“That was disgusting! Osama is a freedom fighter!”

i was on campus a couple of days after 9.11, and i had already recorded a spot for all things considered. they were looking for someone who would express any sort of anger, could not find one among their staff or usual contributors, i gather. i had been talking to my (now-deceased) brother jim, who was an unbelievable cynic, raconteur, and artist of the hyperbole. ‘i want to fly over the middle east and see nothing but piles of smoking rubble.’ i started there. you know, i too want vengeance. in fact this distinction between justice and vengeance is complete jive, just a way of pretending you don’t want revenge, or collectivizing responsibility, effectively offloading it from everyone entirely. i had three minutes, years of argument behind it. then i said: but even if it is legitimate to take vengeance, you are morally obliged to take your vengeance only precisely on the perpetrators. no burning rubble, my brother, without osama & co inside it. only them.

next day, robert merrill (a senior colleague), confronted me in the hall and said “that was disgusting!” the next words out his mouth were ‘osama is a freedom fighter!’ i felt a marked cooling toward me and rallying around him after that.

then for whatever political reason, they put my job to a national search. i did ‘six names of beauty’ as the talk, just or soon-to-published by routledge. anyway, it defines beauty’ as ‘the object of longing.’ then i put up my childhood crush emma peel. then i went on to buntings and roses and the universe as a whole. a lit prof, soheila ghaussy, hopped up and started saying my whole thing was just (paraphrasing) coming from the dick, and weren’t millennia of oppression enough? they hired someone else, who did not work out at all.

oh, and then there’s this, where i posted a miranda lambert song to my blog, which led to academics calling in the police and academics firing me. finally water-boarded to death!

what i have found over and over again is that teaching, research, and service are irrelevant in an academic career (research, for sure). the only real criterion of advancement is conformity. that’s why you have all these mediocrities at the very upper reaches: mere careerists. that’s why the senior level of the profession now is lilliputian compared to the last cohort.


Here is one of Robert Merrill’s syllabi.

2 responses to ““That was disgusting! Osama is a freedom fighter!”

  1. Pingback: “That was disgusting! Osama is a freedom fighter!” | Reaction Times

  2. Jefferson May 10, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Am I too square to comprehend his war on upper case letters?

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