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I am very excited to welcome Nell Irvin Painter to Harvard bookstore tonight to discuss her new book The History of White people. The Edwards professor of American history America at Princeton Professor Painter is the author of five previous books including creating black Americans and stood Genner truth a life a symbol. Professor painter is a counselor of the Society of American historians and a former president of both the southern Historical Association and the Organization of American story ends. And she is currently pursuing her MFA in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and Professor painters newest book examines the evolution of the concept of a white race the history of white people shows how the definition and significance of whiteness has changed from ancient Greece to modern times and the effects of this shifting notion with particular attention to the impact of whiteness in America. The New York Times called The History of White people and intellectual history with much to teach everyone. And the San Francisco Chronicle called the book perhaps the definitive story of a most curious adjective a scholarly nonpolitical masterpiece. And please join me in welcoming our urban painter.
Well this really is a pleasure to see so many familiar faces and to see the youth. What I'd like to do is read to you for about 17 minutes and then we'll talk. Actually I think I'll just read the whole book. We'll start with the introduction. I might have been titled this book constructions of white Americans from antiquity to the present because it explores a concept that lies within the history of events. I have chosen this strategy because race is an idea not a fact and its questions demand answers from the conceptual rather than the factual realm.
American History offers up a large bounty of commentary on what it means to be nonwhite moving easily between alterations in the meaning of race as color from colored to Negro to Afro-American to black to African-American always associating the notion of blackness with slavery. But little attention has been paid to history's equally confused inflexible discourses on the white races and the old old slave trade from Eastern Europe. I use white races in the plural because for most of the past centuries when race really came down to matters of law. Educated Americans believed in the existence of more than one European race. It is possible and important to investigate that other side of history without trivializing
the history we already know so well. Let me state categorically that while this is not a history in white vs. black I do not by any means underestimate or ignore the overwhelming importance of Black race in America. I am familiar with the truly gigantic literature that explains the meaning importance and honest to God reality of race when it means black. In comparison with this preoccupation statutory and biological definitions of white race remain notoriously vague the leavings of what is not black. But this vagueness does not indicate lack of interest to the contrary. For another vast historical literature much less known today explains the meaning importance and honest to God reality of the existence of white
races. It may seem odd to begin a book on Americans in antiquity a period long before Europeans discovered the Western Hemisphere and thousands of years before the invention of the concept of race. But given the prevalence of the notion that race is permanent Many believe it possible to trace something recognizable as the white race back more than 2000 years. In addition not a few westerners have attempted to racialize antiquity making ancient history into white race history and classics into a lily white field complete with pictures of blonde ancient Greeks. How many of you know that John Singer Sargent mural in the Museum of Art here in Boston with the blonde Apollo and the blonde horses.
The blonde ancient Greek narrative may no longer be taught in schools but it lives on as a myth to be confronted in these pages before launching the trip back to ancient times however it might be useful to make a few remarks about the role of science or science of race. I resist the temptation to place the word science. Even theories and ascertain assertions of the most spurious pernicious or ridiculous kind in quotation marks for the task of deciding what is sound science and what is cultural fantasy. Surely it would quickly become all consuming. Better to know the qualifications of yesterday's scientist than to brand as mere science. There are thoughts that is not stood the test of time. I give scholars of repute in their day pride of place in my pages no matter that some of their thinking has fallen by the wayside.
Today we think of race as a matter of biology. But a second thought reminds us that the meanings of race quickly spill out of merely physical categories. Even in so circumscribed to places one book the meanings of white race speech and the concepts of labor gender and class and images of personal beauty that seldom appear in analyses of race work place a central part in race talk because the people who do the work are likely to be figured as inherently deserving the toil and poverty of laboring status. It is still assumed wrongly that slavery anywhere in the world must rest on a foundation of racial difference. Time and again the better classes have concluded that those people deserve their lot. It must be something within them. Must be something within them that puts them at the bottom. In
modern times to be recognised recognised this kind of reasoning as it relates to black race. But in other times the same logic was applied to people who were white especially when they were impoverished immigrants seeking work. Those at the very bottom were slaves. Slavery is helped construct concepts of white race in two contradictory ways. First American tradition equates whiteness with freedom while consigning blackness to slavery. The history of unfree white people slumbers in popular forgetfulness though white slavery like black slavery moved people around and mixed up human genes on a massive scale. The important demographic rule of the various slave trades is all too often overlooked as a historical force. In the second place the term
Caucasian as a designation for white people originates in concepts of beauty related to the white slave trade from Eastern Europe and whiteness remains imbedded in visions of beauty found it art history and popular culture. Today most Americans Invision whiteness is racially indivisible though ethnically divided. This is a scheme anthropologist laid out in the mid 20th century. By this reckoning there were only three real races. Mongoloid Negroid and Caucasoid oid makes it sound scientific but countless ethnicities Today however biologist and geneticist not to mention literary critics no longer believe in the physical existence of races though they recognize the continuing power of racism.
