tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN July 27, 2016 4:11am-7:01am EDT
and they can't believe that their cousins are wearing blue. and i was just wondering if that was of substance, or was that just hollywood? >> well, this is probably an inapt comparison, but i had an interview with bill o'reilly on fox the other night, and sometimes there's irish-on-irish fighting -- [laughter] thousands of people did join the confederates, thousands of irish did join the confederate cause. now, meagher's argument was the confederates were trying to get recognized by the brits. there's no bigger enemy than england. so one of his claims to get people to fight on the union side was the brits were cozying up with the confederacy. if they ever did that, they may have been able to last a little longer. he's the interesting thing -- here's the interesting thing. one of meagher's best friends in life was a man named john mitchell. first, he was sent to the
caribbean, and then he was sent to tasmania, and he had terrible asthma. meagher was the great orator during the rebel times, mitchell was the great writer. so it was a one-two punch. mitchell would write in the newspaper, meagher would give speeches in front of thousands of people. they were very close. mitchell finally comes to america as well, but he likes slavery. something happens in him that he sees slavery as not a bad thing. he writes in his own newspaper that if you irishmen are coming to america looking for a start, get yourself a couple of slaves and come south. and so meagher and he, his other people, break with mitchell. mitchell has three boys. two of them were on the other side of that wall when the irish stormed mary's heights. so there was not a technical irish brigade in the confederacy, but there certainly were irish who fought on the other side, including the very people who were the kids of his best friends.
also i have a scene in the book where they fight -- the irish couldn't get into new york, philadelphia, baltimore, would continue going, and they came in through new orleans. new orleans was one of the main ports, later for italian-americans as well, but one of the main ports for irish entry. they had a little unit called the fighting tigers which wasn't formally an irish brigade, but an irish confederate unit. it's just hand-on-hand combat of the irish brigade fighting the irish tigers and meagher wondering why the hell aren't we directing all this energy against england. >> anyone else? any questions -- >> i think we have a gentleman coming down the way here. >> there we go. >> timothy, i want to ask about you. how does a person make the transition from a very good local newspaper reporter into a
pulitzer prize-winning author? and what made you think you would make a living at it? [laughter] >> the last part is the best part of the question. [laughter] yeah. boy, you know, my mother loved literature. she had seven kids, and she loved storytelling. and when i was a little kid, my mom -- i think i was 7 years old, my mom gave me this book and said read this, and it'll change your life. it was huck finn. it was, like, he was the bart simpson of his day. he was smarter than all the adults. it was so magical to see kid power. and that brought me into literature. and so i've always loved writing and storytelling. and i got it from my family, i think. as to the, you know, how -- what made you think you could make a living from this, you know, people raise this question every time there's a new take call device. steve jobs said at one point
that the iphone would be the death of literature, because -- depth of reading because he said -- death of reading because he said people don't want to read anymore. certainly, it's changed our attention span. there was a story saying that the average attention span is now eight seconds, which is less than a goldfish. [laughter] according to the study. [laughter] but, i mean, i wrote this as i was reading the second volume of william churchill's biography which is nothing more enjoyable that going really deep into a fantastic book. so the making the living part, look, no matter what the technology is, we're a storytelling people. we're not going to lose our love of story, our love of knowledge, our love of literature, our love of new information. and i don't with care if it's on a screen or a pixel or appears, you know, on a thing in front of our eyes. i say this to all young writers, if you feel you have a story to tell, don't worry about where it appears, just work on the story
itself. also i have one more thing in that regard, and this is something that most of us -- we do have a disproportionate amount of irish writers. and i've always heard the saying that the best stories happen to those who can tell them. so -- [laughter] >> is there another question? >> yeah. >> i was curious, like, how long did it take you to compile all this his historical background, you know, for this story? and what kind of sources did you use? >> so i used mostly firsthand sources, and the information on meagher happens to be in some of the greatest places in the world. so you start in ireland, and you go spend time in the wonderful national library of ireland, dublin, where all the papers are from the young island rebels. they're notes they wrote when they were in captivity, poems, the newspaper that was the paper for the rebels and contemporaneous accounts of what it was like while they were giving their speeches and people were dying in the streets.
i used some of the illustrations from those papers in my book of the starving. they also had their houses torn down during the famine as well pause they couldn't pay the rent. -- because they couldn't pay the rent. then you go to waterford, which is a beautiful town on the river, i recommend it. you can go into meagher's house, climb the hills where he climbed. they just named the longest suspension bridge in ireland for thomas francis meagher. he wants to start the revolution, but his father's like, no, you'll hang. and he's sort of torn. and the masses of waterford say we won't let them cross the bridge, and you feel that power. then you go to tasmania which, by the way, is one of the prettiest places on earthment it really is beautiful. it's too bad the brits tried to make a penitentiary out of a continent. to this day, by the way, if you live in australia or tasmania,
you can trace your ancestry to -- the convict stain is a badge of honor. you know that? yes, i find that too. so then you come to new york, and there's this fabulous research at the american-irish historical society, at the new york city tenement museum which you can understand what it was like to be in one of those tenements. a lot of papers there. then you walk the civil war battlefields which, as an american, i think every person should do. i had never done it. it's so so profoundly moving. and the national park service, let's give them credit. they do a great job of keeping those american markers intact. so i walked the wall up to mary's heights. and you see, my god, these guys were totally exposed. there was no way for them to go. there's formations just getting mowed down by industrial strength or artillery and musketly. and then you go to antithem and this awful, awful place where 23,000 people died, and the library of congress has all the civil war correspondence. most of it's on line now so you
can read meagher's battle reports in that. finally, you end up in virginia city, montana, which isn't quite a ghost town yet. you can get a bison burger and a beer -- [laughter] and there's a great library, and they were very helpful, and there's a handful of folks that lead tours. in the summer it comes to life as a tourism place. and the montana historical society, thank god for them. because meagher was their governor. they have this wonderful research. so my research is -- i like to go to the places so i can understand the texture. >> [inaudible] >> i mean, that took a couple years. once i have the material, i'm a fairly quick writer. but i, i do all my own research because i think you find these great discoveries by going down these little warrens. >> i want to thank you all for coming. i'm going to within this up. i'll -- wrap this up. i'll start with a plug for one of my favorite fiction writers, richard flanagan. i want to thank you for
attending, thank tim for a terrific -- [applause] and i hope you all become friends of the festival and, please, i'll ask you to, please, vacate the room because there's another panel coming in the here. you can meet in happier flag day. of. [applause] i hope i have communicated -- communicated happy i am the flag day did anybody read what i wrote about
today's paper? i wrote the op-ed today about flag day and i will talk about that i will talk about that later on the nymex cited and by that date is important and it ties into the theme of the book. ion introducing myself first i did that the last time, let me back up if you don't know what socrates in the city is people have now idea i want to say first of all, thank you for wrapping up the early bird dinner i appreciate that it is tough to pull yourself away golden corral is tough to pull yourself away. [laughter] sees bin in gets mighty river cry has been there
before but i want to say this is any event but it is little different. normally i interview someone with tons of videos of the interviewing extraordinary people i cannot even in think of the list bevy have cab and clad well right here on the stage, i cannot even think the comedy team during san shriver also planted in the andrews sisters hand of london's sisters.
