Letter From thenLower Rightnby John Shelton ReednCardinal SinsnAfter sharing my ill-informed impressionsnof California with you last month,nI should probably just let it be. After all,nonly fools think they understand thenSouth after a few months, and I presumenthe same is true for California.nBut expatriation here in the SpandexnState seems to have dried me up on thensubject of the South. Despite the concernednfriends who’ve been writing andnsending clippings, I just don’t feel inntouch. Since there are still a couple ofnmonths left in our year out here, itnlooks as if it’s California or nothing —nand, no, I’m not putting it to a vote.nTell you what: I’ll just tell a fewnstories and go easy on the meaning of itnall, OK?nLet’s start with Stanford, wherenwe’re living this year. Now, I don’tnwant to pick on the place. It hasnenough troubles already. This year hasnseen, for instance, revelations of hownoverhead money from federal researchngrants went for things like sheets fornthe president’s custom-made bed. Andnyou’ve probably been reading aboutnthis “political correctness” businessnlately, too. (Our nation’s pack journalistsnshould be penalized for piling on:nwhere have they been all this time?)nAnyway, I’ll just say that everythingnyou’ve heard on that subject is true, butnI’m surviving. I drop by the HoovernInstitution from time to time to get mynhead straight.nNo, Stanford’s a great university,narguably the best one west of FortnSmith. Let’s get that on the record. Itnhas a first-rate faculty and smart students,nand if you think humanisticnlearning here is not a pretty sight, justnwait until what they’re doing herentrickles down to Generic State U.nOne evening I was leaving the librarynwith Susan Howatch’s booknGlamorous Powers, when the studentnat the inspection desk raised an eyebrownat the title, and asked if it was anyngood. Realizing that Glamorous Powersndoes sound a little Judith Krantz-y,nI mumbled that the book is about thenChurch of England.n”Oh,” the student said. “Is therenanything in it about monks? I’m workingnon a paper on the cenobitic tradition.”nImpressed that an undergraduatenknew the meaning of “cenobitic,” Intold him there were some AnglicannBenedictines in the book, but it wasnmostly about ecclesiastical politics —n”sort of like Trollope, but aroundnWorld War Two.”n”Trollope,” the kid said. “Is that anwriter?”nAs I said, Stanford students arenbright, and they know a lot. But it’snnext to impossible to guess what theynknow, especially now that Jesse Jackson’snfriends have cleansed the curriculumnof works by dead white Europeannmales.nAnother story. The dean of thenStanford chapel is an old friend fromnNorth Carolina, an Episcopal priestnwho used to teach at the Duke DivinitynSchool. As you might guess, henwasn’t terribly sound to start with, butnCalifornia hasn’t been good for him.nOn the first Sunday in Advent, forninstance, music for the chapel servicesnwas provided by a (first-rate) jazz guitarist,nwho played “Someday MynPrince Will Come.”nAt other services we’ve found ourselvesnpraying alternately to God thenFather and God the Mother. Now Indon’t know how you feel about it, butnthat strikes me as rather Hindu. Inmean, I can live with a genderlessndeity, but a hermaphroditic one givesnme the creeps. Anyway, somebody —nprobably not me — needs to point outnthat these, ah, manifestations arenlocked into traditional sex-roles. Thenfather gets to do all the whiz-bangncreating, for instance, and the mothernseems to be into nurturing. Maybenthey mix it up on alternate Sundaysnand I just missed it. Neither parentnmakes any judgments, of course.nSpeaking of which, Stanfordnannounced a new “domestic partners”npolicy last fall that opened marriednstudent housing to unmarried couplesn— including unmarried couples of thensame sex. When there was an outcrynfrom some married students, my buddynthe dean of the chapel chaired an”town meeting” to discuss the newnpolicy. The principal opposition camenfrom foreign students who don’t wantntheir children exposed to Americannnnways — at least not these Americannways. Asians (the p.c. word for Orientals)nseemed especially inclined to thisnsort of judgmental insensitivity, butnwhat brought the meeting to an abruptnand noisy end was the observation by anMuslim student that in his country, ofncourse, it would be his duty to killnhomosexuals.nI wonder if anyone has reallynthought through this business ofn”multiculturalism”?nAnyway, on the ground here, outsidenthe hothouse of the university,nmulticulturalism is a working daily reality.nUHF television offers programs innSpanish, Japanese, Farsi, Italian, Evangelical—nname your group, and thenliability lawyers and chiropractors arenadvertising in their language. San Francisconhas always had its ethnic neighborhoodsnand restaurants, of course,nbut now even a suburb like MountainnView offers not just Italian and Mexicannrestaurants, but Chinese of allnregions, Indian (north and south), Japanese,nThai, Vietnamese . . . Walkingnthe main street, you feel as if you’re innsome exotic entrepot, a vestpocket versionnof Singapore, say, or Beirut (in thenold days).nIt’s not unpleasant, and certainly thennew immigrants seem to do most ofnthe actual work around here. It looks tonme as if it weren’t for Asians andnHispanics, the economic base of thisnplace would be a matter of bicycle andnroller-skate shops.nBy the way, I wrote “Hispanic”ninstead of “Mexicans” not just to benp.c. A friend whose wife teaches firstngrade in San Jose reports that morenthan half of her students are LatinnAmerican — not just Mexican, butnHonduran, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran,ndifferences I suspect most of us in thenEast never even thought about. Thensame is true for “Asians,” a culturallynmeaningless hodgepodge of a conceptnif there ever was one.nMuch the same variety can benfound within the voluntary subcultures.nWhatever your hobby, enthusiasm,npolitical or sexual kink, you cannfind others who share it and gather tondo it or talk about it — Tocquevillengone berserk. Some folks go to churchnon Sunday morning? That’s cool. Upnthe road a way, at the same hour, anhundred motorcyclists gather at Alice’snRestaurant for brunch. Off in the othernJUNE 1991/43n