The people on the right reject vaccine outreach as Americans die of COVID. The Texas Republicans are making another run at voter restriction. In 2011, Republicans took over the House and forced a massive defunding of the IRS that cost millions of dollars of tax revenue. Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates are starting a new center for journalism and democracy at Howard University. The GOP is trying to whitewash American history and wants to cancel the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: J.D., you`re talking about you, you. As the kids would say, you played yourself. And for your shameful no self-respect, to groveling, mollycoddling, and flip-flopping, you are tonight`s absolute worse and a suck-up.
And that is tonight REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight, on ALL IN.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You got to ask, what is the problem? Get over it. Get over this political statement. Just get over it and try and save the lives of yourself in your family.
HAYES: A new plea for medical experts with Americans needlessly dying and the anti-vax media attacks.
BRIAN KILMEADE, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The focus of this administration on vaccination is mind-boggling.
HAYES: Then, are Democrats about to walk out again to stop the new voter restriction push in Texas? Plus, why Mitch McConnell is actually attempting to defund the police when it comes to tax cheats?
And my interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones in Ta-Nehisi Coates on the backlash to the truth about American history when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The highly transmissible Delta variant is spreading across this country and the world. Even countries with higher vaccination levels than our own, and there are not that many of them, have started to see the Delta variant penetrating less vaccinated populations.
In Israel, more than 80 percent of adults are vaccinated, but the vast majority of kids still waiting on their shots. And guess what, Delta has been fueling outbreaks in schools. Here at home, this familiar yet very unwelcome headline, hospitals in Missouri are once again low on ventilators in an area of the state with a low vaccination rate.
Now amidst all that, Dr. Anthony Fauci joined me on this program last night and delivered a blunt message about vaccines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: This is not complicated. We`re not asking anybody to make any political statement one way or another. We`re saying try and save your life, and that of your family, and that of the community. It`s -- you know, we have so many things, as you said, so many diseases that I deal with that don`t have solutions. It`s very frustrating. You don`t have a treatment or you don`t have a vaccine. Here we have a vaccine that`s highly, highly effective in preventing disease and certainly, in preventing severe disease and hospitalization. It`s easy to get, it`s free, and it`s readily available.
So, you know, you`ve got to ask, what is the problem? Get over it. Get over this political statement. Just get over it and try and save the lives of yourself and your family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Apparently, that triggered some of the folks over at Fox News who took issue with Dr. Fauci his words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KILMEADE: The focus of this administration on vaccination is mind-boggling. Listen, in many cases, they`ve done a very good job getting the word out and getting the vaccine out from Johnson and Johnson, to Pfizer, to Moderna, they`re available if you want them, but that`s not enough. Now, you need to be berated by none other than Dr. Fauci because you`re playing politics. That`s the reason you may have not gotten it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And does your doctor talk to you that way? He`s clearly --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get over it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get over it. You have to take this shot. No, you talk to your doctor about your choices. And you as an individual as an adult get to make those decisions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To shame people to get a vaccine is not effective. And it worries people that that will turn eventually into a mandate when this is no longer emergency use, when schools are reopening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, your doctor should be pushy with you in circumstances like this, honestly. It is a matter of life and death. The Centers for Disease Control says that according to preliminary data, 99.5 percent of COVID deaths in the U.S. over the past six months occurred in on vaccinated people. And yet we continue to see this very worrying dangerous trend of the right-wing media, you saw some of it there, people in the most conservative parts of the country turning against the vaccine.
And the leaders of this movement are cowardly. They refuse to have the courage of their convictions. They will not come out and say they are against the vaccine. Instead, they take this straw man stand saying they`re just against anyone trying to promote the vaccine, or heaven forbid, mandate it, which of course leads up the crucial point the government is not mandating the vaccine. In fact, that`s the reason for the hectoring. It`s the reason Dr. Fauci came on our program. It`s why President Joe Biden spoke the other day about going door to door to reach people who have not yet been able to get vaccinated, which also stirred up all sorts of freak outs on the right.
The reason the Biden administration is trying to cajole and persuade Americans to get the vaccine is precisely because it is not mandated. No one is making you get the vaccine. If it were mandated, Dr. Fauci would not have to go on national TV to talk about it. Even the President, the CDC director, and everyone else could just go home and shut up. So, when the Fox and Friends and others in the rights they do not want anyone to try to convince them to take the shot, they certainly don`t want it to be mandated, they just want it out there, what they`re really saying is, they don`t want people to get the vaccine. If you`re saying you don`t want people to get the vaccine, come out and say it. But they won`t say it because saying you don`t want people to get the vaccines means saying you want people to die.
