Doing History The Cronon Way

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March 28, 2011 by David Gillaspie

This is your new blogging hero.

What has he done to deserve worship?

Ask yourself this: Who is filing Freedom Of Information Act requests for YOUR email?

Whether a compliment, or slap in the face to academic freedom, William Cronon is a name you didn’t know, but now do.

In a world of ‘any press is good press’ Professor Cronon is raking hard. 

Two million hits on his blog in 24 Hrs?  Even Jack Bauer called to say wow.

A little back story:  William Cronon is a professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which means he is welcome at DG’s B&B any time. 

Apparently, Professor Cronon is not a hard right fundamentalist, which isn’t to say he’s a far left fire-breather either.

It is safe to say Professor Cronon’s required reading lists for his history, geography and environmental studies classes does not include Anarchist Cookbook.  His classes don’t appear to be in Sterling Hall with Astronomy and the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies.

While he doesn’t wear asbestos socks with his feet in the fire, he’s not pulling out.

So what is he? 

He’s a teacher. We all like teachers, except for the ones who fail us because we can’t figure out their grading system without going to class.

What makes Bill Cronon such a dangerous man? 

He’s a history guy at a state college, the sort of mid-west campus referred to in memoirs that begin with “I swear this is true.  I’m a female college student.  I was invited to my first Big-10 party and shocked to discover how friendly everyone was, when…”

Professor Cronon is an American academic who knows when to exercise his rights, the same rights you have, but he actually knows his rights.

That he comes from the same state that poured U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy into the national tumbler with a splash of bitters is a nice coincidence.  That Badger went down rough; this one is smooth and knows how to fight the power.

From the looks of him, he’s a sneaky fighter, one of those closet Black Belts who won’t open his personal can of Whoop-Ass until he has to; one of those guys who asks nicely, ” Do you really want to continue this conflict,”  because he already knows how it’s going to end.

You know how it’s going to end, too, right?  If not, here are three possibilities: 

1. Cronon regrets his actions when he joined the Communist Party in the 1930’s while dating a hot Red number?  No wait, those were the guys Tailgunner Joe went after.

2. He bows to the pressure, breaks out his popper, and caps himself in a farmhouse like the dad in Marathon Man.  Doubtful.  He’s throwing darts now and he’s just warming up to bigger things.

3. He goes ‘conspiracy nut’ and accuses Karl Rove of using Wisconsin as a proving ground to establish a Permanent Majority.  Since Cronon is a history professor he could rattle off the benefits of a one party nation for Mr. Rove:  forced collectivization, no private property, Gulag Vacations, and everlasting life as a stuffed trophy on public display like V. Lenin.

The current Newsweek goes to lengths to tell Americans how stupid we are.  The main hit is how many of us don’t know the answers to the questions immigrants must answer in their citizenship test.  Real Americans have the right answers.

One of the questions is, What is the law of the land?

Professor William Cronon knows the answer, and for that he deserves your attention while he schools the Wisconsin right.

It’s an American thing.  Pay attention.


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