« The Weeds

The war on bad statues

2020-06-30

Jane, Dara, and Matt on Confederate Memorials, Woodrow Wilson, and the battle for historical memory.

Resources:

"Woodrow Wilson was extremely racist — even by the standards of his time" by Dylan Matthews, Vox

"Inside the growing movement to ditch Columbus Day and celebrate Native Americans instead" by Victoria M. Massie, Vox

"The battle over Confederate statues, explained" by German Lopez, Vox

White paper

Hosts:

Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior Correspondent, Vox

Jane Coaston (@cjane87), Senior politics correspondent, Vox

Dara Lind (@DLind), Immigration reporter, ProPublica

Credits:

Jeff Geld, (@jeff_geld), Editor and Producer

The Weeds is a Vox Media Podcast Network production

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Support for this episode comes from click up. We lose an average of three hours every day, switching between all our work apps, but you can get them back with click up a flexible platform that brings all your essential tools in one place we can prioritized. Six collaborated, docks check with your team and track goals. So companies like Oberon web flow use click up as their mission control Centre for placing every other after we're using before cook up even guarantees to help you save one day week and get more done. It's completely customizable. It's free forever! So try click up today. At click up dot com, slash the weeds. Sometimes people are just tearing down stuff. Could that famous called a tear down stuff there? Was it like history Phd their ban like ok, everybody, yet still as these S grant with key the storming Atlanta, but He owned a slave,
Hello welcomes the episode of the weeds on the Box Potass network. I met with grace. He is here which in Coastal Dara Lynde, we wanted to talk about some of them. The raging controversies over over names and symbolism, man and things like that. This sort of star did with question bout, confederate commemorations of various kinds, Ebbene of which to me the most obviously notable are statues of Jefferson Davis and and others in the statuary hall, at the capital and in the name of the confederates on military bases,
I assume that none of the three of us here want to stand up for the importance of Fort Hood and and Fort Bragg end for the idea that Mississippi should regard Jefferson Davis as one of their most eminent citizens, but I'll give you a chance. The way in yeah. It seems to me that what where this is another case in which we are discussing something that's tangential to the thing that we perhaps should be discussing, but this is way easier. Like its way easier to have a debate about whether or not Jefferson Davis was good at anything. He was not, or whether or not certain so confederate luminaries were actually all that luminous. They were not or whether Nathan Bedford Forest bust should be in the Tennessee State House, which was placed in a night in seventy eight it shouldn't. But this is a discussion that it's it's far easier to have
debate and to make it about. Like you, wanna take down, monuments did Thomas Jefferson, then why were these standing for such a long time in the first place and what you statues or these memorials? What are they actually mean right, eminent? There is also the there's something here of kind of fighting the last war or like there's. There is a sense. I mean nothing about the lake murder of George Floyd necessarily like lead directly to and therefore, confederate statue areas, bad rate, I think some of what's happening here- is that this is kind of a reminder not only of like all of the unfinished work. Just generally of like all of our failed previous reckonings with raised, but more space, the last time we really had a national reckoning on whether whether black African progress had really caught had proceeded fully
enough was in the wake of the Charlottesville protests in twenty seventeen, which were about confessed. Monuments, and so I think that both in terms of like local activism, there was already groundwork that had been laid. Some local office holders who had already kind of been won over to the cause, but hadn't necessarily wanted to spend political capital once it fell off. The rate are now realising that this is a fairly easy thing for them to do, and, of course, its duties is, as you said, it's easier to point to the symbols than it is like. I don't know it it look at heart cases in which black Americans have been this? adequately marginalized in the american story, and you know it's easier to talk about confederate monuments than it is to think about some of the intellectual work being done by these ten nineteen project or kind. Of course core I did
to liberal America as well as to you know that the particular regional politics of the south- and I think, we're getting a little bit of that with increasing attention to people who were not confederates, but who, nonetheless like were slaveowners or slave traders or who like what Wilson, for example, whose name is no longer going to be on the school of public affairs at Princeton, were like. Notably racist figures, who were objectively, not good for civil rights. For that that's getting to some of the you know some of the heart harder conversations here, just in the symbolism of space, but it's still like it is so much easier to talk about what something is called than to talk about. What, by Fits is systematically conferring upon certain people and denying other people
I do want to talk about the confederate commemoration, because I think it occupies a sort of distinct space, which is that public monuments don't do anything wrong. Like they are just symbolism. So genuinely the most important question to ask about the display of state statues in the: U S, capital is what does it conveyed symbolical, societies need simple, as that, he's just a plain cities, a public place in which the Congress has said each state. Send us statues of two people whom it wants. To commemorate? do you see it said the most important thing in the world right leg. We got the Civil Rights ACT in the Voting Rights ACT done without getting rid of the Jefferson Davis Statue and then make a huge difference in the lives of millions.
People, but also unlike the Woodrow Wilson School of Public affairs or former Woodrow Wilson School sexually. How does it do anything right? so the most important question to ask about it really is like do these symbols make sense and what the selection of statues there from the southern states. Said like what it symbolized was that african american Southerners are not members of the political community right both by who was present people, like Jefferson Davis and by who was absent right like Martin Luther King, is not sit on one of the most distinguished Georgians according to that display, when, by any objective sure he is just a very large share of the southern population right and they Have any statues commemorating southerners than they had many statues commemorating southern rebels saving with military bases right, like.
