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Monday, September 2, 2019


I have been puzzling over how to take up Jerry’s suggestion, and I have some problems.  For example, how can I keep track of how many people join in a group effort, such as calling Jeffries’ office?  I can handle half a dozen or even a dozen contributions to the Friday Lists, but not hundreds.  What else might we do?

Why don’t you all discuss it in the comments section while I go to New York tomorrow.


Jerry Fresia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerry Fresia said...

Apart from other things we could do (and I'm sure crowd sourcing this will turn up some interesting, impactful, and fun things), if we stick with targeting key Democrats, we could do the following to handle the numbers:

Let's say four people volunteer their email as Coordinators and let's say each of the four Coordinators are responsible for tallying a portion of the commentators reporting in.

Commentators who report their activities could be divided into four groups, based upon the first letter of their name and the grouping of the alphabet into 4: A-E, F-L, M-S and T-Z. (

So if I were reporting my activity, I would send my information to the Coordinator responsible for the F-L group or Coordinator 2.
(Coordinators could choose a philosopher's name as in "Marx48" or whatever to spice things up.)

The four Coordinators would forward their tallies to the Professor who would in turn announce the summary.

This is just a suggestion. If we were to get to such numbers, you would need help, and I'm sure there are many ways in which we could handle this.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

The What's Left? podcast recently released an episode discussing The 1619 Project that makes my point in previous comments on the topic, only far better (and many more points besides).

Jerry Fresia said...

Relax Professor, there has been zero response to my call. No need to worry about having to tally hundreds of phone calls. So I guess organizing a sit in at Jeffries' office is out of the question.

The life of the mind as you have so wonderfully shown us can have a magical aesthetic at its center. That spills out of the mind and into the body. A certain fire. As with Baldwin. Marx. Du Bois. But for most, I think, the life of the mind in "the academy" issues not in liberation, but obedience, publications. In measures.

In this instance, I can't help but recall the following: back in the '70s one of my favorite professors was Bill Connolly, now at Johns Hopkins. His work was enormously challenging and rewarding in many ways. So it was that I was surprised and saddened when I read in an interview with him that he confessed to hiding, back in the day, his true (positive) feelings toward C. Wright Mills. Ah, the academy, a bit of a surveillance state, no? With exacting professional norms.

To paraphrase Auxley, I don't want career. I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, not to mention that intoxicating rush to step out of line, to express my contempt directly to the oppressor and in so doing to make manifest who we are, and to realize, for a moment and in the moment, a better world.

I am not in search of lines to cross, but when someone is stepping out of line to organize others to stop a growing neo-fascism, I'll join in. Not just for all the right reasons, but because it's a high. It's visceral. A pleasure. An adventure. Simply life-giving. In a history moving forward.


Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

Jerry, I couldn't agree more with your sentiments. I didn't see your original post, but as I tried to work through how this all could work it seemed like herding cats.

The one thing that most of the people who follow this blog can do and do well is write. So how about putting those skills to work on op-ed pieces and letters to the editor. Politicians pay attention to the local press, perhaps even more so than calls to their offices. There are many of us who are members of professional organizations and writing from that perspective can be effective. If we have a lawyer in the blog universe, a piece on how Trump violates the law with impunity and its impact on society, or how Barr's, and the Federalist Society's, theory of executive power is to create a presidency with unchecked powers, etc. If your professional organization has taken a position on an issue, then explain to your community the whys and wherefores and importance of that stand.

Op-eds on the impact of Trump/Republican policies on human services from social workers, or the impact on children from being separated from their parents and being held in prison like conditions. If one is an academic, write from the perspective of your field. It is not like there is a paucity of topics!!

Some of us could volunteer to be editors, if needed. Anyway, it's a thought.

Jerry Fresia said...

Christopher, I like it. My sense is that what lies behind the Friday List initiative is the sense of urgency and danger. We don't want to be the boiling frog. I think your idea of exploiting our writing talent/skills is good. My fear is that if we just went of in different directions, it would be ineffective.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

Jerry, I don't see any volunteers clamoring to write op - eds. I am not sure what is effective these days. On the one had a million calls won't get Moscow Mitch, or any republican from a gerrymandered district, to move an inch on anything. On the other, newspaper readership is down and anti-intellectualism is up so the impact of an op-ed has likely lessened. There are on-line journals/papers, such as the New Mexico Political Report, that do good reporting on issues the newspapers tend to ignore. They can be a good outlet for political commentary.

I wrote a piece defending abortion rights for the Albuquerque Journal, which is very anti-abortion. After a fight with the editorial board editor to get them to print it, they finally did. It generated some appallingly idiotic on-line comments. On the other had, 6 months later I happened to meet the director and some staff of the local clinic. They recognized my name from the editorial and were very thankful for the support. If nothing else, it was a personally rewarding experience.

There are guerrilla press tactics, as well. Show up at a press conference and stand with the press. If asked, you are a free-lance journalist. When called on, hit 'em with the most difficult question you can think of, and watch the candidate try to deal with it. Pepper him/her with follow-ups that point to the weaknesses of the answer. I did this recently and had a lot of fun making a pro-life congressman look like an idiot.