Sons of Sam

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It is not hard to decipher what motivates malevolent University administrators and staff who choose to mistreat and attack our children. A sickening video from U.C. Regents Chair Sherry Lansing sent to U.C. supporters summarizes these rationalizations in neat totalitarian tradition: “We had information.”

What she really means is “We have aspirations.” Four decades ago, an otherwise decent scholar who authored the admirable Language in Thought and Action, launched a Senatorial campaign on the backs of students trampled upon by his violent handling at San Francisco State. He easily became a conservative darling and star—skillfully developing the nonsensical sound bite into a Senatorial win. Yet, his supporters were oblivious that the demands of leadership change utterly when you can’t just boss people around, and hard-lining ‘outsider’ Sleepin’ Sam Hayakawa with his iconic, stupid tam-o’-shanter served California with possibly the worst Senate term in history.

Fatigued by Schwarzenegger’s laughable ‘outsider’ reign, modern Californians rightly feared and rejected the ultra-unqualified hard-lining ‘outsider’ Meg Whitman—who’s platform basically consisted of jailing anyone who disagreed with her. Tomorrow we can indeed be quite thankful she lost, as even more violence would have certainly resulted.

Now consider ultimate ‘outsider’ U.C. sophomore President Mark Yudof and his Texas-bred brand of justice; a former law professor who amidst spreading protests tellingly could not think to proactively direct his staff to refresh themselves on California law and precedent. While his U.C. Public Relations executes a full court press upon editorial boards around the state, simply review the U.C. Davis footage. Squint as you may, you cannot see any actual danger to these officers. They were reportedly acting under policy set by Davis Chancellor “I approved it before it blew up in my face” Katehi. The primary assailant was not a scared rookie, but a seasoned veteran with significant authority poisoning the defenseless in calm deliberation.

Having hosted what may well be a Kent State-level national catalyst, U.C. is convening task forces and holding webinars and expressing concern. They absurdly speak of ‘sensitivity training’ for those hired to flaunt their insensitivity. But ‘administrative leave’ is pro-forma, and while Yudof has commissioned an outside investigation, he has neither offered nor demanded full accountability.

As if the video is not sufficient reason for the Regents to act in concert, as if U.C. did not give birth to the Free Speech Movement and a dozen others so has not already ‘studied’ the issues for fifty years, Yudof wants his policy answers not now but in 30 days—that is, 30 news cycles—buried amidst vacation and the holidays. After all, as Sleepin’ Sam proved, you can use our children as chips in ‘Texas Hold-Em’ with impunity for at least that long, and just see what hand politics deals you.

Lastly and tragically, ultimate insider Governor Brown’s astonishing silence as he consults his polls and shops for the perfect tam-o’-shanter profoundly disappoints this writer and thoroughly reinforces the present interpretation. His staff blithely told the Fresno Bee these are “local matters.” That is over-the-top insane: even disregarding the legal and moral issues, and damage to the state’s reputation, the U.C. system is documented by Yudof’s detailed September, 2011 report to be so intertwined with California’s economy that disruptions there can ripple throughout the state potentially with a 10X effect. And now that resource is at risk by failed management.

Jerry—cute hat, but don’t snore so loudly! Instead, take this leadership lesson from your dad: “When there is no consensus, only urgency, I will speak out.”— Governor Pat Brown (Second Inaugural Address, January 7, 1963). You could start by telling us what he would have done had you the convictions—right or wrong—to have sat with those kids.


Update: On 2013 May 08, Chair Lansing wrote alumni that “Mark Yudof is ending his tenure as President of the University of California on August 31st.”

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