Daily Egyptian

Alumnus writes politically charged book about fictional SIU professor

Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

By Kitt Fresa

In 1969 alumnus Michael Stafford’s home in Indiana, there is a wall where fan letters hang; each one is stapled to a dollar bill and asks Stafford to join “the Front.”

“The Front” is part of Stafford’s new book, “Between the Walls of Time,” a story which partially takes place on SIU’s campus. It begins in Vietnam with 1st Lt. Cyrus Kohler, who fights in the last major battle of the Vietnam War, the Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord.

When Kohler returns home from war he marries, returns to college and eventually becomes a philosophy professor at SIU. Kohler teaches and investigates the mystery of the 1969 Old Main arson, which to this day remains unsolved.

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Over the next 30 years in Stafford’s book, which came out in June, Kohler sees the U.S. descend into the “Age of Violence.”

On SIU’s campus, Kohler starts an organization called “the Front.” The Front is a political party that is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, Stafford said.

In the beginning of the book, the Front gets its start as a Registered Student Organization, but Kohler then creates a group of student members that he calls The Council of Ten.

These ten students help Kohler spread the message of the Front across universities in the United States. After years of research and frustration with the government, Kohler and the Front gain national prominence after Kohler gives a series of lectures.

“Millions of people started joining the Front for a dollar,” Stafford said. “The Front called themselves the unbought, they called themselves the middle. Their platform was totally different than any political platform that exists today in The United States of America.”

Stafford said the shifting political atmosphere in America inspired him to write the story.

“I’ve spent the last thirty years watching this descent into madness,” Stafford said. “I’ve watched these people become more wealthy, I’ve watched our citizenry be forced to elect people they have no say in the selection of, and that’s not a democracy. So anyone who thinks we have a democracy needs to give that a second thought.”

Stafford said the frustration he feels with the government is being felt across the country.

“Many Americans do know that our political process is dramatically broken,” Stafford said. “We have enormous polarity. These two parties hate each other.”

In the book, the first lecture Kohler gives talks about the broken American political system. He lays out his ideology, which says national “events” occur on a regular basis, from mass shootings to elections. Events result from a “process,” he says, so in order to change the events, the process must be changed.

“This is a political philosophy,” Stafford said. “The Front, it advocates for social congruence … It advocates for a more informed leadership and a leadership that is unbought.”

The second lecture Kohler gives in the book is about the Doctrine of Limited Rights, which says the rights of society must supersede the rights of an individual. The Front’s whole political doctrine is based on this notion, Stafford said.

“We have 70 million moderates in this country: moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans,” Stafford said. “They are in the middle, they don’t really have anyone to represent them, but now here comes the Front.”

The third lecture Kohler gives explains the Principle of Social Congruence, which Stafford said is a mutual support network established to promote and grow the agendas of three monotheistic religious groups and two political tribes in the book.

After starting the book in 2012, Stafford said he finished it in September 2016.

Born and raised in southern Illinois, Stafford first attended Washington University in 1963 to play basketball on a full scholarship. He said he later transferred to SIU to be closer to his friends, and he went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Stafford will hold a book signing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Bookworm in Carbondale. “Between the Walls of Time” is his first novel, but he said he will later be coming out with three others.

“I always wanted to be a writer,” Stafford said.

Staff writer Kitt Fresa can be reached at [email protected]. 

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