Ben: Hello. I’m Ben Wattenberg. Last week on this program, we began what turned
out to be a very vigorous and spirited discussion about Dinesh D’Souza’s controversial new book
entitled, “The End of Racism.” Today, we will resume that discussion to give
you a flavor of why it is controversial. Let me read one quote from page 22 of the
book. Dinesh D’Souza writes this, “Virtually all
the contemporary liberal assumptions about the origin of racism, its historical significance,
its contemporary effects, and what to do about it are wrong.” Joining us to sort through that argument are
in the hot seat, the author of the book, Dinesh D’Souza, research fellow at the American Enterprise
Institute, Glenn Loury, university professor at Boston University and author of “One by
One from the Inside Out: Essays and Reviews on Race and Responsibility in America,” Christopher
Edley, Professor of Law at Harvard University and former head of President Clinton’s Task
Force on Affirmative Action, and Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The topic before this house, “The end of racism:
Part 2,” this week on “Think Tank.” We are back again with the distinguished panel
that we had assembled last week about dealing with the Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, “The End
of Racism,” that viewers who saw that program will remember that it ended with what is called
in the business a vigorous discussion. We have decided to continue it. Dinesh, when we get to remedies in your book,
you are basically saying that all race-based government policies should be eliminated including
affirmative action. This would help create a healthy multiracial
society. You say that private individuals however,
should be free to discriminate and in fact, you say there are times when racial discrimination
can be rational. Explain that. Dinesh: Well, the classic example of rational
discrimination is the dilemma of the cab driver who is hesitant or reluctant to pick up a
young black male particularly at night. The cab driver doesn’t know his clients personally
and young black males, unfortunately, committed disproportionately high rate of crimes particularly
violent crimes in this country. So the cab driver’s dilemma is that he doesn’t
necessarily have to be a racist in order discriminate. In fact, black cab drivers, Middle Eastern
cab drivers, Pakistani cab drivers act no differently from white cab drivers. And the tragedy of this is that if Christopher
Edley wasn’t dressed in this, in a beautiful suit with a lovely tie, the cab driver doesn’t
know. And so he’s going to make a group judgment. Now, we can say that that’s wrong, but it
is… Ben: And as an Indian from the subcontinent
of India, do you ever experience that sort of racism? Dinesh: I’m constantly… Well, let me say two things. First, I think that while many people may
think may not like Hispanics or Asians regarding us to be lazy, or clannish, or whatever, it’s
the suspicion of black inferiority that’s the heart of racism. And so I would not claim to have gone through
the same experience. On the other hand, sure, I run into people
all the time who expect elephants to be walking on the street in India. These are misperceptions that those of us
who are immigrants run into all the time. But, you know, let me say, I would not have
devoted, you know, years of my life thinking about the subject if it’s something on which
I wanted to counsel, malign, neglect, or indifference. It’s something I care about. I want to argue for a set of rules in which
people of different backgrounds can get along. Ben: And your set of rules is… Again, to sort of briefly… Is to get the government out of race-based
and let demark it. Dinesh: It’s what I call separation of race
and state. Look, we need to get the government out of
the race business and what we need to do is pay attention to our real problems. Our real problem is this, that immigrants
are coming to this country including black immigrants, including Caribbean immigrants,
and they are leapfrogging, they’re going ahead of African Americans, and they’re succeeding. They are claiming their share of the American
dream leaving blacks behind. Blacks are not competitive with other groups
in American society today in measures of academic achievement, economic performance. This is the heart of the problem that we need
to address. Ben: Right. Christopher Edley, you just devoted a number
of months of your life to helping the President prepare this vast study of affirmative action,
which deals with the problem that Dinesh is talking about. How do you come out on this idea of the government
ought to get out of the business of race? Christopher: I think it’s both bizarre and
frightening, and ahistorical. I mean, let’s go… But other than that it’s interesting. So… Christopher: The issue to me is not whether
we ought to label the cab driver’s behavior as racist or not. There is a prejudgment in the cab driver’s
decision to pass up the young black male. There is a prejudgment and we have to make
a decision as a society as whether that kind of prejudgment is one that we want to permit
or one that we want to lean against as best we can. Ben: And what do you think the answer is? Christopher: I think we must lean against
