In 1860 and 1861, eleven southern states seceded from the United States to protect the institution of slavery, forming the Confederate States of America and sparking the U.S. Civil War. After the war, their flag was adopted as a symbol of Southern heritage at the same time as it represented slavery and white supremacy.

Today, the Confederate flag is regularly weaponized by neo-Nazis and far-right extremists as they seek to intimidate African Americans. The flag can also be used to target Jewish Americans, as it was when it was tied to the front doors of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in January 2021.

This program explores the contentious history and violent symbolism of the Confederate flag. Co-presented by the Museum, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and the New York City Human Rights Commission, the program features Jami Floyd, Senior Editor for Race & Justice at New York Public Radio, in conversation with a panel including:

  • Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of On Juneteenth;
  • Dr. Mab Segrest, Fuller-Maathai Professor Emeritus of Gender and Women’s Studies at Connecticut College and author of Memoir of a Race Traitor; and
  • Leo Ferguson, Director of Strategic Projects at Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, founder of the organization’s Jews of Color caucus, and author of their Understanding Antisemitism guide.

Watch the program below.

 

This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.

Joshua Mack: Hello everyone i'm Joshua Mack the Vice President for marketing at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust.

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Joshua Mack: Along with our partners to New York City Human Rights Commission and Jews for racial and economic justice it's my pleasure to welcome you to today's important discussion on the history and usage of the confederate flag this program is personal for us at the museum.

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Joshua Mack: very early in the morning on January 7 day after the insurrection at the US Capitol the confederate flag was tied to the front doors of our Museum in the middle of the night.

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Joshua Mack: The people did this could have used a Nazi flag, but they choose, they chose to target a Holocaust Museum in New York City, with a confederate flag.

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Joshua Mack: We recognize that interesting and disturbing set of facts has a powerful prompt for learning, which was, which is what brought us to today's discussion.

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Joshua Mack: We have an excellent group of panelists with us to help unpack the meaning of the flag today.

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Joshua Mack: Please join me in welcoming Dr neck Gordon read the Carl m lobe university professor at Harvard and pulitzer prize winning author of the new book on June 18 which you can order in the link in the zoom chat.

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Joshua Mack: fuller Maathai Professor emeritus of gender and women's studies that connect college and author of memoir of a race trader.

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Joshua Mack: which will also be available in a link in the zoom chat in a little while and Leo Ferguson, the Director of strategic projects at us for racial and economic justice.

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Joshua Mack: founder of the organization just color Caucus and author of their understanding anti semitism guy which I encourage you all to download from the French side and we'll put up a link to that as well.

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Joshua Mack: moderating discussion with a net haven't Leah is the terrific Jamie flood senior editor for racing justice in New York public radio before Jamie kicks off the discussion let's hear words of welcome from our partners to New York City Human Rights Commission.

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Jonah Boyarin: Thank you so much joshua i'm jonah Samson we are and i'm the Jewish communities liaison at the New York City Commission on Human Rights it's an honor for us to get to partner on this program.

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Jonah Boyarin: And briefly tell you a little bit about what our Commission is what it does and then what brings us to this program so we have two parts of our work, we oversee.

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Jonah Boyarin: The human rights law, enforce the human rights law for the city of New York it's one of the oldest and strongest in the country.

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Jonah Boyarin: basically means be live or work in New York matter who you are your racial gender religious age etc right density.

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Jonah Boyarin: You have a legal right to be treated equally and if you've been discriminated against in some way should call 311 contact the Commission and human rights you're protected by the civil grams law.

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Jonah Boyarin: Second part of our work is community relations fostering positive relations between the different communities of New York, we do educational programs like this we do bystander intervention trainings.

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Jonah Boyarin: we're about to roll out a curriculum about understanding Jewish experiences and anti semitism you're interested in any of those programs, please reach out to me reach out to us if the Commission see if it can bring us in and we'd love to work with you.

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Jonah Boyarin: What brings us to this program so New York is a wonderfully diverse place difference is not easy but it's beautiful and it's what makes New York City, the greatest city in Earth.

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Jonah Boyarin: And it takes work it takes work to get along well together and to look out for one another, we know that's what we do and.

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Jonah Boyarin: museum and Jay fridge lead the way on this, the museum as an educational institution leading the way in its response to.

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Jonah Boyarin: Prejudice stacks against the museum using the confederate flag to broaden the scope and say you know let's look at how this impacts both Jewish and black communities.

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Jonah Boyarin: nj fridge and its work on the ground, make a solid or a happen in the grass roots leading the way so we're really proud to partner with both of you on this program without further ado i'm going to hand off to our moderator for this evening at Jamie.

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Jami Floyd: Thank you jonah and josh and to our partners for this important program tonight and we're going to begin with a conversation about some important terms that we so often use, but perhaps don't.

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Jami Floyd: Think too much about you know what does white supremacist mean what is white supremacy.

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Jami Floyd: White nationalists at the clan even KKK we've talked about it, for decades, but do any of us really think about what that organization is what those.

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Jami Floyd: three letters stand for so we'll talk about that in just a moment with our panelists but first I want to ask each of our panelists.

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Jami Floyd: To just reflect for a moment on what each of them thought when they heard about this ugly incident, let me start with with my friend and colleague Leo Ferguson J for real What was your reaction when first you heard about this.

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Leo Ferguson: Thank you so much Jamie thanks to all the panelists it's really wonderful to be here.

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Leo Ferguson: And you know, of course, it was you know I mean I certainly first of all, you know Jay fridge.

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Leo Ferguson: Has a wonderful relationship with the museum so like the very my very first thought was for the folks that I know like josh and other folks are on staff there and was just you know, hoping that they were safe and.

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Leo Ferguson: And you know, knowing this must have been a difficult experience on a personal level.

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Leo Ferguson: I think that you know, given the context and the timing and everything that we've seen over the past four years you know, in some ways, culminating in the January six interaction.

