Voices of Minnesota: Sara Evans

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Hour 2 of Midmorning, featuring Voices of Minnesota with Professor Sara Evans, founder of women's history at the University of Minnesota. Also Josip Novakovich, Croatian author of Apricots from Chernobyl and Christian Science Monitor's Cynthia Ingle on relations between Russia and United States.


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KAREN BARTA: From the FM News Station, I'm Karen Barta. The FBI is examining the semiautomatic rifle from yesterday's shooting at the Twin Cities Airport. A spokesman in the US District attorney's office in Minneapolis says federal officials may decide this afternoon on which charges to pursue.

Airport police identified 28-year-old David DeMatthews as the man who fired 43 bullets before being shot three times by police. He's in stable but serious condition at a St. Paul hospital. A federal law passed in 1994 creates penalties for firing weapons at an airport. And a state law approved last year creates new penalties for shooting at police officers.

The proposed Minnesota Vulnerable Adult Act reform bill is causing controversy among members of the state's medical community. The measure would impose criminal penalties on health care providers who abuse or neglect patients with physical or mental disabilities or other conditions that might make them particularly vulnerable. St. Paul physician Dr. Benjamin Whitten opposes the expanded definition of the measure.

BENJAMIN WHITTEN: Any battered woman who seeks the attention of her physician in his office would be faced with mandatory reporting. And battered women, as well as competent adults would be powerless to refuse state intervention.

KAREN BARTA: Whitten says with the exception of the neglect provision, he generally supports the reform measure. The state forecast today occasional showers and thunderstorms highs mainly in the 60s tonight, continued showers statewide, lows in the middle 40s to lower 50s.

For the Twin Cities today, showers and thunderstorms. Some of the rain may be heavy, a high in the lower to middle 60s. It's cloudy around the region this hour. In St. Cloud, it's 55 degrees. It's 51 in Duluth. In Rochester, light rain and 55. It's 55 in the Twin Cities. That's news. I'm Karen Barta on the FM News Station.


PAULA SCHROEDER: It's 6 minutes past 10 o'clock. Midmorning on the FM News Station continues. Good morning. I'm Paula Schroeder. Today's programming is made possible in part by the advocates of Minnesota Public Radio. Contributors include University of St. Thomas, the Twin Cities Liberal Arts Urban University, and Russell Reynolds Associates, the global executive recruiting firm.

Historian Sara Evans of the University of Minnesota is a founder of the Women's Studies Movement in America. Today on Midmorning in our continuing series of interviews with influential Minnesotans, we hear Sara Evans views on the history of women in this country.

She helped pioneer the study of women as important figures in American history. She's taught at the University since 1976, holding a number of administrative posts and earning a long list of prestigious grants and awards.

The FM News Station's Stephen Smith visited Sara Evans at her home in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul, a home she shares with her 14-year-old daughter, a couple of dogs, and several noisy birds.

Evans most recent book is Born for Liberty, A HISTORY of American Women. She says women's voluntary organizations, such as temperance unions, charitable groups, and literary clubs, helped move women into positions of public power.

SARA EVANS: They created environments in which people could act publicly as citizens, in addition to the formal structures of government. For women who were excluded from those formal structures, this was the only way they could act publicly. They couldn't vote. They couldn't serve on juries all of this until 1920.

So women needed places where it was possible to begin to develop the skills of public life. Now, I would argue that those kinds of voluntary associations are essential for all citizens because we don't-- otherwise, it's only a very, very restricted group of people who have access to those kinds of skills, the skills of setting an agenda, of raising money, of deciding what one wants to accomplish, and then going about the business of accomplishing it, of learning to make public speeches or argue a point with someone else.

For women in the 19th century who were defined very domestically, though, of course, there were many women who worked outside the home through no choice of their own, the definition of a proper woman was fundamentally private and domestic.

And women took dimensions of that self definition-- that is to say, their emphasis on morality-- and began to push it out from the home by creating missionary societies or mothers' clubs and finally getting involved in evangelical reform, things like abolition and temperance. And it's through those efforts to change the world that they began to develop public skills and redefine the nature of where public life occurs.

STEPHEN SMITH: Why was this process ignored? I mean, why did historians tend to overlook it? Because they viewed these things as often genteel, meaningless to society.

SARA EVANS: Well, the female dominated groups were basically seen as ephemeral and not important. They were associated with women. So what they did was not serious? It didn't make much difference.

The other thing is that history until about 25 years ago was dominated by a focus on formal politics. And it was seen as a study of what people-- what legislators do, what presidents do, what diplomats do, what generals do.

And so those other layers of social activity were simply outside the arena of what was called history and what was studied. And particularly when those layers were associated with women, they were assumed to be of little importance. What I'm arguing and what many others. Now argue is that those layers of activity are essential and fundamental to understanding the broader shape of social change.

