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Opinion | How Conservatives Think About George Floyd’s Death and BLM

frank luntz

I’m going to start this off. Patrick’s going to stay on he has every ability to interject and ask follow up questions. After about half done, I’m going to turn it over to him to lead. And I will do exactly the same. And there’s no gotcha in here. You can pretty well guess what we’re going to ask. So the first question, and I’m going to go through each of you. And by the way, Jeremiah, you’re from Michigan, correct?

jeremiah h.

Yes, sir.

frank luntz

OK. I am going to ask each of you. And I’m looking through where everyone’s from, and this is amazing. This is the only good thing about COVID is as I look at this, this is America, or at least this is Trump’s America from all the states that are represented here. So the first thing is I want a word or phrase to describe Donald Trump. Jeremiah from Michigan, I will start with you.

jeremiah h.

I’m sorry. I missed the first part, a phrase to describe him?

frank luntz

Word or phrase. By the way, am I coming through clear here with you guys?

evelyn f.

Yes.

frank luntz

And you hear me OK?

kathryn a.

Yes.

ann u.

Yes.

frank luntz

I just want to make sure because there’s another spot I can move to in this place. But if I’m OK, that’s better because this is close. I’m in London, by the way. So I’ve never done a focus group from London, which is why occasionally, here, I’ve got an accent. OK. Jeremiah, give me a word or phrase to describe Donald Trump.

jeremiah h.

Eccentric.

frank luntz

Evelyn from Texas.

evelyn f.

Patriot.

louis p.

Louis from Arizona. A true patriot that loves our country.

frank luntz

Josh from Wisconsin.

josh m.

Assertive.

frank luntz

Nancy from New Jersey. A leader.

Ann from South Carolina.

ann u.

A true American example of America.

frank luntz

Martha from Georgia. Relentless. Kathryn from Arizona.

kathryn a.

Brilliant, American.

frank luntz

Taylor from Ohio.

taylor w.

Passionate.

frank luntz

Larry from South Carolina.

larry s.

A narcissist that did a great job.

frank luntz

OK, Larry, you’re going to get your ass kicked over the next hour and a half, but the whole purpose behind this. Alex from Florida.

alex w.

Savvy.

frank luntz

Diana from Colorado.

diana p.

Strong and opinionated.

frank luntz

James from Arkansas.

james f.

Fearless.

frank luntz

Wanda from Indiana.

wanda m.

He’s opinionated.

frank luntz

So when you look back I’m just curious by show of hands because we got to get this out so we can do the other topics. How many of you think he was actually elected president and that the election was stolen? OK, we got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 out of 14. You represent Trump voters across the country. This is exactly the percentage right now of Trump people who think it was stolen. Can I get three or four of those seven people who think it was stolen, what evidence do you have?

louis p.

I’m in Arizona, so I’m going through the Maricopa audit right now. I was at the Stop The Steal rally and saw a lot of weird things going on. But in Maricopa County, my biggest question, Frank, is, why is everyone trying to hide? If you have nothing to hide, OK, then you would be transparent. But our board of supervisors who should be in jail by now, OK, because they defied subpoenas, et cetera, all right, that tells me, and I know there’s other things, but that tells me that there’s fraud going on.

frank luntz

OK. Somebody else? Jeremiah, why do you think the election was stolen from Trump? What evidence do you have?

jeremiah h.

Well, I’d start by saying that the stolen part, it’s still unclear. And I think that’s probably the biggest question I have, is I don’t really feel like anybody has thoroughly looked into this. Familiar with Michigan, Antrim County, in the northern state there. We were one of the first ones to report the anomaly, with 90% of that small town being Trump voters. And we found out that the votes were actually for President Biden. And they went back and looked at it. And they said, oh, no, we corrected it, though, because we changed them back. And I don’t think the question really is ever asked or framed the right way, even in the media, as if the votes were changed in the first place, who changed them? And why did they change back? So I mean, to say it’s stolen, for me, personally, I’m still out. I want to see a thorough investigation. Pull all the software. Look at the algorithms, and make sure. You show me proof that it wasn’t, I’ll accept that.

frank luntz

Let’s get two more of you who think it was stolen.

ann u.

