Professor Jack Cashill, Ph.D., wrote a book about a relatable feeling: he wishes he could go home.
Dr. Cashill grew up in the Roseville section of Newark, NJ, an area that he feels can no longer provide a safe environment for his family. “I watched my neighborhood collapse around me,” he explains in The Heartlander. He and his wife now spend summers in her hometown of Fredonia, NY, and he can’t help but compare her old stomping grounds to his own.
“When I first visited [my wife Joan’s] humble hometown in western New York,” he writes in his book, “I was taken aback by the very constancy of her world. Many of her friends remained in place. Others who had gone away were home for the holidays. They gathered in the same bars they had always gathered in. They ate at the same restaurants, shopped at the same shops, attended the same churches.”
“I found myself envying Joan and all the young people across America who could go home again. By 1970, I and my friends from Roseville could not. There was no longer any home to go home to.”
In his latest book, Untenable: The True Story of White Ethnic Flight from America’s Cities, he shares his personal story, weaved together with historical analysis and insights from years of working in both the worlds of academia and the Housing Authorities of Newark and Kansas City.
Dr. Cashill’s unique perspective on the issue of “white flight” is thoughtful, layered, and genuine. It’s no wonder the library of his wife’s enviable hometown, the Fredonia Darwin Barker Public Library, wanted him to speak. The event was to be aired on C-SPAN’s Book TV—until the cancel mob shut it down.
The trouble began when the library started to share a notice promoting the event. It read:
“Having watched his neighborhood collapse around him, Jack is in a unique position to write authoritatively about so-called ‘white flight.’ Unlike other authors on this subject, Cashill writes from the perspective of those forced to flee.”
Word began to spread, and a few local residents, mostly women, sent complaints to the library. Shortly after, a member of the local library board sent an email to Dr. Cashill’s wife, a supporter of the library.
“Sadly, in today’s world, situations such as this can rapidly escalate from controversy and result in confrontation and conflict,” he wrote. “In this specific case, we have elected to not to expose our patrons and employees to the threat of any of it.” No specific examples were provided to warrant this concern.
About a month before his scheduled appearance, Dr. Cashill received an email from the library director officially disinviting him. Stunningly, the email emphasized the importance of viewpoint diversity.
“We believe that the diversity of perspectives is crucial in creating a rich and informative dialogue at our library events,” wrote the director, Graham Tedesco-Blair.
There is nothing rich or informative about silencing a man from sharing his life story because it doesn’t fit the political perspective of a handful of complainers. That is the opposite of viewpoint diversity.