Here is a follow-up on the destruction of property that took place in Santa Cruz, California, on the evening of May 2nd 2010
Mike Rotkin has been a member of the Santa Cruz City Council for years. He is currently mayor of Santa Cruz. The mayor is the person who gives the Santa Cruz police its short -term priorities. The mayor has a PhD in the “History of Consciousness.” Angela Davis, the former Communist fugitive from the 70s, is a full Professor of same. Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, former burglar, convicted of manslaughter in the death of a police officer, also held a doctorate in the “History of Consciousness.” Newton was himself murdered by a drug dealer in 1989.
Yes, I know, there is no such thing as guilt by association. That is a legal standard and a good one. I, however, can damn well think and say what I want. Few people hang out, or spend the time it takes to earn a doctorate, even a light-weight doctorate, around others they dislike. My mother used to say, “Tell me who you hang out with and I will tell you who you are.” I believe this is roughly correct.
Here is the Wikipedia entry on the mayor. ( Accessed 5/5/10 – Guess who writes the personal Wikipedia entries of most people who are not famous?)
Mike Rotkin is a former lecturer in community studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, long-term city council member and the current mayor of Santa Cruz, California (mayor as of November 2009, the mayoral post of Santa Cruz passing yearly to a councilmember selected by a majority of other councilmembers). A former motorcycle mechanic with a PhD. in the History of Consciousness, he first ran for city council on a protest campaign as a “socialist-feminist” in 1979, taking first place among voters at a time when Santa Cruz was more Republican than Democrat. He has taught Marxist theory at UC Santa Cruz for over 38 years, while serving six terms as city councilman, including four terms as mayor, longer than anyone in the city’s history. During his more than 20 years in city government, city spending on social services and programs increased from $80,000 a year in 1979 to $1.5 million by 1990. While he has also served as president of the UCSC teachers’ union, he has recently been criticized by some as taking conservative positions on various issues affecting the economic development of the city, including labor issues.[
Here is the first paragraph of the UC Santa Cruz Community Studies program self-presentation. This is the program where the Mayor taught for several years
The Community Studies Department is home to both the Community Studies Undergraduate Program and the Social Documentation Graduate Program. Both programs are interdisciplinary in nature, integrating scholarship and community engagement in both research and teaching. Since its founding in 1969, we have addressed principles of social justice and the dynamics of racial and class inequity as we explore constructions of community and their implications.
If you are actively committed to social justice, both the undergraduate major and the graduate program provide many opportunities for you to work on a full-time basis beyond the boundaries of the university.
The Mayor was an “instructor” in the program rather than a professor. The title “instructor” is normally reserved for teachers who don’t have tenure and who are not on the tenure track. Tenure in a good university such as UC Santa Cruz, requires good evidence of scholarship, of research. Long-term instructors are normally people whose interests do not include the pursuit of knowledge but who want to be in universities for other reasons.
Am I suggesting in an under-handed way that the mayor of Santa Cruz caused the riot? No, I am not.
Do I suggest he had prior knowledge of the riot? Probably not, at least, not definitive knowledge.
I am raising two questions:
1 Given the self description above is there any reason to expect that Mayor Rotkin would be able to deal vigorously, decisively, with young people who think they are doing something for “justice” ?
2 You recruit young people, 19 or 20, on the basis of their commitment to “social justice” to learn how to struggle against “racial and class inequities’” “beyond the boundaries of the university.” Then, you feed them anti-capitalist propaganda (personal observation); you expose them to no objective description of our economic system (personal observation); you channel their late-adolescent rebellion into blanket anti-Americanism; you nurture the universal desire of the young to feel good by thinking they do good.
You do all this with students who have trouble distinguishing between “its” and “it’s ( as in “its hood” and “it’s good”).
If you do all the above, don’t you think there is some risk that some of them will turn destructive toward ordinary commerce at a time of real economic hardship, at a time when their job prospects are truly bad? Don’t you think this propensity to assault their environment will be aggravated during a period when the media feeds us systematic lies about a racial minority? (I am referring to the new Arizona law about illegal immigration.)
I have inspected the damage to downtown Santa Cruz. As I have written elsewhere, I believe it could have been done by one single person in two or three minutes. There is no evidence of a mass rampage, which would have been easy given the absence of the police from downtown on a Saturday night. There is also no evidence of involvement by any UC Santa Cruz students. To-date, two “transients” have arrested. In this city, it’s easy to find transients to arrest. Many of them are substance abusers who insult strangers, spit on the sidewalk and light up a forbidden cigarette, all in the space of two minutes. (The “forbidden cigarette” would be tobacco.) Many transients don’t play with a full deck.
Here is my point: You create a hostile atmosphere year after year, among large numbers of poorly or spottily educated young people. You convince many of them that “the system” is fundamentally immoral. You never, never reprimand them without your fingers crossed behind your back.
Shit will happen, not perhaps, for sure. You may not then retreat to your faculty office and claim you had nothing to do with all the pseudo-revolutionary mayhem downtown. You may not say that you are just a mayor with insufficient resources and shout to heaven that the riot was just awful. You lost those rights over several years of your own deliberate actions.
My mother also used to say, “Dogs don’t make cats!” Wise woman!
As to my claim of “poor education,” here is informal evidence: Today is “Cinco de Mayo.” Californians who are now in their late teens and early twenties belong to the “multicultural “ generations. They celebrated this Mexican holiday every year in public school for fifteen years or more. This morning, I asked 8 people under twenty-five was his holiday celebrated. I received four blank stares, three wrong answers, and one humorous answer (“tequila holiday”). Most of the young don’t know much. They receive impressions and they “feel” a great deal. This is not a blanket statement. I know some students who are different.