flip wilson. avid demand castillo i interview them all of this stage in darwin. [laughter] is in the lafayette. he was old but we have had the eclectic smorgasbord of socrates is the city tickets and stave from socrates. i am greek so i can pretend with greek philosophy to city and examined life is not worth living. that is so sad. and he said the and examined life is not worth living by
the way you are very late take your seat if you're my friend and show up late i will call you about. we realized in the york city so those questions that they don't get into. that everything is fair game that means we have all kinds of different cast on different subjects i encourage you to go to a website we had then shove even so in oxford in england and we had a wonderful time over the years we would have
a speech at a podium like this i think about six years ago we decided aerobee that cast every six years i can do this i do want both carriers i don't do of this every year so is in 2010 and was the speaker and i introduced myself. i decided not to do that this time this meets the requirements we will pretend we have all the answers but we should think about so
they pick this date as the release date and i thought do they know this is flag day it is very important to me and it turns out they didn't they just happen to pick to 14 as the day the book should come out i would not call it a miracle but it is a coincidence it ended is that the center of what happens trying to think of what else i want to mention. to do that is just a slap in the face. i am stunned of heavy people
the books so i will start with the tile. i would not of god and the reference myself everybody should know that i would not have caught in the. in 1787 with the constitutional convention independence hall in philadelphia. part of that background is i didn't know this stuff would be a decent education in public schools and led to of a good university but none of that seems to communicate to me the background while wrote this book but things
weren't going well for the united states of america to come into existence it is staggering the battle of long island he has paper that is expensive he didn't pull that off in the future he will. but there is so many miracles that this is remarkable is nonetheless for workable of what comes to gather that god had is
the hands on the creation that it gives river called and then and we win the war. and into a very weak federal government you know, that. [applause] now i get applause. the teapartier is your. and then to be no government. to be an incredibly fragile balance fell to understand it wasn't quite working to say we have got to go back to the drawing board to figure it out they spend 100
days that itself seems miraculous there is no proof it is miraculous but you have to go to the founders themselves to read what they wrote in a all say trying to find a compromise between the slave states in the free states was essentially impossible. they were despairingly cadaver worked in they were thinking what do we do with their? that as a republic that is the big deal in the history of the world. so we have people in this room doing something to be
given a limited monarchy with all of the founders deal think benjamin franklin did that? and he said that god came to our aid of the formation of this country while we doubt he would help us now? many of those who were there use the word iraq unless that is simply was simply astounding and to walk out of the building and
mrs. paul from philadelphia confronts him. but have you given as the monarchy or the republic? n and franklin says a republic madam, if you can keep it. that is where this comes from. if you can keep it. [applause] but with the odd quirk of history the leeway read about this exchange because of powless and franklin because james mchenry, the 34 year-old happen to overhear this inbred told to write him in his state -- i really reason we vanilla of the existence. it wasn't a speech.
this was shot off the cuff it is gone except it was written down. the neck of the importance of those words if you can keep it. to be utterly unprecedented. house of those greek city states are small. but here we have 13 colonies the couple's million people of the idea of self government to a nation that simply had never been done. the founders in the framers rarely understood what they are trying to do has never been done.
with that bizarre anomaly in history it is up to the people of history and if they don't take those away. so as we know the people did it and worked in i think we forgot about the ideas to keep it and i said mitt the idea we have forgotten what it takes to keep it or how important it is for us to keep it. i think we have come to a place where we are in trouble basically we are on fumes but into weeks it will not look very nice i really think that is very are budget to be a people we have to know the stories in
the last 20 years that dash narrative has taken hold if you focus upon native americans we have a right to know about those things because those are bad days we need to read knowledge but it did get stuck to keep say we were bad we did this washington was a slave owner of that cycle is you don't ever celebrate her you are with you abolish slavery you're dealt with the civil rights and the are always struggling, if you seek to be patriotic, something goes wrong is the reason greek proverb in the book that if you don't boast about your house and will fall down and crush you. there is something fundamental intrinsically human to be proud of your
village to dryland it is very fundamental about that. with just something to not have for a the proper health the selfie charter pride in who we are to also go wrong. and where most americans those my age junior. [laughter] don't call me a liar. [laughter] anybody my pager younker probably did not get this in school. i didn't.
listening to a man speak i dedicate the book to the ideas so that you are familiar with that book is speaking about that from your i went to good schools how common never heard what they were talking about? this is what really struck me the golden triangle of freedom. the golden triangle of freedom is simply this. with their virtue that requires straight with dash
and requires freedom. freedom requires virtue. freedom requires virtue they know. is certainly will never see this on tv. talk about virtue what is that? what does this mean that i thought it is basic freedom which is self-government day govern themselves. that means you have to govern yourself. every person has to govern himself you don't need a lot of cops that they pretty much cover themselves most of the time i'm not afraid
to be caught or thrown in the dungeons because i believe it is wrong. so if i can the large bay are virtuous and self-government becomes possible bidders to dimbleby unless they have people who will govern themselves freedom requires virtue of some kind. they all grow to about it. not everyone who is a person of faith is virtuous however the founders knew practically speaking when they saw a committee of a serious they intended to be self-governing and virtuous
when they see the effects of the colony's those places would drop it is extraordinary generally speaking able to ruth cover themselves and faith in turn requires freedom so any kind of real faith if you for said it is not a real. if you go to raise certain church you know, unless they do voluntarily wire they going? yes many countries since europe they you have to go to that church songs i don't buy it but i don't want to go attune jail.
so you have to have real freedom for the courage to flourish we all know this as america you have to have a i would go to this church because they choose to not because the government forces me. llord note church because i choose we don't force anyone to do go to a particular kind it is free. to be a part of the united states of america what they want to worship so that one day robust expression but the faith must be free so
catalog's seeking get the books you found day paper bottle of the paul revere house that appealed to be. where his brother makes that tisch and of macias twigs. so i get the thing we build a little house and i realized the paul love paul reveres ride i never read that poem. those that library sneered at. most would want the elliptical of two's pulled that mean nothing. >> guy picked up the poem and some snippets listen my children did you shed here of the midnight ride of paul
i never felt but i am feeling right now reading this poem they are breaking my heart. there is allied and a chapter the book to be asleep in his bed that would be the first to fall. to invoke the image of a man sleeping in his bed. and that would be pierced by air british basketball and dies. it appears to be to read it because i have a father in 57 i will want to much but we were older will mean something. you don't hear about this 90.
wants to die as he read the minds in greek did you get embarrassed the kitchen don't understand david you feel inadequate. but i realize now he was experiencing then when i was experiencing the you read something in older you understand a sacrifice. what people have gone through for our freedom and of health he called church celebrates that so they don't say we don't want to talk about greek exceptionalism if you don't believe we ask my cousin john he is right here.
is interesting regions also was raised to the pan-american they came to the country in the '50s and then there would come after them who the hell are you? do you know, ? have you been to other countries? deal understand what we have? we should be grateful. is a perfect? of course, not if you don't appreciate what we have you are a fool. now put everything in context. you want to be nationalistic chest beating full but to not appreciate what we have this sit down strong especially with the united states of america. reading that paul of made me
think we're living in there really strange time. if there were 90 or 80 year-old died that many of them memorized paul revere is right for the village it was what was done because in order to beat up people they need to know the story that makes you a people otherwise you break down in to read states or blue states beating each other over the head and what we had in common was that history and those stories that we all understood this kind of thing and paul revere was a hero nathan hale died for his country all of these were on the lips of every american when you came to america you are forced to learn this people didn't say
are we becoming america and north america? it seems to me that that's what happens. american exceptionalism doesn't mean that we are inherently better golfer into. i'm a christian and i know everyone has an equal amount of same. everything that we have is a gift from god. i don't think that we are better by any people where we live for our ethnic background. we are better than the french but i will leave it at that. the point is we are not better than anybody. anybody that thinks that america is better it's not that america is better but exceptionalism refers to these ideas which are a gift from god.
there's certainly a gift of history from the founders to us. we didn't come up with these ideas or create these things we have. it's a gift so when you are given an incredible gift you have to know the value of it. the person who did said he would be annoyed because they could have given you a frisbee and saved themselves some money. we have a treasury and we don't appreciate it. we don't know how it works, and it's not easy for us to keep the republic. if you think democracy is easy, try to sprinkle that on iraq and afghanistan and see how that turns out. it doesn't turn out because they haven't been prepared for decades and decades to know how to use it. we were prepared because we had centuries of british law going back to the magna carta.
