. . . there does seem to be a relatively large group, including students, faculty, donors and even board members that is set against McConnell taking the reins of this school. It will be interesting to see whether McConnell can survive the pressure.Kevin then writes:
I want to know what he believes about the American Civil War and Reconstruction. What does his Civil War library at home look like? What kinds of books (if any) did he sell in his store, which specialized in Confederate memorabilia?Wow. Am I the only one that finds that just a bit creepy? Maybe someone can also go to the local library and see if they can get a list of the books McConnell has checked out over his lifetime. Fortunately, that isn't an option any more. But it was at one time, as a December 2012 article in Mother Jones pointed out:
In 1987, the Federal Bureau of Investigation approached Columbia University librarian Paula Kaufman with a request: Keep an eye out for commies.
She refused to cooperate with the bureau's "library awareness" program and her defiance helped spark a nationwide backlash against government snooping into Americans' reading habits. Even knowing the government [or anyone else for that matter] might be watching, people realized, could change what you choose to read—and in turn alter what you think. As a result of similar incidents that occurred over the years, 48 states now have laws on the books protecting library records, and the other two have legal directives in place that uphold similar standards. (The protections vary from state to state.)Is Kevin suggesting that unless McConnell conforms to HIS perspective and analysis of the Civil War, then he's not qualified to serve as president of the College of Charleston? Perhaps McConnell should have submitted a list of books to a government approved committee of scholars before he offered them for sell in his store.
As an ACLU attorney noted in the MJ article:
"We wanted to enact a law to make sure that readers of all sorts had the kind of protections readers have traditionally enjoyed," says Chris Conley of the ACLU of Northern California. "It's important not just in the privacy sense, but also from the First Amendment freedom of expression sense. If people aren't free to read, if they feel like what they read can be watched or monitored or used against them, that really hinders communication."Restricting what people read (by intimidation and other means), has a very long history and dark connection to oppression and free-thinking. Wikipedia notes the following in regards to the McCarthy era:
The State Department bowed to McCarthy and ordered its overseas librarians to remove from their shelves "material by any controversial persons, Communists, fellow travelers, etc." Some libraries went as far as burning the newly forbidden books. Shortly after this, in one of his carefully oblique public criticisms of McCarthy, President Eisenhower urged Americans: "Don't join the book burners ... Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book."Is Kevin suggesting that what McConnell has read about the War For Southern Independence be "used against him" by those opposed to him serving as president of a college?
If so, I find that quite chilling. But if not, why even bring it up? Will we see the same kind of curiosity in the reading list of others who are appointed to similar posts?