Jeremi and Zachary, with special guest, Prof. B. Venkat Mani, discuss the refugee crisis in reaction to recent events in Afghanistan
Zachary sets the scene with his poem, “The Airplane With the City Clinging to its Wheels”.
B. Venkat Mani is a Professor of German and World Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is also a Senior Fellow in Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity. He was born and brought up in India and migrated to the US as for graduate education. He researches and teaches German literature, literature of migrants and refugees, and world literature. He is the author, among others of Cosmopolitical Claims(2007) and the multiple award winning Recoding World Literature (2017). He has co-edited a A Companion to World Literature (Wiley Blackwell 2020). His work on racial, ethnic, and religious minorities with a focus on migration has also appeared in The Wire (Hindi), Inside Higher Ed,Telos, and The Hindustan Times. His most recent article is: “Empires Slay, Publics Pay: The Global Refugee Crisis Unfolding in Afghanistan,” Hindustan Times (Aug 22, 2021): https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/empires-slay-publics-pay-the-global-refugee-crisis-unfolding-in-afghanistan-101629631940164.html.
This episode of This is Democracy was mixed and mastered by Morgan Honaker.
- Jeremi SuriProfessor of History at the University of Texas at Austin
This is Democracy. A podcast about the people of the United States, a podcast about citizenship about engaging with politics and the world around you. A podcast about educating yourself on today’s important issues and how to have a voice in what happens next. Welcome to our new episode of This is Democracy. This week we are going to discuss an issue that’s in front of all of us on our tv screens in our newspapers, the refugee crisis, that has actually been a long standing refugee crisis in our contemporary world crisis, made much worse by recent events in Afghanistan. And we are fortunate today to have with us someone who I think is doing some of the most interesting and thoughtful work on understanding the refugee experience, seeing the refugee experience through the eyes of refugees and putting that experience and a broader intellectual framework. This is an old friend colleague and fellow troublemaker, Van Kodmani. Vancouver, thank you for joining us today. Thank you so much for having me, jeremy and Zachary. I’m really excited to be on. This is democracy. I truly think very highly of this podcast is a great owning. Well, we are fortunate to have have you with us today and we know how busy you are. Vancouver is a professor of german and world literature at the University of Wisconsin Madison. He’s also a race, ethnicity and indigenous deity. Senior fellow at the university he was born and brought up in India and he came to the United States for graduate school. That’s actually where he and I met at stanford University. We saw each other in the library, I think week upon week until we finally talked to one another. Absolutely. We were familiar strangers. We were friends before we knew it. Right. That’s true, that’s true, saturday Morning Library goes exactly the only ones they’re exactly. It is for those listening the best time to go the library, you have it to yourself. Uh then cut Researches and teaches german literature the literature of migrants and refugees in multiple societies and world literature is actually a pioneer of the field of world literature. He’s the author of a number of important books, a cosmopolitan claims, which he published about 13, 14 years ago and then a multiple award winning book, recoding World literature. He’s also published a book I highly recommend as an introduction to the field of world literature. It’s called a Companion to World literature and he writes frequently for newspapers and various other publications on multiple continents. The wire, which is in hindi inside Higher education telos, the Hindustan Times. And he most recently published a really thoughtful piece in the hindustan times called Empire Sleigh Publix pay the global refugee crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. Really one of the most thoughtful analysis of this refugee crisis that I’ve seen. We will link that on the website. So you can all go to the hindustan times and read that. So we have a lot to talk about Vancouver. Thank you again for joining us. Thank you very much. Thank you truly. I’m looking forward to this and I’m looking forward also to um listening to Zachary’s poem. Yes, that’s where we go next. You know that? So, Zachary, what is your poem titled Today? The airplane with the city clinging to its wheels. Let’s hear it. A city is like a memory forceful, more potent than a real place and fragile, broken in the span of a second, in the span of a single synapse undone. And the city is like an airplane like an airplane leaving like the airplanes leaving the city to lick its own wounds in its own dust. But the city is also it’s fathers and mothers. It’s daughters and sons, it’s teachers, it’s butchers, it’s taxi drivers, it’s soccer stars. A city is only its people jumbled together on the school bus on a thursday or jumbled together on the tarmac of a runway. The airplane with a city clinging to its wheels. Zachary. Were