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Leo Ferguson: That i'm Sad to say it wasn't surprised it felt inevitable, and I think that's part of what's scary and.

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Leo Ferguson: And also, you know important about this conversation is the way in which a lot of this feels inevitable, but that, hopefully, you know our response to it, and the fact that we can overcome this also feels inevitable if they all work together.

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Jami Floyd: not optimistic note on which to start.

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Jami Floyd: So that's coming from the activist space and I imagine both matt and Annette would say they are occupy a bit of the activist space as well, but you know come to you as writers and intellectual thought leaders.

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Jami Floyd: What was your reaction, I guess, maybe i'll come to you first What was your reaction when you heard about this incident, given the work that you do as a as a writer and a scholar.

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Mab Segrest: Well, I was a Southerner with three confederate great grandfather's and I lived in New York City five years before I came back to Durham three years ago, so I felt it intimate on various levels of that kind of.

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Mab Segrest: Cross regional relationship, and I want to take this.

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Mab Segrest: opportunity right, the first to express my solidarity to the Jewish community across the borough's for the disquieting event of having a confederate flag and.

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Mab Segrest: Nazi salute at your door in the night of January seven.

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Mab Segrest: there's so many of such acts of disrespect and attempted intimidation, these days, but they give us the skills for such events.

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Mab Segrest: Of explication and springs and commitment to a nation of liberty and justice for all so i'm very glad to be here with this distinguished panel to explore these issues.

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Jami Floyd: And, never mind masterminds us Annette Professor that this was not just any night, it was January or any morning I should say it happened overnight.

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Jami Floyd: But.

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Jami Floyd: The morning of January 7, so this is after the insurrection.

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Jami Floyd: As we now have come to call it, I remember as a journalist, we all struggled for the words, what do we call this wasn't a riot was it a protest and now we've all comfortably slid into the word insurrection.

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Jami Floyd: But this is January 7 what what What was your reaction, or what is now your reaction to this this ugly horrific incident.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Well it's obviously disheartening but interesting to know that people understand what the flag means it has a specific message for people who suggest that it's about heritage not hate.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: An act like this puts the light of that, and it makes it plain that this isn't an attempt to intimidate people to make people feel bad to belittle and to announce a kind of power.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: A sense of power and doing something like that, so you know it's it's a tricky business where people insist that it's a the flag is benign.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: But it shows up in places and in situations that show that that's not the case that there are very specific philosophy that goes behind it, there are various particular people who are targets.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: of it and it's a symbol for many people it's a way of expressing hatred and so it's never good to see examples of that and to understand that we have a long way to go.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Still to to put those feelings behind us and to create a world map was saying, where people are equal and people's humanity is equally valued.

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Jami Floyd: I appreciate your reminding us of this frequently used cause phrase heritage not hate.

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Jami Floyd: And we have a comment here in our chat the flag is a vestige of book calls so let's talk a little bit about the history and some of these phrase phrases.

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Jami Floyd: or definitions that perhaps we need to be reminded of let's first talk about that history heritage not hate or cause the clan comes to mind and and let me come back to you and Gordon read.

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Jami Floyd: About that it says at one of our one of our guests as well put misread when you commented about what the flag really means so let's talk a little bit about this history of the flag and why it is a symbol of hate rather than heritage.

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Jami Floyd: Many would protest.

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Jami Floyd: Yes, say that.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Well it's certainly a symbol of division, to begin with it's the battle flag it's the barrel standard that's not the official flag of the confederacy it's a battle standard, and so you wonder why.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Oh, why is someone parading around with a battle flag who Who are they you know, against whom are they fighting.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: In this this way it's a symbol of of defiance and not giving up, I mean Robert E Lee basically said, you know folding up and let's go and people.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Who could not let go of the cause the last cause the confederacy and the values of the confederacy kept kept it alive over the years, I mean i'm sure there are people who.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Who don't understand that who are thinking about it and they think of rebel, for example, it's a symbol of being a rebel and rebel not thinking about what you're rebelling against people don't.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: connect.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: To the maybe young people don't connect to the fact that rebelling against United States of America.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: And the sort of the incongruity of having that flag next to the American flag they don't go together the people who carry that battle standard killed.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: American soldiers who were trying to protect the American Union so it very early on, for people who didn't fold it up and move on.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: became a symbol of the defiance of the new society that was created that they were attempting to create after the civil war, the 13th 14th and 15th amendments bringing black people into citizenship and creating a a new birth of freedom.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: So people who didn't like that idea.

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Joshua Mack: That have used the flag, you have.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: A protest.

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Joshua Mack: You call call.

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Jami Floyd: i'm going to jump in and ask.

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Jami Floyd: josh to please mute himself that's the moderators privilege.

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Joshua Mack: Sorry, I.

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Jami Floyd: had to mute themselves.

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Good.

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Jami Floyd: And I have a lovely comment here, asking me to to say, Dr Reid and it makes me smile, because my mother, are you going to correct me.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Well i'm going to correct you because i'm one of those rare people who has an appointment in history, without a PhD.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: And i'm a jd and you don't usually.

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Jami Floyd: Call jd.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: jd and so you know, Professor Gordon read for you, and that is fine, but I.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: understand what they're saying I, I feel that we should be called Dr.

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Jami Floyd: I don't understand why we Jay do we don't get to be called Dr but that's another.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Two years seven years, seven years to.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Completion of that degree versus three.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: quarters rates, and that is fine as well, but I appreciate the sentiment, because there are people who wonder about you know not giving proper respect to women or black people, but I know that that's not your intention so.

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Jami Floyd: Well, I think it was very kind of someone.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Is a very thoughtful.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: or not for me sure.

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Jami Floyd: I will fight for title another time back over to to to Leo Ferguson, because you were the one who said that we should start this conversation out with some definitions so Leo let's do it.

