tv Ethnic and Racial Political Discourse CSPAN September 1, 2014 3:00am-3:55am EDT
find our television schedule at c-span.org let us know what you think about the programs you're watching. #c one to use the three joined the c-span conversation, like a son facebook, follow us on twitter. at the same event, a discussion on ethnic and racial innuendos in today's political campaigns. lincoln, anduded demi morales. it is about 55 minutes. >> thank you very much. this is such an exciting conference.
political campaign ethics conference. many thanks to the miami dade commission on ethics and public trust and, of course, to saint thomas university center for ethics. ethics is such an important topic. don't think we address it properly or seriously quite enough. this panel is called the third rail. ethnic and racial innuendo in political campaigns. and to join me in this all-important discussion we have three terrific gentlemen who are indispensable to the conversation. and we start to my immediate left, there is nothing left about him, lincoln diaz ballard. former congressman. he is an attorney. he is a former u.s. congressman. much loved and thanks for being here, congressman. also to his immediate left is george knox, visiting professor of law at florida international
university school of law. former city attorney for the city of miami. george, great to see you again. and, of course, last but not least, we have a former county commissioner for miami dade county. but today, the all-important city manager of the city of miami beach, jimmy morales. great to have you. we talk about the issue of ethnic and racial innuendos in political campaigns. on a national level, it is really clear and obvious. the issue of race relations is something that we seem to make two steps forward and then one step back. we have the issue if you disagree with somebody it is because of issue of race. if you agree with somebody, it is because of race. it could be gender or ethnicity.
on a local level, that also occurs you see the race card, the ethnic card, but maybe not in a way that is quite so obvious. congressman, people and i was talking to jimmy morales about this before we started the panel, one of the things that we look at that is so complex about this is that people are drawn to people who look, think and speak like them. you are drawn to your ethnic group. you are drawn to your racial group because there are certain commonnallities. what is wrong with that? >> well, there is -- i think there is nothing wrong with people being proud of their heritage and their ethnicity and that has always been part of our political system. i think that is one of the if i
would say laws of politics, people are proud to have representatives who they feel identification with. now, you know, having said that, and then i will make reference to a couple of other what i call laws of politics. as much as they could be laws there could be laws of physics. and one is, you know, people are proud of their heritage. and they are proud to have a representative that, as i said before, who they identify with. now, at the same time, i would say that it is evident that for elected officials you know, successful elected officials,
emphasis this a particular message is given obviously has to do with the interest of the audience. >> um-h'm. >> in other words, if you are speaking at a -- you know, an apac convention, you know, it is -- i mean they are -- what -- they are likely to want to hear about an elected official or candidate's views on u.s.-israel relations and the security of israel. so obviously it makes sense that the leader or the elected official or candidate address that issue in that audience. you know, if someone is
addressing, you know, greek americans, they -- you know, you better have an opinion on cypress, you know, and the turkish invasion because that, you know, that -- this is an area of great interest. and obviously in this community if you are going to speak to a group of venezuelan americans or cuban americans you better know the current events and have position on the issues related to venezuela or cuba. you know, it is common sense, but sometimes i think it is important to -- >> but, of course, sometimes the message gets manipulated intentionally. >> well, let me -- let me just, if i may, continue with what i think are some, you know, i think they are evident, but you know there is nothing wrong i think with what i just said. people obviously want to make emphasis on -- have emphasis on
issues based on the interests of issues in the audience that people are addressing. now, to be successful, that candidate or that elected official obviously does not change his or her views on issues based on the audience. in other words, one thing is emphasis based on you don't want to bore your audience so you want to talk about something that obviously they are interested in. but you don't change your position on an issue based on your audience. that is something that -- now, with regard to, you know, i
wouldn't call it a law of politics but an observation, demagoguery sometimes raises its ugly head. but in my -- in my experience, you know, the subject of this panel, in other words racial insinuations or ethnic innuendo, that is counterproductive in a -- in a -- in addition to being negative and, you know, certainly indefensible. it is counterproductive in a campaign. now -- and fortunately so, as -- and as electorates become more
used to political discourse, you know, more mature, if you will, more experienced in democracy, such things as ethnic insinuations and things like that become even more counterproductive and i think that is a very important positive. in other words, it is -- you know, we -- i remember, you know, in this community decades ago seeing examples of demagoguery that shocked me, but they -- as i say, as a community becomes more experienced in democracy and more mature they are less effective and fortunately they are less common. and so, you know, that is one of the positives of democracy. democracy, when -- the more time it has, you know, it does a lot
of rectification. >> it might actually work in a political campaign and when you look at a diverse community such as you have in south florida which is a microcosm of where the nation is headed there is a lot of challenge. the issue of we go back and congressman was referring to some of the issues of the past. in south florida there was the issue of nelson mandela and his relationship with fidel castro and what that may is implied and created a lot of conflict and tension.