STEPHEN SMITH: You grew up in the south?


STEPHEN SMITH: Whereabouts?

SARA EVANS: I grew up in South Carolina, mostly in the Piedmont area. My father is a Methodist minister, so we moved around. And in eighth grade, I moved to Dallas, Texas. So I went to high school in Dallas.

STEPHEN SMITH: What was your mother doing? Was she working outside the home?

SARA EVANS: No, my mother was trying very hard to be a minister's wife, which didn't actually fit very neatly with who she was. She had a degree in landscape architecture from North Carolina State University. She was one of the first few women to go there. So we had incredibly beautiful yards while I was growing up. She was an avid bird watcher. And she really found herself, I think, later as an environmental activist.

STEPHEN SMITH: How do you mean she found herself? Did she become a feminist through the environmental movement?

SARA EVANS: Well, I think she was a gut level feminist her whole life. She always did different things, and yet she never felt she had a lot of choices. So I grew up with an awareness of her, an underlying layer of anger about the fact that she really should have been a scientist.

She should have done animals and plants. She grew up on a farm. She subsequently raised prize-winning canaries and many kinds of finches and other kinds of birds. And she has an incredible collection of Appalachian wildflowers that people come from all around to see.

But when I was young and she had four kids and she was trying very hard to fill another role as a minister's wife, she didn't feel free to pursue those interests in a more professional way. And by becoming an environmental activist-- this was about the time I'd gone off to college-- she created a life for herself.

STEPHEN SMITH: Now, when you started graduate school in in the late '60s--

SARA EVANS: Late '60s, 1969.

STEPHEN SMITH: --in North Carolina, there was no such thing as women's history, was there?

SARA EVANS: That's right. And there were no women teaching American history in that department.

STEPHEN SMITH: How did you, A, convince yourself to do it, and, B, convince the University to let you?

SARA EVANS: Well, I convinced myself because I'd become active in the women's movement in 1967. And so my involvement in what we then called women's liberation persuaded me that we needed a history. Women needed a history if they were going to make history, which we definitely believed we were doing. We needed to know that people like us had ever made a difference in the past.

We were up against those very ideas that render women invisible, that say they've never done anything that made a difference, that they are biologically determined. And so there's no history to talk about. Women have always been the same. And that is a subordinate sameness.

So I went back to graduate school in 1969 with a mission, which was to discover the history of women. Now, what I didn't know at that time was that I was one of several hundred people doing exactly the same thing.

I really am part of a generation that was motivated by the women's movement to ask a new set of questions. And we went to graduate school to ask those questions. Some people ran into tremendous opposition from faculty who thought those were inappropriate questions.

The way I studied women's history in graduate school and the way everybody else in my cohort did was, regardless of what the course was about, we wrote papers on women. And it doesn't matter. The course can be on the Civil War.

It can be a colonial period course. It can be a political history course. It can be a social history course. It doesn't matter. You can always, just by asking, Where were the women, and what were they doing? suddenly doors open and new arenas open up for study.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Historian Sara Evans talking with Steven smith, will continue our interview with Sara in just a moment. It's 15 minutes now past 10 o'clock. You're listening to Midmorning on the FM News Station.

Rainy skies expected for the rest of the day today across the state of Minnesota with temperatures mostly in the 60s. A reminder that coming up in just about 15 minutes or so, we will have all the latest headlines for you. Stay tuned. Stephen Smith continues his interview now with Sara Evans.

STEPHEN SMITH: Now in personal politics, your book about the roots of new left feminism, you link it directly to the civil rights movement, that one, that the civil rights movement-- you say that there were two times in history really that racial movements acted as midwife to the feminist movement. Were you part of that?

SARA EVANS: Yes, I was. I was on the fringes of the story that I ended up telling. Because I grew up in the south and went to college in Durham, North Carolina, right in the middle of the civil rights movement, that movement was extraordinarily important to me.

I became involved in it on a local level. My first action, my freshman year was a kneel-in at the First Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina, where we were not allowed to go to church because we--

STEPHEN SMITH: A kneel-in rather than a sit-in.

SARA EVANS: It wasn't a sit-in. We went to the church to go to church. But because we were an integrated group, the ushers barred us at the door. And so we actually didn't kneel. We stood on the steps of the church for the rest of the hour and read out loud the scripture passages that were in the bulletin and so forth.

STEPHEN SMITH: What was it about these movements that led the women fighting for someone else to think about their own condition?

SARA EVANS: One thing was just the ideas. In both of those movements, the analysis of racial oppression and racial ideology was linked to a deeply egalitarian ethos, which women could then appropriate and apply to themselves if they re-evaluated their own experience in terms of the values of that movement. It came up somewhat short.

So the movement gave them some words, some language to use to describe their own experience. That language, if pushed too far, of course, doesn't work because gender and race are not the same. I think even more important is the fact that those movements taught women something about themselves and gave them some fundamental skills.