you inspired by the images of refugees clinging to american aircraft? Yes, very much so. But I was also inspired by uh the tragic now tale of the cultural community in Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan and the vibrancy. The vitality of those communities that are now being slowly dismantled. Van Kit. I think that’s probably a good onramp to our discussion. How should we sitting in our comfortable homes watching this unfold on our screens. How should we understand what’s happening in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan today. I think, first of all, in the words of this wonderful young poet Zachary Suri the airplane with the city clinging to its wheels. I’m I’m truly shaken, moved by the power of these words. Zachary, thank you for sharing this poem with us. Just like he said, you know, it is very much uh this potent image of an airplane taking off and a city with all of its memory. It’s fathers, mothers, um Children jumbled in school buses, all of it um somehow encapsulated in this one. Human being clinging onto something, something to just get out for survival. Knowing how dangerous it is. That is one of the first things that we think how we need to understand these images coming out of Afghanistan now connecting with with the rest of the world as the plane takes off and you know, plane is only for people who can afford it. So, I’ll be talking about some road journeys later on as well, very dangerous ones. But we need to understand what is happening in Afghanistan first of all, as part of a global crisis. So there is a local crisis, but there’s also a global refugee crisis and jeremy, like you said, there’s a longstanding crisis. Um it’s a crisis that can date back to forever because wherever there have been wars, refugees have been created. So, these journeys and I know a while ago, it Zachary also had a poem about the Odyssey, Homer’s Odyssey. So Homer’s odyssey is is very much also about this time a hero coming back home and and there’s this beautiful episode where he is recognized by his own nurse. This return is not allowed is not permissible to a number of people who must leave because if they come back they will be killed or they will have no chances to survive for a number of reasons. So, if you think about it, there are 82.4 million forcibly displaced persons around the world. This is the statistics of the United Nations High Commission for refugees UNhcr And of these, there are internally displaced people. There are um stateless persons and there are refugees, refugees, meaning people whose status as a refugee, the legal status as a refugee has been accepted. Their asylum application has been accepted. So this makes and you’ll be startled to find out there is 1% of the world’s population today is forcibly displaced and a number of them a very large number of them are Children. And that is why the image that I that I am noticed in Zachary’s poem is both admonishing and inspiring because it tells us that there is a future of humanity at stake. It’s not just our generation, it’s the one that comes after us. And then let’s think about this global crisis and come to the local because both of them in today’s world are connected. You know, long talks about globalization of services, of goods of economy of floating monies between nations of multinational companies. All that happens because of human power, it’s the humans that matter the most. So, if you think about Afghanistan, what happens in Afghanistan doesn’t stay in Afghanistan, which means, let’s think about the three kind of crisis that are happening there one, of course, is a political crisis, right? It’s the crisis at the end of a 20 year long war. It’s essentially a crisis of democratic governance. It’s a usurpation of power by force. Second, there’s a social crisis connected to that political crisis. So this one is caused by the fact that the persons who have come to power, their actually religious fundamentalists, right? There are essentially misogynists, so they’re going to and this is not just pointing out at one kind of fundamentalism, any religious fundamentalism be any it can come from um Christianity, Hinduism buddhism. We’ve seen that, you know, in the case of Myanmar, it can come in various different ways, shapes and forms, but essentially it remains anti democratic, it is fundamental, it is fundamentalist, it is totalitarian, so, um and it’s it’s in all of its forms, it’s pretty misogynistic, so that’s where I’m disheartened about this particular social crisis that is happening because as I’ve been reading, I’ve been following Afghanistan very closely, You listen to two women journalists who are scared you listen to non governmental social workers yesterday, there was a story in the BBC about women who have been working for the local municipality in Kabul. And and they are worried about whether or not they should return to work if they should return to work, how should they be dressed? Um you have school Children, you know, Taliban were always against schools and and the Countless bombings in the last 10, 20 years, even after you know, them having been deposed from power, they have attacked school, school Children have died continuously. And this is an area of the world that actually was excellent in education and needs