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Jami Floyd: let's talk a little bit about what we mean what do we really mean when we say white supremacy because we're hearing that phrase so much right now.

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Jami Floyd: And when we say something over and over again, perhaps we forget to really think about what we mean when we put two words together white supremacy So what exactly does that phrase mean what are we talking about you know, maybe you know coming off of.

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Jami Floyd: What we just been talking about in terms of the flag in terms of the history, the rebellion or the incongruent it, as you just said of putting the the flag, the American flag against the confederate flag what is white supremacy in the context of this event at the museum.

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Leo Ferguson: Absolutely that's a great question and you know I you know.

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Leo Ferguson: I met and my bowl certainly speak to this in more detail in terms of the history, but I think you know I do think it's important just to start out with some.

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Leo Ferguson: A baseline of common understandings we all know what we're talking about when we use these terms, and of course there's tons of overlap, which is part of why it's confusing, so the.

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Leo Ferguson: So white supremacist right or white supremacy right this weights up, I mean in many ways that's the most self explanatory right it's it's the ideology that you know whiteness is is supreme is above is better than is inherently superior to.

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Leo Ferguson: Other ethnic and racial identifications and of course we get into a lot of complexity, when we talk about you know whiteness itself being this you know sort of made up constructed idea, and so, then these questions of women who counts as white and certainly for a lot of.

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Leo Ferguson: You know what I what i'm going to refer to as white Jews right, this can be confusing and i'm going to i'll speak more about that later, but.

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Leo Ferguson: Where it gets complicated is when we you know get into ideas we bring in ideas about nationalism and religion, and all of the other pieces that make up.

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Leo Ferguson: You know this complicated question so when we think about white nationalism, and this is where this question of what does it mean to have the confederate flag right flying next to the American flag.

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Leo Ferguson: You know this comes into an idea of.

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Leo Ferguson: You know I you know, I think that is it's almost it's impossible to separate supremacy from from white nationalism right in much the same way that analogy would be sort of like brown versus Board of admin idea that you could have separate but equal.

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Leo Ferguson: But in the but to the degree that there's a distinction, the idea is that this is people who are really thinking about the idea of a.

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Leo Ferguson: nation that is for white people in which white culture whites you know white identity is privileged and is at the Center of you know, the national culture in this case of the United States.

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Leo Ferguson: Some of them would say I think disingenuously, no, no, we don't think what we will or better we just think we have to have something for us right, this is this is for us and you know that and you'll get you'll hear a lot of that kind of you know, various different forms of that language.

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Leo Ferguson: I think both in the sort of white nationalist movement and, of course, in just.

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Leo Ferguson: A lot of the grievance politics, what people sometimes called like grievance politics of.

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Leo Ferguson: Today, and then, when we talk about the clam we bring in the element of Christian hegemony of Christian of Christianity.

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Leo Ferguson: As a major force in this and, of course, as Jews right we understand this.

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Leo Ferguson: The complexity of these questions about race, ethnicity and then of course the you know the history of Christian persecution that US based in Europe and so.

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Leo Ferguson: The clan you know, is often described as a as essentially a white supremacist Christian terrorist organization or some formulation like that, in which it had at its core both.

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Leo Ferguson: ideas of white supremacy and, of course, of Christian supremacy and which is of course why at targeted black people other people of color and and Jewish folks.

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Leo Ferguson: So those are Those are some of the terms that i'm sure will come up tonight and hopefully that's that's helpful as we navigate this very complicated topic that includes a lot of really slippery ideas about race and identity and ethnicity.

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Jami Floyd: Because race identity and ethnicity, are slippery and and, in many ways, as you said, social constructs especially raised a net spoke to this a bit mad, would you like to weigh in at all on what Leo had to say.

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Yes.

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Mab Segrest: yeah somebody asked in the chat to what does KKK stand for and it's cute Klux Klan.

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Mab Segrest: And in terms of the the assertion that it's a terrorist organization, it emerges in 1866 in 1867 in the southern defeated states of the former confederacy.

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Mab Segrest: As a terrorist organization to reverse the the claims and the gains of reconstruction that very 13th 14th and 15th amendment that a net and that we're celebrating I think with juneteenth and they can about because.

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Mab Segrest: All of the immediate was basically the former foot soldiers of the confederacy and their officer so reconstituted themselves kind of gorilla army to attack three people all the terrible lynching started by 6667 and went all the way through the MID 20th century and some so happen.

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Mab Segrest: And targeting Republicans to to basically take over the south, so that by 1876 with that with the compromise.

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Mab Segrest: Of 1876 it took Union troops out of the South and just left African Americans really at the mercy of the same confederate elite to have been before and.

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Mab Segrest: One of the ironic things I thought about the interaction is that started just at the moment when Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was offering is a great compromise instead of the electoral college vote.

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Mab Segrest: The compromise of 1876 what you're just saying like take out the federal troops and like you know, let us have like white people have their way, I mean you know that they could.

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Mab Segrest: They could make those very embedded historical arguments are all in there, and also, though, the confederacy.

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Mab Segrest: was always a claim to nationhood it was a claim to the nation, not only the nation, a sense of national cohesion but to a state like an actual entity and the confederacy when it's a seated from the Union.

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Mab Segrest: was making an attempt to have a white supremacy nation state bounded founded on chattel slavery is the first time that movie been made.

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Mab Segrest: And it was a risky kind of move because the actual white people were like a third of the whole population, the white men, if you take women who wants citizens white women in the take African Americans, and it really did.

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Mab Segrest: Bring the confederacy down from inside as much as outside so that claim to a state, I think is very important and something like the interaction because.

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Mab Segrest: They want the government or they wanted to spend the government but they're not just not just nostalgia it's not just a sense of national identity, I don't think and i'll be working, but it is a claim on the second American revolution.

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Mab Segrest: On when we haven't finished is Reverend Barbara was say the third reconstruction so just different kind of battle silver age.