It gave them an experience of equality in the abolition movement. Women exercised their only political right, which was passing petitions. And they gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures. In doing that, they had to go door to door and argue politics with their neighbors.

They had to learn how to think through how you exercise power. What is the petition about? They learned to speak publicly. They became very eloquent and powerful speakers in behalf of abolition. As they exercised these newfound skills and capacities, they ran into opposition within that very movement.

Within the abolition movement, women were attacked for speaking publicly. Sarah and Angelina Grimké toured the north, drawing huge crowds as southern women who grew up in slavery and could speak from that experience about the evils of slavery. They were attacked by a group of ministers for being unwomanly.

STEPHEN SMITH: Were other women attacking them as well?

SARA EVANS: It was mostly ministers that attacked them. For women to attack them, they would have had to speak publicly as well. So at that point, you don't get that. Later in the 19th century, you get women organizing against suffrage, for example.

But in the 1830s, it was just too strange of a thing for women to speak very publicly. But the Grimké sisters then, to defend their right to do what they felt was their moral duty, their Christian duty to speak against slavery, they had to defend the rights of women.

And they had to articulate a vision of equality for women, of moral, as well as political equality and develop their own interpretation of scripture, for example, their own theology of women's equality.

Something similar to that happened in the civil rights movement as well. Women who had taught in freedom schools and registered voters and gone to jail found themselves in a movement which replicated the traditional sex roles that were in society.

They were expected to clean the Freedom House when they got home from jail. They were unthinkingly expected to do the housework, the cooking and the laundry. At the same time, they also, in the civil rights movement, white women in particular discovered in Black women, a powerful and very different set of role models of womanhood because at the grass roots level, Black women were the backbone of the civil rights movement.

So these movements provided models. They provided language. And they provided a kind of experience that allowed women to challenge the ways they had been told women could act.

STEPHEN SMITH: One of the arguments in favor of women's studies departments and in favor of women's history as a distinct discipline is the very lack of it in the past, the fact that the shelves are empty when it comes to books about the contributions of women.

And now we're in a political moment where there is renewed discussion of whether or not women's studies, women's history deserve to be a distinct discipline. Even as these departments are now firmly ensconced and people like yourself have tenured positions and chair Institute for Advanced Feminist Studies and all this, the question still remains, do we need this, or at some point, will the study--

SARA EVANS: Wither away.

STEPHEN SMITH: --either wither away or fold into the grander main narrative we tell ourselves about America and human history?

SARA EVANS: Well, the problem is the assumption that there is a main narrative. And I don't think we believe that anymore. I don't think that's viable anymore.

STEPHEN SMITH: Some people who really are arguing that--

SARA EVANS: Yes, I know. And that is actually a major contested issue in American society right now. The shelves are not empty anymore in terms of women's history or all the other branches of social history that it's related to.

So we're no longer filling in a gap, though there's lots more to learn. What we are doing is rethinking everything using the lens of gender. Gender as a category of analysis has brought into the discipline of history and into many other disciplines a whole new field, a whole new way of asking questions, a new point of view from which to ask questions.

And those questions aren't only about women. But if you put women in the foreground and look at the past from their perspective, everything else is still there. But it looks different. I also am of the persuasion that there is no one single narrative of Americans as a people or of human beings on the globe.

There are multiple narratives. And the ways we've understood ourselves as a people have been very important in shaping who is empowered and who isn't, who is included and who isn't. When our founding document says we the people, at the time it was written, that "we" was a fairly restricted "we." It was mostly white men who owned property.

STEPHEN SMITH: You're writing now a book. The working title is the Future of Feminism. I wonder what is the future of-- what is the now of feminism, if you will? Where are we in the feminist movement do you think? And what is the future?

SARA EVANS: Well, I'm not sure the book is going to keep that title. For one thing, I am a historian. And I do always get asked about the future whenever I give a talk. That book is going to be my effort to write the history of the last 25 years of the women's movement. And I'm not sure I'm far enough along to tell you for sure what it is today.

Certainly, there is a lively presence of feminism in American life. When I first started working on the book a few years ago, it was under siege after 12 years of Reagan and Bush and dominant mood that was pretty hostile to the women's movement.

There was a tremendous defensiveness within the women's movement and a tremendous attack that was going on. That attack is still going on. But there's been a shift, I think. For one thing, it does make a difference to have a feminist in the White House.

STEPHEN SMITH: Do you mean Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton?

SARA EVANS: Well, I mean Hillary. I mean Hillary, who represents a figure that reminds me a little bit of Eleanor Roosevelt, who made an enormous difference in American life and in American women's lives.