I don't know like these bases are named after people write like a whole bunch of american military bases are named after a bunch of people. The purpose of that, like it's, not a fund, raising thing it's for the mill Harry to say like what are we all about and what they had been saying is that the confederate military tradition is part of the american military tradition, and that is, I think, said. Nothing important thing in the world, but it is a like morally and factually erroneous statement, like those people are rebels who fought for a bad cause for political reasons. History was rewritten to stay like air, was all fine, we had a breakdown of compromise and like now. There is a push, I think, rightly go back to a sort of eighteen seventies, understanding of what was going on there, which is that, like those people
the rebels and traders- and they are bad- and you know that to me is- it's true. That is an easier conversation that mug. What do we say about George Washington, but like precisely because it's easy, like I think, it's worth having and also worth asking, but why does Donald Trump like cling so tightly to Fort Bragg like what does he care right? I keep joking, which is not really a joke that this. I would think that if I'm TED crews, unlike evil Democrats who in slaved black people there among monuments to them across the south, but we have set- you forgot
it take on the purported innate racism of the democratic Party. We should rip it out root and branch by removing those morals anaemic. That is a political play that would work to me, but it is not the one that is happening now and I think it's worth while having a conversation briefly about what these memorials and what these monuments were intended to be because I think there are a number if you live in any number of southern states, but also, host of states that were never part of the confederacy. For example, there are confederate memorials in Arizona which was not a part of the conversation during the civil war, and so there are memorials in many towns. The south to war dead. That are honouring these specific people who went and fought and died for the confederacy
Then there are the memorials or the monuments to the idea of the Confederate Sea itself or to the claims of the confederacy or to the concept of the lost cause itself, and I think that is important to recognise that those are that to me is a difference here, because I think that there is a case to be made for aught for having a memorial in a town that lost fifty p. All who, when I thought the can for the confederacy, had died at Antietam or died at any number of battles that took place across the United States. But then there are the memorials that were put up in nineteen, thirty, four, basically as part as during a siege of tear that was taking place aimed at black Americans
following: the disintegration of reconstruction and the incorporation of Jim Crow you're. The efforts made to reconstruct the confederacy are such an important part of why these monuments were put in place and even monuments that were met to there's a monument at Harpers a to a man named Heyward Shepard and its amendment that was put up by the United Daughters of the confederacy in nineteenth, which gives away the timing and Heyward Shepherd was a man who was killed a according to this monument, eight industrious and respected colored Freeman, who was killed during John Brown attempted raid, which John Brown was do, was doing as an effort to start a slave.
All too of ultimately end slaver, the United States and the monument was put there as it says, to exemplify the character and faithfulness of thousands of negroes who, under many temptations through subsequent years of war, so conducted themselves that no state was left upon. The record, which is a peculiar harry, of the american people and everlasting tribute in to the best, in both races, essentially a statute to the good ones and in response the end, w C p put up its own statue that was written by w e bead was such to honouring the Harper S ferry rate and John Brands, efforts to end slavery. United States, but these monuments themselves became a part of the effort to rewrite history. They were not just reflective of this town at last, so many young men to this war
but to an idea of what the war was about or idea of what the confederacy about that was false right. I think that it can be difficult both for just kind of. I think curricular reasons of like this story that people get taught of american history in school kind of the gives massively short shift to reconstruction fur lake, though thanks Ideological reasons, and just it's easier to think of the end of a war, the end of a chapter in history and then kind of move forward. So it it's hard to rock this. Something other than the kind of low march toward progress that were tie happens towards equality in american history, but essentially what have here is the result of like First Lee decision, at the end of reconstruction by the federal government, to kind of abandoned Rachel Justice Project in the south and to instead
allow with the white elites of the south, who had been the drivers of the confederacy fully back into the bosom of the United aids as Ino as full and equal citizens at the expense, of the black southerners in those states who they had been trying to uplift and then subsequently to that you have wave after wave of effort to continue rehabilitate the confederacy, which I think that there are probably points at which, like the senators who voted to allow a confederate rapid, former confederates to be seated in Congress. The members of Congress who voted to withdraw federal, oh, who approved the withdrawing a federal troops, there is probably a point at which those people would have said. None and we're not gonna have statues in the capital that commemorate these people. We just said that we should be spending federal using federal, resources to like keep them down, but ones that,
decision was made that white Southerners counted as Americans, Lack southerners relate nodded Moreover, that equation it was something of an inn a penny? In for a pound situation, it was more convenient for the north to forget. That was to kind of rain in people who they had already said. Well, ok, you know you're you're back now. It's done your cool, then re. You know at an end So am I mad level like? I do think that, precisely because this Jane was saying like this was such a deliberate project. On the one hand, it's very important too. I do think too, like go back and, to some extent undo it in a deliberate way. Then there's this kind of other question which has been hanging out there ever sentence, which is: should there be a kind of general review,
