Carol Swain, award-winning author, host of “Be the People Podcast,” and political scientist, joins “Problematic Women” to explain why the violence is a danger to achieving the justice rioters claim to seek. Swain also addresses how The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” has furthered racial division in America.
Plus, we take a listen to Students for Life’s new video, “#Why it’s important to build up African American communities,” and we talk with pro-life activist Patrina Mosley about engaging minority communities with the message of life, regardless of political leanings.
And as always, we’ll be crowning our problematic woman of the week! Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Virginia Allen: We’re so pleased to be joined by Carol Swain, award winning author, host of “Be The People” Podcast, political scientist, and really a true voice of influence in our culture today. Ms. Swain, welcome to Problematic Women.
Carol Swain: Thank you for having me.
Allen: Right now I feel like every time I look at the news, I go on this roller coaster of emotions from being angered by the violence and the riots and the destruction of our statues to really kind of being in disbelief over what I’m seeing happening across America, to asking the question, “OK, what can I do to be a part of positive change?” And then ultimately I just kind of end up feeling a little bit overwhelmed by it all. And I certainly hope I’m not the only one feeling all of those emotions in this season.
Would you share some of your own thoughts with us about the moment in history that we find ourselves in?
Swain: I feel that the moment in history that we are experiencing was predictable, and it was predictable because when we stopped enforcing our immigration laws and when we stopped holding young people accountable for the flash mobs that started during the Obama era, where you would have hundreds of young teenagers that would go to malls or go into stores and take whatever they wanted off the shelves. And because of their large numbers, it was difficult for law enforcement to respond. And so that was the beginning.
I think with lawlessness, unless you enforce the laws that make us a civilized nation, that it has a snowball effect. So this moment now where you have so much anarchy, I think the groundwork was laid decades ago when we stopped enforcing our immigration laws.
Allen: Wow. So that’s fascinating to hear because I think for me I’m kind of looking at the news and I do feel surprised by what I’m seeing. But you’re saying, “No, this actually really isn’t surprising if you look back at the past five, 10, 15 years.”
Swain: That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m saying that in a nation, you’re either going to have a nation of law and order or you’re not.
When we decided that we did not want to enforce our immigration laws and we allowed people to get away with pretty much whatever they wanted to do in the sanctuary cities and other places, I think that we sort of set a new understanding of what kind of society we were, what we were going to tolerate, and others watched. And I believe that the non-enforcement of immigration laws, that encouraged other people to break laws.
We ended up a few years ago with the flash mobs. They did not get a lot of coverage in mainstream media, but in cities across America you had large numbers of young people, often teens, going into stores, going into malls and just ripping everything that they could off the shelves. That did not get the kind of coverage that it deserved. Many of them were minority youth. I mean, that’s a fact. And I think that our failure to deal with it back then led to this new escalation, this new anarchy.
Evans: Well, speaking of anarchy, of course America we are seeing statues being pulled down by mobs of people and rioters. And this is all in the name of “justice.” Do you think these acts are actually justice or something different?
Swain: Well, it’s something different going on. It’s fascinating to me that it’s a white person’s movement. It may call itself Black Lives Matter or Antifa, but what I see at a lot of the protest and the new rioters or whatever they want to call themselves, many of them are young whites that are probably affluent. They have parents and resources that can get them out of jail.
That to me is the most interesting turn of affairs, but it’s not so surprising if you believe, as I do, that Marxism lies at the root of this unrest and that it really isn’t about black people and justice, it’s about people who are political activists and they see an opportunity to advance an agenda that’s about them.
It’s not about the people who are suffering, who have some legitimate grievances. It’s not about them, it’s about advancing an agenda that it will ultimately be destructive for the United States of America as we know it.
Allen: Let’s expound on that a little bit more. Could you just explain what some of those ramifications are if we kind of continue down this path of allowing for mob rule, allowing for Antifa to pull down historic statues, what’s the result of this?
