tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN July 19, 2022 2:12am-3:01am EDT
host: joining us next from new york sitting is ellis cose, author of a dozen books including his newest, race and reckonings from the founding fathers to today's disruptors. your new book examines the link between race relations in america and past and present injustices. what kind of historical incidents do you touch on in the book? guest: let me make a point before i address that question directly. when i began this book, it was
my intention to write a book about why in 2016 the united states decided to make someone like donald trump our president. i started with an idea that would have to do with communications, the ideas of truth the political dialogue. it has a lot about that in the book. i also concluded that it had a lot to do with race. the trump presidency owes its existence to racial fears and racial anxieties to a large extent. the book became a book that in large measure looks at our approach to race and ethnicity from the beginning. beginning with the arrival of the first ships from africa and the 1500s and going through the. where was being decided whether
the united states would have slavery or indentured servitude. going to the earliest periods of discussions about the constitution and how slaves would be treated in the constitution in many different ways. looking at the approach to native americans, the policy of indian removal. it looks that the civil war of course, the reconstruction and how america missed a great opportunity to be a multicultural society in that era because it eventually went back more or less to the way it was even though it was slavery without the name of slavery. it looks that world war i and the frustration of black soldiers in the riots that sprang up in the aftermath of the war when the soldiers
demanded to be treated as human beings. the treatment of immigrants in naturalization. we started naturalization law in 1790 that required people to be free and white to become naturalized citizens. any of number of people, including the asian exclusion act, why we entered the japanese and not the italians and not the germans. it looks at the modern civil rights movement and how that came about. the obama presidency, the impact of that all the way to the trump presidency and beyond. it was a wise sweeping book that attempts to make sense out of why this issue of rays has been so primal in the united states, and it has been.
the civil war was fought over slavery which is a question of race. host: this gets to why despite divisions that spread back before lincoln, all-american share a cultural identity and belief in liberty. we also have a history of separateness, marginalizing those who are not white and shrinking from interracial equality. we are engaged in a war over that history but what vision of america will prevail? the one that accepts all americans that is equally entitled to sedition ship. have you answered that question? guest: we will eventually get to a place where we have a multicultural, multi-racial society.
it will take us a while to get there. we are still dealing with the contradictions that began with thomas jefferson's when he declared all men work created equal. all men except these men. these men meaning african-americans, these native americans who were not created equal. the united states has struggled with that issue from the beginning and continues to struggle. the fact that the trump presidency got its wings because he so strongly attacked barack obama and tried to make him into a noncitizen of the united states and came down the elevator attacking mexican and immigrants. it is an indication of how strong that sentiment is. i think it is an extremely strong sentiment to accept america as it is, not from our
old-fashioned notion of america. host: you mentioned thomas jefferson, there was a headline that tours of monticello have gone woke. the message that you are trying to get out with that? guest: i think what it means that people are acknowledging the reality that thomas jefferson was a slave owner. in our version of history, a lot of people in areas of the south are trying to teach an authentic racial history. they want to gloss over the imperfections and people. thomas jefferson was a genius but he was also racist. that is rather blunt, but that is the reality. he owned slaves, he thought blacks were closer to orangutans
than white men and thought they had no place in american society. acknowledging that is not degrading to thomas jefferson, it is simply acknowledging reality. there are a lot of people who don't want to accept it. they want to make the civil war into something that it was not, which it was over slavery but rather states rights. this tendency in southern states to stop teaching about race at all. banned books, ban beloved which was based on a true story. host: your book comes out today, the publishing date today.
