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Else's with for nothing for nothing our dog which has until the days so much power in Washington and therefore some power in the world what's great about my labor and my sweat Lockley argued against the motion well I don't know of anything that has ever been created without the expense of something all of you hope for a diploma here are going to do that at the expense of a considerable amount of that vote and I would thank you a please not alive of the fact that a considerable amount of effort went into the production of a system which grants a greater degree of material well being to the American Negro than that and that is enjoyed by ninety five percent of the other peoples of the human race now nearly fifty five years later political science professor at Nicholas be Cola argues in a new book that the debate still informs the racial divide in America today your call is book is called the fire is upon us James Baldwin William F. Buckley junior and the debate over race in America and necklaces son a good of you to come on the show today thanks so much Barbara I'm so happy to be here so before we delve into Baldwin and and Buckley another reason that you say that this debate was so significant is the historical context so remind us what was happening in the civil rights movement at the time the debate took place yeah it's a remarkable thing the debate took place as you said on February eighteenth nineteen sixty five at the same day was a we're in the midst of the summer campaign on the central issue there was the pursuit of a voting rights acts of the the night that ball gonna Buckley Matt Cambridge across the ocean there was a civil rights activity in Merion Alabama that many people have seen featured in the film sama it was civil rights activity that led to the death of a civil rights activist and Jimmie Lee Jackson so we're sort of at the apex of the civil rights movement so many ways the Civil Rights Act has been adopted a we're fighting for the voting rights act and so it's in the midst of that turmoil the Baldwin Buckley medic Cambridge right that turmoil in that violence and here you have Baldwin and Buckley already establishes outspoken liberal and conservative writers what did they believe and why don't we start with Buckley's background what kind of conservative was he well William F. Buckley had a brand of conservatism that was all his own he was raised in a family that was staunchly Catholic and deeply individualistic called his political doctrine individualism and by individual is it was really a catch all term the Buckley used a for a view that was skeptical of government power especially government power in the economy it was a a political view that was deeply suspicious of the welfare state and deeply suspicious of democracy in and Buck the Buckley is I believe through and through and and I believe they believe the hierarchy they believed in that there were some people who are fit to rule and others who are fit to be ruled and they count themselves among those who were fit to rule and so Buckley thought of himself as a defender of a particular kind of conservatism that was unabashedly elitist and his beliefs and hierarchy were often racialized which is one of the themes of the book now let's turn to Baldwin because he's pretty fastening here he wasn't the most radical of leftists in fact he disagreed strongly with the nation of Islam what what was his position on civil rights and and how did he describe what a quality would look like yeah James Baldwin is somebody who defied categorization in every way and that's one of things I think is most fascinating about him he said very early on his career that all theories are suspect in and he learned from a very young age it was impossible to indoctrinate him so he somebody who grows up in you know Harlem storefront churches spend some time as a young minister you know language the power of words is really something that Baldwin is able to use to resist that sort of oppression he's experiencing as a young man in Harlem but he ends up falling away from the church if it sees he's a deep spiritual hypocrisy I in the minister's these working within and doesn't see them as true believers and then he also has this short period as a teenager where he's identifies himself as a socialist and then he discovers around the same time he falls away from the church that he's never really going to be comfortable as I it hearing to any one particular ideologies as politics requires us to be dynamic and so I think he has a very clear moral core and what he's trying to do and that is the freedom and fulfillment the dignity of every human being that is a balding cares about more than anything else but in terms of how we go about achieving that Baldwin is never comfortable align himself with any one particular group or any one particular ideology he's always in the state of trying to think through these issues through the eyes of others and trying to get us to recognize a kind of moral core of all of our political problems now let's get back to the debate on the motion before the house again was the American dream is at the expense of the American Negro and let's talk about their different debate strategies and we should say that this wasn't the kind of debate where there was any back and forth James Baldwin gave the first speech in that Buckley gave his full speech but let's listen first to this excerpt from James Baldwin is a hundred years enough one hundred years at least three wall the American soil is full of a call to the Mike and says why is my freedom of my citizenship my right to live there how is a concealed their question now and I suggest further and in the same way the moral life about about my sheriffs and Paul Alabama lady white lady the Monalisa been destroyed by the plague called Kalla but the American sense of reality has been corrupted by any right in the book the bottom put himself in the role of the of the prophet Jeremiah at the very beginning of his argument and you hear it here in this in this excerpt and and he made a moral argument that racism wounded all Americans so what do you take away from this part of his his speech and and what do you make of the strategy yeah it's really remarkable in the hundred and fifty years of the Cambridge union existed I don't think I I feel confident saying that no one who had sat in that