July 20, 2005

Cloudy Apparently, dear reader, this


Apparently, dear reader, this humble “website” is slowly becoming a household name. A short while ago, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” announced the winner of our July 2005 Official Academic of the Month, Ms. Dana Cloud of the department of communication studies at University of Texas at Austin. Within a few days, Ms. Cloud troubled herself to thank us heartily for bestowing her with this prestigious award.

Clearly, Ms. Cloud appreciated our efforts. After all, how many “weblogs” take time out of their busy schedules in order to laud the efforts of tenured radicals? If we were betting men and ladies, we’d put our money on “not very many.”

Upon careful review of Ms. Cloud’s e-missive, however, we detected a faint note of sarcasm, as if Ms. Cloud was actually a tad irked by her award. In fact, Ms. Cloud decided to attach numerous comments from student evaluations, in what appeared to be a desperate attempt to show us up.

Well, dear reader, we’ll let you decide. Below we have reproduced Ms. Cloud’s exact e-epistle, minus the glowing evaluations, which helpfully ensure us that Ms. Cloud has never touched her students inappropriately, among other good things.

An E-Letter from Dana L. Cloud

Dear Hatemongers:

How delighted I was to discover that I am your July Academic of the Month. I invite you to visit my “tony” office stocked with Office Depot furniture, and featuring a window on the parking lot where I pay $400 to park each year. Right now outside my office, workers are tearing out asbestos tile from the walls. We have such modern and luxurious facilities here.

I also would so love to have you visit my classes and my office hours. Of course you will have trouble finding me in my office, as I am only here Monday through Friday, 9 until 6 p.m., except when I am in class. I would be so happy if you would read my work in detail and interview my students. There is obviously one out there who thinks I use the classroom as propaganda platform. Oddly, I don't seem to have heard from that person but I would love to make amends if I violated his or her freedom of expression.

Meanwhile you will want to speak with the students I had last semester. In the classes on speechwriting and on gender and communication, students gave me the following anonymous feedback. I post their comments below.

You might try actually reading some of my work, where you will find me to be somewhat critical of the excesses of arcane theory.

I am proud not to be a bigot and to use public space, not pedagogical space, to democratic ends.


Dana Cloud
(That's Dr. Dana Cloud to you.)

Perhaps Ms. Cloud came across as a bit defensive? Maybe she feels our Academic of the Month honor is some sort of cruel joke? Anyway, just in case this was so, we felt the need to send her a response.

Below we have reproduced a copy of our rejoinder to Ms. Cloud, minus the glowing evaluations, which would helpfully ensure you that we have never inappropriately touched our officemates, among other good things.

Dear Frau Doktor Professor Cloud:

Thank you so much for writing to inform us that you are a proud recipient of our July 2005 Academic of the Month. We humbly apologize for daring to call you “Ms. Cloud” instead of employing the more reverential title you prefer. We simply figured that, as a radical egalitarian, you would consider such a designation elitist. Apparently you’re not that radical in your egalitarianism, and you rightly put us in our lowly place.

May we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” humbly inform you that we doubt you teach in a fair manner? Our perusal of a few of your syllabi—“Feminist Theory and Rhetorical Criticism” and “Rhetoric and Ideology”—demonstrated that you compel your students to read no conservative critiques of the subjects you study.

In your class on feminism, for example, nary a reading by Christina Hoff Sommers or Daphne Patai—two prominent critics of academic feminism—can be found. It appears to us that your idea of a free exchange of ideas is a Marxist feminist debating a neo-Marxist feminist.

In addition, we noted that your “Feminist Theory and Rhetorical Criticism” class endeavors “to explore the ways [feminist] theories can be combined with rhetorical critical methods to understand the gendering of public and cultural texts.” Not exactly an a-political goal, is it?

And this gets us to the topic of your heartwarming student evaluations. May we humbly suggest that only students of certain political persuasions would take classes devoted to feminist theory and hagiographical takes on “Marxist discourse theories”? We think your gorgeous set of evaluations may be the result of a bit of student self-selection.

A quick perusal of the World-Wide Web has revealed that you are not exactly a paragon of intellectual openness in your professional life. In fact, you appear to have attempted recently to silence David Horowitz at a speech he offered at your university. As a lowly staff member at your school averred: “Dana Cloud needs to learn that there is nothing progressively intellectual about using noisemakers, air horns, custard pies and shouting to silence a speaker offering a point of view different from her own.” May we humbly suggest that this is not the kind of activity in which fair-minded (or open-minded) professors tend to engage?

You ended your missive with a non sequitur about your not being a bigot. This collectively struck us as strange: We never previously insinuated that you were. Perhaps you believe that all of your political opponents are bigots, and thus are casting aspersions in our humble direction. If so, that doesn’t say much for your open-mindedness.

Yet we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” found a short piece you wrote soon after 9/11 that didn’t seem to jibe so well with your self-touting of your aversion to bigotry. In said essay you opined: “Few people I have spoken with have thought about the role that the U.S.’s refusal to participate in the U.N. conference on racism in Durban, South Africa (where questions of Israeli racism against Palestinians arose) may have played in intensifying Arab anger at the United States.”

In the latest issue of the social democrat quarterly Dissent (no right-wing rag, that), Suzanne Nossel correctly reports that the U.N. Conference on racism in Durban, South Africa was an anti-Semitic “hate-fest.” She continues: “Arab states pushed draft declarations that singled out Israel as a ‘racist, apartheid state’ guilty of ‘ethnic cleansing.’”

Obviously, only an anti-Semite would agree with the demonstrably false and racist charges peddled by the Arab states. So much for your pristine anti-bigotry. But, heck: It’s only the Jews.

We shall surely get back to you as soon as we get a chance to read your forthcoming chapter entitled “The First Lady’s Privates: Queering Eleanor Roosevelt for Public Address Studies.” Perhaps this will demonstrate that you are not, in fact, a politicized hack who is publishing thinly-veiled attempts at cheerleading for your sexual proclivities.

One final note: We’re pleased that you enjoy the award.

Warmest Regards,
The Crack Young Staff of THMQ

Well, we hope that we didn’t seem a tad miffed.

Posted at July 20, 2005 12:01 AM | TrackBack