I would like to respond to the very robust reaction to my posting. I got a lot of support from San Leandro residents, who understand the vitriol that has been playing out locally in what has becoming an increasingly divided country: Red and Blue, or more accurately, Red, Blue, and Trump. One response was very emblematic of the acrimony I have seen from the Left. I was accused of being a racist, homophobe, xenophobe, etc. My blog, however, consists of published papers by students, who are mainly Democratic, with a few bright and well-balanced conservatives. Apparently those individuals did not in fact read the articles. I know this for a fact because the analytics available to me from WordPress show that all they did was look at the site, but did not read the articles. As a group of people accustomed to being demonized in this state and in our communities, Republicans have had to learn to be more poised and diplomatic than the average college student They earned my respect, as did all of my students.
About me: I do write for conservative papers, but not out of choice. It happens that the conservatives are more open to discussion than any of the left-leaning or supposedly “mainstream” newspapers and magazines. I have been schooled and rebuked for my opinions, which range from leftward-leaning (I know from my experience spending a lot of time in Spain that a single-payer healthcare system can work beautifully and I pay a tenth of what I pay for my medication in Spain as I do here) to conservative (I believe that this country must enforce assimilation of foreigners to prize American values that have made this country a beacon of opportunity and a powerful force of good in the world). I have been in a fourteen-year relationship with a man. We are both devout Christians, although he embodies the values of Christ much better than I. We believe in family, community, and the first amendment.
But I have also had some very unpleasant experiences working with self-righteous Democrats, and that has made me increasingly open to the ideas of the Right. At U.C. Berkeley, I have been privately scolded for objecting to a liberal take-over of policy (read my Federalist article for the details) and brought to the attention of the deans’ office for my activities outside the university of which they disapproved. In 2008, I was lambasted for admiring Sarah Palin’s gumption and spirit. I voted McCain because I did not believe Obama was the Messianic figure Democrats painted him out to be. Before that, I was an ardent Hillary supporter. So, go figure.
Since then, I have had very unpleasant experiences at UC Davis for supporting the Davis College Republicans. For all the angry Lefties, let me tell you, half of the leaders of the Davis College Republicans are gay or of color. Now what are you going to say? Likewise, I have had private conversations with people in the Chinese-American community, many of whom privately support Trump, but are afraid to say so publicly. My mother is Dominican, that is, Hispanic, and most of her friends were disgusted by Hillary and her lies, but especially by the penchant of Democrats to eschew the truth of her ethically-blind ambition, to manipulate minorities who had rejected her in 2008 (African Americans, gays, hispanics), and pretend to be their champion in order to become the first female President of the United States. Now, all of the sudden, she was for gay marriage and a champion of blacks, when she had said in 2008, she represented the forgotten hardworking, white working class. I just got back from a trip to Haiti, where I have friends and family, and they (a country that is 99% black) hate the Clintons. After the devastating earthquake, the Clintons tried to appropriate hotels without paying and natural resource mines. They are loathed for instating a president with no qualifications who further ruined the country. He was a stripper, and then became president of a country that is in tatters.
All this is to say, the Left is self-deluded if they think that they hold the moral upper hand. It is much more complicated. Read the Gospels, and you will see that none of us can claim any kind of impunity from sin. We all sin in our hearts, and the vitriol and self-righteousness only create the kind of inferno that Jesus Christ came to save us from. That is not to say, I don’t fall into my own feelings of resentment toward the Left because of my experience. I have spent the last fourteen years, and especially, the last seven months hounded by people in power on the Left. I have gone to court four times to deal with these injustices, two of them from somebody who worked for Hillary Clinton. But I am also not fully accepted by the Right, because there are still many who see homosexuality as unacceptable. Yes, their Biblical basis is slim: Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which they don’t actually follow (they pick and chose what Old Testament sin they want to indict), and Paul’s letters, which were meant only to distinguish Christians from Romans, not to chastise “sodomites” for the hell of it. The idea of a committed, gay relationship was not even an idea when Paul wrote. And Paul was not Christ. He was a disciple, flawed like the rest of us. As far as Jesus goes, he never mentioned gays. What he did repeatedly rebuke was the desire for vengeance, conflict between members of a community, and adultery. So, to be a gay conservative may seem weird now, but if this world survives, I believe it will be considered quite normal. The new generation of Republicans, not the Huckabee’s or the Ted Cruz’s of the world, is increasingly embracing the values that made this country great. I have seen it firsthand. We need to be schooled by them, as we have fallen into the sin of hating our enemies.
