An Imperfect Union

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S1: The following program may contain explicit language.

S2: It’s Friday, June 12th, 20-20 from Slate, it’s the gist. I’m Mike Pesca. And here’s the nation’s Korona cases. The positive tests in the last four days, starting with June 8th, one million nine hundred fifty six thousand. That was an increase of zero point nine percent. Next day, one million nine hundred seventy three thousand. An increase of one point eighty six percent. Next day, one million nine hundred ninety four thousand.

S3: This is called Mike Reed’s numbers, slightly below two million. Anyway, at that point, it was an increase of about one percent. And then the next day, the number in total tipped over two million, meaning an increase of one point one percent. You get it very narrow band, slightly increasing from that. A reasonable person might conclude the corona virus is on the up a little bit. A person who is politically motivated might not be able to see that a person who doesn’t understand or want to know about statistics might not understand that a person who only has access to one of our silos of bad information certainly won’t know that. With that in mind, let’s listen to this report from The Wall Street Journal.

S4: After the markets surged on Monday, the Nasdaq composite hit a new record close today, gaining 110 points. The Dow Jones industrials rose 461 points to twenty seven thousand 572. The S&P 500 rose 38. Analysts say investors continued to pile into stocks buoyed by Friday stronger than expected May jobs report. Shares of companies tied to the reopening of the economy led the market higher, including airlines, retailers and cruise liners.

S3: Now keep in mind that a Wall Street trader might be politically Republican or blind to suffering if it doesn’t affect him or his wallet. But this suffering corona virus did, in fact, affect Wall Street and Wall Street’s wallets. Wall Street had access to good information, great information. And Wall Street’s not motivated by anything other than the purist motivation at all, personal enrichment. Yet with that is the background and the numbers being very easy to see and really quite consistent. This was the market yesterday.

S4: Growing fears of a second wave of coronavirus infection sent stock markets reeling today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1861 points, or six point nine percent in real life, not the life of Wall Street.

S3: What we were seeing was easily discernible facts that non-professional scientists could easily assess and plainly see. There was no reason for stupid optimism, but there was also no reason for a panicked pullback based on that last bit of unearned optimism. Yes, yes, yes. I know all the caveats. Stocks aren’t the overall economy and the surges and the crashes. There really only single digit percent moves. And there is a maddening tendency to attribute market moves to a big narrative when there are a lot of other forces at work. But what this tells me is that smart or smart ish people with skin in the game who care about facts are easily swayed by the psychology of wishing that something is true. I don’t know where the virus or the economy is going, but I know if you think anything on the more optimistic side of maybe it will only get a little worse than you are not looking at the facts today in the Atlantic, Yasha Monck, not a biologist, a political scientist, wrote, The second wave of the corona virus is on the way when it arrives. We will lack the will to deal with it. Despite all the sacrifices of the past months, the virus is likely to win. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it already has. He attaches no numbers. I wish you would. I took it to mean, well, if there are a hundred thousand deaths now, he thinks something like maybe 50000 more deaths maybe. He’s saying there could be a hundred thousand more. And he’s definitely saying we could be taking measures to quash those deaths somewhat. And we aren’t. Why? Well, once that he cites nearly nine out of ten Republicans a few months ago trusted, quote, the information you hear about Corona virus from medical experts. Now one in three Republicans. But it’s not just Republicans. Marcia Young cites the score of public health experts who didn’t say protest if you must, but know the risks. These experts, experts said, oh, yes, the risks are worth it. And this takes me back to Wall Street. They’re not wide eyed cultists. They’re not bleached, snorting ignoramuses. They thought and bought on the barest glimmer of good news. And what that tells me is the desire for it to be over will overwhelm the science and the facts. Summers here lockdown’s are lifting. Some of that will be fine, but some won’t be. I don’t so much fear a spike. I fear that we’ll be unwilling to respond to the spike or worse yet, unwilling to admit there is one. We’re opening up our cafes, beaches and town squares. I can’t say as much for our minds on the show today. Spiel about the role of disagreeable arguments and who should be putting them under your nose. But first, Fordham professor Christina Greer has been studying protests and civic institutions, policing and the people for a number of years.

