Chuck (Grassley) called my mom……

Representative (now Senator) Chuck Grassley called my mother when I was 18 years old.  Why?  I had just graduated from the Capitol Page School, with the nation’s highest-paid teachers in terms of money per student, with a 99.999999% graduation rate not just from high school but from some of the best universities in our nation.  I ratted the school out for the inferior instruction it offered.*  Congressman Grassley said my mother should be proud of me for being a whistleblower — and I guess he knew what I had weathered.  I don’t know. A good friend of mine says he is evil.  She is a litigator and understands how Grassley is gaslighting Professor Christine Blasey Ford.  I agree — what could I say other than “he called my mother”?  But to be honest, when he called my mother, she was not impressed, as I remember.  Only impressed enough to relay the quick call.  I didn’t think a thing about it until I spoke with my litigator friend (why would I?) — he became a Senator, and while he supports whistleblowers, they are largely the ones who whistle the Republican tune.  Look what he’s doing to Ford now! When it came time for college, most of my relatives faced a choice — the farm (Stanford) versus the city (Berkeley).  For me, the choice was not the farm versus the city.  My mom wanted me to go to a small women’s liberal-arts school, preferably the one she had attended, not one of those Seven Sisters schools.  Not only the Sister schools were excluded; my mom was also down on the Ivies, even though my ancestor helped start one — a proFESSor of religion, no less, helped found Brown University by proFESSing religion at the Hopewell Academy, which later moved to Rhode Island (Anabaptist country). No one was going to the East Coast Establishment. Meanwhile, Stanford — where they ruined women, I was told — and anything east of Los Angeles were out.  So I came home, back West to California, as was appropriate.  My mother managed to get me/allow me (she had no control, since I was writing my own applications far from home) to go to an all-male college that was turning co-ed.  Now that was no fun -— or was it fun?  Actually, I enjoyed it.  It had been Claremont Men’s College, and after coeducation they found a donor whose name began with M, and it became Claremont McKenna College, preserving the CMC acronym. But first they had to deal with the GCO Club — Get Cunts Out — of diehard misogynists.  Seems kinda like the club that Brett Kavanagh would join — or was that only in high school? Why won’t he allow the FBI to do a full investigation, anyhow?  Why does he want to enter the Supreme Court with a rapist cloud over his head?  After all, Clarence Thomas didn’t even speak in court for over a decade, knowing how little credibility he had/has.  Who made the last phone call to Anita — his wife, no less?  Wasn’t that bizarre?  My only guess would be she got hammered one night and is still mad about how Clarence cheated on her — or didn’t tell her the full story that she knows/suspects, and that’s about his predilection for pornography. —————– * I ratted them out despite being threatened in front of the whole school for maligning a 150-year-old institution, since I was the rat “going” over there — the Doorkeeper’s Door — and complaining that we weren’t getting enough education.  All the House of Representatives pages followed the few Senate pages’ problem — that pages could no longer go to school from 6:00 to 9:00, but instead from 6:00 to 6:30 or 7:00, including the breakfast break.  Then they reduced our classes to five, but we still only got as far as roll call before leaving.  I was in school, yet I was learning absolutely nothing, and the principal’s and vice principal’s defense was — anyway, full circle.  I ratted them out.  I was not the first or the last, and it was under Speaker of the House John Boehner that they got rid of House pages in 2011.

White Nationalists Are Wrong, ‘European’ Does Not Mean ‘White’ by Diego von Vacono

Image: Harsimran Singh
Texas A&M student Harsimran Singh, from India, signs a message board outside Kyle Field where an “Aggies United” event is scheduled for Tuesday evening at Texas A&M University Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, in College Station, Texas. David J. Phillip / AP

By Diego von Vacano

Published by NBC News

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — White nationalists are not just using divisive language, but they’re also using incorrect terms. The latest one is “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer’s use of “European” as a substitute for white.

On Dec. 6 I attended Spencer’s controversial talk at Texas A&M University, where I teach political theory and ethics. Most of my colleagues joined the boycott of his visit and were part of the large protest group that rejected his hate speech.

As a political theorist, I wanted to hear what Spencer had to say, knowing that he had been a graduate student in intellectual history at the University of Chicago and Duke University, well-respected institutions in my field of study.