It is true that there various women's movements, and they are various, are struggling to find a voice at the end of the century that is appropriate to the changes that have occurred. Things are not the same as they were in the 1950s and '60s. So the articulation of ideas of the women's movement in the '60s and '70s was around a different reality than we have now.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, it was more of an oppositional politics. I mean, there was something-- there was a more of a monolithic society to oppose--

SARA EVANS: Absolutely.

STEPHEN SMITH: --whereas now-- I mean, there are certainly still glass ceilings all over the place. But they are at different heights.

SARA EVANS: Yes. And we've changed the language. We've changed the way we use words a lot. There are not quotas on women at medical schools, in law schools anymore. Women, at least in a token fashion, appear in all parts of American life from which they were almost completely excluded previously.

So there is change. Young women also know for sure that they're going to spend most of their adult lives working outside the home, whether they have a family or not. They know they will have to do that.

Young women face a very different set of choices. They do know that they're going to face glass ceilings, that discrimination is real, that their incomes are likely to be less. But they know that they're going to be part of the public world for most of their lives.

And they face a terrible dilemma about how to fit that together with having a private life. We've changed a lot of public life in terms of access. We have not really redefined the family very much. That's getting redefined just by the fact that families fall apart. And women often find themselves alone as parents.

But we haven't provided the support systems that let people, men and women, easily put together the demands of a meaningful life of work outside the home and a meaningful family life. We still, as a society, don't know how to help people do that.

STEPHEN SMITH: We still say one has to take the lead over the other. One will suffer.

SARA EVANS: Right. We still provide jobs that presume people in those jobs have wives, whether they're male or female. They just presume that there's somebody else taking care of that other side of your life. But none of us have wives anymore of that old sort.

So the stresses that younger generations face are extraordinary. But they're different now than they were 30 years ago. And I think the women's movement is struggling to figure out how to articulate those issues in a way that we can act on.

STEPHEN SMITH: You spoke earlier about the many choices now facing young women, especially women who probably are going to be working outside the home and potentially trying to balance the family back at the home or at the daycare center. What are the challenges for men in this situation? Where do you see men and feminism?

SARA EVANS: Well, I don't think feminism is something only women can be a part of or a set of ideas that only women can understand. It's a point of view on the world that men can adopt as well.

It's really important that we get clearer about what men's stake is in this. It is not only an attack on men. Men have a stake in it because in redefining what women are and can be, we also are redefining what men are and can be. And we are opening up to men the possibility of a very different role within the family, for example. And I've seen many families change a great deal, even if it's incremental.

Men's valuing their roles as parents has grown tremendously, men's recognition that they are not the sole breadwinners. They don't have to be, and they actually can't be. Most families can't exist on just one income. And the tremendous burden that that represents is now shifting.

There is a spectrum of activity and emotion. If women can broaden the spectrum to which they have access, whether it's into sports or into professions or whatever, men also can broaden the spectrum to which they have access.

And I think 20 years ago or 25 years ago, I could talk this way with a sense that very soon we're all going to understand this, very soon men will be in touch with their nurturing side and understand the importance and the great benefits of being involved in parenting and so forth and women will have careers as well and we'll all-- the world will be more Democratic across the board.

And it's just not as simple as I thought then. I still believe this. I still talk about it with a sense of belief and possibility and a sense that my generation has lived very differently than our parents have and that our children are going to live differently than we have. But change is slower than we thought.

PAULA SCHROEDER: University of Minnesota history professor Sara Evans, one of the founders of the Women's Studies Movement. She spoke with the FM News Station's Stephen Smith.


Just a note here that in Northfield, Minnesota, tomorrow at the College of St. Olaf, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of women's suffrage, students in the rhetoric of women's suffrage class at St. Olaf will don costumes and stage a contemporary version of an early women's rights demonstration. That's at 9:30 in front of the St. Olaf Student Center.

Minnesota Public Radio News is supported by 3M, generously matching more than 800 employee contributions to MPR. It's 27 minutes before 11:00. Here's Karen Barta with the news.

KAREN BARTA: Good morning. The Allied nations in World War II are marking their victory in Europe 50 years ago today. President Clinton took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. World leaders gathered in Paris for ceremonies, then moved on to Berlin.

Residents of the Southwestern US are cleaning up from a series of weekend storms. At least 22 people were killed in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri by tornadoes and flooding. Forecasters say there's a slight risk of more storms today.

The so-called Big Ten primary could face a challenge in the legislature this week, while liberal DFLers and conservative IR support the idea, moderates in both parties are against it. The Big Ten primary would group Minnesota with Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in a super primary March 18th next year.

A 2-mile stretch of I-94 in the Twin Cities reopened last night about eight hours early after construction crews demolished three bridges at the University of Minnesota interchange. The project is part of a longer term effort to widen the highway and improve entrance and exit lanes in that area. Project engineer Liz Benjamin.

