Wednesday, March 27, 2013

To My Colleague: Something Needs Correction


When I read your post this morning I was disturbed and sorry that you felt that way. However, when I revisited the draft letter you featured so prominently as the lead example of the "racial subtext" of the anti-Watson campaign, my feelings changed to anger. I have a great deal of respect for you as a teacher and scholar but I have to say that comment about the draft was problematic. Here is what I actually wrote: "I believe you can see that this unprecedented procedure, including outside reviewers, contravenes the contract and removes the creation of disciplinary standards from the CSU faculty, making an administration that has proven itself to be profoundly anti-intellectual responsible for the academic standards within each discipline. How is this defensible?" As you can plainly see, I do not call Wayne Watson an anti-intellectual, nor do I disparage his Ph.D. or the institution from which he earned it. I note that in your response to blog comments on your earlier post you include a rather tepid acknowledgement, tucked parenthetically into the last paragraph that "So, when he was called anti-intellectual (to be fair this language was quickly abandoned), for me and other African American faculty who read the draft this was akin to a slap in the face. Indict the man for the things he has done to the detriment of the University and stick to this issues that confront us all." In fact, I indicted his administration, not him and I think your correction is analogous to the New York Times printing on page 75 a correction of a front page story. Also, it is fair to criticize Watson for doing nothing scholarly since receiving his Ph.D. Does that constitute a personal attack? For examples of personal attacks from Watson supporters, see the anonymous e-mail sent to faculty on October 31 or November 1, 2012, or refer to previous posts on this blog, or take a look at the memorandum Watson recently sent to the Board of Trustees. Of course, there is a slight power difference here which undermines the argument that both sides are equally guilty of impoliteness. We post on the blog and Watson and his supporters have television, newspapers, and political supporters to spread their personal attacks.

Ultimately, you're right, we still have to work together. At the conclusion of this nonsense, I wonder whether we'll have an institution in which to work.

1 comment:

  1. I will admit that in the part of your above post where you clarify what the letter you drafted said, I stand corrected. I have no problem admitting to my error. And, while I do admit that I never heard YOU question Watson's non-existent academic portfolio, I have heard it done.

    I have, indeed, read the personal attacks by Watson's camp on this blog and the emails attacking our colleagues. I found them cowardly and desperate.

    And, I acknowledge that there is a unequal power difference. However my issue, again, is not so much that we should "play nice" with Watson's folks. We have long passed that point. We should however, strive to be better than them. My concern will always be how we talk to each other as peers.