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Jami Floyd: And then I know you also see that, through line from the clan to.

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Jami Floyd: The militias to the insurrection correct.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: it's the same kind of grievances about the direction of the country, the direction of a country that you know.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: What people say they want to live up to the ideals of the decoration which, of course, the confederacy.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: rejected the language about all men are created, equal and so forth, and said that was not true, and they stood against that So yes, it's a similar group of people who have been.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: opposed to that and had a country remember a country in which those values were ascended there the confederate States of America and understand logic for that and so yeah I mean there are points of commonality at a through line as you're suggesting.

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Jami Floyd: Will you say a bit more know a net about how the flag, I found very interesting, I hope you don't mind my sharing a bit of what you were saying before we came live, as we say.

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Jami Floyd: Much about Texas.

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Jami Floyd: And how yeah has been emerging, more recently, you say a bit about sort of the ebb and flow of this symbol.

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Jami Floyd: In the course of our history and how now it seems to be enjoying a new prominence.

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Jami Floyd: and modern era of, if you will, hate white supremacy.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: And what I was saying before was that growing up in Texas I rarely saw confederate flags, when I was growing up Texas.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: You know if I saw flags, it was going to be the American flag or the Texas flag your Texas was all about Texas Texas Texas and it's still about that now, but I recall, when I.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: A few years ago, when I went back one time, I went on a trip and I was sort of on a road trip riding through the rural areas in Texas, and I saw so many confederate flags.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: It surprised me because that that is not what I grew up with, so this new thing there's a new ascendancy in the flag that wasn't there you know late 60s, the 70s.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: You rarely saw that somebody mentioned Leonard Skinner, maybe you know, maybe they would have that on sweet home Alabama and they will bring the flag out.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: But not just everywhere, but now you see it quite a bit so there's sort of a new Valence to it, it people may not be thinking.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Just about the past, necessarily, the war in the actual war but they're thinking about a kind of war that's going on in their view, now it's it's a political statement.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Around a set of ideas that they believe in and ideals that they believe in and it's shown by you announce yourself like I was saying before about the flag on the door.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: You you're communicating to people So what do you think when you see that flag.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: If there's a set of values that you associate with those people and they want to make that known, much more so than maybe they did in the past, so hadn't found yet a way to to.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: That had been translated from the old understanding about it to you know, to the old racism to the new racism to the new vision and it's something that has become much more popular now.

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Jami Floyd: So the next civil war is an extension of the last one.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Well, we don't know this is.

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Jami Floyd: War I mean it.

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Jami Floyd: I mean an actual an actual one, but a rhetorical one.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: rhetorical yes.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: it's it's an expression, because the question of race.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: is at the heart of it and the hierarchy is that the heart of was at the heart of both of them.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: And now it expresses itself in a different way, because there's not any way that I, except for the effort to know.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: You know conjure black confederates there's no way to you know, to say to African Americans are people whose ancestors, you know were oppressed by people who wanted to keep.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: who use that battle flag as as a rallying cry to keep that system in place that is benign So if you do that, you must have a pretty.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: You have a pretty strong views and not care about how it's received for other people you specifically want to send.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: That message to them on that defiance i'm not a part of this new America, where new multicultural America, where people of all races are citizens and people of all races, have the right to be treated as equal human beings.

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Jami Floyd: me my phone I saw you trying to get into.

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Mab Segrest: You know i'm not i'm not saying at all there's going to be another civil war, but what i'm saying is the most radical of folks who are raising the flag now want a civil war and, if you look at the I mean I really have studied some since a.

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Jami Floyd: real war map a real war.

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Mab Segrest: Oh yes, I mean this is the oath keepers are former and current police and military and they were the cathode Ray the cut through they were there, the gear.

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Mab Segrest: They were a mean I did an article and in an Anti racist research group in North Carolina now and we're trying to follow these folks down to the roots and back and what would kind of.

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Mab Segrest: Finding is a kind of pair of military industrial complex and a whole web of connections between police and former military who then get milk.

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Mab Segrest: Military contracts, I mean it's very dense and and they they want a civil war.

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Mab Segrest: Like they fought in Iraq, I mean, these are guys who we've trained on our army and if you go on the militia and all the chance and everything now, this is not to say we're going to have it or it'll be massive like it was before, whatever.

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Mab Segrest: But it's not just a notion for them, and I think it's important I mean i'm trying to do some of this research so it's important it's important to take.

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Mab Segrest: To take these people seriously and to me the one of the most telling moments with confederate flags and the interaction.

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Mab Segrest: Was the moment when the guy walked through the rotunda with that huge confederate flag, which was the first time the confederate flag have never been in the rotunda.

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Mab Segrest: confederate army didn't manage that you know, but it was almost the same moment that across the screen.

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Mab Segrest: um we got Finally, the word that Georgia george's to senate seat to gone to the democrats and it was a black man who's in in in Martin Luther king's church now.

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Mab Segrest: And a Jewish man, you know so that flipped the power in the Senate it's about the power of the United States and who gets it can you just abolish elections all of those kinds of things and I felt like the confederacy was really signifying at that point.

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Mab Segrest: This new insurrection and that's that's what I mean just their language go there right, I mean it's just all over the chat if.

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Mab Segrest: i've been looking at diamond and really have another seven everything, this is what strikes me and i'm not saying everybody wants it, but we need to realize that some people really do want it, and what we saw and what we saw in January six is kind of what they could manifest.

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Jami Floyd: It.

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Jami Floyd: Now go ahead.

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Leo Ferguson: yeah just to jump just to dive in very briefly and just say yeah I mean, I think that it's really.

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Leo Ferguson: You know, I was thinking you know thinking flag just now and thinking about the way in which you know i'm certain for some people.

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Leo Ferguson: The trump flag right and I live on Staten island in New York, which is, you know as many people know the one of the more conservative areas of New York.

