Dr. Jeremi Suri speaks with Augusta Dell’Omo and Chris Rose of the University of Texas at Austin about gender.
As always, Zachary Suri reads an original poem, “A Rochester Summer.”
Augusta Dell’Omo is a doctoral student in History at the University of Texas at Austin. She specializes in U.S. foreign policy during the late Cold War, with a particular focus on U.S.-South African relations and race in American foreign policy. Her dissertation focuses on the intersections between the Reagan administration, televangelism, and the anti-apartheid movement during an ending Cold War. Interested in public history, Augusta contributes to UT’s public history forum, Not Even Past, and acts as an interview and technical director for 15 Minute History, UT’s podcast for students, educators and history buffs. A passionate teacher, Augusta serves as a Supplemental Instruction Supervisor, developing pedagogical techniques for graduate students. Currently, Augusta possesses reading proficiency in German and Italian, and is learning Afrikaans. She graduated with highest distinction and highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (BA 2016) and received an MA in history from UT in May 2018. She tweets @Augusta_Caesar.
Christopher S. Rose is a doctoral candidate (ABD) in Middle Eastern History at the University of Texas at Austin, and an adjunct instructor in Global Studies at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. He is a founding co-host of the podcast 15 Minute History, and is currently (2014-18) president of the Middle East Outreach Council. His dissertation, “Disease, Depravity and Revolution: The Breakdown of Public Health in Egypt, 1914-1919” is a social history of Egypt during the First World War through the lens of public health. Prior to pursuing his PhD, Chris was Assistant Director of UT’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
- Augusta Dell’OmoDoctoral Student in History at the University of Texas at Austin
- Christopher RoseDoctoral Candidate (ABD) in Middle Eastern History at the University of Texas at Austin and Adjunct Instructor in Global Studies at St. Edward's University
- Jeremi SuriProfessor of History at the University of Texas at Austin
♪ (music) ♪
Intro Voices: This is Democracy. A podcast that explores the interracial, intergenerational, and intersectional unheard voices living in the world’s most influential democracy.
Jeremi Suri: Welcome to our new episode today of “This is Democracy.” We’ve spoken in prior episodes about a variety of issues related to current democratic debates on the role of race in our debates about democracy, the role of athletics, and the role of teachers, and today we’re going to talk about an issue that’s in the news quite a lot now, and an issue that is a particularly difficult issue for many people to talk about, gender and democracy. What role do an individual’s sexual choices make, in the ways we think about democracy? How does biology and culture intersect in the way we define who we are and our interactions with others? What is acceptable behavior? What is not?
We’re going to discuss those issues today, with two individuals I have the good fortune of knowing very well, two of our star PhD students at the University of Texas, and two individuals working in fields that are often not, or in the past have not been particularly friendly to those of their genders. Augusta Deloma is a PhD student in history, and she’s working on security issues, foreign policy, particularly US-South African relations in the 1970s and 80s. She’s working in a field that has traditionally been male-dominated. As a young woman, I know she’s thought about these issues a lot and we’ll have a chance to talk to her. And then we also have Christopher Rose, who himself has been very active in the podcast sphere. Chris is a graduate student at the University of Texas. He’s also a lecturer at a variety of universities, St. Edward’s and others in the area. And Chris is working on the modern Middle East, and Chris as a gay man is working in a field that generally has not been, at least publicly, friendly to gay individuals, and certainly in an area of the world that is often not friendly to gay individuals, so we’ll talk about that as well.
But before we talk to Augusta and Chris, we have as always as scene setting poem from Zachary Suri. Zachary, what is your poem about today?
Zachary Suri: It’s about Susan B. Anthony and a tribute to her house in Rochester.
Jeremi: And what’s the title?
Zachary: “A Rochester Summer.”
Jeremi: Fantastic. Well, let’s hear it.