The belief that races exist and that some are better than others. It took some two centuries to reach this conclusion. After countless racial schemes had spun out countless different numbers of races even of white races and attempts at classification produced frustration. Although science today denies race any standing as objective truth. And the US Census faces taxonomic meltdown. Many Americans cling to race as the unschooled cling to superstition so long as racial discrimination remains a fact of life and statistics can be arranged to support racial difference. The American beliefs and races will endure. But confronted with the actually existing American population its distribution of wealth power and beauty. The notion of American whiteness will continue to evolve as it has since the
creation of the American republic. Chapter One Greek since if the Ns were there white people in antiquity. Certainly some believe so. As the categories we use today could be read backwards over the millennia. People with light skin certainly existed well before our own times. But did anybody think they were white or that their characters are related to their color. No. For neither the idea of race nor the idea of white people had been invented and people skin color did not carry useful meaning. What mattered was where they lived were their lands damp or dry where they are prone to impotence. Were they hard or soft. Could they be seduced by the luxuries of civilised society or were they worriers through and through. What were their habits of
life rather than as white people. Northern Europeans were known by their tribal names Scythians and Celts than Gauls and Germanic. But if one asked say Who are the Scythians the question sets us off down a slippery slope. For over time and especially in earliest times any search for the ancestors of white Americans perforce leads back to non-literate peoples who left no documents describing themselves. Thus we must shift through the intellectual history. Americans claim as Westerners keeping in mind that long before science dictated the terms of human difference as race known before racial scientists began to measure heads and concoct racial theory ancient Greeks and Romans had their own means of describing the peoples of their world as they knew it.
More than two millennia a year more than two millennia ago and inevitably the earliest accounts of our story are told from on high by rulers dominated at a particular time. Power fixes the markers of history. Furthermore any attempt to trace biological ancestry quickly turns into legend for human beings have multiplied so rapidly by one thousand or more times and some two hundred years and by more than thirty two thousand times in three hundred years. Evolutionary biologists now reckon that the six to seven billion people now living share the same small number of ancestors living two or three thousand years ago. These circumstances make nonsense of anybody's pretensions to find a pure racial ancestry. Nor are our notions of western cultural purity any less
spurious without a doubt the sophisticated Egyptian Phoenician Minoan and Persian societies deeply influenced the classical culture of ancient Greece. Would some still imagine as the West's pure and unique source. That story is still to come. For the obsession with purity racial and cultural arose many centuries after the demise of the ancients. Now close your eyes while I read really fast and get you to the back of the book. Chapter Twenty eight. I thought I'd never finished. The fourth enlargement of American whiteness agitating and media dominating as America's civil rights and black power movements were most of the country's white people might have doubted that the
upheaval had much to do with them. They might well have thought that they were individuals who had succeeded by themselves and that race had always meant black people who had not. In fact by the 1960s the whole races of Europe discourse had fallen completely out of fashion. Not while you had your eyes closed and I was reading really fast. We went through the races of Europe part which is late 19th century the first quarter of the 20th century a very important part because it shaped federal legislation dealing with immigration. Books such as William C. Ripley's races of Europe published 1899 once a central reading on race were now remaindered as useless. And in fact I own a copy of this book which comes from the Lowell public library and on the title page is a
big stamp it says. Discard it. And if you were not Jewish calling Jews a race would send you straight into the anti-Semitic column. Reminders that Jews and Italians had been labeled as races a generation earlier might have prompted a retort that race was used more loosely in the past. This is true but every use of race has always been loose whether applied to black white yellow brown red or other. No consensus has ever formed on the number of human races or even on the number of white races criteria constantly shift according to individual taste and political need. It was clear however that in the olden days that is to say the 20th century in the olden days Jim Crow It kept the colored races apart from whites
