Dr. Carol M. Swain sat down with Prager University’s Will Witt to discuss Black Lives Matter, their philosophy, and goals.
Swain: I am a former professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University. Before that, I was a tenured professor at Princeton University. I am a conservative. I have a podcast. I write articles and books. I am educating the world. The world is my classroom. Welcome to my classroom.
Will Witt: I want to thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. in your intro you talked about how you are a conservative and people will look at you and say a black conservative? I didn’t know those people existed. How did you get to the point of where you are at now?
Swain: I was born and raised in the country of rural Virginia. A southerner. And with that comes common sense. Now common sense is in short supply these days. I had common sense so even when I was a Democrat and I was not a conservative I was not necessarily seeing the world as everyone else did.
So I can always say that my perspective on the world was different. I think that helped explain that I did have success in academia during the years that I was a Democrat. But after I had a Christian conversion experience and I became more conservative then the world changed for me.
Witt: It’s kind of common-sense values. I totally agree with that because I went through college and I thought I was a liberal and a more leftist type of person. Then I realized that the common-sense values that I had actually lined up with conservatism. And I find that a lot of people have those same kinds of values.
But right now in America especially at the universities and young people rioting and marching in the streets we are seeing a huge lack of common sense. What do you think is the biggest problem facing these communities right now?
Swain: One of the biggest problems is that young people who have been educated at our colleges, universities, and middle schools are not being taught critical thinking skills and that it’s so much indoctrination. They are out there, bless their hearts, they are trying to change the world and they don’t even understand the world. They are out there trying to fix things. But they are clueless in a lot of ways.
Witt: One of the things that we are seeing right now is the amount of protesting going on for George Floyd’s death and black lives matter really bolstering itself up. Do you think that Black Lives Matter is doing a lot of good for African Americans in our country right now?
Swain: OK. In 2016 I gave a CNN interview. I was debating an attorney in LA named Areva Martin and at that time the five police officers in Dallas had been slain. And I pointed out because I’d gone to the Black Lives Matter website and they were Marxists. It looks like the points came from the Communist Manifesto. They were talking about overthrowing the state.
And at that time I said that Black Lives Matter was a destructive force in our society and that it was a problem. I caught a lot of grief for saying that. Now the founders of Black Lives Matter have come out. They’ve come out as Marxists. And what I see is people not being able to discern between the statement, Black Lives Matter in the same way that all lives matter.
They can’t distinguish the slogan as a true statement and the organization as Marxist. I believe that the organization itself is using black people to advance a Marxist agenda. And the corporations, the schools, the churches that have gotten behind Black Lives Matter the organization, they think they are helping black people. They think they are showing support for black people but actually its the opposite.
Witt: Why do you think that so many people support an organization like Black Lives Matter when you can go to their website. You can see their views and ideas. They said they want to literally have no police anymore in America. Why do you think there are so many people so attracted to those kinds of values.
Swain: They are not attracted to it necessarily. Now some of the people that support Black Lives Matter are supporting it because they think if they put a poster in their window that their windows won’t get broken out. So they think that they are paying protection money. That never works. I think anyone who really understands the organization, how could they support it?
I believe that white people are cowardly especially at this moment in history and they feel like they want to show that they support black people. We don’t hate anybody. I’m not racist. I can prove it. I give money to Black Lives Matter.
Witt: We were doing a video today in Venice beach about this police brutality and defunding the police. We talked to a couple of black students and how we were trying to work together with them. I don’t think you are racist. I don’t think you are racist.
Then we talk to this white woman and she says that as white people we are racist. I said we just talked to some black kids and they didn’t think I was racist but you as a white person are coming in and telling me I’m racist. Do you see a big disconnect with what white people are doing in this country versus what black people are actually getting offended by?
Swain: It would be comical if it wasn’t sad. And what I see is that the critical race theorists, and you know critical theory is a part of Marxism. And critical race theory argues that racism is permanent. You never get rid of it. That whiteness is property.
So every white person and the poorest white person in Appalachia have this valuable property. You tell that to JD Wallace’s relatives. You tell that people that grew up in Appalachia have this valuable property. I think that the white arguments about white privilege and white people have to divest themselves of their whiteness.
And so the lady that you encountered was some “white person trying to be woke” she thinks that by saying that to you that she has divested herself of her whiteness which she doesn’t realize that the way things are going with race and the way attacks are taking place, a lot of black on white attacks.