LIZ BENJAMIN: Good weather helped us out a lot, good planning on the contractor's part. And there weren't any major machinery breakdowns. So all in all, it went quite well.

KAREN BARTA: Officials of the State Patrol report fewer problems from the decision to close 94 and divert traffic compared to previous projects which left a lane or two open to traffic. The state forecast today occasional showers and thunderstorms, highs mainly in the 60s. Tonight, continued showers statewide, a few thunderstorms in the south, lows in the middle 40s to lower 50s.

And for the Twin cities, showers and thunderstorms, a high in the lower to middle 60s. Around the region, it's cloudy. In Duluth, the current temperature is 51 light rain and 55 in Rochester. In St. Cloud, it's 55. And the Twin Cities, light rain and 54. Paula, that's the news update from the FM News Station.

PAULA SCHROEDER: OK, thank you, Karen. It's 25 minutes before 11 o'clock. I'm Paula Schroeder. This is Midmorning on the FM news station. Minnesota Public Radio operates in association with the following institutions-- St. John's Abbey and University in Collegeville, Concordia College, Moorhead, Luther College, Decorah, the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, and the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph.

Well, today is the 50th anniversary of VE Day, the day that Germany surrendered in World War II. But fighting does continue in parts of Europe. The city of Sarajevo came under attack once again last night as tracer bullets and mortar blasts rocked the Bosnian capital. A total of 10 people were killed in a suburb of Sarajevo. It was the worst single attack on Sarajevo or its suburbs since 68 people were killed in an attack on a downtown marketplace in February 1994.

And renewed fighting in neighboring Croatia has threatened to fuse with the war in Bosnia. Today, though, a UN envoy said Croatian forces agreed to pull back from UN buffer zones separating government and rebel Serb forces. The report was the first to break in a week of rising tension over the risk of a wider Balkan War.

Josip Novakovich grew up in Croatia. His new book of personal essays, Apricots from Chernobyl, is not as dark a book as its name suggests. Novakovich explores the life of a tomcat, his childhood in Eastern Europe, and the differences between his Homeland and his adopted home, America.

Novakovich, who teaches creative writing at the University of Cincinnati, moved to the United States from his native Croatia almost 20 years ago. He finds that while Americans are anxious to discuss his homeland, they're reluctant to hear his impressions of life in America.

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH: Just recently, I offended a man by telling him that Americans don't read as much as we do over there in Europe. And then I told him, look, you have better things to do. You don't have to read.

And I'm not sure that I consoled him. But it's true that when you have bad economy the way Yugoslavia had it and Croatia has it now, then you have a lot of time to pursue your hobbies. And so consequently, leisure is a great art there, much greater than here.

I played a lot of chess as a kid and took long walks with friends, sometimes all night long, just to talk. And so I was a bit shocked when I got to the United States and when I saw that conversation here didn't matter much. Of course, people had better things to do than talk, we didn't.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Well, yeah, but you write about that in one of your stories. I think it actually might be-- no, it's Unterwegs, where you talk about having a conversation with a friend of yours that lasted for three nights and two days nonstop.

And it's almost unheard of outside of the movies anyway for something like that to happen in the United States. And thus the role of friendship is completely different here than in Eastern Europe.

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH: Right. Friendship for us is almost like a brotherhood. And so we don't have an expression like to make a friend. Literally you'd translate it to become a friend. It's not something that you can manipulate. Here, there is a practical aura to friendships, which we don't have there.

So when I got to the states, I was amazed at how aggressive people were about their social lives, how they made friends, and on the other hand, how negligent toward friends they were. Now I'm just like that myself. So it's more of a criticism.

Yeah, for example, in Croatia, if I ran into a friend of mine and he had to go to class, he'd skip the class. But here, in mid-sentence, someone would leave and say, sorry, I've got to go. And it makes sense. Yeah, this is a practical society. But there, almost everything practical would fall aside because you're so excited to see your friend and--

PAULA SCHROEDER: Yeah. How does that affect your writing? I guess just knowing about the differences in cultures, do you feel like you're a keen observer?

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH: Well, yeah, I'm an outsider now for both societies. So I feel a little bit goofy because I know that what I say about Croatia, since I am not there, I'm not suffering with them, may strike them as a bit facile.

And then what I say about the States, again, I speak partly as an outsider, though now I'm an American citizen. And I feel like an American. I think that being an outsider and becoming an insider is a part of the American tradition, the best part. I like that, that this is one of perhaps very few societies where you can, as an outsider, be also an insider. And that's how I feel. I'm both.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Well, as you say, you're asked to comment frequently on Croatia, Serbia, and yet you are an outsider. We have discovered just doing the news here locally that anytime you talk about the sides in the war in the former Yugoslavia, that very emotional passions are going to be aroused. There is a Serbian and Croatian community here in the Twin Cities. And they call every time they hear something that may be offensive. You spent some time here in Twin Cities.