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Leo Ferguson: And you know so it's really interesting place where you really and especially on the North shore, where I live, you really have.

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Leo Ferguson: You know, progressive folks right up against you know people who could be living, you know anywhere else in America and.

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Leo Ferguson: You know, you can drive five minutes from my house and see this gigantic trump live, I mean one of these, you know, like I don't know how they make them that big of kinds of flags, you know that this guy was buying for the past four years and.

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Leo Ferguson: And you know you it's very clear people understand that that flag has the same balance for many people right when you when.

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Leo Ferguson: You know, you know folks maben and Dr Gordon read we're talking Professor couldn't we were talking about you know the ways in which the.

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Leo Ferguson: The the flag is there in order to alienate people until you make it very clear that you know you're not wanting people understand that the trump like has that and I just think that that suggests the way in which the.

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Leo Ferguson: You know this question of the the weather this flag will be a symbol of the next War I think if we if we abstract that all one step back and just say that.

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Leo Ferguson: You know movements needs symbols right ideas need symbols and whether it's the confederate flag a trump flag or something else right that takes its place.

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Leo Ferguson: There will be a symbol that that knits together the vast numbers of Americans who clearly you know, on some you know i'm one either explicitly or implicitly feel you know, seeing and and.

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Leo Ferguson: You know, led by this movement, and I think the and, similarly, whether we're talking about you know, a war that involves you know bullets and and bombs or whether we're talking about.

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Leo Ferguson: Some other mechanism by which our country is essentially ripped asunder and the project of you know, our democracy, you know the the American experiment can no longer go forward.

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Leo Ferguson: In the way that it has been one what you know, whichever way it all happens, it will involve conflict and it will involve symbols.

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Jami Floyd: Well, if we are talking about symbols, I see a question here about speech and hate speech and and I know there's at least one other lawyer on the panel, who knows where i'm going with this.

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Jami Floyd: Is the flag of form of the confederate flag of form of speech if you're just putting up your trump flag or your.

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Jami Floyd: confederate flag is that just speech, or does it rise to the level of hate speech and I guess i'll jump over to you, Professor Gordon read, because you know I wrestle with this myself as a.

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Jami Floyd: As a lawyer and accountant I think of myself as a constitutional lawyer, because you know as but i'm also a black and brown woman in America, so I go both ways citizen lawyer, which is it yeah, how do you answer that that person's very good question.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Well, I think you know personally there plenty of things that you know, we could say there ourselves there ought to be a law, but we know that there can't be I mean to me it's a flag is a form of expression and as a port, as it is.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: I think people have the right to express themselves with with the flag and people have a right to protest that.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: I do think it is a form of speech because that's what it's intended and sometimes people intend to send messages that are not good messages.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: But it is a form of speech and hate speeches and, as you know, as we were saying it's a fraud area, but for the flag, I mean for me, I think that it is a form of of it's a form of speech, because the American flag.

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Jami Floyd: yeah and then we should they hasten to add that they're always.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Time place and manner restricts yes, the things, but you know to me that's, it is a form of expression and that's.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: You can't have leading.

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Jami Floyd: Anyone you can't.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: You can't threaten people can't do that kind of thing you know, but you know we live in a really, really diverse society different races different viewpoints and all but it's really actions that.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: we're we're thinking about here and there are ways to get at you know if people are taking actions that are threatening there's something that could be done about that, but people have confederate flags, I mean when I was you know in college, there was a PR in new Hampshire.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: This you know, there was a person who was from the South, I believe, who had a confederate flag and his room, you know, or what have you.

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Jami Floyd: And every.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Every college yeah yeah.

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and

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Annette Gordon-Reed: So that was just I wasn't pleasant to see it was kind of jerky thing to do, because I think he he knew that but I think a lot of the heck to do with him being in the north and what he to assert is southern this anyway, but that was an expression so.

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Jami Floyd: yeah another good question along the same lines, perhaps as provocatively i'm going to come to you, please, compare the confederate flag with a swastika.

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Leo Ferguson: Great question well you know it, I think it's been.

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Leo Ferguson: You know wildly established that you know that there are you know where these.

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Leo Ferguson: Links between the Nazis and and you know white supremacists and the Jim crow South in America and that the Nazis in fact drew inspiration and you know, took you know, took lessons directly from the United States in terms of how they wanted to set up, you know their their.

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Leo Ferguson: Racial system of racial violence, and you know apartheid in in Germany.

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Leo Ferguson: The.

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Leo Ferguson: You know I listen here's here's what i'll say like they're not the the swastika, is the symbol of a political party right, so this is the symbol of the Nazi party.

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Leo Ferguson: And the you know I think it's interesting the question about it, whether it's hate speech or not right, the.

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Leo Ferguson: there's a there's a great some great writing by I think political research associates I cant rember the name of the author keep it lock I think called beyond the heat frame that's about.

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Leo Ferguson: Questions about hate, violence and other area that I work in a lot, and obviously you know directly related to the panel that we're doing today and.

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Leo Ferguson: One of the points that they make is that the authors make is that you know part of the when we use the term hate part of what we're doing is Personalizing things.

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Leo Ferguson: So this idea of an individual right, but the interpersonal hatred and violence and individual trying to intimidate.

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Leo Ferguson: Somebody else and obviously that does happen, but we also understand that that this is a political question right, this is when we talked about white nationalism.

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Leo Ferguson: We talked about trump ISM what we're talking about is you know, a deep question about what kind of country want to live in and where this nation is going.

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Leo Ferguson: So I think that the most useful comparison right if the swastika, is a symbol of the Nazi party and have a specific political agenda, not an info hate.

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Leo Ferguson: kind of hate, but like a specific idea of what kind of country Germany was going to be in you know the 1930s.

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Leo Ferguson: On, then I think it's best that we understand the confederate flag in exactly the same way that this is a political expression and it's part of an arguments.