"race and reckoning." . any concerns on your part about your book not being taught or being banned in some jurisdictions? guest: i think it is possible that it will be and that is the place where we are. the book is also an analysis of that phenomenon and why we seem compelled, at least some of us to want to do this and bury this history. my argument is, if you bury this history, you don't really understand america at all. you don't understand why there are still ghettos, still segregation, why americans still respond to speech that is racially polarizing. the idea that you can solve that
by simply ignoring it strikes me as nonsense. that's like saying you can solve pollution by using technology that exist. you actually have to deal with it. host: author ellis cose is our guest. the lines are (202) 748-8000 for democrats, (202) 748-8001 for republicans and for independents and others (202) 748-8002. you told us a moment ago that initially, this was not the book you started out to write but it is become a history book. did you find the stories that you researched and wrote about that were new to you or had not known about before? guest: there were certainly a lot of new facts that i had not encountered before. the story that i just mentioned about peggy as a real person in
toni morrison's beloved. i found the reaction to her trial after she killed her daughter. the child she killed was not her only child, whether they would be forced to go back into slavery as well. there were a lot of new facts that i learn. i have been writing for a long time and i have done histories of immigration, histories of the american press. i've a pretty good grasp of american history but there are still things i learned. host: more broadly, you report on things like the internment of the japanese and other incidents of populations that have been marginalized and abused in this country. guest: the internment of the japanese is interesting. they were model citizens, but once the war started, things
became very polarized. partly because they were concentrated largely in california and washington state. but mostly because they were perceived as different. it was easy to make them scapegoats for the war and to return there was some kind of threat populated by the japanese. the general who was in charge of japanese interment essentially made up stories about sabotage that the japanese. stories about sabotage japanese committed out west, none of that was true. absolutely none of that was true. we did not do that with other
enemy aliens like italians and germans because it didn't seem right to do it to those people. host: we go first to marry in louisiana on the republican line. caller: hello? host: you are on the air. caller: mr.cose i am 76 years old. when i went to school, school was integrated. this needs to be told. the whole truth about slavery is not being told. there was many black people owned slaves that had been slaves themselves. not only did black people own
slaves, american indian owned slaves. guest: that is all true. caller: they want to make everybody think that the only people who own slaves was white people. i go all the way back to 1719. i voted democrat for years, all the way up to 2008. i went to the library and checked out books. host: we will let you go and let ellis respond. guest:there's native americans o owned slaves. there were also native americans who became slaves, and the united states for a while thought for a while it might have a number of native american slaves.
but native american indians could escape and find refuge much easier than blacks could. one of the more interesting court cases that i came across was a case of a former indentured servant who was black who had won his freedom and got some land and some money, and actually ended up enslaving people himself and went to court to force somebody to work for him. so you certainly had these cases where there were blacks who enslaved blacks and native americans who enslaved blacks as well. i'm not quite sure with the caller's point was, but that's our history. it was never a predominant fact that lacks were -- blacks were enslaving blacks. there were very few who did that, but it did happen. host: debbie, the democrat line. caller: good morning. mr. cose, mr. cose, mr. cose
-- i love what you are saying. the whole thought i had is from when mr. buckley was on -- no, the people in this country need to tell the truth. the truth will set you three. -- set you free. who was it who said they can't handle the truth? that's why they are banning books. guest: i think that was jack nicholson, but yes. caller: i have to say, when i see these documentaries, mary, i see where everybody had slaves except the slaves. i just saw a documentary on the university of virginia.
where it was, you know, under the regime of thomas jefferson, you know? guest: yes. caller: he told folks, don't bring slaves. we have slaves for you here. but no one wants to know that, even though i believe they know that. they don't want anybody else to know it. mr. buckley, he was supporting glenn youngkin -- you know why? they just had glenn youngkin on the other day and he did everything he could not to admit that they sabotaged the election using books to make folks think. every time their children have some kind of conscience, don't make people think they have responsibility. we all have the responsibility to tell the truth. host: ok, debbie.
we will give ellis cose a chance to respond here. guest: it's unfortunate that you have a lot of politicians who want to, in effect, burn books, bar the truth about american history because they think their rationale, it will make white students feel bad -- that's just idiotic. it's teaching ignorance. you certainly can teach these subjects in a way that is very clear. you are not blaming the students, young students had nothing to do with any of this. so the idea that students, high school students can't handle this kind of knowledge is ridiculous. the whole point of education is to learn reality, to learn facts, to have yourself challenged in ways that you weren't being challenged elsewhere.
so, you know, this approach to education which insists on burying our heads in the sand strikes me as anti-intellectual and stupid. host: who are the -- i should say, who are today's disruptors in the subtitle to your new book? guest: well, the principal won of course would be donald trump -- principal one of course would be donald trump and all of his supporters. the january 6 committee will have one of the chief hearings today and focus on some of these disruptors. the people who want to destroy democracy in pursuit of a vision of america which is outdated and makes no sense -- those are the disruptors i am talking about in the subtitle. host: let's hear from barbara in new york city on the independent line. caller: good morning.
good morning, mr. cose. i want to refer back to your previous book, democracy, we can keep it, by the aclu. did you read the 6-3 decision by the supreme court, in which the court held a violation of the miranda rule does not provide a basis for claims about deprivation of rights, specifically the fifth amendment? and my other question is coming yesterday in new york city, the department of emergency management started running a public service announcement on what to do in case of a nuclear attack. guest: you are right. caller: how likely do you think it is that president biden and the democrats are considering to declare war on rest and will use that as an excuse to cancel the midterms? thank you. guest: that's a huge question.