S5: This puts her well positioned to offer comments and some ideas for corrections right now in this moment. Ambi well positioned. I mean, she is our next guest right now on The Gist.

S6: Dr. Christina Greer is a political scientist. She’s an associate professor at Fordham and she has 341 side hustles, including co-host of the podcast F.A.A., Que NYC and the politics editor of The Grio. And she’s been a frequent guest on MSNBC. And I wanted to talk to her about now and this moment, Dr Greer. Thanks for joining me.

S7: Thank you so much for having me.

S6: So I was listening to you on a few of the podcast you were on and on the In the Thick podcast with Maria Hinojosa. You were expressing qualms about either the phrase or the idea. Take it to the extreme of defund the police. Tell me what your thoughts are about that.

S7: Well, I just feel like it’s a bit of a distraction. And I know that it’s an incredibly important policy issue, but I think that it sets Joe Biden up to have some purity tests that he’s not going to pass. And for me, I just feel like we have to keep our eyes on the prize, which is November 3rd, because if Donald Trump gets re-elected, then we have we might not even have a democracy left. I mean, I don’t think people understand just how close we are to losing our democracy. And so I’m confident that Joe Biden will appoint and nominate people who actually read and who have qualifications, you know. Will they be 100 percent ideologically aligned with me? Probably not. But at this point, I would take someone who’s 75 percent ideologically aligned with me over someone like Barr was zero percent. I do think, though, that we’re in this crucial and critical moment with the backdrop of Kovik, with the backdrop of this rampant unemployment that we have and the protest movements and uprisings that we’ve seen where we actually can reimagine a different society. And we don’t have to necessarily be beholden to old tropes and old union contracts that we happen. So we think about someone like Daniel Pantaleo who pulled a check for five additional years and a pension. My tax money, by the way. I think that whatever system we have is, you know, some people say it’s broken. Some people say it’s working exactly the way it set up to work. However you follow on that line. But we’re at a moment where we can actually reimagine what a police department could look like. We use police for a lot of things we don’t need them for. And so we I think we miss allocate money. I definitely don’t want a poor ass police force like, you know, we’ve been to developing nations. We know what happens when you have police who don’t have any money. I mean, it’s like shakedowns and corruptions. But I do think that we can take money away some of the money that we’ve been giving them for bad behavior, for toys and tanks and artillery, that they’re it’s just not necessary. And the millions of dollars we use for payouts after they’ve killed innocent civilians or behaved, you know, incredibly undemocratic ways and reallocate that to social services, to mental health services, to homeless services, because oftentimes we have police officers intervening in situations where they don’t de-escalate. They actually escalate the situation and they should have been there in the first place. We should have had a licensed professional who has actually gone through the training to deal with the situation at hand.

S6: Do you look at some of the reforms that have been in place or were trying to be championed before this? And do you think that they’re working or do you subscribe to the notion? I mean, I was reading and I talked about it on my show in New York Times op ed titled Defund the Police. And they listed a. You reforms, the Minneapolis police department tried mindfulness. They tried de-escalation, and it didn’t work because George Floyd is dead. I mean, my opinion is some of that stuff didn’t work. It was never going to work. And some of that stuff, you don’t know if it is working. And if you instituted some reforms for the class of, you know, the cadet class of 2014, it’s not gonna have any effect on Derek Chauvel. So what’s your opinion of how effective reforms by de-escalation techniques are in this overall picture?