You wait a of everyone in american history, through a racial justice lens and you could, you could take it on a few different levels. Right so like when, when you had a dispute about Calhoun College, they put out like a very learned entreaties about you know like how they thinking about these things, and the thing they ultimately said was that, like John Calhoun, wasn't just a guy who had racist views or did races things, but that, if you ask like, why is he thinks right, like the thing that he is famous for its being the anti Bellum champion The southern white supremacy like TAT, is what his political legacy is like any member of Congress. He did a bunch of stuff like that. Just like that's what he's famous for Daniel Webster, was the New England guy John
who was the southern guy and Henry Clay, was the midwestern compromise guy and like that's how we summarised at all. So if you're celebrating Calhoun, you are celebrating that Calhoun legacy right so ok right, but then that, like naturally starts to slip its battle into questions like Thomas Jefferson, who I think, if you ask a normal American like, why is Thomas Jefferson Famous and it's like one He was the leader after the declaration of independence. He was an early president. What what's up, his gravestone famously, is like he was the author of the declaration of independence. He was the author of the statute of religious liberty and he was the founder of the University of Virginia like that's what he wanted to be known for, but he was also objective way. The John Calhoun of his error, like the leading politicians of the American South. At a time
when the Americans out was dominated by a southern plantation on class? And you know, when you look at the historical record, ever since he was a kind of a little bit of slavery, sceptic for I'd southern plantation owner, but he was so very much. White, southern plantation honour and a champion of southern political interests and we now have thanks to the book and the music all dislike, Neil Hamel Tonia in view of american history, in which Jefferson is like the bad guy of his era, but then that pushes back to George Washington, who was also southern plantation owner slave owner super rich. You know exploiter of enslaved peoples, bird, but was actually in the opposite political faction. Who'd did at the end of his life
a mission of his slaves was not really a champion of southern sectional political interests as a political figure. He was closer to, at least by gathering from from branch earners. Biography He was more like a guy who felt that this was wrong. Morally speaking, but just enjoyed being rich, you know and so like when he died. He freed his slaves because he was not personally giving anything up and he was like a where the rest was not the right thing to do. Purely the reason we commemorate George Washington is that he was the first president and the military leader of the revolution. Is that because right, the slave owner. But he really was like it's. It's quite you'd have bad more fairly well did in his in his life and and that's a tough one like that,
hard thing like to ask America to give up on George Washington lights. It's also interesting, though, because I think that one of them challenges here is that a monument doesn't have contact. A monument is just like here, is a very large image of this person, whom we are honouring with that might with that money not everyone gets a minuets. I regret there is not a monument to a monument to my personal founding favorite founding Father Governor Morris, who is radically anti slavery and also kind of a player in an interesting and fond way and died because he perform surgery on his own penis? How can you not put up a monument to that? But this is an era of making decisions about who gets honoured and with what- and I think it's important to know that Sometimes I ice treated about an earlier, but I've seen the argument that you, while there
operating in a different, the founding fathers were operating in a different context. They dont have a quote here from a piece I found earlier. The better of the acquired knowledge and evolving morality of the past few centuries, but clearly they were having these conversations about the morality and the legality of slavery, Thomas Jefferson, with famously deeply passionate about this subject, while also having sex with slaves and slaves that heat that were forced at young ages to negotiate with him to keep possession of their own children, and so I think it's worth while I know this is complicated, and I know that this is
but I think that Matt to your point that we're not honoring Thomas Jefferson, because he had sex with Sally Hemings and a person he owned. We're honoring Thomas Jefferson, for the actions that he performed on behalf of. In our view, this country and the questions and decisions that he raised and that we are still trying to answer and trying to put into greater context I want to close the window as our alike of forty cops outside my window. I just want to clarify that if you want to find some commemoration of Governor Morris Saint Ands Episcopal, see, summit Mary in the Bronx is where has the his final resting places, health there's a little allow a lot a monument there ass. He can check it out. He hears the woke found there
he had lost his leg, jumping off a balcony to escape from the enraged husband of woman. He was sleeping with that's a story that is in fact story. I really don't want to know what kind of Lindane, but so I think that, to a certain extent, this is one of those problems that solves itself a little bit like. Yes, monuments exist without context by in cancer in which monuments should taken down which names should be effaced, like you have to that that conversation. And requires contextual, is contextual eyes, the people involved requires like articulating us, standard for who deserves to retain commemoration and who deserves to have stripped from them, and so you know, I think that there are plenty of pretty obvious stands. You can take that prevent us from being a slippery slope and just like worth
pointing that out right, because when there were there, there is a little bit of you know: conservative react, gin where in twenty seventeen they were saying. Well, if you take down the confederate monuments, next people will becoming Washington and Jefferson, because they were slaveholders and now but there are increasingly lay questions about Washington endeavours in their thing, see we told you so you know these people just want to face history. Entirely and wood saying that it's good to draw the line before after Washington or Jefferson, or anything like that, it's obvious that you can articulate principles that say Confederate Little League defend defensible principles that they confederate statues are bad but we should keep George Washington or that say we should get rid of George Washington Bay. Should necessarily take down a grant statue. Just because Ulysses S Grant inherited Lake got one slave from his in laws and was extremely awkward about it and late free dude at great personal cost. What we often