education right in order for its citizens to become part of the nation, part of the world as participating citizens in the world in the text of this global political um you know, economy, global political culture that we have. So um that’s where for me, there’s a scary um social crisis going on and then related to these political crisis and the social crisis is the refugee crisis. And that is like all other refugee crises around the world. So that essentially emanates from these two crises. You know, um the great american author contemporary via time when um as a beautiful essay called on being a refugee, an american and a human being. It’s a beautiful essay and I teach it to when in this s s is so beautifully that, you know, being a refugee means your government has imploded on you. Um basic infrastructure has been brought to not. And that’s where nobody wants to be a refugee. You know, nobody wants to leave anything. Everything behind. People are made into refugees. They become refugees. And so wars conflicts, new conflict zones, they create refugees. So that’s how I think we need to understand this larger arc. Ultimately it is a crisis for human beings who are made into refugees turned into refugees. That’s so well said than could. And one of the challenges, I think many of us find even those of us who are supposed to be experts on global affairs is that our discourse about refugees can be curiously dehumanizing, right? We we can talk about them in terms of numbers or in terms of a problem. Uh, just even using the term crisis, it makes it sound like they’ve done something wrong. Right? So, so one of the things I really revere about your work bank, it is you’ve you’ve devoted your career to bringing out the voices and the perspectives of those who who are refugees. Whether it’s Turkish refugees in Germany and elsewhere. How can we as citizens be attentive And how can we see those voices in our discussions? It’s an excellent question. And they’re one friendly amendment. If I may suggest to think about Turkish migrants as migrants. And then there are of course refugees and and jeremy, I say this. Um, just because the more I work, the more I understand my own privileges. Um, so despite the fact that, you know, I may have come from a lower middle class family, I did not have to leave India in a Jiffy overnight, I had options. I was a part of a Democratic society where things were functioning in the 1990s, I had a passport, nobody prevented me from going anywhere. I wanted not to survive. I wanted to thrive and that is why I came, you know, to the United States for higher education um at stanford. Um this was, it’s not as if those educational opportunities were not available in India, I had a choice. I could choose another country, refugees cannot. And that’s why I’m suggesting this difference, that we all ought to. I understand that there is a very special um kind of uh insecurity that arises that clinging to the um to the wheel of a plane that an entire city and entire archive of memories. Um the fathers mothers, the stories, all of them clink, that’s where I think literature becomes important. So, one of the first experiences in this, um you know, and this is not to um diminish your expertise or expertise of scholarly social scientists in general, because I know that your work, you think about the larger arc if history and our social democratic responsibility um and that for us remains important. But then there is the the emotional, the power of emotions and experiences that comes through literature for me, and that’s where I think the feeling of being scared, The feeling of being utterly helpless and insecure not knowing if and until when one will live And if one ends up surviving how well one live. Will I be executed? Will I be killed? Because of who I am, what I believe in what will happen to my Children. Um, so you know, that is the first set of experiences also documented in literature and I’ll talk a little bit more about it. But I’m just giving you a general sense. I thought it was important for me to convey today two people. What happens when one becomes a refugee overnight then of course, how will I get out? Right, Will I claim to the to the wheel of a plane? I keep coming back to you Zachary because I’m so immersed in your poem right now. Um, but very much like what like Zachary’s poem, You know, the concerns that people have the the trauma of departure, the enigma of arrival. The difficulty of the journey in between. Um, the idea that um, you know, why me, why am I swept by these these large currents of world history. What have I done? You know, that is the kind of experience. So jeremy when you said numbers. Yes. I also cited numbers because it’s important to have an eye on the numbers and see how a large part of our fellow human beings today are refugees. But then comes literature then come these stories and they provide faces. They provide names through these statistics so that every human being can say, hey look, I’m not a number. I am a mother, I’m a father, I’m a sister, I’m a daughter. Um I have a stake in this society. I have hopes, I have dreams, I want to survive. I want to thrive as well. I don’t want to have my entire existence built on whether or not if I go to school, I’ll be bombed to death. So that becomes