Swain: Well, first of all, I would say that the activists or the thinkers or the philosophers who are behind the movement, that they have been very clever, very wise because they have hid themselves behind causes like black people, Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter is an organization, but it’s also a slogan. And most Americans, if not all Americans, agree that black lives matter in the same way that white lives matter. And so they have used that to hide behind.
I think that the consequence we see right now is that the people who would normally enforce law and order, they’re reluctant to do it because they don’t want to be seen as someone who’s not supportive of legitimate grievances that black people or poor people may have.
And so just the naming of the movement and called it social justice has led to ineffectiveness from governmental agencies, from Republicans. And normally you would expect Republicans to stand for law and order. God, country, family; that’s been part of the Republican platform, that’s been part of who Republicans are. They’ve stood for law and order.
But in the face of a movement that has been very clever at naming things, I feel that a lot of people feel incapacitated to respond. And so we’ve set up a situation now where police are not expected to use tear gas against crowds of people when you have mobs, they’re not expected to use any kind of force when they’re trying to arrest a person.
We’re moving in a direction where it seems like the only way police would be able to arrest someone is if that person willingly gets into the squad car. I don’t know how many people, except those of us who obey authority–I would get into the car, I wouldn’t fight, we’ll get into the car without force. And yet the police have been told that they can’t use force.
I think that what’s going to happen is what is exactly happening now, crime is going to escalate. There will be fewer police officers to enforce the law and to determine anarchy as to what is the law.
Evans: This year we’ve heard a lot about the 1619 Project, which won a Pulitzer Prize. And on last Thursday night, a statue of George Washington was pulled down in Oregon and spray painted on the bronze statue among other things. What’s the year 1619? The New York Post ran an op ed responding to this entitled, “Call Them the 1619 Riots.” And the founder of the project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, responded to the tweet saying, “It would be an honor. Thank you.” So what is spray painting 1619 on the statue and Hannah-Jones response—tell us about where our education and what we’re teaching our children is in society?
Swain: Well, first of all, the left, again, they’ve been very clever at how they have framed things … With 1619, they’re very much open about seeking reparations. And I believe that this moment where you have Antifa and you have Black Lives Matter, a Marxist organization, it’s been Marxist from the very beginning. We have them mainstreamed.
I think that 1619 in many ways is working hand in hand with people that we would call anarchist and it has to do again with the Marxist agenda. They want reparations. They want to get rid of law enforcement. They want to turn society upside down.
I find it very troubling, this whole movement about white privilege and racism being permanent and whiteness being property. Because I think that if you operate from that framework, then there’s no possibility of racial reconciliation and racial harmony, but it takes away responsibility from black people and people of color.
And it gives white people, I think, too much authority or responsibility, because they’re pretty much saying that whiteness is superior to blackness, that whiteness is property itself, that every white person is privilege, that racism is permanent and that white people have to divest themselves of their whiteness if they want to be acceptable to people of color.
The whole idea for Americans in a nation … I think a large percentage of us would say it was formed on the basis of Judeo-Christian values and principles and we believe that human beings are in God’s image and that God created all races and ethnicities. And that we as individuals don’t get to choose our parents, we don’t get to choose our race or our social class, but to demonize one group of people, well, the way the social justice warriors demonize white people at this moment, it’s very … troubling. It is a form of racism and you cannot have a social justice movement built on racism.
Yet, that’s what we have. And we have these troubling images of white people down on their knees, begging black people for forgiveness. That is very troubling. And it’s a sign that our nation is moving in the wrong direction.
With the tearing down of the monuments, it should have been nipped in the bud a few years ago. It’s very clear to me that there is no ending point in sight. And so you start off with the Confederate generals and then you end up with Francis Scott Key, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson. The list goes on and on.
There’s nothing to stop a future generation to decide that Dr. Martin Luther King is not worthy of a monument either or Rosa Parks. We don’t know how this is going to end, but I do know that we’re headed in the wrong direction and a nation that forgets its past, I just think it’s doomed.