that kind of judgment just as we must lean against a prejudgment made by an employer
about whom to hire or who to promote. Ben: But if you were a black cab driver and
you left a wife and three kids at home, and she said, “Honey, be careful today,” or, “Be
careful,” you know, “I always worry about you. It’s a dangerous job, taxi cab driver, taxi
cab driving,” would you resist picking up two young black teenage males at night knowing
what you know about the disproportionate crime rates? Christopher: Look, I’m not denying that is
a tough question. Ben: It is a real tough question. Christopher: We’ve done a lot of things to
try to address the problem. You know, you go in a lot of big cities and
they have plastic partitions to try to provide protection, you have lockboxes in cabs. There’s lots of… Ben: Now I see. Christopher: So what I wanna draw is a distinction
between whether or not we label the behavior of that cab driver or to make the point more
concrete, the behavior of an employer who may not be interested in hiring a young black
male because of a prejudgment that he will not be a good worker or that he will be disruptive,
or something of that sort. Is that behavior that we want to say is perfectly
okay? Is that behavior that we somehow want to try
to prescribe legally that we want government to get involved in trying to prohibit it and
trying to punish it? What I’m saying is that if there’s going to
be any hope, any hope of closing the opportunity gap, if there’s going to be any hope of trying
to take the people who were in the underclass and to give them their fair share of America’s
opportunities, that we cannot allow those opportunities to be depressed by rampant…a
rampant set, a pervasive set of prejudgments of prejudices whether or not you label them
racist. Glenn: I think actually the cab driver’s case
is not hard. I think it’s easy. I think the cab driver has to preserve his
life. In any case, you can’t force him not to do
it. The employment case for racial discrimination
is much harder. Now, I have the attitude that black men don’t
wanna work and so perhaps, I don’t hire them in favor of Hispanic men, or Asian men, or
whatever. The bank lending case is harder still. I think this neighborhood may go down because
the racial composition is such and such a thing. It’s in distinguishing among these cases and
deciding as a society to what extent we can, you know, countenance a certain amount of
rational discrimination and to what extent we must stand for something else. That’s where all the work has to be done. Unfortunately, this work isn’t done at Dinesh’s
book. But that’s not to his discredit because it’s
really hard. He’s really just reporting in this discussion
irrational discrimination about stuff that, you know, many people from Tom Sowell to Sandys
Jencks and others have worked out over the years. How do we get further? That’s what needs to be done. It’s not done in this book. Dinesh argues in this book and on the op-ed
page of “The Wall Street Journal” that it’s time to reconfigure the Civil Rights Act of
1964 so that it applies to government which would eliminate affirmative action and racial
preferences enforced by government. But that it would not apply to private behavior,
which would permit, for example, motel and restaurant owners not to serve blacks legally,
which would permit employers to refuse to hire blacks simply because they didn’t feel
like doing it and so on. Ben: Dinesh, I own a diner in Louisville. The four of you come in and I say, “Chris
and Glenn, I’m not gonna serve you,” that’s okay? I mean, when I was in the military in Texas
a long time ago, exactly that situation happened to me. We went there as an integrated group and they
said they can’t serve. Dinesh: See, the line there is in a liberal
society, in a free society, we have to draw a line between the public and the private
domain. The example you’re giving me, the hotel, the
motel, the diner is a tough one because it falls in the middle of that line, in the grey
area. In other words, is a hotel, a motel, or a
diner, at some level a public institution because it’s putting up a sign and serving
the public. This issue has been addressed by courts for
years. Let’s take a simple case. Let me… Ben: No, not after the 1964 Civil Rights Act… Christopher: That was the heart of the debate,
the heart of the filibuster. Ben: And it was addressed by the court and
they said that’s quasi-public and you may not say you can’t come in. Dinesh: That’s right, right. And I’m not quarreling between the public-private
distinction. But I’m saying right now it is the case that
private discrimination that doesn’t trespass on that fuzzy line is also illegal. And I’m saying that those forms of private
discrimination particularly in the area of… Ben: For example. Christopher: But for example, what? Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act does not affect
who you invite to your dinner parties. Dinesh: Right. The point I’m making is a little bit nuanced. So let me make it first then jump on me. Ben: Please. Dinesh: The sociologist Christopher Jencks,
gives the example of baseball teams. Imagine the case of baseball teams and he
