Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels Is Just Your Average Everyday Book-Burning University President
The few times we ever gave former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels much thought, he always seemed like a Scott Walker wannabe who was trying to prove that he too could destroy public employee unions and pass "right to work" and just generally be terrible. The biggest difference between them seemed to be that Scott Walker never lost an argument with a door. But now it looks like maybe we misunderestimated Mitch Daniels, because it turns out that he had some awful qualities all his own! The AP reports that emails from 2010 show that Daniels sought to ban Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States from Indiana schools and universities (he considered it "propaganda") and also tried to cut funding for a professor who had criticized him. We bet that the committee who chose Daniels as president of Purdue University is really happy with this news. (Oh of course they are -- he appointed the board of trustees that hired him!)
The emails, obtained under a freedom Of Information Act request, show that Daniels was apparently inspired to cleanse Indiana schools of radical thought shortly after the death of Howard Zinn, who died January 27, 2010 (Wonkette's Jim Newell called Zinn "one of the last remaining leftists from the Leftists Had Balls era"). On February 9, Daniels sent an email blast to state education officials to celebrate. Now that Zinn was dead, Daniels wanted to make sure his filthy liberal book was, too:
"This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away,” Daniels wrote. “The obits and commentaries mentioned his book, ‘A People’s History of the United States,’ is the ‘textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country.’ It is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.
“Can someone assure me that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?”
Because, of course, there is no such thing as class struggle in America, powerful elites don't skew things to their advantage, and young people should only be fed a diet of American Triumphalism. Daniels' education adviser wrote back that the book was used "in a course for teachers on the Civil Rights, feminist and labor movements," and Daniels took only three minutes to demand a purge:
“This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session. Which board has jurisdiction over what counts and what doesn’t?”
State school board member David Shane, a Daniels fundraiser, outlined a plan for a statewide review of all university courses, adding that it “would force to daylight a lot of excrement.” Daniels enthusiastically signed off, after a full seven minutes of consideration:
“Go for it. Disqualify propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings. Don’t the ed schools have at least some substantive PD (professional development) courseware to upgrade knowledge of math, science, etc,” Daniels wrote.
The AP also reports that earlier, in April 2009, Daniels also tried to go after Charles Little, a university professor executive and director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association, who had criticized his education policies. Daniels sought "an audit and possible funding cut for a program" run by Little, but it's unclear whether the inquisition ever went forward.
On Tuesday, Daniels claimed that he had only tried to ban Zinn from K-12 classrooms, which the state has direct authority over, despite the emails that make it clear that he wanted the books pulled from university curricula. There is probably a very good reason for this, which is that Mitch Daniels just might be a slimy liar. We are just guessing there. In an email to the AP, Daniels wrote
“We must not falsely teach American history in our schools ... We have a law requiring state textbook oversight to guard against frauds like Zinn, and it was encouraging to find that no Hoosier school district had inflicted his book on its students.”
Even so, Daniels insisted today that he's a big fan of academic freedom, even for leftist frauds, saying
If Howard Zinn had tenure at Purdue, I would defend him & his rights not to be dismissed for the nature of his work,"
Gotta love a university president who has such respect for diversity of opinion, don't you? We especially like that bit about how he'd never fire a hypothetical Zinn who had tenure, whereas presumably it would be open season on Associate Professor Zinn. Also, this comes from a guy who has described the very idea of tenure as a means of repressing "dissident ideas" -- not dissidents like Zinn, of course, but of conservatives, who are horribly, horribly oppressed.
We're looking forward to Purdue's new degree program in American Exceptionalism Studies. And Scott Walker better step up his game and get to the censorin'.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.