having in the method of eight about monuments. Writ large isn't actually, these specific conversations, those conversations that are, usually happening in the coming, That is where they're talking about the specific monument as a national conversation, it's usually kind of divorced from any particular conduct, because it's not really about ape particular monument or name it's about. Do people who grew up with an understanding of american history that they could be proud of and that they could see themselves in. Should that understanding be shaken because of the Americans who did not grow up, seeing a history that reflected to them. In progress inequality and who instead saw people venerated as heroes who treated them as property, but don't you think we should say white like there has been some real slipping up. The slope nah right, which is included not just like to me,
pulling down a statue of grand. The grounds that he had inherited this slave from from his in laws seems a little historic graphic Lee questionable in terms of your understanding of grand, but like also in Wisconsin, like the crowd, just pull down to statues of people who one was of an abolitionist who died fighting for the union and the other as I think, just an abstract symbol of progress, like you know, It was just like you know: it's like a guy you can see. What's going on right, it's like people start tearing down statues. First if a political reasons and the next thing you know people are tearing down statues because it just like the Inn thing to do right. I think there is a moment here were like I will go down
The fighting on my belief that sometimes people are just tearing down stuff because it seems cool to tear down stuff there was it like history Phd their ban like ok, everybody? Yes, jealousies, S grant was key to storming Atlanta, but he owned a slight like. There are a lot of people who are really mad about stuff, and sometimes when you're mad about stuff tearing stuff down seems cool than awesome. And then later you get, in my view, can have a back filling but light at a certain point like I'm not sure how Such cogent thought is going into this right. I mean it's definitely worth distinguishing between the institutions. All changes. The lake Mississippi Legislature, voting to finally remove you know confederate, let you symbolism from its flag, the official processes are happening that are going to be much harder to reverse then just tearing down a statue and that are
happening in the context of like a law. Time in a long process of political debate changing minds and that sort of thing and just statues that are taken down which can be put up again right, like that's gonna, be a calculation of much money. Do you, as a local government, want to spend defending this thing that you never really that you may be never really cared about to begin with, or that you do find me really embarrassing, but not quite embarrassing enough to like take the initiative Take down on your own bet: it's they are too different processes and too there are definitely cases in which prose asked broadly, whether their lake directly taking statues down or the poor objections on statues that we've seen a lot of creative, relations of over the last few weeks where to kind of highlight that the statue that the debt, the monument needs to be taken down, you're, just broadcasting facts about slavery and lake images that re centre you, the Black American,
Europeans, on top of the thing that you want to want to take down like those obviously A very important role to play in pushing not not just pushing the window, even primarily, but in pushing polish James, who might otherwise capitally support you to actually make this a priority. I think it's worth treating that seriously as a process and not just reducing it to like. Yes, people get excited in terrorist uptown. I think that we do, or in some things from the cases in which their sustained this em around something that wouldn't have necessarily been identified as a target like the staff You have linked, there is ill of Lincoln and linking parking DC jet has attracted us amount of has attracted some sustained protest. It's like there's one Fred The argument that is Abraham Lincoln wasn't himself and you know an abolitionist primarily.
He was a unionist and therefore he doesn't deserve to be treated as an abolitionist hero. But then there is an argument that just about the depiction on that statue, which is basically lake, the great full slave kneeling to Washington, Desiree kneeling to lincoln- and you know, submitting himself in gratitude, it's it's not. I think that you can have a conversation. Bout should we be honouring Abraham, Lincoln. That is separate from. Is this particular start? You a good look similar Congress An avenue would like the Teddy Roosevelt Monument, where he's being flanked by an extra we stereotypical black American extremely stare, typical native american Lake. It is, through that even monuments there, created by weight Americans for White Americans that
if they're nominally celebrating progress towards equality might be doing it in a patronising way right and it's interesting because Frederick Douglass spoke at the dedication of that statute, which DORA speak of it even during the speech. What he's doing- and this is why I think that Frederick Douglass is most important figures in american history, because he is writing and speaking with the understanding that he does not need to make the case for the statute to black people. He says in his speech that this statue is so that white people can't claim black p our ungrateful, so they literally put up this statute to be accede. Sea, like we're very grateful, for and though slavery now, if you could like and the masculine Rings and Jim Crow policies out, be cool, but like don't say that we were not grateful to Abraham Lincoln for helping to free us. So there are not a lot of statues of Woodrow Wilson. Around person
but there is a leaders have deemed after him now, the school Instead, it is not going to be named after him. There is talk about changing the name of the high school in Washington DC that same after an and Wilson is an interesting case here. I think not unlike some of these other things, were really disagreeing about commemoration. Unlike what should be the norms without naming things, it isn't genuine re evaluation of Woodrow, Wilson Right Thomas Jefferson, leaving the statues aside. I think, like everybody, is that the declaration of independence was a big deal and also that site where it was bad and we're just sitting. Talking about how to weigh them. Wilson until very recently was considered a great american president not just by some people, but specifically by Progressive America, gains that these