we understood the ideas of virtue. we were prepared in a way that was extraordinary, and i have to say the most extraordinary thing of all, when i read about george whitfield i was utterly astounded because i realized george whitfield came to the country and there is a chapter in his book he was one of the august figures in history. oddest figures in history. a 25-year-old cross eyed evangelist. he was a phenomenon and made them look like blues are atheists. a loser atheists. he basically preached four times a day nonstop for decades. now this is true. unlike anything existed he came to the shores in 1738 at the invitation of john and charles wesley starting an orphanage in georgia.
he was a preaching maniac. was he preaching everyone to come to the congregationalist church? though. he was preaching you must be born again. it was the most basic gospel message. imagine going to a church they are preaching morality telling you what a jerk you are and you've got to try harder. you are a coalminer, fish wife, failure, and god loves you and has a plan and wants to pour out his love on you and you are no different then the duchess or the king. it was a message of egalitarianism from the gospels.
i'm not going to go into this much but he's preaching a message of egalitarianism that people are buying into. we are all made in the image of god. it pretty much began to create an american character. in a way i'm overstating it for time, but over the course of decades he preached up and down the colony so much that by the time it was over, easy% of the people in the 13 colonies have heard him in person. you remember him in tv these days to use a rabbit antenna on the roof. try to imagine how much they spend preached and when he preached, thousands would come to hear him. by the time he was done americans loved him. he was the only celebrity known from maine to georgia.
everybody bought into his thinking, and he also basically said if you are valuable in gods eyes, no one can rule over you. so the music of the tyrant, be gone. you don't have to submit to this kind of thing because you are valuable as much as he loves king george iii. he di didn't put it that way but these were radical ideas that came out of the gospel. first, you have all of these americans uniting around these ideas of the person up whitfield and many people becoming serious about their faith. so a rival breaks out all over and people became more virtuous. this is why benjamin franklin who wa wasn't an orthodox chrisn loved george whitfield because he said wherever they go they become virtuous and govern themselves.
so by the time this is over, he dies in 1770 and suddenly, the people are uniquely prepared to govern themselves. to create this government, they can hand it over to people who can keep it, who have a better chance than anyone in the history of the world. so we would not exist. now, who knows but the point is that seemed to be the case. i thought to myself it's kind of scandalous we don't know all this and we don't know how fragile our government is our culture. everything we have is republic. if we don't get serious about keeping it, whatever that is, it is game over. we are in the civil war an endes the next essential crisis.
if we are facing java web you can pull out a gun and fight the fight. you get that crisis you see. but this has been termites hollowing assault so that nobody really sees any threat. but if we become america in name only and a hollow shell. we will cease to have self-government, and it's already happening. this is a book for all americans that we all sense somethings aren't going to allow. in a host of ways whether it is clamoring for an extremely strong leader, we know that can go wrong.
we know it comes with problems or whether it is clamoring for the judiciary that legislate from the been shut in a way that is fundamentally unconstitutional. anyway you like because it is so fragile we think that the next essential crisis. it was 1860 and we know america is facing an existential crisis and he wanted america to wake up and see they had to rise to the occasion and fight. poems and stories, these are the things that can galvanize us and see where we are. i hope my book fulfills that kind of role. i hope we can get a conversation
started, a bipartisan conversation on the subject because i really do believe there is a threat that we can cease to exist. we are not going to burn our mansions. it doesn't work that way. but the point is it something we have to take seriously. my publisher has offered to give a number of copies to members of congress and another person who i will not name in the room right now right there to donate a member of the. because i would love every member of congress to ge get it later and see what you think about this? this isn't written for democrats or republicans, it's for every american secular religious it doesn't matter. these are fundamentalist ideas we used to buy into them for 200 plus years. we have to dare to be patriotic in a healthy way, and we have to
teach our children what we stand for. i hope those books will be sent soon. i got a letter from so and so. have you read it? people ask me what can you do and ask them if they got the book and he's read it. the people will be the people and we will hold our leaders to account. something can be done. god forbid i am not permitted to lose hope. our job is to do what we can do and the rest is in god's hands. we have a few minutes for q-and-a. that concludes the entertainment portion of the committee. thank you very much. [applause]
i would love now if you don't mind my daughter and i prepared a duet. she knew i was going to do this. i'm kidding. i'm just teasing. i would love to have a few minutes for your questions. i ask as we always do in the city to put your question in the form of a question. i'm not interested in the statements with a history of your family. but i would love to know if you've got any questions. speak loudly. you've got a microphone. okay if somebody raises a hand, you can ask me anything. i will tell you up front i prefer truth or false questions. find whoever has their hand up.
you have to go to the microphone. that's right. i'm sorry to say be brief. peter martin, welcome. my question is the form of a question but before that, i will ask my question. >> if i had a thunderbolt right now. [laughter] i wa to ask this since but every event, we begin with a pledge of allegiance. that's so sweet.
it will shock some people watching on c-span and freak them out. >> just don't do the salute because that really gets them. i would love to do that. what a great idea. >> i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. [applause] >> what a great idea. >> we are going to start marching right after. but it's so funny. any kind of patriotism even makes me uncomfortable. i don't know, do we do that?
i was someplace and they were singing god bless america. what's wrong with us, are we ashamed of our country? apparently we do. something is wrong. what does lady liberty mean for the symbol of your book? [laughter] the reason it's okay to talk about american exceptionalism is to be extremely proud of the country because from the beginning, this nation was always a nation for others. this is a fundamentally biblical idea in the early pages of genesis, abraham and god says you are blessed to be a blessi
blessing. it's not so that you can take kt on to your self and say we are the chosen people isn't that great? if you are chosen it is an awesome burden. it's a thing that would make you tremble. in some ways lincoln called this nation the almost chosen people. he said it is something special about this country to touch others. when we have questions we don't say let's see the money first. i don't think that's true. there was a jokthat was a joke . but the point is we have always been generous not just with our treasure but with our blood. not only for the self-interest.
those things enter into it. but if you don't understand that american lives had been given for freedom around the world, we have done the right thing around the world when it cost us, shame on you if you don't know that or you can't admit that or you are so cynical that you don't believe that. we haven't simply acted in our self-interest. we said as we go, the world goes. and our boys died in vietnam we want to just exist here and have everything that we had in everybody else's help. we've always said we are here and actually i read about the epilogue of the book there was a
moment i think that might have been i'm pretty sure late 2001 so it must have been two months after the attacks we were on a speed ferry going to new jersey and we go to the highlands in new jersey and as you are going on the ferry i was always on the upper deck and i look over and we would really close to the statue of liberty and i got choked up. i got choked up because i'm thinking of 9/11 and because of the fact that look at this country. in other words we were attacked by evil men who wanted to do us harm. but we still manage t managed ta posture of welcoming. one of the first things we would worry about is that muslims
would be attacked. you kick the butt of some people that you think are affiliated with those who did this. don't do that. that's not the american way. we've always struggled with th that. you can take up too far and to d release the lobby like angela merkel. that is pure guilt for what happened years ago. they try to repeat themselves and say let's come on a. but the point is we have to think rationally inform the policies rationally but we all know that we are a nation of immigrants and we know that we have to have a posture that says welcome into the statute to be symbolizes that. and it is particularly touching
to me because my parents passed the statute in a ship in the 50s. i remember asking my mother when we took her to germany a year ago i asked her about that and she said it was 5 a.m. and they were woken up and they ran up and there it was. she said it was very emotional. now, why is that emotional for people coming if they know. they know america will give them a fair shake an opportunity to work hard and send their kids to college. that is at the heart of the people so thanks for the question. that is a different kind of exceptionalism.