It seems to me that there are fewer white on black attacks but that may change. She thinks that it will buy her protection. It will not buy her protection. But they are trying to get protection. And they are trying to feel good about themselves. And some of them are affluent. That’s not necessarily a privilege.
That means you had parents sometimes that made good decisions. There are people that have black privilege. I know plenty of blacks that grew up in affluent homes that never lived in ghettos. They’ve always been surrounded by middle-class relatives. That’s black privilege. I know some whites that have never had anything. Their mothers and fathers worked. Their mothers worked at Waffle House. It’s a lot of nonsense. But I think that one thing that white people have learned is to be silent.
Witt: That’s definitely true. What do you think is the solution for fixing what’s going on in this country with race tensions I really think higher than ever? How do you see we fix these kinds of things?
Swain: Back in 2002 I published a book called the New White Nationalism in America It’s Challenge to Integration. At the time I was a Democrat but I was concerned about hate crimes that were taking place at that point in history. I commissioned interviews of leaders of white rights and white nationalist organizations.
Going from least extreme to most extreme. What I saw that there were certain conditions and issues that I felt were creating devils rue for racial unrest. I believe some of what is taking place today are the fruits of identity politics and multiculturalism.
Because multiculturalism argues that every group needs to identify and celebrate their unique history. What was pointed out by some of the white nationalists is that every group except whites? They felt that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution that white people were not being protected.
I felt that the way out for America was we needed to move away from identity politics towards the national American identity. We are in this together. We will stand and fall together. Right now there are some legitimate issues that need to be addressed. Even in the black community. Black crime and the abortion rate.
The racial preferences that have in some cases placed people where they shouldn’t be. So you have a lot of college students not going to class. They are easily offended. They want to re-segregate. Some of those students are in colleges and universities where they do feel marginalized. They are frustrated. They can’t do the work. And I think its easier to protest.
And to them its systemic racism. I would say that systemic racism, I was born in 1954. That was the year of the Brown versus Board of Education case. There were segregated schools then. That was systemic racism. In 1964 we passed the Civil Rights Act that opened up accommodations and ended all kinds of discrimination in employment accommodations.
It opened up many opportunities for blacks. 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed. 1968 the Fair Housing Act passed. We had moved towards a colorblind society. But immediately, and this came from white elites we got race-based affirmative action. And at that same time, women were added too. So we got affirmative action that included women from the very beginning.
By 1971 there were five groups that were added to affirmative action. And so it was never really exclusively about blacks. But there were people that clearly benefited. And the more middle class you were the more you benefited as a minority.
When I look at America I see for more than 60 years people have been aggressively trying to erase the past and present effects of discrimination. Slavery and Jim Crow racism. Acts of the federal government that were discriminatory. People have worked and trillions of dollars have been spent yet we hear that racism is the worst than its ever been.
I think that the system works towards ethnic racial minorities and the things that we are focused on now that have to do with police brutality that blacks and people of color do have a lot of interactions with police. Millions of interactions we hear about these cases where things go wrong. But the black crime rate is problematic.
Blacks are thirteen percent of the population committing over 51 percent of the violent crimes. A lot of it is black on black crime. It’s problematic that Black Lives Matter focuses on whenever a white police officer kills a black person but not on the black on black crime or that women who are 13 percent of the population are getting 37 percent of the abortions. And that’s being pushed by the Democratic party. There is something very very broken. There is something wrong. There is plenty to be addressed.
Witt: Those same black kids that I was talking to at the beach and asked them these questions. I asked the, how many unarmed black men do you think were killed by police last year? One of the kids said 1500.
Witt: I said is police brutality the biggest issue facing the black community? And he said oh, of course. What if I told you it was only nine unarmed black men that were killed by police? He was like, what? No way! That can’t be true. They are so misinformed.
Swain: Far many whites were killed. A black person is likely to be killed by a black police officer. That the white police officers are less likely to fire. And I’ve had a concern about people resisting arrest. Because in a lot of the cases that I’m familiar with, not all but in many of those cases it involves someone resisting arrest.
That will never end up well for anyone who is resisting arrest. And I think that we’re reaching a point like with this movement. They want it so unless a person voluntarily says yes Mr. Policeman, I’ll get in the back of your car and I’ll ride downtown that the police officer won’t be able to use any type of force to get anyone into the car. Policing collapses at that point.
Witt: Yes. Then they keep pushing those issues. I don’t know if you saw this but in San Bernardino, they labeled racism as a public health issue.