S7: Right. Well, I think part of it is like with the training, you know, so many cops are taught like they’re going to battle. They’re going to war. Right. And that’s part of the language and the rhetoric that comes from the higher ups that starts within training. You know, some of the diversity training, we know that not only do the cadets and the officers not want to be the people who are teaching those classes don’t even want to be there. And then this is the piece that’s harder to hear. It’s like no one really wants to talk about the infiltration of white supremacists who are in our police departments. Like we have a lot of police officers who specifically want to be police officers because they are white nationalists. And like that’s that’s a hard pill to swallow. But if we look at some of the tattoos, if we look at some of the records of these police officers across the country, not just in, you know, small towns, but in major cities, and we have a real problem and it’s at the root. And so we keep sort of doing this window dressing of, oh, a seminar and a task force and, you know, commission over here. But I think that, you know, some of the take a place like Camden where, you know, they completely dismantled the police so that they can sidestep union issues and people are saying, well, that didn’t work. They even add more police. But it’s like, well, they may have added more police, but what kind of police did they add? Did they add people who subscribed to community policing or did they add people who subscribe to the fact that black lives do matter? And I should not hunt down black and Latin people just to make the quota. I also think that, you know, how the financial structures in police departments work make it such that, you know, they have to make numbers. And those numbers are often, you know, we know in New York from six neighborhoods, you know, whenever my students talk about, you know, drugs and gang bangers or whatever it, you know, sort of stereotypical talking points that they may have had from their parents before they come to college. It’s like you all know, Goodwell, if police officers wanted to find drugs. I have gone to private school my whole life. I went to go to Toff’s undergrad. I went to Columbia for graduate school. You know, for those dorms are connected to the administrative buildings where we teach like police officers really want to find drugs. They know where to find drugs. They can go to Trinity or Dalton or, you know, insert name of private school like. But we choose not to because we know because of the racial and class elements that that’s not something that’s socially accepted to do. So it’s cracking heads and busting skulls and putting black and Latin next people in Rikers and ultimately to prison. So the system itself is set up so that black and Latin X people just don’t have an equal fair shot. It would not only with the interaction with the police, but also when they hit up the judicial system after their interaction with police. And I think that’s part of the passion that we’re seeing in the streets where people are just fed up and tired of it.

S6: Are you at all conflicted about the issue of police unions?

S7: I mean, like, I love unions, but I only love unions when when they work. Unions. I mean, we have to think about the history views. And I wrote a book that looks at it, the Social Services Employees Union of New York. So I respect unions and have family members who are in unions. And I think that they serve a great purpose to protect workers. I do think, though, that police unions have a disproportionate amount of power when it comes to Democratic mayor is when it comes to governors, when it comes to even presidential elections, so that, you know, with constant talk about, oh, they’re just a few bad apples and, you know, that’s that’s the only problem we have. And like no unions, police unions have been able to harbor predators. You know, people who have a long history of really egregious behavior. And that’s not what a union’s supposed to be. You know, you’re not supposed to be protected when you’ve messed up terribly just because you’re in a union. So we’ve gotten away from, I think, the point of a union. I want a union to protect police officers so that their pensions are protected. They’re getting, you know, a living wage, that they can support their families and they’re not susceptible to corruption. I want to make sure that if they’re hurt on the job in any capacity that they’re taking care of because they are public servants. But I want the public servants protected. I don’t want the white nationalists. I don’t want the predators. I don’t want the ones who have bad behavior. I don’t want the ones who are complicit protecting either. And so I think that’s my frustration with unions. And also we’ve seen, you know, especially in New York, some of the union representatives really sexist and racist notions. I mean, we have, you know, one of the PBA presidents calling, you know, a Lennix commissioner, the B word and refusing to apologize. I mean, how dare you? So I think some of the antiquated notions of this leadership is also part of the problem.

S6: But here’s the question with unions. Is it. As an expert, is it possible to start to say to the unions, you are empowered to get the best deals and the best salary and the best workplace protections for your workers, your workers being police? But we’re going to take the discipline component out of that, because it seems to me if you tried to say that to any other union like that, like, say, the teachers union, OK, you could negotiate for salary. But when we decide to discipline a teacher, we have carte blanche and the union can’t push back. Of course, the teachers union or the SEIU or anyone else is going to say no. So is it even possible to empower the police unions to negotiate on financial matters, but not disciplinary matters?

