makes this essay unpublishable.  Raise the thought and be prepared for full ostracizing.  When it comes to the literary prizes, journalists and literati are an open-wide-and-swallow groupthink mentality.  “Finally a comic novel gets a Pulitzer Prize.  It’s about time,” noted the Washington Post; “If we valued black art, Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer would have been for literature,” praised the Guardian; “Wellesley College professor wins prize for poetry,” stated the Boston Globe
Poet Charles Bukowski, one of the few known poets who dared criticize the poetry establishment, wrote:  “Poetry has long been an in-game, a snob game, a game of puzzles and incantations. It still is, and most of its practitioners operate comfortably as professors in our safe and stale universities.”  
So, Professor Frank Bidart, do you think your Wellesley College poetry students can understand the implications inherent in that statement?  In fact, are you yourself capable of understanding them?  And why didn’t Bukowski ever win the Pulitzer Prize?  The key to independent thinking is literary dissection, certainly not literary hullabaloo.  In his Boston Globe piece, Martin Finucane echoed that you, the new Pulitzer Prize-winner for poetry, are one of America’s most respected poets."   But what does that mean?  Was there a vote?  If so, who got to vote and who didn’t?  Who is doing the “respecting” and what does “respected” by the establishment really imply?  Moreover, can one be respected if one questions and challenges the “respecters”?  Likely not!  And that is the crux. 
Privileged poets get to anoint other privileged poets, who get to distribute the prizes, who get to dish out the grants, who decide who shall be published or invited to speak, who determines who gets tenure and who doesn’t, and most importantly who shall be ostracized, silenced, and censored.  They form the poetry establishment (i.e., the “respecters”), which normally consists of well-to-do privileged academic poets with bourgeois lifestyles.  They have real faces, some of which can be examined on the Academy of American Poets website.  How does one get to be one of those privileged poets?  Evidently, as mentioned, the road to privileged “poetdom” does not normally consist of questioning and challenging privileged poets.  On the contrary, it normally consists of praising those poets and their poetry.  Open wide and swallow is the requisite modus operandi of those wishing to join the gang.  Journalists in general share that modus operandi.  Just examine the diverse poetry reviews they publish in the New Yorker, New York Times, Poets & Writers, and Washington Post, for example.  They tend inevitably not to be critiques, but rather hagiographies. 
Regarding your Pulitzer-anointed book of poetry, the Globe article notes that Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy declared it was “a volume of unyielding ambition and remarkable scope that mixes long, dramatic poems with short elliptical lyrics, building on classical mythology and reinventing forms of desire that defy societal norms.”  Canedy’s remark is in essence a flurry of highbrow vacuity with a touch of contradiction, for to be anointed, one can do anything but “defy societal norms,” unless of course those “norms” are left undefined.  What precisely have you done to defy them?   No examples are provided; no examples are demanded.  Is a lifetime career in the ivory tower a defiance? 
The principle “societal norm,” of course, constitutes, above all else:  thou shalt not criticize the academic/literary established order—its icons, its chancellors, its prizes, its literary journals, and its organizations.  You, of course, have bowed to that norm.  Your very career has depended on congealed genuflection.  The careers of aspiring poets, some of your students perhaps, depend on congealed genuflection.  
Today, poetry for the established order has come to mean anything but hardcore criticism of that order.  That has become the norm—the only real norm existent in poetry.  Break it and be prepared for full ostracizing, banning, and censorship.   The poetry establishment has no backbone.  And one can only make that discovery when one actually tests its waters, as I have done for the past three decades.   Categorical dismissal by banning, ostracizing, censorship, and ad hominem inevitably form part of those murky waters.   That has certainly been my experience.  Is the establishment open to criticism?  Certainly not!  In fact, I’d be amazingly surprised if The Wellesley News student newspaper would deign to publish this open letter. 
“I’m certainly very pleased,” you noted in that Globe article.  “When you start out as a poet, you’re very aware of older poets who have won the Pulitzer, and it very often happens that the poets I most admire won it in their old age, Wallace Stevens, for example. And I’m 78 now. So it’s very pleasing to have won before I climb into the ground.”  Well, when I started out, I didn’t give a damn about poets who won the Pulitzer… and still don’t.  Poets who win the Pulitzer are generally sellouts— highbrow bourgeois word spinners and slingers, far, far from risk-taking rude-truth tellers.   And on that note, how not to think of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance,” in particular, “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges [e.g., Pulitzer Prize] and names, to large societies and dead institutions.  Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.” 
Perhaps you are teaching, via your own example, the very opposite of what Emerson had stated: “For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure.”  In other words, for conformity the world whips you with its pleasure.  Students of poetry should be taught to question the prizes—who are the faceless judges according them, what are their biases—and prize winners, not simply open wide and swallow in celebration!   
Finally, in 2013, I posted on my blogsite a cartoon I’d sketched on you, as well as an email written to the Academy of American Poets to which you served as one of its high-and-mighty chancellors.  Sometime later, you posted a comment.  Well, I just noticed it yesterday:  “I'm bewildered. When did I ‘favor the censoring of a fellow poet’? When did I favor censoring anybody, except those yelling fire in a crowded theater when there's no fire? I'm not without sin, but I don't recognize the incident or occasion or situation you're talking about. Your criticism would cut deeper if I knew what you're talking about.” 
And so, when did you favor the censoring of a fellow poet, me, for example?  The answer to that question oddly appeared right below the posted cartoon in that email:  “Might there actually be a freedom-of-expression proponent amongst you and/or the Chancellors today?  Might one of you actually be capable of thinking and acting exterior to the groupthink, established-order poesy box?  Have things changed at all at the Academy of American Poets since it censored and banned me in 2007 from commenting on its forums, or is it still censorship and indifference to censorship as usual?”  
Why didn’t you, chancellor at the time, stand up to protest the censorship (removal) of my comments from the Academy of American Poets website and the prohibiting of my further commenting on its site?  By remaining silent, you sided with and continue to side with the censors.  Is that so difficult to comprehend?  Apparently, it was and still is… for you.  In fact, do you expose your students to the critical viewpoints of those exterior to the poetry establishment like those published in The American Dissident, for example?  If not, why not?  Your college librarian won’t even respond to a request that he or she consider subscribing.  
Please note that this “Open Letter” was sent to your English Department colleagues at Wellesley in the hope that might help instigate you or one of them to respond.  It has been my long experience dealing with academics and other literati, which has led me to conclude they detest outside criticism and vigorous debate.  Groupthink echo is not vigorous debate.  Careerism, not rude-truth telling, tends overwhelmingly to be their and your m.o.  Diversity is hardly a strength with that in mind.  I’ve also sent it to student editors Jane Vaughan and Alexandria Otero of The Wellesley News, though doubt wholeheartedly they will possess the independence and courage to publish it.  In conclusion, I wrote the following in 2008 and sent it to the Chancellors, you included.  You, of course, never responded.  To this day, as far as I am aware, I am still prohibited from commenting on the Academy of American Poets website…  

