Candace Owens vs. Cornel West: Trump, Race, Economy For African-Americans, Prison Reform

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Harvard philosophy professor Dr. Cornel West debates Blexit Movement founder Candace Owens on 'The Ingraham Angle.'

LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST: Now, we hear those lines all the time but here are the facts. Since President Trump took office, black unemployment has hit an historic low and currently sits at about 6.7 percent. And by the way, he's not satisfied with that. He wants it a lot lower but still pretty great. The number of African Americans employed is up more than 4 percent. And the most stunning of all African American wages. This is my favorite are up more than 9 percent. Here now in a truly special debate, I'm so happy about this. Candace Owens, Blexit Movement Founder, a conservative commentator and Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton. Dr. West, I also want to tell you, I really appreciate you coming on the show, you're an old style liberal, I don't mean old and old, but you like debate and conversation and I think that's just awesome. So, thank you so much for joining us tonight.



CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, HARVARD: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

INGRAHAM: Absolutely. And I want to begin with a simple question Dr. West, are the President's policies, let's just focus now on his economic policies, are they helping the African American community in your view. WEST: I think that the statistics certainly look good through a narrow lens. So, I give him credit in that regard. But we have to keep in mind that on the one hand you still have grotesque wealth, inequality, you have job insecurity, so many people who are working or working more than one job. We know many people who have withdrawn from the labor force are not counting at all.

But I think the problem is though my dear sister is that the President has a language that creates an atmosphere that is so xenophobic against black folk, Mexican, Muslims. He rarely wants to stay in contact with their humanity. So, when you look at the statistics that's one thing. But when you create an atmosphere, an ambience of xenophobia, it reinforces the polarization and therefore many black folk wouldn't even be able to connect the statistics that look good with the language, the atmosphere that feels so bad in that cold hearted mean spiritedness, it's something that cuts very, very deep in the spirit of people, including myself.

INGRAHAM: Have you met him Dr. West? Ever met the President?

WEST: No, I've never had a conversation with my right wing. But I mean you know I've called him a gangster and a pro-fascist, in terms of separation. But he is a human being. He is a human being. And I you know--

INGRAHAM: I'm just saying this because look you and I don't agree on a lot. But I actually really like you, I just like the fact that you're out there and you're advocating. I have no problem with it. And I wouldn't call you mean spirited. We disagree, but I think if you actually were with the President, you might find that you could accomplish a lot together and you could do a lot together. I really believe that. He'll work with pretty much anybody and that's what I found in my experience. So, I'm just throwing that out there. Candace. But there is this tonality issue that people seize on with the President and let's go back to Charlottesville. They always go back to this SL countries. Those are the two things that really seize upon the travel ban. Those three things probably for some just wipe out any other accomplishment. Your reaction.

CANDACE OWENS, FOUNDER, BLEXIT MOVEMENT: Well, look I think the President is doing something different definitely his tone is different, because he tells the truth. He doesn't pander to black America. He hasn't offered us hot sauce; he's offered us jobs. That makes many people uncomfortable because they're from an era where race hustling is a business. They're used to telling black Americans that they're victims, writing books about victimhood and that is no longer selling in America.

And I just wanted to comment back on saying that xenophobia is something that black Americans are afraid of. Xenophobia means that you have a fear, Mr. West of foreigners. Black Americans are not foreigners in this country. We are a piece of the American dream. We've earned a piece of this American dream. And we're getting tired people telling us that we are somehow separate of it. I mean that's really what I have to say. We're doing tremendous under this presidency. There is no candidate that is offering anything on the left to counter what Trump has offered. They're just offering more rhetoric, more fearmongering and unfortunately, time is up on this narrative. We are ready to move on and embrace our futures.

INGRAHAM: Well, Dr. West, go ahead.

WEST: If I can come straight, first, xenophobia in the generic sense means the fear of other and black folk have been other than Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so forth. And their understanding - but it's the other those who have been otherized, those who have been marginalized in this. But think of the - when you call my dear sister Maxine Waters low IQ.

OWENS: She does have a low IQ.

WEST: That's vicious.

OWENS: That's a fact.

WEST: You said what?

OWENS: That is a fact. If she took an IQ exam, you would find out that Maxine Waters had a very low IQ. And I will push that challenge. It may not be nice, but it is true.

WEST: She's a brilliant human being. When you called Brother Collin a son a son of a [EXPLETIVE.] You see this kind of language.

OWENS: I never used that language.

WEST: This kind of language is ridiculous.

OWENS: I never used that language.

INGRAHAM: Not you.

WEST: No, I'm talking about the President. I'm not talking about you my sister. I'm talking about the President. The President called Brother Collin a son of a [EXPLETIVE.]

INGRAHAM: OK. But what I think--

WEST: I think that's a fact.

INGRAHAM: I think the nasty language, it's on both sides. I mean if they call him a gangster, traitor. I mean - but I do want to--

WEST: You've got language on both.

INGRAHAM: I want to get to this. The prevailing wisdom I think Dr. West highlighted this, is that race relations have deteriorated almost under this President. That's a thought that Obama was the great racial healer yet in a new study by a pair of sociologists at UPEN, this is not some conservative outlet. They found that "anti-black prejudice declined by statistically and significant decree between 2012 and 2016. But then after 2016, it took a sharp dive. There was also a general fall in anti-Hispanic prejudice too.