Those are the options right now. It is what the data show as this variant becomes the dominant strain. And what`s particularly twisted about that, and maddening, and I think about this every day as I read the headlines, there is a very obvious other avenue the entire right-wing, MAGA world, conservatives, Fox News could take.
Here`s an example. Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel summed it up in this tweet. "As Trump and Republicans were leading Operation Warp Speed, Biden was spreading doubt about the vaccine`s efficacy. Biden should thank Trump for developing a vaccine in record time."
Now, it`s not like Donald Trump himself developed vaccine. It is a kind of funny image of him like in a lab coat with like a little dropper. He does not deserve all the credit of the vaccines. The mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been in the work for years, some of the earliest sequencing happened even before Operation Warp Speed was launched. There are some arguments that the program which doled out about $10 billion to accelerate the vaccine guaranteed purchasers at the end did help at the margins.
But for the purposes here, it doesn`t actually really matter. It`s not like truth matters for Donald Trump and the Republican Party. What I`m saying is if they`re going to pick a deceptive narrative to go with, why not go with that one, that Donald Trump delivered us these miraculous vaccines, and we should all thank him and go get our Trump shots.
The exiled former president has occasionally half-heartedly made that argument telling the crowd at CPAC in February "Everybody go get your shot, but he`s not really leaning into it." At the end of the day, he`s just as scared of the anti-vaxxers in the base and the rest of his party, the rest of the conservative movement. All of them from Donald Trump, to Tucker Carlson, are cowards, when it comes down to it. They`re just chasing after the base. They`re chasing the base. They`re not leaving, they`re not telling them things they don`t want to hear, when they should be telling everyone that vaccines were the greatest achievement of the Trump presidency.
And you know what, that would be closer to true that 95 percent of the things Donald Trump says. They should be hosting MAGA rallies with max vaccinations and a free MAGA hat with every shot. They could do that if they wanted to. They could. They could do it tomorrow. Instead, they chose the path of least resistance. They chose to play into the paranoia, and the opposition, the nihilism that is increasingly at the beating heart of this political movement.
So, in southern Missouri where cases are surging, hospitals are running out of ventilators, the President and CEO of a local health system laid it out clearly. "If you are making wildly disparaging comments about the vaccine and have no public health expertise, you may be responsible for someone`s death. Shut up."
Claire McCaskill is a former Democratic Senator from Missouri. Andy Slavitt is the former White House Senior Advisor for the COVID Response, also author of Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed U.S. Coronavirus Response.
And Claire, let me start with you. In your home state of Missouri, there`s really some worrying stuff happening there. I`ll tell you what the data say that there`s -- you know, vaccinations are 56 percent of adults have at least one dose, only 49 percent fully vaccinated. But in parts of the state where we have these outbreaks, you got in the southeast, particularly, about 30 percent of residents aged 12-plus vaccinated. What`s going on?
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if you look at those dark areas on the map, Chris, where you have a significantly higher number of people vaccinated, those are the areas in and around Kansas City and St. Louis and in the middle of the state in Columbia, Missouri, where our university is located. The rest of the state, you have a real problem. You have not just anti-vaxxers, you have a governor who is -- has a huge part in this disaster that is currently in the making in Missouri, someone who today tried to tell Missourians he was going to stop the federal government from going door to door.
Well, nobody was talking about the federal government going door to door. They`re talking about community activists and leaders and volunteers going out in their own neighborhoods and trying to encourage people to get the vaccine.
The other element here that I think we`ve got to remember is that lady on Fox News said you should talk to your doctor. A huge number of people in rural Missouri don`t have a doctor. In Missouri, you can`t qualify for Medicaid if you`re a grown adult without children, no matter how poor you are. So, there is a large pockets of people who do not have any health insurance and only go to the emergency room if they are really sick. So, there`s not a doctor to talk to.
But many of them talk to their minister, Chris. The evangelicals have a huge part in this in rural Missouri, especially in southwest Missouri, where we have mega-churches. If those ministers would step up and preach God`s word about taking care of your fellow man, I think we could get our vaccination rate up in some of those areas in the state where we`re seeing the number one locations in the country for the Delta variant.
HAYES: Andy, you recently have left your position as an advisor in the White House where you guys were dealing with exactly these questions. And I guess what`s -- how do you understand the right approach here? And what do you make of the sort of proactive push against the mandate before there is a mandate when everyone`s just trying to do the persuasion thing?
ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR FOR THE COVID RESPONSE: Look, my heart goes out along with the senator to people in her state where, you know, she`s watching what are essentially a set of preventable deaths begin to occur and pile up. Because we have actually a very dangerous variant in Delta, but the great news is we also have something that can stop it in its tracks. And we all have to be -- take a deep breath and be smart enough not to bait one another into turning this into a political fight where people look for political advantage.
I think this whole notion that Marjorie Taylor-Greene and others have started, that if the government is behind something, therefore is by definition fascism is a very worn out and dangerous trope that is essentially trying to fight a political battle where the Biden administration very assiduously has been avoiding political battles.
I give great credit to the President for steering clear of taking the bait on a lot of this chump being thrown in the water by effectively saying, look, we`re going to be steadfast focus on every single American and protecting every single American. And you could try to distract us by calling us names and talking about fascism, but the truth of the matter is that they`ve got to be singularly focused on what they`ve been elected to do, which the last president did not do.
HAYES: Yes. And there`s also been an absence of leadership. I mean, part of what`s happening here is this is like real cowardice, right, this vacuum. I mean, I can think of people -- Mitch McConnell today coming out and say you should get vaccinated. Good for him. Jim Justice, Republican governor of West Virginia being very -- you know, proactive saying like, we really need to do this. But a lot of Republican leaders, I don`t know what the governor of Missouri what note he has been striking on this, but a lot of Republican leaders just kind of pushing it to the side or using this idea of like standing up to big government as a way of being essentially like anti-pro- vaccine, Claire.
MCCASKILL: Yes. Our governor has really been a problem. We never had any kind of mask mandate that was real. He continues to not even encourage people to get the vaccine. I will give Roy Blunt credit. He was out today and said the vaccine is safe. I took it the first day I could. All my family took it the first day we could. But he`s a lonely voice in the Republican Party in Missouri. We have a hot primary for a Senate seat next year, and they`re all out trying to out-Trump each other. And the governor is kind of leading the parade even though he`s not running.
I mean, he had the nerve to actually blame management for a lack of ventilators being ready. There`s a dramatic shift in the environment in southwest Missouri. And it is really hard when you have a governor that is not supporting our frontline health care workers, and is frankly doing nothing to encourage vaccination and spreading false rumors that -- nothing would spread faster in rural Missouri, I can assure you, Chris, than the federal government is going to knock on your door. And that`s the rumor he`s spreading and it`s wildly irresponsible.
HAYES: Let me ask a technical question, Andy. One of the things that I`ve seen people say is that it would help -- you know, we`re 67, 68 percent, so you think about 32 percent of eligible adults who haven`t gotten it. And I think, you know, people that are really for ideological reasons or whatever reasons, like dead set against it, that might be 20 $. There`s still -- there`s still folks there. There`s still a lot of a lot of gettable persuadable folks. It`s a question of access, accessibility, ease, right, all those things, that if the FDA moved from emergency use authorization to full authorization, that that would help. That I`ve seen some people say, well, I don`t know it`s emergency. Do you think that would help? Is that something that we should be thinking of in the horizon?
SLAVITT: Well, that will help. And I think we`re probably only likely weeks away from that happening. And I do think that this should create a big push for people to say OK, fence-sitters, you said you were waiting for the jury to come and tell you whether or not this vaccine was safe and effective. There`s now been hundreds of millions of Americans. It`s saved -- I`ve seen it saved hundreds of thousands of lives. There was a study out which said that the acceleration of the vaccine from the Biden administration saved hundreds of thousands of lives. So, now the FDA has done a thorough review, and here`s what they`ve said. If you`ve been on the fence, we understand, but it`s time to go.
And one other thing I`d say just in terms of governors and senators and people speaking up. I think every day somebody should play the tape from Chris Christie who talked about what it was like when he believed he wouldn`t get COVID, when he believed it was all political, and what he felt like in the hospital. Because I`ll tell you what, your political affiliations chipped away pretty fast when you think you`re going to die. And he had a very moving couple of minutes, and unfortunately, he had to find a religion to get there, that people really ought to listen to in southwest Missouri.
HAYES: Claire McCaskill and Andy Slavitt, that was great. Thank you both.
You may remember, Texas was on the brink of passing one of the strictest voting restriction bills in the country. It`s already one of the hardest states in the union to vote in. And then a dramatic late-night walkout staged by the Democratic state reps, blocked the vote from happening back in May. So, now, Republicans are back in special session, preparing a new set of bills. Are Democrats about to walk out again? That`s next.
HAYES: Texas Republicans are once again trying to restrict the rights of millions of voters including -- introducing a pair of bills today during a special legislative session that would add criminal penalties for voting law violations, empower partisan poll watchers, require ID from mail-in voting, and ban drive-thru and overnight options for early voting.