important. And for me, um first literature becomes the site of documentation of this kind of light plight and trauma, but then something basic human hope human capacity to aspire. Human capacity to grow above these kinds of challenges that resilience and you know, I can never forget this wonderful class that I had um for this course that I teach at at Uw Madison global migrants and refugees. And this was in the midst of a pandemic towards the end of this discourse on global migrants and refugees. And my um we I had an open session I usually do at the end of the course and my students reflected on how now suddenly being locked in these places with these not being allowed to go out being uncertain about the future, waiting for this pandemic time to be over has helped them develop more empathy for refugees who are sometimes stuck for years for entire generations in refugee camps. Right? So there is a way there is a but the hope doesn’t die, That is the beauty, the hope that human existence in built on that somehow I will be able to live. Maybe maybe you’ve given another chance. I think that’s where literature, that’s where these stories that engagement with language through poems, dramas, novels um that becomes important. So, giving a name um a personality um an entire humanity dignity to a person. That’s what literature does. So, you’ve spoken of the modern refugee crisis is something that is deeply rooted in history is something that has been in many ways a constant in human history. But isn’t it also something that’s distinctly modern because these refugee crises are defined by these very strict borders and divisions of labour and and economies that we set up, that that that that keep people out in ways that we haven’t seen before, it’s a fantastic question Zachary. I mean, one thing that I would say that uh political boundaries, territorial demark issues um have been important to all phases of history. And that’s why I was saying that, you know, some kind of political organization that kind of territorial claiming that has traditionally left lead towards that has been part of human history. And if you think about, let’s say, the odyssey of if you think about the Persian epic shot on, um if you think about the epic of Sinjar to the the great epic from from mali, if you think about uh even the Mahabharat, you know, the one of the greatest uh war epics and one of the greatest epics of world literature. Um, that was written in Sanskrit wherever there have been wars. Um, there have been the turn for that in english was fugitive, right? People fled to find refuge somewhere. Now, if we think about modern Nation states, you’re absolutely right Zachary that this her margin Ization of people around the idea of nation. Um, and her marginalization of people around the idea of, let’s say, a majoritarian national identity, a majoritarian culture, a majoritarian language, Right? That singularity that that’s often sort of in modern Nation States. That creates a different kinds of kind of challenges for refugees. So if you think about, um, let’s say in the United States, we know that it’s a multi lingual nation. We know that it’s a multi ethnic nation, a multi religious nation, but then they’re always comes. You know, this idea of um, you know, melting thought something I don’t particularly admire this. This particular metaphor. It’s almost everybody surrenders their differences to become part of something. Right? Um, we can think of it in other terms a bouquet um, smells better. Right? I don’t even know what a melting pot would smell like honestly. But you know, the the idea that the beauty of a nation lies in its heterogeneity. And second coming back to your question Zachary. That any nation on Nation state was also slowly built through slow sedimentation waves of people came, waves of people were displaced? Look at the history of the United States, right? It’s built on forced dispossession of land. It’s built on waves of migrants coming into the country. It’s built on forced migration through slavery of african americans, painful points in history. But they also must be confronted In part of that larger reckoning. And that’s where we can start thinking about refugees who have been pouring into the United States. Think about refugees who came after all of those programs in Eastern Europe. Think about all the refugees who came, you know, in the 1930s during the Nazi regime and built this country. And it goes on. I mean, there are many instances from history. So, yes, on the one hand, These nation states, these borders, they create a lot of problems. On the other hand, this modernity did lead us after the second world. Well, to 1951 and signing of the Geneva Convention and it’s a classic modern, very modern document that I consider that actually effectively changed the discourse of refugees from arbitrary goodwill of nation states or their leaders to a legal obligation of signatory nations, a major major station in global governance. To what extent it’s a deer to is a different story. But refugees have rights today, right? That modern discourse of human rights of dignity and that also cannot be forgotten because hope ultimately, for a person like me is built on rights that I can claim my space in this society. Does that make sense? Zachary? Yes, I think