Since I teach “Immigration Ethics” and “Latin American Political Thought,” I told my students to attend either the talk or the protests, including the well-organized “Aggies United” event at the football stadium to counter Spencer’s divisive speech.

Race is a central topic of discussion in my classes, so most of the students found it amazing that white nationalist ideas were going to be discussed at major national university, especially one at a majority-minority state.

Before Spencer’s talk even started, crowds waited in long lines. We could hear a growing number of protesters, megaphones, and chanting against the public voicing of ideas that seem straight out of a rally at Nuremberg in 1938.

The protesters swelled to a huge crowd of hundreds, while riot police attempted to control them, sometimes with excessive force, at the entrance to the student center, where the speech was going to take place.

Inside the ballroom full of hundreds of people, Spencer proceeded to speak. He said America “belonged to white men,” and kept repeating that he was a “European,” equating “Europeans” with the “white race.”

After he said this about four times, I could not hold back and yelled out, “Europeans are not a race.” He heard me clearly, since I was sitting to his left, in the front row. He responded by saying “Europe is also a place.” With this non sequitur, it was obvious to me now that he is an intellectual lightweight.

Teaching Latin American theories of race has made me realize that most of these white nationalist types do not understand that race is a fluid, permeable category that is made through political and social processes. Spencer has attached himself to an outmoded concept of racial identity that sees it as fixed and immutable and possessing hard boundaries.

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That hierarchy of race that he adheres to begs the question: If other, non-white races are inferior to so-called ‘whites,’ then is there an internal hierarchy within this putative ‘white’ race? Are some ‘white’ groups superior to others that seem ‘less-white’?

For instance, are all Finns superior to all Iberians, who tend to be of a darker skin tone? Is a low-education Swede automatically “better” than an intelligent, highly-educated tan-colored Greek? Alternatively, didn’t a ‘darker’ Latin peoples, the Romans, conquer and civilize less-developed barbarian tribes of Britons?

Britain itself is made up of highly-intermixed peoples, the product of encounters with Romans, Angles, Saxons, Normans, Danes, Gaelic Celts, Jutes, Frisians, etc. We also see this in countries such as Spain, where Moors, Jews, Roma, Celts, Basques, Catalans, African Guanches, and others coexisted and undoubtedly intermixed for centuries. As the early twentieth-century Venezuelan sociologistLaureano Vallenilla Lanz said in 1919, there is no purity of race in Spain.

This idea was grounded in the prescient words of Cuba’s founder, Jose Martí, when he uttered the words “there are no races” in 1891. These Latin American perspectives on race lay bare the absurd claims of alt-right demagogues. For Martí, Cubans were an amalgam of racial and ethnic origins.

Similarly, we could say that Americans (in the U.S.) are not simply “Europeans.” In the U.S., Anglo-Saxons mixed with the Irish, Germans and Scandinavians, groups that used to be considered separate “races” within Europe in earlier times, as the historian Nell Irvin Painter tells us in her 2011 work The History of White People.

All this goes to show that the best defense against incendiary racial rhetoric is education. The more we know about the fluidity and synthetic nature of racial identities, the more we will see the empty shell that is the language of the “alt-right” or white nationalism.

Students throughout the country ought to learn about not just racial mixing in the U.S., but also about fluid racial lines throughout the world. And Latino immigrants coming to the U.S. should not lose the more malleable conceptions of race that are present in thinkers such as Bartolomé de las Casas and José Vasconcelos.

To be sure, racism and hierarchy exist in Latin America and some of its history of ideas. But some traditions from Latin America that see race as always changing and as the product of inter-mixed ethnic origins are a good starting point to disarticulate the longstanding idea that races are rigid categories, what W.E.B. Du Bois called the “color line.”

Texas A&M’s president Michael Young must be lauded for his immediate response to the Spencer affront. The Aggies United event, a celebration of Texas A&M’s diversity and growing awareness that race matters, was an excellent idea.

Going forward, major national universities ought to also be more proactive. Many of the students in my class said that we must be ready before these inflammatory events occur.

The best way to do this is to invest in enhancing diversity at the faculty, student, staff, and administrative levels. We need to choose heads of departments who value cultural pluralism and promote the best professors to the highest levels of the university, especially those of minority groups that have shown academic excellence.

As students in my immigration ethics class voiced this week, these changes ought to occur now, not only after provocateurs like Spencer tarnish our public sphere with divisive, and simply incorrect, ideas.