We're Not In Kansas Anymore

 

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Born in 1936 in California, Irving Wesley Hall studied at Stanford in the fifties and Berkeley in the sixties. He was one of sixty-four students arrested in San Francisco on May 13, 1960, for protesting the House Committee on Un-American Activities. This demonstration and the earlier Southern sit-ins inspired the sixties student movement.

Hall co-authored “In Search of Truth,” a reply to the FBI’s red-baiting of the protestors. He appeared on talk shows and debated ex-congressmen and others from the extreme right. William F. Buckley literally fell off his chair during a 1962 debate. Like the “terror mongers” of today, Buckley tried to intimidate Nevada college students with lurid tales of an insidious “Communist conspiracy,” but Hall pounded him with the freedom-ringing words of rebellious Thomas Jefferson.

Because of his May 1960 experience Hall became an activist for life. It was his blessing to have been falsely arrested, to experience youthful righteous solidarity, to plead a just cause against mass media lies, to challenge the FBI and Congress—and win.

Irving Wesley Hall
Irving Wesley Hall

Later Hall was among the first California high school teachers to include the Holocaust in a required course. He counseled draft resistance and campaigned against the Vietnam War. Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia in 1970 prompted him to refuse to accept his Master’s degree graciously in gown and mortarboard. To protest the carpet-bombing of Cambodian peasants, he carried a “Silence is Complicity” banner and wore a formal suit, minus the trousers, to reveal red boxer shorts, white stocking garters and blue socks.

Irving Wesley Hall 1970
Photo by Bill Elledge                         

A short time later he put on his pants to debate California Gov. Ronald Reagan in Sacramento on behalf of graduate students furious over his imposition of the first tuition at the state’s public colleges coupled with tax breaks for corporations and his wealthy supporters. The award-winning photograph of that confrontation appeared simultaneously on the front pages of four major California newspapers and is featured in several sixties documentaries.

 

Irving Hall debates Gov. Ronald Reagan
Associated Press Photo                         
                    Author Irving Wesley Hall debates then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970
                      in Sacramento, Calif., and confronts him later (below).

Hall confronts Ronald Reagan in 1970

 

Hall holds a B.A. with honors in English and comparative literature and a Ph.D. (abd) in Political Science from the University of California, Riverside. In addition to teaching, the author has worked as a day laborer, dynamite crew cliff climber, mortician’s assistant, grocery clerk, bartender and photographer. Hall has been born again once, bankrupted once and jailed four times.

With a partner, he created a successful Manhattan interior design and construction company. The goal of this business venture was to retire and write satirical novels in the tradition of Jonathan Swift, Voltaire and Mark Twain that empower citizens and skewer politicians. He wrote a four-part series for his Web site, www.notinkansas.us, on the health dangers of depleted uranium. The series included “Depleted Uranium For Dummies,” a primer that was reproduced by more than a hundred Web sites in 2006. He was also interviewed on several radio shows and by TV’s Lenny Charles on INN.

Hall has taught English, political science, philosophy, economics and history at a number of California and New York colleges, most recently courses in American History and Research Methods at the State University of New York at Morrisville (Norwich campus).

He is the author of the jumbo political satire, The Einstein Sisters Bag the Flying Monkeys (Not In Kansas Press 2008), and executive producer of the documentary, Onward, Christian Zionists. His latest satirical broadside is “The Butthole Bomber: Dick Cheney's Next Terrorist Threat.” His alter ego, “Reverend Irving” is featured on You Tube.

In 2009, he keynoted several Tea Party demonstrations in central New York. He argued against Glenn Beck’s demonization of the federal government and socialist-baiting. Instead, Hall blamed Wall Street for de-industrializing the United States and destroying its working middle class. He praised America's socialist and populist movements that forced the government to defend the rights and working conditions of common folks against corporate power and profits.

The name of his website, “We're Not in Kansas Anymore!” took on new meaning in 2010. Hall helped organize the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the May 12-14, 1960, anti-HUAC demonstrations in San Francisco. Along with other sexagenarians and septuagenarians, he visited the august marble interior of SF City Hall for the first time since they were hosed, dragged down stairs and jailed fifty years ago. During a formal ceremony at “the scene of the crime” and at subsequent Bay Area gatherings, hundreds of veterans of those events shared their experiences and recounted how their lives were changed by their participation. The city of San Francisco officially apologized for their arrests and proclaimed the historical importance of May 13, 1960.

Hall is an active member of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and continues to be active in his Central New York community. He is also working on several new literary projects.

Click here to read an article, “Irv Hall: Campus Radical” from the May 19, 1970,
edition of the UC Riverside student newspaper, The Highlander.

 

Irving Wesley Hall 1970
Photo by Bruce D. Henderson           
Hall addresses a campus anti-war rally at the University of California, Riverside.

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Copyright © 2004-2007 Irving Wesley Hall