chamber it ever experience something quite like the speech the Baldwin deliver that night you know formal debate is this combination of kind of intellectual combat and and performance art and there's there's often this kind of you know combination of of word smithing and and jocular already but Baldwin's speech was deadly serious there were a couple moments of levity but he was there to deliver a Jeremiah in which he exposes white supremacy I not only in the ways it impacts the lives of its victims with the way that impacts the lives of its would be beneficiaries as he says in that passage that you just played for us Baldwin says that the moral lives the moral lives of those were the would be beneficiaries of white supremacy are destroyed by the play called color will Baldwin is getting at there is he says well you know there's nothing more depressing inside than looking at a a poor white person in the south and the only thing that person has the one thing they're hanging on to to give them any sense of worth in the world is this delusion of white supremacy in Baldwin looks at someone whose life is controlled by the solution and says that this person is a victim of this way that we've convinced ourselves that we need to think about one another and so bald one is there to say to this audience right to this largely sympathetic audience of college students that we are all the creators and perpetuate ours of the system of white supremacy in is our responsibility to do something about it and that's what is there to say to the Cambridge audience into obviously that the television audience is going to see that that debate on both sides of the Atlantic rate and Baldwin spoke from this place of empathy and Buckley on the other hand went on the attack right away here he is right out of the gates the fact that the you sit here as is your words are and lay the entire waves of the Negro ordeal on your own home there's a relevant to the argument that we are here to discuss this and will you hear his verbal tics in in that clip so clearly he also went on to chide Baldwin for attacking American ideals as insufficient and then he inserts this little jab at our ideals rather us some sort of a superficial coating which we come up with at any given moment in order to justify what I love commercial and noxious experiment we are engaged in a loss of Mister Baldwin can write his book the fire next time in which he threatens America he didn't in writing that book speak with a British accent city used exclusively tonight language is threatened America with the necessity of bras so what is Buckley referring to when he says Mister Baldwin threatens America in his book the fire next time the illusion is in the title of your book and also this British accent line it seems like such a cheap shot was even accurate yeah you know so Buckley you know his his way of approaching the debate and he's sitting there listening to Baldwin speech Baldwin doesn't you know no no one in the audience questions bald when you know the students have the opportunity to stand up and raise questions and and points of information with speakers but no one stood up during bald and speech would have been almost profane to do so because he's delivering this powerful sermon and and it would have been kind of absurd in some ways to interrupt him and so but but Buckley sees that he sees Baldwin get the standing ovation which is very rare thing to happen the union and he decides that he is he put it later is not going to give them one god damn inch and so he goes on the attack immediately which was kind of Buckley style he was never comfortable defending his own views he was always felt much more comfortable going back to his debating days in high school being on the attack and so Buckley's argument and this is where the the British accents point comes in is Buckley's argument as the Baldwin is fundamentally misleading the audience and that what he's doing this this reference to British accents I don't think is meant to be taken literally Buckley was using accents in a way to sort of say the Baldwin was using a vocabulary that he thought the audience would accept and so Buckley read Baldwin as this radical hell bent on overthrowing western civilization you should view him he says to with these this elite college audience as your enemy and you're actually showing him a great deal of disrespect he says to the Cambridge students by treating him with such adulation and so Buckley sees the same thing happening on the other side Atlantic with the fire next time when that comes out of the book comes out in nineteen sixty three a few critics have anything negative to say about it and Buckley of following one of his National Review writers Gary wills says this is a sign of great disrespect for bald when you're showing him you're you're showing him a kind of unction is the word that Buckley uses in the speech because you're not respecting what he's written on the page you're sort of giving the argument over to him because he is a black man in your on willing to challenge him because he's a black man and so Buckley that was his strategy was basically to say I am the only one here taking Baldwin's ideas seriously and he argues that he is there defending western civilization against Baldwin who is hell bent on overthrowing it which you know I again the book is is is really the wrong way to read what Baldwin's up to if you're just joining me I'm speaking with the necklace pure Cola he's the author of the fire is upon us James Baldwin William F. Buckley junior and the debate over race in America well one thing that you point out in the book is something that Buckley and Baldwin both actually agreed on and that's that they both took a dim view of the law's ability to resolve racial conflict in the US flesh that out for us yeah this is this is one of the few areas of of agreement you know of course Buckley's argument is that you know he he Buckley resist the idea that he is a racist or a white supremacist in it because for Buckley being a racist means that you have views that are rooted in racial animus and and Buckley claims that he didn't have user routed racial animus he had these views that were rooted in this kind of view of of racial paternalism that what white supremacy is is not a permanent condition of it is a condition based on the the superiority of.

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