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Suddenly – from out of the blue – three professors at three different Michigan universities simultaneously received identical freedom-of-information demands for any and all of their emails that used certain words.
The three are professors of labor studies, and the words in question were: “Scott Walker,” the union-busting governor of Wisconsin; “Madison,” the capitol city at the center of mass protests against Walker’s assault on worker rights; and “Rachel Maddow,” the TV talk show host who has covered the public rebellion against Walker.
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However, this odd demand for emails did not really come from out of the blue, but from out of far right field, specifically from a ferociously-anti-union corporate front group called The Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Peek behind the Mackinac curtain, and you’ll find piles of right-wing money from the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, the Prince family, and the Waltons of Wal-Mart.
Now, guess who had also been major funders of Scott Walker’s gubernatorial run last year? Yes, the Kochs, DeVoses, Princes, and Waltons. Also, this year the same plutocrats dispatched their network of front groups to help the governor push his attack on Wisconsin’s public employees. So it’s really no surprise to learn that the billionaires’ Mackinac unit would now launch a chilling witch hunt on state university professors. Apparently, the Mackinacers were hoping to cherry pick some tidbits from the emails to “prove” that professors of labor were using their public positions to – gasp! – advocate for labor, or even to promote a pro-labor political movement.
As is usual with these supposedly non-partisan, right-wing fronts, Mackinac officials are denying any political motives in what obviously is a crude, McCarthyite attempt to intimidate and muzzle people whose opinions they don’t like.
“Group Seeks Labor E-Mails By Professors In Michigan,” The New York Times, March 30, 2011.
“Rachael Maddow Goes After Right-Wing Group Targeting Labor Professors,” www.alternet.org, March 30, 2011.
“Behind Michigan’s “Financial Martial Law”: Corporations and Right-Wing Billionaires,” www.motherjones.com, March 23, 2011.
“Koch-Backed Right-Wing Group Goes After More Professors, Asking for Emails on Unions and… Rachel Maddow?” www.alternet.org, March 29, 2011.