there's all kinds but have heard about freedom and god loves them and who got economic freedom and introduced why. we said. we don't want to keep these things for ourselves. the question is you can keep it and was a pointed statement. i don't think it's lost but i think we are losing it. this is my best shot to wake us up to what we have and start a
movement have some kind that we would take it seriously. it's a symptom of this that we the people have to be the people and love our country and understand. great question. thank you. we have another. >> before i leave, the last word was delivered by america's greatest speechwriter who preceded the president and his ultimate address. if you are ever at an after dinner speaker you are due at least a 50% refund of this club has very much to do with the statue of liberty coming to
america and so on and so forth so we have the club to thank for that as well. >> i loved your intent to be bipartisan in getting the book out. i should tell you i am a ronald reagan democrat and our parties increasingly have radically different worldviews and many people remember god shouted down in the 2012 election and there are people that would watch this on c-span that would actually present the fact recited the pledge of allegiance. what are your thoughts on bridging that divide? >> that is another one of the fundamental reasons i wrote the book. there are people -- there will always be ideologues on both sides. there are people for whom being reasonable is not acceptable.
they have a take no prisoners attitude. i don't mean ideologically in the middle, they can be in the left or the right they are open to reason that basically yes when i watch mr. smith goes to washington, my heart is touched. i feel the love for my country. we have to be rational and reach out to people. people have read this book who are secular liberals and that proves to me i wanted to write this book for everybody. this is for reasonable people. there will always be those people i think we have to understand that to argue with people on those fringes is to cast pearls. we ought not do it, just let them do what they want. i would submit to you there are
plenty of americans across the political spectrum who would say yes there is something here and a beautiful about teaching the great stories of these heroes. there've been people that have sacrificed their lives so that we can have what we have and we need to understand that not teaching that has harmed us. we are not going to go back to 1920 that we have to really understand that we have failed. i'm convinced that theri am cone people as i say most people who read books in this country, they get us. it's something that must be
taken seriously so thank you. could you be more specific about what things you see as threats to america and why we are losing that [inaudible] >> i think that there are a number of problems. here's the thing we don't talk about virtue anymore. when i was reading particularly some of the stuff in the colonial era, the things they said and the language they used it was remarkable. they talked about honor and
duty. we don't talk about that kind of stuff anymore. that is a very odd development. we have to ask ourselves what has happened and why do we think it's okay to let that stuff evaporated. what will happen exactly if you're not teaching virtue in schools. if you think about it when i say to somebody racism is bad, you will hear that. there are certain things you will hear we have to have discussions on what we believe. what's happened is the classic case.
i would say why do i care, what difference does it make? if people are infinitely malleable and everyone in the world that has value and off to pass dignity and so forth and so on if you believe that then you try to create a society where people respect people that other planes of view that we have to get into that conversation and where we are is the politically correct soundbite. it's to have some of these conversations to introduce people who think about them more deeply we really don't do that anymore. i think that we have to be able to talk about these things that wbutwe have been afraid to. i think that you see examples in
the culture in terms of morality there are real problems. there's all kind of things where you can say i need to do what i need to do to get ahead. what about teaching kids that is wrong. that's okay we don't get into that. when you get your right and wrong we need to have those conversations if we are afraid to because we are afraid we will offend someone and that is what concerns me is that we have to have these conversations about what am i to believe? if my religion teaches me sex outside marriage is wrong or the homosexual lifestyle is not one that i want to follow, hell do i exist in a coach or like this? in america we say you can ask us how you want. we have to respect each other but there are other places in
the world would they say if you disagree with somebody, you can treat them as subhuman. that is what radical islam does and it strikes me as odd that we don't even have a language to talk about. do you know how they treat, they throw them off tall buildings and kill them. we need to have these conversations about what we believe as americans and i think that we have completely avoided it. the government steps in basically and will grow. you have strange things happening like roe v. wade even if you agree with the decision the way the courts got there is bizarre. how do you find in the constitution dot righ that righo
same-sex marriage or abortion that even legal scholars say feels like judicial activism and it's the job of the people in the state of the. you see it with a stronger executive under bush and obama. it's the people that have to say no that's not the way we do things here. we won't allow people to rule over us. i don't think there's any doubt and i don't want to go on any longer but i see all kinds of examples. i'm sure that it's a great
question and i don't have more than that. thank you for what you talk to us tonight. kind of wish that he were running for president. [applause] >> here's my question. if freedom requires virtue and virtue requires god, what are we going to do? it is politically incorrect to talk about god. our children need to have a moral compass. >> when people say it's politically correct, here's my question.
so what. if somebody says to you that will offend some people, the response would be okay, so what. i think one of the most wonderful things about american culture is the desire to please everyone but it can go too far and become a small. i think it has become a flaw for us. the idea that we are changing policy is such an -- it's one of these things that we are bending over backwards for and it's gotten to the point that we say something is out of order we really need to reassert ourselves and need to talk about
god and faith and virtue. if people are going to do that in the broadway they will do that in the wrong way. i hope i did it in that right away and we all have the ability to give it in a civil way and i talk about this because i think that americans have to rise up and begin doing this. we are all responsible for having these conversations. we all need to say so what. i'm not racist, let's move on. do you even know what you're talking about? we have given so much power to the people on university campuses. the academic leaders are so cowardly that they cannot stand up to these tiny maniacs.
it's an extraordinary thing but it shows you if you don't have a robust sense of right and wrong, you're going to back down when people scream and most americans are at a point you see them say we've had enough. we have real problems. let's talk turkey and stop being so easily offended. the first thing we can do is say tough luck. i don't mean to offend anybody. if all that you were going to be is so thin skinneso thin-skinnee conversation, that your choice. in the promotion of virtue my wife and i -- some argue that
you are abandoning the schools where the majority of the citizens will be educated. >> let me touch on the specifics of regardless where our children go to school and engage in the system. >> i am not going to send my daughter to a school so i can make a political statement while her brain is ruined. first we have to take care of our own. if sending kids to this school were that, you have to do that first but you're right to the extent that we can be voices in the public square i agree the situation has gotten out of hand and it's part of why we are here in this conversation why i wrote the book because the teachers unions and so forth, they are not beholden to the free market. they are in there and say tough luck. and you can hear over and over
again they are teaching things that have no business getting into. it's the most basic idea of freedom. i can raise my kids the way i want to raise my kids. i don't have time to teach them so we are going to create a school and pay taxes so that somebody else can do what i want them to do. they are going to be paid and we are going to do what we want to do. they're fundamentally undemocratic. it doesn't make sense. the idea that we have public schools teaching kids things that are not what we would want them to be taught is just fundamentally crazy. that's why you have to have school choice. that's one thing i'm happy to say they are talking about school choice because the idea that i have to send my kids to get indoctrinated, that is just
fundamentally un-american. my mother left communist germany when she was 17-years-old by herself. she was having communist garbage poured down her throat and she said i could take it. i have to get out of there because it was indoctrination. she chose not just to go to another school but to leave east germany. we have to understand if somebody says to me i had my kids in a public school and they said tomorrow we are going to teach third-graders about how they can choose their own sexuality, some parents needs to contact them and say here is what we are going to do. we are going to keep our kids home until the maniacs stop teaching things we don't want them to teach. you have to be willing to keep
your kid home. the montgomery bus boycott for a year african americans didn't like the buses because they say that's wrong. if some people think that they can bring the way they think to bear on our kids, see here is the thing. we are so nice we don't get angry. my kid isn't going to go to school, what are you going to do it's not norway yet. i really think that people have to get involved. we have to be involved in these things and willing to make a fuss because the things they simply don't have this right. if we allow them to do i if we have ourselves to blame.
if somebody is doing that to your kids at some point you have to act. we have time for publicly just one more question. >> i appreciate the way that you contrasted this belief with the virtue that was present at the time. benjamin franklin is kind of a genius hedonist and not all the founders were absolute saints. what has been the virtue that has been kind of walked away from?
