(Photos of Joe Miller as sailor, his anti-war button, and 1968 anti-war rallies in Chicago)
After six years and ten months on active duty, I was discharged from the Navy on February 3, 1968. I was excited and apprehensive about this drastic, but welcome, change.
Two years earlier, I had reported to the base Administrative Office, Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8), at Ellyson Field, near Pensacola, Florida. My wife and daughter were with me, and we knew I was getting out in two years. HT-8 produced Navy and Marine helicopter pilots, a good number of whom went off to war in Vietnam. Most of the instructors already had flying experience in and around Vietnam.
In January 1967, I was promoted, and there was new pressure to reenlist. “Gee, Joe, you only need to put in thirteen more years and you can retire at age 38.” I made it very clear that I was not interested.
In early June, 1968, I witnessed the second round of the student and worker revolt of May and June, but I had been studying student politics in France since 1963. I can only give a sketchy account of the revolt and what led up to it in this short article. For greater detail, the reader might consult my book Student Politics in France, and my essay “The Revolution Betrayed: The French Student Revolt of May-June 1968” in S. M. Lipset and P.G. Altbach, Students in Revolt.
What initially began as a student revolt against the banning of political activity and visits by the opposite sex in dorms rooms in the newly created campus at Nanterre, just outside of Paris, eventuated in barricades and violent street battles with the police and then in a general strike in which between nine and ten million workers walked off the job and brought the country to a halt. For many of the students, the goal went from liberalization of the hierarchical university to overthrowing the government of President De Gaulle.
Returning from a meeting of the American Association of Universities (AAU), Chancellor Jones shared a joint statement that was crafted at the meeting in regard to free speech on campus. The statement starts out by saying that people whose views are deemed by some members of the campus community to be “odious” and “disgraceful” should be allowed to express those viewpoints “free of disruption, intimidation, and violence.” It seems like the message is about how to handle a visit from someone like the white nationalist Richard Spencer. It seems to be saying that we should let Richard Spencer speak and not disrupt the event or use violence to prevent it from happening. The point is that we should not let our repulsion at Richard Spencer’s racist views turn us against the principle of free speech. We don’t have to go to his speech and we certainly don’t have to give him an open-minded hearing, but we shouldn’t shout him down or use violence to prevent him from coming to campus. Fair enough.
Facebook’s recent debacle with Cambridge Analytica may seem like just another one of a long list of security incidents in which the personal data of millions of people is compromised from large web sites. However, most of the reports we hear about other such data exposure events involve criminals breaking into websites by exploiting security vulnerabilities and stealing the data for often illicit purposes. But there’s something essentially different about Facebook and other social media sites like it. Unlike a bank or grocery store that has your data and applies a business model based on selling their products or services to customers, Facebook’s business model is reversed. Facebook makes their money by collecting revenue from advertisers.
Dave Monk established the “Pocket Prairie,” across the street from the WEFT 90.1 FM studios on Market Street in downtown Champaign, in the 1980s; due to development of the space, it has been relocated to the Second Street Detention Pond area, south of University Avenue. He has been doing the Prairie Monk radio hour on WEFT 90.1 for over 30 years. I spoke to him at the Pocket Prairie site on the evening of May 25, during its last days. The interview has been edited for space reasons; the full interview is available in the online edition.
Rick Esbenshade: You’re originally from Australia. How did you come to be in Champaign and how did you get come to be interested in the local flora and the local landscape?
Dave Monk: I had been teaching at a community college. I came here in ’61, and was with the university for a while and I worked with a university project and worked with the curriculum lab, and we did things that people felt were interesting with the environment, the environmental movement was starting then. I was very interested in the ecosystem because I couldn’t find it when I came from Australia.
The only place where you found prairie was along railroad lines, which you weren’t supposed to dig up, and in cemeteries that weren’t looked after. I realized that this was an ecosystem that wasn’t understood and it was fairly rare. So I got involved and then we started buying up old railroad beds because that’s where the prairie was.
In April, Chancellor Robert Jones announced that Max Levchin, a 1997 UIUC graduate in Computer Science, would deliver the keynote address at commencement in May, terming Ukrainian-born Levchin “an inspiring entrepreneur. ”
After four start-up failures during college and immediately after, Levchin moved to Silicon Valley where in 1998 he co-founded PayPal, the money transfer service, which eBay bought for $1.5 billion in 2002.
His PayPal co-founder was Peter Thiel, a Stanford grad and Silicon Valley billionaire. Notable for his far-right-wing, libertarian views, Thiel first came to national attention when he gave a prime-time speech at the 2016 Republican convention supporting Donald Trump.
PayPal made Thiel a multimillionaire; his early investment in Facebook in 2004 made him a billionaire. Thiel and Levchin originated what later would become known as the “PayPal mafia,” in which Levchin played the consigliore to Thiel’s don.
On May 24, 2018, President Donald Trump officially signed a posthumous pardon for heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson. As a radical and a sports fan, it was a surreal moment on a number of levels. But to explain how, it is important to know who Johnson was.
Jack Johnson was a top boxer in the early 1900s but consistently had his career hampered, limited and blocked by the realities of institutionalized white supremacy. As an African American, he secured the World Colored Heavyweight Championship, which he defended 17 times and was the inaugural African American Heavyweight Champion of the World, but was frequently denied a fight for the World Heavyweight Championship held by Jim Jeffries because of the color line.
The IMC is now seeking proposals from artists to design and paint a new outdoor sign. We seek a diversity of applications by a variety of artists. The chosen design will serve as a main identifier for the public to the IMC as a space. We are replacing our current sign with large aluminum letters reading “I-M-C” on the west-facing front side of the building. Each letter fits within 4’ x 4’ square. We will have the aluminum sheets cut out according to design. We are offering a $100 honorarium to the chosen artist.
Artists should submit their design concept with a short explanation (1-2 paragraphs) of how they see their design as a reflection of the mission of the IMC. Deadline is June 22.
Please send a proposal to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The mission of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (IMC) is to foster the creation and distribution of media and art that emphasizes underrepresented voices and perspectives, and to promote empowerment and expression through media and arts education.
By Dan Gilbert
Dan Gilbert teaches in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois.
In a matter of weeks the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31, a case originating from our own state that carries profound implications for the future of the labor movement nationwide.
By Ricky Baldwin
Ricky Baldwin is a longtime community and union organizer who lives in Urbana.
Anticipating the Janus decision discussed elsewhere in this issue, Central Illinois Jobs With Justice (JWJ) held a public discussion on February 18 in the Champaign Public Library with Cindy Jones, a Wisconsin social worker, and Patricia Rego, Wisconsin nurse. Titled “Turning Lemons Into Lemonade,” the event highlighted the history of recent changes in public sector labor law in Wisconsin, the negative impact of such changes, and how the “Wisconsin case” is of a piece with right-wing attacks on unions at the federal and state levels.