Thursday, February 19, 2009
Arguably, it was Ronald Reagan shaking his head in the middle of a presidential debate with Jimmy Carter as he chuckled ruefully, “There you go again,” that created an emotional turning point in the 1980 campaign. It’s what we remember, anyway, that and the explosive, derisive response from the audience as Carter stood there unable to respond. This moment became symbolic of what many voters, not just right-wing voters, had come to think of Democratic governance: that the same old strategies, strategies that had not yet resolved a single social problem, were being presented as if they were new and innovative.
Well, it looks like no one is immune from regurgitating old, tired solutions to economic malaise. Having, for almost three decades, tried to deflect attention from the damage their economic policies have had on the vast majority of Americans, Republicans are once again turning to the vilification of gay sex, and knowledge about gay sex, to divert us from their past and present incompetence. I predict that future historians will find documented proof that such attacks are cynically intended to deflect the public view from the real consequences that cuts in public spending will have on education more generally. And just to give you some perspective, dear reader: for the price of incarcerating twenty undocumented immigrants for a year, you could probably fund four women’s studies programs granting the BA.
Attacks on women’s studies, sexuality studies and queer studies in the Georgia public university system are but one example of an urgent issue that few journalists, politicians or academics, for that matter, seem to care about yet. In the face of declining state revenues, right wingers are once again “Mapplethorping” the public. They are shilling their ideologically rigid view that even more school privatization, and deep cuts in higher education, are an appropriate fix for a plunging economy that has been jointly devastated by pirate capitalists, corporate lobbyists, and decades of neoliberal fiscal policies. How can the dismantling of higher education be turned into a happy thing, you might ask? Because you can get rid of fields of knowledge that students don’t need to know, and that might even harm them, like queer and feminist studies, while preserving the teaching of “universal values.” And by doing this, you can divert attention from the real consequences to real people of policies that are turning our public universities into a simulacrum of the wretched, privatized Postal Service .
Read the full story at Tenured Radical.