it does and I think it it takes us to another really important question, right? Which is what are the responsibilities that we have? Um as we are watching this crisis unfolding that we hear is those of us who are fortunate enough not to be refugees, at least at this moment in time. Uh and and maybe the we has also the United States as an entity that’s obviously been deeply invested in the politics of Afghanistan and many other regions that are dealing with refugee crises. Now, how do we understand our responsibilities, banker? Excellent question. I mean, first, let me start with what you asked about the United States. Um I think at the level of the government and you said that, you know, it’s been very it’s a super power. Let’s just accept it. And a superpower cannot isolate itself from the rest of the world. So any kind of exceptionalist politics, any kind of I’m closing myself off. I’m an isolation that’s not going to help. And especially at this point of time when U. S. History is so much anchored in histories of other nations. Right? I I am toying around with a term called hyperlinked histories, right? And if you think about a hyperlink, you know, we’ve all read Wikipedia articles. So there’s an anchor text and then when you click on something that leads you to another text that leads you to another text. So, if you think about the history of the United States as the anchor text, it leads to another text. It leads to another text. Us at some point of time seizes to be the anchor text. So, Afghan history, the History of Afghanistan today is connected with the United States, much as the history of Vietnam, the history of Korea Bosnia and Herzegovina. Um they’re all connected to the United States, wherever the United States has intervened or wherever the United States has had any kind of peaceful ties as well. So that’s the first thing on part of the government where I think that uh you know, there’s a there’s a history of acceptance if we really take those words, um, you know, on the statue of liberty seriously the poor and huddled masses, you know, it becomes our responsibility to accept the the poor, um the distraught, the downtrodden, especially if we’ve had some kind of a participation in helping create that refugee situation. And I’m putting it very, very mildly here. Um, but we also have to think about, you know, how many refugees have already mentioned jewish refugees who came in the 19 thirties and forties, but in more recent history, you know, in the seventies, the Vietnamese refugees, the Iranian refugees in the seventies and eighties, those from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also Rwanda Somalia, uh many other parts of the world who came in waves and built this country, right? Um they help create the social text of this country. So that is something that on the governmental level I think this responsibility becomes important, especially if U. S. C. I. S. Still says United States as a nation of immigrants. Then comes the public part. And um I have more to say on that just because one myth that I want to dispel is suddenly everybody has to become a political activists or right to the government or write articles or somehow go and start a movement for the acceptance of refugees. You know, not everybody has to do that. These are important venues. Absolutely do it, do it on twitter, do it on social media, write letters, make phone calls, you know, all of that. But I think of something very very simple that people can also do, which is understanding getting rid of one’s own stereotypes remembering one, one’s own migration history. Thinking that one also came from somewhere at some point of time in one’s own personal passed through family histories. There was a moment when someone became american so that others could claim I was born in the United States. I’m american remembering that migration history of the United States. Um you know, developing empathy. Understanding from people for people from there on you may be different but you’re not evil. That is the most basic human, decent, commonplace thing, common sense thing that someone can do. And of course if you can afford, you know, you can, there’s not just financial donations. I mean, I’m thinking of people who may not have enough time to think about these issues or to educate themselves, but they are craving to do something. Um, there’s of course many, many, you know, find out what is the agency, what is the the place that you trust? So you can make a small donation, A very small one. Um, just to say that I also helped, I also did something. You know, there is the um, there’s UNhcr of course, um, there is calcio aid. They’ve been, it’s based out of England, but it’s it’s everywhere in the world, they do tremendously wonderful stuff for refugees. Um, I know that at least in Madison jewish Social Services has a designated program for refugees. And to find out about such a such program. You know, try to donate money to them or just try to say that it’s not if I’m not doing something now tomorrow, if I meet someone who may tell me that they were a refugee, I’ll be kind to them. How about just that? You don’t have to do anything. Just basic human decency accepting that someone in need can be held helped as maybe I was helped When I was in need. And I say that