Zachary: Rochester under gloomy skies we ate your Indian food in a suburban strip mall. We sat in your urban convoys and saw your photographs / Rochester’s stalwart of Old Ontario / I walked silently through your most famous house / I saw the closet of Ms. Anthony / Her alligator purse / But Rochester why do I think only of Ithaca? / Why wasn’t I touched by that moment?/ What made me sigh as we waited around the gift shop as mother and sister gathered their quotations, their dolls, and their postcards? / It may be most beloved Rochester that I felt distanced from this reality not yet real / The eyes of man could not take to heart this old remnant / That suffrage was just another suffering to suffer through in a damn classroom too early / It may be, Rochester, that I could not gather the significance as the councilwoman collected her buttons / As the scholar point guard star flipped through the postcards from the middle rack / Rochester with your old flatirons / Could I not see the house on the hill shining / Could I not hear the speeches resounding in the attic rafters / Was it that because I was and am a man I could not hear the ghosts along the sidewalks? / Or was it, Rochester that I refused? / Was it that I could see the ghosts and close my eyes? / Was it that I could hear the lost words but cover my ears? / Was it that I couldn’t remember? / That I could and never would know? / Rochester, on that summer afternoon/ Did I realize my inner judgement / My inner, guilty remembrances / My prejudgments, my pre-convictions, my private revolting notions / But I don’t think so, Rochester / I think I knew all along that it tainted the sunsets / Meddled with the moons.
Jeremi: Wow. That’s very thoughtful. It brings back to memory, walking through Susan B. Anthony’s house. What really motivated this poem, Zachary?
Zachary: Well, I wrote about it because I remembered walking though it and seeing how excited my sister was, and my mom was to be there. And then, I don’t know, I just didn’t find it as interesting as they did, and I was kind of curious why.
Jeremi: And you think it’s because you were less interested in women’s suffrage than your sister and mom?
Zachary: I think so, yeah.
Jeremi: Well that can serve as a good transition for us to talk about a contemporary affairs, the experiences of Susan B. Anthony and other women suffragists in the late 19th century were experiences that changed our society but they were also very controversial experiences. They were subjected, the suffragists were, as were other activists to negative comments and to attacks, personal attacks, many of which we see similar versions of today.
Augusta, how do you navigate this space? You’re not yet seeking a seat on the Supreme Court, but you are operating in a field as you said before where it’s largely been white men who have written the history of foreign policy. How do you think of yourself as a woman who’s also writing on military diplomatic affairs?
Augusta Deloma: Yeah, I mean, it’s a challenge and I think it’s something that as I’ve gone through my graduate career it’s changed a lot , and I think the sort of assumptions I had going into this process are very different than when you’re faced with the reality of being in a particularly male-dominated field that is still male dominated, and is creating more space for scholars to offer something that’s a little bit different than the traditional history, but you do still face resistance. Beyond just my gender, what I work on is a little unconventional. My dissertation doesn’t exactly look at, you know, just state officials talking to state officials. It includes a wide variety of groups and I think that comes from my perspective of seeing this discussion as not representing me, and not representing my thoughts and how I think that other people think about foreign policy.
I think I’ve been very lucky in that at UT, we have a wonderful collection of graduate students and advisers that really foster a community where I have other female graduate students that are my good friends that work in their field and we work together and rally together and elevate each other, and I think probably my biggest takeaway is, I think I had this idea before coming into graduate school because of how our male-dominated society makes women feel, that I could only be the only person at the table. And I think it really took coming to graduate school and seeing wonderful, charitable women who were in the field already, making space for me at that table and bringing me in, and I think that’s where I see my challenge going forward, is continuing to create those spaces for women that come after me, particularly non-white women in making sure that, you know, I’m not just the only one at the table, that there’s more people, that we’re constantly pushing the discussion and that it’s more than just, “Oh look, here’s one person here.” That it’s a real, tangible commitment to acknowledging the brilliant work of women who are already in this field, and who have done such great things for this field before even I showed up.
