Paul is asked to comment on the state of the Jan 6th inquiry and issues related to policing and systemic racism. Paul is a guest on Muslim Network TV.
Today, we’re here with Paul Jay, who is a journalist, filmmaker, founder, and host of theAnalysis.news outlet. Thank you so much for being here with us today, Paul.
Thanks for the invitation.
Our pleasure. Now, as you might have heard, thirty-five Republicans in US Congress had voted to support the legislation that would establish an independent commission to investigate the recent January insurrection at US Capitol Hill.
If you can tell us from your perspective about the significant shift in thinking. When we think about how Republicans came together to vote on behalf of this bill and what this means for US politics. Especially with such race-based issues when we see such support from Republicans in US Congress.
So you’re talking about the thirty-five Republicans that voted for a bill to establish the January 6th commission. Well, there’s kind of two big issues here. One is the split in the Republican Party that’s most reflected in the removal of Liz Cheney from the leadership of the House. And that split goes back, I think, from the very emergence of Trump. Trump ran, and to some extent in the Republican primaries, in 2016 against the leadership of the Republican Party.
Of course, he represented his own section of billionaires and his own alliances within the American elites, but primarily a billionaire hedge fund guy named Robert Mercer and Sheldon Adelson – the casino billionaire who died a little while ago, but who was also very close for a long time to Netanyahu in Israel. But Trump ran a campaign, and once he got elected, and especially once he selected Pence as his vice president. Pence is a guy who more or less represented and still does, I think, the Koch brothers, as did Pompeo. They made a kind of alliance, this section of the elites that hated Trump right from the beginning. And you have to remember, even people like Lindsey Graham hated Trump from the beginning. But once he was elected and once they saw a real coalescing of what amounts to a kind of fascist movement of sorts around Trump. And when I say ‘Talk about Trump supporters,’ I certainly do not mean the vast majority of people who would vote for Trump are fascist or even think they’re voting for a fascist. But there’s a core in that. And part of that core is a far-right religious evangelical and far-right Catholic.
As we get closer to talking about January 6th, they’re very strong in the military; there are actually several Opus Dei far-right Catholics in the Supreme Court. So this kind of coalescing around a section of the billionaires, starting with Mercer, Adelson, but later, the Koch brothers, certainly have a certain sway in it. I don’t know that the Kochs ever loved Trump, but that’s the whole point. I think that most of the elites, including those in the financial sector, many of whom are traditionally Democrats, started to go along with Trump because they got whatever they wanted out of Trump: in the financial sector, in the fossil fuel sector, and certainly the military-industrial complex. Trump gave them everything they wanted. So it honestly, excuse my language, didn’t matter how batshit crazy Trump became and clearly was. He had opened up the piggy bank of the US Treasury and deregulation.
So they nurtured the megalomania of this guy. They knew they were dealing with a nutcase, but he was their nutcase as long as he was passing legislation with enormous tax cuts and such. If you remember, not long after he was elected, he said he didn’t want to have as many military interventions. I think he always had his target set on Iran. But he said, ‘Don’t worry, arms manufacturers, you’re going to get lots of money,’ and of course they did. He passed one of the biggest arms budgets in history.
At any rate, the preponderance of the elites, and of the elites, the financial elites are the most powerful – because they kind of own everything. They were OK with him. But as the election came and, they could have lived with a second term of Trump, except his irrationality in dealing with the pandemic. It shook the elites that he was so insane about the pandemic that they really decided that they’d had enough of this guy. Still, I think without the pandemic, Trump might well have won that election. And when he got seventy-four million votes, seventy-five or whatever it was, it shook them that he got so many votes even after the pandemic. But still, he lost. They assumed there’d be a relatively orderly transition to Biden. Although the plot not to transition to Biden had started much earlier.
Steve Bannon had gone on to Tucker Carlson show in mid-September and essentially already announced ‘Stop the Steal’ before there ever was an election. Before they could even say there was a steal, they already had a ‘Stop the Steal’ going. So they knew they were going to lose. The polling had made it clear. They had prepared a couple of months ahead of time to create these conditions for saying the vote was a fraud. And I think there are several very important questions that need to be answered, and I don’t know whether this commission’s ever going to come into being. I’ve been listening to the hearings from different committees, and no one’s asked the real questions. So I don’t know if there even is a commission, whether it would actually do anything, because the real questions are: to what extent was there really a coup in place prior to January 6th, and was January 6th the final act of a coup?