Now, not coincidentally, you might remember, that was tried. In the last election, Harris County, Texas embraced those early voting options last year during the pandemic, trying to encourage as many people as possible to vote during the pandemic. Four million people live in Harris County. It is the third most populous county in the entire United States. And in 2020, a record number of Harris County voters showed up at the polls. Biden won there by 13 percent. Now, Texas Republicans are trying to ban many of the early voting options that allowed so many people to cast a ballot last year.
And Democrats successfully blocked the passage of similar bills back in May by staging a walkout. So, what do they plan to do to stop this latest effort? To help answer that, I`m joined by one of the leaders of the last walkout, Democratic Texas State Representative Jasmine Crockett.
Representative, it`s great to have you. First, just let us understand the weirdness of the special session and the ways in the Texas Legislature work. This session has been called for a bunch -- to focus on a few issues. What are those issues and what happens now?
JASMINE CROCKETT, DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE, TEXAS: Focus is an interesting word to use as well because it definitely does not seem like there`s a focus. You know, one of the things that I realized is that a special session is supposed to be for extraordinary measures. Yet our governor did not call a special session when we were in the middle of a pandemic and people were dying. He decided now to call a special session so that he can deal with things like critical race theory, if he knows what that means. So that he can deal with things such as bail reform, if he truly understands what our constitution says about the presumption of innocence.
He wants to deal with voter suppression instead of voter access because we did see in that 2020 election the great things that Harris County did that allowed this state to only have a six-point spread. Texas is supposed to be deep red. But I think that we learned that Texas really isn`t deep red. It`s just that our ballot box has been inaccessible, and that`s what`s scary right now. We`re dealing with a power grab from the Republicans.
HAYES: So, I should show the stats because they really laid this out. In 2016, 55 percent turnout in a presidential election, which is pretty low, Trump won by nine percent. In 2020, you have 66.2 percent turnout, amazing turnout, huge bump. Trump`s margin is 5.6 percent, still pretty healthy, fairly comfortable a win for the Republican in that state. These restrictions now, are they the same ones that they proposed last time around or have things changed?
CROCKETT: A lot of them are the same. But I will tell you that one thing that I can really thank the media for is shining a light on what was going on in Texas. It`s kind of like, oops, I got caught. So, let me stop doing that right there. Let`s rewind that one. So, we saw souls to the polls. They have pulled back on that provision. They were arguing that, you know, I guess fraud occurs only in the morning on Sundays. The frauds are not out after 1:00 p.m., I`m not really sure, right? So, they were saying, hey, you can`t vote before 1:00 p.m. on a Sunday because that`s probably fraudulent, right, because the good people are at church.
I don`t really know what the argument was. It really didn`t make sense. But you have to understand that the authors of the Senate Bill, as well as the House Bill, are both attorneys. And these are attorneys that went to other states trying to overturn the election on behalf of Trump. And so, they came back and they had these ideas of things that they could do to hopefully be able to put Trump into a better situation in the state of Texas if for some reason, it came down to that.
HAYES: All right, so you walked -- you guys led this incredible walkout. It ran the clock out on the regular session. Abbott said, we`re going to call a special session. And then I saw -- Lieutenant Governor Dan Packer was asked about, well, what if they do it again. I want to play you his response and then hear what you have to say about it, because it struck me as interesting. Here`s what Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick said about what would happen if Democrats walk out in mass again. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN PATRICK, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, TEXAS: Well, if they leave, they`re stuck. Because I think that when you look at the 22 election on November a year from now, independent voters -- look, Democrats may stick with some of them, even Democrat voters will be upset they`re not doing their constitutional duty. But independence will say this is anarchy.
It`s one thing of having anarchy in the streets, but when you run for office and you win, you have a constitutional duty to show up. And they should show up. And if they walk out again, then that will be on them. I believe that they will stay but we`ll see what their actions are because the price they would pay would be too huge with the voters, I believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, that to me -- that -- I know what that sounds like as a political reporter. That is -- that`s the sound of impotence because he`s saying like, basically, there`s nothing we can do if you walk out again. The voters will punish you. Am I right that if you just vote walk out again, can you -- can you stop it again?
CROCKETT: Yes and no. I`ll be perfectly honest. The law is not clear on how far the speaker can go. So, first of all, the lieutenant governor has no control over us in the House. He definitely runs the Senate as a tyrant. That is an honest to goodness truth, how he runs the Senate. And so, you know, when it comes to the House side, though, there are questions about what can the speaker do? Can the speaker get DPS to get out there and actually decide to detain us. We haven`t committed any crime so the DPS can`t arrest us, but they can kind of try to drag us back into the House and say, here, sit here while we force this down your throat.