Jeremi: Right, and being willing to see the field change in its substance, not just in the faces that are around the table.
Augusta: Right, and being comfortable with the kind of change that particularly women scholars and, you know that they’re really advocating for it. Something that takes into account more than just state-by-state interactions. That we’re asking for a broadening of this field that not only includes us physically but intellectually.
Jeremi: How do you deal with self-doubt? Do you have self-doubt and how do you deal with it?
Augusta: I think that, you know, self-doubt for me comes and goes. I think that my greater challenge is when you’re in a situation, and I’m thinking of several where it’s about those moments when you have to insert yourself, and it can feel very uncomfortable, not because you don’t know, but because you’re put in a position where you start discounting yourself. And I’m someone that has a lot of confidence as Chris and Jeremi can attest, but I am younger. I’m 24 and that can also be something where people look at me a certain way and think that I don’t know what I’m talking about. And I think it comes from just a continuous engagement, and not letting people put their presumptions on me and have me let that stand. Right? I can’t control how they think about me. I can’t control really what impression they’re going to have of me, but I will say my peace and I think that sort of continuous involvement and not letting other people speak for me, being proud of my work, being an advocate for myself, being an advocate for other people I think tempers some of that self-doubt. Because I can see the work that I do, and I can see that it matters and I know that I have people that have read my work and think it’s good. And having– you have to keep that sort of kernel for yourself when you’re in these spaces that are particularly male-dominated.
Jeremi: Sure, sure.
Augusta: And that can be a challenge, and that’s why I think it’s great that I’ve had such a great group of people supporting me.
Jeremi: Absolutely. It definitely does take a village in a sense.
Augusta: It really does, and I think that’s– I think one of the most isolating aspects of our sort of male-dominated society is how much it makes women feel alone, and this… I wasn’t alive at that time but I remember seeing the picture when I was thinking back about this period of Anita Hill, alone in front of all those white men. And she wasn’t alone. She had, you know, tons of black women supporting her, but in that moment she was alone, sitting there. And that’s a very resonant image for me because most women can relate to being the only one in the room and having to defend yourself and you have to have that support system because otherwise, it’s just so hard.
Jeremi: Right, right. Chris, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be studying a region that is violently hostile to people in many cases with your sexual preference. How do you do that? How do you think about that?
Christopher Rose: You know, that’s an interesting question, and my field is actually… it attracts people who I think are a little outside of the normal mold. You know, it’s funny because a lot of people associate the Middle East with that sort of hostility toward Westerners or toward people who are different, but there’s also a great sort of toleration for the unspoken. So, as long as, you know, I don’t specifically tell someone outright, they don’t bat an eyelash for example if I happen to be there, and there’s two of us sharing a hotel room. You know, it’s just– it’s unasked.
Jeremi: But that does make you hide who you are.
Jeremi: I know from my experience with you at UT, you’re a very open person. You’re wonderfully open and articulate and often you talk quite a lot–
Augusta: Chatty. (laughs) [crosstalk 11:28]
Jeremi: Yeah, chatty. No, you’re an expressive person. You’re a people person. You’re an extrovert, so that must be hard when you have to not speak about something that’s so central to who you are.
Christopher: It’s true, but, you know, by way of comparison, when I worked at Middle Eastern studies, and went around the state and did teacher training I had the same level of caution, actually, because, you know, I would be in East Texas or down in the Rio Grande Valley, or San Angelo or Abilene, and you know, these are also places where I did not feel comfortable. You know, I’d play the pronoun game, “Oh, my spouse”-this or “I’m married to…” and would not assign a gender to the subject of that sentence.
And so, it’s just one of those things that you have to be aware of, you know, and I’m also older. I’m 43, you know, and I came of age during the AIDS crisis, and I think this is one of those interesting things when Augusta was talking about what it’s like for her generation is, you know, the first and second year students who are in their early twenties, who are gay, their experience is not mine. They’re far m– I didn’t even come out until I was 24, you know. So they’re far more comfortable treating it as a non-issue, whereas for me it was an issue for years and years and years.
