A few weeks ago, Glenn Greenwald gave a speech where he discussed the climate of government intimidation in the U.S.:
I received a lot of comments from people via email, from people in person telling me at my attended events, from people in my comment section, American citizens who said the following: “I understand and agree with the idea that Wikileaks has a lot of potential to do good, but I’m actually afraid of donating money, because I’m afraid that I’m going to end up on some kind of a list somewhere; or that eventually I will be charged with aiding and abetting, or giving material support to a terrorist group.”
This was not one or two people who tended toward the pole of paranoia saying these things. These were very rational people, and there were a lot of them. Some long-term readers whom I knew to be quite sober in their thinking. The fear that they were expressing was somewhat pervasive. That, to me, was extraordinarily striking: that these were American citizens who were afraid to donate money to a group whose political aims they supported; who had never been charged with, let alone convicted of any crime who felt like they were going to end up on some kind of government list, or possibly be charged with aiding and abetting or giving material support to terrorism.
In light of that, comes this chilling tale of targeting University of Wisconsin professor William Cronon who publicly opposed Republican governor Scott Walker:
Earlier this week, Cronon published an Op ed piece in The New York Times that contained a scathing attack on Walker and the Wisconsin GOP, alleging that their anti-union proposal represents a radical break from Wisconsin history. Cronon also posted a blog entry that alleged that a little-known conservative outfit called the American Legislative Exchange Council, which tries to engineer right-wing policies in state legislatures, is behind the Wisconsin anti-union push.
Shortly thereafter, Cronon says, the University of Wisconsin’s attorneys received a request from the Wisconsin GOP, under the state open records law, for copies of a huge amount of Cronon’s emails sent from his state account at the university. That request is posted right here. Tellingly, the Wisconsin GOP asked for Cronon-authored emails that contain a range of union-related keywords, such as “AFSCME,” “collective bargaining,” “recall,” etc….
Cronon theorizes, based on the keyword requests, that Wisconsin Republicans are trying to catch him in violation of state university rules by using a state email account to engage in “lobbying and electioneering to try to unseat these Repubican legislators.” In other words, he says, Wisconsin Republicans want to damage him professionally in response to his criticism of them.
“That’s what they’re hoping to find,” Cronon says. “They’re trying to intimidate me. What they’re saying is that if an academic raises these kinds of questions, we’re going to make his life really uncomfortable. Intimidating people from asking legitimate questions is a McCarthyite tactic.”
Movement conservatives, since the days of Donald Segretti and the other ‘rat-fuckers’, have always done this. They don’t reconsider or rethink, they regroup and rearm. Their only rule is that there are no rules. They get away with these scorched earth politics, in part, because we present ourselves as targets. Pseudonymity is a way to speak your peace, and not be retaliated against.
Just something to consider, especially if your career–and livelihood too–is dependent on federal funding.
Case in point: The Republicans are now claiming they’re being intimidated.
Troll-be-gone: This isn’t about being called names (if you can’t handle that, then the open bloggysphere probably isn’t for you). It’s about ruining people’s ability to pay the rent, simply for being in the political opposition.