So, there are some potential options. The law is a little unclear. But there`s always an option to break forum. That is just kind of basics, right? And it`s a Constitutional option. It`s not an option that they can change in the middle of the game, which is why we still have that option. Because if they could change it in the middle of the game, best believe they would.
You know, this bill doesn`t help anybody. We do have a voter issue in the state of Texas. But that issue is access. Texas is the hardest state to vote in as it is. And so, what they`re saying is, let`s make it even harder. Let`s make it even more problematic. Let`s go ahead and give people a reason not to vote.
You know, there`s a ton of felonies that are still in this new bill. Last time, I want to say there were somewhere between 17 and 19 new felonies that they were creating. They`re still creating new felonies for basic mistakes that people are making because you`re passing a bill randomly in the summer of, you know, this session, right, this special session where people may not know what the new crazy laws are.
And so, that`s a deterrent. Some people may say nevermind, I don`t want to take a penitentiary chance because we saw what happened to Crystal Mason at Fort Worth. We saw the Crystal Mason ended up getting five years in prison and her vote never even counted for a simple mistake.
HAYES: Texas State Representative Jasmine Crockett, one of the Democrats who is fighting against this bill in the Texas State Legislature, I really, really enjoyed talking to you tonight. Thank you.
CROCKET: Thank you.
HAYES: Do not go anywhere because Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates both join me live just ahead. Stick around. We`ll be right back.
HAYES: You may not have heard it put this way before, but according to a new report, a bunch of conservative political groups are all coming together to defund the police. It`s just a very specific type of police. Of course, conservatives have loudly been arguing against defunding the police and for increasing police budgets and for mass incarceration and for stop and frisk.
And their argument for all that is that you have to ruthlessly patrol all incursions no matter how low level, someone stealing deodorant from a drugstore, squeegee men, subway turnstile hopping, all those people need the book thrown at them. Otherwise, order unravels, people get away with anything, and then you have chaos in crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSE WATTERS, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Check out what happened at a Walgreens in San Francisco. This is a man in broad daylight looting a store and just filling up a garbage bag.
LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Supporting DAs who get tough on thugs and gangbangers, that would stop crime. The Democrats don`t care.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Stop and frisk isn`t racist. Did most searches discover a crime? No, they didn`t. But 12 percent of all stop and frisk searches, the frisk part did discover a crime.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK: You got to pay attention to somebody urinating on the streets. It may be a minor thing, it may be a serious thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: But there has been an under-the-radar experiment the country has been running in defunding the police in one specific domain, and it kind of support the right-wing view in this, I got to say. It`s tax crime. The agency responsible for policing federal tax crime is the Internal Revenue Service.
In 2011, Republicans took over the House and forced a massive defunding of the IRS. A study by researchers affiliated with Syracuse University found the number of IRS revenue agents fell by 43 percent between 2010 and 2020, with nearly half as many cops on the tax beat as 10 years ago. That has had a huge effect on who in this country gets audited.
That study found that as the numbers of IRS agents are decreasing, the number of wealthy people, millionaires in the country has nearly doubled. So, the number of millionaire returns that were audited has fallen 72 percent, down from more than 40,000 millionaire audits in 2012 to just over 11,000 in 2020.
In 2012, audits of millionaires turned up $4.8 billion in unreported taxes. Now, with twice as many millionaires but less than a third the number of audits, the government have uncovered only $1.2 billion in unreported taxes. In April, the IRS commissioner testified before Congress saying, "It would not be outlandish -- listen to this -- to believe that the actual tax gap -- that`s the difference between how much is owed in taxes and how much is actually collected -- could approach impossibly exceed $1 trillion per year."
$1 trillion, that`s double almost the proposed bipartisan infrastructure bill. The government could lose $1 trillion in revenue every year because Republicans defunded the tax police. Now, to be clear, I`m not talking about raising anyone`s taxes. This is just talking about literally collecting the taxes that are owed, that people who can afford to pay them are criminally avoiding.
Now, a group of Congressional Democrats and Republicans actually agreed to increase funding for the IRS as part of that bipartisan infrastructure deal, hoping that putting more cops in the proverbial beach will bring in more revenue and help pay for the bill. But to the institutional Republican Party, the idea that rich people should be able to cheat on their taxes and get away with it is as core and central to them as any other principle with the exception that only certain people should vote.