Jeremi: How does it affect your scholarship and your teaching?
Christopher: So, as you mentioned, I teach at a Catholic school. You know, it is a liberal Catholic school. Like UT, St. Edwards has a sexual orientation as a protected category of person in its employment contract, and its harassment suits, which is something that we have to do as institutions, because under the State of Texas that is not a protected class. You can be fired for being gay in this state, but it’s also something that I don’t want to make an issue of inadvertently in class. So I’m very careful about what I share about myself, but I also do that I think because, you know, there’s something about the professor-student relationship where they don’t need to have all the information about my private life.
Christopher: But it’s also made me, in my scholarship, very aware of looking at people whose stories are not normally told. My dissertation project actually is I’m looking at the peasant classes. I’m using medicine as a way to try to get there because these are people who didn’t leave records. I’m looking at Egypt during the First World War, but I’m really interested in trying to get more of a diversity of experience.
Jeremi: Right, to bring other voices in.
Christopher: Right, you know, I’m aware of the fact that women are not represented here. I’m aware of the fact that religious minorities are not represented here. And I’m looking for things that go a little bit against the grain. Now, I’m fortunate right now that that’s a trend in scholarship, generally. You know, this is the new thing, although Middle Eastern studies as a field is a little behind everybody else in adopting these things. We still, for example, do not really take scholars who are from the region and publishing in the region seriously, which is not the case with, for example, European studies or South Asian studies or Latin American studies. So, you know, we are ourselves as a field still have a ways to go in that regard, but I would say that I have developed more of an interest in non-traditional stories.
Jeremi: And that’s a way of democratizing the field in a certain sense.
Jeremi: So, for both of you, maybe starting with Augusta, how do you think about ways that your work can move forward to be, in the future, more attentive, more open? What are some of the lessons for our emerging fields? We’re hoping that our democracy, and I think it is, is growing and expanding in its accessibility, in its tolerance, and in its inclusion. So what does that look like in the world that you’re in as a female scholar, Augusta?
Augusta: For my dissertation or for just my general work?
Jeremi: Just being a professor and…
Augusta: Yeah. I think– I kind of think about my work and sort of teaching as almost two halves of the same whole, in terms of what I work on for my dissertation, as Professor Suri mentioned, is I talk about US-South African relations, and I talk about it sort of at the state level as one component. I talk about it at the congressional level, but I also talk about radical grass roots forces, both pro- and anti-apartheid forces, so that includes everything from white supremacists to African Socialists, and so for me, I see that as truly encompassing the spectrum of American democracy. Including that aspects that I think Americans are incredibly uncomfortable talking about. These forces of racism and sexism and sort of rabid intolerance as something that have really never gone away. That simply change form and mutate and become something else and then reemerge in different ways. And I think my work requires– I hope the people that read it an understanding of the kind of vigilance that we have to have and the sort of, I think, cultural laziness that Americans get into of not wanting to think about, you know, “Let’s not think about our past.” And I think one of the things that I’m most happy seeing in my generation and my students that I teach is that they really do want to know and that they really do push and that they ask the tough questions. And I’m teaching right now 50 first-years and they are some of the most inquisitive that I’ve had—
Jeremi: That’s great.
Augusta: And just a real level of not shying away from the issues. We did an activity where we’ve just been reading one of the professors at UT, H. W. Brands, we’ve read his book on the Cold War and I had them evaluate politicians talking about the Cold War based on this book and they did a fantastic job, they’re really bringing a more critical lens into how our leaders want us to talk about democracy and history–
Jeremi: With attention to gender, with attention to the others.