because, you know, I came as a foreigner in the United States um in mid-1990s, And I was amazed at how many people were willing to help me and I was actually extremely impressed by that. And I took that as the much longer culture of migration of people coming from elsewhere in the United States. So if that can happen, that can that can light that can keep that light of hope alive in someone, um, write helping them out in this race. So there are multiple ways. Sure, sure. And and the the the kindness to strangers. It’s absolutely important part of this. It seems so hard in our world. And maybe this comes back to Zachary’s excellent question, right. A world that’s very much about defining people as in or out. Um, and as on one side or the other, or is one american president put it right, You’re either with us or against us. Uh, a society also that I think is hyper concerned about the absence of sufficient resources and someone else taking our resources whatever that means. And I’m not even sure why there are resources to start with. Right. Um how do you, as a teacher tried to get your students beyond that? Because I think the the opposite of what you, what you called for is too much of the default in our public discourse. How do you counteract that? But tapping on the kindness and generosity of my students, I think that’s my first step by listening to them precisely by dispelling those kinds of myths um, about someone necessarily coming and taking their job away. We all live in a competitive world. And this is where, you know, the, my experience, my formative experience growing up in India, uh post independence India, but in uh the eighties And then going to college in the 90s. Right, that was a very special time. And I’m not saying there are any golden periods, you know, and now we always think about the our period is the best. That’s what I’m trying to do. We’re getting old. That’s yeah, that’s right. That’s right, Yeah. We’re getting uh you know, I I was very fortunate that I I grew up in a time when um secular values were considered very important and capital played a very important, very different role than it did, let’s say in um extremely affluent nations such as um the United States or great Britain, etcetera. So, I point this out because if we think about where these refugees from Afghanistan are going to go, they’re going to go to Pakistan, Pakistan has fenced itself off by the way, very disappointing. They’re going to go into Iran. They’re going to ultimately make their way into Turkey. Some of them would like to come to India. Um, you know, corrupt massive parts of these nations to where resources are very strange. There isn’t basic infrastructural health, um you know, or other kinds of facilities hospitals. I mean, the pandemic has revealed a lot about the whole world. So now you think about the plight of these people going to places that do not have resources, which is where we have to. And this is one of the examples were thinking in a global bird’s eye view perspective about the world, right? Not just thinking about a particular area as disconnected from the rest of the world, but as part of a larger structure. Think about it in terms of, you know, the the periodic table in chemistry, Can I point out at just gold and say, I’m only going to study this. You know, the entire periodic table has to be studied with one metal in relationship to another. It’s in their difference that we learn what this entire table is about. And by the way, I was a very bad chemistry. So I don’t know why I’m thinking about it, but but this is what I think. I tell my students that think of yourselves um not just as residents of City X. Um county Y, but think of yourselves as part of a larger text that goes beyond the nation. That doesn’t disconnect you from the nation where you grew up and you’re proud of. And mind you jeremy, you have international students do at ut austin, right? Staying aware of what one is rooted in where one comes from. But seeing those uh those origins in relation to the rest of the world. And I think that for me with my students to create a very different kind of text where um they themselves take over and join in and create a new text of empathy, which I think is very important. I mean I’m not nostalgic only about the past. I have to say it is the next generation that teaches us a lot. They are the ones who will lead us into a better future and I’m pretty confident of it. And I think that’s where this connection with the next generation, it’s tech savvy. It’s, it’s worldly. They know that they’re going to live in a more and more heterogeneous world in a society where they’ll find people like me, people like others with accents, with other family backgrounds, they might share a neighborhood with them, you know, they get it, they get it. And I think to listen to the students to tap on that um, sense of heterogeneity, to think about that hope together. That’s what I think makes um opening up of this text possible for me. I think that’s so well said Zachary does, does that resonate with you. Do you see um the kindness towards strangers and a broader canvas of understanding of uh migration. Do you see that seeping into your generation and how so well, we’ve been talking a lot lately in, in my high school community about things