When part of my past became a published undergraduate article (Non-fiction)

When I was a student at the University of Iowa back in the 1980s, I was a member of a radical leftist group called the New Wave. New Wave was at the forefront of many protests back then, including opposing CIA recruitment on campus, supporting gay rights, and speaking out against US intervention in Central America.

At first, I liked being a member, but then I started to become weary of the Maoist leaning of some of the most influential leaders of the group. Finally, due to several personal issues I was struggling with, along with disagreements with some of the members, we went our separate ways. It was a nasty split, with consequences that lasted for several years. But looking back, the experience did teach me about the dangers of political dogma, both on the Left and Right. As much as I wanted to fight for change, I had to accept that following the teaching of a 19th revolutionary and his followers was not for me. I had to find my own path. The one I did find lead me to the skeptical movement, and eventually to Freethought Blogs.

So, many years later, when I happened to stumble upon the 2011 article about New Wave, written by an undergraduate for the Iowa Historical Review, I decided to check it out. I opened it expecting a somewhat thorough history of the group. Instead,I found an article that tried to predict the future of the Tea Party movement by selectively citing New Wave’s history.

The author, Greg Branson, summed up his thesis this way: “What can the story of the New Wave Party tell us about similar reactionary groups like the Tea Party? Simply put, success will likely be their downfall.”

However, the history of New Wave can’t be used that way. The Tea Party was an Astroturf campaign mostly funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. New Wave started as a UI student senate political party that later transitioned into an activist group. While New Wave folks became members of the Progressive Student Network, (PSN) it was nothing like the Tea Party. PSN mainly shared information from progressive groups from around the country, while the Tea Party had a coordinated national strategy.

New Wave dissolved in 1992, but it wasn’t “because of the success of the group.” It’s demise can be attributed more to internal conflicts, the sudden departure of the group’s main thought leaders, the backlash against anti-war protesters during the first gulf war, and the community’s souring attitude toward New Wave’s tactics.

One of the major turning points for New Wave, in my opinion, was their “Intifada USA” rally on April 26, 1990. It was loosely a call for the then Daily Iowan Editor Jay Casini, a very conservative person at the time, to resign. Each co-sponsoring group had a representative give a speech for their cause. The overall message of the rally and eventual sit-in came across as “the world is terrible. Let’s march on the Daily Iowan!” The biggest problem with the protest was that Casini’s term as editor was about to end, and the Student Publications Board had already elected a new editor. The protest was therefore pointless and made New Wave members look like fools.

Since I was a contributor to the Daily Iowan’s Arts and Entertainment section at the time, I think I had the distinction of being someone who had marched with New Wave, yet was later protested by New Wave. Furthermore, New Wave never reached out to the liberal members of the DI’s staff who might have been sympathetic to them. Instead of building alliances, they alienated potential supporters.

While New Wave’s demise in 1992 correlated with the election of President Bill Clinton, it was not the cause.

Branson’s article should have focused more on the actual history of New Wave. He only cites the UI Library’s collection of old internal documents from New Wave, and even then, it seems like he only skimmed them. He could have cited the many newspaper articles and editorials about New Wave by New Wave members. He could have reached out to former New Wave members. He might not have found me, but there were other alumni that would have been easier to find.

In the end, I found the article to be a wasted opportunity, with a thesis that turned out to be false. You can’t always judge a political movement by the number of protests it stages. The Tea Party didn’t fade away when their protests. Arguably, they became the Republican Party. Their tactics are still used today, only now they’re used to fight mask mandates, and intimidate school boards. Conversely, California Governor Gavin Newsome fought off a recall effort thanks to strong turnout by Democrats in an off-year special election.