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Leo Ferguson: That is a political arguments why it's protected speech it's a just profoundly divergent views of what kind of nation we're supposed to have, and I think.

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Leo Ferguson: Probably you know I certainly before trump I think probably a lot of Americans.

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Leo Ferguson: Probably what we're lulled into, and I would imagine probably a lot of Jews right we're lulled into a sense of.

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Leo Ferguson: Security in which was very tempting to see things like that in terms of hate right in terms of.

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Leo Ferguson: interpersonal thing that our country is solid and stable and we have these multicultural, you know liberal post civil rights or values but it's so there's just these Yahoos out there with this flag on their you know bumper sticker.

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Leo Ferguson: And I think we understand now that no, this is a very live very contentious.

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Leo Ferguson: conflict about what kind of country want to live in.

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Jami Floyd: Your article that you referenced good memory beyond the hate frame K whitlock and Michael brodsky.

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Leo Ferguson: There we go.

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Jami Floyd: yeah and ma'am did you want to jump in before I ask the next question on this issue of free speech hate speech and symbols.

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Mab Segrest: yeah sure I mean the whole question of the confederate flag and the Nazi flag, I mean I think and somebody had had mentioned before, like.

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Mab Segrest: Why bring the confederate flag to the Museum of Jewish heritage and the whole cost, you know, like, why not the Nazi flag, you know, but I think it's that kind of it, I think the confederate it brings a kind of continental.

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Mab Segrest: Crossing crossover you know I mean the the confederate flag to me the symbol of.

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Mab Segrest: The slave States who want to want it to be a nation and and justified slavery and practice chattel slavery and.

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Mab Segrest: settler colonialism and hit already driven out indigenous people, I mean it's a symbol of the cruelest aspects of US history, I mean the really.

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Mab Segrest: sadistic and brutal aspects of oppression and domination, to have a cotton.

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Mab Segrest: Industry that drove the global economy, and I think that the swastika, does the same a similar thing but fascism, which is the name in Europe.

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Mab Segrest: It was like what probably 1932 1945 it didn't last that long, but it was terrible while it lasted.

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Mab Segrest: On and in for me, you know it's kind of easy to say well fashion, is like the worst kind of political system and it's easy then to believe that back to what happened.

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Mab Segrest: On slave plantations and we settled in US armies and all that kind of stuff you know so to me the confederate flag on the swastika kind of wave at each other and for the confederate flag to end up on your museum steps was this.

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Mab Segrest: Year, I think it had like the stench stench of a swastika on you know, like there's all there's a smell of it already.

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Mab Segrest: And there's that continental bringing together, because these white nationalist movements are really global now um and certainly.

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Mab Segrest: In Europe there's resurgence of of European nationalism and so forth, and so I think that that the confederacy is that kind of trends national symbol now to the kind of confederacy.

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Mab Segrest: To federal exits kind of brexit like break it up, and we want this part and it'll be our people and will control the other people.

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Jami Floyd: There is a question here about whether carrying the confederate flag into the rotunda was hate speech and i'm just going to dispense with it, by saying that you.

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Jami Floyd: You lose your right to free speech, when you break the law by Pat, you know jumping the wall and killing a police officer and trespassing your way into the rotunda and all of that your speech is gone.

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Jami Floyd: You can speak, but you no longer have the same rights to speak as you would have if you were just standing in front holding your flag which you certainly can do.

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Jami Floyd: But I want to come back to something that a net Gordon read you said earlier about race quite a bit earlier but getting back to that fundamental.

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Jami Floyd: You know, everybody calls that are many people call it, not everybody, or we wouldn't be here, but about half the country calls it, the original sin I like to go back to the the native people we always seem to just move right past that.

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Jami Floyd: The next original sin, but the original sin, which is this question of race, with which we have never dealt, and I want to ask all three of our panelists.

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Jami Floyd: about how we move forward, I mean you seem to each have a different position about whether there'll be another real revolution, or is it going to be better for coal what's going to happen next with the revolution.

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Jami Floyd: But if we don't deal with this question of race in America, how will we move forward at all revolution or no.

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Jami Floyd: Real you seem to be a little more optimistic man seems to think we're going to have the revolution and I don't know, maybe a net somewhere in the middle, but all of us.

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Jami Floyd: Okay, you don't think we're having you I don't want to miss characterize you didn't say you to be fair man you didn't say we're going to have the revolution, but you did say you think some.

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Jami Floyd: folks want to have it.

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Jami Floyd: But you are saying you agree that race is at the Center of this this.

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Jami Floyd: This this diabolical debate that we've been having in this country for hundreds of years.

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Jami Floyd: How are we going to move forward if we don't talk honestly about it, which we don't talk honestly about I mean we're talking amongst ourselves here.

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Jami Floyd: But we pretty much agree So how do we move forward, how do we move forward, it seems that we go forward, then we go back then we go forward, then we go back who wants to take that first I want to end on optimism so Leo you go last.

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Jami Floyd: Once you take it first women.

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Jami Floyd: Whichever you want to go first with the how are we going to get past this race thing, or are we ever going to get past it.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Well, I don't know that will get totally past it.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: You know it's like their problems that exist in the world that have existed from time immemorial, I mean.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: You have to to to deal with it, we have to have two ways to have to find ways to tamp down it to stop it official policies that make people on you know treat people as less than human.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Human gender.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: yeah things like that to to bring people into citizenship we're not going to make everybody get along.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: that's never going to happen and that can't be you know the measure of success, but we have had some victories.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: And there are some some instances of backsliding you can say there are two steps forward three steps back, but you're right, it is a process, there is no I mean for history, there is no inevitable.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: destination, you know, and certainly not any inevitable positive destination history, people say you're going to be on the wrong side of history.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: History doesn't have a side, I mean it just is and what is is a function of the things that we do.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: The struggles that we engage in how we try to make things happen so it's you know we're not at the notion of the vision of a promised land.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: is a wonderful metaphor, and that it makes people go forward, but you have to be realistic and understand that human beings are contentious.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: beings, we have our own and all of our own kind of insecurities and so forth, and we've been trying to deal with that all these years, so I, I think that if we keep having these conversations.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: I think young people who have an i'm you know, young people are always very different from the older generations, but we can only hope.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: That they will chart a different course that they will see that there's enough for everybody it's not a zero sum game.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: This is a prosperous country a talented country with lots of energy.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: And we can make a good place for all of us and i'm hoping that the other generations realize that and not see themselves as hostage to the way that their grandparents and great great great grandparents and during the civil war, whatever felt about race and human other human beings.

