Leaving the Big City for Small-Town College Life

One of my classmates saw my wedding ring and asked if I was married. I said, yes, and she asked, “Happily?” Another student sneered, “Wow, married … how retro-hetero-normative.” Others snickered in approval. And so the seven-year assault on my values began. To avoid harassment, I learned to conceal who I was: my faith, my working-class origins, most of my core beliefs. I had to smile and nod in support of “tolerant” people who openly hated the world that produced me — and who were abetted by the “profession” in doing so. –“Thomas H. Benton” —Leaving the Big City for Small-Town College Life (Chronicle)

“Retro-hetero-normative.” That’s a good one.

As a graduate student at the University of Toronto, I found things were much easier for me when I concealed my American identity. When spelling out my last name, I learned to say “Jay Eee Are Zed,” which seemed to associate me with the Queen’s English and upperclass culture (which translates as more or less religiously anti-American). One student, pondering why a particular Canadian author would use a particularly offensive racial epithet, noticed that this author had lived in a city near an American military base, and concluded that this author must have picked up the term from American servicemen. That was quite amusing — and when I chose that moment to identify myself as American, I think at least some of the people in the room were embarassed by their casual anti-American bigotry.

All in all, I think I benefitted from studying American literature in an essentially anti-American culture. One student from Germany all but called me a racist when I told him that, based on the speech patterns of the characters in a particular story, I could tell which characters were white and which were black. The fact that one mother called her son “n—– boy” was a pretty strong clue, if you ask me.

Link found on The Couch, which also has an amusing comment on the lightning which recently struck the actor playing Jesus in Mel Gibson’s much-talked-about religous movie.