Brand NU
Responses to Sara Monoson and Alvin Tillery

September 7, 2016

The student reporter for the Daily asked that I comment here on Alvin Tillery's claims that he was forced to endure my "microagressions" and that he is being victimized by a narrative of the "angry Black man."  (The Dean's ban apparently also extends to speaking with student reporters seeking an interview, so the only place to address her questions is here.)   I also have received questions from another reporter about the latest spin by people who seem to have nothing better to do with their time than malign a productive and effective scholar and teacher.  Below are my replies.  

While I already have colleagues running this encounter through a number of theoretical frameworks, I am restraining myself and will focus on the facts and also some questions that many of you reading this are right to be asking.

1.   Tillery now is accusing  me of a pattern of unspecified "microaggressions."  Either Tillery is inventing interactions that never occurred or he is having an idiosyncratic response to general statements made in the context of department meetings or subfield exchanges on email. (Tillery seems to have discerned early on that the butter for his bread was coming from the Provost and the administrative chain of command and expressed no interest in speaking with me; as he told the Chronicle for Higher Ed, he found me "creepy."  We seldom even were in the same room or spoke.)  

2.   If Tillery were feeling insulted by me, then why not file a complaint tied to a specific action and, if we were unable to resolve it within the department, bring in a mediator? Why be used by people whose causes, according to Tillery, are not his own?   Does he want to solve a problem or be part of a mob?  
3.  The letter banning me indicates no specific actions associated with microagressions against Tillery.  As I mentioned, it indicates no specific actions whatsoever, just fear based, in Tillery's case, on the observation that people are violent in the workplace "all the time."

4.  Tillery apparently told the Daily Northwestern that that my complaint about him yelling and slamming the door is complicit in the "angry Black man" narrative.  Could be, though Tillery's self-presentation as a dutiful political scientist who goes out of his way to assist Northwestern execute its neoliberal priorities doesn't quite fit the bill.  Regardless, I don't make  up these narratives.  The fact that Tillery's behavior could be narrated as that of the angry Black man is beyond his control, and mine as well.  If the accurate, unblemished account of him yelling and slamming a door further propogates that image, this is unfortunate and of course not my intention.

5.   Not beyond Tillery's control:  1) exploding and persisting in yelling at me after I asked that he lower his voice; 2) slamming the door; 3) lying about it.

6.   Also not beyond Tillery's control: deciding that the way to assuage his anxieties is to suck up to the administration and trot out the "she's-blaming-the-angry-black-man" story in order to ban me.

7.  The absence in one's scholarship or public politics of a narrative of personal trauma is not noble, but it also is not evidence of a biography unblemished by violence.  

8.  In Tuesday's statements to the reporter for Inside Higher Ed, Monoson and Tillery are claiming I am disruptive, threatening, and so forth.  Why these general statements and no specific examples? "Lots of people agree with us" is not evidence of misconduct nor grounds for banning me, even if Monoson's and Tillery's gang dislikes me.  

9.   There is a huge amount of information being circulated about me that appears factual but is complete fantasy.  Two issues need immediate correction and I'll address others later: a) I have never been fired from any job, anywhere.  Indeed I have never been sanctioned or disciplined, including, by the way, now, or at least that's their official story.  To date I have been charged with nothing; that's the problem. b) People are not banned because students drop a class, nor was I.  Like other issues, this was manufactured for the purpose of banning me.
    I cannot go into any details because of privacy laws but I can say that an NU official sent me an email on May 3, 2016 stating that "we have no records about you at TGS [The Graduate School] that are in any way negative" and that referenced the situation with the drops as "between you and your department" and does not involve students.
    Moreover, the same quarter of the drops, students in another seminar gave me high marks and have written to the Dean on my behalf.  

10.   Tillery claims that because I said my phone was under surveillance, I am a nut job. This suggests he has not read a newspaper in the last few years.  To the point, a digital forensics expert who has been a witness in over 200 cases will testify that my phone had malware installed that was consistent with it being under surveillance by the government and not corporate espionage.  I have records from Sprint and video that document the effects, and colleagues and students can attest to seeing my phone in Chicago on the French network, even though my phone supposedly is not technically capable of this.  

Those attacking me are squandering their privilege.  They allege, with zero evidence, that I am a threat.  But if they prevail, our jobs are pointless.  Their PhDs and our students' PhDs will do little more than allow them to mouth whatever harmless inananities Abbott, Boeing, Caterpillar, and General Dynamics deem fit, since clearly these interests and not forces on behalf of an independent academy are behind this disgraceful action.   The actions by Sara Monoson and Al Tillery, not to mention Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Daniel Linzer, and Adrian Randolph, suggest they are so self-absobed by the task of controlling me that they have lost sight of why they have their jobs in the first place.