I would like—

frank luntz

Ann.

ann u.

OK. I’ve been speaking to various people over at Heritage, including Hans von Spakovsky, who has a monitoring on Heritage Foundation with proven vote tampering, not just this election but in the past. I am also a precinct committee woman for my precinct. And on Election Day, I was getting reports from members of our voting members of buses pulling up to nursing homes to ballot harvest. And in South Carolina, you legally can harvest 12 ballots. But one woman said, hey, I got to report my mom voted. My mom has dementia. She’s in a coma. There’s no way she could vote. So we are getting reports back from various sources of proven vote fraud. It’s just now getting the courts to recognize these lawsuits.

frank luntz

Can I get one more of you to explain why you think the election was stolen?

nancy p.

Here in New Jersey—

frank luntz

Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead.

nancy p.

OK, sorry. So here in New Jersey, my vote and several of my family members that did their mail-in votes have yet even to be counted. They didn’t even go through. So you go to the website, you check on it, it’s still pending. Now, I know I’m a blue state. But my vote’s still pending.

frank luntz

Hm. OK, I want to switch to where we are right now, which is in May 18 of 2021. I’m going to give you another name. And I would like a word or phrase to describe this individual. When you hear this person’s name, what do you think? And I’m going to go in the opposite order now. When I say “George Floyd,” Wanda, what word or phrase comes to mind?

wanda m.

That’s a tragedy.

frank luntz

James, from Arkansas.

james f.

Bad.

frank luntz

Evelyn, from Texas.

evelyn f.

ODed.

frank luntz

Diana, from Colorado.

diana p.

Painful.

frank luntz

Alex, from Florida.

alex w.

Addict.

frank luntz

I can’t hear you.

alex w.

Addict.

frank luntz

Larry, from South Carolina.

larry s.

Murdered

frank luntz

Taylor, from Ohio.

taylor w.

Tragedy.

frank luntz

Kathryn, from Arizona.

kathryn a.

Troubled individual.

frank luntz

Josh, from Wisconsin.

josh m.

Divisive.

frank luntz

Say again.

josh m.

Divisive.

frank luntz

Nancy, from New Jersey.

nancy p.

A sad situation.

frank luntz

Jeremiah, can you take your hand down, please? We see you. We know you’re there. You’re at my left-hand corner. You got to because it looks bad on TV. Jeremiah, from Michigan.

jeremiah h.

Perfect storm of tragic decisions.

frank luntz

Louis, from Arizona.

louis p.

Unfortunate. But he also played a part in what happened.

frank luntz

Martha, from Georgia.

martha z.

Tragic.

frank luntz

Ann, from South Carolina.

ann u.

A tragic circumstance with a criminal.

frank luntz

Evelyn, from Texas.

evelyn f.

Already answered, but I’ll say again. ODed.

frank luntz

OK, I didn’t realize I got you. So please explain to me, as I sit back in my chair. If you see me sit back, this is me in my learning mode because I don’t understand. I listen to how you responded to Donald Trump and to the election fraud. And you were immediate. Like, the response just came. There was no pause. I asked you about George Floyd. I know you all know who he is. I know you all know what happened. And yet you were very, very slow to give me just a word or phrase to describe him. Why were you pondering for so long? Please explain to me the delay. Why did you not give me a response immediately? I need to understand this. Anybody.

alex w.

I think— [INTERPOSING VOICES]

frank luntz

Alex. Go ahead.

alex w.

OK, well, I don’t want to speak for everyone. But I think with Trump, even though he was president, he’s much less of a controversial figure than George Floyd was. And we’re trying to temper our responses. We’re on camera. And so we got to really think about what we should say compared to, say, how we feel about Trump.

frank luntz

Louis, from Arizona.

martha z.