and African-Americans largely hidden behind segregation veil. Shortly after the end of the Second World War the end of legalized segregation began to propel black people into national visibility as never before. Concurrently other changes were soon to deeply alter American sense of the varied meanings of race. Little noticed at the time the openness of the mid 1960s went well beyond the black white color line. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 the Hart cellar act was specifically crafted to counter earlier Nordic minded immigration statutes especially in terms of Asians. It also allowed for a wider immigration from the Western Hemisphere and from Africa. Therein lay the seeds of demographic revolution. New new immigrants of the post 1965 era
overwhelmingly from outside Europe were up ending American racial conventions. Asians greatly rising in number were rapidly being judged to be smarter and eventually to be richer than native born whites. Latinos form 13 percent of the population by 2000 edging out African-Americans as the most numerous minority. The U.S. Census without peer and scoring the nation's racial makeup had begun to notice Latin Americans in the 1040s by counting up heterogeneous peoples with Spanish surnames and hastily lumping them together as Hispanics. Though an impossibly crude measurement it survived until 1977. By that point the federal government needed more precise racial statistics to enforce civil rights legislation. To this end the Office of
Management and Budget issued statistical statistical policy directive number 15. Here was a change worth noting. In the racially charged decades of the early 20th century governments at all levels had passed laws to separate Americans by race. The Jim Crow segregation was supposed to be separate but equal. In practice it were to discriminate by excluding non-whites from the public sphere. From public institutions whether from library school swimming pools or the ballot box. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 began to change all that so that by the late 20th century the rationale for counting people by race had morphed into a means of keeping track of civil rights enforcement. Statistical policy directive number 15 set the terms for racial and ethnic
classification throughout American society by directing federal agencies including the U.S. Census to collect data according to four races black white american indian SLAs slash Alaska native and Asian Pacific Islander Hawaiian was added later as a concession to protests. So if you protest enough you can get your race in the census. People often ask me you know why do we have just these ones you know make a lot of ruckus and get another one. You could get one for Cambridge. Let's see there was also one ethnic category Hispanic Latino which is not racial. Elaboration was good for civil rights but it opened the way to chaos. Under these guidelines the Hispanic-Latino classification pretended enormous turmoil. Now that there was a non-Hispanic white
category did there not also exist Hispanic white people. Yes. No and other. But just think if you were trying to do with the census faced with the given racial choices on the census of 2000 fully forty two point two percent of Latinos checked some other race rather than black or white. Throw in nearly six percent of Americans into a kind of racial limbo. In addition the U.S. Census of 2000 had to increase. Yes gives me a deeper and more personal recognition of multi racial identities. For the first time respondents were allowed to describe themselves as belonging to one or more of 15 racial
identities. As so often in the past and adding confusion the list of races included nationalities and there's a picture of question 6 from the thank you but I can't because o o. See Figure twenty eight one question six from the U.S. Census of 2000. This expansion now allowed for one hundred and twenty six ethno racial groups or for purists 63 races. It did not take much analytical ability to see that any notion of race lay so deluded as to lose much of its punch and taxonomy was rapidly buckle ing much further under the weight of interracial sex. Somebody complained to me recently that my book has a lot of sex in it
and it does. That's what people do when you know you don't notice sex. If the children you know just are neutral people notice sex. If the children are obviously mixed race children. So if you have a mixed race child it's likely you have sex. So there's nothing new here. America's disorderly sexual habits have always overflowed. Neat racial lines and driven racist thinkers crazy Asians and Native American Indians had the highest rates of interracial marriage but others including African-Americans now often marry and have children with people from outside their racial ethnic group. By 1990 American families were so heterogeneous that one seventh of whites one third of blacks and
four fifths of Asians and one thousand twenty is of Native American Indians were closely related to someone of a different racial group with some 12 percent of young people now calling themselves multi racial. It is expected that by 2050 10 percent of whites and blacks and more than 50 percent of Latinos Asians and Native American Indians will be married to someone outside their racial group. With so many nonwhite and white Americans marrying willy nilly the. The barriers between the progeny of European immigrants have largely disappeared among white people. Three out of four marriages had already crossed ethnic boundaries by 1980. A generation later very few white Americans had four grandparents from the same country. Craft care is European derived American this new man and this also goes to the