S7: Yeah. Yeah, I think yeah, that’s a hard question, except for the fact that if, you know, SEIU and the teachers union had a long history of killing innocent civilians, I think maybe that would be on the table. You know, I mean, the police union, the fire department union doesn’t have a long history of killing innocent people, you know? So it’s like we clearly have a problem with our policing and it is rotten to the root. And we don’t want to say it because, yes, there are a lot of times where cops come in and save the day and we are very appreciative. But I think part of this conversation of defunding is like, you know, there are lots of people want to have a nine one want to call if something is wrong. But I don’t know if we need the number of the types of police that we had. We need other types of professionals to assist in various negative endeavors. But like I think part of the issue is that the structure of police is set up as it’s set up now is that it seems like they’ve been given carte blanche when it comes to black lives. And that’s part of the eruption that we’re seeing right now. There are very few police officers who ever even get reprimanded for killing innocent black people. I mean, keep in mind that the police officers who shot and killed Brown, a tailor in her own home, in her own bed, are walking the streets right now after Daniel Pantaleo strangled Eric Garner on camera. He collected a paycheck for five years. And these are just the names that we know. There are countless names that we don’t know. And so this kind of bad apple argument just doesn’t fly anymore.

S6: So here’s another big question I have. I have always thought that massive police reform was hard to achieve, not because America isn’t undemocratic, but because it is. But because the vast preference of most voters is not to reform police departments. Do you see that changing?

S7: Maybe because we’re starting to see white kids and older white adults being brutalized by the police state for trying to peacefully march. And people are finally seeing that. Wait a minute. We have done nothing wrong. Why are these police officers behaving in this manner like this is completely unjust. So I think, you know, I welcome all the new allies to the party. I’m glad you came. 20, 20. But, hey, I’m glad you showed up. But I do think that we know about this nation when things start to happen to white Americans. The conversation definitely shifts. I think a lot of people are literally incensed and enraged at how a police officer could look at them as not human when they’re just asking a police officer like, oh, well, where do you what you’re saying move. OK. Sir, where do you want me to move? And all of a sudden they’re pepper sprayed and arrested. This is the first time it’s happened to many Americans who are joining these peaceful protests and seeing their peaceful protest being escalated by police officers with rubber bullets and pepper spray. And so I think this is why we’re experiencing this turning point in the discussion. I also think that, you know, a lot of people have to re-evaluate some of the narratives and tropes that they’ve been trafficking themselves. So oftentimes people say, well, we need police because, you know, they’re murderers and rapists. And and I know someone who, you know, was was mugged and it’s like who who was mugged? And it’s usually your cousin’s boyfriend’s sisters, aunts, husbands, nieces, stepchild. Right. It’s like, yeah, OK. It’s not you. You actually you’re creating this boogeyman of how dangerous society is. And most of the time, you actually don’t need this many police for whatever it is or wherever it is that you’re living.

S1: Yeah. Do you see another major event this week was that voting in Georgia was voting in quotes, you know, seven or eight hour delays. Do you see a connection between these two topics?

S7: I do. I mean, I’m I believe in protest politics and electoral politics. I think that the both should go hand-in-hand. You know, I have the privilege of teaching young people and a lot of them are so disgusted by electoral politics, but they believe in protest politics. And I was trying to explain to them that, you know, it has to be a both and proposition because for black Americans, the only gains we’ve really gotten over the past 50 years, because we’ve taken to the streets and demanded justice and then. Changes policy in electoral space, so we can’t abandon the institutions and the system that are already set out in the systems that are already set up to change policy. So we’ve already seen that the protests of change policy in Minnesota, we saw New York State just repealed 50 a something that’s been on the table for quite some time. And that’s, you know, the shielding police officers in there, their past records. And so we know that protest politics works in a policy space. So I think that this moment is is a healthy moment for us to re-evaluate it to.

