Re: Resistance and speaking out

From: David H Kirshner (
Date: Sat Jan 29 2005 - 12:04:14 PST


Part of what we're about, as an academic community, is developing a counterhegemonic discourse with application to matters of social and educational practice. There are many such communities that participate together in an intellectual movement of resistance. Within our enclaves we are articulate and insightful. In the long run we do contribute ideas to the mainstream culture.  But in my experience, when our discourse is juxtaposed directly with that of defenders of the status quo--who have the advantage of default interpretations and assumptions on their side--we end up sounding tentative, insecure, ideological, or apologetic. How often have I cringed at those horrid televised debates pitting advocates of the left and right against one another, at how ineffective is the progressive voice. In fact, there is only one scholar on the left that I've ever heard speak who has the passionate conviction, the depth of insight, the breadth of scholarship, the quickness of mind, and the gift for reconnecting complex issues back to basic progressive ideals, to be effective in such forums. And that person, dear Jay, is you. I don't mean to be off-loading my/our responsibility for public action on to someone else (in fact, to my surprise, I find myself having just completed a political piece for our student newspaper at LSU), but please do consider diverting part of your time and effort to this kind of public service.

Sorry to say so publicly.


Jay Lemke <jaylemke who-is-at>
01/29/2005 12:12 AM EST
Please respond to xmca

bcc: David H Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU
Subject: Resistance and speaking out

Thanks for the online and offline responses to my posting about anti-gay
and anti-educational policy by the US Secretary of Education.

In thinking about how to respond, not just to this latest act of evil, but
to the corruption of so much of institutional and political life in our
times, and in the nation where I am, still, a citizen, I have been
considering many alternative courses of action. Some may come sooner,
others later; many are compatible. I think that many of us worry about what
we ought to do, what we can do, and when and where and how.

We are, most of us, not only citizens but educators, researchers, social
scientists, members of university and professional communities, local
communities, ...

We are supposed to be intellectuals, at least in the primary meaning of
people who take ideas seriously and critically reflect on how to think more
profoundly about our lives and our values. So it ought not be beyond our
capacity, or irrelevant to the rest of our professional and intellectual
work, to address issues of resistance, and indeed of aggressive opposition
to policies we detest, the people who impose those policies, the
institutions that embody and enforce those policies. We can also advocate
for and enact our own values and policies, not just in opposition, but
positively and creatively.

Certainly Ken Goodman has been doing this in his area of passion, reading
and educational policy, in opposing not just the simple-mindedness of the
NCLB law in the US, but generally educational policies and programs, and
principles supported by political advocates more interested in their own
power and influence than in the learning or welfare of most US children.

More than one regular here on xmca wrote me to say that in their part of
the world it's perfectly normal to live in opposition, risky opposition and
hidden opposition, to the policies of oppressive governments and to those

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