Romano: Radicalism, philosophical thinking can work hand in hand

Laurence Léveillé | Staff Writer

Eric Shea | Staff Photographer
Carlin Romano, award-winning literary critic, lectures on the history of radicalism in America Monday morning in the Amphitheater.

A radical is the root of a chord in music, the root of a number in mathematics, the root of a plant in botany. Through the centuries, it has become the reflection of an idea as a whole.

“It should not surprise that no less than Karl Marx in 1844 said that ‘To be radical is to grasp the matter by its roots,’” said literary critic Carlin Romano.

True radicals — whether in politics, science, arts, literature or architecture — must take ideas as they are, reflect on them and head toward a new direction, he said.

Romano, professor of philosophy and humanities at Ursinus College, gave a lecture titled “America the Radical” during Monday’s morning lecture in the Amphitheater to begin Week Eight, themed “Radicalism.”

Romano began his lecture with a variety of examples of who could be considered a radical.

Before Thaddeus Stevens died in 1868, he requested to be buried in an integrated cemetery in Lancaster, Pa., which reflected his views regarding the equality of men during that time period.

In the 1800s, Thomas Skidmore believed in dividing all property in the world equally — there would no landlords, borrowers or lenders.

Frances Wright was the first woman to lecture before audiences of both sexes. She argued for feminism, secularism, sexual freedom and radical abolitionism, Romano said. She was dubbed “The Great Red Harlot of Infidelity.”

Ernestine Rose came to the United States and joined the abolitionist cause. In 1854, she became the president of the National Women’s Rights Convention. She argued all children are atheist, and they would remain so if religion were not placed in their minds.

Many at Chautauqua might disagree on which examples do or do not count as radicals, Romano said.

“The criteria for being a radical in American life are not entirely clear, but they’re not entirely murky either,” he said.

Throughout his lecture, Romano discussed the negative and positive criteria of radicalism, beginning with the negatives: impracticality, ineffectiveness, dangerousness, inclination to violence and mediocrity.

By considering what people have said about radicals and radicalism, Romano said, individuals can develop an idea of the criteria and conditions behind the word.

For example, during a radio address to the New York Herald Tribune Forum on Oct. 26, 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “A radical is a man with both feet planted — in the air.”

FDR’s definition introduces individuals to one aspect of radicalism, Romano said: “Its lack of practical judgment, its fancifulness, its ineffectiveness in the real world, its inferiority to a more sensible kind of liberal progressiveness.”

Woodrow Wilson expressed a different aspect of radicalism, Romano said. In a Jan. 29, 1911, speech, Wilson said radicals were individuals who go too far.

“In that snippet, we hear the hint of radicalism’s danger, its extremism, its threat to how we want things to be,” Romano said.

In the political realm, he said, the most feared extremism is violence or the endorsement of violence to achieve political ends. Napoleon Bonaparte said, “A revolution is an opinion backed by bayonets.”

In the American context, Romano said, when radicalism and violence have been combined, it can provoke more antipathy toward violence, which adds to the strain of political radicalism.

Another negative aspect of radicalism is mediocrity, or the idea that the radical is someone who has failed to succeed within the system, Romano said.

“Is the coexistence of these negative aspects and criteria of radicalism part of the richness of the word?” Romano said. “Here again, we’re informed by how writers and thinkers have spoken about the radical.”

Radicalism is needed for people to make a better world, he said. British historian A.J.P. Taylor wrote that changes and advances in history have been a result of the nonconformists, Romano said.

Another positive aspect of radicalism is its need for courage, as exemplified by Frederick Douglass. Romano read a quote Douglass wrote in 1855 regarding the trait.

“He is whipped oftenest, who is whipped easiest,” Romano read, “and that slave who has the courage to stand up for himself against the overseer, although he may have many hard stripes at the first, becomes, in the end, a freeman.”

Radicalism’s heroes, icons and role models allow it to glow, Romano said. One such icon is Jesus Christ, who was a radical to the communities during his time.

“Is it ultimately so blurry a concept that it can be anything to anyone?” Romano asked.

From his perspective, radicalism does not require rejection of the norm, but a willingness to consider the roots of an issue, idea or policy. It also needs a willingness to make changes if necessary or overturn what is found to be unacceptable.

