Monday, August 18, 2014

Guest Post: Communism Kicked out of the Classroom

Eugene Genovese is fired by Rutgers University from Today in Alternate History

September 26, 2012: On this day anti-American academic dissident Eugene Dominic Genovese died in political exile in Montreal, Canada, at the age of eighty-two. Born in Brooklyn, New York he was raised in a working-class ethnic Italian family. Genovese earned his Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College in 1953 and his Master of Arts in 1955 and a Ph.D. in history in 1959, both from Columbia University.

Six years later, while teaching at a Rutgers University "teach-in" protest, he stated, "Those of you who know me know that I am a Marxist and a Socialist. Therefore, unlike most of my distinguished colleagues here this morning, I do not fear or regret the impending Viet Cong victory in Vietnam. I welcome it." His was an explosively controversial comment that was widely reported and generated a backlash of criticism. Politicians questioned Genovese's judgment and sensitivity to the responsibility inherent in being a Rutgers professor. But no state laws or university regulations had been broken, and Genovese was supported by fellow faculty members on grounds of academic freedom. 

The dispute was taken to another level of intensity when former Vice President Richard Nixon came out and called for his dismissal. He was supporting Wayne Dumont, a gubernatorial candidate that was challenging Governor Richard J. Hughes, and he decided to use Genovese's statement as a campaign issue. When Rutgers reluctantly fired Genovese, events began to unravel that would affect not only his career but those of Dumont, Hughes and of course Nixon.

Author's Note: In reality, Rutgers President Mason Gross refused to re-examine the university's position, and Dumont lost to Governor Hughes. President Gross' defence of academic freedom was honoured by the American Association of University Professors, who presented him and Rutgers with its Alexander Meiklejohn Award in 1966. Genovese moved to Canada and taught at Sir George Williams University in Montreal (1967-69). In 1968, Genovese signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.

We suggest in this ATL he was never able to return to the United States because in OTL he died in Atlanta George as a preeminent historian of the American south. Also to note although active in the Communist youth movement he was expelled "for having zigged when [he] was supposed to zag." He later abandoned the Left and Marxism, and embraced traditionalist conservatism.

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 Addendum from Prof. Jeff Provine: With politics proving its control over the classroom, colleges ended as havens for revolutionary thought. Campus practices and even curriculum became subject to oversight driven by tax-dollar-allocation from the Department of Education. Nixon won the 1968 election that fall and, though he ended the war in Vietnam, presided over the mass-arrest at Kent State in 1970 that led to the expulsion of dozens of students for "unlawful assembly" with control exerted not through the government (which would violate the First Amendment) but through bullied administrators.

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