i certainly cannot see into the mind of president biden, but he has made it very clear he does not want to go to war with russia, so i can't imagine him declaring war out of total surprise to win votes, especially when the united states does go to war, the president in office tends to benefit from that politically, at least initially. in terms of the supreme court and where it is headed now, yeah. i am not going to comment directly on that decision, but i will say in general, you have a court that wants to undo a lot of what the warren court did. we have a court that wants to undo a number of previous courts -- what a number of previous courts did and they now have the power to do that. i think they are going to proceed in doing that to the best of their ability. host: you mentioned the january 6 hearing coming up today, 1:00 eastern, on the c-span network,
by the way. a new headline from the new york times, raskin faces a moment in a five-year crusade against extremism. he will lead some of the questioning today. they quote him in this article about the charlottesville unrest and civil disturbance down there, the attacks that happens down there. charlottesville was a rude awakening for the country, mr. raskin said in an interview, rattling off the list of deadly hate crimes that had taken place before the attack on the capital. there are a number of young white men getting hyped up on racist provocation and incitement. what is your perspective on the incident that day, 2017, in charlottesville. guest: it came out of the same set of issues we are talking about. the young man who organized the march on the other protesters in charlottesville, interestingly enough, was a former obama supporter.
he somehow learned or it had been taught to him that african-americans -- not african-americans, but minorities were projected to become the majority of the population, and he transformed himself into this little white rights person. it's interesting, on a personal level, that he could do that. but where this fits in is we have had a pattern in this country. when there are advances in racial progress, people get concerned about that. we saw that most emphatically in post reconstruction, when the enslaved people became freemen and the south went crazy, and ultimately managed to kick out the troops that were overseeing reconstruction. then there was the dramatic compromise that ended up with
hayes as president. we have a history that sort of precedes all of this stuff, but clearly, and the previous caller talked about it, interestingly enough, the virgin -- virginia chapter of the aclu was actually the agency that brought the suit that allowed the march to go on, where it went on come because the aclu has always held that all things should be protected, even hate speech, and acting on that principal, they did that. but the caller is right and the implication that we have seen in the last few years, an increase in hate crimes, un-increase in the growing community of people,
largely online but elsewhere as well, who dwell on rage and resentment. that seems to be an unfortunate reality of the racial history and our legacy. host: next up is bryce in spokane, washington, republican line. caller: i am from spokane, washington, and i have a question about the tulsa riots. in 1922 under harding as president, didn't the national guard step in to help aid the citizens who were having their rights trampled on after the riots broke out and racial tensions were higher than ever? guest: that's what the national guard and the other troops who were sent in to tulsa were very controversial -- they essentially joined the rioters
and became part of the crowd that was destroying that community. for those that aren't familiar with the tulsa riots, it basically came about because there was a very affluent or relatively well if you -- well affluent black community in tulsa called black wall street. one day, the rumor got started, not clear whether it is true or not, but the rumor got started that a black youth on an elevator had offended somehow the female elevator operator, the white female elevator operator. that blew out of control in the newspapers, they were printing a story that made it seem like an attempted rape. the next thing you do, there was a crowd that gathered, the young man was arrested, a crowd wanted
to pull him out of jail and lynched him. some black individuals showed up to protect him, there was gunfire, and in very short order, the whites decided to march on the black community and simply destroy it. the role of officials, police and other officials in that case, it's very controversial. the evidence seems to indicate that they became part of the rioters. host: we will hear from jerry, next up on the democrat line and sewall, new jersey. good morning. caller: good morning. good morning, mr. cose. i have a couple of questions for you. margaret sinner, who was a democrat, who started the abortion movement, to get rid of all blacks. that was a democrat, ok -- guest: i don't really agree with
that, but she was very active in terms of -- ok. caller: yes, absolutely. now, i could be wrong, but you can straighten this out for me -- most abortions are done by black people. you can straighten me out on that and give me ratios about how many blacks are eliminated. now the other question i have -- host: gerri, give ellis cose a chance to respond on that. caller: i don't want you to hang up on me, i want to ask another question. guest: i will say, it is true that unfortunately, blacks have more abortions than whites do, but the idea that most abortions are performed on blacks or done by black physicians is not true.