For me—

frank luntz

Louis, from Arizona.

martha z.

Sorry.

louis p.

Yeah, I think that there was some framing being done when the video first came out. I always said there’s got to be more when they have the body cam and everything going around. But they didn’t show what was— he was in the back of the car. And he was saying he was suffocating or words to that effect. And that didn’t come out for a long time. As an individual, it really makes you wonder. And listening to some of the trial experts saying that he would have died, now, I think it’s disgusting what the police officer did. Don’t get me wrong. But I think that George Floyd had a big part and a big hand in that he could have easily sat in the car and been done with it.

frank luntz

Martha, go ahead.

martha z.

For me, it was more of a human reaction in that the watching of that video was so horrifying. I’m a mother and a grandmother. And just the mention of his name recalls that video. It’s one of those things, like, if you watched some of the videos of the death of Daniel Pearl and other things like that, they’re things you can’t unsee. And so you respond to it when you hear the name.

larry s.

Well, also—

frank luntz

Someone else tell me what you felt about watching that video.

larry s.

—you asked us for a word about George Floyd. And that’s what really caused me to stop and pause. If I had a couple of sentences, it would have been a lot easier. I mean, who was he? Well, he was a drug addict who was a criminal who resisted arrest and put himself in a position where what happened to him happened. If he didn’t resist arrest, it wouldn’t have happened.

frank luntz

Who agrees with that? Who agrees with that? Raise your hands.

OK, Ann, please tell me why.

ann u.

I come from a unique perspective. The maneuver is not a normal police procedure. I know a New York City patrol guy does not have something like that. But I understand theirs did. He did not intend to kill the person. So if anything, it would have been involuntary manslaughter. The officer was made a straw man for the argument. It wasn’t intentional police brutality. If anything, I think that the sentence did not fit the circumstance. And how is an officer supposed to know someone’s stoned on something? Sometimes you can’t tell until they start acting up in an unusual way, in which he did, at which point the officers would suspect drugs are a factor. And how you handle someone that is high like that, it’s like they got superhuman strength. And you need four or five guys to take one little 85-pound lady down. And tell me, I’ve been there.

frank luntz

Taylor, I see you nodding your head. Please explain.

taylor w.

I definitely feel like during— if this was all a year ago and a gut reaction, I feel like all of us could very easily say it’s still a person that died. So it was obviously horrible to see. And it was horrible to watch. My education came farther down the road when I watched the testimonies and the witnesses and all the different people coming into the courtroom in Minnesota. And when they showed the different angle of the body cam that had never been released, that’s when I was kind of, like, oh, it’s not what was being portrayed on the media for months and months, that it was just racism and that it was intentional and that they were covering up for each other. There was no covering up because there was clearly footages from every which angle. And then we just now get to see this angle that was from the police officer that was never on— that when I saw that he was never on the neck, I was like, how could he say he couldn’t breathe when he was on the top of the spine? So when I saw that, that’s kind of where I drew the line in the sand of, like, OK, he shouldn’t have been convicted for anything except for what Ann said, as maybe involuntary manslaughter. But I feel like there was definitely no malicious intent going into it. I don’t think that all the three things that he was convicted of [INAUDIBLE] I think that was uncalled for.

frank luntz

OK, so let me ask you all, how many of you think that the policeman should have been convicted of murder?

larry s.

What kind of murder?

frank luntz

What he was convicted of. How many of you think that that was an accurate sentence? Larry, you do. Martha, you do. And that’s it. How many do you think that the policeman should not have been convicted at all, that he was just doing his job? Raise your hands. OK, so you agree that he’s guilty of something. But you don’t think it’s murder. Let’s keep going on this. James, from Arkansas, what’s your reaction to the verdict? What’s your reaction to the whole George Floyd situation? And then Wanda next.

james f.