>> a pitcher goes oif each recoe 20s and 30s. the schools already turned this into 30s basically. europe turned the corner as a result of world war i that they had seen the church and state was them down and they turned against those authorities and i think the same thing happened with the confidence lost their authority to begin with but i don't think it reached us when it became codified and part of the way that we function so it's not something you can put your finger on something that media tends to be uncomfortably
secular where you don't have that kind of a free-market updating in the media. the media is typically people that are secular. they don't get that. so they speak a different kind of language. and i think that, you know, the market always corrects itself, but it doesn't necessarily do it the right way. we had 70 years of soviet communism before that wall fell down. so these things can last a long time and i would say for about 50 or so users we have this hollywood basically created antiheroes kosovo before that i mentioned mr. smith goes to washington. suddenly they were seen as corny or something like that. so it's part of the culture. the ivy league where i went to school.
it's part of the way that people begin to see things and that's the clubs you belong to help people think. and i really think that the gatekeeper and people in media and the teachers unions and politics basically are the ideologues. over time it is effecting america. so i think that we are at a tipping point. we are very close to the edge. so, for me there is hope that i see this with the level of desperation as well. we must take this seriously. this isn't something that can go on. so there you have it. thank you so much for coming. [applause] thank you. i appreciate that. let me say what we are going to do is let the party continue. and you can hang around as long
washington, d.c.. this is an hour. >> i am so pleased to welcome matthew this evening to discuss his important new book which iss out and already generating a much-needed conversation about poverty in america and the role that eviction plays in creating a downward spiral on the already economic downward edge of the facts of which hit women and children the hardest. to research this book he endorsed himself in the poorest committees in milwaukee and with such depth if sometimes reads like a novel.
the reviews have been outstanding in on comparison behind another powerful work of poverty. they've called this and above all book adding that it will no longer be possible to have a serious discussion about poverty without having a serious discussion about housing. he is the author of several books including on the fire line which he chronicles the fire crew in northern arizona. he's the associate professor of sciences at harvard and he is the codirector of justice antipoverty projects. please help me welcome matthew desmond. [applause]
you get the nice chair. it's such an honor to be here. thank you everyone for coming out. so good to see people i love in the audience and friend. i really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to hear me this evening. there are two chairs. this book is based on fieldwork i started in milwaukee wisconsin
in 2008 and when i was living in the neighborhoods. from their landlords during the evicted we moved into a trailer park i lived there about five months and then in a rooming house in the traditionally african-american poor neighborhood of milwaukee from nine or ten months and the neighborhoods kind of embedded myself in the lives of folks facing extremely hard situatio situations. i try to sink myself as deeply as i could into their everyday lives but i knew that if i was going to understand this connection between housing and poverty i had to get their perspective. i spent time with them as well
and watch them buy and sell property. when this was happening i was coming up against questions like who does it have been to, what are the long-term consequences of the problem. we are looking for studies that would help answer. no good data that would allow me to get my handle on that so i decided to get the data myself. i analyzed hundreds of thousands of records and 911 calls to put that information in concert with what i was seeing on the ground. i think all of those methods informed my perspective and kept the other honest. this shows a family swept up.
some of them are white for some of them are black, some have children, some don't. chlorine is a grandmother that had to decide between paying her rent or gas bill so she could take off showers. we have a gregarious role model in that neighborhood a disabled single bad who tried to work off the rent. we have a mother of three kids who never had a criminal record or a working job but she was desperate to keep her family house to hopefully get the money to pay the landlord. i can't tell you about all these stories today i will tell you about one. it had been a difficult year. the 14-year-old had been tossing snowballs at passing cars.
this man jumped out and his cousin ran inside and locked the door. the man broke the door down and then thankfully left before anything else happened. but with the landlord found out about that, she evicted them for damaging property. so she took her two sons, the oldest was for teen and the youngest was sick as, to be salvation army. she started looking for a house on ninth street. there was no water and they had to bucket out what was in the toilet. it has a really bad affect on
kids health. they boarded up the windows and they were on the hon for another place to live. they are taking whatever they can get. she moved in but learned it was a haven for drug dealers and was terrified for her boys who had a beautiful smile and would talk to anyone. hungry to prove himself a just like he did with doctor snowball. so it was important for how she ended up in such a tough neighborhood. we tested it out with statistical data and from dangerous neighborhoods to even more dangerous ones. she moved out as fast as she
could when she found a two bedroom duplex on 13th street. there is a hole in the window and the door had to be locked with a wooden plank. but she put on a good face. she stuffed a piece of cloth into the window and honda iav turton. in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city in america it was $550. which would take 88% of the welfare check. just 88% at the beginning of every month, gone. she's not alone in spending the majority of what she has on housing. wwe've reached the point in this country where most low income renters are paying most of what they have on housing talks and the renting families are spending at least 70% of their income to pay rent and keep the lights on.
under these conditions, eviction isn't always the result of personal irresponsibility that inevitability. in 200 2000 it soared while the incomes at the bottom were stagnant. and i think many of us that don't live in trailer parks still think the typical low income family benefits for public housing or some other kind of housing assistance, but the opposite is true. it would be unthinkable that the other social services meet basic needs, so i can imagine if we turned away three out of four families i'm sorry, you have to go hungry. that's okay, that's exactly how we treat them in this country. the waiting list isn't counted in years but in decades. so if you are a single parent applying for public housing today, you might be a grandparent by the time your application comes up.
most are getting nothing from the governmen government into lm insisted in the market. so 13th street, she found paint and brushes anpaintsand brushest on a fresh coat but not long after she moved in, her sister died in the biological and spiritual sense. she decided to contribute something. she didn't have the money but no one else did either. the next month she missed an appointment with her welfare worker because announcing the appointment maybe it was atkinson avenue. they type something into the computer with a welfare check that was cut and sanctioned and two months behind she got the paper.
milwaukee is a city of 105,000 households. in a city there are roughly 16,000 people every year. that's about 40 people a day evicted in the city. now these numbers up on the screen are court-ordered evictions. these are legal records but there are other ways, cheaper and quicker ways to displace a family. i met one that would pay $200 let you use his vanity were out by sunday. i met another that will take your door off. we worked really hard to capture all those things. the evictions that do, landlord for closures and building what happened to her favorite place. one of eight renters in the city is evicted.
and the american housing survey renters and over 2.8 million households in the united states fought that they would be evicted soon. >> we see roe after row of mothers and kids and low income african american moms like arlene are evicted one in five women report being evicted sometime in their life. it's a startling number in the way that i've come to think about it.
if incarceration has become a typical critical experience with low income than it is to equal the length shaping the lives. it affects communities and its something that is going on over the country. all over the country. one in five of all regardless of their income report paying 50%. they gave two extra days to stay at home for her dependent kids. the women have been -- they said the temperature could bottom out at 40 below but if they call the
sheriff who would arrive and pile all her things on the sidewalk, don't be afraid to discipline and so she took her boys and left and begin searching for housing. then 40 and 60 and 80. in the city most were out of reach and the landlord's places she could afford were not calling back either and part of that reason had to do with her eviction record. from milwaukee its published online for free for anyone to
see and many of them reject anyone with a record. that's why the families are pushed into the neighborhoods and worse housing. now finally, number 96 yes. he had a one-bedroom apartment and didn't consider the neighborhood of the conditions in place. a house is a house. so, two months after the court hearing she moved into her new place and they brought the things up and all the cupboards had handles it al and all the ls have pictures. it was nice. once everything was inside, she sat down on the floor and found a garbage bag that had towels and clothing and she leaned against it and they came and sat down next to her. he came and laid his head on her lap and they stayed like that for a long time.