how do you see the way we are addressing the issue and the proclivity of racial and ethnic innuendo in campaigns? >> first, i think that it is important to at least challenge the assertion by the congressman that racial innuendo and outright racially charged statements are less prevalent on the political scene both locally and nationally. today's miami herald reported in section a, that the town commissioner? in a small place in new hampshire referred by using the so-called "n word"
that is this morning's herald. and his response and i'm quoting what he said to the official response to the people who challenged him, i believe i did use the n word in reference to the current occupant of the white house. for this, i did not apologize. he meetss and exceeds my criteria for such. now, the reason that that is important to is there is no innuendo about this and the suggestion is that somehow we are getting better, i would suggest we are simply getting more clever. there was a sarcastic statement that was printed in a sarcastic newspaper about statements like the one i just read and statements from mr. cleveland bundy, the nevada farmer who indicated this blacks were
probably better off in slavery because at least that gave them something to do and, of course, there was -- this man was a darling of elements who are active politically who wanted his support because he had license to say things this they might not have been able to say in a politically correct way. i think that we have gotten more clever in our innuendo -- clever in our innuendo. as a matter of fact, if terms like "entitlement" are used, terms like "social service
programs" are used, terms like "urban center" are used, terms like liberty city or little havana are used they conjure up thoughts inside of our heads this have directly to do with race in a very subtle way except for those who understand the lingo. >> there is a desire to gain affinity without having our finger prints ton it so to speak. when i was a candidate for public office county wide one of moi stop my stops was in what was then known as little havana. and i was introduced by my host who wanted to make the audience feel comfortable with me as not george knox for those purposes but "jorge no"! and the people cheered. [laughter] >> and then i was told to use certain words like hermano and hermanas. simpatico. make mention of antonio
marsailles. it is not only a rule, it is law and it happens and we cannot regulate the conduct of people who wish to engage in coded language in order to create an affinity with the audience for the purpose of gaining votes without fairly being accused of using racial innuendos. >> but i would say, george, two points. on the issue of the nevada rancher when he came out with the statement, i do believe that most who are in the political world backed away from his is support because theymy not have been -- and i thought that was a positive. you are not going to eliminate racism everywhere and you will find some who will be racist but i thought the political world backed away from support after he made those statements, which,
number one, would be a positive. when you are talking about in campaigns when they say, say hermano and hermana it is words that are trying to suggest an affinity with the community, i don't know that little havana it looked upon negatively. people say little havana with "carino," with pride and a sense of belonging. i don't see it as being used as a way of marginalizing which is different from what that person from new hampshire said, which is really tragic because that is an elected official. >> there are two responses. and i don't disagree. i was trying to point out that we kind of castigate conduct because there is a mirror image of it this is positive. to identify with something that is important with another culture as if you row spect it.