part you heard while I was reading really fast had arrived. William S. Ripley had predicted this outcome in one thousand know eight fearing. Above all in harmonious mixing of Italian men and Irish women. But he would have been forced to reconsider his prediction that such a racial mix would make Americans ugly. We have already seen the lowering of racial boundaries starting in the 1940s when ethnic began replacing race as applied to the descendants of European immigrants. The use of racial groups for white people has become a moribund category too partly because white people are so mixed up. Finally the perquisites of mere whiteness count for less in the present situation. While the stigma of blackness once just one drop sufficed to curse the white looking individual also
seems less mortal. You know if you remember the movies were white looking woman. She's really beautiful and she's living a nice life and a nice guy Dr falls in love with her. And then it turns out she has one drop of black blood in her life. You remember that you think that would happen now back in the 20th century white people were soon to be rich or at least middle class as well as more beautiful powerful and smart. Did I hear a snort. As citizens and scholars they said what was needed to be known and monopolized the study of other people with themselves hardly being marked or scrutinized in return. Think of Francis a mossel Walker and William C. Ripley for whom formal education New England ancestry and useful connections assured authority. Half a century
later the upheaval of the civil rights turn the Lookingglass around bringing white people under scrutiny. Think of Malcolm X and James Baldwin. Today the attractive qualities that Saxons Anglo-Saxons Nordics and whites were soon to monopolize are also to be found elsewhere. After a string of nonwhite Mrs America Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce Knowles are celebrated as Hollywood beauties. Veejay Singh Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters I mean this in Syria to dominate elite sports. Robert Johnson founder of the BT network. Bill Cosby and the financier Alphonse Fletcher Jr. have made millions. Oprah Winfrey is rich and famous. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice have been secretaries of state and Alberto Gonzales attorney general. Even more to the point
of uniting power and beauty. Barack Obama is president of the United States. First lady Michelle Obama whose skin color alone would have condemned her to ugliness in the 20th century figures as an icon of beauty and intelligence on the global stage. None of these individuals is white but being white these days is not what it used to be. Thus it is sensible to conclude that the American is undergoing a fourth great enlargement. Although race may still seeing overweening without legal recognition it is less important than in the past. The dark skin who also happened to be rich say people of South Asian African American and Hispanic background and the light of skin from anywhere who are beautiful are now well on the way to inclusion.
Is this the end of race in America at the turn of the 21st century it was starting to look that way. In 1997 the American Association of physical anthropologists urged the American government to phase out the use of race as a data category and substitute ethnic categories instead. You know I've been thinking about that. I don't think that would have made any difference at all. You think it made a difference. And so anyway they urged it. In 1997 a geneticist studying DNA the constituent material of genes that issues instructions to our bodies in response to our surroundings were also concluding that race as a biological category made no sense. The habit of relating heredity to the environment may be traced back to antiquity. But early 19th century racial thinkers turn the notion around deeming race a permanent marker for innate superiority or inferiority.
Not until the 1850s did the influence of environment on heredity get rescued with Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Darwin described a world much older than the biblical 5000 years researching that heredity was not fixed. That generation after generation living things change in response to their surroundings. Arguments over race in the human genome have subsided of late leaving us with some intriguing data about personal appearance. Prevailing racial schemes now rest once again on concepts of skin color. Hence black people and white people. But widely recognized as the fact that not only are black people actually various shades of brown and yellow but so too are white people merely somewhat lighter and often with a lot more pink. As Blumenthal realized in the late 18th century
one group skin color shades gradually into another's. There were no clearly demarcated lines. Some people who identify as black may have lighter colored skin than others who identify as white siblings with the same mother and father can display a range of skin colors. Race may be about pigment. But what makes people skin light or dark skin color is a byproduct of two kinds of melanin red to yellow Faile melanin and dark brown to black. You melanin in reaction to sunlight and several genes interact to make people light or dark reddish brownish or yellowish. Ancient scholars were wiser than they knew when they related skin color to climate. Today's biologists concur. Sunny climates do make people dark skinned and dark cold climates make people want skin.