like microaggressions. And I’ve also personally been reading uh probably more philosophical texts on things like the banality of evil. This idea that so many, so many of the worst things in the universe and and in human history are created by simple acts of ignorance, but I think there’s also the opposite right? There are these micro gestures of compassion that can add up 222 big impacts and to helping lots of people and and some of the greatest gestures in human history are created simply by choosing to listen to people and choosing to reach out. And I think there really is that sense uh in my generation that we need to move beyond the micro aggressions to the micro compassion. Like beautifully said Van Cut, does that resonate with your work as well, beautifully said, this is exactly you know um it’s pretty much sums up my 15 minute disco, so thank you Jeff. Exactly. Uh so no, no no I think we should have, that’s why I was saying this generation is much smarter than we are. Yes, they are, they are and they’re responsible and and uh well first there is of course the distance to right? Um so the ways jeremy, you and I experienced uh 2000 and 1911 is not the way this generation is experiencing it. Right? Secondly, um last year was and I was so happy to see uh to hear Zachary that in your high school community, the word that you used in my husband community, we are discussing that not in my specific class, not in my course X O Y but if that is a discussion going on in the community more power to you all that’s beautiful. Um last year was not just the global pandemic in the United States, it was a year of major racial reckoning, a reckoning coming to terms with our history. Now I may have spent only a quarter of a century in this country and I’m very, very relatively new um to the much longer history of the United States, but at the same time, um, I am part of this political text. So what happens here? I take it as my responsibility as well? I mean both as a person of color, but also as an educator, as a researcher that there is a there is a text of there is a presence of acute um disadvantages that also exists in the United States, racism’s of very specific kinds that exist. Microaggressions of very specific kinds. And it becomes my responsibility to intervene an act in order to build a better society. And I cannot do that alone, which means I need my students, I need my colleagues, I need anyone who will walk two steps with me. And that is why this micro compassion that you mention right Zachary that becomes important. If even for a day, if even for um at some traffic signal or some Walgreens, if one can tap into one’s micro compassion and do something nice undo ones hatred that becomes that becomes a gesture, but more practically I think that is where education in the humanities and social sciences, especially humanities literature, history that for me is very important because if we don’t come to terms with our history, if we don’t recognize history, history of movements, histories of heterogeneity of plurality, if we don’t think about the relevance and ask hard questions about what is essential for us in order to survive peacefully coexist in this larger world. If we don’t have compassion for the person next door, we won’t be able to build compassion for the refugee who is being created right now, thousands of miles away from us. Right? And that is why asking those hard questions. That is why thinking through and some of these basic assumptions of our life, undoing our privileges, unlearning our privileges that becomes important. And I think this resonates so well. Our entire discussion been cut with one of the foundations for thinking about democracy as a historical and philosophical entity, which is how does a society treat the least fortunate the newest arrivals? Um and I think it’s fair to say, I think this is a theme throughout our podcast that our society is at its most democratic, it’s achieving its aims most not when it’s simply producing more money, there’s nothing wrong with that. But when it’s actually helping those who are at least fortunate as you said. So well we all have migrants in our in our D. N. A. Were all the Children of migrants And to think about democracy as not the melting pot of migrants but the community for different migration experiences. I think you’ve done more than anyone else I know to articulate that and to share it with us particularly today and I think it gives us a lot of food for thought. Thank you for joining us today. Thank you so much. I so thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you Zachary. Thank you jeremy and thank you Zachary for your poem. Yes the images. I think it’s embedded in our minds now of the airplane with the city. Very much very much so I couldn’t get out of it when I was thinking of the first answer. So truly powerful. And thank you of course to our listeners for joining us for this episode of this is Democracy. Yeah. Yeah mm. This podcast is produced by the liberal arts I. T. S. Development studio and the College of Liberal Arts at the University of texas at Austin. Okay the music in this episode was written and recorded by Harris Komotini. Stay tuned for a new episode every week you can find this is democracy on apple podcasts, Spotify and stitcher. See you next