Open Letter to the Honorable Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets*
Only three of you have deigned to respond to my concerns of the censorship effected by the Academy of American Poets last July, though not one of you has proven eager to engage in vigorous debate with that regard.  As an American citizen, I therefore consider all of you far more reprehensible, than honorable.  Your blacklisting me as poeta non grata is shameful, to say the least.  By the way, your responses, names, and email addresses have all been incorporated into the updated webpage created to denounce the censorship approved by you (see http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/academy_american_poets.html). Please do examine it.  In fact, why not have your students examine it?!  After all, don’t you publicly consider their interests more important than yours?      
In case you are still unaware, vigorous debate is the cornerstone of democracy. Why, one must ask, is it not also the cornerstone of the publicly-funded Academy of American Poets?  And why do all of you shun it like the plague?  After all, almost all of you are or were tenured professors.  What on earth, one must wonder, are you or were you teaching your students:  sycophancy, censorship, political correctitude, speech codes, the benefits of McCarthy-like inquisitions?  Well, tenure tends to destroy minds; it doesn’t free them.  
Finally, prize-winning poets like all of you are perhaps known for your ability to spin an ingenious line of poetry, but certainly you are hardly at all known for the courage to act alone and against the grain of the established-order milieu awarding the prizes.  And that is precisely why you are not great and will never be great.  And that is why you will never be held in high esteem by any independently thinking human being.  Sadly, you’ve all become cogs in the machine.  “Let your life be a counterfriction to stop the machine,” had written Thoreau.  Well, that’s who I am, a counterfriction…