And right now we have young people … and old people too. And those old people that are running corporations, that have given money to Black Lives Matter. We have young people and old people that are contributing to the destruction of, what I believe, has been the greatest nation on earth.
I’ve always loved my country. And these people don’t know what they’re doing because if America falls I don’t think they’re going to like what the substitute will be.
Evans: So where are these kids who are toppling down statues and who make up most of these protests, where are they learning this information? Is it in college?
Swain: They learned it in college. I taught for 28 years. I taught almost 10 at Princeton and 18 years of Vanderbilt. And what I watched was how the universities changed and how the Marxist … When I started graduate school, there were Marxists professors, you knew who they were, you wanted to take their courses, you could, but they did not seem to have that much power.
Now you see the Marxist running the universities, they’re the deans of student affairs. And you really have a situation where there’s no adults in charge and you have the social justice warriors from the 1960s that are trying to put in place their vision. They seem to be winning because they purged most campuses [of conservative voices and they’re depriving America of the historical references and knowledge that we need to remain a nation of laws, a nation that’s civilized, a nation that believes that every human being is created in the image of God and that we are brothers and sisters, and that reconciliation is possible.
It’s not possible in a society where you have diversity inclusion offices, even at private Christian schools, all of them social justice warriors, all of them really pushing Marxism.
And I don’t care what they call it, it’s Marxism. It’s infiltrated the churches. It’s something that is like a cancer on America. I think that we need to wake up. We need to educate pastors. We need to educate teachers. And we need to educate some of those corporate executives who are giving money to organizations that have, as its goal, the ultimate destruction of America.
Virginia: I’d like to take a minute and ask you about a new piece from the New York Times Magazine. It was actually just released Wednesday by the creator of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones and the piece is entitled, “What Is Owed?” And she writes “If true justice and equality are ever to be achieved in the United States the country must finally take seriously what it owes black Americans.” What’s your response to this piece? And what are your thoughts on this kind of language of saying that the African American community is really owed something by America?
Swain: First of all, I have not read the article, but I can imagine what she may have said based on just following her writings in the past, in her interviews. I think that the demand for reparations, if the activists are able to be victorious with this demand, it’s not going to change conditions for blacks. It would be a nightmare to administer.
I stand with those that would say that over the decades that America has spent trillions of dollars and has constantly been trying to do things that would uplift the descendants of slaves and the victims of Jim Crow racism. And that America itself has created enormous opportunities for people of color.
It has not always filtered down to the poorest of the poor, but people like Nikole Hannah-Jones, affluent blacks, many of the ones that are out there leading the civil rights movement come from middle class, they come from affluent backgrounds, they have had the best of the best of the best education.
So I think they have black guilt and they suffer from black privilege and they want these things, but what they want would ultimately be destructive for the average … For race relations, but also for black people, because it would not address the problems of black on black crime or unwed motherhood or of the abortion rate. And just all those things that are dysfunctional in the black community, the disparities in healthcare outcomes. A lot of that has to do with people’s choices. It’s not going to address any of the things that would ultimately change people’s lives. And so I think that it’s a misguided effort.
It’s part of the goal to bring down America. … It’s very unfortunate that The New York Times would get behind an agenda like that. We’re dealing with people who are well-educated, and they may be educated in propaganda, but they have the ability, they have the knowledge, that they actually could acquaint themselves with a richer view of America. They could actually tell some of the positive stories that came out of slavery, the American story, the part of it where you see whites and blacks working together from the very beginning for a better world, a better society.
You think about the white philanthropists that set up schools for the newly freed slaves, the colleges and universities that admitted people on the basis of merit and not on the basis of race, and so by the 1900s, you had probably about 2,000 blacks that had graduated from elite colleges and universities that didn’t practice discrimination. There are black millionaires that came out of the era of slavery.
There’ve been blacks that have always been successful and prosperous whenever there was non-discrimination. You look at Washington, D.C., the black middle class, that black middle class was there because of the civil service tests that when people took the test, the job went to the person that had the highest score.
