Dr. Ronald Takaki was born in the U.S. His family immigrated from Japan in the 1880s. Still, the Norfolk cabbie was surprised Takaki spoke English so well. (More)

The resident faculty didn’t make us search for clues. They said this week they’ll continue a theme from last week.

First our thanks to last week’s guest lecturers. Last Tuesday, Professor of Ecoinsaninsuroscamology winterbanyan dug deeper into the benefits and costs of artificial fertilizer in The Green Revolution. And last Wednesday, glendaw271 debuted at the Morning Feature lectern with Iowa Supreme Court – Still Under Attack For One Decision. Both were excellent discussions and are worth reading if you missed them.

Note: At present, we have no Morning Feature guest lecture scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday (January 11th and 12th). We also have openings for our campus soapbox, Furthermore!, our afternoon people-watching series Midday Matinee, and our evening environmental series Our Earth.

We’ll also add a new category this month: Evening Focus. Like Morning Feature – but more convenient for evening and West Blogistan readers – Evening Focus will allow Authors to explore topics over two or more days. Authors wishing to contribute to Evening Focus should contact NCrissieB. We will work out a posting time and other details by group emails.

If you are already a BPI Author, you will find a complete list of category openings in the Authors Notepad in your Dorm Room. To reserve a slot, type in your user name, topic, and date, and click “Save Notes.” I will remove your note when I add you to our Schedule.

If you are not yet a BPI Author and would like to contribute at BPI, please contact the BPI Webmistress.

Also: Please share your stories of offline activism, including holiday volunteering and/or family Fred Whispering, in Things We Did This Week.

That leaves the resident faculty and their plans to continue a theme from last week. They mentioned this anecdote offered by Dr. Ronald Takaki, at the start of his book A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America:

I had flown from San Francisco to Norfolk and was riding in a taxi to my hotel to attend a conference on multiculturalism. Hundreds of educators from across the country were meeting to discuss the need for greater cultural diversity in the curriculum. My driver and I chatted about the weather and the tourists. The sky was cloudy and Virginia Beach was twenty minutes away. The rearview mirror reflected a white man in his forties. “How long have you been in this country?” he asked. “All my life,” I replied, wincing. “I was born in the United States.” With a strong southern drawl he remarked: “I was wondering, because your English is excellent!” Then, as I had many times before, I explained: “My grandfather came here from Japan in the 1880s. My family has been here, in America, for over a hundred years.” He glanced at me in the mirror. Somehow, I did not look “American” to him; my eyes and complexion looked foreign.

[…] Questions like the one my taxi driver asked me are always jarring, but I can understand why he did not see me as American. He had a narrow but widely shared sense of the past – a history that has viewed American as European in ancestry. “Race,” Toni Morrison explained, has functioned as a “metaphor” necessary to the “construction of American-ness”: in the creation of our national identity, “American” has been defined as “white.”

Race governs several conservative double standards: from who is a terrorist or a Lone Nut to who should have to prove their citizenship during a routine police stop. But race is not the only index for conservative double standards. There is also wealth (bankers’ speculative bets must be bailed out, but troubled homeowners are on their own), sex (sexually active young men are “sowing their wild oats,” but such young women are “sluts”), religion (no one questions whether a city “needs another” Christian church, but one synagogue is plenty and one mosque too many), and sexual orientation (straight couples who hold hands are “still in love,” but LGBT couples who hold hands are “rubbing our noses in it”). And there are others.

As we’ll see this week, such double standards – which we progressives often cite as “hypocrisy” – are central to the conservative worldview. They flow from and reinforce the conservative moral equation we discussed last Friday, with its greater emphasis on Ingroup/Loyalty and Authority/Respect. Those moral values not only excuse double standards; they demand double standards. Conservatives define and reward Ingroup and Authority status in terms of privilege: “A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste.”

So this week we’ll unpack the conservative celebration of privilege, and discuss how we can better argue against that in Fred Whispering.


Happy Monday!