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH: Right. I spent some time here. I spent half a year here and then more than a year in Fargo-Moorhead. And anyhow, I go to Croatia frequently. I visited there in November and December. I went twice last year. And I can also get upset when I talk about Croatia. And I have some good reasons.

My sister was almost killed. A shrapnel hit her abdomen, penetrated her liver. And actually, she was not the one who died but her husband did later on of cancer. And I suppose because he had to worry so much about her and then about his house, which was on the new Serb lines 200 yards away from the howitzers.

So when I visited, I saw a big hole in his foundation. And instead of actually being very practical, what he was doing was he was building a church in his backyard to pray. And at the time, it struck me as ridiculous that he was doing that. But now it makes sense. I mean, it gave him a dignified exit out of this life. He died in strong faith.

He never moved from the front line. He was very brave. When almost everybody was gone and the houses were burning, he was still there. Obviously, he paid for that. Anyhow, yeah, for me, this is pretty close too. Sure.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Do you get into arguments with people that you meet then about the politics there?

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH: Yeah, I argue with everybody. Yeah, I almost disagree with everybody, too. I mean, I argue with Serbs and Croats and so on. Probably one of the problems for Croats is that we have such a great diversity of opinion so that we are not as united as the Serbs are.

The Serbs pursue their goal of greater Serbia single-mindedly. And I hardly ever run into any Serb who disagrees with that. And with Croatia, you don't have that single-minded orientation. Some people think that parts of Bosnia should be together with Croatia. Others think that Croatia should have nothing to do with Bosnia and so on so that we don't have any kind of united front.

And probably that's the consequence of being weaker for so long. So that divide and rule affects us. And Serbs have exploited that vulnerability in Croats and in Muslims so that for a while, the two weaker sides were fighting each other instead of uniting to fight Serbs.

And that's a long tradition there. Hitler did the same thing, making the Serbs and Croats fight each other so that they could not recover the territory easily. And before that, Austria didn't want Bosnia, for example, to be a very strong unit so that Austria and Hungary did the same thing, manipulated Serbs and Croats not to get along.

So there is a long tradition of this divide and rule, especially affecting Croatia, I think. Serbia, through connections with Russia and so on, has also the other tradition of just being monolithic and wanting to be monolithic.

PAULA SCHROEDER: You left in 1976. What caused you to leave at that time?

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH: Curiosity. See, I was a provincial-- I grew up in a small town of 10,000 people, 70 miles east of Zagreb. So I was a doubly provincial in a provincial country. So out of curiosity, I came here. And I thought I would just study for a while and come back there and become a psychiatrist and a sane person. But nothing of that happened, obviously.

PAULA SCHROEDER: But you are an astute observer of society as well, both American and Eastern European.

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH: Well, I hope so. I've been unemployed long enough. Now I work. But I certainly sat around and watched for quite a while.

PAULA SCHROEDER: What's next? I mean, what do you see as your future? Is it going to involve Croatia at all, or do you consider yourself an American now?

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH: Both the Croatian and the American. And well, ideally, I would like to live four months or so, a year in Croatia, maybe on an island, and the rest are here. But for now, I don't even know how to live there in Croatia and nobody else does really. They don't know how to live there either. But they used to not knowing that. Now since I have become an American, I cannot handle the impracticalities. I cannot stand in lines very well. And I cannot--

PAULA SCHROEDER: Go without electricity and fresh water and things like that.

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH: It's very difficult to get jobs there. I don't really know how one goes about it. It's not a very clear system. And that may change when Croatia is no longer at war, the state between war and peace. So maybe things will be practical then. But for now, it would be very difficult to live there.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Josip Novakovich will be reading from his new book Apricots from Chernobyl tonight at 8 o'clock at Morehead State University and tomorrow at borders books on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. That will be at 7 o'clock.


This is Midmorning on the FM news station. I'm Paula Schroeder. Light rain, cloudy skies, drizzle, that's pretty much what it's going to be for the rest of the day. The forecast for the state of Minnesota does call for occasional showers and thunderstorms through tomorrow.

Highs today mainly in the 60s. And tomorrow's highs will be from the lower 50s around the Duluth area to the upper 60s in the south. In the Twin Cities today, 100% chance of rain with a high temperature around 63 degrees, easterly winds at 15 to 25 miles per hour with higher gusts possible, so hold on to your hat if you go outside. Right now it's 50 degrees in Duluth, 56 in Fargo-Moorhead, 61 in Sioux falls, 55 in St. Cloud, and in the Twin cities, 55 degrees with light rain. It's 12 minutes before 11:00.

SPEAKER: Victory Day in Europe is what happened at I company of the 33rd Armored Regiment, third Armored Division just a little while ago.

