Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why Academics are Cowards

Yes, I'm a coward.  Why?  Because I'm an academic.  I don't do anything productive, I don't stand for anything meaningful.  I just sit in front of a computer/book/class and postulate about "why" the world is such a backwards place, but don't do anything to change it.

How many Canadian Prime Ministers in the past 50 years have been labeled as "true" academics as career professions?  I'm talking about those political science, sociology, history, and economic professors and all those experts in the social sciences and humanities that actually do know how to run a country and society (and talk about it in papers and classrooms and universities and conferences all over the world), but choose not to and prefer the security - and salary - of tenure.   (To be fair, some on this list were professors of law at some point in their careers.)

Harper: Economist
Martin: Business Man/Lawyer
Chretien: Lawyer
Campbell: Lawyer
Mulroney: Lawyer
Turner: Lawyer
Clarke: Journalist
Trudeau: Lawyer
Pearson: Lawyer

Okay, I know a lot of people will say right now: "so what about all those politicized student groups that demonstrate and protest in campuses all over the world?"  My question is, what happens to those same politicized students after graduation?  They go out and get a job.  And a new group of bright-eyed and bushy tailed first years take on the same 4-5 year (undergraduate) fight, until it's their turn to realize that university is not the real world.  It is the Ivory Tower of Cowards.

This makes me sound like a hypocrite, right?  But really and truly, what am I doing to change the world?  I write about Black people and criticize society and racism, I'm working on my dissertation, but if I don't toe the line of cowardice, this is all for naught.  My dissertation committee, my department, and the university, will not approve my work, and I won't receive those three little letters on the back of my name and the two in front.  If I speak too loud and outside the box, it's all for naught.  I won't get the degree, the post-doc, the research funding (which has to be approved by what my school and our Government thinks is worthy of getting a few thousand dollars), and ultimately the tenure-track job as a professor.

So what do I do if I want to be a part of this academic club?  I go back to my ancestral roots and say "yes massa".

And if I don't? I become a lawyer.


  1. Now what? Jeez man. Completely harshed my mellow. I was even going to read tonight. That's out of the question now. Who wants to actively participate in cowardice? Brutal!

  2. Lots of people like to hide inside the Ivory Tower of Cowards cause it's easy and you get paid very well.

  3. Yay! I'm a coward too!? Only I completely disagree with all of this. My role is a fully activist one in that I educate my students about being better and more informed citizens of this country. And I do a fabulous job of it, as evidenced by how many of them appreciate what we (my students and I) accomplish in the classroom. I don't know any of my wonderful students who are now automotons.

    Everything has its so-called 'cowardice', including the numerous politicians and lawyers who do very, very little to contribute to society. Lots of people hide behind these and other jobs because they are paid well too. I guess you have to ask yourself: what kind of a person do you want to be? Life is what you make it and there are plenty of so-called cowards EVERYWHERE.

    And your dissertation will only get approved if it is well-written and fully supported by evidence and a cogent argument. I know, that sounds crazy! Who needs evidence? Certainly not the "economist" who is leading our country. Cowardice, much?

  4. @Anonymous - There are most definitely cowards everywhere.

    According to studies out of UofA and this CTV report, people continue to suffer and die from cancer because of the greed and neglect at the core of big pharma: