Kenji Yoshino: What is your counsel?

Kenji Yoshino:  The one plea that I really have that we should do more of is to start trying to think about ways in which we can come together and think collectively rather than thinking in very simplistic, group-based identity politics terms. So what do I mean by that? I mean again that if we continue to think in terms of, say, racial groups . . . So if there is African Americans, and Latinos, and Asian Americans, and the various multiracial permutations . . . and Native-Americans and what have you, then it’s gonna be increasingly hard for us to make common cause. That’s just math, right? That’s just these groups are gonna proliferate. People are gonna ask for ever more fine-grained distinctions, as we see with the 63 groups on the census. I think religion is an even better example of this because we can think of an actually infinite number of religions with immigration and coming into this country. And this is the Diana Eck phenomenon I was describing earlier. So what do we do in a polity where it seems like if we affiliate ourselves along these traditional lines – like I have this race; I have this sexual orientation; I have this religion; you know I have this particular disability – we’re only gonna break apart more and more. What do we do? And I think the answer to that is to say stop thinking in terms of civil rights. Start thinking in terms of human rights. Start thinking about the things that we all need as human beings regardless of which of these groups we belong to and try to translate whatever argument you’re trying to make an equality rubric into a liberty-based argument. So don’t talk about, “Build me a wheelchair access ramp because your steps are not good for me.” Argue about how we all have a right to access the court. Don’t argue about, “Oh, gays should have the right to get married.” Argue about don’t you think everybody in this country, to live a good life, needs to be able to make a commitment to the one person they love. You know so that’s really the message that I would have, because it focuses on what binds us together as a people rather than what drives us apart. So what I would love is to see a coalition. I mean it’s not to say . . . Organizing around rights doesn’t mean that you can’t organize around groups because you could have groups that organize themselves around rights. So you could have a right to education movement in this country that cut across very many different kinds of traditional groups like individuals who are indigent; individuals who are racial minorities; individuals who are immigrants; or for other reasons who are not getting good educations. No one would be happier to see that than I would, because what that would mean is that we would understand that what we’re arguing for is something that we want by dint of the fact that we’re human beings rather than by dint of our membership in a particular subset of humanity.

Recorded on: 11/11/07

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try seeing beyond your traditional affiliations.

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Water may be an inevitable result of the process that forms rocky planets

New research identifies an unexpected source for some of earth's water.

Surprising Science
  • A lot of Earth's water is asteroidal in origin, but some of it may come from dissolved solar nebula gas.
  • Our planet hides majority of its water inside: two oceans in the mantle and 4–5 in the core.
  • New reason to suspect that water is abundant throughout the universe.
Keep reading Show less