That is why they are mobilizing to stop more funding for the IRS. And we know what the consequences of that policy will look like. Just look at the party`s leader, Donald Trump, a man whose company and chief financial officer were just criminally indicted for a years of ongoing systematic tax fraud, none of which in his long years in the public eye, has been sufficiently investigated.
Defending the rights of Donald Trumps of the world to not pay taxes while you do is one of the last unifying projects of the morally and intellectually desiccated Republican Party. They have pioneered a certain kind of defunding the police and defending that is a hill they will absolutely die on no matter how much it costs. Because when it comes to a certain class of criminal, there is no one softer on crime than the Republican Party.
HAYES: You know, it`s a truism that fights about history are actually fights about the present. And that`s certainly true for our current conflict over American history. I mean, Americans have been fighting about American history as long as Americans have been making American history. And this round, well, it`s about the oldest story and the oldest fights we have about power, about race, and democracy.
But why now? I keep coming back to that question. I think in this period of sustained reflection, there`s been a reckoning with some very truths of American history, truths that have always been hiding in plain sight, truths that many people don`t want to recognize, truths that generations of people who work to cover up.
and there have been two particularly influential writers -- there`s been many dozens and dozens and dozens of voices -- but two who devoted their life`s work at this point to excavating this loss history, putting it out there front and center, making us look at it, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta- Nehisi Coates.
Nikole Hannah-Jones is a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine where she created the 1619 Project, an examination of racism and slavery in this country, and its centrality to the spine of American history. For that she was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Ta-Nehisi Coates, journalist and author, he won the George Polk Award for his Atlantic Magazine piece titled The Case for Reparations, and National Book Award for Between the World and Me. Both of these writers have recipients in the MacArthur Genius Award. Both of them have been key on understanding of American history in this moment.
And this week, they just announced something exciting. They`re going to be starting a new center for journalism and democracy at Howard University, the Mecca, one of our nation`s oldest historically black colleges, and they join me now.
It`s great to have you both congratulations on the announcement. I want to -- maybe I`ll start with you, Nikole on just this -- just the question of why now. You know, we have fights about American history all the time, and we have curriculum fights all the time. I remember growing up in New York City is a big freakout because there`s a New York City public school book called Heather has two Mommies and that was going to be the end of the world.
So, you know, these are -- this is a perpetual argument we have in a democratic society. But what is going on now? Why is it that this sort of ferocity of this backlash and this fight on these -- on this terrain right now, in your mind?
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: Thanks for having us on. This feels like a weird reunion for us all to be on together, even though we`re not in the same room. And it looks like you got a little bit better light, Ta-Nehisi, so I`m glad you got an upgrade.
TA-NEHISI COATES, JOURNALIST: Only a little better, only a little better. I`m trying.
JONES: So, you know, I`ve been thinking a lot about this as you both have. And I think you have to kind of draw a direct line from what happened last year with these global protests, and so many Americans starting to really make these connections that, oh, what happened to George Floyd is not just about an individual incident, this is part of a legacy and a pattern.
And we started seeing corporations, we started seeing polling numbers of white Americans who were who were saying, oh, we actually do think maybe systemic racism is a thing. And so, this backlash is in direct response to that, because what the narrative of American exceptionalism tells us that the inequality we see today, that the fact that in anything that you can measure, black and indigenous people are at the bottom of that, that`s just a matter of our personal choices because this is a country where everyone has the same rights, and if you work hard you can overcome.
When people started to question that kind of foundational mythology, that`s when we saw really geared up this backlash in the sense that white Americans were losing some personal stake that they had. And as we examine this history, we are now saying that why people are not good as a people, that they are losing something. And the narrative serves the politics. That`s what is so important, right? How do you justify voter suppression laws? How do you justify trying to overturn an election? You have to have a narrative first that justifies that. And this is part of that narrative that is serving a larger political ambition.
HAYES: Ta-Nehisi, you once wrote this line, and I think about it all the time, because Nikole is talking about what I think is the central story here, right? So, if you look at American life, right, there`s all these disparities, particularly between black folks and white folks. And it`s true of indigenous folks, Latino folks, Asian Americans, others in different ways, but black and white, particularly.
You -- and you can look at whatever -- incarceration rate poverty, right? And there`s different stories you can tell about that. And one of them is white supremacy, which is like, well, they ended up on the bottom because they`re worse. And the other is structural racism. And basically, that`s the fight right now. And you once wrote a line that said, there`s nothing wrong with black people that ending white supremacy wouldn`t fix, which I think about all the time because to me that`s the fight we`re having because people don`t want to --- they`re rebelling against that idea.