standard. You know you read like Arthur Splendours books written during the Kennedy administration from a progressive point of view, draw a lie in anything. It's a real lie like this is not fair violence Historiographer between Wilson's administration, after yards administration, Kennedys administration, I'll be J, unlike the civil rights, acted Medicare and medical, then, and all that stuff right like that, is a real, the red in history that exists from the League of Nations to the United Nations. To today, We're saying Guantanamo Bay is a crime against humanity right, like that's a real thread Union, the idea of a regulatory state right and liquor against will belts and you would trip suddenly find like even just like when I was young- was a sort of trolling libertarian thing.
To be like ha ha ha. You left these. Don't recognize that, like your God wells faces that goes to this understand. It's it's been. This is a side note, but the degree of commitment that some people on the right think that liberals have True Woodrow Wilson or you re Robert Berg in West Virginia they're like well. What about I'm like? I don't care right, I'm not sure how much of that is. A genuine gotcha and how much of it is just a continued like rhetorical effort to conflict, liberal and democratic and therefore to Lake reassure conservatives that, because the working Party institutionally started as a freeze. Oil party, that day them
jobs are not responsible for what that the inner that they that they cannot be the Party of white supremacy in twenty four Central America. I dont think that its eye, and it does not strike me as one of those things that's actually supposed to lake- get anybody's go. So much is just you know. Distance themselves from any accusations of in ovaries, racist bones. If you will, but I think that they are also trying to make a real point, which is that the and again it is relevant here. The Wilson isn't just a cordon per person of his time. Right Wilson was understood at the time he was president as part of a successful white backlash to thee, minimum all remaining elements of the first civil rights era that The Wilson administration imposed more rigorous forms of segregation and federal employees and I'm Washington D C
He was the governor of New Jersey, but he was from the south personally and he was the first southern born president since the civil war right. It was Wilson's administration was seen by the White South as redemption Cornerstone and They were southerners celebrating in Washington DC singing Dixie like it was a whole thing and he famously amidst a blur budget, which is not quite the right word but like blurb. The birth of a new, Jen Reich, was that it was a real thing, but this genuinely connected to the sort of intellectual and political origins of some of the progressive Movement right had like deep ties with eugenics and other kinds of things like that, and I think it's weird
for, like libertarian minded people to talk about this stuff and then cut a yadda yadda past bearing water in the ancient sixty four campaign, but they are raised I think a a valid point that the history history of a lot of sort of statist gestures in the United States. Whether that's residential zoning or milk, wage laws was connected to policies of racial exclusion. In a non incidental way right that, like theirs Real reason that Woodrow Wilson was seen by new deal. Historiographer is as therefore bear and all The real reason why southern white supremacist saw Woodrow Wilson is their champion and, like it's a it's, it's a tie,
it is, then some avoid doesn't matter because a hundred years ago, but it's like a tough intellectual bullet to buy. I think tat it s interesting, also because, as you said, that Wilson, as part of this backlash to the first civil rights movement- and he is such as he is such an intellectual level. This is not the case: he's not a clansmen of the eighteen, succeeds in eighteen. Seventy is with this tie to guerrilla warfare actually committed during the civil war. He intellectualize is his own racism. He re segregate the federal civil service by a forced it by having everyone who apply for a job within the federal government which had been especially in D C, a predominantly black city, a place where black Americans could seek employment is so in under Wilson. You have to submit a photograph with your application
that they can tell your racial backgrounds, yet he meets with civil rights luminaries an essentially concerns truck concern, trolls them and tell them basically well. You know this is. This is all for the best for you, you are we
They don't want to go too far with anything and this. This will actually be most helpful for you and for real black Americans any you'll. He helped to help the House of Representatives re Ban mixed race, marriage in the District of Columbia. His racism was so connected, as Matt said not to this can to the notion of a reformed confederacy, but to a scientific racism that was part of the Eu General system of men, of the progress of era of the nineteen ten. Nineteen twenty is- and I mean there's also his entire dealings with the first World war in which he throws political opponents and anti war activists in the prison, and the League of Nations was a big fat failure. But yes, I think that the further issue with Wilson, I think for some people- is that he's closer
to us, if not in time politically, then we'd like to admit he is you, and I think that that that goes to show he's he's on the near the Wilson Centre in Washington or the Wilson School at Princeton. All of this is because of these specific actions in which Wilson talks about young, a global community and reshaping the world after the first World war, but that is also part of reshaping the world in the Spirit of scientific racism Then how hard this bullet is to buy is both a generational thing and you know just a function of how invested, you are in having a usable history like. I don't think it's a surprise. Eyes to it in our,
one or age or younger, that, like the progressives, were racist as Hell Lake. If you have learned or been taught history recently that something that you ve kind of Ozma Lized and so the intellect will heritage that kind of venerate. Those figures may have already come You problem ties, and so it might be less painful to just like excise entirely. There is also the fact that link to a lot of people- history, isn't usable intellectual, a heritage. History is a bunch of names on things and they are in the past and therefore its not that difficult to it into them one way or the other. That doesn't necessarily have a lot of impact on daily life, which is going back to the beginning of this episode. Like why it's not necessarily the most meaningful stands. You can take against white supremacy, but it also doesn't mean that lake, a lot of