In one of my last journalism classes, I wrote a paper arguing that the trend in media was towards consolidation. My professor felt that my argument was too linear and I should have been open to more ambiguities, instead of trying to force all the facts to support my argument. Looking back, he was right. On the one hand, media companies continue to consolidate, but at the same time, more people now have the potential to reach large audiences through the Internet. Sometimes the answers aren’t so clean cut. It was a very valuable lesson, and unfortunately, a lesson that Branson hadn’t learned when he wrote this paper. I hope he did later on.

Overall, it felt odd that part of my life became a published article, even if the author never reached out to me. While the article wasn’t accurate, I can’t feel too bad, because my life isn’t over, and I still have more things to do. Maybe one of those things will result in a better article.

Harriet Hall strikes again (Non-fiction) (Link)

Months after Harriet Hall review of Irreversible Damage was pulled from Science-Based Medicine, she posted a revised version of it.  HJ Hornbeck compaires the revised version to the original and still finds it lacking.

If you haven’t done or aren’t willing to do your homework, you’re forced to either respond with an argument from ignorance or by moving the goalposts with an appeal for more data. Indeed, if the most common edit Hall makes is clarifying who’s speaking, the second-most common is adding appeals for more data.


Never Forget (Non-fiction)

On this anniversary of 9/11, I think this Giant If comic is close to how I feel:

Never forget…that we invaded a country that didn’t attack us without congresssional authorization based on a lie and which cost us 20 years, over 100,000 lives, at least $2 trillion, and many of our freedoms that we will probabily never get back.

Sources: Village considering ‘Texas-style bounties’ to combat ‘negative social media posts’ (Fiction)

Social media users who post ‘negative’ content about Bolingbrook might end up paying thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees.

Anonymous sources within Village Hall say the board is considering an ordinance similar to the Texas Fetal Heartbeat law. The ordinance permits lawsuits against anyone who “posts content that defames, diminishes, or in any way promotes negativity within or towards the Village of Bolingbrook.”

Supporters in Village Hall say it is a necessary ordinance to combat what they perceive to be an “unprecedented onslaught of negativity” against the village.

“Texas has shown us the way,” said Ted, a village employee who asked that we not use his/her real name.  “The Supreme Court is saying the government can do anything it wants as long as other people act on its behalf.  Why should a government limit itself to restricting abortion access? The Constitution can no longer stop us from doing what’s right!”

The text of the ordinance, provided by one of the sources, states that anyone in the United States “with any ties to Bolingbrook,” can sue anyone who posts “untrue, subjectively untrue, true but negative, and true but subjectively negative” content on social media about Bolingbrook.  If the complainant wins, they will receive $1000 plus legal fees.  If the complainant loses, they will receive $500 from the village and the defendant will still have to pay all legal fees.  Only members of the Bolingbrook Friends and Neighbors Facebook group, who are in good standing, are exempt.’

Jane, another source who asked that his/her real name not be published, insisted that the ordinance is not intended to punish opponents of Bolingbrook’s ruling First Party for Bolingbrook:

“Facebook is overrun with negative political groups and pages.  We’ve got Bolingbrook Politics, Bolingbrook Area Politics, Bolingbrook Politics Uncensored, Bolingbrook Friends and Neighbors uncensored, Bolingbrook United, Bolingbrook Independent Voices, and so on.  Bolingbrook runs on positive energy, and negative posts hurt all residents.”

Ted added: “If the Founding Fathers believed in free speech, they wouldn’t have allowed the Alien and Sedition Acts to become law.  This ordinance is perfectly in line with the original intent of the Constitution, and not the amended mess we have now.”

None of the village trustees could be reached to comment on the proposed ordinance.

A person who claimed to work for the Village Attorney said: “Oh, if we ever felt that such a law was Constitutional, you would be the first to know!”

Also in the Babbler:

White Bolingbrook resident claims Confucius was ‘anti-Chinese’
Village of Bolingbrook buys another ‘evacuation site’ near the Arctic Circle
Palatine Township Highway Commissioner honored for promoting ‘the freedom to infect’
God to smite Bolingbrook on 9/9/21

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group.