says that if every baseball team in America discriminated against blacks, that we won’t
hire any blacks, the burden of this would fall most heavily on blacks. They wouldn’t be able to get into professional
baseball. Maybe the games would be a little weaker in
quality, maybe fans would suffer a bit, but blacks would suffer the most. On the other hand, now imagine if three baseball
team said, “We don’t want blacks.” Who would suffer the most, blacks? No, because the black players who go to other
teams. It would be those three baseball teams that
would suffer in games, in revenue, in losses, and angry fans, and so on. My point is that in a free society where the
government isn’t coercively supporting racism, there is automatic competitive pressure against
discrimination. Ben: Michael… Michael: This is sophomoric. Dinesh: It’s sophomoric. Christopher: Hold on, Ben. Ben: Michael. Hold on. Michael. Dinesh: What’s wrong with it? Ben: Hold on. Michael Cromartie, you have defended Dinesh’s
book. He is now under serious attack, I mean, about
this 1964 Civil Rights Act. Michael: It could get ugly. Ben: Do you think he’s going over the line
on this aspect of it? Michael: On this point, I do. Yes. I mean, the fact of the matter is if you’re
a black family riding through Selma, Alabama or somewhere in the south, you ought to be
able to stay in any hotel you want to. Ben: I agree. Michael: But if you remove the statutes to
say that it is wrong to do that, then I don’t think there’s gonna be any pressure on the
manager of a hotel or a restaurant to not let you eat there or sleep there, and I think
that has to be there. Ben: Dinesh, I know that you agree, but do
you think… Did you agree so strongly that it ought to
be a matter of law? Dinesh: I agree that… To me, the restaurant, the hotel, these are
quasi-public institutions and the law regards them as such. And I’m not contesting that. I’m concerned more with… Let me put a different case to you and to
Glenn. Go down to Washington DC to a Korean store,
look in the back. You see 15 other Koreans. Is the Korean hiring other people who are
like them? Yes. Right? Is he discriminating? Yes. Should that be illegal? Now, if we decided in our society we wanna
outlaw discrimination, no discrimination is permitted either in favor of blacks or against
blacks, then you’d have to go break down that Korean store and say, “Why are you hiring
other Koreans?” Now, I know as someone who has looked at history
that historically, ethnic groups in this country have advanced by helping their own guys that
this is true of the Jews, it’s true for the Italians, it’s true of the Irish. And I don’t want to destroy those ladders
of good ethnocentrism of people trying to pull up other people who are like them with
whom they share cultural affinities. This is a healthy trend in American society
and in a free society would not regulate it. Ben: Is that now illegal for a Korean shop
owner to hire 15 Koreans and no one else? Christopher: Well, you said 15. Actually, it is illegal. The question is what’s the size of the business? There’s a threshold. I think it’s 15 employees. But in fact, it is illegal. Ben: In other words, a truly small business
can hire all Koreans? Christopher: Right. I mean, I… Ben: But when you get to a certain threshold,
you start saying… Christopher: Right. The notion in the legislative history was
if it’s a family business, you know. Ben: This is the Mrs. Murphy clause kind of thing, right. Christopher: This is really a family… Exactly. Mom and pop. But once you start getting into something
that begins to really be commerce, then it bites. I think there may be a bit of a legal misunderstanding
here. The statute that Dinesh talks about repealing
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is precisely the statute that in the public accommodations
provisions opens up the hotels and the motels, and the restaurants. And in the employment title that opens up
these employment opportunities. The thing that their private behavior that
who’s at your dinner party, who’s in your church, those are not regulated by the Civil
Rights statutes. When Dinesh says what law ought to worry about
is how governments behave, well, that’s done by the Constitution itself through the 5th
Amendment and the 14th Amendment. So the issue it seems to me is what kinds
of prejudices are we willing as a society to tolerate in drawing this distinction between
private behavior that for libertarian motivations are otherwise private behavior that we would
leave unregulated and other kinds of behavior private or commercial that we say, “Look,
sorry. Our vision of America requires a more inclusive
attitude than the one that you with your narrow prejudices might be comfortable with.” Dinesh: See, this is the central flaw here
because the Civil Rights movement for the last generation has been based on the assumption
that racism is the theory and discrimination is the practice. And that’s why things like prejudices are
bad because they are presumed to spring out of the racist impulse. Now, if I am an Indian setting up a cab company
and I wanna hire 25 Indians or 100 Indians for that matter, there are economic and moral
reasons to permit me to do this. There are Indians come to this country who