host: and you have an additional question? caller: yes, here is the question i am going to ask you. you know, this is a bashing thing on trump, really. i am a registered democrat. i am a true trump supporter. i have never seen a man try to do more for black people. he got people out of jail, he rectified some things to get people who were incarcerated, the length of time, he got out of -- got them out of jail, tried to raise their salaries and get them upgraded. when i look at the democrats, their whole thing is welfare keeping the black man down, keeping them in certain districts and putting them in certain areas -- host: all right, any further response? guest: well, from's son-in-law work for criminal justice reform, so that is true, but
does that mean he did more for blacks than anybody else? i think it would be hard to justify that and i don't see what the basis of that conclusion would be. host: you have a piece that touches on some of these themes. the title is, democracy crisis existed in america long before trump. how do we fix this? we must recognize that our task is not to keep our democracy, but to create one. what is the meaning there, by creating a democracy? guest: for most people, the idea of a democracy is one person, one vote society. where all votes are equal. unfortunately, in america, and this goes back to the structure of the constitution, we don't have that here. the clearest example i can give
is in the senate, where each state, whatever its size, has two people. that was one thing in the old days, back in 1789, 1787, when this idea was brought up, at that point, the largest state of america was virginia and the smallest state was delaware. depending on whether or not you counted enslaved persons, virginia was either nine times or 12 times the size of delaware. now, you have a situation where california is 67, 68 times the size of wyoming, but you have the same weight. these states have the same weight in the senate. the senate is automatically an anti-democratic institution, because it gives disproportionate power to a handful of small states.
but the same mathematics that underline the senate also underline the electoral college, which is based on the number of senators and number of representatives. so you have in donald trump and also prior to that, in george bush, you have minority presidents. you are going to have more because the system is such that that's what it creates. the senate, of course, is the body that approves the supreme court justices. so as long as the senate is so contorted away from what the majority of americans want, you will have supreme court justices who don't conform to what most americans believe. that's not really my idea of a democracy. it's my idea of something else. i think that because we are -- and this goes back to the comment i made earlier -- i
think that thomas jefferson and the other founders, many of them were geniuses. they were brilliant people. but they couldn't see working in 1787 what affects their work would have on a society in the year 2022. the reason they allowed us to amend the constitution, although they made it difficult to do, is because they realized they could not foresee the future. i think the assumptions they made about how america would grow and what kind of a country we would be have created a society that will now have a very frustrating time, because you will have a supreme court out of touch with society, a senate that is largely out of touch with society, and a society where many average people don't think their vote counts anymore. we have to figure out how we are going to solve this problem. host: ellis cose has a long
career in journalism, he has also written several books, his latest is "race and reckoning." we will go next to paul in indianapolis. good morning. caller: good morning, sir. mr. cose, i'm looking forward to buying your book. i love history, since i have retired it is mostly what i do, and there are several questions i have in relation to that. guest: sure. caller: this whole issue of race, ever since i gotten to "this hallowed ground," i realized race was a key issue in the united states. but slavery seems to be unique. china and india did not get rid of slavery until the middle of the 20th century. guest: right. caller: but it seems that scientific racism, social darwinism, whatever you want to
call it is far more responsible for the mess we are in now. we are thinking about people's skin color indicating the degree to which they are involved, if you put it that way. it's something charles darwin came up with end in 1920 was considered to be as good science as climate science is now. don't you think we need to sort of refocus our efforts on correcting this mess? it's not so much based on slavery as a false academic theory that totally disproves what we now know about dna. guest: i agree and i disagree. i think certainly, science of eugenics, which came to the fore in the late 1800s and early 1900s in this country, and started, originated in europe, basically, was a science that
was designed in effect to prove that certain races were superior to others. it's based on total nonsense. people today know that. but the link between, there have been many nations that had slaves that did not have slavery based on race. i agree, it's not an inherent connection between race and slavery, but in the united states, having declared that all men were created equal, we cannot justify slavery unless you make the argument that these men who were being enslaved were not really men. at least not men in the same way. so you had a lot of theories about race that came into play in order to justify slavery. i agree, there is not an inherent connection between slavery and race, but in the
united states, the connection was made immediately and in an attempt to justify something that otherwise would have been unconstitutional, illegal, and totally immoral. that sling -- that's lingered in our society. you can point to many societies that had slavery that was not race-based. one does not necessarily imply the other, i agree with that. host: let's hear from ron in annapolis, maryland on the republican line. caller: ok. mr. cose, let's talk about the present time, right now. guest: ok. caller: a little bit about history, to show you where we are at. in 1965, a small group of guys got together and set up hud, then they went to detroit, chicago, l.a., every major city and bought the worst sections of land. they financed, developed them,
and to this day, own and manage the section eight projects, where 70% of blacks are concentrated, and hellhole projects worse than the days of slavery. today, blacks are murdering, robbing, and killing each other. and, and so, the 30% of blacks in this country, that includes you, oprah winfrey, barack obama, the educated, they are doing fabulous. you have multibillionaire blacks -- kobe bryant was worth $600 million when he died. more than any country in the world. so what are you doing about the 70% that are living in these hellhole projects where these young boys, they either end up getting shot or going to prison? do you know what barack obama and biden did for eight years to help the blacks?