you respect it enough to emulate it as bad as you possibly can is the positive side of the negative nuance. and so that is why you can't get rid of it because it can work either way. the second thing that i like to point out in response to your observation is we have to be careful with words that are used because this is a volatile subject. a cynic said, for example and i'm quoting again there is no excuse for offensive racist comments like the one mr. bundy made when there are so many subtler ways of making the exact point. [laughter] >> and that is the point. and let me with all due respect go to this conference and the words attributed to jesse jackson by commissioner suarez, those of us who laughed knew that the connotation was having to do with a disparaging reference to jesse jackson's
race. the suggestion was that black people, which is a stereotype that i grew up with and many over 50 did can't swim because they are closer in affinity to apes than human beings and this is the innuendo that was embedded in a clever joke associated with jesse jackson that had two or three meanings depending upon the sensitivity of people who made use of it and those of us who thought it was clever or funny have to examine ourselves and ask ourselves what it was that made that joke so funny. based upon our own experience and what we heard around the dinner table and on the schoolyard. and when we answer that question
honestly, then an appreciation for the beauty, the beauty and subtlety of innuendo i think would be made even more manifest. it is here to stay. cleaver people know how to touch the hearts and minds of others by the language and choice of words that they use. as a matter of fact, it is called dog whistling. dog whistling is a popular term in politics that essentially means if you know anything about dog whistles, the pitch of it is beyond the capacity of human beings to hear but the dogs can hear it. all right? and so it is with innuendo, the hidden meaning of it so subtle that only those people that have a connection with it will be able to recognize it. and that is both the beauty and the danger of what he would are talking about. -- what we are talking about. >> it is such a fascinating conversation and clearly ethnic and the ethnic heart gets placed, the race card gets played and it does have an
effect when you lock at this -- look at this conversation. what worries you and what -- i see change in dynamics with the younger generations. do you see that? >> let me first say that if i look uncomfortable here. in law school i never sat this close to the front. [laughter] >> and i know know why because i would be culled on to speak after george and lincoln. >> there you go. >> we made progress. as a society, the vicious tones of politics of 100 years ago where you had political parties whose message was, you know, antiafrican american or anticatholic or antijewish, i mean we have got ton a point today where the -- gotten to point today where the blatant over the sited goal of being
anti any one particular group is no longer tolerated. >> which is why perhaps you to use in win toe today to get away -- to use innuendo today to get away with it. >> exactly. and you touched on this which is obviously there is a human nature to be drawn to people that we have something in common with. whether that is religion or geographic or some from the same country at some point, whether it is gender, race, whatever it is. and people find comfort if that. and there has been an understanding over the last 20 years that to some degree diversity in politics is a good thing. we have drawn single member districts that will be more likely to elect diverse representation. districts in congress and in the legislature to attract -- to mix it more likely -- make it more likely to elect a more diverse group. and so it is a natural by product if you are having an election in a seat that, for example, is in tenned to elect -- intended to elect a haitian american you might have a candidate who runs on the basis i'm haitian american and we con
from a common root and i appreciate the issues and i grew up in the same neighborhoods and i'm the best person to represent you in washington or tallahassee as the case may be. this is part of politics in this country for since the very beginning. and the idea that somebody because they share something with you might be a better representative, there is nothing wrong with that. you know, i -- and it is not something that is unique to miami in terms of being a more recent immigrant community compared to other cities. i lived in boston for seven years. i remember when thomas menino got elected mayor of boston. one of the most famous things you do in boston is go to the north end and thomas menino was the first italian mayor elected to boston. for a century or more irish americans dominated politics. even at that level people voted for people they were comfortable with. i think where it gets uncomfortable and now more by innuendo is when the difference
-- it is not the commonnallity that is used as a reason to vote for somebody, it is the differences being used as a reason to vote against somebody. and that is where -- while he would have become clearly much more civilized and modern in terms of it not being tolerated overtly so when mr. bundy says what he says, everybody runs to the hills away from him. it is, as george points out, it is hidden code words and hidden statements. as lincoln points out, sometimes using what is perceived as an issue but cloved in, you know, where you stand on israel is perhaps how you feel about the jewish community or where you stand on immigration is how you feel about hispanics when in fact there could be good policy issues one way or the other but those are cloaked to send messages. even statements that -- you know, i encountered when i was -- that i would get statements about i'm not hispanic enough. whatever this meant. but people will throw those
words out there. or i think you have -- african american kepts not accused of -- candidates not accused of being black enough because they are not in touch enough. those kind of innuendos are used to send a message. i think we have to be more sensitive to it. the problem is as we are here at a law school talking about laws, just how we talk about how you can't legislate morality you can crowiate laws that can punish people for being immoral. the challenge you talk about speech expressed in ideas is how do you ledge slit away the innuendos and that is -- legislate away the innuendos. he would hope that over time the social message, the social disapproval and hopefully the political consequences of it. and that is what we would need to get to at some point. just like we always say no one likes negative campaigning.
