Of course, intellectual freedom is not only the basis of all serious learning and teaching; it is the foundation of citizens’ democratic rights. In the attack on William Cronon, we see exactly the kind of bullying and intimidation that employers in non-union situations have always used against workers when it suited their interests. It is evidence that labor’s struggle and Wisconsin’s struggle are everyone’s struggle.
But what can and should be done?
First, University of Wisconsin officials, whose own prestige and high salaries are based largely on the achievement of Cronon and other working faculty at the university, should defend everyone’s civil liberties and democratic rights by refusing to yield to these attacks and not turning over anything.
Secondly, the movement to recall the sort of Republican legislators who have brought about this crisis in Wisconsin should use the assault on Cronon’s citizenship rights as a rallying point, the way people’s movements have used other vicious assaults on the rights of individuals to rally support.
Finally, what is needed in Wisconsin today and nationally is a new version of the La Follette civil liberties committee, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate’s Labor Committee during the late 1930s.
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