UW Struggle: Zero Dark Cheese Curds

Image: Viktor Koen
Image: Viktor Koen

Yes, I’m tempted to open this dispatch with my feelings about my Governor comparing teachers, firefighters, nurses, students, retirees, and children to terrorists, but my sleeper-cell family is, well, still sleeping, and I only have so much time before I have to cheeseboard a few of my detainees. (“Terrorism is hard! Tell me where your season tickets are!”)

Lost in this jaw-dropping look into the delusion that people like Governor Walker inhabit (perpetual victimhood, ignoring real concerns somehow equates to strength), is this tidbit that has me thinking quite a bit about the UW:

Earlier, Walker told the crowd the secret to winning at the ballot box is fighting until victory is achieved, not compromising.

“You know how we did it?” Walker said of his political and policy victories in Wisconsin, a state that has been voting Democratic for president since the 1980s. “We did it without compromising. (Emphasis mine)

No compromise. Yet, the UW budget cuts versus the move to a public authority is being passed off as a…compromise. One of these things is not like the other.

Where was this tattered narrative of exchange first tailored? It didn’t materialize in every single article of first-wave reporting by accident, did it? I would love some clarity because it would go a long way to answering my recurring question about whether or not the UW has a true advocate. If the Governor’s calling card is extremism (the very definition of unwillingness to compromise), then who is behind casting the current UW narrative as one of compromise? Of course, these are all rhetorical questions. Governor Walker, like he did with Act 10, frames unilateral action as cooperation, and this case is no different.

Fortunately, UW faculty, staff, students, and graduates can now directly ask UW President Ray Cross if he is willing to compromise, to be an advocate for them, as this op-ed, calling for specific action and published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is at 300 signatures and counting. I signed this letter because I agree with it. Furthermore, I would like President Cross, just once, to speak publicly and aggressively against the budget cuts. He has never done so, and this has UW employees of all stripes enraged. If you read this letter and agree with the proposed course of action, you can sign on here. If you would like a look into what will be stricken from state code with a move into the public authority model, view here, and as you read please keep track of how many times you lose your breath. I read and repeatedly mumble, “We gave up.”

If you don’t like what you read in the letter, I’m still proud and honored to be your colleague, and nothing is more important than the larger public mission we share for this great state (this is a thing that needs to be said now).

Terrorism Alert: Zero Dark Cheese Curds

mars_cheese_castleAs many of you probably know, the terrorists in Wisconsin (i.e. workers and average citizens) were exposed. We need a new plan, and thus I am sending out coded language, setting into motion our latest nefarious gambit:

Phase 1: Steal all cheese curds and transport them, blindfolded, to an undisclosed location. Once there, we will ransom them for $300 million dollars and new jihadist flexibilities. If we get separated, meet at the Mars Cheese Castle for tasting and training.

Phase 2: Close down craft breweries and use IED’s to disable the deep fryers.

Phase 3: Fish Boil in Iran!

Ellyn Lem
Friend and teaching hero, Ellyn Lem, being stood up to by our brave Governor.

In all seriousness, Governor Walker’s comments hurt, badly, in my heart. My wife and I have already had to answer questions from our children, more than once, about why the Governor and his supporters scapegoat us. Our kids end up saying something like, “But who doesn’t like teachers? I love my teachers.” Yes my lovelies, we do too. So I’m expecting, very soon, to get an expanded version of that question that includes reference to ISIS. Furthermore, Governor Walker did not stand up to me and people like me. He ignored us. While mothers, fathers, children, students, teachers, nurses, and firefighters braved freezing temperatures, the Governor braved nothing but comfort. Full stop.

Do you want to know what’s terrifying? See:

I wonder if the kale at the farmers’ market is dangerous.


Those are two men in my city, my downtown Green Bay, exercising their “right” to go look for a hot dog stand and simultaneously protect themselves from quality of life. I have been downtown with my family many times—we enjoy the farmers’ market and Art Street very much—and the thought of seeing these men terrifies me. Their intent, without question, is to terrorize and intimidate. Governor Walker and our state government made this possible. How? By being intimidated and unable and unwilling to stand up against people who lobby for toxic masculinity and unfettered violence. This is our reality now. Yet, somehow, the peaceful, working-class people of Wisconsin are like terrorists if they dare exercise their right, as Americans, to voice displeasure to their government officials.

What’s terror? Being thankful every day, upon making it home from work, that I wasn’t shot and killed while trying to do my job. My wife and I work in the same place—we’ve had to discuss how, if something does happen, we hope at least one of us survives. Governor Walker and those like him trump up fears for their safety (“Someone spit at me!”), donning the rhetoric of martyrdom with the ease of a winter coat. But you know who’s really exposed? Let me give you a hint: being a teacher exposes you to violence more than sitting in the Capitol does, and it’s occurring more frequently.

Well, I’m off to Tora Bora to vacation in my mountain resort! Till next time!




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