How much of which sort of melanin people have in their skin and to what degree it is expressed depends entirely over time on exposure to the sun's ultraviolet. Are you the radiation melanin both protects against excessive ultraviolet radiation and allow sufficient uv the radiation to enter the body too much UV the radiation causes skin cancer and can lead to death. Not enough can weaken the bones. Where are we now. Mapping the human genome elicited initial proclamations of human kindred Innes across the globe. Then race talk inscribed racial difference on our genes. That talk has not disappeared. But ideally we would realize that human beings short history relates us all to one another so to speak in racial terms. Incessant human migration has made us all multi
racial. This is mean the human genome or civil rights or desegregation have ended the tyranny of race in America. Almost certainly not the fundamental black white by nary endures even though the category of whiteness or we might say more precisely a category of non blackness. Effectively expands as before the black poor remain outside the concept of the American remain as an alien race of degenerate families. And these terms alien race and degenerate families are terms that come up in the part of the book I read really fast and have to do with poor white families. Multicultural middle class may diversify the suburbs and college campuses but the face of poor segregated inner cities remains black
for quite some time. Many observers have held that money and interracial sex would solve the race problem. And indeed in some cases they have. Nevertheless poverty in a dark skin endures as the opposite of whiteness driven by an age old social yearning to characterize the poor as permanently other and inherently inferior. And here at the book ends that. This is something I don't know about. I know about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which excluded working class Asians. It allowed for diplomats and students to come briefly but not workers. So that was the first race based immigration Exclusion Act in American history. I also know about two cases one in one thousand twenty one and one in one thousand twenty three
of those hours who was Japanese who sued to naturalize because he was white and the judges said you may be white but you're not Caucasian. And then Thind who sued to be naturalized as white and said I'm Caucasian and they said you may be Caucasian but you're not white. Yeah in a sense the explosion of the importance of whiteness is uniquely American or I should say American in the larger sense of the hemisphere based on African slavery. So the black white dichotomy is part of it's a big part of the law of the land but it's not all there is. You're absolutely right that in Europe the Slavs became a much more important group of people to racialize and keep at bay. So
Gobineau for instance was worried about the Slavs. And when his 1850s translators in the American south translated him they were more worried about the blacks. And so they had to really mess up what he had to say about black people. And he thought slavery was bad for the United States they had to take that part out too. So the European stuff doesn't translate seamlessly. But the idea of permanent measurable racial difference does translate though it's use for different people at different times. Yeah it's going to be both bigger and smaller. Bigger in the sense that the Tiger Woods's of the world will be end. And when I say whiteness I mean. Kind of the qualities the good stuff the things you can do. The power of whiteness the beauty of whiteness. And you notice
that Tiger Woods he has gotten uglier since he got into trouble. Yeah yeah yeah yeah. He used to be so beautiful and young and now he's old and ugly. But any rate of this it seems so it's getting bigger but it's also getting smaller in the way that I mention about one to one drop. You know it's no longer enough to kill it off. So as more and more people get in it's going to be worth less and less. Yeah. So you know our country is pathetically unequal in income and pathologically unequal in wealth. And those are the big qualifiers I think in the world to come.
90 percent and 10 percent scientific. What made the alien races of the early 20th century into white people that are old policy the New Deal which mobilized generations of American born voters whose parents and grandparents were immigrants of the so-called alien races. The second world war which needed national unity which also reached out to black people but sought to tamp down the differences between the European races still. And so it's from that moment in the 40s that you get negroid Caucasoid and mongoloid so there are races but they're not the ones you thought. And then just as important is the G.I. Bill which was administered locally on purpose so it meant that in the south
local elites could white line it. Some black guys were able to take advantage of it but proportionally not very many so that really gave the children of the alien races and economic step up. And then the Veterans Administration and the FHA lending policies which until the Fair Housing Act allowed for racial discrimination so the new suburbs of the postwar era like Levittown were for whites only. But they put together Jews Irish Italians Slavs everybody together in the name of whiteness and they were like ninety nine point ninety nine point ninety nine percent white. I said that it's taken on a life of its own in the United States in a way that it has not in other places but the Europeans did use the word white.
So for Linnaeus For instance I mean these people these are people who are writing in Latin I should say. But for Linnaeus in 1758 his he had four different groups of people and designated them by territory. So they were Europeans Africans Asians and Americans. And then when he talked about what it was about them he listed white and he also listed temperament in the 18th century with women but later on in the 18th century with women back in his five races there they still have a geographic basis. But part of what makes the word Caucasian and women balk was the person who applied it to Europeans. Why he used that word was because white people were the most beautiful people in the world. Aren't you glad to know that. What I find so amazing are the people who propagate these things are
just ordinary looking people you know. And I had to look and look and look to try to find Caucasians insert Kassie ends in Georgians who were supposed to be the most beautiful people in the world. When it turns out it's really home variance. But to find images of them. And when you find images Well the first images you find of Caucasians are really old people who eat yogurt and live a long time. So. Anyway it's based on beauty. I think we are more class driven now than back in the 20th century. But I think the relationship of class and race in one person or of one neighborhoods experience really has to do with that neighborhood in that experience. So I don't think there's any one answer remember were 300 and 20 30 40 million people. So there's no one answer but one thing is clear. And that is that race does still count.