RAY SUAREZ: What do you remember about the Allied victory in Europe? And if you're too young to remember, what stories were you told about it? I'm Ray Suarez. Join me when VE Day is the next Talk of the Nation from NPR News.


PAULA SCHROEDER: Listen for Talk of the Nation at 1 o'clock this afternoon here on the FM news station. Well, President Clinton's trip to Moscow this week is intended to focus on ceremonies commemorating the end of World War II. But present day events promise to overshadow the historic ones. New conflicts in the once promising relationship between Moscow and Washington are causing US officials to proceed with caution. Monitor Radio's Cynthia Ingle reports.

CYNTHIA INGLE: The Clinton administration is warning Americans not to expect any breakthroughs at the Moscow summit. That's because several highly divisive issues have cooled relations between Russia and the US recently. They include the continuing war in Chechnya, the Kremlin's protest against NATO expansion, and Russia's refusal to give up a $1 billion contract to provide Iran with two nuclear power reactors.

The US has also complained about a tentative agreement Russia has made to sell gas centrifuges to Iran. The US believes such technology could enable Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. Last night, President Clinton addressed the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, where he said, even with policy differences, it's in America's best interest to support Russia's transition to a more free society.

BILL CLINTON: When we have similar goals, we'll cooperate. When we disagree, as we do, and we will, we must manage those differences openly, constructively, and resolutely.

CYNTHIA INGLE: The Clinton administration is threatening to use the influence of world reputation and world opinion to persuade Russia to comply with its wishes. The US has assisted Russia in gaining access to Western institutions like the European Union and the Council of Europe.

But Congress is taking a more hard line approach. Republicans are threatening catastrophic consequences for US financial aid to Russia if Moscow sells nuclear technology to Iran. House Speaker Newt Gingrich outlined the GOP position yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press.

NEWT GINGRICH: Unless the Russians are prepared to accept very, very severe safeguards to ensure that it's only a reactor for power purposes, that none of the raw material can be used to make a bomb, that there's very careful records kept and very careful inspections, I just don't think-- I think that this is a very serious problem.

CYNTHIA INGLE: But instead of threatening Russian aid, Secretary of State Warren Christopher says President Clinton will share intelligence about Iran's nuclear goals with Mr. Yeltsin while in Moscow. Russian specialist Dimitri Simes is President of the Nixon Center. He's convinced that because of the political culture in Russia, the only threat that matters is the possibility of taking away financial aid.

DIMITRI SIMES: As far as the Russian President seems to be concerned, what is important is to continue to receive Western assistance. How we agree or fail to agree on all these issues is less important than the fact that he is going to be there standing on the mausoleum. And all major Western leaders are going to be next to him, despite all our problems and all our disagreements.

CYNTHIA INGLE: During the Moscow talks, President Clinton will also urge Mr. Yeltsin to announce a permanent ceasefire in the five-month war in Chechnya. Fighting there continues despite Russia's unilateral two-week ceasefire for Victory Day celebrations.

On a clandestine TV broadcast Saturday night, Chechen Commander Aslan Maskhadov promised that President Clinton and the world will know there is a war going on. Paul Goebel is with the conservative Jamestown Foundation.

POEL GOEBEL: The Chechens can be counted on over the next week and especially on the night of the 9th and the 10th, as their military leader pointed out, to make that night a night of fireworks.

CYNTHIA INGLE: Peter Rodman is a former national security advisor.

PETER RODMAN: This summit with the Russian president may be the first of what we may see for the foreseeable future, namely a highly geopolitical summit, a summit where, in fact, now we are again two major powers with major issues in dispute, in which suddenly the risk of a failed summit is real.

CYNTHIA INGLE: Presidents Yeltsin and Clinton have a lot at stake at the Moscow meeting. Both face re-election. And both have been severely criticized for controversial policy decisions. Some analysts believe the Victory Day celebrations will legitimize Mr. Yeltsin's government, making him appear strong and in control.

And by going to Moscow, they say, Mr. Clinton appears to be giving up on efforts to forcefully persuade Russia to comply with the US wishes. Retired American University Russian studies coordinator Vadim Medish says there is no such thing as a born again Russian Democrat. He believes recent actions prove that ties between the Kremlin and the US were never strong.

VADIM MEDISH: The relationship has been called partnership already and friendship and this and that, all of which have been overstatements. We badly need to have a relationship with Russia for a simple reason that they still have an arsenal of horrible nuclear weapons.

CYNTHIA INGLE: The two presidents will meet on and off over the next four days. The 50th anniversary celebrations marking the end of World War II begin tomorrow. For The Christian Science Monitor, I'm Cynthia Ingel in Washington.

PAULA SCHROEDER: It's 7 minutes before 11.

GARY EICHTEN: On May 8, 1945, 60 million Americans tuned in to hear a special program marking the end of World War II in Europe. It remains the most listened to radio drama in US history. Hi. Gary Eichten here.