Sincerely,
G. Tod Slone, Ed.
The American Dissident, a 501 c3 nonprofit literary journal providing 
a forum for vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy
1837 Main St.
Concord, MA 01742
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*Frank Bidart (Wellesley College), Lyn Hejinian (University of California at Berkeley), Sharon Olds (New York University's Graduate Creative Writing Program), Kay Ryan (New York’s Central Park Zoo), Gerald Stern (University of Iowa Writers' Workshop), C. K. Williams (Princeton University), Rita Dove (University of Virginia), Galway Kinnell (New York University), Carl Phillips (Washington University at St. Louis), Gary Snyder (University of California at Davis), James Tate (University of Massachusetts at Amherst), Robert Hass (University of California at Berkeley, Nathaniel Mackey (University of California at Santa Cruz), Robert Pinsky (Boston University), Susan Stewart (Princeton University), and Ellen Bryant Voigt (Warren Wilson College)


NB:  As expected, not one English professor, including Bidart, and neither of the student editors deigned to respond to this open letter.


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From: George Slone
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 7:44 AM
To: thewellesleynews@gmail.com
Cc: fbidart@wellesley.edu; kbrogan@wellesley.edu; wcain@wellesley.edu; mcezaire@wellesley.edu; dchiasso@wellesley.edu; pfisher@wellesley.edu; ogonzalez@wellesley.edu; ahickey@wellesley.edu; ylee@wellesley.edu; klynch@wellesley.edu; smeyer@wellesley.edu; jnoggle@wellesley.edu; tpeltaso@wellesley.edu; lrodensk@wellesley.edu; lrosenwald@wellesley.edu; msabin@wellesley.edu; vshetley@wellesley.edu; yko@wellesley.edu; msides@wellesley.edu
Subject: Open Letter to Frank Bidart

To Co-Editors-in-Chief Jane Vaughan and Alexandria Otero, The Wellesley News, Student Newspaper of Wellesley College:
Please publish the following “Open Letter,” regarding one of your professors, Frank Bidart.  Of course, I am a realist and would be surprised if you decide to publish it, let alone respond to this email.  Why?  Well, evidently colleges have become training facilities, as opposed to educational ones that reflect democracy’s principles, freedom of speech and vigorous debate.  Also, I did contact your paper in 2013, regarding another issue, and never received a response.  In any case, thank you for your hopeful attention.

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From: George Slone
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2018 7:10 AM
To: tcushman@wellesley.edu; csowa@wellesley.edu
Cc: thewellesleynews@gmail.com; fbidart@wellesley.edu; kbrogan@wellesley.edu; wcain@wellesley.edu; mcezaire@wellesley.edu; dchiasso@wellesley.edu; pfisher@wellesley.edu; ogonzalez@wellesley.edu; ahickey@wellesley.edu; ylee@wellesley.edu; klynch@wellesley.edu; smeyer@wellesley.edu; jnoggle@wellesley.edu; tpeltaso@wellesley.edu; lrodensk@wellesley.edu; lrosenwald@wellesley.edu; msabin@wellesley.edu; vshetley@wellesley.edu; yko@wellesley.edu; msides@wellesley.edu
Subject: Testing the murky waters of democracy at Wellesley College


To Thomas Cushman, Director, and Caryn Sowa, Program Manager, the Wellesley College Freedom Project,
Please distribute this email to the other Freedom Project members.  It might or might not be of interest to you that in vain I contacted the Wellesley News student editors on several occasions.  No response was their freedom response.  Also, in vain I contacted the English professors, offering a highly critical essay on one of them, Pulitzer poet Frank Bidart.  No response was their freedom response.   Is silence the new vigorous debate at Wellesley?  Will no response be the Freedom Project response?  On yet another occasion, I contacted an English professor, Dan Chiasson, who did respond by essentially calling me a racist and threatening to contact campus police.  

Can professors really be so fragile at Wellesley College?  And if so, what does that teach their students?  Well, it teaches them that feelings trump freedom of speech and vigorous debate, cornerstones of democracy!  Moreover, Prof. Chiasson requested I cease contacting him and anyone else connected to the college.  So, here I disobey that request by contacting you.  Please do not send your Campus Police down to Cape Cod to put me in handcuffs for my various speech crimes!  