she liked things need so she put a sign over the sink that said if you don't clean up after yourself, we are going to have problems. but soon she started acting out in school. it's hard to be 14 index. long stretches of homelessness. one day a teacher snapped at him and he kicked her in the shins and ran home. instead of calling the principal, she called the police. when they followed him home and the landlord found out about that, he told arlene she had to go. she told me after that it's like i have a curse on me. sometimes i find my body trembling or shaking.
i'm fixing to have a nervous breakdown. recently published a study that found mothers who were evicted experienced high rates of depression two months after the event. we know between 2005 and 2010 rent in the country was coming up, suicide attributed to the foreclosure doubled. my soul was messed up, she told me. i wish my life were different. i wish that as an older lady i could sit back and look at my kid and they would be grown and become something and we could all be together and laughing and remembering stuff like this.
the home is a center of life. it's our refuge from work. it's our protection from the menace of the street. we see we can be ourselves. at home we take off our masks. languages spoken all over the world. it encompasses warmth, safety, but eviction which used to be rare and draw crowds isn't just a condition of poverty is the cause. we can't fix poverty in this country unless we fix housing. so what should we do about it? i think the way to answer that question requires us to address
another which is do we believe that housing is a fundamental right? do we believe that part of what it means to be an american is to have access to safe and decent housing. we have affirmed the right to a basic education provision and old age, basic nutrition because we have agreed as a society that those things are fundamental to human floor rushing and it is hard to argue housing isn't fundamental to human floor rushing without a stable shelter everything else falls apart and i think the way that we can deliver on this obligation is the universal voucher program. we can take a program that we already have that serving low income families and we can expand it so that it meets the needs of all families living below the poverty line. if you have a voucher instead of
paying 88%, 70% of your income direct you pay 30% with a voucher covering the rest of you can live wherever you like if it isn't too expensive for shoddy. it would change the face of poverty in the country. evictions would become rare, homelessness would drop when families receive the housing vouchers after years and years on the waiting list they would do one consistent thing with the income. they would go to the grocery store and buy more food. their children become stronger and less anemic. but a lot of kids today are not going to eat because the rent is first. national affordable housing programs could change that. it could be a human capital investment plan and public health initiative all rolled into one.
this is one of many potential policy recommendations that can be thrown at this problem. what works in washington, d.c. may not work in milwaukee or san francisco or dallas. one story has to build and another has to tear down but out of the mass one thing is clear. this endorsement and degree of inequality this event us. i know american value it is not justified we can't find the teaching or scripture to be summoned to defend what we have allowed the nation to become. thanks for coming. [applause] >> before we go to the
questions, there is a car in the handicapped spot that has its lights on. >> is this turned on? there were $180 billion of tax expenditures for deductions and like most of the people in the room could have mortgages to deduct the interest and real estate taxes and when they sell their house to get a break on the capital gains. >> we already have a universal housing program in this country it's just not for the poor. and i think that for many middle-class americans it is a disability something they bargained for as a bit of the
deal but we need to be honest about this fact that the majority of the tax dollars at least with respect to housing are going to homes with six-figure incomes. why you chose this for your study. >> i love milwaukee. there's something about this city. i think the story of urban america tends to be written on the margins. we spend a lot of time focusing on our biggest successes. maybe we can consider it our biggest failure is unlike detroit.
if you want to write a story about the shop representing cleveland and cincinnati, milwaukee gives you a good shot at this. it tells a very american story. two questions, one about homelessness, they are often depicted as exploitative and sympathetic. can you humanize them a little bit. are they also rational human beings making rational decisions in the system or can we characterize them as enemies in the site and then the second question, what do you think iconography brings to the policy
recommendation that the analysis doesn't? >> the book works hard to complicated relationship between landlords and tenants. we let ourselves off the hook. if we just say they are irresponsible or they are just greedy it is more complicated tn that. when she moved in she noticed the kids didn't have any food she went to the grocery store and bought food. she has allowed the tenets to slip on rent. how many of us would lose and just be okay with that? they do take that hit directly. she had the tenets stuff socks down the sink. there's stuff that happens.
when i lived in a trailer park republican was important to understand how much my landlord was making so i analyzed and looked at missing payments, tax payments, electricity bill, waterville. i could go on and on. i'm telling you this so you believe the when i say the landlord of the worst trailer park in the country that made up of 131 trailers took over $470,000 in profits after expenses every year that is after working minimum wage to come and there were 50 times the tenets on disability. are we okay with that? is that something we should
tolerate? your second question was about iconography which was a question about how to tell people stories which of the humawere show the e social problems, how does that connect reforming and reform is deeply connected to reform. getting out of the way of the story. and allowing people to kind of come through in the document as i can and the decisions that she's forced to mak make and tht the effect that it has on her parenting and how this is dwindling her capacity and talent and reducing this person that's born for better things i think that is deeply connected to policy reform and we see this in generation after generation who changed the walls in new york city. this book is very much in the spirit and tradition of the.
>> i wondered if you could talk about how this is disproportionately affecting black women. >> that is a good question. one thing we are seeing here is the ongoing prevalence of racial discrimination. and i can -- in the housing market, i can quote study after study but let me tell you one story. i was with two african-american women and they were both homeless and looking for housing and they lived on the near south side of milwaukee that is a traditionally latino neighborhood. they were in a place and i was in the car watching the kids and for him what the woman told the right afterward is after the landlord came in and showed the places, she has three young kid and anyone that has young kids, you know. she said you have another place
and she said yes, the rent is the same and then he just stopped himself and said what did you know. so i wrote down the number and called them the next day and told them i needed the same and that i had three kids. you have any place great time fe and they drove me to it. this happens a lot and it's why she's looking at 20, 40, 60, 80 places. that is a real thing. the other thing we have to recognize is the role of ted. when i started this work i thought they would shield the peoplwould've shieldedpeople ofs people. you see this about the snowball and also about school.
we surveyed 250 tenets. the household income in all sorts of things that are relevant to the question. what really matters is who you lived with tapes or not. what you're seeing is a landowner saying i would rather work with youth in you. so, i think that the question you asked, there's two pieces to it and there's obviously a lot more to be said. >> if there are any others that have influenced you i read her book and it made me think a little bit about it and that there is no statistical analys
analysis. >> dot tradition of people, people write about poverty from the ground level had a deep mark on me. i see myself operating in that tradition and physiology has a long established iconography and since we are in washington, d.c. it's about african-american men in this city which is a slim incredibly observationally burly and iconography.
>> this brings out the brutali brutality. when you walk by the site what you see is not just somebody's belongings but their life. your photograph of the belongings raise a practical question but nonetheless, a question because what is on the street isn't just furniture, its baby pictures, mementos etc. that will never be recovered because by the time the person gets back, they are all destroyed or gone. there was a tie-in here in the city when they would pick up
belongings and store them. one thing i didn't realize going into it often you lose the trust your home but your things and possessions. you are given two options. things get thrown on the sidewalk and you get taken by the eviction movers and you have to pay basically $375 to get it back then it goes back after that. it's a business. i think a lot of time with moving companies, the owners told me 70% of the moves they do get thrown in the dump.
so yes, it is a racing possession. >> thank you. i'm from no walkie also and i appreciate this book. i know a lot of the neighborhoods you're talking about. i just want to know if you can talk a little about what the impact was on the kids and their schooling for the kids that were evicted across the trailer homes and -- >> this is leaving a scar on the next generation. and when arlene was living in thahomeless shelter outside of town, 17 consecutive days absent from school the reason is it wasn't seen as the higher needs. when she found the home and invest it in schools, there was
this crisis that would emerge again and again. we are not going to be able to allow kids to reach their full potential if we keep batting them around because their mom doesn't have enough food to last the end of the month because so much is spent on housing. we need a lot more research on this but it's obvious to me that this is fundamental for improving the inner-city education. i just want to ask two quick questions. you chose to speak to us through stories and pictures and i'm curious if you've approached others for lifting them up in other venues. i'm not sure if it was exhibitions or through a tour. the other question, what are we going to do about it.
