Melissa Click, the fired University of Missouri communications professor, who became notorious for bullying student reporters during last November's protests against still-unspecified racial injustices on campus, continues in her makeover. (See my article "Melissa Click: One Bad Professor Fired, Thousands More to Go" at the Federalist.) She has friends at the Chronicle of Higher Education, who ran a lead feature on her on Monday, titled "Being Melissa Click." The makeover goes beyond the professional photos, with make-up and hairdo, of a smiling, unthreatening professor.
"Being Melissa Click" features the assistance of a reporter providing explanations for behavior that probably 95% of Americans found atrocious and grounds for criminal prosecution. The article is behind a firewall, so let me give some highlights. We are told that she became a "caricature of a radical faculty member who represented everything conservative lawmakers and pundits hate about academe." (Reporter Robin Wilson does not entertain the thought that some liberals and other professors might also see a professor arguing with a student journalist and calling for a mob to kick him off a public place as "objectionable.")
But as I said, this is a makeover. Melissa Click maintains that she was doing what other professors and administrators were doing there (true, but others were not grabbing students or intimidating them with calls for "muscle"). So why was she fired?
Because she is "white lady." Yes, you read that correctly:
Under pressure from state legislators, [Click] says, Missouri’s Board of Curators fired her to send a message that the university and the state wouldn’t tolerate black people standing up to white people. 'This is all about racial politics,' she says. 'I’m a white lady. I’m an easy target.'Reverse discrimination? Naw. The article goes in-depth on Click's background, family life (3 children, husband for whom she moved so he could assume the position of religion professor), her inspiration for her academic career (reading women's magazines), her heartfelt concern for students, her unpopular but important "scholarship" on the television series Twilight, her kindness--but then points out how an African American man yells out as they stroll through town: "Hey, Melissa!" This is presumed to be support.
"Black People Love Me" is what Click tells a reporter, notes Wilson.
The spin continues: The victim who has been denied due process in being fired (by the "conservative lawmakers" who just can't appreciate academe) also is getting support from colleagues who have set up a "Stand with Melissa" Go Fund Me campaign.
Melissa Click cries: Yes, the petite ("about five-feet tall") hero of militants recounts the trauma, the hate-filled messages, and sheds tears. She is "still making sense of what happened to her, while dealing with the pain and chaos it has caused her family. Before any of this happened, she was a 44-year-old mother of three, her tenure bid finally in hand, part of a successful dual-career academic couple." She has a kitty cat, a black one, and she pets it as she sits on the couch discussing her ordeal:
As she sits on her living-room couch, her black cat lying nearby, her tough exterior cracks a bit, and she cries.Click is given the opportunity to repeat points she has made in op-eds in the Washington Post, on television interviews, and at events at UM:
I believed at some point, somebody would care about the truth of what I was doing,' she says. 'I am a woman who made some mistakes trying to do what she thought was right.' That, she says, could have been anyone.Pass the Kleenex, but not for the students and faculty who were terrorized by the protests on campus, as recent emails reveal. Click is the victim, even though her actions caused a severe drop in enrollments. She is the victim, even though she bullied students. And, no, she has not really apologized endlessly, as this article states. As I pointed out, every apology has been a justification for her actions.
The backfiring of another p.r. stunt: Some Dissident Prof readers may remember our coverage of the UC-Davis protests in 2011-2012, that like so many campus protests piggy-backed on Occupy Wallstreet. (Sometimes causes have to be searched out.) The little snowflakes, after ignoring repeated orders to disperse, were pepper-sprayed. The image of students huddled and squinting from the eye-burning went viral. (UC-Davis English professor and outdoorsman Scott Herring described the effect of the tear gas used, and it's quite minimal compared to the grizzly bear heavy duty stuff he carries. Read his "Occupy UC-Davis, What a Gas," and his post about the "Pepper Spray Task Force Report.")
That was a bit embarassing to the administration, so they hired a public relations firm to do a makeover that cost at least $175,000. The image was remade by putting out positive articles that would push down negatives ones in a Google search. Once again, calls are being made for the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi.
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