Republicans as Anti-Intellectual Thugs
In reaction (yes, that is the proper verb) Republicans are demanding a search of Cronon's UW email account - trawling for some phrase or comment that putatively betrays unlawful partisanship. There - quite rightly - has been a chorus of criticism against this move - here, here, here, here, here, and here, for instance.
Just an observation: I regularly hear right-wingers complain that college faculty are disengaged and irrelevant. Now, an accomplished scholar enters the public domain and what do said conservatives do? They don't actually reply to his arguments or contest the historical perspective he brings to bear on current politics. Instead they seek to shut him up. There are words for that - hypocrisy, intimidation immediately come to mind. You may think of others.
There is little surprise left in the Republican reaction. In reply to criticisms of the sort I've linked to above the Wisconsin GOP reportedly are seeking to portray themselves as the real victims. It seems necessary to state the obvious: there is a difference between the tactics of the Wisconsin Republicans and those who are criticizing them. The latter are taking to the public sphere and arguing, offering reasons, and replying to their opponents. Those on the Right, as is their wont, instead are looking to silence opponents - in this instance by using legal instruments, thereby criminalizing those with whom they disagree. Given a clear choice in strategy - either engage in open debate, defending one's views on the merits or seeking to question or subvert the credibility of one's opponent - the right nearly always chooses the latter. Conservatives proclaim themselves supporters of the "party of ideas" when in fact they are more likely to be party hacks.
P.S.: At Slate Jack Shafer once again proves himself tone-deaf to important distinctions. He writes that there is no such thing as a "bad" open records request. What Shafer misses is that there is a considerable difference between a college professor and an elected official or a bureaucrat with decision-making power. The right is busy (think of the truly dim David Horowitz and his ilk) trying to undermine that distinction by portraying faculty - despite lack of systematic evidence - as domineering liberals picking on poor defenseless conservative students. Faculty have words at their disposal whereas politicians like Scott Walker have tools like the State Police. See a difference Jack?