Saturday, February 23, 2019

Steven Salaita as Ralph Kramden

Hat tip Campus Watch

You all remember Steven Salaita, don't you? 


He was the guy whose job offer to teach our kids at the University of Illinois was rescinded in 2014 when he spit out some social media blasts about wishing that all "settlers" would go missing. That was in response to news that three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped in the West Bank. They later turned up dead, and voila! Steven Salaita became a celebrity. Later, he turned up teaching in Beirut, but alas, he is apparently now back in the US. So what is he doing?

Here's a hint:

Yes, indeed, Salaita is driving a school bus. Apparently, however, he has a budding career as a novelist, as evidenced by his prose on his personal blog. In this piece, he describes his evolution from professor to school bus driver. Here are some "choice" excerpts:

"About halfway to the lot, a ribbon of cobalt rises on the horizon; when it’s cloudy, a common occurrence in the mid-Atlantic, the darkness stays pure.  The spectrum of color will change with the seasons, but now it is winter and the sun comes slowly, if it appears at all." 

"Upon arrival, I exit my car, leaving it unlocked, and strap on my hazel backpack, which holds a bottle of tap water, a book (usually detective or spy fiction), lens cleaner, Imodium, a pen (I hate being anywhere without one), cough drops, hand sanitizer, two granola bars, and a banana."

And from the sublime to the ridiculous:

"The roads we traverse are monuments to automobile culture, spread across endless acreage in seemingly random but brutally deliberate patterns.  This infrastructure emerged from racism, extraction, and accumulation, the bellwethers of civic pride, patterned and imprinted on enervated, overburdened land.  Every weekday morning, we spark the ignition, warm the engine, and put the spirit of colonialism into overdrive." 

To the self pity and sense of victimhood:

"I wanted good work, honest work, the kind in mythologies of industriousness and humility, where humans with denim overalls deposit saline piety into the earth and die for rustic ideals of personal valor.  I dreamed of coffee and tea and cassava raining down on the countryside.  But I settled for health insurance.  Like any person disavowed of reverence, I finally recognized the need to disappear into the system that destroyed me." 

I won't bore you with any more excerpts, Suffice to say that this overly-long piece of writing begins with soapy language reminiscent of Anne Morrow Lindbergh* and degenerates into four-letter words, bitterness, anger, and lashing out. Notice (if you can get through this whole thing) that he has nasty words for just about everybody mentioned except those in his family. 

Left unmentioned in this "essay" about his hard knocks is that Salaita received $600,000 in a 2015 settlement from his lawsuit against the University of Illinois.

No point in wasting any more space on Mr. Salaita. Enjoy the ride, Stee-fen. As for the writing.....don't give up your day job.

And give my regards to Ralph Kramden.

*Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of famed aviator, Charles Lindbergh. She wrote a series of books using a lot of soapy language like the first excerpt above to describe scenes in opening paragraphs. Definitely not suitable for adaptation into John Wayne movies. 

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