is there anyone taking that up, it is a political season. >> to the first question, my wife and i started this organization called just shelter, you can go to the website just shelter.org. >> this wasn't a setup. >> we didn't talk earlier but i always look for a way to work again. [laughter] it in. [laughter] this organization does two things. it highlights and emphasizes the role they are playing all over the country and a lot of the work for affordable housing is brought on neighborhood by neighborhood. so if you are brought in from pc or the bethesda you can click on the map and see the organizations in plug-in and get involved. but what we are also doing is allowing people to to thei tellr own story.
most of the time covering the press, i get often letters from folks but this is my story, this is what i've been through. i got more of those and we have to broadcast that. if any of you in the room have experienced for closure and want to tell your story you can upload it and contribute to the cost of the crisis. that's one thing that we are doing to scale up so to speak. so, policymakers when confronted with the fact that this country has more and worse poverty than any other democracy respond by saying jobs. paul ryan wants to incentivize work and hillary clinton wants to raise wages. that is half the solution. we also need to recognize that poverty is not just a product of
voting but also of extractive markets. when incomes rise the market takes a cut and i think that we need to kind of address this from multiple angles but without solving and addressing this crisis, any other poverty solution is going to fall flat. >> it was amazing what you laid out. it just staggers me. but what i wanted to ask, you went to a certain level with the people that you interviewed and looked at. did you think of moving on to the next level of politicians like members of the council,
members of the state legislature and further up because i see them as being able to influence and affect policy only if this kind of information is really pushed into their faces, excuse me for using that expression. i really think there are no easy answers to this. i'm sure that you are well aware of that. but what methods can be used to make the population aware because in these elections now and all the nonsense that's been talked about i don't hear the word poverty mentioned very much, and i don't believe now and the time a leader is elected that we are going to hear it.
>> one thing i'm doing is writing the book and having conversations like this. i think that i'm a bit more hopeful. we are having a conversation today about inequality. that's going on in that both sides of the aisle. we can see people of various political persuasions. i am encouraged that we have reached the point that we are very unsettled by the level of inequality today. but with housing there's a lot of reasons to be optimistic. think of several generations ago we had for folks without heat and running water and we took on the slums and won that battle. i am not naïve about how much further we need to go in housing problems. when i lived in a trailer park most of the time i didn't have
hot water and i told my landlord i'm a writer and i'm going to write about you. so imagine what my neighbors had to deal with but there is no denying that we made a huge leap forward and now we are just facing this other problem which is the fact that it's getting harder and harder to move forward without a roof over your head. are there things we can do on the local level an and smaller interventions? absolutely, yes. one important thing we can do what i think is to extend legal help to the families that are facing eviction. so unlike criminal court court,y have no right to a lawyer and a civil court. in many around the country 90% of tenets don't have lawyers and 90% of landlords to. so if you think of someone who doesn't have a high school education, she has to go to housing court and face a lawyer would you go, i don't know if i would go into a lot of folks don't go.
so in milwaukee, 70% of cases that are summoned to court and no one shows up, it now has a name and a stamp signaling a default eviction. we can change that on the local level and provide legal assistance and make an investment upstream to stem the tide and the consequences of the cost of the reap so that is one powerful thing we can do on the local level. >> what i meant to ask is when you approach -- when you approached more high level politicians such as what to say members of the maryland legislature, how were they responsive, did they say they have other more important issues to deal with? >> we didn't know the extent of this problem.
i don't think that we knew how many people were getting evicted or that it was directly causing poverty. so i think that there's still a lot we have to learn, and i think this message about the pae centrality of housing is still working its way to folks in legislatures. thank you very much. >> we will have time for everyone and then after that we will have to wind down. >> i also am from milwaukee. [laughter] this is so cool. i was a task organizer in river west. but since then, i live here and go back every two years in october before the election. ..
wondered if you could speak to that are those political consequences of what i see of the destruction of the community. >> some neighborhoods in milwaukee have an extremely high even action rate which so how do we build a community? and how do we allow people to invest in their community? i think you're absolutely right with those political consequences it is also the fact that these neighborhoods have been neglected for decades there is no lot of suffering with a concentrated amount when you see your own neighbors
paid because you try to make ends meet it is harder to see the political potential. you are right about milwaukee. they lost more jobs during the great depression. but i just want to say what this book is about but brilliance and generosity and courage in the fur -- face of a diversity. we were at the salvation army homeless shelter in real eating lunch at this mcdonald's then the boy walks in and maybe he was nine years old he had dirty clothes. he did not go up to order
but went to the tables looking for scraps. so kristol said what do you got? so these two homeless women pooled their money and went up to the boy buy him lunch in christo gave him a hug and sent him on his way. when he left she said i wish i had me a whole one would take him. as a you see that is the story is that we love. that reminded me how gracefully people like crystal refuse to be reduced to their hardships. >> but one final comment those that are required to have the picture identification that this willie be impossible and we will see the consequences
how could you have the authorize governmental id? >> i am not from milwaukee. [laughter] next. i'd like 2.you back because it's being given is interesting of the policy pressure to change the way they're viewing those communities and one to ask more about humanizing those that our impoverished that always worried about poverty and the end there has the history of those males that continually go to the inner-city is. to have somewhat perpetuated
and reproduce the norms so i was wondering personally i you have wrestled with lifting up while continuing to humanize those. >> a think the ethnographers has the duty with its full complexity with the ability to do so that means about human suffering in in human courage mistakes people make but moments of beautiful generosity in to i took the story is extremely seriously the responsibility for me
was one of the deepest and profound honors of my life. so i think putting in the book i was with the kingston family it was february gas me to go into the basement i know what i am doing. you just kick kidder something. [laughter] then i came back up and there was a birthday cake. that is in the book. i been writing about people's lives in the way
the awful trauma and sadness but also to validate and recognized said udc and complexity as well. we stayed in close contact with those in the book so every part of the book i went over with them some people read it to me we had long conversations that was extremely important to me also to make sure that i get the essence right. >> i am a washingtonian i want to congratulate you encourage you that element of what you have presented is you have highlighted the
eviction as a powerful symbol to embrace the whole issue of affordable housing. i have been working on this for a long time from downtown washington where we are located i'd like you to encourage you to identify to use the dictionary is a powerful story to have a major hearing on affordable housing is just incredible. that is the main thing i want to say.
>> i just want to encourage you to put the idea out there of whoever i confined i just see this as such a powerful tool to be a high profile story i will do everything i can to rally support their needs to be legislation from these individuals have indicated. >> i accept that. thank you so much. >> you understand that is partly because they are poor
but who becomes a landlord in this? to they decided want to own a trailer park? what is their story where do they come from? >> many years second or third or fourth generation traditionally that is the way for immigrants to get a foothold with middle-class america so there are these things called polish flats that is one way they earn some extra money so that has been passed down now the other landlord was the second generation but i
think they share that quality the idea that they could strike out that nothing they also have to have the other thing which is to have the stomach for it. it can be difficult work. >> i showed up well little late forgive me if this is covered bed i am from washington d.c. i have covered housing issues and one of the group said does housing work is the legal foundation for the homeless so if you donate money to them day fight the landlord tenant court on homeless issues and homeless shelters and they slept in the abandoned hospital floor in
trash cans or to be sexually harassed relive and a very rich place but the fancy gentrified 14th street and missouri we should remember that. of a housing developed because it does seem and section 8 was the unstable way to give people housing and went to your take on the vouchers. >> we could have a 50 minute talk of the policy but for
tonight i just want to come back to scale. in many cities there are amazing things going space to do research and the relevant we just need something to scale there is none that shows you can show that other quality there is a more efficient way to do that. to help the unlucky majority end with public housing.
when my friends receive the house seen voucher it is like thank you jesus. i can stay at my home and live in my community. we know they can buy their food. and that is a much bigger disincentive to work. you cannot volunteer house long enough to hold on to your job so for me that is the bottom line. >> the issue is the waiting list. >> takes for writing this book by greg polis of my
mother in the eric city in the 80s and 90s and lived in shelters. and i am looking for to reading the book still part of poverty that we rarely talk about so do you have a sense of how badly the addiction rates have changed throughout the country? and do you have a sense of whether or not childhood poverty is a field of study? >> faq for sharing that that does take courage and it is a beautiful thing the canal that and give voice to that. of.
