Posted tagged ‘Targeting William Cronon’

More Repressive Doings In Wisconsin – Targeting U/W Professor William Cronon

March 29, 2011

My not very good portrait of Professor Cronon (Made on IPhone)

Events in Wisconsin continue to be deeply troubling.   After attacking public employees, and historic open meeting laws for legislators, Wisconsin Republicans now appear to be targeting William Cronon, Frederick Turner and Vilas Professor of History, Geography and Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin.  Cronon’s offense, seemingly: speaking out in his blog about right wing state legislative tactics and writing an op-ed piece in The New York Times about how the crackdown on public unions deviates from Wisconsin’s historical traditions promoting both fair play and fair pay.   The specific means of attack (so far): a request by a Republican state official for access to months of emails written by Cronon on his University email account, highlighting buzz words such as Republican, Scott Walker, unions.

I was lucky enough to know Bill Cronon many years ago when he was on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University (studying at Jesus College.)  He was one of the most hardworking and intellectually honest people I had ever met.  He was diligent, curious, creative, and kind.  I have not been in contact with him for years, but these characteristics were fundamental personality traits, and they continue to mark his work.  (Bill even looks somewhat the same as he did at Oxford, with the same hair style and beard, only greyed, and inquiring eyes behind dark-framed glasses.)

Cronon is a distinguished scholar, an early winner of a MacCarthur grant for  groundbreaking work on the interplay between ecology, nature, culture, history.   He is a great and creative student of American history, of the colonies (and pre-colonial America)  through the American West.  Recently, he was elected president of the American Historical Association.

My guess is that he is in a pretty strong position to weather almost any  type of attack.  But what about professors at state universities who have not had such celebrated careers?  What about state non-academic employees?

Scary stuff.