try nothing. go out on the streets and asked blacks who are walking around -- what did biden and obama do for the blacks? host: ellis cose? guest: i would have to look this up. i am pretty sure 70% of blacks do not live in section eight housing, but there is some truth to that, which is that a huge proportion of blacks still live in very segregated housing, some of it subsidized by the state, some of it is not. there is a long and contorted history of why housing for blacks and whites is so different. it doesn't start with obama and biden and those people, it starts with the decision made by the united states and maintained by the u.s. government to segregate society and relegate blacks to some of the worst neighborhoods. the housing projects, which came
in the aftermath of world war ii, were segregated. there was very different housing made for whites then was made for african-americans, and we are still living with the consequences of that. the society we live in was segregated, so i don't think you can blame this on democrats. i don't think you can blame it on republicans. i think it's a result of our unfortunate history of marginalization, where we are marginal and -- marginalizing people. the only way to fix that is create a society where people will be cooperative and he will education. we are far from that. one of the many reasons we are far from that is because in this country, unlike in many other countries, education is financed locally, which means if you live in a poor neighborhood or poor city, you are likely to have a much worse education than someone living in another city. we can talk for hours about
intergenerational wealth and why so many african-americans had nothing to pass on to their children, whereas that's not the case with most whites. i think that's a very complicated discussion, it's not just about a few politicians and not about democrats and republicans. host: here is mike in deerfield beach, florida, democrat line. caller: yes, hi. here in desantis' florida, desantis and trump said we must be willing to die over crt. do you know who else died over crt? mlk. we can't teach that. i am a teacher here. but we have 1500 new -- in the country with one million members that under supreme court law that are allowed to ban caucasians. in fact, you cannot have a non-caucasian wife.
the reason is because of eugenics bias of the first libertarians back in the 1860's, which you spoke about earlier, the source of this racism, herbert spencer and dalton to justify slavery on the basis of science, so that evolution optimizes survival of the fittest. my direct question to you is this -- are you aware that the same things on -- the think tanks on the right and left do not understand this science? evolution is not optimized, number one, and number two, it does not look like competition, it looks like cooperation. they did not know this in the 1860's, but this is a deep eugenics lie, which is why we allowed millions of people to die of covid, where the -- said half of those were preventable. it's why cpac got together as a
group and said, we need to target school boards to push our southern white racism, they basically came out and said that, because they want the freedom to be racist. they want the freedom to be misogynistic and the freedom to be --. host: ellis cose, your thoughts? guest: i agree race is not a scientific category. scientists who deal with dna and realized for a long time -- i realized for a long time that race is not a scientific category. so they are simply a reflection of people's biases and prejudices. what's also interesting, the increase in dna testing and the ability of people to do it, what we are discovering, a lot of people who thought they are white are not quite white by the
american definition. a lot of people who thought they were black are not black. the whole categorization of race as science is total nonsense. i will just leave it there. host: to san diego, one more call, nelson on the independent line. caller: yeah, wow -- that last republican caller is why i am no longer republican. what he said about the black community, it could be said about the predominantly white state of west virginia. most people their get the wealth and everything -- my remark is how the religious part plays into this -- i commented on this last time. people do not know how much evangelicals push the white replacement conspiracy theories that motivated the buffalo shooter, the charleston church
shooter, the pittsburgh synagogue shooter, the sikh temple shooter. in california, john mccarthy totally took the side of the neo-nazis after charlottesville. there were three hours on c-span, he had on his show katie cox field from england saying why people will be so persecuted they have to move from state to state. host: we will wrap it up there. do you touch on america's religious community that all in your new book? guest: only in the sense that i make the point that the part of the rewriting of the history of the civil war was to make it a fight of northern heathens in essence invading the south. i don't tap on the current