When blacks were not discriminated against, they thrived. Before affirmative action, blacks were thriving. So a lot of the destructive things that have happened in the black communities have happened during the 1960s when the society was turned upside down.
For black America, part of the problem, and this is for white America too, is that we have a moral deficit. We have fallen away from our Judeo-Christian values and principles, and whether you are a cultural Christian or you are a religious one that tries to adhere to biblical principles, there are values and principles there that make for better lives.
Reparations will not change the lives of black people, and it would just bring a worsening set of race relations for everyone. It’s not the best way forward.
Evans: I’m glad you brought up Judeo-Christian values and kind of tradition in the United States. I wanted to read something I pulled directly from the Black Lives Matter site on their What We Believe page, and it says, “We disrupt the Western prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.” I mean there’s a lot to unpack in this statement, and I think in some ways the idea of having a support system around you is good, but do you think that most black Americans support the idea of disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family?
Swain: Well, that’s the problem with black America today is that the Western nuclear family has already been destroyed, and it was destroyed, it started in the 1960s when Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his report about the black family and how it was becoming dysfunctional. At that time, about 25% of black households were headed by women. Now it’s about 70%, and so those are people that are not following the traditional Western pattern of having a father in the household, mother, father, their biological children. That’s already been disrupted.
We know from numerous studies that children perform better when they have a mother and father, and if they wait until they finish high school to start a family, they get a job, there are all sorts of practical ways out of poverty.
We’re not telling our young people the truth about how to be successful. They’re not hearing the success stories of black conservatives who came from true poverty and were able to overcome that by having a work ethic, and by striving for the American dream.
I believe that the American dream is still available for anyone and everyone who’s willing to avail themselves of it. I don’t believe that systemic racism exists in the sense that Nikole Hannah-Jones and others would argue.
Systemic racism is what I was born into in 1954, the year that Brown v. Board of Education passed, and I spent my early school years in segregated schools. It took 10 years before schools in Virginia began to integrate, and so systemic racism is what existed before the passage of the civil rights acts of 1964, the Civil Rights Act in 1965, the Voting Rights Act ’68, the Fair Housing Act. That was systemic racism, and after that, the opportunities for blacks and people of color, they have been there. They have been there.
And affirmative action has been there, and it’s benefited numerous people. But also just the fact that if you are a person of color, and you’re bright, and you avail yourself of opportunities, there is no end to the people who will encourage you and walk alongside you.
I can speak from my own personal experience of having been a high school dropout, one of 12 children born and raised in poverty. I was a teen mother and wife, and I was able to go to a community college, get the first of five degrees, and the people who encouraged me, the people who were my role models, they were disproportionately white. Those were the people who took an interest in me.
I never felt that I was a victim because I happened to be black, and poor, and in an unfortunate situation. I had to work hard, but that’s what America is all about.
It’s about having opportunities for people who are willing to work, to overcome their circumstances. I think some of the situations that black people confront today and people of color confront, is because we have forgotten who we are, but we don’t always want to play by the rules.
One of the rules that I’ve always tried to play by has to do with looking at successful people, trying to figure out what they did, and emulating the things that they were doing that I felt had value.
I’ve also respected authority most of the time, and when I say most of the time, I can tell you that at the universities and various places I’ve been, I have not been the person that kept her mouth shut. I’ve always spoken up, and I would say that the university authority over me, there were times I criticized it. I didn’t respect it enough to go along with it, but generally I respect authority.
Allen: Now, it’s so powerful to hear a little bit of your own story and everything that you overcame. You grew up in such poverty and yet were able to achieve so much, and that’s so incredible to see. When you think back on your own life and your own journey, and then looking at the family today, what can we do, and what are things that you have come across that you feel like this is what is needed to actually help strengthen and heal families in America?
Swain: Well, truth is needed, and I find that there’s so many people that are deceived. I see it in my own family, and the propaganda, especially coming through the social media with various videos. But I don’t think people have a true understanding of history.
One of the projects that I’m involved in is 1776 Unites, and what I love about 1776 Unites is that it’s telling the full and true history of … the black descendants of slaves, but also the things that we were able to accomplish under the worst conditions.