but it will only stop the data -- >> it stops working. >> for the people that don't love the negative ads, it makes a difference. the day that the innuendos become in fact a reason to vote against somebody, i think you see that times, people get turned off by it. i think, perfect example when david duke the kkk won the republican nomination and the republican party disavowed him because that was not a message they wanted. when it gets to the point where we disavow those kind of messages. i remember as a democrat, i don't want to be accused of attacking republicans, i remember when a democratic nominee for the congressional seat in date county said the last american please carry the flag out and we elected the honorable -- but both parties and anyone is prone to it, it is the day those messages are punished politically that we really turn the corner. >> congressman as jimmy morales was talking about immigration reform. talk about use of innuendo code
words to be antihispanic in the debate. this is one of the issues even though polls suggest and as sal russo from the tea party express came out with an op ed where he was talking about the tea party -- as a tea party person in favor of immigration reform and somebody disavowed how could anybody who could be conservative be in favor of immigration reform. is that being antihispanic or more legitimate reasons to look beyond? i think there is a lot of hatred behind some of the immigration reform rhetoric. >> i don't disagree with a lot of the things that jimmy and george have said. as i said before, and let me touch upon immigration in a second. you know, demagoguery does show its face occasionally. i will maintain, though, and
stress that that is one of the reasons why i think it is important to study history. obviously we can't compare in my view the united states today with the united states 100 years ago or 150 years ago. we are a much better place. and you know that is not negating. you know, george knox talked about some examples of more than demagoguery, you know, of, you know, horrible racism today. i mean we are going to find examples like that. you know, no -- no human endeavor is ever going to be perfect but certainly it is perfectible. and in our country, our country is perfectible and it is much, much better. than it was in the past. that is what i mean. let's take things in -- in the
long view and in contrast. >> for example, president obama would not have been elected if it hadn't been for the white vote. >> right. there are a lot of examples. a lot of examples. of overcoming and getting better. now -- now let me point to thish somehow you brought out. let me discuss the issue brought out. the kinds of matters that were discussing in this panel. immigration. because it -- it facilitates and makes it easier. the issue makes easier demagoguery attacks and it is a very, very difficult issue but nevertheless, you know, progress is possible.
progress. you know, you brought out an example about the latest, you know, public statement by somebody being attacked for how can you be making that statement? coming from where you are coming from? nevertheless even on an issue as difficult as immigration progress is possible. and you know i remain hopeful that we will see -- that we will see significant progress soon even on that issue. >> i hope so. we would have some questions from the audience. write down your questions. we are -- this is one question. are we would living -- are we living -- in a super sensitive society?
are we always looking for race as a campaign weapon? george? >> there is an association with ethics that seems to connote good and bad. and as a very close relationship between what we call a judge and know will be in place. the investigate of politicians is to -- the strategy of politicians is to get as many votes as they can by having the people that they are appealing to resonate with or identify with something that they say, believe, or otherwise stand for. so, all of it is not unethical. this is the difficulty when we read our attempts to relate. we have to allow and understand that there are differences. when at any cost not per se unlawful constituting a crime after due process. and so as long as you don't do that, then the argument is that
whatever you do is fair game in politics because you are supposed to know and understand what it is all about and you are supposed to be thick skinned. and not take this the cearley -- seriously because it is nothing personal. >> anyone else want to tackle this? >> in your people say, besides , and ourre to pc grandparents telling jokes that would curl her hair, and it was fine back then, but it wasn't fine back then. the 50's, or the 20's we didn't have these problems, well no. tolerantociety is less . it is a good thing.
