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tv   After Words George Will American Happiness and Discontents - The Unruly...  CSPAN  November 11, 2021 10:58pm-11:58pm EST

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up next on book tv: >> first thing i want to ask, how do you approach your role as a writer in particular a political writer? >> first thing, a political writer, politics is not a big part of most people's lives, it should not be a big part of life of a
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healthty society, if i don't write a score of columns of my hundred columns a year on books, i'm not doing my job. politically country is obsessed with presidency. there is presidency. and everything else. although, the head of one of our three branches of one of our many governments, whose job is outlined in article 2 to take care that laws are executed. we have thiss presidency that absorbs the energies of the country and space and ink of journalist, first task to say i'm not a political columnist. >> seems that, what has always stood out about you,
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i see so often a temptation for political writers to score points rather than make points. but you, maybe because you choose to focus on people whopo don't politics: ... but there is a principal and evolved i've tried to find the negative of larger principal constitution that will remain.
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the focus on that makes politics rich and moree nourishing. >> host: so many of your writings i remember you called bill buckley the most consequential writer of the 20th century. he had a purpose with of the things he a was advocating for. why did you call him the most consequential? there was r a national review in 1964 and before there was the national review with there was the spark in the young mind therefore bill buckley among the cold war.
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>> the compressed version, yes. and at the cheerfulness to the political argument. >> how important is the fund? >> traffic. on whom i cast my first vote in 1964 i think was running for the city councilrs in phoenix in 198 and wrote a letter to his brother and it might be life and it might be fun. it certainly wasn't fun. do something else. first of all, i love to write. one hundred columns a year, but i happen to like politics like a
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lot of politicians. but i admire the business. we have to have politics and government and laws. therefore we have to have argument, the culture of democracy is a bottom of culture persuasion and the argument is fun. if you don't like argument, you picked the wrong country. explicitlyic rewards it they cal it an engagement but how do you stay focused on making the argument in a fun way because politics you can get invested in it. thent stakes are high in these days as you know so how do you stay detached enough when you
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sit down at that computer every day? >> what seems earthshaking today isn't really shaking the earth. looking for the second nice thinglo but you look back and sy what was it that happened in the carter administration that had me so excited about something gerald ford did? i can't remember. it also makes you take a deep breath. >> one of the things i admire is you have a happy attitude about you are not afraid to complement the complex problem. as i was flipping through the book i noticed is that you write about the lynching in american history and i think there is a complicated debate unfolding that in the conservative circles
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about things like critical race theory which is sent to talking about history and lynchings but that gets muddled and confused. you told a story about a lynching that happened in illinois not far from where president obama announced his campaign so can you talk about as a conservative that grew up in michigan, i wasn't taught these things. >> learning about the riots it was theal tulsa program, that's what we called it and we should have called it that here. i heard vaguely there was an unpleasantness but i knew nothing about it and i should have. conservatives sometimes flinch from the disagreeable history
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because the disagreeable are presented by some progressives as definitional and typical, and it requires a kind of mental equilibrium to confront these things and put them in context. this is why we are having such a fight about the egregious 1619 project, the fundamental assertion that the founding not of july 1776 it was when the first arrived and what made this reframing of "the new york times" as a crux of the matter was according to them the american revolution was front because they said they escaped slavery and fought on the side of the british and american
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revolution would be emancipated. well, this is just flat-out historically illiterate. i think you said that in november, 1775 after lexington on concorde. after the boston tea party and after the boston massacre and after george washington was made at the head of the army. >> host: but you think there's a reason people want to start the conversation because there is this blindt to stop that whn people don't know and it may be when someone comes up with the project may be it's the first time someone has heard it and said let's give it a chance. so hiding this part of history from us because it does happen
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and it isn't taught. why is that? >> to suggest they are not doing it on purpose and the way we teach history, when we teach history is cursory and unserious. the reason we are arguing about it is it matters. in 1984, orwell says he who controls the past controls the future and he who controls the past controls thehe future. we argue about the trajectory of the nation. one of thete interesting pointsi never considered when it comes to this what do we know about american history has to do with another lynching that you wrote about in a column and you read the point that the government had knowledge and documents but they were classified and wrote what we cannot do, secrecy tell us what we cannot know and there
