Back on January 10, a convicted criminal gunned down Natalie Corona, 22, a rising star in the police department of Davis, California. The community hailed Corona as a hero and police officers from across the country showed up for her memorial service. That marked a stark contrast to UC Davis professor Joshua Clover, who had been calling for police to be killed.
The Aggie columnist Nick Irvin thought it might be hearsay but he began looking around on Twitter and found these tweets from professor Clover: “I am thankful that every living cop will one day be dead, some by their own hand, some by others, too many of old age,” showed up on November 27, 2014. “I mean, it’s easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned, no?” from December 27, 2014. And “People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed,” posted on Jan. 31, 2016.
In similar style, the Sacramento Bee found that in 2015 Clover told the SF Weekly “People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed.” In short order, the UC Davis administration condemned the statements and found it “unconscionable that anyone would condone much less appear to advocate murder.”
Davis police chief Joe Farrow told reporters “Our officers are dedicated professionals who have and will continue to rise above calls for violence against them. Nonetheless, it’s regrettable they have to endure such vile hatred.” In Davis and across the state, people wondered who this vile hater might be.
Born in Berkeley in 1962, Clover is an alumnus of the prestigious Boston University and the Iowa Writers Workshop. Clover once bagged an NEA grant as well as the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. He teaches English at UC Davis, but there’s more to him.
“Joshua Clover is a communist,” proclaims Verso Books. The cultural theorist has authored Red Epic and 1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About. Clover’s Riot.Strike.Riot dates from 2016, and he is a columnist for The Nation and founding editor of Commune Editions.
“Joshua Clover specializes in critical theory, Marxism, political theory,” the professor’s UC Davis profile explains, and “his interests include social movements, social reproduction theory, crisis theory and the end of capitalism.” Forthcoming work “focuses on poetry and the transformation of the world-system, and particularly on the dynamic between overdeveloped nations and neocolonialism.”
After Clover’s anti-cop tweets emerged, the Sacramento Bee sought a response from the campus communist and critical theorist. “On the day that police have as much to fear from literature professors as Black kids do from police, I will definitely have a statement,” explained the professor who is on “medical leave.” The campus communist did not explain what ailment might have prompted the absence, and Clover is not the only anti-police spokesman at UC Davis.
After a photo of Natalie Corona, clad in an elegant blue dress and holding the “thin blue line” flag, went viral, the campus Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission proclaimed, “this flag represents an attempt by law enforcement to undermine the Black Lives Matter movement.” And Blue Lives Matter was “an effort to evade accountability and critical awareness of police treatment of communities of color.”
Meanwhile, as the Davis Enterprise reports, UC Davis has tapped Renatta Garrison Tull of the University of Maryland, to serve as “vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion.” The post is at odds with the 1996 California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209, which bars racial and ethnic preferences in state education, employment and contracting.
On the watch of UCLA’s equity, diversity and inclusion boss Jerry Kang, professors who advocate free speech have been excluded. As Sarah Brown wondered in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Why Did a UCLA Instructor With a Popular Free-Speech Course Lose His Job?”
Californians have good cause to keep a close watch on UC Davis, which also has a problem with student protesters. In 2011, when students peacefully protested tuition hikes, the administration had them pepper sprayed. The ensuing lawsuits cost taxpayers more than $1 million. No UCD administrators got fired and chancellor Linda Katehi came under fire for spending $407,000 in university funds to shore up her image on the internet.