And on Midday today on the FM news station, we'll mark this 50th anniversary of VE Day with a new documentary on radio legend Norman Corwin and his masterpiece On a Note of Triumph. Midday begins at 11 this morning on the FM news station, KUOW FM 91.1 in the Twin Cities.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Well, Minnesotans are trying to put together a deal that will allow them to buy the Winnipeg Jets hockey team. And at 11 o'clock this morning, Gary will be talking with Wheelock Whitney, a Minneapolis businessman and one of the owners of the Minnesota Vikings, about corporate support for pro sports. But first, here's Garrison Keillor with The Writer's Almanac.


GARRISON KEILLOR: And here is The Writer's Almanac for Monday. It's the 8th of May, 1995. It was on this day in 1927, just a couple of weeks before Charles Lindbergh took off from New York to fly across the Atlantic to Paris.

Two French airmen, Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli took off from Paris on a westward transatlantic flight to New York City. Nothing more was heard of the fliers or their plane. And they were presumed to have gone down at sea.

It's the birthday of the Swiss who founded the Red Cross, Jean Henry Dunant, born on this day in 1828 in Geneva, Switzerland. He was an eyewitness of the Battle of Solferino in 1859, a horrible battle between the Austrians and the French, which resulted in nearly 40,000 casualties. And the horror of what he saw there inspired him to found the Red Cross.

It's the birthday of Harry S. Truman born on this day in 1884 in Lamar, Missouri. Grew up in the town of independence. Graduated from high school there. Took over the family farm in 1906. Served in France during the First World War. Came back to Kansas city, became a partner in a men's clothing store. And when the business failed in 1921, he went into politics as a last resort.

It's the birthday of two well-known American writers, the poet Gary Snyder, born on this day in 1930 in San Francisco, California. Grew up in the Pacific Northwest up around Seattle. Went to Reed College in Portland and later the University of California in Berkeley. Worked as a lumberjack and fire watcher in the woods, an experience that he used extensively in his poetry.

Today is also the birthday of Thomas Pynchon, the novelist born in Glen Cove, New York, on this day in 1937. His first novel, V. came out in 1963, The Crying of Lot 49 in 1966.

Here's a poem for today by George Meredith, his description of the song of the lark from The Lark Ascending. "He rises and begins to round. He drops the silver chain of sound of many links without a break, in chirrup, whistle, slur and shake, all intervolv'd in spreading wide like water dimples down a tide where ripple ripple over curls and eddy into eddy whirls.

A press of hurried notes that run so fleet they scarce are more than one. Yet changingly, the trills repeat and linger ringing. For singing till his heaven fills 't is love of Earth that he instills and ever winging up and up. Our Valley is his golden cup and he the wine which overflows to lift us with him as he goes.

The woods and brooks, the sheep and kine. He is, the hills, the human line, the meadows green, the fallows brown, the dreams of labor in the town. He sings the sap, the quickened veins, the wedding song of sun and rains." From George Meredith's The Lark Ascending.

And that's The Writer's Almanac for Monday, the 8th of May, made possible by Coles Magazines, publishers of Fly Fisherman and other magazines. Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.


PAULA SCHROEDER: Well, that's Midmorning for this Monday, May 8th, 1995. Happy VE Day to those of you who celebrate that. And listen to the noon hour program on Midday for a special remembrance of VE Day.

Coming up tomorrow on Midmorning, we'll be talking about small business and specifically some headaches that Minnesota businesses face. Peter Gillette, the Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development, will be in our studios to take your questions at 9 o'clock. Then at 10 o'clock tomorrow, we'll be talking with Dr. Sylvia Rehm about why bright kids get poor grades. Be sure to tune in tomorrow. I'm Paula Schroeder.

SPEAKER 2: Any music, any time. One phone call. The Public Radio music source 1-800-75 music.


(SINGING) When I grow too old.

PAULA SCHROEDER: You're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. 55 degrees with light rain in the Twin Cities at the FM news station KNOW FM 91.1. Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

GARY EICHTEN: Good morning. It's 11 o'clock. And this is Midday on the FM news station. I'm Gary Eichten. Ceremonies are under way here in the United States and across Europe today, marking the 50th anniversary of VE Day, the end of World War II in Europe.

President Clinton today laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. He now heads for ceremonies in Moscow in a meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. State legislative leaders have split over public assistance for Minnesota investors trying to buy the Winnipeg Jets National Hockey League team and bring the team to Minneapolis.

Governor Arne Carlson is expected to meet with legislators from both parties this week to try to rally support for an assistance package. And an investigation continues into yesterday's shooting at Twin Cities International.

Those are some of the stories in the news today coming up over the noon hour. We'll have more on the 50th anniversary of VE Day. We'll present a special documentary on radio pioneer Norman Corwin and his historic VE Day radio drama.


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