Augusta: With attention to how– what are these men saying about this experience? How does what they say vary from someone like Madeline Albright, what has she seen that they don’t? And I think that all of that requires an idea of the more people that you can actually enfranchise, the so much better these conversations become. And I think that’s something where, in the classroom, I’ve become more attentive to gender, too, as someone that has always been very outspoken. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that’s something I was very fortunate to have and that not all women feel very comfortable in these spaces and creating classrooms where women and students who are not white, students who are gay, feel comfortable talking about issues like foreign policy that are traditionally pretty hostile to their point of view. So…
Jeremi: It seems there’s such a terrible public, sometimes public, stereotype about a safe space. A safe space is not designed to be less rigorous, it’s designed to be more rigorous, but also inclusive and comfortable for people to express their views, right?
Augusta: Yeah and I started college right when this– when the concept of safe space, I think I remember hearing about it really when I was a junior at UNC Chapel Hill and it was so funny to me this sort of hostility from people who weren’t part of that and didn’t see it and they were acting like we aren’t engaging these issues. And, you know, I’m sitting here listening to conversations that are more rigorous and more challenging than anything I’ve ever seen coming out of the Hill.
Jeremi: Right, there you go, that’s great. Chris, how about you?
Christopher: You know, the field is changing quite a bit, Middle Eastern Women Studies is now a thing. There are a lot more studies looking at, for example, the underclasses because Middle Eastern Studies, I think, is one of the last historical sub-fields to really sort of abandon looking only at nobles, I mean they weren’t rich, white men, but they were rich men, usually Muslim because, you know, that happens to be the dominant demographic, but… And so, again, there’s a lot more interest in looking at normal people– “people like us” is the phrase that I tend to use with my students. It’s like we want to know what it– because if we were to imagine ourselves in that time period, right? We’re not going to be the noble class, you know? That’s the 1%, we’re the 99% you know? What is it like for somebody like us who is middle class? Who is, you know, working a job or going to school or this, this, that, and the other– and that sort of normal, everyday study is becoming much more prominent. The program for our big conference, MIDI Studies Conference, looks remarkably different than it did when I first started going 20 years ago.
Jeremi: Wow, wow. Because these issues are more prominent.
Christopher: Because these issues are more prominent– because younger scholars are more interested in them. You know, that other history has been written, there’s not much more to do there.
Jeremi: Yeah. It’s so important to hear this because there are always people in our fields and this doesn’t just have to be academics we’re talking about, who say or lament the loss of traditional topics of study and it’s not that old topics are being abandoned, it’s that we’re widening the frame to include new topics in and connecting those to the old topics.
Augusta: Right and why is it a threat to you that we are asking new questions?
Augusta: I think is kind of where I always–
Jeremi: Why do you feel we have to always study the same things in the same ways?
Augusta: Right, why do you feel that what I’m doing is so impossible that it can’t fit into your mold of what you think history should be?
Christopher: Well you move to the cheese. That’s a phrase that a teacher friend of mine taught me where it’s like, you know, it’s like the rat in the maze, it gets really upset when the cheese gets moved to a new target you know and so, you’ve moved the cheese.
Jeremi: So on this topic of tradition and differing viewpoints and hostility to accessibility–
Christopher: And cheese.
Augusta: And cheese.
Jeremi: And cheese, and cheese, yes. How do you both think about contemporary politics in this context? To what extent do your experiences offer insights and advice for many of our listeners, particularly listeners who are young and concerned about the future of our society and the almost ugliest possible debates we’re having now about sexual harassment and things of that sort? How do you think people should talk about these issues? What are some positive ways we can expand and improve our democratic conversation about gender and politics around the Supreme Court, around the Presidency, around Congress, around all these issues?
Christopher: That what we’re seeing is sort of a social backlash against the fact that these things are more accepted, that they are more talked about–
Jeremi: A backlash against women, a backlash against gays.
Christopher: Yeah, against gays, against people of color, against, you know, that’s– I think what a lot of this whole idea of “Making America Great Again” is, is “Wasn’t it so much simpler before things were this complicated?” Well if you happened to be a white man, of course, you know? It was all about you and so I think that there is something to be said. Now this isn’t also to say that we can’t just ignore all of these conversations and say “Oh well, you know, you’re losing out, just get over it” because, you know, we’ve seen what the result of that sort of pent-up anger is–
Jeremi: That’s not always clear that that anger is losing.
