Being American In A Changing World with Ronald Takaki

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"We're all minorities," says Ronald Takaki, multicultural expert and renowned scholar of American history. In this face-paced, provocative dialogue, Takaki takes us back to our nation's founding principles - to the Declaration of Independence and the inalienable rights guaranteed by our Constitution - and implores us to remember that "the Declaration of Independence belongs to all of us as members of humanity." "These principles," says Takaki, "need to guide us as we enter this Twenty-First Century of immense ethnic and racial diversity within the United States - a diversity that's connected to diversity in the world." Throughout this intriguing interview, Takaki draws insightfully from Christian theology and C.S. Lewis' controversial Screwtape Letters, as we reexamine how some of the leading thinkers in our nation's history - Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, Truman, MacArthur, Martin Luther King, and others - wrestled with the critical challenges and choices of their time. We plunge back into major turning points of the Civil War and World War II, including the unleashing of the first atomic bomb at Hiroshima. As Americans, currently facing unprecedented challenges in our world, the need to pause and reflect critically has never been greater, urges Takaki. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Ronald Takaki has been professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley for over two decades.

He is the author of several books, including:

  • Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans (Penguin Books 1990)
  • A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Little, Brown & Co. 1993)
  • Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II ( Little, Brown & Co. 2000)

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What is a 'just war' and can a war be 'good'?
  • What does it really mean to be 'patriotic'?
  • Why and how must we revision the mistaken 'master narrative' of American history?
  • What do Hiroshima and 9/11 have in common and how might they be different
  • What's really behind our presence in the Middle East?
  • Learn what critical choices we now can make
Host: Michael Toms       Interview Date: 3/14/2002       Program Number: 2929