COATES: I think that`s exactly right. And just to piggyback on what Nikole said, it is history that justifies governance and justifies government. These is not a coincidental that you`re having this fight right now about what story we`re going to tell about this country, and the very same people are trying to restrict voting at the polls. That`s not coincidental. Redemption went hand in hand with the lost cause.
When we want to do something, we generally reach back to our collective memory to justify. When we wanted to go into Iraq, the phrase, Jeffersonian democracy, was rooted in this idea that America was the fault of democracy, had always ensured these rights, and could therefore go into another nation, stomp on a group of people, and install, you know, something that we had been doing since 1776. In fact, had we had a more serious reckoning without actual history, maybe, you know, we would have questioned the premise of that in the first place.
The bottom line of what I`m trying to get across is that, you know, history is not something that`s just happening over there. It`s directly connected to the politics. And that`s why, you know, what Nikole is doing, and what she has done, is so dangerous. I mean, here you have, you know, as far as I`m sure, one of our most decorated journalists, period (INAUDIBLE) non- black journalists, period, period. And folks couldn`t even you know, fix themselves to take a vote until they were forced to, to come out in the labor day and say, no, we don`t want this.
HAYES: And that`s -- I mean, I agree about the -- about the backlash. And I`ve said this on the show, Nikole, I`m curious what you think, which is, in some ways, like part of the debate is how essential is race to the American story? How central is racism to the American story? That`s a little bit of the debate we`re having. And to the degree that one coalition in American life decides backlash to that is the most important thing. It does seem like it`s proving the point a little bit.
Like, the freakout itself seems to concede the centrality in the way that you are making the case for its centrality.
JONES: Yes. I`m making one, the fact that you can understand that if you are a political party that is struggling to maintain a majority, that the key to getting power is to stop racism. It tells you that race has long been and continues to be a central organizing factor in American politics and American life, but also really look at these laws and these arguments about critical race theory.
I was just reading an article yesterday about a school board meeting in Tennessee where a white mother complained that her child was being taught critical race theory because they were being taught with the book that Ruby Bridges wrote about her experience of desegregating the school in New Orleans.
And the argument was that it was too black and white, that it was talking about white people doing something to black people, and that seemed unfair, and it didn`t have, you know, a happy ending. So, what these laws are saying is not that we shouldn`t teach the truth about history -- that we need to teach the truth about history, but that the truth about history is too harmful to white children. Those are -- those are two different arguments, right?
So, that is, to me, admitting how endemic race is to the American story if we can`t teach our true history because it will make children think our country is racist.
COATES: Chris, can I just --
HAYES: I want to -- I want to pick up on that point -- yes, go ahead. Go ahead.
COATES: No, I just wanted to, you know, just go back to this -- I just want us to, you know, really punctuate this, that this is not merely, you know, school board`s debating about, you know, what curriculum they`re going to teach or what they`re not going to teach. This is the state. The President of the United States stood up and denounced the 1619 Project and then passed an executive order. These are state laws being passed.
And this is in the shadow of us only a couple of years ago having this debate about how campus culture was out of control and cancel culture and this and that. This is the state militating, you know, against a particular telling of history. So, yes, it does make the point that, you know, that history is relevant, the white supremacy actually is relevant.
HAYES: It`s true. It is crazy the President of the United States is like got up to denounce Nikole Hannah-Jones at one point.
COATES: The President.
HAYES: I had sort of -- I sort point that from my memory along with a lot of things. I want to -- I want to talk about -- I want to talk about a sort of an interesting turn that I think some of this conversation has taken recently and I want to get your thoughts on what I call a kind of psychological turn in this conversation about race and history. Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates, stay with me. We`re going to talk about that after this break.
HAYES: Back with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates who just announced they`re starting a new center at Howard University on journalism and democracy. I wanted to talk to you both -- you know, one theme I think in both of your work that you`ve pursued, it`s present in in Ta-Nehisi`s writing in that reparations piece and the book, it`s present in Nikole`s -- a bunch of Nikole`s work starting from school desegregation through 1619 project. It`s just the fact that, you know, racism, white supremacy, racial hierarchy is not a psychological phenomenon. It`s partly that, but it`s a structural, legal, material, economic (INAUDIBLE).
There are laws, there`s history, and that we have a conversation that tends to be very psychologize about people being bigots or being nice or not trusting people. And one of the things I think has happened in the wake of George Floyd is a little bit of a turn away from some of those material conversations towards more psychological conversations. I feel like a little bit of a vacuum has been filled with folks offering training sessions and things like that that are very psychologically rooted in overcoming racism, because that seems easier more palpable than what it would take to undo the structures that create the society we have.