“Radicalism, in short, is not ultimately what one does as a result of pondering or questioning, but the way one ponders it,” Romano said. “It is by reflecting on the roots of something in the broadest way possible that we become radical.”

With the idea that radicals can extend throughout a variety of areas, radicalism can be viewed as philosophical, Romano said. For example, individuals can choose not to take “yes” for an answer until they have looked into policies, beliefs, ideologies and more, he said.

Radicalism is also what people do when they are open-minded and willing to learn about the root of issues and ideas.

“Such usage is much better than using radical and politics as a flat sort of synonym at times for anarchist, or terrorist, or left- or right-wing extremist on one issue or another,” Romano said.

A radical is a thinker that forces others to focus on what his or her spectrum of thought is, he said. Radicals have allowed people to think about their positions and to consider new ones or to strengthen old ones.

Individuals have a choice regarding the meaning of radical and radicalism, Romano said. They can view radicals as political activists who seek change, endorse violence and will not compromise. Or, they can bring radicalism back to its roots and approach issues in a philosophical manner, he said.

“If that takes hold,” he said, “we can say that ‘America the Radical’ is actually ‘America the Philosophical’ expressed in a different way.”


Editor’s note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: It’s interesting to me how you cited several people in the issues of abolition and at the front end made some commentary about the remnants of the Black Panther movement. What is your sense about the current expressions about radicalism within the context of minorities in this country?

A: I guess, briefly, I’d say I’m happy that the kind of braggart-ism about violence that was a part of radicalism in the ‘60s has largely disappeared. It seems to me that it’s not as powerful as it was in the ‘60s, because, I think, journalists for more than 30 years, in addition to what I’ve done in academia — I think any journalist, any real world person, can tell you that whenever violence breaks out anywhere, there’s a ton of injustice. A lot of the wrong people get killed. A lot of the wrong people get hurt. There’s no way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. One of the great problems in the theory of justice when you think about it hard in philosophy is when you consider how many injustices have taken place in the history of the world, “How could any theory, how could any activity, make that right again?” It’s not possible. And that’s why some people think you actually have to forget a lot of injustice to actually make a better world in the future. But on the whole, I think, it’s a good thing for American society that the connection of radicalism — in the sense I’m suggesting of really thinking things through completely — and violence has withered.

Q: Radicals could be viewed as intruding on other values. How is that different than controversial? Must a radical have a need to change the status quo?

A: I suppose you have thinkers who, just for the joy of thinking, are happy to look at any system — a government, artistic theory or so on — from its roots and consider how it should be changed. But to link it back to what I just said about justice, I would think most radicals of any sort have to have a stronger motivation than that. One of the books that most impressed me in the years when I was reading a lot about justice is a book called The Grammar of Justice. I hope I’m remembering her name right; I believe the author’s name is Elizabeth Wolgast, philosophy professor in California. She was arguing against a lot of these top-down male theorists of justice — like John Rawls — who set out a lot of principles of justice and then derive a theory from that. She had the wonderful idea of saying, “Justice theory really doesn’t begin in thinking about justice. It begins in thinking about injustice, and actually it begins in acts of injustice.” People feel they’ve been done wrong. And then they need to try to understand why they think they’ve been done wrong. And justice theory develops out of that. So I think it’s the same with radicalism: Probably there’s a greater motivation to question any sort of system writ-large, if you feel it’s wrong in some way — immoral, improperly structured, and so on.

Q: What value, if any, do you find in the Foucault-Chomsky debate on justice and power?

A: If you look at my book, you’ll see I have a section on Chomsky, and it’s not very friendly. I don’t like Chomsky very much — I think he’s very unfair in the way he weights evidence and the way he considers the motivations of American policymakers versus other policymakers. I’m not saying he’s wrong on everything, but I think he’s a tremendously smug thinker when it comes to politics. He’s not a consistent one. I guess the best answer I can give to people about my view of him would be read the very short section about him in my book.

Q: You referred to Heidegger earlier. Would you not admit that he was a radical? He held a radical place in Western philosophy, whether European or American.