don’t speak English, who don’t have access to credit, who are strangers in a new land,
and entrepreneurship is a very good way to integrate them into the economy. On the other hand, this is not because I’m
prejudiced against anybody. I am prejudiced in favor of Indians. This should not be illegal in a free society. Christopher: But that it seems to me is the
difficulty when… Dinesh: The difficulty is… Christopher: At what point does the law firm… Look, they’re not prejudiced against anybody. They’re just prejudiced in favor of people
just like them. Glenn: I think Dinesh is wrong on the substance
and we’re obviously not gonna resolve it here. But let me just observe that this argument
is ahistorical and… Ben: Tell us what ahistorical means. Glenn: Well, just the reason that you just
said. You just… You can remember driving through the south,
etc., etc. Now, there were a set of events that dealt
with that. One of them was the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Any good justice will tell you as a matter
of jurisprudence that you wouldn’t wanna repeal a precedent without any good reason. There’s no reason to do it. Dinesh: The reason is… Glenn: To make the world safe for Indian taxi
companies? Michael: No, that was… Glenn: That’s not a serious argument and I’m
not finished. When people said… Ben: He’s sensitive, Glenn. Yeah. Glenn: When people said conservatives were
trying to turn back the clock because they disagreed with liberals about civil rights,
I stood up and said, “You’re wrong.” They’ve got arguments. I think they’re right about most of their
arguments. Now we’ve got conservatives unabashedly saying,
“Hell, yeah. I wanna turn back the clock. It’s a new generation. You people are living in the past.” This is not a tenure. This is a willful disattention to a central
theme in modern American history. This would be not just mischievous. This would be more than mischievous. This would be political reaction of a very
high order and I doubt that you can find two or three serious Republican politicians who
have to get elected, and who have to govern a multiracial country, who will truck with
this kind of nonsense. Christopher: Even Phil Gramm says that he
favors vigorous enforcement of the Civil Rights statutes. You may wanna trim a little bit on… Well, you may wanna trim substantially on
some of the interpretations, but the statutes that’s on the book, he favors these. Dinesh: I’m afraid this is blaster [SP]. I’m not trying to propose political solutions. My book is an intellectual book, a scholarly
book. It’s a way of trying to think through first
principles. What I mean when I talk about “The End of
Racism,” I ask what is our destination? Where do we wanna go? And the arguments are aimed at trying to point
us that way. Now, when I hear these arguments about history
and so on, I’m well aware of history. But I’m also reminded of the passage in the
Bible about Moses leading the Israelites to the promised land. But Moses couldn’t get them there. Why? Because he was too committed to old struggles
and that’s the problem here. The problem here is I’m sure if you asked
Alexander Solzhenitsyn what’s the most serious problem facing Russia, he would say the return
of the Bolsheviks. And here, we have two people proclaiming the
return of the Bolsheviks. I’m simply saying, I have more faith in young
people, I have more faith in the new generation that can get beyond the pathologies of race
that have poisoned earlier generations and made everybody go around policing words, and
saying, “Oh, we are dependent on the government, but not parasitic on the government.” Glenn: Zambo, the Zambos of today. Dinesh: No. Glenn: Who are the Zambos of today, Dinesh? Dinesh: Look, I am… You are citing a passage which deals with
historical scholarship on black culture. Glenn: What I’m telling you is that the rapacious
Jewish moneylenders would be out of bounds in contemporary American and contemporary
Europe for good reasons. And Zambos… Ben: As a phrase. Glenn: As a phrase. And Zambos and sullen field hands, and mammies
is out of bounds. And if you don’t know it, it’s not because
I’m hysterical. It’s because you’re indifferent or insensitive
to something that’s important about contemporary American life. Dinesh: No. I’m not talking about contemporary American
life. You are describing a historical argument about
the evolution of black culture. There’s no question that under slavery, for
example. The person who is admired under slavery was
the runaway, the rebel of, the so-called bad Negro because he was after all not allowing
his spirit to be crushed by oppression. And all I was trying to do in that passage
was to explain how a prototype, an archetype that was admired under slavery, admired under
segregation, the person who said no, who refuse to succumb to the system. Whereas the person who played by the rules
was an Uncle Tom, but I’m saying the world has changed now. And today if you want to be an outlaw, a bad
Negro, or a rebel, you’re going to end up in the hospital, in the morgue, in prison. And the people who attacked these Uncles Toms
and Glenn, you know that there are people who are willing to use these phrases very