And I`m just curious to get your thoughts about that about where this kind of conversation is a year after particularly George Ford and Black Lives Matter and things like that, Ta-Nehisi.
COATES: You know, I think, a couple of things. I think, first of all, you`re right, the structure to point to the material component. I have been at pains to say that, while we have made lemons out of lemonade -- or Nikole has made lemonade out of lemons, excuse me, in this situation, don`t forget that they served up lemons. University of North Carolina is a public institution. It is a public -- you know, a social contract between that university and its citizens. And they`ve been deprived, the students have been deprived or have been deprived.
And when you sign a social contract, or when you buy into a social contract, and the state does not hold up its end, that`s the kind of theft. And so, I think that really, you know, needs to be highlighted. In terms of doing the hard things to remedy that, you know, Chris, I think actually, that goes back to, you know, the issue that you talked about all the time. We basically have a constitution that empowers a concentrated (AUDIO GAP) I am not big, you know, on talking about feelings, you know, and unnecessarily on training, you know, when it when it -- when it comes to this. But I do think that the people who are -- who actually hold the power and are actually preventing a real material reckoning, I`m not necessarily sure that they`re always the same people who are doing the training, if that makes sense. Not only that they`re necessarily the obstacle, even if what they`re doing isn`t, you know, necessarily all that constructive.
HAYES: Yes, that`s -- I think that`s an interesting way of saying it. Nikole.
JONES: Yes, so as you know, I always say that inequality is structural, but it`s also upheld by individual choices. So, I think we have to address both of those things. Politicians are doing what their constituents allow them to do. And this pushback would not be successful if there were not many, many white Americans who just want to believe that they are good people and don`t want to address the larger systemic inequality. So, we have to look at both of those things.
But I don`t think it`s that useful when we talk about racial inequality to talk about, you know, the individual bad apple, the racist of the week. All of my work is in opposition to that because slavery was not because white people thought black people were inferior. Slavery was a system of economic exploitation. And they created race and racism in order to justify that economic exploitation.
So, we have to understand when people are like, oh, I don`t -- I don`t see, color, it doesn`t matter, well, that`s actually irrelevant. Race is a construct to justify exploitation, and it is still being used to justify exploitation. So, spending a lot of time thinking about whether people have individual animus or not means that we don`t ever have to spend the time actually identifying the structures and working to dismantle and change the structures that actually lead to a sustained inequality.
This is what Ta-Nehisi and my work both has done. And I think that`s where that opposition comes from. If we were just writing about some, you know, individual racist here and there, people would not be opposing our work. It`s because we are pointing to the structures that the work gets opposed.
HAYES: And I also think that the part of it too has to do with this. Nikole, you write about this all the time and talk about the sort of innocence. You can feel the emotion, the flushed emotion in the cheeks of the people who are leading this backlash about like, they`re implicated. Are you`re saying my kid is bad, right? Like this desire to have this innocence and perceiving the work which says like, this is the way the country is unfolded, this is the way of the racial hierarchy, as a -- as a personal attack on that innocence, as a personal spear in the heart of someone psychologically.
Jones: What actually amazing about these attacks on critical race theory is critical race theory is the opposite of saying individual white people are responsible for what`s happening in society, right? It`s actually alleviating them of that guilt because the structures are in place and will replicate the inequality whether you have racial animus in your life or not, and it helps us understand it. But thatas why (INAUDIBLE)
COATES: But Nikole, you might introduce something on it. That the thing.
JONES: Exactly, exactly.
COATES: You might have to actually -- you might have to actually do something. That`s the problem. You know, I mean, you can get away to (INAUDIBLE)
JONES: That innocence is necessary.
JONES: Yes, sorry. Go ahead, Ta-Nehisi.
COATES: No, no, I cut you off, as I always do. I was just saying, you know --
JONES: So, but --
COATES: This is really quickly, really quickly. I was just saying that it still charges you with having to do something. You know what I mean? I think that`s the problem. You still might have apart with some of your material possessions. You might have to look around at your all white school and say, I think there`s a problem here, you know?
HAYES: Yes. And that I think is the -- that is what the implication that people don`t like. And I get that. I can feel it in my heart sometimes. Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates -- it`s the truth. It`s great to have you both. Let`s see each other in person soon sometime now that we`re vaccinated.
COATES: Sorry to cut you off, Nikole.
JONES: I`m used to it.
HAYES: See? An object lesson for everyone about how hard it is to deal with the delay that comes -- that comes with the talking on television. It`s hard. It`s tricky. It`s like you get stuck in that thing where you are like this on the street with someone, you keep going the same way.
That`s ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.