A: I don’t think I referred to Heidegger, but I actually had a big controversy a couple of years ago when I wrote a piece for the Chronicle (of Higher Education), whose headline was “Heil Heidegger.” As many of you probably know, Heidegger was a quite committed Nazi. In the early years after the war, there was the thought that he was just the dupe of the Nazis, but increasingly scholarship has shown and documentary filmmakers have shown that he was a fervent Nazi and he did not really back off from that much in the years afterward. Of course, that is a very complicated thin;, he can be seen as radical in the tradition of German philosophy as going back to the ancients and his concentration on being in the very peculiar way that he construed being. So I certainly would be willing to accept the idea that Heidegger is a radical in my sense of looking at big pictures. I think he looks at big pictures and then pours a lot of paint on them and makes everything hard to understand, but that’s another matter.

Q: Is it harder to take an effective radical stand in 21st century America than it was in earlier times?

A: That’s a complicated question. In some ways I think it’s easier, because of the communications revolution. We just have an enormous increase in the ability of any individual person to be heard in the society. It’s been said — it’s an endless cliché now — the gatekeepers have lost a lot of their power. So when it comes to the projection of one’s ideas in the society, I think things are a lot better. But we’re also a much more complex, bigger society that is structured with a lot of authority, including police authority, so you can’t get away with a lot of the things from horse stealing to other matters that were possible earlier in the country. One of the crazy things I find all the time when I’m following politics and people in politics is you think, “Well, we can just go back to the way that things were in the late 18th century.” When we had 3 million people and a strip of land along the East Coast? I mean, this is not the same country. The numbers are different, the size is different. And I venture to say the framers and founders would have recognized that. I don’t think Jefferson, looking at the country as it is today, would think all of his ideas would still work.

Q: During World War I, many Americans spoke out against Woodrow Wilson’s policies that involved our country in the war. Many who voiced their opposition went to jail for their criticisms. Who were the radicals here: those who spoke out against the war or the government who treated them as criminals for speaking out?

A: I think more the radicals who spoke out. The good news out of that, of course, was that it really triggered an increase in our free speech protections and the descent cases that came out with Holmes, Brandeis, Cardozo — that’s when the court really began to take free speech seriously. So, obviously, a lot of people suffered for speaking out against the war, but there’s a wonderful book in here — I think through books, through so many years, as a book editor. I think it’s called maybe Free Speech in its Forgotten Years, but a lot of people think of our free speech culture as having begun in the late 18th century, and we’ve just had it ever since. And that’s not the case. It’s really in the 20th century that the First Amendment becomes as important as it is, and the Supreme Court sort of steps up to bat and ultimately, in cases like Times v. Sullivan, establishes an enormous amount of robust freedom. To answer the specific question though, I think surely the brave who spoke up against the government were more radical.

Q: In your observation, does the Occupy movement constitute an appropriate definition of radicalism?

A: I think the Occupy movement has taken a lot of different forms now around the country and the world — some of them quite unhappy. You may have seen the other day — I was in Frankfurt, Germany, recently, so I saw the Occupy area there, and it really looked kind of filthy, and disgusting and not what one would want. I noticed the other day that the Germans went in and cleared the place out, because there was rat infestation in the neighborhood and so on. That’s a very bad side of what the Occupy movement has become in certain places. I think the Occupy movement at its best is classically radical in the sense of trying to think through the big picture of where American society is now and particularly Wall Street’s effect on it. But I would note — and I think I’m not the first to say this — there have been a lot of observers saying, “Well, who’s the thinker going to be?” or, “Who’s the thinker that the Occupy movement should turn to?” I, myself, wrote an article toward the end of last year in the Chronicle about Herbert Marcuse — I built it around a Marcuse conference. Marcuse was in some ways the philosopher of the ‘60s to many radicals — to Angela Davis, who studied with him and so on. That piece dealt a little bit — you can look it up if you like — with the idea of do Marcuse’s ideas make any sense for the Occupy movement today? Another piece that I found interesting recently was by someone about John Rawls — whether John Rawls might be the appropriate thinker for the Occupy movement to turn to for larger principles of fairness, of control of Wall Street, and so on. But I must say, one chapter of my book is an argument that John Rawls failed to convince the warp and woof of America of his own principles of fairness.

Q: What is the difference between being eccentric and radical?