easily, many of those who are attacked as Uncle Toms are defending civilization values
including I will say, Glenn Loury. Ben: Okay. Hold on. I wanna try something out here. We’ve seen, to say the least, what the disagreements
are here. The super central point of Dinesh’s book is
to paraphrase the Clinton 1992 thing, it’s the economy stupid. He’s saying it’s the culture stupid. That’s what he’s saying. My recollection of your writings is, if you
strip away all the other stuff, Glenn, you do not disagree with that. Glenn: Absolutely not. More than that, more than that, I agree with
what is a corollary of Dinesh’s argument. I don’t think he makes it explicit which is
that the fact that civil rights leadership among African American since King has not
attended to this problem, has hurt the group politically, has undercut our ability to make
credible argument, has made it possible for a person like me who has been ostracized and
who has spent over a decade making many of the arguments that Dinesh wants to make to
appear to be, you know, oh, just one of those complainers when I object, I think rightly,
to his excesses and his error so that… We have a problem here. We have a problem with race and the problem
has been sown to some degree in my judgment by the intellectual bankruptcy of the Civil
Rights movement. My intention in my writing is to try to work
us out of the problem. I don’t think Dinesh is helpful there, but
I could be wrong. Ben: We agree on this and I think Dinesh agrees
with this also, but he can speak for himself. And that is that racism is still a problem
in American society. I think where we disagree is that some of
these problems are really in the moral cultural arena and the reason we have culture wars
in our society today is because these different value systems about certain behavioral patterns
are being contested. And I think that there are not many political,
and legal, and legislative solutions to getting fathers to go back to homes and having…and
to prevent children from having babies. They’re just not a lot of legal answers to
that and I think that then, therefore, the only reason there is hope is that we do need,
as Gertrude Himmelfarb, the historian has said some kind of religious awakening to rejuvenate
our communities both black and white. Christopher: May I add one more point, Ben. There’s more to the disagreement with Dinesh
I think than something about tone or something about emphasis. What is striking to me is the gap in perceptions
that it evidences between the…at least, the African American perception of what America
is like today and the perceptions of many others. Is prejudice or racism if you want to call
it that, something which is being ever so tenuously repressed, constantly ready to rear
its ugly head reassert itself, or indeed is it genuinely a thing of the past? My fear when I see swastikas in Harvard Square,
when I see Mark Fuhrman, when I see the lawsuit against Denny’s Restaurant is that too many
whites, too many people in the majority culture dismiss episodes like that as abhorrent, whereas
many people in the African American community, many minorities perceive that those are just
the tip of the iceberg, those are just the tip of the iceberg, and those behaviors which
someone dismiss as abhorrent are in the first instance far more pervasive than may be readily
detected. But secondly, ready to mash or ready to explode
insignificance. That is a tremendous gap in perceptions and
I don’t know how we bridge it. Michael: I… We… Ben: Michael. Michael: I take it that the central argument
of this book is that it is a cultural problem, a cultural problem that’s been addressed by
these gentlemen here now. And I think it’s a cultural problem that in
fact is exacerbating the increase of racism in our society. In fact, because of these social pathologies
which are not just peculiar to black people, but to white young people who I don’t have
as much confidence as Dinesh does about their enlightenment about these issues, these social
behaviors, and the fact that we have so many children without parents and so many children
who don’t even know what a father is are going to in fact exacerbate and increase racial
stereotyping and racial problems in society. Unless those behavioral patterns are curtailed,
it won’t ever go away totally, but curtailed, then I think we’re going to have even more
of a racial crisis in the society. Ben: Right. Dinesh. Dinesh: That’s the message of my book. Ben: Say it for us. Dinesh: Well, that if our problems are the
product of genes, we can’t do anything about them. If the problems are the result of racism,
fighting racism I think has run its course. There’s nothing new we can do to fight racism
that will address these cultural issues. So we should realize they’ve taken on a life
of their own and the end of racism is about not diverting our attention from that crisis
and facing it squarely. Ben: Okay. Thank you, Dinesh D’Souza, Glenn Loury, Michael
Cromartie, and Christopher Edley. And thank you. Please send your questions and comments to
New River Media, 1150 17th Street, NW, Suite 1050, Washington, DC 20036. We can be reached by email I think, [email protected]
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