Yeah. Yeah that's a big issue. And if I were up to writing for ever or another book it might be interesting to see to what extent. The pattern of Jewish discussion of the assimilation and cultural plurality has shown or has gone the way that black people might go I don't know. I think I'd be really really interesting. But what I didn't remember. Well you probably don't remember but I said very quickly that calling Jews a race if you were not Jewish because there is a discussion among Jews as to whether or not yours are a race. And some people say yes and some people say no and some people say well guess but don't talk about it some people say no but don't talk about you know so that is not a settled question among Jews. What I see in the literature
is. Again a generational shift so that people who are my age born in the 40s might have the sense of kind of being both Kulish and American. But you know not wanting to buy into white American completely. But then children being more comfortable with being white and also more prone to marry out. And then their children being even more comfortable as white. And sometimes if they have say we want to tell you one parent and one Jewish parent they will go around saying I'm Italian kiss me because the idea of being Italian is to be sexy and cute. So it's I see it changing over the generations. I can't generalize for everybody of every age and it's a big enough generalization to do it just by generation.
Antiquity I did decide to go back to antiquity because I felt I needed a longer running time because it was very clear to me from the reasons you mention about bloomin Bok that there's a big back story that's European. So I have a chapter on German the style who almost moved to the United States. They said you wouldn't like it here but you would not like it here. But so I needed to do some European stuff. And the race thinkers in Europe tended to be pretty reactionary. I tended to sew in a whole part of the book that is not their has to do with Greeks ancient Greeks and Germans and Jews actually you know that was a big theme in European race thinking connecting the ancient Greeks to the Germans and then the Germans get connected
to the Saxons to the English and to the Americans and so forth. But over and over again I saw people making arguments about permanence and about and to prove permanence going back to the ancient Greeks. So I went back to the intrigues. And it was really interesting actually. I'm not sure I had read Julius Caesar's. Warren call before. Certainly not carefully and it's a tremendous war story. Also learned about a lot about a person Jeff Doherty is the great hero of the Gauls. Yeah. So there's a lot there. Not at all not at all. I in fact the idea that there are universal connotations of black and white. I categorically reject what I'm finding is a change over time and shifts in meaning. So you can only
find universals if you stand way back and close all of one eye and half of another face. Why are but the meanings of them change over time. Yeah so. So does sex difference not of non whiteness. But they were they were considered alien races. They were white but they were alien races because they were more than. The idea was that there was more than one white race. Those social conditions that prompt rail racialization are poverty and having to do hard dirty work for nothing or for very little. And so the better classes want to stigmatize you and say it's your fault and it's something in you and it's
permanent so get over it. That's the second part of your question the first part of your question about eugenics. Eugenics as I found it came out of a discourse aimed at poor white largely rural families and they were also largely Anglo-Saxon. Admittedly Anglo-Saxon at the time and the justification for sterilizing them became that they had the wrong kind of Anglo-Saxon background. So it turns out there are two kinds of Anglo Saxons. There's the good kind and then there is the degenerate family kind and the degenerate family kind are people who are the descendants of the convicts and the indentured servants and the lower classes who were shipped into the colonies in the 17th and 18th century. So it's still their fault.
Well you know what I think class and race off go together but they're not. It's not either or. And so you can have class privilege but still have race problems but you can also have class privilege that get you out of race problems you know there were two. Again talking about individual experience. As I look around at the Tea Party stuff and the hysteria and the meanness It reminds me actually the early 20th century hysteria over the southern and eastern Europeans and the place that really enunciated that very clearly in the 20s was the Saturday Evening Post. And so there's a cartoon on page liberty bloop where you find this family heedlessly going into the big wave the tidal wave of
immigration. And behind immigration is Bolshevism disease race degeneracy and they mean white people. So you know it's that kind of hysteria which actually ended by closing down immigration and changing the United States tremendously in the 20s and 30s 40s. Thank you.
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Martha Nussbaum: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law
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Distinguished professor of law and philosophy Martha Nussbaum discusses the status of gay rights in the context of constitutional law and her new book, .In , Martha Nussbaum argues that disgust has long been among the fundamental motivations of those who are fighting for legal discrimination against lesbian and gay citizens. When confronted with same-sex acts and relationships, she writes, they experience "a deep aversion akin to that inspired by bodily wastes, slimy insects, and spoiled food--and then cite that very reaction to justify a range of legal restrictions, from sodomy laws to bans on same-sex marriage." Leon Kass, former head of President Bush's President's Council on Bioethics, even argues that this repugnance has an inherent "wisdom," steering us away from destructive choices. Nussbaum believes that the politics of disgust must be confronted directly, for it contradicts the basic principle of the equality of all citizens under the law.
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