S6: Christina Greer is a professor at Fordham. And some of the podcast’s outlets she has includes F.A.A., Que NYC, which is really one of my go tos for local New York politics. Thank you so much, Dr. Greer.

S8: Thank you, Mike Pesca.

S3: And now the spiel. Can it ever be an ethical decision to air an immoral sentiment? This is one of the interesting conundrums represented by the publishing of Tom Cotton’s Proehl Military on the Streets op ed in The New York Times. By now, you know all about it and how it was decided and who lost his job. But what I did was I waited and he commented here, talk to Ben Smith about it on Wednesday show. But I wanted to get and taken all the information I could. So this question, could it be ethical to give error to something that’s a moral? That was put to me by NPR’s David Folkenflik. It’s an excellent question, because the ethical thing to do in running an op ed page, a page for sometimes for dissent and disagreement, is to occasionally run something that editors or the editorial board as a whole might find an endorsement of an unethical act. Any time you run an op ed endorsing the death penalty in a specific way or in a specific case, you are printing what some members of the board consider immoral in the case. The New York Times. I would say most members of the reading public the death penalty is immoral in most instances, they think. But you know what? I’ve read very interesting arguments on the other side. I appreciate these arguments. In 1965, an editorial arguing for legal abortion would be considered by the editors of The Boston Globe an immoral stance. Same with most Bostonians. Now, I know 1965 is it now the idea of an op ed page didn’t exist and I know that then there were fewer outlets. But if someone did write an op ed of that nature back then, I think I would look at is as somewhat of a triumph for free speech.

S1: Brave of the people to include that the most moral or immoral act a society can take is war. So how can you argue on the pages of The New York Times or anywhere else that has an op ed page that it was right to intervene in Bosnia or Iraq or Afghanistan? And if you can do that, how could you argue against it? Is the answer that it’s within a conscripted view of what is moral? Is the answer that there are some things that are so outside the pale of morality you just would never give them voice? I do think that’s true. I do think that some of it. So how do you define what those things are? Well, I do also think quite complicatedly that if a president of the United States and if a prominent senator arguing for something and if polling shows a large percentage or in this case a majority, however misguided the majority might be, if a majority favors that, then it’s hard to say this is so immoral, it must stay off our pages. But when I say this, I don’t mean Tom Cotton specific op ed, because that was really horribly written. It was really horribly argued. In many ways you can say it shouldn’t run because it was just a failure as a piece of rhetoric. I agree with that. But that doesn’t mean that all immoral stances don’t deserve an airing in the case of arguing for the military rolling on the streets. Maybe it’s such an immoral position that you can’t get a good op ed out of it. Well, then that problem, if you will, solves itself. You tell Tom Cotton we’re not running this because it’s not up to snuff rhetorically. And then he would probably hem and haw. You’d live with that if someone could come up with an op ed that’s up to snuff rhetorically, someone with sufficient standing. I wouldn’t be against giving that an airing. What Tom Cotton’s was was a written down version of an AM talk radio screed. It wasn’t really a considered opinion. That’s why it shouldn’t have been on the pages of The New York Times. Also, James Bennett, the editor of those pages, really should have read it. The Times highlighted some mistakes of this op ed, which were cited by the OP Ed’s fiercest critics as rendering the op ed, quote, factually inaccurate. It was a de facto debunking of the entire op ed. I don’t know. There was the assertion that police officers, quote, bore the brunt of the violence. The Times said that’s an overstatement. That should have been challenged. Yes. Should have been edited into instead of bore. The brunt changed, too. They bore numerous or face numerous challenges. The phrase is Cowdrey’s of left wing radicals like an TIFA should have been changed. The Times acknowledges this. You just drop TFA and say the presence of left wing radicals. I want to call these factual errors. Although the OP Ed’s fiercest critics did. I also think many New York Times journalists in making the public assertion that the op ed put the lives of their black colleagues in danger, engaged not necessarily in facts either. It was an assertion. It wasn’t a fact. I don’t want our military in the street. Neither do Generals Mattis, Lilly and Secretary Esper, apparently. I don’t think the racial disparity of martial law is the primary angle here. Considering that black people and poor people lack resources and bear the brunt, accurate use of the word brunt right there bear the brunt of most calamities. You can say that it will disproportionately hurt black people about just about any bad thing in America. Global warming puts my black colleagues in danger. In fact, it does. That phrase about the safety of black newspaper employees. If the hundred first airborne swooped in, seemed more attention getting. Than strictly speaking, based, in fact. But guess what? It worked. Got attention. I don’t know if James Bennet leaving or the backlash over the column means that the people now have the power. The journalism people. I don’t know if it means that the op ed page as an institution is done as the wringers Bryan Curtis on the press box argued. I do think it shows that a good faith effort to clear out the bad faith arguments of those who agree with Donald Trump does screw with the delicate system that the op ed was based on. That was the idea of Vox’s Dave Roberts. He said so in an interview with On the Media’s Bob Garfield. I also found it interesting, the L.A. Times and former Slate editors Julia Turner’s comments on this week’s Culture Gab fest, that she actually got something out of the op ed. That’s something being the impression that Tom Cotton didn’t have any way to back up his ideas with any decent arguments that, by the way, coming across with an accurate impression of Tom Cotton. That is something of a service, is it not? Now, if you noticed, I cited a lot of podcasts and helping me sort out my thoughts. And there is a reason for that. And it’s because during this whole ordeal, the notion of, well, what about exposing yourself to different views, that was really treated as an inconvenience. It was a virtue to be argued over rather than accommodated. In other words, I didn’t sense a widespread agreement among those most vociferously stating this was a terrible op ed or cosigning onto the statement that it endangered black New York Times reporters.