Christopher: Right, exactly. But, you know, at the same time– as we were talking before we started recording, you know, I remember the Anita Hill testimony, you know? In the early 90s, I remember the Monica Lewinsky trials, the tenure and the tone of those conversations was radically different, there were no marches in front of the Supreme Court for Anita Hill. She was up there by herself and Monica Lewinsky was a punchline on Saturday Night Live. Now, you know, we can argue about whether or not it’s because she had a consensual relationship with the president and it wasn’t some sort of assault, but I think at that point we’re splitting hairs, you know? And so there is more of a national conversation about this, but at the same time, you have, you know, for example, the interview that was aired, I think over the weekend where you had a bunch of women of a certain age who are saying, “Well what boy hasn’t done that?” you know, in reference to the accusation of teenage assault. And, you know, and I on the one hand, I understand why that’s their perspective, on the other hand, that’s not okay, you know?
Jeremi: So you think this needs to be called out?
Christopher: I do think that this needs to be called out.
Jeremi: I agree.
Christopher: You know, because ultimately what this is all about is it’s a demand for dignity, right? It’s a demand women, people of color, sexual minorities, religious minorities, are speaking up and saying, literally, me too, we are part of this country, too, this is also, you know? And we want to be taken seriously and given our dignity and when you suggest, “Oh that’s just what boys do,” you’re denying the legitimacy of that claim.
Jeremi: Gotcha, Augusta, how do you think about– particularly this claim “boys will be boys” and, you know, we have to continue to respect the way people behave in traditional ways?
Augusta: I– it’s so hard to even think about where to begin with this because it’s just, it’s just, you know… I think one of the greatest things that has been most upsetting for me, in all of this is watching people that I respect and look up to and admire, whether it’s politicians, whether it’s, you know, different professors in academia, whether it’s people in business, whether it’s people in my personal life just continual let women down. Right? That there is a certain sense of, I think, to really make a change we have to move past conversation and really start thinking about how are we going to actually hold people accountable for this kind of behavior? One of the things that I’ve been most frustrated with I think in this #MeToo dialogue is people, when they say to me, “But we have held them accountable, you know, Harvey Weinstein lost his business or Louis C. K. is now not preforming comedy,” and in my mind I’m like, “Well, what real punishment did they suffer, you know? He’s still living on his island, he still has certain things– these women’s lives are completely destroyed.”
And one of– something that I read that I really, it really resonated with me is “How much more are we going to protect men’s “genius” and not acknowledge the way that they perhaps deprived the genius of others?” Right? How many times do women have to be told, you know, “Not right now, you’ll ruin his future,” but then if you tell them, you talk about it later, it’s “Now you’re bringing up things that are from the past.” That there’s no right time, there never is a right moment for a woman to express the kind of treatment or hostility that she’s faced and I think the real challenge that women deal with is not, you know, we know how we will be talked about, right? We understand how our society will probably portray us, I think it is the actions of our friends that we fear the most. The people that don’t believe you and that don’t stand by you.
And I think to really move forward in this conversation, I think Americans have to have a sort of standard of accountability. That we need to hold these people accountable, people like Kavanaugh because I think Kavanaugh is a perfect example of the real trauma that women experience every day, right? It’s not this idea that someone is assaulted in an alley by a stranger, it’s people they know, it’s these cultures that enable it to happen and I think it requires accountability, not just from the state, but in your personal life, right? I think that we all have to hold each other accountable and I think that’s something that is needed now.
Jeremi: But how do we deal with the different perspectives– taking the case of Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, some will see an act as an act of harassment and some will see that same act as something not so serious. Chris referred to these interviews where even some mothers said “Well, boys will be boys.” So how do we deal with these radically different perspectives on the same activity?