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Jami Floyd: And ma'am I do want to come to you and get your fall on that, but let me just ask a quick follow up to that Annette.

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Jami Floyd: What do you say I hear you talking to the people who might be I love that phrase history has no sides, but what do you say to folks who are are progressive.

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Jami Floyd: and feel discouraged or feel angry, or you know don't believe in the aspirations of our best documents you know who feel fed up want to just leave and go somewhere else but there's not even somewhere else to go.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: there's no place else to go this is happening all over the world, I mean.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: The assault and and distrust about democracy second thoughts about that that's happening all over the world, so they're not going to run anywhere to get away from that.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: Let me say hold on to it just hold on people have been in worse times more you know perilous times equally perilous times.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: And you know they don't call it available to us for nothing, I mean it's it's a struggle.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: it's always a struggle and we faced you know my grandparents and great grandparents face things that you know I can imagine and nevertheless went forward it's.

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Annette Gordon-Reed: it's not going to be easy, but we it's worth it, if we want a better future for our kids and for others kids for the human race, we have to keep at it.

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Jami Floyd: Okay, so a net they're talking about her parents and grandparents and man when you started this conversation you reference.

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Jami Floyd: I opening remarks.

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Jami Floyd: Your ancestors so that's kind of a nice segue, how do we get past this you know American obsession with race or do you agree with a net, we will never get past it, but we have to keep working on a better place and getting to a better place if not the promised land.

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Mab Segrest: do agree that it's kind of the races a generative question.

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Mab Segrest: Of the unit of the nation that became the colonies that became the United States and will always be working on it in some form or another.

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Mab Segrest: And even though I have gone down the rabbit hole of these insurrection just I just want to be very clear that.

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Mab Segrest: In making that argument about the next war i'm not predicting the next war but i'm reading the symbols, as what I see from studying it the most extreme of the far right.

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Mab Segrest: want to bring about, and I think it's I don't I think most people in North Carolina and.

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Mab Segrest: 98% of the people do not want that you know, like, I mean Nobody wants that but but there, but that there is this cohort that do I think is very important and.

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Mab Segrest: One of the things that came out.

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Mab Segrest: earlier to the insurrection it's like white supremacy, so the main terrorists in this country and we've been so fixated on Muslims and the border and everything and we've let that go and Biden is changing that around, and it was a deliberate subterfuge.

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Mab Segrest: The high all this stuff was going on, so we just need to look at it that's what i'm saying.

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Mab Segrest: And to realize just just the development of the extremity there that doesn't mean everybody's like that, and I think that.

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Mab Segrest: You know the future has a long Arc and I feel like the demographics, the the vision of young people, their flexibility and there's so many encouraging things, and yet we are also in a battle in this country over governance and.

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Mab Segrest: And with a with a real deadlock because if you can kind of break the governance faction, then you know that's kind of the confederacy to know Federal Government.

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Mab Segrest: And maybe i'm a little too obsessive is so much in it, but I just feel I am you know, like, I have been transformed by the stroke civil rights struggles that came liberally to my door, and I feel like that arc of history and all the other struggles for Justice have very much.

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Mab Segrest: given me my life and and this kind of tracking of this most extreme element is what.

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Mab Segrest: i'm maybe special as too much in, but I do I do absolutely agree with all of these other Valence is about what the flag means and how.

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Mab Segrest: How we can retain people because I mean I think for white people reaching other white people and being able to talk.

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Mab Segrest: And just make these arguments and in a kind of white voice is an important part of it, too, but i'm looking forward to June 30 and you will leaving.

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Mab Segrest: And celebrating all those 13th 14th and 15th amendments end of slavery, but not that loophole, the end of mass incarceration.

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Mab Segrest: The 14th amendment amazingly equal protection due process citizenship for everybody born in or Nash, Russia nationalized in United States born or whatever it is, you know all the bill of rights apply to the States to you can't deny the vote for race.

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Mab Segrest: race, religion or previous condition of servitude I mean to me, that is, the spine of the Constitution and i'm very happy to join the Union.

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Mab Segrest: Or you know, the army of justice that we're all in to really make these always to come back to these touch points and to put our lives there and our joy there, which I think juneteenth is also about.

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Jami Floyd: hmm lovely lovely Leo I want to ask you the same question.

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Jami Floyd: You know how do we get.

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Jami Floyd: To that, I guess, we don't want to call it the promise plan, I think the promised land is a good goal, even if we may.

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Jami Floyd: never get there with yes.

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Leo Ferguson: Certainly it certainly brings the the I mean actually it's a it's a perfect segue because I, you know i'd love to I want to like break, I want to answer this question, but by breaking format, a little bit and.

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Leo Ferguson: And just talking a little bit about what it means to you know, be in this as someone who's black and Jewish right and think.

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Jami Floyd: About faith as well, and you know, ethnicity being black and Jewish.

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Jami Floyd: yeah you talked about white Jews and black Jews earlier.

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Jami Floyd: And I want.

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Jami Floyd: You to talk a bit about that.

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Leo Ferguson: Identity absolutely um and other Jews of color right, where I mean.

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Leo Ferguson: yeah for sure I mean you know, certainly, you know.

