To The Daily Sun,
Recently, Russ Wiles wrote a long-winded letter responding to this writer's comparison of the Trump movement with European fascism. That is, of course, Mr. Wiles' right, in spite of the fact that Mr. Wiles would deny those who disagree with him the same rights he enjoys.
This writer once met Mr. Wiles at a luncheon for frequent writers to The Sun and found him to be a nice guy. He has read Mr. Wiles' twisted diatribes for a long time and it appears that not only do they disagree but they function in completely different dimensions of reality.
Ordinarily, this "liberal academic" would not respond to a criticism of his column in The Sun. He may respond to criticisms of letters but as for his column, he usually does not dignify such rants with a response. But, since Mr. Wiles has printed grossly inaccurate accusations, this progressive feels the responsibility to respond to just one part of his letter where he wrote: "Scott teaches our children. Go read or reread his letter and then tell me if you do not believe that tenured fact does not send a chill up your spine."
Mr. Wiles not only misinforms his readers but also engages in a fair amount of hypocrisy. While accusing "liberals" of opposing free speech, Mr. Wiles and others, like Bob Meade, have often opposed the right to free speech of academics like myself, Leo Sandy and others, implying that we progressives should be fired for advocating ideas with which they disagree.
Never, in what this progressive writes, has he ever called for someone with whom he disagreed to lose their job or livelihood. One frequent contributor to The Sun once threatened him by email with contacting his employer if he did not "retract" something he wrote (he did NOT retract). Who is really intolerant? Certainly, not this "academic liberal."
First, Mr. Wiles, no one at the institution where I teach enjoys "tenure" of any kind. We hold our jobs because we do them well. Second, Mr. Wiles does not know what I teach in my classes so he does not even know what he is talking about. I do present alternative viewpoints in my courses and encourage students to debate and challenge me.
For your information, Mr. Wiles, I have never graded or evaluated a student based on whether or not he or she agrees with me. If you were to talk to my former students, Mr. Wiles, I think you would find this to be the truth.
Educators enjoy the same First Amendment rights you enjoy, Mr. Wiles. The last time I read it, our Constitution does not exclude academics. Furthermore, when I write a letter or a column I speak for myself and not for the institution that employs me. Finally, I do not teach "children." I teach adults of all ages, whom I encourage to think for themselves.
If I teach any "subversive" ideas, it is that students should think critically, question authority (even mine!), be tolerant and accepting, appreciate other cultures, understand their history, read, vote, and otherwise become involved in their communities and the American political process. I also try to give my students a good overview of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and even help organize an annual event celebrating those documents as well as a celebration honoring our country's veterans. Such conservative writers to The Sun as Bob Meade and my friend Steve Earle KNOW that because they have been invited as guest speakers. I would extend the same courtesy and invitation to Mr. Wiles and he would be free to speak. Pretty subversive and "un-American," huh?
E. Scott Cracraft
- Category: Letters
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