Augusta: I’m not sure because I think in my heart of hearts I, you know, I can see what those actions have done to people I know that those labels of “boys will be boys” will apply to and I can’t emotionally stomach that. But I do think that we have a real opportunity with how we teach this new generation of college students that are really coming into these issues of high schoolers– I think we can talk about consent in ways that are better. I think we can talk about relationships between genders in ways that are better. I think we need to be more open, I think one of the things that these dark, sort of, I don’t know the word– like encroaching, creeping lines and barriers have just hidden away for a very long time and this has kind of blown the door off what a lot of women have experienced for years. And so I think we need to shine more light in those places, have more conversations, but at the same time, that can’t just come from women, it can’t just come from women baring their trauma because they’ve already experienced it and they shouldn’t have to. If you want to, you know, I have so much respect for the kind of bravery that it requires, but I think it’s a commitment from all Americans to say, “We are not going to tolerate this behavior and we’re going to pay more attention to what goes on, not less.”
Jeremi: And it’s why, in the end, we’re all historians, right? Which is because it’s through history that, in some ways, we uncover the ugliness and in seeing the ugliness we can find and shine light on the goodness, too, right? And remember what appropriate and good behavior looks like and that’s an essential quality in democracy. Zachary, as someone who I know has been talking about these issues at home with us of course, but also in middle school, how do you and your friends think about these issues? How do you talk about them?
Zachary: I mean I feel like, I don’t think that my friends and I talk about it in a very, like I don’t think we talk about it from any like bias, I think that’s like really different. Like one of my best friends is like really into feminism and that’s like one of his favorite things to talk about. And I don’t think there’s ever a question at my school of girls and boys are equal and I just don’t think that that’s really a problem with my friends.
Jeremi: So you see a better conversation among the youngest of our citizens in some ways?
Jeremi: Well, that’s a very positive note to finish on, I wanted to ask you one last question, Zachary. Are you uncomfortable, you and your generation seeing these kinds of issues discussed, or do you find it empowering to see these issues discussed and– because it’s in front of us every day in a way it wasn’t when I was your age, or even when Augusta was your age.
Zachary: I mean I think it’s a good thing because I think it helps us understand, like, I think it’s like a teaching moment and it teaches us about these issues that we would normally not talk about.
Zachary: And if, yeah, and I think if someone of like our generation is faced with something as horrible as this in the future, other people– hopefully our generation will be more willing to hear it and talk about it.
Jeremi: Right, which takes us full circle to Susan B. Anthony in Rochester because one of the strongest arguments the women’s suffragists and the various suffragists for different excluded groups made, the argument they made in the 19th-century was an argument that inclusion was not simply about individual rights, it was about improving the democratic conversation. That our society would address issues it did not address when people who were left out were now included and that bad behavior, in the way Augusta described it so eloquently, that bad behavior would be understood and held accountable when you brought in the conversation. And that’s I think the moment we’re in now, this conversation today, I think, has first of all shown how, despite what we see on television, there’s actually a very sophisticated conversation going on in some of the places that people criticize unfairly– in our schools, in our academic circles, in our personal circles, and that safe spaces are not spaces that are hidden from controversial discussion, those are the places where these conversations are occurring. There are no easy solutions, but democracy is about confronting a history in the present of the ugliness and the difficult and trying to work through it and I think we made some progress today. Thank you for joining us and thank you for being so willing to talk about what are difficult issues and we are continuing to move forward on our show here, and I’m particularly excited that we’re expanding the range of democracy. “This is Democracy,” please join us for our next episode, thank you.
Speaker 1: This podcast is produced by the Liberal Arts Development Studio and the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.
Speaker 2: The music in this episode was written and recorded by Harrison Lemke and you can find his music at HarrisonLemke.com.
Speaker 3: Subscribe and stay tuned for a new episode every Thursday, featuring new perspectives on democracy.