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was a role for government in this not necessarily making these things public. >> the man that was my best friend, pat moynahan secrets our government property and governments become acquisitive about the property and secrets and secrets make us necessarily or unnecessarily ignorant. this had to do with grand jury testimony from 60 or 70 years ago. what is the point of keeping this secret? >> you ended it with saying what is a case that should be but isn't part of the memory too cold to learnrn more about so it seems we should not shy away from this. do you think that conservatives
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in particular should take an interest in this complex history rather than fighting about the rt because it seems this well formulated argument that tells us why we do need to know rather than fighting about what other people present. >> conservatives should pay attention to the lynchings and other matters because it gives conservatives to make the case ofo this astonishing progress. it sets the course of the country and hasn't really gotten all that better and the illusion is a sign of systemic racism and all that stuff to which i think go to a football game and the head referee is an
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african-american bossing everyone around and penalizing them and it's as close as we come to an established religion in this country. it turns into a great affirmation of america to understand how bad things were and how much better they are today. >> do you think the discussion is further hindered when athletes decide to take any? you don't think it is something they should a plan about? >> 95% of what they talk about they shouldn't talk about and a president has to become where is that in article two?
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they have the house of windsor to do these things. the ceremonial gather around the office of the presidency. >> it's the easiest thing to talk about and a modern technology. people say it was a more fundamental revolutionary change than m television because it was crucial to the nazi party. one of the first things they did is make so everyone could have a radio. radio gave the bully pulpit
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residents. when a franklin roosevelt sat down to give his first fireside chat, he began with two words that do not appear in the text. try to imagine george washington saying my friends. calvin coolidge. roosevelt understood the modern presidency and pioneered it more than anyone else. he was going to create a new intimacy with the country. i don't think we want to be that intimate with presidents. they are the head of one branch of many of our governments.o >> who did it right or at least came close to it? ronald reagan was famous for communicating with the public and say bring them back. >> there's nothing wrong with
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communicating. it is wrong to say the president should be front and center all the time, communicating all the time. when they were making their brief run for the democratic nomination in 2020, he said to me and you will get a president you won't have to think about for weeks at a time. i was for him. >> do you think, you'd mentioned the advent of radio but certainly social media changed the game, not just the presidency and how they communicate. how have you witnessed that change not only how the candidates communicate about how people receive information and react to it. >> and how they talk to end abuse one another. i've never tweeted. if i had to, i wouldn't know
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how. to be fair about twice a week a member of my staff tweets out 240 characters. i am told i have a facebook page. i've never seen it. i've always thought that the quality of stupidity rather to the size of the population was constant over time. i'm no longer sure. it gives such a philosophy. i do think it elicits it. here i want to credit the website, to talk about at the prudential issues he talks about constitutional law for the first
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amendment ucla. a fascinating argument on cheap speech and what used to be to communicate with others on radio or television station or printing presses and all that stuff. now inexpensive beyond measure, it's free. anyone can say anything to anyone. that's some democratics. there is a downside to everything including this. they had gatekeepers and responsibilities and vulnerabilitiesad.
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they understood between stark raving mad lunatics who now could just get them out of there there sothere's a cost to every. how do you think that plays into the cancel culture on the right side of the aisle there is a debate over the social media moderation and what to expect on the platforms to say whatever they want so how do you balance the abuse and idea that we support freedom of speech and you counter it with more speech, which i believe in but they've wavered just a little bit when it comes to these issues. >> i'm still a section 230 absolutist that facebook or
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these other social media platforms are not publishers and enable people to be out there but they are not liable. i think i'm for that. these are private corporations and are tremendously important to the square but they are also not forever. there is such a thing ass monopoly fatalism. they are forever and unchallengeable. i could exhaust you with all of the unchallengeable monopolies going on. in 1935 there's one for every 9,000 americans. when is the last time you heard of one?