, we talkenge in part about america as a melting pot. there is a perception that some people have, that at some point we will all be americans. the hyphens go away. and we will all be americans, whatever that is. i think it's more like a salad. all of the together, you still taste the all live you still taste the tomato, the cucumber. that perspective changes. , for me, i'm fortunate to be married to a strong, professional woman, to me the extent to which i think sexism is tolerated in the media, entertainment, and politics, i think a lot of us were shocked at how hillary was
treated in the primaries. treateen the way lawyers my wife, there is a level of sexism in professionalism. >> your wife is an attorney. >> my wife being an attorney, and mail attorneys -- this is something we are sensitive about about, there is nothing wrong with people being drawn to each other for different reasons. sward -- sword when it is used for irrational purposes to fuel hatred -- i don't know if you can legislate against it, or collectively decide we will not put up with it. this is foro have,
whoever wants to answer, the issue of colorization. we have districts that are designed. polorization.f we have districts that are designed. districts are drawn so you don't have diversity. there is no understanding of knowledge, or who these diverse populations that we are talking about. the question here from the audience that says, in miami-dade county, with the use of innuendo be different if at-large elections instead of districts for example? different, but that's why it's difficult to talk about better or worse. districts argue that
is an institutionalized way of reducing the need to appeal to one ethnic group or point of view over another because there homogeneity built into the district by design. but if we are solid, not melting, then the district -- tomato,ee a tomato is a but we of steer the fact. of theure the identity tomato by calling it salad. [laughter] please again, current miami is a barometer for the rest of the world for the immediate future. when we talk about at-large elections, the most prominent
at-large elections are traditional elections. you will see overt innuendo even when the professional experience and caliber of candidates are judged based upon their understanding of the demographics. there has been a chronic behalfnt registered on of incumbent judges of african descent who don't have the capacity of resources, or access to resources to raise sufficient in anto fair well election countywide. there are others who know that. there are others who make a living identifying voter all so-called minorities, both women and persons of african descent, candidates. because there is an understanding that the cultural
significant that it makes a difference. people talk about the "surname game." , there was aimited whose name1980's, was john plummer. the association people naturally made with a very prominent and's name the family plummer family. john plummer spent less than $1700 to become a very whoseualified attorney name was alan rosenthal. was a 38-year-old bus driver who had never attended an
obligation by a collegiate body because of his last name and use of a photograph in any of his campaign materials. a significant majority of the voters sent this man to the legislator, he stayed for a full term and he made a joke about race innuendo. critical, in the sense of negativity, it is a device that is used by people as a strategy to gain votes. in a democratic world, and we judge, evaluate, or defend its use. >> let's not forget even recent history. multimember districts were a way to deny minorities elections.
reality. was a madef the recent reforms possible in single-member districts. the issue of two elections is --arate -- i have my issue that would be worth a panel by itself. and whether aions judge should be elected, but that's in a perfect world. is, it isy though important to put on the record. single-member districts , multimemberity districts were utilized to deny minorities elections. >> leads comment on the lack of concern within this creation on african-american republicans and
hispanic republicans. the claim of prejudice seems used as a political play. >> can you repeat that? the lack ofment on concern with the discrimination of african-american republicans and hispanic republicans. the claim of the prejudice seems to be used as a political ploy. -- i think the question is more concerned with the media. that i have heard -- i've heard that concern a lot -- >> but you see it on social media, you see it on twitter. the anonymity behind social ,edia has had an impact on race not as george knox would suggest, not even innuendo, just very straight right in your
face, accusations. i don't think it's a surprise that we are seeing a rise in the level of it except that it's done through tweets for example where it can be darn anonymous, but the point is direct. ifit is interesting, because we look nationally, we have three hispanic u.s. senators and to a republican -- two a republican. is in florida, the democratic party has never even nominated hispanic for u.s. senator. ,he partisan label is difficult because -- i will speak candidly -- i think both parties often use that ploy, each claiming to be more responsive to a particular group.
day it's end of the about winning elections. >> maybe what the question suggests is that there is a certain expectation that a democrat -- an african-american will be a democrat and not a republican. important point which you brought out. the last time we had national conventions, it impressed me that in terms of statewide , orcials that were hispanic candidates, i was impressed by senator that except for bob hernandez -- >> and the castro brothers on the democratic side -- >> statewide? >> no, san antonio.
>> maybe it's just that i haven't understood it. in 2012, tell you that covering both conventions, i can tell you that one of the things that struck me on the republican ofe is the enormous number hispanic elected officials that were on the podium. on the democratic side, even though they had very few, the hispanics were in the audience. hispanics were it can these -- attendees to the convention. >> i think to this perception nationally that hispanics and african-americans are predominately democratic, whether that results and deliverables to those communities -- i think there are a number of hispanics who are upset the current administration hasn't done more -- you could
make the same statement about, if you are a strong christian you are more likely to be republican, but has the republican party delivered on issues that are of import -- that, know i've been told we have had jewish members in the legislature, i have been told that someone of the jewish faith could never win a state right -- statewide race in florida in 2014. we think we progressed but maybe we don't. man or woman running in a predominantly latino area, or a black person or a white person in similar circumstances, our comments relating to racial matters ever acceptable? will we ever a limiting that?
