The Not-Nice Girl
A former professor here sends this:
I have warm memories of the students on that campus and yes, of my liberal colleagues. Many students were OPEN to many new ideas... and people. It is just that their families had not seen the need to expose them to anything outside the mainstream (as they narrowly defined it).
But those were the pre-W days and we were not afraid then to call ourselves liberal. There were many strong alternative voices on campus, including loud ones from the performing arts folks.
But having been there, I understand the MAKING OF W- and the culture of red-state-ism that is naturalizing a xenophobic nationalism.
The culture of your city is an interesting blend of hedonism and religion in a convenient mix. I recently heard a flamboyant evangelist on TV say "the poor will always be among us" -- read what you will into the implication of that. It's as if we can live extravagantly and flaunt our love of the Lord at the same time.
I think your W-loving campus reflects this attitude. I got tenure there, but only after some foot dragging by the administration. Someone told me that when they hired me, they thought I was a "nice girl" and I seemed less "nice" as time wore on.
The Not-Nice Prof now teaches at a bigger university in another state. Thanks for the very nice letter.