Swain: Racism is a public health issue but it doesn’t run in the way they think it is. It’s the white liberal racism that’s killing black people. They are killing black youth. When they tell black youth that police officers are going to shoot them and they can resist the authority and they need to be suspicious of authority. They are ruining people’s lives.
And that disrespect of authority starts in the classroom. So you have public schools taken over. Nothing can be done because they are practicing restorative justice. And the restorative justice keeps criminals in the classroom. Teachers leave and kids that are afraid of the criminals, they drop out of school.
Witt: That’s the exact same thing not only with police but with the interaction between white people and black people. I went to a high school and middle school that was very diverse. There were black kids, white kids, Mexican kids. I never had a problem with racism. But people are coming in now telling them, “Oh, America is so racist.” What is that telling these young black students? They are telling them that white people have a problem with them and that black people should be scared for white people. They are putting racism there where it wasn’t before.
Swain: I know. And most people that I know like blacks and whites we work together. We go on vacations and go to church together, there is no race problem. There is only a race problem when the media creates a race problem. I think about myself. I grew up in poverty.
High school dropout. Married at 16. I went to a community college then went on to get other college degrees. I did not have anyone telling me that I was a victim. Because I was black, poor, female that I couldn’t do the things that I was able to ultimately do. I believed in America. I believed that if I worked that I could achieve the American dream.
Which I did. Now when I got to graduate school that’s when I learned the theories of oppression. I learned that I was black, poor, a woman, and a mother and that I couldn’t do the things that I had already done. Had I heard that at a different stage in my life, I’m not even sure I would have tried.
Witt: Yes. It seems to me that conservatism and those common-sense values that we talked about in the beginning are things that you are innately born with. Then leftism has to be taught to you usually at a university.
Swain: And it’s so sad too because the teachers are teaching that BS. Can I say BS on this show?
Witt: You can say whatever you want.
Swain: The people that are teaching the BS are clueless. They don’t know what they are talking about. And a lot of times it is young white people with guilt because they had two parents. Oh, that’s the most horrible thing to have two parents, right?
So they look at people and they feel sorry for them but they are really racist because they believe because a person is black or they are living in the ghetto that they are not able. That they are less able to do things. And to me, that’s very crippling.
For people what you believe your attitude is far more important than your race. Your gender. Or anything like that. Or your social status. Your poverty. Your attitude and what you believe about the world. I would say that for anyone of any race or socio-economic standing. So you could be born and raised in the most affluent family white and still be disadvantaged because you are crippled by what you believe.
Witt: I keep going back to these interviews I did today but again with that same white woman that we talked to saying your racist and I’m racist and there are ll these systematic things against black people.
Swain: How does she know?
Witt: How does it make them feel? All of these hurdles that only white people can overcome.
Swain: And that only white people can save them. I was just in D.C. and the Black Lives Matter they had their graffiti everywhere. There were signs everywhere but there were a lot of white people. And if I were a Black Lives Matter activist if you can imagine that, I would be upset. I would be seething at the fact that white folks, young white folks took over my movement.
Witt: I mean the audacity, I don’t know if you saw this one woman she’s a white woman talking about racism and she’s yelling at black police officers.
Swain: She identifies as black I guess.
Witt: We should have her join the NAACP.
Swain: Well, they would take her money for sure.
Witt: Yes. I’m sure they would. Going back we were talking about your upbringing and things like that. the history of the Democratic party and we get emails and messages at PragerU all the time or to wake up to the truth. I just want to say thank you for that. For the people that haven’t seen that video, what is the main message, and what really is the history of the Democratic party?
Swain: it was the party of slavery. It was the party of the KKK. The Jim Crow racism. It was the party that maintained the lynching. And when the Civil rights Act of 1964 passed more Republicans than Democrats voted for it. So it has been the party of segregation. And it only made the apparent switch when blacks got the right to vote.
So they brought some into the system. They have really maintained a system. Think about their embrace of Margaret Sanger and abortion where 80 percent of the abortion clinics are in black neighborhoods and they don’t have the interests of black people.
Witt: People always say and the number one argument on that video is always that the party switched and that Republicans are the real racists.
Swain: They have to believe that. I can tell you I was born and raised in Virginia and Virginia is the state that had massive resistance to integration. In fact, even though I was born in 1954 and started school in 1960, it was 1968 till we integrated into Virginia. Prince Edward County in Virginia closed down their school system rather than integrate.
The Byrd machines – that was a political machine – they fought integration. And in 1969 the state elected its first Republican governor Linwood Holton and the first thing that Linwood Holton did after he was inaugurated was take his small children by the hand and walk them to public school in Richmond which was prominently black and enrolled his two children. He was the one that started appointing blacks in Virginia.