For the email (and cartoons) I sent to Prof. Chiasson, as well as his rather troubling email response, please do examine http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2018/04/dan-chiasson.html.  Also, below you can read the essay I sent to the English professors, as well as my correspondence.  Do you think the items might warrant imprisonment?  It is true that my "tone" might not be in-line with expected academic "tone," but from my perspective the tone is the message is the tone.  Besides, I never make threats and have no criminal record of violence whatsoever.  Hopefully, you will not agree with Prof. Chiasson, regarding the Campus Police…

[No response was ever received.] 

Sebastian Smee

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Notes on the Real Elephant in the Art Room
Sebastian Smee somehow manages to avoid the real “elephant in the room” (i.e., the art room) in his promotional essay, “Picking apart the Internet: An exhibition that addresses the elephant in the room,” regarding Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art exhibit, “Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today.”  
Smee lauds the exhibit artists—critic in today’s twisted art world tends to be a euphemism for hagiographer—as being “at the vanguard of questioning and critiquing—but also embracing and advancing—the Internet.”  However, when might they ever be “at the vanguard of questioning and critiquing” the art machine that tends to feed them so well, as opposed to ever “embracing and advancing” it?  That machine controls art, essentially coopting and castrating it.  
“Today, our lives are at once eased and terrifyingly over-determined by algorithms,” concludes Smee.  “Algorithms promise to distill order from informational chaos. It’s a necessary project, and one they share, to some extent, with art.  But unlike art, algorithms don’t care about truth. They care about probabilities. There’s a very big difference. And that difference is one reason, in the Internet age, we need art more than ever.”  
Yet since when is art so concerned about truth nowadays?  Doesn’t it care a lot more about recognition via backslapping and self-congratulating?  The entire art scene on Cape Cod where I live, for example, has become so commercial, so tourist dependent, that any artist daring to expose and otherwise criticize that uncomfortable truth would forever be banned by the art machine, which has become an arm of the chamber of commerce, hardly at all concerned with truth. Artists should stand up on their hind legs to test the waters of democracy, instead of beggaring at the doors of the chamber of commerce and its diverse arms like the Cultural Center of Cape Cod or the Mid-Cape Cultural Council or Cape Cod Writers Center.  Money kills art.  Money kills writing.  
Now, how to evoke algorithms without even mentioning Google’s corrupt viewpoint discriminating algorithmic tactics and even more so the corruptly biased humans behind them!  But Smee certainly manages to do that.  For him, as an establishment “art critic,” the faceless (human-less) internet, a tool, is somehow that elephant in the room.  The reality, of course, is something Smee likely cannot and will not be able to perceive, let alone comprehend.  His job depends on that!  Prohibited:  art critical of the art machine!  Prohibited:  viewpoints the art machine does not like!  
Smee notes the Boston exhibit “suggests that the Web’s technical possibilities and reality-altering nature have seeped into every aspect of creativity, affecting even traditional media such as painting and sculpture.”  But how might those algorithms serve to eventually eliminate hard-core questioning of art critics like Smee himself?  And when might chief curators like Eva Respini and Jeffrey De Blois ever contemplate an exhibit highlighting art critical of the Institute of Contemporary Art itself?  
Art critics like Smee are part of that machine, cogs of it.  The elephant in the art room is not the freakin’ internet!  It is the art not present in that room, especially that art not funded by the NEA or state cultural councils or private MacArthur Foundation fellowship granters and not given a pass by museum curator gatekeepers.  It is the art that is too critical of the art room, the art machine, the NEA and state cultural councils themselves, and of course the multitude of sell-out artist cogs of the system.  Black art or anti-Trump art, for example, will certainly NOT be rejected by fund-according cultural-council apparatchiks and exhibition gatekeepers.  Art critical of those organizations and gatekeepers, however, will be flatly rejected, no matter how “brilliant,” for “brilliant” such art can never be.   The art machine is a great cooptation wing of the establishment in general, a great castrator of art itself.  Artists today seek to climb the ladder of recognition and know damn well that speaking “rude truth in all ways” (Emerson) would serve to brake that climb and otherwise kill their art careers.  Only an artist, a rare artist indeed, who does not give a damn about recognition and that dubious careerist path, will seek to speak that “rude truth in all ways,” especially regarding the art machine.  

Question:  Would a Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic at The Washington Post dare criticize the Pulitzer Prize judges or WaPo editors?  Answer:  no!  Question:  Should I submit a collection of sketches critical of artists and exhibits to the Institute of Contemporary Art or would that be a waste of my time?  Answer:  waste of time!  

Elizabeth Lund