Re: How do you contribute?
Stephen Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He has taught at Yale since 1982. Carter is known for his legal and social policy writings, which include Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby, The Culture of Disbelief, and God's Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics. He has also written novels, including New England White and The Emperor of Ocean Park. Carter's areas of expertise include constitutional law, contracts, intellectual property law, secrets and lying, and law and religion. He clerked for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III of the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals for and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was educated at Stanford University and Yale, where he earned his law degree.
Question: How do you contribute?
Stephen Carter: My proudest achievements are my children. I mean that very sincerely. I think that for a parent the most important thing is preparing the next generation, or helping to prepare the next generation. I’ll be very honest with you. I think that a lot of the public work that I’ve done in my non-fiction writing, it’s been a failure. That is I had an . . . I had a goal in a lot of my writing to try to nudge conversation a little bit closer to a norm in which we actually saw across our differences a common, beloved humanity in those with whom we have strong disagreements. That’s my goal in different ways, whether I’ve been writing about religion and politics, or civility in public life, or a lot of the other books I’ve written – that’s been my general goal. And all I’ve seen, to my despair, is that getting worse instead of better; that day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year, it’s simply getting worse. And so in that sense, I don’t at the moment feel terribly optimistic about our politics. I hope for the best. I pray for the best. I still sometimes work for the best; but I feel that the mission I feel I was on at one point is a mission that did not succeed, and I think really didn’t make much of a difference.
Recorded on: 7/25/07
On finding our commonalities.
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