>> acceptable is another one of those words. there will be conversations or thoughts directed towards race. decide whether they are acceptable and accept them as a reality? a reality that we will either somewhere between the statements by the nevada farmer and references to liberty city as the home of every person in color -- of color in miami-dade county. the whole idea is for everybody to accept it without getting angry or taking license with it because it is not going anyplace. the most sympathetic victims of
racialism are people who mean well, who don't know or officiate. reference to ae connotation to a very clever statement made earlier to make a point that was so far away from is thereid -- the fact is relevance in both of those things, that is the tragedy of , because one thing touches me one way and one thing touches someone else who does not have my experience and it looks the same. you look at the issue of the debate on gay howiage today, and you see that is one issue where as a society, the united states has moved so dramatically in just a say perhaps,ld you
that there is enormous progress that is being made to be more inclusive -- there is a greater acceptance, that difference is not something to be feared, just a fact. if you don't want to embrace it, there is nothing you have to run away from either. exactly, the fact that human relationships that have existed from the beginning of time are now acknowledged as human relationships without good, bad, or other connotations, allows for this to happen he it became a part of the conversation. we will not allow race to become a part of the conversation because we are too sensitive with what our organizers call
the third rail, which means an untouchable conversation. we haven't gotten to the point where we can candidly talk about a celebration of differences which contribute -- this contains cucumbers, green peppers, lettuce, and tomatoes and it has now become a salad, what wees too much time can do is say once we have identified this as a salad, we can forget about the valuable part of the components that wants it to its this new combination of energy and components -- as we go back to the immigration debate, which is not the same at -- or the history of the african-american which is not the same as the caribbean
american or even from puerto rico, you talk about that if you if citizenship isn't included then you are making a second class citizen, then you can say that word or reagan's who are american citizens -- that puerto ricans who are american citizens by birth, can't faux -- vote. if you want to say, at least i'm not like them, it occurs within racial and at make groups. tensions been political between the south american community and the haitian community, written about in the newspapers. people forget that the ugly word that starts with a k that use used to describe jewish invented by german
americans coming to live in new york city. cuban,ell you, as a half half puerto rican, sometimes neither community was sure what i was. there are differences within sometimes those play outside those communities. it is not just black versus white, hispanic versus non-hispanic, there are subtleties within groups that have consequences and the innuendos there are probably more difficult to grasp. up, a briefp this one minute statement from each of you. a final thought on the importance topic. >> it's getting better. in no way a- society perfect, but it is getting better.
we are going to continue to improve it. >> george knox can you make it positive before you leave? >> no [laughter] >> here is the difficulty. all i wish to do is make a contribution to a truth that all of us must face, i am not being negative at all, i am not failing to a knowledge progress at all, but the fact is that everything we have done that is good must be accelerated, and the only way it can be have aated is to conversation about the things deepest in our hearts, our greatest fears and challenges, our common purpose. nobody wants to go first, nobody wants to say we are interdependent and we need each other. we would rather say something
that denotes that we are not in and there are bearers and there are rioters. the fact is that we are all in this together and each of us has both a role and value to buttebute to society into , iowa that people are praying we demonstrate today. i apologize that you come after these great speakers, but that is what you get sitting in the back of the class all those years. >> that is true, i have great hope in the quote, millennial's. said noigns that blacks, no puerto ricans, no dogs. we have come a long way. areas like urban
part where they grow, in -- particularly in public education, you have kids are bored or jewish, quarter russian, what are they? word, they don't tolerate, they embrace. tolerate is a horrible word. we use that term a lot, and i think that has been the right word he used for a long time -- americans for decades tolerated diversity, and new generations embrace it. that is all they know. that is why a lot of young people are coming back to south florida. they like it. i am hopeful, but that's my personality. >> everybody, thank you so much. [applause] >> coming up