people who are pushing for these changes never had an understanding in which Woodrow Wilson was a hero and lake. At that point, the argument isn't like. Should we do this thing that is going to force us to reconsider some of our own assumptions, but rather should people who think that they are fully divorced from the euro or like racism over the progressive era and who, therefore wishing to the kinds of pushing for the kinds of changes like adding Woodrow Wilson name of things in fact, do a little bit more dig digging and think more about the ways in which they remain connected to Wilson's legacy, and now just assume that it's like easy building usable history that doesn't centre people who believe that in our blacks were systematically it like that black people, were systematically inferior and should therefore be systematically excluded. His does kind of get me in
like you know taking down monuments, is like forgetting history, and I don't think that's true. I think people tend to like build their own meanings out of the monument that exist you gonna of kind of regardless or does not pay attention to them, but I do think that- Just having come to something understanding that it was already problematic doesn't necessarily give you a pass on thinking about how thought at anything thinking about the genealogy of that this was also where'd you get to where you were just saying right. The fact that these are not statues of wood Well, son, but actually institutions have functions and and in society is where I start to worry that we have people doing too much symbolic work like in DC. We have a number of different public high schools. Each public high school has a geographical zone that
into it. I believe all of the high schools are named after figures from african american history, with the exception of wire Wilson High, which not, coincidentally, is the widest high school and it is located geographically in the widest part of washing you see, which also not, coincidentally, is the part of Washington DC, where the houses are most expensive, which also Also not, coincidentally, is the place where the least new construction of houses has happened and there's a lot. Talk in Washington, all the time about quota quote gentrification and what it means, and that talk is all focused on the neighbourhood, where the three of Us where right, which are neighborhoods that are in the in the border region. And where new build has been allowed said, there's a question of what is its impact but we're the schools feed into Woodrow Wilson. Nothing new is built
nothing. New is allowed to be built and people move there. I bet, you guys, don't know a lot of people who live in the wide world on feeder zone. But if you have a five year old, you will come to know lots of people who move out there quite deliberately- and these are very woke. Very progressive people who, with all sincerity, would not tell you I am going to accept a longer commute and Spain. The more money and have less access to good restaurants, because I D what my kids to go to a majority black high school. I guess it's not what they want. They just want their kids to go to a good high school, but that is the best high school in the city by all accounts the Alice Deal Middle school doesn't have a problematic name, but it is the exact same phenomena, I'm right, and so, if you are a parent at a school,
like that, and you find yourself taking the time to be in a conversation about its name and structure of racism and things like that just don't care what fine, but the premise of the conversation about the name is that you do it right But then you really have to ask yourself what am I doing here, you challenging residential segregation and systemic racism. You just trying to re name a school like, and I think that that's that's what gets to me about this debate, which I think in some ways is one that we are in a better world, less fallen world. We could be having in a larger context talking about the year or how racism has embedded itself into all of our institutions, but instead it seems to be that, like ok, we can either talk about residential segregation,
We could talk about police brutality and the simultaneous over and under policing of communities of color, or we can talk about whether or not Teddy Roosevelt didn't like black people, and it feels as if we ve made a choice and even the people who consider themselves. As you said, the most woke who are like we gonna change and aims of this house this high school, but we should not change anything about anything else about this high school and yo. I think that that That's something that you see in many circles where these conversations, when you can have a conversation about race that then suddenly turns into a conversation about like in about thin end redemption and the air most actions of the human heart at how to judge whether or not someone is behaving in a racist way or antiracist way or how racism as us,
right to others. That is a conversation that one is helpful and never ending and very profitable for some people. But it's a conversation that does markedly little to change the outcomes for now the White Americans and black American specifically, because those actions will be really hard and really challenging to yell where'd. You, your kids, go to school, who do your kids go to school with? What are the schools at your kids? Go to look like that's hard, changing names as easy, so I mean I agree with all of that too, extent- but I do find myself a little bit wary of kind of like concern, trolling what organizers are spending their activism energy on, but also because so much This seems to me a lake where the groundwork, already been laid like putting into a new phase conference,
since the were already happening around monuments, putting into a new phase Konrad conversations that were kicked off. I in I think elite whited the white circles by like the publication of the sixteen nineteen objects and have been simmering under the surface since then about lake v. You know considered and continued legacy in american history of slavery, Anti black racism, because these there are already a kind of some of the groundwork, already been laid there, the easiest, because there, the quickest and doesn't necessarily mean that they preclude more sustained. Agent down the road right. It's it's. If you are thinking about. This is like okay, what are some He wins that we can secure for people who are new to anti racist work. It wouldn't surprise me if you actually came up with. Yes, let's some organizing around too,
