In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by two guests: former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson and historian Dr. Gerald Horne, from the University of Houston.
Our hosts discuss the George Floyd protests and rebellions happening for racial justice across the country, and how the media documents them when reporters aren’t on the ground. They dive in to the resurgence of the “outside agitators” trope, as well as the historical context of that narrative in America.
Matt and Katie react to former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice on CNN saying its likely that the protests are being pushed by Russia. “The playing up the racism stuff, I kind of thought that in the context in undefinably justifiable and justifiably outraged protest over yet another murder of an unarmed black man by the police, I thought people would put that on hold, you know what I mean? I thought it would be too problematic to dismiss genuine outage and trauma as Russian propaganda,” says Katie.
Our hosts look at Donald Trump’s role in the rhetoric around the current protests. “This is on Trump. He is the president now,” Taibbi says. “He has that power, and in a situation like we’re in now where there are dual massive emergencies going, on, we’re in a pandemic and the country’s completely falling apart in ways we haven’t seen since the sixties, the power of the Presidency completely demands someone who recognizes the authority that they just to fix things by speaking. And this is a person who is just completely incapable of understanding some basic human instincts.”
Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history at the University of Houston, joins our duo to discuss the current race protests in a historical context, whether change came come through the upcoming elections, and what police reform, and defunding, could look like in America. “At some point in the future, we’re going to have to see a progressive disarming of the police,” Horne says. “I think that if you look at other leading capitalist countries it shows that it can be done, and at some point we’re going to have to get to that. At some point we’re going to have to get to serious civilian control of the police.”
Matt and Katie are then joined by Marianne Williamson to talk about the intersectionality of race and economic issues, her reparations proposal, what happened in her presidential campaign, and the role of love in politics and protesting. “Moral outrage is not born of anger, moral outrage is born of love,” she explains. “And I say this as a woman to another woman. Let’s be really clear. When you just said people look at love and call it hippy dippy, they don’t when Reverend Barber says it. They didn’t when Martin Luther King says it. They didn’t Gandhi said it. Gee, Katie, what do you think the difference is there?” asks Williamson.