Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What Happened to the Non-Tenured Professor Who Taught "That Many White Americans Envied Slaves, Since Slave Culture Offered Many Liberating Alternatives"

He got the Walter Block treatment from liberals, plus he got fired from his teaching position.

Thaddeus Russell explains
Five years ago, I had every reason to believe that my job as a history professor at Barnard College was secure. I had been teaching there for four years, I had published my dissertation with a major publisher, and because I had tripled the sizes of the introductory U.S. history course and the American Studies program, colleagues told me they "would be shocked" if I were not promoted to a tenure-track position.

But that was before my colleagues knew what I was teaching.

I had always been a misfit in academia, partly because of my background, partly because of my personality, and increasingly over the years because of my ideas -- ideas that are now a book called "A Renegade History of the United States."

I was raised by pot-smoking, nudist, socialist revolutionaries as an egghead white boy in black neighborhoods in Berkeley and Oakland. I nearly flunked eighth grade and finished high school with a C average. Then I went to the anarchist, ultra-hippy Antioch College in Ohio, which accepted all their applicants, didn't give grades, and didn't have a history department.

So even though I managed to pull myself out of that background and into and through Columbia for a PhD, then onto a job at an elite college, I was highly uncomfortable moving from the world of weed to the world of tweed. I hated being "Professor." I cursed in class. I talked about sex. I used politically incorrect terms. My students said they had never heard the things I was teaching them in class. They called me "Bad Thad."

I showed them that during the American Revolution drunkards, laggards, prostitutes, and pirates pioneered many of the freedoms and pleasures we now cherish -- including non-marital sex, interracial socializing, dancing, shopping, divorce, and the weekend -- and that the Founding Fathers, in the name of democracy, opposed them. I argued not only that many white Americans envied slaves but also that they did so for good reason, since slave culture offered many liberating alternatives to the highly repressive, work-obsessed, anti-sex culture of the early United States. I demonstrated that prostitutes, not feminists, won virtually all the freedoms that were denied to women but are now taken for granted. By tracing the path of immigrants from arrival as "primitives" to assimilation as "civilized" citizens, I explained that white people lost their rhythm by becoming good Americans. I presented evidence that without organized crime, we might not have jazz, Hollywood, Las Vegas, legal alcohol, birth control, or gay rights, since only gangsters were willing to support those projects when respectable America shunned them.

This was not the standard left-liberal perspective my students had heard, and it certainly wasn't a conservative one, either. It was informed by an unlikely mix of influences, including the hippies and other cultural radicals I had encountered in my early life, black and gay cultures that showed me a way out of the self-imposed limitations of being white and straight, and libertarians who caused me to question the commitment to freedom among the left that I had been born into and which employed me as a professor.

Read the rest here.


  1. Nice companion piece to Gary North's article from the other day:

  2. So he was "fired for telling the truth?" No, he was fired because he did what a lot of young professors do which is come up with a crazy and provocative story line in order to make a name for himself. He went too far and crossed the line into making arguments that don't pass the laugh test.

    Many whites envied slaves? How many? Three?

    Slave culture offered many liberating alternatives to the highly repressive, work-obsessed, anti-sex culture of the early United States? So puritans made slavery appealing. It would great to be a slave, lazing about in the sun, singing songs, getting some booty.

    He was fired because he was a joke. He admits that he didn't get an education but somehow managed to con his way into an Ivy league PhD program. He's ignorant and he thought he could make a name for himself by teaching crazy stuff that appeals to college kids. If he went to a real college he would realize that a ton of idiots try to do this and they primarily waste student's time.

    Of course now he's a victim and let's all buy his book to help him out.

    1. If "not passing the laugh test" was a reason to eliminate debate, I would have banned you a long time ago.

    2. @Jerry Wolfgang - Have you read the man's book?

    3. "If "not passing the laugh test" was a reason to eliminate debate, I would have banned you a long time ago."

      What are you waiting for? :)

      Remember RW:

      JW: Troll.

  3. Jerry, have you seen the endorsements of his book? I thought you were all about supporting ideas that could boast mainstream endorsements.

  4. I agree that a lot of people's morality and what is defined as wrong is mostly due to government intervention. That a lot of conservatives and progressives can't get out of their own way to see that government corrupts and is corrupt. However, I don't think this is what this article is about. It doesn't seem to be anti-government, but that it's more anti-religious. It has that progressive stench to it.

    I'm not a religious righty, but grew up in a conservative household. I've seen this argument posed many times before by the left when they teamed up with libertarians and the fight for freedoms and such. It wasn't just foreign policy that the left bailed out as an ally with libertarians. This argument was more of a tactic to undermine the efforts of the religious Right in their disciplines of their religions. To break down a system that actually supported discipline in finances and responsibilities in order to grow financially and economically. Why would I ever consider or advocate for relaxing working conditions or responsibilities? It's quite the opposite. Work and (personal) responsibilities ought to take place and the harder and more work the better; it's who and what the work is dedicated to that is important.

    Prostitutes, pirates, and mobsters are not freedom advocates. They occurred/occur because government intrudes onto our freedoms. They are a curse because the religious right and left won't get out of their own way to see that their fiat laws cause such things. Divorce is not a blessing; it's evil. The reason why divorce didn't occur back then as much is because they believed getting married, making a family, growing the economy. The reason why divorce occurs so much today is because we believe in "magic" that everything occurs easy and we must live happy lives, as if constant happiness is a reality. But, wait, that's what Mr. Russell is advocating for. As for prostitution there is nothing glamorous or liberating about it. Yes, they may be able to decide their pricing. Yes, they may be free from an overbearing husband and family, but often times, they're beholden to a pimp, violence, and disease. On top of that, men still view them as meat. The cutesy Hollywood version of hookers is few and far between. More often than not, people don't want this kind of lifestyle. Nobody won it; they were forced into it.

    Organized crime didn't provide products, services, and ideas. Organized crime is invented and promoted by the government. A government of, for, and by criminals. These criminals that were providing access to these products and services were not doing this for freedom; they were enjoying the monopoly of the products and services eg. Sinaloa Cartel. In fact, they were some of the biggest thugs that practiced the same things as government. Many of them went into politics themselves or became the puppet masters.

    Yes, both conservatives and progressives have history wrong and Mr. Russell is more accurate. Yes, Mr Russell ought to be able to teach as he pleases without automatic expulsion by dictations of what is moral of the day. Yes, the religious Right has its problems and a lot of times is authoritarian and worships the government in the same way as the Left, but this article is just ignorant of the religious Right and why they practice the methodologies and creeds as they do. It's insulting. It's dismissing the reasons why people did what they did in the past. Fellow libertarians must be careful of what is being advocated for. The devil's in the details.

    Freedom must not have government interfere with it. Yet, freedom must be practiced with responsibility and struggle.

  5. Lew Rockwell did a nice interview with Thadius a few years ago. Should still be in the podcast section.

    I don't share many of Thadius's views, just like I don't share all of Block's views either, but I don't consider them laughable and I do find the perspective very interesting.