Tuesday, June 23, 2015


"Finding the roots of Dylann Roof’s radical violence" PBS NewsHour 6/22/2015

Transcript of podcast corrected to match actual text presented in video.


SUMMARY:  The mass shooting in Charleston isn’t just an isolated event, but can be seen as part of a troubled history of racial hatred and violence in the United States.  What makes someone embrace racist ideology and what can be done to stop it?  Gwen Ifill talks with Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center, former FBI special agent Gregg McCrary and Paul Butler of Georgetown University Law Center.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  While lawmakers moved to quell the Confederate Flag controversy, a debate continued about the roots of the Charleston attacks.  Were they motivated by racial animus or individual alienation?

In an unusually blunt contribution to the discussion, President Obama weighed in Friday during a podcast that was posted online today.  In the interview with comedian Marc Maron, he was asked to comment on the roots of racism and, in making his point, employed a racial epithet.

We are not editing that portion of the president’s remarks.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours, and that opportunities have opened up, and that attitudes have changed.

MARC MARON, Podcast Host:  Yeah.


What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination, in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow.  And that’s still part of our DNA that’s — that’s passed on.  Uh, it, we’re not cured of it.

MARC MARON:  Racism.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  Racism, we are not cured of.

MARC MARON:  Clearly.

And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public.  That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.  It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination.  We have — societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.

GWEN IFILL:  The President’s comments spurred a lively online debate that ranged from cause to effect.

Among the questions being asked:  Was this attack a form of domestic terrorism?

For our discussion, I’m joined by Gregg McCrary, a former FBI profiler who has specialized in tracking and understanding violent predators, Paul Butler, a professor of law at Georgetown University who teaches about race relations, and Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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