A: I think I mentioned that example of Parker Pillsbury roaming around in the nude. It’s the way he got ready for a talk. I was thinking, “Should I take a nude walk around Chautauqua this morning to get ready for my speech?” I made a wise and sober decision. I can imagine various ways in which eccentricity can grade into radicalism in itself. Remember Salvador Dali? His eccentricity of presentation of self probably did a lot to propel his radicalism in art to a wider audience. So I think the two can go together at times. I think most people are able to tell the difference between somebody who’s simply kooky and someone who has a bunch of ideas to change the world. In my book, I mention a fellow, Lou Marinoff, who leads a movement where philosophers should replace psychologists and psychoanalysts in helping people. And he says to me, “If you’re on the subway and somebody crazy gets on, you don’t have to go find a psychiatrist to say, ‘Is that person crazy?’” Most of us can tell. I’ll leave it there.

Q: Your definition of radical sounds more like creative. Do you equate these?

A: I don’t mean it so much as creative, although I guess the upshot should be creative. I think of it more as analytical and procedural. In other words, somebody who is radical in that etymological sense I was suggesting really tries to look at the entire scope of an issue or an institution or so on. So let me come back to that example of Ryan. Ryan is somebody who’s been in the federal government for quite a while, he’s been in Congress for quite a while. It’s clear he wants to use the machinery of government to change government in some ways and to reduce the way it spends money, and where it spends money and all that. But I don’t hear him talking about really radical wholesale alteration of the American government and how it works. It seems to me he’s interested in using the machinery of the American government to take care of certain groups and maybe harm other groups more.
So that doesn’t seem to me as radical as some people are saying. Maybe radical with a small “r.”

Q: Is the very word radical been so demonized that it’s become meaningless. And if so, what’s a properly useful new term?

A: Well, I think it’s great that Chautauqua gives a week to the concept, so that can be a first step in the movement to cleansing the word and maybe bringing it back into the usage.
I do think it has been demonized. In my research for this talk, I realized that while to my mind, you can have the radical left and the radical right. Certainly the way the language has gone, radical is more often applied to people on the far left than on the far right. Although, the radical right has made a comeback in the last 20 years. But I agree the word has been demonized, and I think thoughtful people might want to oppose that demonization and try to find a sensible definition of it. That’s part of the effort I was trying to make today.

Q: Last year at Chautauqua, we heard about the negative term “radical Muslim” as a way to differentiate between peaceful Muslim and the dangerous terrorist Muslim. How do you react to that characterization?

A: Yeah, I think it’s one. If there is anything wonderful about all the terrible things that have happened in regard to Islam over the last, say, 20 years or so, it’s the focus on Islam. It’s that we at least pay attention to Islam as a religion now so we can differentiate between many different strains. I think we are still a culture in the United States that is enormously illiterate, and I count myself among the largely illiterate, about the history of Islam. I have attended many international congresses of philosophers, and thinkers and so on that have taught me how diverse Islam actually is. Both in its practice, in its ideology, in its notion of what sacred texts are, whether the Hadith matter, how much Muhammad channeled matters, to what degree the Quran should be seen as a perfect document. I had a public conversation in Philadelphia last year with Tariq Ramadan, probably the most noted Islamic thinker in Europe who gets castigated by some and praised by others for his attempt to pay attention to the diversity of Islam. So, I do think radical Islam makes a certain sense as a phrase if you look at the whole spectrum of Islam and those who distort teachings and don’t. But we need to get beyond phrases and thinking about something as important as Islam, and, fundamentally, I’d say, I think the most important thing as a matter of education, people today should be educated in Islam in our schools. Just as we learn about Christianity and other things that are considered key to being a literate adult. All Americans by the time we finish get to college, and certainly by the time we finish college, should understand the history of Islam.

Q: Your observation about phrases is interesting, and if you think about politicians working in a world in which everything is covered in terms of phrases, and yet the subjects are far more complicated. Let me marry two points made here on the Paul Ryan point. One person notes that he or she suspects that Paul Ryan’s view that balancing the budget may take 28 years may in fact be a radical idea now. It might be seen in the same way as women’s rights as it proved to be accurate, and is it possible that he’s got his arms around something that could be radically different in the way we think about it. But a follow-up to that saying, given the way we get our news today, will Ryan’s point of view be reported in ways which are in accord with the way you talked about a deep dive into topics that have ourselves open to change?