king names of racists off institutions, so that we can both teach people a little history and help them feel like are contributing in a small and meaningful way to a better world. I think that it's obviously you can't just kick it back and say that you ve done your part by lagging adding a statue taken down or getting a name off something, but I also don't think that anyone, no one ever says to themselves that they're doing bad, it's strain of when you, when this ops being the most important thing that you're dealing with as a kind of engaged citizen of your community and that doesn't striking. I'm not. I think that there are plenty of examples of ok. We got the when we're moving on, but there are also plenty of examples of we gave this up because it was hard and he didn't have any winds and were only human and we're not even professional lake run. You know we're we're. Not we're not being paid to care
so other things in our lives have two at some point, take precedence and we have to find some way till I get through our days without dissent, in ground down by everything. There was- you know a lot of conversation on social media, about Lake White burn out, and we were That was a legitimate thing for white people who were more engaged in de racism than they had previously been to be feeling- and I think it's just a general human truth. Vit burn out is inevitable when you are giving a ton of energy to something and dont, have the infrastructure to continue producing that energy and aren't getting feedback doesn't necessarily mean that that's the most important thing for movement to be considering. Sometimes you just have to tell people to like sitting out for fifteen minutes. And come back when you are ready, but.
I am not at all convinced that the work of building the sort of movement that is still going to care about racism. Even when you something else displaces even even when the next presidential candle blows up, doesn't start with these kind of easy ones. We'll take a break down by the White paper sounds get if the last year's taught us anything. It's that we don't know what will happen next, but there's one thing we can all be sure of the only future is one we can all share and leading the charge in building a future Mercy core with over forty years of humanitarian work under its belt building together, is a mercy course. Dna and, as the climate crisis increases their partnering with those on the front lines. Making resources more accessible to farmers across the globe. Strengthening community is again
escalating natural disasters and ensuring people have the tools they need to thrive mercy course doing the work of matters, but they can't do it alone. That's where you and I commend together I'll, have the power to reshape the world when it seems like every day brings a new crisis when every news alert makes you want to throw your phone across the room we may start. To feel a little powerless mercy corps here to remind us. We don't need to Turkey. Community based action. We can make change. We are nothing if not in this together. What's next is up to all of us learn how you can be a part of what's possible at mercy core dot org. That's Our see y see p s dot, Org. We ve got today winners and losers. The effect of gaining and losing access to selective colleges and education
labour market outcomes- that's that's a mouthful its by sandy black Jeffrey Denning and just see Rothstein, and so it looks specifically at a policy that Texas implemented Texas was one of the first states to move to a sort of bare- on a from the action in its state, higher education system and a lot of they curiously for such a conservative state actually moved to sort of do something about it as a as compensatory measure, and they adopted this policy that the top ten percent of graduates of all access, high schools sort of gain admission to unity over the years they ve had to modify this policy. I think it's down to top six percent now, because you are only seventy people back and that's a actually good precision for another day
paper looks at what happens and is really interesting, because it shows that the people who benefited from this policy, which is the same, Students highly rank students at traditionally weaker high schools, who sent more kids dignity than they had been before that those kids and if it in quite a lot, they have higher college graduation rates and, as you might expect from that higher earned So there was no like mismatch phenomenon. Kids didn't get in like in above their heads. But the question is is well: did you just spread the good luck around, so they look at the kids who were squeezed out of you, T kids, who were bless, hiring ranked but came from top high schools, and so what happened to them in will, they went to less selective colleges on average but the graduation rate state step right. They didn't Norton raw and they didn't drop out.
The earnings, also states that so they didn't just sort of we arrange who gets access to UT. They genuinely grew the pie here that by give they gave access to a lead schools, dissidents who didn't have it before and they benefited from. But that sending the certain more privileged kids to less selective schools, they did fine and they can't tell you why. But you can sort of drawing image in your head right of like a kid margin who benefits a lot from the stronger support system at out at a better funded school, versus a kid who has the kind of parents who bothered to move them into the top school district in the first place, he goes to just like a different college and you know, does his workfare graduates and MIKE it's all fine. We're somebody from an immigrant background or or background might not have succeeded it in that context. I don't know it just its
seems like a happy story of the other states should do this. My theory of of the case is a little bit less about support structures. Then is about signalling. I mean I'd. It really struck me looking at you know their findings about the people, were in the pulled in and pushed out classes. They're saying it's not that these kids were taking. You know it's not the these kids didn't have stellar Reza maize academically, but that's because they were from disadvantaged backgrounds, they were actually taking more AP classes, had higher test scores, then this two were you know in lower disciples of more prestigious high school therefore were more likely to give to you see before this policy was in place, like that's. That says to me that something that what you t is doing is essentially correcting for a biased toward,
particular high schools, even if there are not the most stellar applicants from that high school, and it wouldn't be surprising to me of something. Or were now happening in the college context where someone from a disadvantaged background like I can't I keep thinking about the the studies that show that you know banned the box. Policies are actually worse for the employment outcomes of black job apple, That's because, in being able to check box thing, I don't have. A criminal record was a good signal for black applicants. You didn't have criminal records that they were put on quote one of the good ones, and that, in the absence of that, Hr Department was like liable to assume that a black applicant was a problem like that's, obviously, not good, but kind of the inverse of that- might well be happening here. We're having the you know, the kids from more privileged backgrounds, don't need the added credential.