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in 2007, the cover-up for forbes magazine talking about nokia five months before the cover came out and another monopoly was about to be on sale and and another monopoly was about to be on sale and nothing is in mortal including these giants today. >> they are being challenged but they say you can come here and say whatever you want and then have these things that happened where they kicked off twitter and put theirir messages on it o it seems we are almost in this vortex where no one wants to attempt any responsibility then you see these giants like mark
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zuckerberg say please solve this problem for me. >> i'm not sure that you accept this serious argument it should be treated as common carriers. if you open your doors, anyone can come through. let the public in an entirely. this has lots of wrinkles like colorado baker. i want to turn to a completely different subject that has a lot of applicability. another hard to subject that has to do with how you've approached the abortion debate and a wonderful way of talking about the heart beat bill and
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attempting to have a debate about the viability versus trimester and i want to explore your thinking behind it and how it's received. >> did you ever think what whate the constitutional wall of abortion, that's a phrase right there that would amaze the framers of the constitution. what would the constitutional law be if the number of months involved in the gestation were a prime number, say 11 or 13, couldn't have trimesters. where did we decide because mine is divisible by three, there should be different constitutional imperatives by each of the three segments it makes no sense whatsoever. people say it is a great triumph
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for the human condition can agree with this constitutional law and is pro-choice said so. ruth bader ginsburg had her dodoubts about the way they didt constitutionally, which is why the argument coming up in the mississippi case argued of this fall and decided by next june of the midterm election is going to be a momentous. for the private right of action to explore this and take it to the court. i know that some conservatives
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inpatient with the making progress of against roe v wade and not recognizing patience is required for the constitutional government and rule of law and it will just empower citizens with a bounty of $10,000 to sue people someone has to say waitpa minute, wait until california's as theyon have a private action against hate speech were $10,000 to drag people. >> i am all for private enterprise but not for out sizing. >> you do welcome the case. >> viability is going to change, has changed but again we have to confront the fact this makes the problem, pro-choice people say the one person is involved, they
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say there are two individuals involved and we have to argue that again. >> you think there couldn't be progress made on making the argument about viability with all about the science now boasts 73 and how children can survive. >> the fact is intrauterine medicine now can do wonders. i'm not saying you can't split the difference. to some people on the right to life side say that the moment of conception there is a distinctly unique creature that is going to become a person that's true that's not medieval theology but if we had abortion laws much like those in europe, for
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example, it is hardly a theocracy these days. if we had a limit on abortion of 20 weeks, that would be 95% that would still occur and the temperature would go down. >> basically i'm splitting differences. >> and it will be decided by the court. >> roe v wade would be overturned. there is 8,000 legislators in thee country one of whom say we want to return roe v wade but they say spare me that. suddenly abortionf is illegal. it's not true. overturning roe v wade would establish and reestablish abortion as a subject regular bowl by state law and you would
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differences. you would have one regime in louisiana and one in new york they are looking forward to this because they believe that it will energize suburban women going into the 2022 election. arguments are going to be made but it's going to turn into a fight given how emotional this issue is. >> people are emotional about everything. you can imagine what it's going to be like. june,em 2022. >> i have a lot of faith in them because they are believing well and i have minimal faith in the
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other branches of government at this point. if we are going to have a limited government, it depends on the supervision of democracy by the judiciary. congress will not limit itself and it will not stop violating the nondelegation doctrine from enforcinge which says legislats can make laws but they are not other legislators so that congress ought to stopo delegating legislative powers to executive agenciesut such as to take example not quite at random the power to have an eviction moratorium from the centers of disease control or the power off occupational health and safety to impose mandates on private sector employees.
