"Brooks and Marcus on the Charlottesville rally anniversary, EPA and climate change" PBS NewsHour 8/10/2018
SUMMARY: New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus join William Brangham to discuss the week’s news, including the anniversary of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the politics of racially charged rhetoric, the implications of Tuesday’s close elections, the EPA moving away from global climate change efforts, and more.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour): Now we turn to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus. That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus. Mark Shields is away.
Welcome to you both.
So, we — as we were just hearing, this weekend is the one-year anniversary of the spasm of racism that we saw in Charlottesville.
David, I’m curious. The President, we saw what his reaction was a year ago. And since then, he’s continued a steady stream of Racially Charged Rhetoric, criticizing immigrants, linking them with crime and MS-13, criticizing NFL players.
In this past year, is it your sense that anything has changed in that regard?
DAVID BROOKS, New York Times: No, not with Donald Trump.
White identity politics has been his calling card for a long, long time, maybe stretching back generations of the Trump family.
The Institute for Family Studies did this study asking how many people, how many Americans actually sympathize with what the alt-right stood for, what the people in Charlottesville stood for. And they identified three core beliefs.
The first was, do you have a strong sense of white identity,  do you have a belief in the importance of white solidarity,  that all white people should stick together, and  you have a sense of white victimization, that whites are often the victim of discrimination?
And 6 percent of Americans share those three beliefs. And so that’s pretty much a core set of people who have high — one would say, a high degree of white identity, verging into racism.
And so that’s a group of people who can be whipped up. And then there’s a large group that share one of those things.
But, to me, Donald Trump’s main failure is constantly whipping up that sense of white identity. Not many even Republicans 20 years ago thought that being white was a strong part of their identity. But now it’s like 55 percent. And so he has stirred that up.
And then the second problem is, you just can’t have a party that’s basically all white, because when you overlay our racial problems with our political problems, you get instant poison.
And so the failure to do anything about that is by itself a gigantic problem.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ruth, do you see any good news in that, in that just 6 percent — I know it is — does seem like an enormous number of people identifying with white supremacy — but maybe there’s a silver lining there?
RUTH MARCUS, Washington Post: Well, I do see some good news in the response of the American people in the last year.
The first good news was the response to Charlottesville and to the President’s response to Charlottesville, where almost — most people, in fact, many people in his administration, some publicly, recoiled at the President’s assertion that there were fine people on both sides.
I think we have seen in recent months a kind of slow-motion version of Charlottesville, as people have recoiled from the family separation policy and its racial overtones.
We are better as a people, even despite that 6 percent, than our President. The bad news is that, as David said, the President has not been chastened — and, as you mentioned — the President has not been chastened in the last year. He has just continued to do what he has done all along.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You mean he hasn’t suffered political repercussions?
RUTH MARCUS: He hasn’t suffered political repercussions. And he has gone on his merry, very ugly way.
And it’s not the 6 percent that I worry about. It’s the people who do not think of themselves as racists, people who think of themselves as decent people, wouldn’t subscribe to those extreme views. But there’s a way in which the President’s rhetoric about S-hole countries, about animals, and his actions, like family separation, just legitimize and kind of encourage a belief in some people as lesser than others, and allowing comments like Laura Ingraham’s comments just the other day about immigrants to be viewed as somehow more acceptable than they were before Donald Trump.
And one last thing. The numbers bear it out. There was a recent poll; 57 percent of people thought race relations have got — think race relations have gotten worse under Donald Trump.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Gotten worse.
RUTH MARCUS: Fifty-seven percent.
Need to point out, 37 percent thought they got worse under Barack Obama as well, but…
DAVID BROOKS: Right. Right.
Yes. Well, I certainly think they have gotten worse. Even measuring by segregation levels in the schools, we’re much more segregated at schools, residentially, and then the political thing that’s tearing — on the Laura Ingraham comment…
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This was Laura, the FOX News host who basically went on a diatribe the other day, saying that it is undeniable that America is changing, and it’s largely due to demographics, and that these open borders, and the Democrats seem to celebrate it, and it’s a catastrophe for the country.
DAVID BROOKS: And nobody asked us. And she said it’s legal immigration and illegal immigration.
So it was a pure play of, we used to be white, and now we’re less so. That — basically, that…
RUTH MARCUS: It’s not too subtle.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
And so I suppose I’m perfectly willing to have a debate about immigration, but when it’s constantly accompanied by racial superiority and race — and us/them thinking, and racial cries, you can’t even have that debate.