So, Professor West to what do you attribute these findings. So, prejudice is on the downswing, not on the upswing at least in these first few years of Trump.

WEST: Well, based on this particular study, I'd have to examine how they gather their evidence and so forth. But anti-Jewish attacks, anti-Muslim attacks, anti-Mexican attacks and not just anti-Black attacks, but also the Police Departments, they're militarizing the Police Departments withdrawal of the investigation when police do in fact shoot fellow citizens, whatever color they are but disproportionately--

INGRAHAM: But that was happening under Obama.

WEST: Oh! Absolutely. That's true. I'm just talking about continuities. I'm talking about continuities.

INGRAHAM: Right. I do want to share this. This was a moment that I think again going back to what Candace has worked on and spoken about. And what Dr. West, I think you too could actually be happy about together. Happened at the White House, I think it was last month and it was an event commemorating the first step act. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I really thank you for signing that deal. When you all pass this, I'll kind of fail them to flow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an example of a woman who has been given a second chance in life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an experience that I'll never forget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two months ago, I was in a prison cell, and I'm in the White House. That's continuing to Make America Great Again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: Now, Dr. West I mean, I don't think there were feelings xenophobia or mean spirit in this. I think they actually found a President who was willing to work with people who really didn't even like him and didn't think he was probably going to accomplish much. And it got almost no coverage. We played it on our show. Maybe few other places, but it didn't get any coverage. What's your reaction seeing that?

WEST: No, I think that's very important attempt to zero in on this vicious policy in the last 40 years of massive incarceration, punitive attitudes toward those engaged in various kinds of crime. I've been blessed to teach in prison for 37 years of step program of just Norfolk. It's something that has impact on the ground, and I give the President credit for that is not as if he has nothing to offer. It just that the dominant orientation is still tied to what I'm critical of both parties, because identity politics for me is milk toast, liberal politics that don't talk about corporate, don't talk about poverty and talk about militarism.

But the Republicans still strike me as so cold hearted, mean spirited and they're still tied to corporate power and Wall Street and won't hit poverty head on, but when it comes to prison, when it comes to statistics, I give the President credit for that.

INGRAHAM: OK.

WEST: But it's still small relative to what I'm looking for. I'd say neither both parties other than Brother Bernie Sanders, but that's another dialogue.

OWENS: Bernie Sanders.

WEST: We won't go into that, right.

INGRAHAM: No, we will go to that. But I have to - again, I have to go back to this idea of race relations under Obama which I almost fell out of my chair of the CNN story that came out on October of 2016. They got worse. 54 percent of America and so they got worse. Only 16 percent said they got better. This was at the end of the Obama Administration. So, as Cornel West said, you had Ferguson, you had Freddie Grey (ph) in Baltimore, you had all the stuff bursting out on the streets of America with the first African American President in the White House and that healing didn't seem to take place.

OWENS: Right. Look, at that point, I was on the left. So, Barack Obama first went into office, I was a liberal and I changed my mind due to exactly what you are saying. He drove this nation apart. President Trump is bringing this nation together because what he is talking about is patriotism. Patriotism knows sex, it knows no color, it knows no creed. The liberal media can ignore all the work that he is doing in Black America all they want. Every statistic in the world shows you right now that black support for Donald Trump has doubled and that is meaningful.

And I'm telling you that by 2020, he is going to be the first president to crack the black vote to the detriment of the Democrats.

INGRAHAM: Professor West, I want to -- do you still work in prison? Do you still do it?

WEST: Absolutely. Absolutely.

INGRAHAM: Can I come with you? Can I come with you on one of your visits?

WEST: You can come any time you like. We are going to keep track of the humanity and rich imagination and intelligence of our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated to make sure they have a better chance and make sure that they can unleash their potential.

But I say to sister Candace that I like her independence of mind. I think she is wrong most of the time, but I fight for her right to be wrong in that regard.

OWENS: I'll fight for your right to be wrong, too, Mr. West.

WEST: Absolutely, but I would have wished you would have moved further to the left, because when you have a black lives movement under a black president, it is not going to be a matter of then moving to the right --

OWENS: Socialism has already been tried in our community. It has been tried by a welfare policies and it has completely crippled the black community. It has completely crippled the black family. The other welfare policies, you know that. So I had to creep all the way to the right. And I have to tell you, I'm happy here.

WEST: That's not socialism. Socialism is power-sharing. Socialism is not giving and becoming people dependent on programs. It's power sharing.

OWENS: Black liberals go conservative. Black conservatives never go liberal. Mr. West, I appreciate your time, but you know black liberals go conservatives, but black conservatives never go liberal, and there's a reason for that.

INGRAHAM: I would just add that Wall Street --

WEST: I don't know. Black people are complicated. Black people are complicated. We go back and forth, but I wish we had more black leftists.

INGRAHAM: All right, guys, we've got to go. But this is a fascinating conversation. We have to have you both back. Thank you very much.

OWENS: Bye, sir.

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