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Leo Ferguson: The.

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Leo Ferguson: it's funny you know, the first thing I think we ever did that that Jay fridge ever did with the museum was was a launch for our heat violence prevention initiative which is.

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Leo Ferguson: Now actually it's something that we're actually fighting for again this year, and you know for this year's New York City budget, which is a program to fight violence and but the model of this program is like.

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Leo Ferguson: it's about you know this was at a moment when anti semitism was spiking and in a really big way and.

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Leo Ferguson: We wanted to, but we also knew that lots of other communities right we're deeply impacted by this, you know Muslim communities LGBT Q communities, all you know all different kinds of folks were being the targets of hip violence.

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Leo Ferguson: And now, of course, we're in a moment, where you know anti Asian hit violence is also you know have this this terrible.

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Leo Ferguson: You know resurgence, which is why we're fighting to expand that program right now and that idea of solidarity of like that you know the like if i'm if i'm optimistic it's because of.

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Leo Ferguson: The way in which I see so many different folks mutual interest shared in this right and so like you know as a as a black to this is, you know.

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Leo Ferguson: You know these questions are you know, have the potential to be both incredibly painful and also incredibly.

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Leo Ferguson: Empowering I writing and with the right word is you know, like that that what it feels like i'm looks like when.

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Leo Ferguson: There is conflict there is apparent conflict between Jewish communities and other you know white white Jewish community and other communities of color right.

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Leo Ferguson: When there is racism that comes from the White Jewish community and it's directed towards other Community color.

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Leo Ferguson: The way in which white So the idea of white supremacy has like suffused our culture and become a huge part of you know what's shaped the United States, and that includes like all the folks who have are conferred some sort of white privilege.

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Leo Ferguson: And they get political we get pitted against each other and that feels awful and, by contrast, when you know, then.

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Leo Ferguson: The moments, where I get to feel like held and cherished by you know my black community and my Jewish community and all you know all the other, you know folks that i'm you know in relationship with like that is the antidote to that, and so you know the.

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Leo Ferguson: it's this question that we've come back to a number of times of like Is there going to be another war, what is the future going to look like.

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Leo Ferguson: You know I may be an optimist, but i'm also a realist certainly about questions around race and america's capacity for violence and racial injustice.

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Leo Ferguson: And I don't know what the future holds I think actually in many ways, what the lesson of the past four years, certainly the lesson of January six is as a lesson about.

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Leo Ferguson: The fact that whatever path we thought we were on it is not as clear as perhaps some some of us thought it was right and.

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Leo Ferguson: And so, the answer is, we can't talk about whether we're going to win the only thing that we can the future is what we make it absolutely right, the only the only.

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Leo Ferguson: thing that we can agree on is how we're going to walk as we get there, what what is the practice or practice that we're going to engage in along the way, and so that idea of solidarity.

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Leo Ferguson: The question you know, for me, like you know there's the unknown of the politics of all this there's also the unknown for me as a Jew of where my Jewish community is going, and I think part of what's been complicated and heartening right is both the ways in which.

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Leo Ferguson: The Jewish community and i'm and i'm thinking, particularly about white Jews right have.

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Leo Ferguson: I think seen their mutual interest as bound up with the interest of black people and immigrants and Muslims and all the other folks who have been targeted by.

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Leo Ferguson: You know the essentially white nationalist movement, and you know the trump administration these paths, you know for years um there are still far too many Jews who are confused about that who don't you know who who are who don't see right their interests lying there and.

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Leo Ferguson: And so you know I think about you know there's the.

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Leo Ferguson: You know, I think that, for me, like what I can do is really hope and sort of continue to work to.

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Leo Ferguson: To build a world in which you know I feel like the Jewish community is my steadfast ally and fighting against racism against anti black racism and where I feel like all communities are part of the fight against anti semitism.

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Leo Ferguson: This you know the the like the Nathan England or right question of like could it happen here and like which of our friends would hide us right like this.

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Leo Ferguson: This you know, this is something that is a very painful question that has come up for me throughout my entire life as a Jew.

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Leo Ferguson: And I think when I think about my you know Jewish Jewish community, I had to think as a black person right is this the Community that is going to hold me.

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Leo Ferguson: If things do get terrible or when things get terrible.

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Leo Ferguson: And that's not a question that we have to worry about for the future, this is a question we can ask ourselves, right now, when we look around us and we look at so many of the places where there's conflict we all have the chance to lean into that practice of solidarity hope.

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Leo Ferguson: And really taking risks and putting our feet in the streets to fight for justice.

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hmm.

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Jami Floyd: Well, said well said I also noted that we make the future as matt said we make the future that we want to see in the world, to paraphrase that Gandhi.

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Jami Floyd: And I appreciate that all three of you ended our conversation on a somewhat optimistic realistic but an optimistic optimistic realism, as my father.

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Jami Floyd: just want to say note, and I am honored to have been on this panel with each of you, and it is my task now to turn it back over to josh who, I think, is going to have a closing note.

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Joshua Mack: Well unmute myself i'm so sorry for muting myself for um, I just wanted to thank you all mab Jamie and that and Leo and Joanna for being our partner in this program i'm.

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Joshua Mack: know.

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Joshua Mack: The museum exists, many ways to teach.

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Joshua Mack: What he can do.

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Joshua Mack: he'll be seeing that expression and a few months, coming from us, but the other thing of people.

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Joshua Mack: And and have listing all of you unpack what was an action at the museum it's just been it's been an honor Thank you Thank you all very, very much.

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Joshua Mack: For this program and thank you all for all the listeners for the interesting remarks and they engage chat and.

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Joshua Mack: I hope that you will you'll you'll be getting a video of this program and an email.

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Joshua Mack: from us and with links to resources and links to books and can all of the wonderful organizations that we've partner with, so thank you again, thank you.

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Leo Ferguson: Thank you everyone bye pleasure.

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yeah.