S3: I did see widespread agreement that exposure to views you might not agree with really was something to preserve. It was more like, oh, that old saw, that old chestnut, that rhetorical trick. You’re not going to trap me in that to be kinder. I do think that people who are most against the op ed, if they did acknowledge the virtue of disagreeable thought at all, positioned it as much, much less important, an ideal than preserving themselves and vulnerable communities from harm. I have to say, while I very much don’t want any communities, least of all vulnerable communities to be harmed, I do very much subscribe to the notion that exposure to different ideas, bad ideas. Not my ideas. All ideas. It’s a really good thing. Is it because my privilege, my safety, my position, my race? Sure. To some extent, yes. I also really do believe, however, in the liberal notion of ideas being able to and made to slug it out in public. And I don’t worry so much that an onlooker might catch a stray blow to the nose. That’s why I mentioned the podcasts. I think podcasts are a great place to do this. I love listening to people I don’t agree with and I find I still don’t agree with them. But for more specific reasons or I find they aren’t as horrible as I thought they would be. Or I can spot the particular seams and rivets in their arguments so I can understand how it’s constructed and what’s really going on. This desire of mine to really hear out all these arguments, I don’t think it’s a hobby. I don’t think it’s a curiosity. I don’t think it’s an indulgence. I think it’s. A fundament of critical thinking. So op ed pages might not be where we get these thoughts in the future. Certainly seems like op ed pages attached to news pages staffed by the next wave of journalists aren’t going to be an easy forum for that. But I hope there is. And I just know as long as I have the gist or a show like it, this will be except from Tom Cotton. There is a guy who really needs a time out.

S5: And that’s it for Today Show Margaret Kelly, gists associate producer. She did a great job editing this week’s show and yet she claims never to have heard it. Daniel Shrader produced the gist, but he’s also producer of another podcast, Outward, which he intends to be a sort of carnival for the thrill seeking Rich as well as other criminal elements. The gist when asked my thoughts on the orgy of violence. I thought for a second and said I excuse it in the spirit of radical chic. And then I plunged back into my treasure bath and dined on a paté made of fetuses. Senator Cotton, you just get me in Peru, desperate to Peru. And thanks for listening.