Now, for example, I saw an NBC interview recently with Liz Cheney, long interview! They never asked Liz Cheney, ‘Why did you and your father, Dick Cheney, organize a letter from 10 former secretaries of defense, essentially warning the military to stay out of the elections and to stay out of determining who’s going to be in the White House?’ I mean, ‘What what made you, Liz Cheney, think such a letter was necessary?’ They didn’t ask her that.
General Stavridis, who was the former supreme commander of NATO, writes an op-ed article in Time magazine supporting the letter of the ten secretaries, saying that the acting secretary of defense, Miller, doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to a temperamental president. Like very serious people really think it’s possible that Trump and this was publicly said by his friend, General Flynn, who called for a coup, called for the military to organize a new election. They were taking those threats seriously.
In Stavridis’s article, in Time, he says that they’ve been aware, they meaning he and the secretaries of defense and others, were aware that there were real conversations taking place in the White House about how and whether to stage a coup. Then on January 4th, the Financial Times, in an editorial, says, ‘A coup is in progress.’ So since January 6th, how come we don’t hear about any of this?
So I’m wondering, that being said, and considering the January 6th riot being such a landmark event in the United States, coupled with, for example, the recent George Floyd murder, a lot of anti-racism experts right now have been calling for systemic change for a long time, but specifically after such paramount events in US politics.
From your perspective, covering these events and looking into them quite deeply in your career, how hopeful are you that such structural proposals such as this bill might be effective either in the short term or in the long run?
Well, listen, any small reform that makes life more livable for people that are being attacked by police on a daily basis, the DOJ report of the Baltimore Police Department – about four years ago, I guess it is now – after the murder of Freddie Gray, the DOJ. I’m sorry, I forget her name, but the woman that led it is actually now an assistant attorney General Biden appointed. She said that the constitutional rights of Baltimore citizens are being violated every day.
So any small change that mitigates the terrorizing of poor and working-class people in major cities across the country, particularly African-Americans, but also Latinx people, but also include poor whites, because when you look at the actual gross numbers of people that get killed by police, of course, there are a lot more white people, but there’s also more numerically white people that get killed by police. And most of them, I believe, are poor. But without question, African-Americans disproportionately are killed by police every single day. So any reform, even how modest, is a good thing!
Now, if you’re asking me whether some small reforms of policing will get rid of systemic racism or whether any legislation is being talked about, well, I think the answer to that is no. The reason is, there are two fundamental reasons, I think, why there is systemic racism.
First and foremost is because racism is profitable. What I mean by that is when you want to exploit people as cheap labor, dehumanizing them makes it easier to do so. I’ll go back to Baltimore – because I lived there for a number of years – you had people working in some of the big institutions like Johns Hopkins Hospital, after 14 years cleaning surgical rooms and making 12-13 dollars an hour. Why are people actually risking their health? Because they’re cleaning up HIV and other kinds of blood issues. And, especially with covid. Why? Because they’re desperate for jobs. And the main thing to understand is that the biggest demand if you go talk to people, poor people, poor working people or unemployed people in American cities and ask what they want, I’ve done a lot of that. And that first answer is always jobs. People want employment. And so the desperation for jobs, that big pool of unemployed labor is very profitable because it allows you know, it’s not just low wages paid to them, but it’s also a drag on wages right across the board.
Number two, in the culture, the United States is born really as a slave society and the culture of white privilege, the culture of workers saying to themselves – just to give you an example, in the civil war, it’s always struck me, why would poor white farmers and poor workers go fight for the Confederacy and die to defend the slave system when they didn’t benefit from it? Most of the poor white farmers didn’t have slaves. If anything, the slave labor was a competitor to their labor. So, in fact, the slave system was actually really opposed to them, but they went out and not just supported slavery; they actually died for it on the battlefield.
Well, because the cultural forces were very strong and kind of internalizing this identity, ‘Well, at least I’m white.’ That sort of internalizes ‘That as bad as my life might be, at least I’m white,’ and it gives some very false consciousness, a false sense of a privilege. And that carries on through the culture and is deliberately nourished and nurtured for decades and decades.
So, it has to be fought at the cultural level, and I would say a lot of the protests that have taken place: Black Lives Matter kind of activism; it’s had some positive effect, and it is making larger sections of the society aware of the extent of systemic racism. But if the economic side of it isn’t dealt with, if this need of the system for the super-exploited cheap labor isn’t dealt with – and that’s dealt with by significantly raising the minimum wage, a serious investment in the inner cities, raising the level of life for people.
I mean, you can’t argue with the fact there is a lot of crime in areas where there’s a lot of poverty. Well, you don’t deal with the crime through policing; you deal with it by alleviating the poverty.
Thank you so much, Paul Jay, for being here with us today.
Thanks very much.