And I think that black Americans, the older generation, when we got into colleges we were given an opportunity, but we had to work. We had to do the same work as everyone else and we couldn’t complain the way we see young people complaining today about microaggressions. They got their feelings hurt, or they think that the work is too hard and they want to be segregated.
When you think about all the people who lost their lives fighting for integration, and we are at a moment in American history where black people, and some white people that are helping them along, they want to resegregate.
I mean, we’re moving backwards. And I don’t think people understand that success requires a particular mindset that your attitude above life and the world is more important than your race, your gender, or your social class.
This whole idea that things are supposed to be easy, I don’t know anyone who’s been successful that will say that it was easy, that they didn’t stay up and have to work long hours, or have to work jobs that they were not happy on their jobs. They felt uncomfortable. They had a vision of where they wanted to go and so they were willing to put in the time. I think people have lied to the younger generation.
And I see 1619, the people behind that, I see on our colleges and universities, that they are making victims of black people by saying, poor you, white people have to make it better for you. And to me, if I were a part of Black Lives Matter or part of … Well Black Lives Matter, forget them. If I were a black activist, I would be insulted by the fact that this seems to be a white person’s privilege movement now.
And I don’t understand, what’s that about? And they seem to have subscribed to white supremacy. They’re calling everyone a white supremacist, yet they’re the ones that are really saying that white people are supreme to them and they’re looking for white people to deliver them. I find that very troubling.
The only way that we get around all of this is to somehow get young people back to reading history, understanding history, not calling it white man’s history, but read the Declaration of Independence, read the Constitution, read the Bible, because our laws and our foundations of Western civilization, a lot of Bible is built into that, into Shakespeare, into just many of the great works of history.
To be a truly educated person and to be able to respond to everything that’s taking place in the world, you have to have knowledge. And right now people are being stripped of knowledge. They’re very ignorant and they don’t know what they’re doing. And that’s the scariest part of what’s taking place and they’re being manipulated by people who have an agenda that’s not even about them.
Evans: One question that is our favorite to ask each and every one of our guests here on “Problematic Women” is, do you consider yourself a feminist, and why or why not?
Swain: I’ve never felt the need to call myself a feminist. And I can tell you that when I was in graduate school, all the feminists that I knew, they didn’t wear makeup, they didn’t look pretty, and I’ve always liked to wear makeup and look pretty happy. I didn’t like the feminist look, or the idea that to be a feminist you had to check a whole bunch of boxes.
And as far as your podcast, “Problematic Women”, I guess a lot of people would say I’m a problematic woman because I don’t fit. I don’t fit anywhere.
I believe that I’m a person of faith, haven’t always been. Always spiritual, but not always a person of faith. But I believe that God has called me to speak truth, to speak it regardless of the cost. And there has to be some people who are willing to speak it and pay the price, and I paid an enormous price for being me.
Allen: Wow. Well, and that’s exactly why Problematic Women exist. We want to give a platform to people like yourself that don’t fit in the mold of what a woman maybe is “supposed to” believe, or talk about, or stand for. And so, we’re really pleased to get to hear your perspective today. And you are such a powerful voice right now, speaking truth. Can you tell our listeners where they can find out more about what you’re up to, what you’re doing, find your podcast?
Swain: Yes. But also want to tell people that I love people, and I love young people of all races, and it bothers me to see any of them discriminate against or being shamed. And it angers me as if they were my own child. So that’s part of how I feel as a mother and as a grandmother, and I have children and they’re not all black. I have children and I love them all.
And as far as my website, it’s be, instead of we the people, bethepeoplenews.com. I also have my personal website, carolmswain.com. I’m on Facebook as Dr. Carol M. Swain. Twitter, Dr. Carol M. Swain. Instagram, Dr. Carol M. Swain.
Evans: Well, it’s been an honor talking with you today. Thank you so much for joining the show.
Swain: Thank you. It’s my pleasure.