To reassure potential employers that they're going like gonna? Be ok, whereas the kids from less advantaged backgrounds having that Duty Austin Diploma, is a signal that it's ok to hire them and expect them to do great things right, and I think that that's one of the that you do. We hear a lot sometimes about people yelling about the Ivy League and talking about you. I am talking about how angry They are about them, but many of those people who hold positions of power went to Ivy League schools because much of how we think in this trade about elite universities and two, because most people do not attend for a year. Universities at all many people attend community colleges or experience college over a longer period of time that, what's commonly depicted, but so much of that experience of elite schools is an element of signalling. It is that you have this essentially a permission.
But from a university that says this person's okay and this person can now go on to your participate, fully and socio cultural life, and so I think that that is such an import. Elements of this story, because I know that for me attend the University of Michigan was an extremely important decision I made not just because, where I got to go to school and write about nazis, but because of what that signals signal through, it has continued to signal for the rest of my life and I remember when I was applying to michigan- I had some bad math grades, and so the University of Michigan talked to my college counselor and we're just like we're about to go to committees to decide whether or not Jane is accepted, which, even now and like you guys have like thousands of kids in this class. So I don't understand why this needed so much. This
but the decision was made that I should be allowed to go to the University of Michigan despite being somewhat bad at mass in the past, and that decision has been the springboard for the rest of my life and for the lives of these kids, who were able to attend the university of taxes. It asked in which isn't just about the experience of going to school at Austin, but also about the permission slip that it indicates to employers and appears alike Yoda. The conversations that that gets you into and whether or not those conversations should be reliance on where you want to school. That's a separate issue. I dont think they should be. I think that that is a l a
bias mechanism that we don't talk enough about, but it still has proven markedly effective. I do want to caution a little bit just methodological lake. It is important to note that this study, which you would think, really hinges on looking at the class ranks of people of of applicants and therefore assessing whether they you know made the cut off or would have you know if someone who applied before the top ten percent policy was put in place would have made the cut off. If they'd applied after the top ten percent pulses, been placing the others acknowledge that they do not actually have this data, because data on class rank was not system is systematically gathered, and so, instead, they're, using in out there, actually using machine learning to predict with a very high degree of confidence, what applicants would have what applicants class ranks would have been into generate these lake very plausible scenario,
ok. This is a group that wouldn't have been as likely to attend under the previous are under the previous regime, and this is a high, achieving group that would have probably gotten in under the previous regime. So to the extent that there is some disagreement in the literature about things like mismatch or about the benefits of you no mark for marginal students attending elite schools. This may not be the end of the story. It's just a very useful like it's it's it's, certainly if it certainly good for everybody if true and a useful reminder that not everything in life is zero sum. But so one thing that that I do think is worth paying attention to which you know is not enough. Paper is the story of top evolution to top nine to seven. Six right, which is a consequence of there's, been a lot of population growth.
Access to this programme has been, I think, well regarded by like people in in Texas State. They have liked it. It's been a stable political equilibrium by duty. Austen campus has not grown, consequently rate and wanting you see is that, like so It's not a zero sum, as it may have appeared to be the sort of emissions gay. But there is a zero sum aspect to the admissions themselves. Emissions to America's best colleges appears be a genuine social good for some people at some Marge and right good. We have these other studies that show that, like typical people seem to not better the typical people who actually do go to Ivy League schools
necessarily benefit from that, but the small number of low income and minority people who go to benefit because, like I think, make useful connections so like expanding the schools which they mostly become more and more selective overtime time- that Texas trajectory from ten is- is a little extreme because has a lot of population growth, but it's quite typical right and, it seems to suggest that there are real gains that could be made by expanding the most in demand kind of schools and widening the circle of people who are able to get into that, because, if you make this kind of top, ten switch would seems good, and I would refer, and that that states do, but then it degenerates into eventually becoming a top one system like that. Doesn't really
help people in the way was intended to help people right, because part of what is disposed to do is make a more diverse campus. Part of what it's supposed to do is like help more marginal people, but part of what it's supposed to do is like come down the public school. Patient wars right and say like look like if you go to school like a few, if you go to class, if you do your homework and and you work hard and nutrition good job like it'll, be fine. You dont me You spend your whole life panicking over which schools your children are signed. Are a lot of benefits to that socially right. But it only works if you can actually maintain some kind of stability around that, otherwise it pushes from competent to be in the top ten percent to accomplish in the top. One percent are like very does a very different thing, swayed and like Just creating scarcity of these is is bad. Over and above the question, how do we allocate them and we can name all the schools after Woodrow Wilson
this system makes it more palatable, though Woodrow Wilson. Yes, wrap it up here? Ok, thanks guys, thanks to Woodrow Wilson for inspiring and trash, somebody being arts trash as though thanks as things is always to our producers to forget, and then we will be back,
Transcript generated on 2021-05-19.