A: I think the constant attention that presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate get from different areas of the political spectrum guarantees that the message is going to come out. So for some people, Ryan’s budget plan is tremendously realistic, by saying we can’t balance the budget for 28 years, but to other people, it’s like he’s thrown in the towel. I mean, Clinton balanced the budget, why do we have to wait 28 years, or maybe there is a better way to do it. So, there is. When I think in regard to my book about American optimism and American can-do-ism and all of that, to say to the American people, we can’t balance the American budget. Would you say to a family, “Try to balance your budget by 28 years from now”? I mean, it doesn’t make sense. It shouldn’t take that long.

Q: So can you explain how radical the original concepts of intrinsic and essential individual rights were around the time of Hobbes, Machiavelli and the like?

A: No, I can’t. Very complicated subject, but I would say this: As someone who teaches political philosophy and legal philosophy, I think it’s important when you teach the concept of rights to note for students this very strange logic of rights. And the strangeness is this: that unless we talk about them like they are already there, people don’t quite believe it and don’t pay attention to it. When you claim that someone has a right, you’re sort of claiming that they have it apart from anything that might happen at the moment. And yet the history of rights is that they have to be fought for. They have to be established. And a lot of the rights that we have today were not held by people in the past, so there’s a kind of legal, political or philosophical fiction involved in rights. And I would just say, I mean, when you think of the classical thinkers of Hobbes or Locke or Machiavelli, they had disparate views of rights, so that when you think of the natural right tradition — well, many contemporary thinkers don’t think that what was once considered a natural right is one today. And conversely, we believe in many rights today that would not have been seen as anything but a privilege in the past. So it’s a flexible notion, but it’s a notion that really requires close attention to its logic and sometimes even a little bit of deception — as far as “I have a right to be here” kind of means “I want to have a right to be here, and the way I’ll get it is to say I have a right to be here.”

Q: Today, who are the radical political thinkers?  

A: In some ways, it’s a great question. At times, I think someone who I don’t agree with on all particulars, but whose approach I like — someone like Michael Sandel at Harvard.
The way in which he’s trying to speak to a broad audience and derive moral lessons from very particular examples moving away from what has been a tradition in analytic philosophy and political philosophy of just having a pocket full of examples to justify your view that that’s a kind of radical approach. Some people think of it as dumbing down, but I think he has maintained a fairly high standard. If we are talking about political thinkers in our sort of political world, people who are holding office or the talking heads on TV, I must say I agree with the complaint of Chomsky and many people on the fringes that our media does not really allow radical thinkers on very much. They challenge that safety that exists when everybody is between the 40-yard line and the 40-yard line. I’ll give you one example from in the past. I don’t know if anybody remembers this. There was a time when in the first Iraq War, Chris Hitchens was on in dialogue — I think it was on CNN — with Charlton Heston. And Heston was making some conservative points about Iraq, and Hitchens, in that wonderful Hitch way, said, “Mr. Heston, could you identify for me in a clockwise way all the countries that border Iraq?” And Heston was flustered. (Hitchens) said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t even describe the map.” Now, my memory is that they took Hitchens off for like a month or so, because he had broken the rules of sort of safety. For instance, as much as I dislike a lot of what Chomsky says and thinks, he should be on TV much more. He should be out there speaking, and, people, I destroyed a book by a man named Michael (Mark) Levin called Ameritopia in one of my columns in the Chronicle recently. I thought it was very dopey and dumb about the concept of utopia and so on. But people on the radical fringes should be out also heard by the American audience.

Q: Could you speak to satire as a peaceful radical’s tool. Is it effective?

A: I do think that the history of our satirical tradition. There is actually a nice book, I think it’s called Satiristas if anybody can come up, it has a lovely yellow cover, which is about this tradition. But if you go back just to Lenny Bruce up to Jon Stewart, what a powerful influence satire does make. Everybody likes a little entertainment with their truth. And some humor. I’m not sure what has happened, in a way, to the nightclub variant of that, we don’t have that kind of forceful nightclub scene anymore where somebody can make a reputation there. But I think if you think of Colbert and Stewart just as examples, yes, I think the satirical tradition is an important part of radicalism. And it’s still very healthy.

Q: There were several questioners with varying degrees of pointed questions about Ron Paul. I guess the summary is, is libertarianism a radical expression?

