A commenter recently cautioned that I had doxed myself. I appreciate his concern, but have always been knowingly reckless in maintaining my anonymity. My username matches the name on my birth certificate, and anyone who combs through my posts will discover that I am an academic geographer at a large public university in central Texas. With this information and a couple of keystrokes, anyone who is so minded can admire my photograph, peruse my curriculum vita, or tap out an e-mail with my address in the line labeled “To”.
As I explained to the concerned commenter, I have a purpose in maintaining this flimsy wall of penetrable anonymity. On the one hand, I feel I should be prepared to own anything I write at the Orthosphere, as indeed I am. This isn’t tremendously courageous, since I’m a tenured full professor, but it keeps me from writing anything I don’t really believe and ensures that no one can accuse me of being a duplicitous Thug. On the other hand, I feel I should also maintain a little distance between JMSmith and Professor Smith. I don’t wish to wave my Orthosphere posts in the face of my students, or my academic credentials in the face of my Orthosphere readers. And neither do I wish to hide either of these things under a bushel basket.
In recent weeks I have allowed this already flimsy wall of anonymity to become even flimsier and more penetrable, at least for those of you who know me as JMSmith. This was unavoidable because I decided to write more short posts on occasional topics, and the occasional topics suggesting themselves of late have been stamped with a return address.
Next week’s speech by Richard Spencer strikes me as one such occasional topic. As this event is one about which some Orthosphere readers may be curious, and at which I should be able to secure a ringside seat, I plan to forego the massive Aggies United rally at Kyle Field and lend an ear to Spencer. So, if there is a seat in the room, I will be in it.
I will not be doing this because I am Spencer’s number one fan-boy, or because I aim to align the Orthosphere with Spencer’s political program. I will be doing it for the following reasons:
- I am, obviously, what Whittaker Chambers called a “man of the Right,” albeit not exactly Richard Spencer’s quarter of the Right. I therefore have a general interest in the normalization of expressions of Right-wing opinion at the university. I do not imagine that my presence will lend any authority to Richard Spencer’s opinions, for I am an obscure and negligible academic without much authority to lend (I am, indeed, what Evelyn Waugh in Scott King’s Modern Europe [1949, p. 4] described as “dim”). But, if I may pilfer a phrase from our recent election, I believe it is important to StandWithHim.
- I am a cultural and historical geographer, and so have a professional interest in ethnonationalist and separatist ideas. I may be dim, but do nevertheless perceive that the human geography of the world is changing, and strongly suspect that ideas like those of Richard Spencer will affect the direction of that change. As I am not a cosmopolite, I freely confess that I am not altogether distraught with alarm at the thought of this influence.
- I would like to be eyewitness to an event that promises to be full of interest as an event, and that I suspect will not resemble with any scrupulous fidelity the reports in the next day’s newspaper. If there is any goose-stepping, or Roman saluting, or sieg-heiling, I’d like to see it with my own two eyes. If Spencer says anything that is utterly beyond the pale, I’d like to hear it with my own two ears. I will also be interested to take a gander at any protesters, infiltrators or spies.
- I would like to hear Spencer speak. I don’t follow him closely, but confess to having read some of his articles and listened to some of his podcasts. These never struck me as the work of a madman, although I’m told that inmates of a nuthouse seem sane to one another.
- I would like to be able to report what I see and hear to you.