[applause] >> there are a lot better doing work a lot that i do with my university with the decriminalization there are a lot of folks that tried to understand the best way to make impact the first question was about trauma. and with the shape that comes with that. that is something i have experienced with family also had their home for close to my was a sophomore in college. put with that political mind-set i felt embarrassed and shameful when it showed
the manuscript to while the she said so that when i'm disappointed nothing happens in my life but if she misses an appointment she is evicted. so part of the narrative i hope to rephrase those things but those consequences are out of lack that this isn't affecting just hundreds of thousands but millions to give the new way of understanding of constant shame or embarrassment there is not a lot of debates on this
actually what are doing is good job to stem the infection rate? i can't tell you what i like that they are going up in recent years but if you look at the 30's and 40's remember that snake -- that seemed an invisible man that is how we used to be. but then when said three families are being evicted in their bronx that is what used to be like now there are hundreds and hundreds of
people that trying to collect information such not to sundown if anybody wants more data we need you but the problem is getting worse >> at a nine year experience but if it is and i invite you to a rally tomorrow morning at 10:00 collagen for non-profit housing is meeting and sure the mayor with the to meet you i invite you all to move the city for word the council is committed.
book festival. i am a nonfiction book critic at the washington post. it is honored to be here in gaithersburg and take part in this wonderful literary festival. i have been to a lot of these and there are few that are as inviting and welcoming, excuse me? i will try to speak as loudly as i can. a few housekeeping announcements. for the consideration of everyone here if you can keep your phones quiet that would be great. if you are tweeting the event we need your feedback, there are surveys to complete at the tent and on the festival website. if you completed you can win a $100 visa gift card which you should spend on books. speaking of books our office will be signing at the book signing area intent a, line 4 right after the presentation and copies are on sale of their book at the politics and prose tend. that said let's get started. it is hard to imagine a better pairing of authors to discuss thomas jefferson.
annette gordon reed is professor of american university at harvard university and author of the hemingway's of monticello which won the pulitzer prize for history after it was published in 2008. peter onuf is author of jefferson's empire, among several works on jefferson and he is the thomas jefferson memorial foundation professor at uva. he is thomas jefferson professor at mister jefferson's university. no pressure there at all. "most blessed of the patriarchs," thomas jefferson and the empire of imagination. much conversation about jefferson is on the contradiction between the ideal he imagined for the nation and the details of his own life and one of the strengths of this book is it is not a defense and not an attack. jefferson's aspirations were inextricably linked to his limitations. the book explores his for self perception and does so in part by focusing on the action at
monticello which reflects him as a few places can. i am excited to hear from them so i will get out of the way. they will speak 25 minutes and take your questions. it is my pleasure to introduce annette gordon reed and peter onuf. [applause] >> thank you, great to be here and great to be here with my good friend annette gordon reed. she didn't know we were going to be good friends when she first encountered me. maybe you want to tell that story because we want to tell you about ourselves because it is interesting. >> an interesting thing for historians to collaborate in the way we collaborated. people do it but often one person will be one chapter and another person will do another. we wanted to have one voice in this and it is interesting we should do this because when i first encountered peter i expected him to be an enemy. in 1995 i had written a manuscript, thomas jefferson and sally hemmings, an american controversy and i was looking
for people who would be open opponents to what i was saying which was basically that historians had given short shrift to the story that sally hemmings and jefferson had had children together and over a period of 38 years, historians mislaid the evidence so i went through and wrote about this and i was looking for people who would be in a position because that is the best way to know if you have a good story or not. not to listen to an amen corner but those will be opposed to it. he was a thomas jefferson memorial foundation professor at the university of virginia and i thought he is likely to be opposed to this so i called him up and asked if he would read the manuscript. fully expecting to get back, red pencil and everything and to my surprise he liked the book and suggested that the university press of virginia publish the book, the press at mister jefferson university and we have been friends ever since and
having a conversation about jefferson for all that time. i didn't think at the beginning we would end up writing a book but when he thought he was going to retire and ride off into the sunset i was like no, no. he is as busy now as ever. i said we should do this project forever to keep them in my life and this is the result of it. >> the most jarring thing for me was i don't do people. i am a jack reed student. that is an inside joke for people who studied with my professor at johns hopkins. i am an idea guy. i had to say some things about jefferson over the course of my career because i am as carlos accused me of being the jefferson professor, now emeritus. the idea of doing a biography is the last thing i could imagine doing because it is all about a person. i was a bit taken aback when
annette gordon reed invited me to do this and it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. because i care about people, real people today, but dead people are not terribly interesting to me as people. >> i'm exactly the opposite. i care about you. >> took me a while to pick up on that. that was really hurtful. we would like to start off talking a little bit about the project and we will spend the first 20 minutes on the title and 5 minutes for the rest of the book but you might wonder about the title "most blessed of the patriarchs" because we could take a jeffersonian vote to find out how many of you love mister jefferson and how many are deeply conflicted at how many people hate him, that is okay. you would think he would call himself something else.
this is a self description. >> that is why there are quotes on the title. >> where does this patriarchy business come from? we have two pools in the first section of our discussion and we will see what happens. one is to unpack as they say the first part of the title and the subtitle will get equal attention because that really announces our ambition in this book which is to say something interesting for the first time in decades about thomas jefferson. >> we would say the first time in decades because we have often said jefferson scholarship is run into a ditch and the ditch is hypocrisy. you use that word and that settles the discussion. you don't want to talk about him, take anything he says seriously anymore and we think he is an interesting person. biography and history is not
about your best person who is your best friend forever. it is someone who is important in the world, who has done important things, helped shape society and no question jefferson has done that. we wanted to rediscover that person and talk about why he is an interesting individual so we take the phrase "most blessed of the patriarchs" from a letter jefferson wrote to angelica church who was one of the schuyler sisters, young people who listen to the soundtrack to that cast album know who she was and a handful of people get to see it apparently. but she is alexander hamilton's sister-in-law and jefferson knew her in paris, met her in paris and writes to her in 1793 after he is about to leave, resigned from washington's cabinet and has been bested by angelica's
brother in law and is going home to lick his wounds essentially and talks about his family which is important to him and he says if his daughter came to live next door to him and everything works out as they have planned he will consider himself as blessed as the most blessed of the patriarchs. we loved that phrase because this is jefferson talking about himself in a somewhat unguarded way. he uses this phrase in another letter a couple years later but had an adjective, he says he is the anti-delivery and patriarch so he really means it. this is not a one off in this disruption of himself. peter says it is a bit jarring because the patriarch is someone you think of as an autocrat, someone with absolute power over everyone. yet he is the apostle of liberty, the apostle of democracy and for the common man. how did he come to think of himself in this particular way. we set up the book in the fashion that tries to explain him. with three sections.
the first is called patriarch, the second is called traveler. we taken to france and talk about his experiences there and the third is enthusiasm. when we examine other aspects of his life that were important to him. music, visitors, privacy, prayer. jefferson's religious life is one of the more interesting -- all of it is interesting but one of the most interesting parts of the book is to think about how he thought of himself as a christian. that is the structure of the book and it all goes back to this notion of patriarch, unpacking what that means. >> we begin with that idea and this is not a conventional biography but we take jefferson home where he imagines himself to be in that letter. he always complained about public political life and how miserable it was and he was in it. for him home was a sacred place, it was the whole reason he was