A: It’s probably less radical in the United States than in some other cultures. I mean we are a freedom-loving culture. We do exalt freedom in lots of ways. I don’t think it’s as tough to be a libertarian in the United States as is it is actually in certain you know areas of France, of French culture, in Chinese culture and so on. Of course, extreme libertarianism takes you into things that the bulk of the American public doesn’t like such as liberty-ism, which could be seen as a form of libertarianism. So, I think most people in America, still have fairly fair borders about how far they think freedom should extend, and extreme libertarians are still, I think, rightly considered radical against the mass public in America.

Q: Your focus on the analytical traits of being a radical in order to understand the system and question it and its roots. But you do not mention any of the emotional characteristics of the radical. Are there any? For example, zealousness. I would argue that emotional traits of the radical are more significant than the analytical traits. Any comments?

A: Yeah, I think that it is a good point. I didn’t mention in my talk a very nice book, and I hope you don’t mind me recommending books right and left. Biography whose title is Radical. It’s a biography of Saul Alinsky, the community organizer who had a lot of influence on Obama. By Nicholas von Hoffman, one of his top aides for a long time. And actually, Alinsky was somebody who made exactly that point. That when he thought of radicals, it was the opposite of thinking of people as ineffective. He thought of the liberals as ineffective. A radical was somebody who had the toughness, the zealotry maybe, the energy, the commitment to actually get something done. And that was more of a marker to Alinsky of a radical than an actual ideology held. So I made the counterpoint in my talk in reference to Gordon Wood’s The Radicalism of the American Revolution, now what about our Founding Fathers? You know, genial Franklin, he doesn’t seem like an angry guy. Washington and so on. I don’t think that emotional fervor or zealotry is a necessary condition of being a radical, but I would agree that many radicals and successful radicals have had that fuel.

Q: Is Steve Jobs, is he in your book, if so why? If not, why not? Is he an example of a radical using your definition?

A: He’s not. It’s scary at times, when you write a very long book. When I was in Chicago at a talk, somebody said, “Gee, do you actually spend time talking about George W. Bush in your book? Is he a philosopher president or something?” I say, “No, I don’t think he’s in the book.” Then, I look in the index, which I didn’t do, and there he is in various places of course. It’s hard to describe a time period without describing the president. I’d have to look in my index to see if I mention him in passing. Yeah, of course, he’s radical in certain ways. In particularly within the concept of a business culture. But I don’t know that Steve Jobs ever articulated at sufficient length his own philosophy, maybe of gadgetry and the relation of gadgetry to life. And reaching your purposes and so on, in a way that would make me think of him as an intellectual radical.

Q: So the follow-up to that is does the social media and the explosive capacities of us to stay connected — does that help create more radicalism or help express more radical thought?

A: I think everybody is still arguing that issue out, and we’re not really going to know until more data comes in over the years. For instance, when you have various extremist groups, their ability to get their message out, their ideology out on the net, and suddenly, people who would have never had contact with them, especially young people, find a place, find an ideology that might not have run into, and it can be destructive. So that counts toward the idea that social media is really making radicalism more popular and widespread. If you take an example of all of the jihadist Web pages. The jihadist Web pages, which our State Department and the Pentagon are monitoring constantly — well, but they’re all over the place, and they get a lot of information out, and they’ve built up a lot of followers. The hopeful argument, I guess on the other side, would be that that same social media provides so many countervailing views that maybe that takes the edge off the growth of violent radicalism. That people also have access to ideas that undermine the worst sort of radicalism.

Q: Would you consider those who go back to the root of an issue and then decide to defend the status quo to be radical?

A: Great question! I was just thinking that last night; do I think that? Because I know I said that in the talk. I think I do think that. In others words, to think the opposite would be a kind of change for the sake of change, or it would be accepting the notion of radical as just a word for a certain set of beliefs that are extreme in regard to the mainstream of a society and so on. And so, I do think if somebody, let’s say, a Christian who has had his or her faith shaken, maybe by modern science. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years with the Templeton Foundation as one of their fellows thinking about the relation of science and religion. So, you’ve been a believing Christian your whole life; your faith is shaken; you go back; you read everything you should read; you take in all the information that you can — and then find your faith restored. I’d like to think of that person as having a radical temperament, yeah, even though the person ends up in the same place. So my answer for this morning is “yes.”

—Transcribed by Jen Bentley and Jessie Cadle