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>> the supreme court overturned the ban which went on for far outside the powers and you also could have the question but what do you think are the most important decisions that impact life in the modern time. i remember being reluctant to overturn obamacare and on the tax mandate i find it hard to have a lot of faith in what's coming and it will be a counter tooer many things brown v boardf education gave the court and the alarmist prestige because it went against public opinion and not just public opinion in the
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south. how many americans remember brown v board of education wasas against the education of topeka kansas. a northern segregation story and the fact is courts exist to stand against majorities. >> as a michigander i like someone also around the midwest. >> champaign county courthouse typical midwestern the square according to the local law, very prosperous challenging lawyer in the courthouse when he learned stephen douglas the illinois senator had succeeded in passing through the senate, the kansas and nebraska act. they said we are going to solve the problem, a vaccine question. should slavery be extended into the territories voted up or
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voted down the important thing is to vote because america is about the majority rule. lincoln's ascent to greatness began with that doctrine. he said america is not about a process majority rule it'ss abot a majority and that is where the courts come in, they exist to rusay majority rule is all very well and should have a broad sweep, but not a limitless sweep. .. i get every morning of my
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5:20 a.m. by 5:21 a.m., i'm listening to an audible book and i shave and have breakfast, walk to lunch, two and a half to three hours a day, i'm listening to books most often on history. >> you canur tell by how many facts are shoved into every sentence. i'm a niche time to think you spend reading as opposed to writing. >> somebody said what do you do, are you a writer? i say no, i'm a reader. i'm done reading, i write. when you come to washington, you start running down your capitol because you don't have time to replenish it.
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my friend who i once rudely said, proved that wasn't so. pat cap writing and producing serious books but the trick and life in washington, everywhere but particularly here is to keep your capitol restocked. >> since this is book tv, which books have impacted you the most? >> akash. >> more recently. i know there are so many books. >> biography of john calhoun, a very bright man. >> that's a bad [laughter] >> but it'ss true, very good thing for and a terrible cause,
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white supremacy. >> yeah. >> speaking of bad causes, this you wrote in 2018 about the holocaust museum in washington from place to go learn, it's hard to go there and learn about it. obviously you went, into eternity -- you tell the story. >> you have to refresh me. >> i can't read from it because i'll probably cry a little bit but it's a woman, she chose to go with him. >> the holocaust , someone discovered it our way. photographs and letters about a woman in czechoslovakia. >> correct. >> sent to not just a concentration camp but at best cap.
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i've written a lot about the holocaust because an italian survivor it happened once, it can have and event, and of reasn for writing about the holocaust. nothing is unthinkable. nothing. >> it's also striking that you don't write about it to be sad or scare people, you include this incredibly moving letter from human natures noblest manifestation, 43 million 90% who are non-jewish so the statistic you found that makes you think it's horrible,is we ae learning about this and dug out thehe got it, man's noblest vire
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and we are telling about it and working through. >> when they first decided to build the holocaust museum next to the mall in washington. >> which was controversial. >> it was and these are not bad people but they said wife? i wrote a column saying the mall was wonderfulit geography and monuments to washington and jefferson and lincoln, a tribute to bright light of american life, reasonable american experience. it there are all the more important, this american nation, the enlightenment confidence they have. it's important to have a slack son in which to scare, the holocaust museum. it was because of that ferris
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asked to go with the delegation, went to poland to get the artifacts. >> was that like? >> it was sobering. i got helicopter to have my 12-year-old son. we got off the helicopter that took less than and my son looks down and set -- >> did you ever question taking her 12-year-old son? >> no, he's bound to learn. he looked down and said there's a bone and i said david, sorry, it was jeff. i suggest, but your imagine run away with you. the man said it's either a man's report of child rape. it just keeps sifting up the remains there. >> do talk about it with your son part of it?
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i'm asking out of personal my children took a field trip to the holocaust museum, i'm dreading it but i know they neo to know about it and i know people have trouble talking about it because it is difficult. >> i went to the holocaust museum new york. in a class case there is a heel shoe a woman put on when she was taken to the train and i began to think about, where did she think she was going with that to try to capture the reality of what they went through his a test. >> the people who live in the past didn't know they were living in the past. we always need to think about that. >> the past is another country. >> you. which like authoritarianism and
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fascism has gone up a lot when it comes to our modern political culture. how do you feel about that? do people have an understanding, are they cheapened, if necessary, should they be used? >> they should be used when their opposite but they rarely areld. donald trump is not fascist, he's not complicated enough to be fascist. it takes an actual intellectual predatory. but fascism had a doctrine, a worldview, biological theory of the world, strife is inherent and racist. we don't have that in this country. we havewe authoritarian and patient, dogmatic pretenses.