I am a Trump supporter, but I don’t see him as a Messiah, as Obama aficionados saw Barack. I wish Melania would handcuff Mr. Trump to the bed at night to stop him from Tweeting at 3 AM about stupid things, and it would be enjoyable for both of them, no doubt. I wish he could contain himself when it comes to petty people who have slighted him. He is far from perfect. He is deeply flawed, as I am. But I acknowledge he is the first Republican to publicly support gay people, and the Left needs to stop denying reality on that front. Peter Thiel spoke at the RNC, and Trump applauded his party’s support of the first openly gay speaker at a major Republican event. I believe Trump is on my side. You can dispute that, but we can do it in a civil, informed, and respectful fashion.
Let me end this by saying that I am tired of having neighbors approach me and berate Trump and not care if they are offending me. The last instances of this were at a wedding on Prince Edward Island where the boyfriend of a colleague of mine from UC Davis told me I was “stupid” and could not believe I would talk to the Davis College Republicans even as the beautiful bride was walking down the aisle. The second instance was at the end of my pilgrimage in Spain to Santiago de Compostela where, after a special Mass in the Cathedral where the thurible was being swung (something that only happens occasionally on a special day when it is commissioned), a woman from Washington, DC talked politics. The incense was in the air, I felt transported and transfigured after slogging through snow and rain by foot to get to Santiago and receive consolation and redemption, and she went on a diatribe about Trump. She, a practicing Catholic, literally broke Jesus’ commandment about not going to church until you have made peace with those with whom you disagree.
This is a sign of the times. We need to read what the other side has to say, intelligent and well-researched essays by liberals and conservatives, and learn to discuss them without hatred and knee-jerk animosity. We all want to be the good guy, the one who is right, but the reality is we are all sinners, none of whom can live up to Jesus’ commandments. I feel this every day, as I read the Bible, and do the opposite. I hope one day I can live up to Christ’s wishes for me.
Our own currency, the US dollar, says “In God we Trust.” This is not the God of vengeance or jihad. It is the God of Christ whom those pilgrims, facing possible death and extreme hardship, risked everything to find a place to live out their faith. While I am not a Protestant, I believe in that. “In God we Trust,” and this country is exceptional because we were founded by people who, in spite of their defects, sought to live that out.
The history of our country bears out the truth that humans inevitably sin. We wiped out the Native Americans. We made slavery of Africans the basis of part of our economy. We discriminated against Germans, Irish, Italians, Japanese, Chinese, and Hispanics. But look at your dollar bill and remember that in spite of our communal sins, God forgives.
We are at a breaking point. Either the country will collapse from division, or we will seek reconciliation at a community level. We will realize that nobody is right. But we need to embrace the Christian values that formed this country. I don’t care where you came from. My people came from Austria and from Lebanon, but we embraced the values of this country, and we gave up the notions from where we came that did not embody the ideals of America.
America will only survive as an exceptional country through assimilation, good faith, and teaching our children and young people to understand that there are core values that define this country. Take it or leave it. Our first amendment right is sacred because we are literally the only country in the world that allows people to say what they want, evil or good. We need to countenance these ideas with faith, humility, and openness.
I litigated against the U.C. not for the $900 that was owed to me, but out of principle. Janet Napolitano, a Democratic bulldog, and the rest of them cannot just pay lip service to free speech. They need to live it out on our campuses. They need to model correct behavior for the younger generation. You may vehemently disagree with a speaker, but they have the right to say what they want. Unlike Germany or England, so-called hate speech is not illegal. You may disagree, but you need to allow for all perspectives. If not America becomes just another country of enforced ideology.
We deserve better than that. Let’s up our game and talk to each other with compassion. Let us approach each other with the humility that Jesus commanded. Let us be the ideal America that still has not come into being. I admit, I have gone through hell because of Democratic activists, but I have conducted seminars where everybody can speak their conscience without fear of being humiliated or punished.
In God We Trust.
As far as the UC Davis case goes, this time they were smart enough not to send two senior attorneys to litigate a small amount, which cost them three times what it would have cost just to pay me. They sent a young man, James DiCaprio, an attorney as well, unsure of himself, whose leg was jerking the whole time, and who knew little of University Policy. He certainly looked less menacing. He was young, small, and dressed like a hipster with a flamboyant shirt, a backpack, and odd shoes. But in spite of that attempt to improve on their optics, they continue to litigate for policies that are both unfair and misguided. Below I give you the summary of my testimony. The judge is still mulling this over. Regardless of the outcome, I consider this a victory. UC Davis is clearly on the defensive, and their own employees have criticized the Interim Chancellor, Ralph Hexter, a liberal activist, and Danny Gray, Director of Employment and Labor Relations, a man who does not even understand the definition of “ethical.” We need to continue to hold the university system we pay for accountable, regardless of their byzantine policies and absurd justifications for their moral slackness.