And so in Virginia, they have a governor now Northam, he’s the guy that appeared in blackface. There are pictures of him in blackface but the Democratic party has not changed a whole lot. And I’m a Virginian, I love my state but at the same time my state has not been very good when it comes to race. And for the most part, they’ve elected Democrats.
Witt: In stark contrast to that though you talk about the Republican party as well as being basically the anti-slavery party started.
Swain: Yes. But the video that I really want people to watch and that does not have as many views as my PragerU videos on the Republican party and the Democratic Party and the big switch. It’s the one about the three-fifths clause. I don’t know if you were taught this in school but you hear well-educated people saying that at the time the constitution was ratified that blacks were considered three fifths a person. Three fifths a man. That is not true.
Witt: I have. Yes. Yes.
Swain: You knew better, right?
Witt: Well I didn’t then. (Swain chuckles)
Swain: I’m urging everyone to watch that video because that’s not what the debate was about. It was not about if black were three fifths human. The south wanted to count all 6,000 blacks because they would get more seats in Congress.
So it was really the anti-slavery that wanted the three-fifths clause. They wanted it because they did not want the south to get all those extra representatives in Congress. Had they gotten those representatives slavery would have lasted longer. So it’s the opposite of what the people believe.
Witt: When you look back and the things that I’ve learned now versus was I was taught in school. I was forced to read the Howard Zinn novels. Peoples’ History of America.
Swain: And people are still pushing that. And the most dangerous thing out there now is the 1619 Project by Nicole Hammer Jones. She works for The New York Times. And she’s really a big reparations advocate. Going back to reparations and saying that things are worse than ever for black people.
Nothing has changed. All this systemic racism. Again, I was born into systemic racism. I knew about systemic racism. What we have now is not systemic racism against people of color. I think it’s more racism against white people at this moment. Particularly white men and white boys. I think there is a lot of shaming.
And the woman that you encountered, this is someone who is ashamed of her race. I don’t know how many times she must have been down on her names begging for forgiveness. But to me, it’s a disturbing sight to see white people begging black people for forgiveness for something their ancestors may or may not have done depending on when they arrived in the US.
Witt: It’s like using you as a prop to make myself feel better.
Swain: It’s virtue signaling.
Witt: Exactly. Exactly. Going back to me reading the Howard Zinn novels and just and you as a professor at university for a long time. Different universities, do you think that young people right now are taught to hate America and what this country is founded on?
Swain: They are. You cannot sustain a nation that is not proud of their country. And I can tell you growing up in the 1960s I loved America. I believed I lived in the greatest country in the world. I believed in the American dream. I love the fact that I was a Virginian. I came from the state that produced five presidents.
All of those things were important to me and I got it through my civic education. And I believe I’m a better person because I believe those things. What disappoints me today about America is that we have a Constitution. We have the Declaration of Independence.
We have so many resources and we have strayed away from the things that have made us a great nation. And I believe that America is destined to fall unless we change course. When I think about nations that rise and fall I think that we are pursuing a path that we are at risk of falling to Russia or China or North Korea.
Or one of those nations. And it is because we are destroying ourselves from within. It is no foreign enemy that’s out there with a gun. We are destroying ourselves by using all the hype around the coronavirus and the hype around racism that we stir up through the media and take everything and racialize it.
And the people that are doing this, a lot of them are Marxists and they want communism. They are working for China. To me, it’s very disturbing what’s taking place right before our eyes. Not everyone can see it. And I’m glad that you are a young person and you can see it. The people that watch your show, they can see it. There are young people that are “woke.” We need everyone. All hands on deck.
Witt: What would you say to close this off and to give advice to young black people in America. What would you tell them?
Swain: Don’t trust what you’ve been told over the decades. What you are being told in school in most cases. I think that they need to dig in deep and get their own information. And not just parrot what other people say. This is for white people too, I find that a lot of young people will come to college and they’ve solved all of the big issues of the day.
They can spout off the politically correct answer to every issue. It’s stuff that they’ve memorized and been indoctrinated with even in middle school. That’s not the truth. They are being manipulated. They should not want to be educated where they only get one side. They should want to allow other people to speak. They should not be shutting down free speech.
And I say to conservative youth as well as liberal youth, get both sides. Get more sides. Sometimes there are three sides. More than two sides. Make sure you are not just listening to one set of voices. You are not being educated. You are not being challenged. You will never find the truth that way.
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