Kristopher Kennedy: now that’s Klassy with a Kapital “K”!

This is hilarious. Check out Tenured Radical today.  And you thought that not-so-concealed, not really carrying idiot in Idaho last week was going to be the dip$hit of the month!  To wit:

Preeminent Native American historian Jeani O’Brien wrote to UI Board of Trustees Chair Christopher Kennedy to ask him to reverse UI’s decision to un-hire Steven Salaita, and to say that considering the climate of intellectual liberty at UI, she’s super-duper glad that she turned down the university’s offer to become Director of Native American Studies a few years back.  She prefaced her two-paragraph letter with the words “I’ll be brief.”  Kennedy’s entire response:  “You were not brief enough.”

OK, that was intemperate and clearly demonstrates that the public pressure is getting to him.  His email to O’Brien was an unforced error, but here’s the really boneheaded move:  he left his personal contact information in his email to her, including an office and cell phone number, which Tenured Radical in her blog post today omitted out of an abundance of civility.  It’s like he’s just now learning about this new technology “electronic mail,” or “email” for short, that (a la Stephen Greenblatt 20+ years ago) is all about the “infinite mimesis.”  Yes!  One assy email can richochet around the nation and the world for others to behold and wonder at your assholery, on blogs and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and you name it.  Nothing ever goes away on the internet.

My second thought on Kennedy’s rash reply:  here’s yet more evidence that our overlords think they’re above and beyond having to answer even polite questions or even to become acquainted with any formal protests or complaints from hoi polloi.  As the commencement wimp-out epidemic showed last spring, they’re outraged that anyone would think of talking back, demonstrating that it’s they, the elites, who fundamentally misunderstand the principles academic freedom and liberty of speech.  (Tips for Toads:  “I get to talk and you get the shut the f^(k up or you’re infringing on my right to free speech” = U R doin’ it rong.  “I get to talk and then I get to hear what you have to say, and then maybe I can say something else, and then you get to say something else” is actually how it works.  For realz.)

Oh, and pro tip:  if you don’t want a bunch obnoxious emails complaining about you:  just don’t answer emails you don’t like.  It’s super-duper easy, and fun, to hit the delete button!  Or to forward the offending emails to a mailbox you’re keeping called “PEOPLE WHO ARE NOW INELIGIBLE FOR A POSITION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS.”  Your choice!  Just as you need to keep your personal information and your comments over email Klassy for public Konsumption, so your interlocutors must do this as well lest they undermine the intellectual and professional seriousness of their protests.  On that score, it’s O’Brien 1, Kennedy 0.

Next week:  Permit me to introduce you to the Twitter machine!  You’d better get Komfortable with that mode of Kommunication, Kris.

11 thoughts on “Kristopher Kennedy: now that’s Klassy with a Kapital “K”!

  1. It’s oddly satisfying when a historian you admire also happens to win at the internet, through her own principle and someone else’s stupidity!


  2. Check out the assy comments over at Tenured Radical about this. It’s amazing to see the Stockholm System that some of our colleagues in higher ed suffer from.

    Also: some claim that O’Brien somehow offended by reminding Kennedy that she was once offered a prominent position there. Srsly? I guess they think she’s just a pushy broad.


  3. I wonder how private that phone information was — I know people whose office contact information includes their cell phone, so they have a private cell phone for friends and family.

    I think that his response was more foolish than leaving the contact information. Having made this big thing about civility and that’s why they can’t have Salaita, he then fails a giant civility test. Unwittingly proving that civility is a really dumb standard.


  4. 80 comments over at Tenured Radical’s party, only six comments at yours. I would suspect that she is offering better beverages, but some of the “guests” over there appear to have brought their own . . .


  5. Ha-ha, EngLitProf. She can have most of those guests–I don’t want ’em here. I think they’re mostly playing to the crowd of fellow commenters, and aren’t really responding to TR’s posts or her arguments.

    Susan: good point about civility. Aren’t universities places at which people share ideas and engage in conversations about important issues? You’d think anyone agreeing to Chair a Board of a university would get that, but then again our neoliberal overlords have other ideas, it seems.


  6. On the comments – the person who posted this sounds like they think it’s a good thing:

    “You have to understand, the administration holds the car keys; the professorate is on the side of the road hitchhiking, even the tenured. They just don’t get it yet.”

    Not a good thing! Replace “administration” with “management” and “professorate” with “American worker,” and it sounds like something a cartoon robber baron or 20 year Rand admirer would say. It’s very disturbing that it’s not a mockery of itself.

    Also, I think O’Brien’s letter navigated condemning the university’s actions while supporting the American Indian Studies program very concisely and successfully. Just sayin’.


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