I have worked for the University of California since 2003, and I was a professor with lecturer status at UC Davis for two years. During that time, I taught three First Year Seminars. Faculty do no receive salary compensation, but are allotted “enrichment funds” meant for travel or equipment (Evidence 1). The FYS does not provide any specific information to the faculty, and the department chair and CAO do not explain it either. In December, I attempted to buy equipment and was authorized by my department staff in charge, Veronica Chavez. I was then told I had to return the items because I.T. had not approved it (Evidence 2). Shortly thereafter, I was told that I could only keep the equipment while I worked at Davis, which would have been only six more months, according to my contract.
The CAO of my department, Heavenly Clegg, told me the best thing to do was to spend the money on research-related travel. She also told me that she could put me as a temporary employee to reimburse me for travel after my appointment ended. I went to the Renaissance Society of America conference in March, but was still left with a balance of 5,116.33 (Evidence 3). I already planned a research trip, which was approved. (Evidence 4) Exactly six months ago, on June 8, I appeared in this court and pleaded my case against two UC attorneys that were sent for the occasion to contest compensation related to another academic research trip, and I won. I was asking to be reimbursed for $484.33, and I calculated based on the salaries of these two attorneys, the time it took to travel back and forth, preparation, transport, and maximum daily allowance for incidentals that the taxpayers paid a minimum of $772, but probably more like $1,160 in order to withhold compensation. I won that case, but the people of California lost tax money for nothing.
In court, Mr. Dudley, Esq. informed me that I had in excess of $5,000 in enrichment funds, which they were happy to disburse, but that the funds would revert to the department or the dean’s office after my appointment ended on June 30, 2017. That was the first time I had been notified. I immediately wrote to Heavenly Clegg, the CAO of my department on June 9, to see what could be done about this, and she did not respond to the question. I asked again on June 12 and June 21, and Heavenly’s assistant Sarah Clegg also ignored my question. During this time I received excuses for the delays in answering based on Heavenly being out of the office. I have the emails to prove this. On June 27, I finally received a response asking for my patience, but no answer to my question. I wrote to them on that date, “Heavenly refuses to respond to the question of whether or not this needs to be sorted by June 30.” I finally received a response that “At this time, I do not see you on the 17-18 Comparative Literature teaching schedule. Without a University appointment, I am not able to coordinate travel this far in the future (Evidence 5). In other words, for three weeks, both Heavenly Clegg and Sarah Davis refused to answer my question and give me alternatives to get my compensation in the form of enrichment funds. They literally ignored me in order to run out the clock. In the end, I was compensated $4195.31, and $921.02 was owed. (Evidence 6) However, as the wording of the request for reappointment to UC Davis will show, “Reappointment is based solely on departmental programmatic need,” (Evidence 7) and so to use this as a justification for not compensating me is like saying that I am only compensated for past work if there is a need for me to work in the future.
I called up Heavenly to discuss this, and I typed our conversation as it transpired. She admitted that, “I have tried really, really hard to get you that money. I have gone to meetings, I’ve said, ‘This is ridiculous.’ I even called Freshman Seminars, and told them to administer the funds themselves, and they basically said no.” She confessed, “We are actually having a meeting with the CAO’s to talk about this. This is not an issue of you or of me. This is an issue of how the freshman seminar is set up, and it is very unfair in my opinion.” She concluded that “If you teach five days a way how could you possibly spend that money if you are working five days a week? There is no possible way. You can’t travel. You are working five days. So if you teach a spring seminar and you work five days a week, there is no way for you to spend the money before the end of your appointment.” She added, “I want you to know that I have gotten into heated debates with many people on this campus about your particular situation, but it is not just your situation. It is happening campus wide, and I don’t know how to fix it….Until the Freshman Seminars can establish some guidelines and put some backbone on it, it puts us in a situation, and it is not a situation I want to be in. I don’t think it is fair.” I have provided the full transcript of the relevant parts of the conversation (Evidence 8).
I recalculated with the updated salaries of the two attorneys that UC Davis sent on June 8, and it would cost the taxpayers $1313.20 in order not to pay me $900, which is clearly owed to me for teaching (Evidence 9). Sending one attorney, as they did this time would cost half of that.
By virtue of unclear policies, bureaucratic incompetence, and what is clearly an attempt to run out the clock to avoid paying me, the University seems to have used this issue to punish me for winning the previous case and for publically criticizing the manner in which it has squandered taxpayer resources.