Vous avez peut-être suivi ça, Steve Salaita (américain d’origine Nicaraguayenne et Palestinienne), spécialiste entre autres du racisme anti-arabe aux USA, avait été embauché comme professeur de Science Politique à l’University of Illinois en 2013. Sa permanence avait été révoquée en 2015 à cause de quelques tweets critiques d’israel.
Le processus avait été entaché d’irrégularités, mais Salaita avait négocié son départ contre une somme d’argent, ayant entre temps obtenu un poste à la American University of Beirut. Un an après, ce poste aussi n’avait pas été renouvelé et, black listé, aucune autre offre ne lui fut offerte.
Aujourd’hui, il est chauffeur de bus, et il raconte cette expérience dans ce très beau texte (que je trouve quand même très triste) :
You hear ex-professors say it all the time and I’ll add to the chorus: despite nagging precariousness, there’s something profoundly liberating about leaving academe, whereupon you are no longer obliged to give a shit about fashionable thinkers, network at the planet’s most boring parties, or quantify self-worth for scurrilous committees (and whereupon you are free to ignore the latest same-old controversy), for even when you know at the time that the place is toxic, only after you exit (spiritually, not physically) and write an essay or read a novel or complete some other task without considering its relevance to the fascist gods of assessment, or its irrelevance to a gang of cynical senior colleagues, do you realize exactly how insidious and pervasive is the industry’s culture of social control.
There are tragic elements to this adventure, sure. A political symbolism informs my academic career. After months without work, my family suffered financial hardship. And I didn’t matriculate through 22nd grade in order to land a job that requires no college. Then again, neither did I attend so many years of college in order to be disabused of the notion that education is noble.
I pitched honest living to my parents when I told them about the new job. Despite being aware of academe’s ruthless memory, they hoped that I’d one day be a professor again. They probably still do. In a better world, my redemption would happen in the United States. I wanted to quell that expectation. “Even if Harvard offered me a job I’d say no,” I proclaimed with earnest hyperbole.
They feigned support but didn’t believe me. I understand why. It’s hard to imagine coming of age in reverse. Hollywood doesn’t make inspirational movies about struggling to overcome material comfort. We don’t aspire to the working class. Personal fulfillment occurs through economic uplift. We go from the outdoors to the office, from the ghetto to the high-rise, from the bar rail to the capital. That’s the dream, to become a celebrity or a tycoon or, in humbler fantasies, a bureaucrat. But forward progress as material comfort is cultivated through the ubiquitous lie that upward mobility equals righteousness. Honest living is a nice story we tell ourselves to rationalize privation, but in the real world money procures all the honesty we need.
For immigrants, these myths can be acute. I could see my parents struggling between a filial instinct to nurture and an abrupt recognition of their failure. My mom, a retired high school teacher, seemed interested in the logistics of transporting students, but my dad, the original professor, clenched his hands and stared across the table. It’s the only time I’ve seen him avoid eye contact.