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fascism we don't. >> i noticed in your writing you make the argument. you come back with disbelief that any authoritarian here would be tempered by the court. what makes you so confident about that? >> because they've behaved while in the past. even when they make mistakes, they correct them. too squeamish to face the difficult past. t i've spent three weeks on bainbridge island and then driving down thetl road and i se japanese exclusion memorial. after president franklin roosevelt signed to allow the military to approve japanese, two thirds of americans, half women and children and moves
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them from the west coast. the first wants to leave for from the island and bainbridge island said we are going to face that talk about it. the supreme court in the decision in 1944 performed executive power by franklin roosevelt. 1983 supreme court repudiated the decision that we were wrong in 1988 i believe it was congress voted reparations for us. americans are good at best. the question was about the courts. nothing is certain but the courts have a good record protecting speech, not so good protecting constitutional equilibrium madison gave us but if the courts don't do it, no one will.
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>> in the scale of history for mike to give us perspective because people have been so worried about what happened particularly january 6 when he saw a violent mob deliberately disrupt peaceful transfer ofo power and proceedings, first court cases going through for those individuals but are not sure that's something the court will solve. >> the court should solve problems, the court should apply the law against the constitution. a very short walk from where we are sitting, they've now put up fences again. they put up fences. >> you don't think it's necessary? >> it's an absurdity it looks like the american world is a banana republic.
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the police can surely control the crowd. that of police. the idea we have to take the united states capitol, the greatest secular building of daily use in the world, very simple at the epicenter of american democracy and protect it from a rebel? no. >> what you make of what happened in generate 2020 where the president cleared the square? it seems a different problem but posts 9/11, to put up the barriers in every possible opportunity when these things come to the front? >> user, he held upside down bible as a prop outside the church across from the white ofe
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aspect of our politics that is degrading politics. today it's almost entirely performative outfit, people making gestures. >> you mentioned -- >> courts have to decide and they have to give reasons, write opinions and concurrences and dissents which is why where we really do political philosophy. we don't have government. i say we do because they rank
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with themis but we do constitutional lawyers and argument, constantly political philosophy about the nature of freedom and freedom as opposed to an intentionnd with equality, we do it all the time. >> you be against cameras in the supreme court? >> i'm not so sure. we've seen recently cameras do not bring out the best in congressional committees. i do think the justices would behave. >> i be content if they made radio available in a more timely fashion. you mentioned your son, i imagine your writing has taken you many places, one o of the mt memorable ones? >> a trip to israel was quite good. everyone ought to go see how small it was.
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you can drive across and 30 minutes. i think that's the most memorable. i remember going to the soviet union and what struck me so weird about this place, absences of advertising. i think he said it would be beautiful if you couldn't read. [laughter] but there's no advertising because there's no private appetite. you weren't supposed to be consumers, possibly persuading people and i thought, i like advertising, coke sign and bud light and all that. >> you're in the business of persuading people and some respect. [laughter] what you see people where you maybe change minds?
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>> i'll tell you one that didn't. there's one of this book that have maybe stirred more people to anger, jeremiah against denham. a chance to illustrate you can illustrate large things from small things. you go to an airport concourse and there's a father in his late 30s and his 10-year-old son and they are dressed exactly alike. running shoes, blue jeans, t-shirt. mom is there and she's wearing blue jeans i said there was a time when different dressed signal different stages of life if we grew up.
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[laughter] what does this have to do with larger themes? missed -- somewhere in the last 20 or 30 years, apparently came --w, parenting is important. it encourages the belief and parental perfectionism. if you do it right -- >> you think it's a new thing? >> i do. >> it's neurotic? [laughter] i want to go back. >> i was ten yearsas old i would open up the backyard has built out on a summer day free range parenting, it was called being a kid back in those days and you are free to fail, is called growing up morning how to cope
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with failure. today helicopter parents hover over their children from bubble wrapped children to protect them from injury, not just to the chainsro and use and elbows but injuries to theirir psyches. guess what happens when they go to college. they say direct me to a safe space. i want freedom from speech and i want the response team to run around and capture the micro aggressors. that's where these people one campuses come from, from parent we didn't let them go out and skin their knees. >> you obviously have a great interest in academia but why should we care so much what happens on college campuses? >> because what happens on campus doesn't stay on campus, it leaks out to the larger culture and because what is
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happening to campus matters very much, i took 800 years of passage through ecclesiastical political tickets to golf the great universities of the greatest ornaments of western civilization. you can pick it away in a generation or two. we are doing that now where in the name of diversity, we see enforced conformity. >> how do you see that? >> we have young people who attest they are reluctant to speak their minds on college campuses. we have speech codes struck down in many cases but still proliferate. we have speech zones. james madison turned to the u.s., north american continent into a free speech zone.
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go to texas -- a gazebo, 20000 self, of gazebo is the free speech zone. you can't make this up. the university wants trigger warnings on trigger warnings because the phrase trigger b warning, a warning makes people unhappy and sad and nervous and triggers, you know what they make people think of. >> so what should be done? i've talked to college students and what comes to me is the fear of being canceled, if i do cause an idea i posted on facebook or something from it could come back to bite me, i could lose fellowship or this so there is this thing people, i don't have the right advice for them. >> speak anyway. find some friends and fight back. fire the individual rights of
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education, scrappy poop group of people, green light for good, amber light for problematic. >> there are so many college trankings. in want of organizing supporting students both on the left and right on free speech issues but who is doing the right? >> which colleges? >> yes or maybe programs. >> university of chicago and a number of universities. as usual, purdue university and daniels, the president we should havetc had but the president of produce university has made this clear. free speech, medicine lives in west lafayette or wherever it is. >> so i imagine this gives you
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the opportunity to have conversations and people asking you to writepe things. i might have been on one side of that once upon a time how do you choose when you have incoming information? obviously the history is a wonderful resource but taking the most important thing to write everyday there are so many choices. >> that is unusual for you to say, most people say how to come up with things to write about? the most commonly asked questions when i began as a columnist, i asked my friend, how do you come up with things to write about? it's like three times. week. i say the world, it piques my curiosity, world is littered with things to write about. he said he could not get a landscape. if you are a columnist from can't look at the world, they
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just come at you. >> what you think is theos difference between writing about politics and speaking about it? people recognize you obviously all thehe time they are complety different things, closely related. >> well, writing is demanding and writing columns particularly because they are sharp. i adhered strictly to 750 words, it means you have to be concise and elliptical and assume certain things. most americans don't read newspapers. majority and minority who do read them don't read . that is a good thing. here is why. it means you have a self-selected audience intellectually upscale, people
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havepl come to reading your coln because they're interested they are because they havee a stock f knowledge in a tickly audience. you don't have to talk down to them, you shouldn't talk down to them because they came toou you knowing what they were going to get. >> a final question because i know listeners are interested, i've asked you about the history but order or other forms you read and what you watch, or even know if you watch television what is going into your mind on a daily basis? >> mostly reading. i want of a columnist, ruth markets the washington post, holman jenkins others in the "wall street journal", and a lot
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of counted friday and i read the aggregators, politics or policy, clear conspiracy, a tremendous amount of good writing. >> thank you, it's been a pleasure and i hope everyone gets the book at their bookstores available everywhere. >> thank you, i enjoyed it. >> "afterwards" is available as a podcast so listen, visit or search c-span "afterwards" on your podcast cap and watch this and all previous "afterwards" interviews at book tv network, click the "afterwards" button near the top of the page. ♪♪ >> weekends on c-span2 are an
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america before and after the pandemic two hours later, guests will be roxanne dunbar who discusses native american culture and history month women's liberation movement, founding of the united states and for. outlaw woman in indigenous peoples history of united states not a nation of immigrants. carol who served as vice chair of president turned 1776 commission. she talks about critical race theory, 6019th project, immigration and more. we the people, 1776 report and recently published black america. friday 8:00 p.m. district on t center. you can access our programs online at or follow along on c-span now, you feel at. >> next on arbor interview program "afterwards", former democratic senator ben nelson of nebraska discusses the client of bipartisanship in the senate


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