I didn’t get to sit in on the trial, hear all the evidence. I did see the video. And part of the video was when they put him in that cruiser, that police car. He was beginning to say he was claustrophobic. And I’m claustrophobic. And I know what kind of reaction you can have when you get put in a position like that. And I believe the officer was probably guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He should have, even watching, he should have let George up. He should have got off of him before he did. I think that would be obvious to see. But you know, it’s just a sad situation for George Floyd. It’s a sad situation for Chauvin, a sad situation for the nation that that happened. But involuntary manslaughter— should have let him up.

frank luntz

Wanda and then Diana.

wanda m.

I would agree with James— involuntary manslaughter. Murder just seems like it was intent to harm, intent to take a life. I think the policemen were doing their job, trying to get a hold of the situation maybe.

But I think it was a response to what the victim did. It makes it no less tragic. But I don’t think it qualified as murder. But I think a more just sentence would have been involuntary manslaughter.

frank luntz

So, Diana, I’m going to go to you in one second. But, Wanda, I need to ask a follow-up. Do you think that George Floyd was, in some ways, responsible for what happened to him?

wanda m.

Yes, I do.

frank luntz

And, Louis, you’re nodding your head yes. Larry, you’re nodding your head yes. By a show of hands, how many of you think that George Floyd was, in some way, responsible for what happened to him? Raise your hands. That’s really overwhelming. So Diana and then Nancy and then Josh. Why is George Floyd responsible for what happened to him?

diana p.

Well, I think in any situation where you have police and civilians, for lack of a better definition, coming together, especially in a situation where there was perhaps an apparent crime taking place, I think that, as a citizen on the street, we need to respect our police officers. We need to allow them to do our jobs. And when they ask us to do something, we need to do it, period. These people, they put their lives on the line every day to help keep us safe. And George Floyd clearly did not follow all the instructions. I don’t believe that the officer had the intent of killing George Floyd or murdering him. I think manslaughter would have been a better sentence.

Do I think what the officer did was right? No, I think he should have let George Floyd up. I think it was Louis who said that. But I also think that George Floyd was culpable in what happened because he didn’t respond as he should have to the officers.

frank luntz

Nancy, do you think that George Floyd was responsible in some way for what happened to him?

nancy p.

I agree with what Diana just said. Our law enforcement are there for a reason. And you respect in any situation that’s there. He was obviously doing something wrong. He obviously has a path of doing things wrong. If he had just listened to the authority and sat up— and again, that officer, what he did was wrong. No officer out there will tell you what he did was wrong. He shouldn’t have knelt on his neck for that long. But they probably could have sat him up and waited for a bigger transport to come for him, and let things out.

frank luntz

Josh, why is George Floyd at least somewhat responsible for what happened to him? And then, Kathryn, I’m going to you next.

josh m.

Well, they wouldn’t have been there if the police hadn’t been called there in the first place. The reason was a counterfeit $20 bill. So I mean, he was the reason that they showed up to begin with. And then, like others have said, he didn’t comply, got a little unruly. He was high. So I mean, he definitely contributed to what happened to him.

frank luntz

Kathryn, then Jeremiah. Then, Patrick, I’m going to go to you for one follow-up here. Kathryn, you’re up.

kathryn a.

OK, so in full disclosure I have to say that I am married to a cop, a 30-year lieutenant with the fourth largest department in Arizona. And he said chokeholds were banned a long time ago in their department. That would have never happened. However, in any case, whether it’s a traffic ticket, whatever, do not resist the police. Do what they say. Just comply. Don’t try to run. Don’t try to resist, because that’s when you’re going to get in a lot of trouble. And he looked like he was a pretty big guy. And four officers are trying to hold him down. Again, if it was a chokehold thing, that shouldn’t have happened. But that’s a Minnesota thing. That wouldn’t have happened here. But detaining him was what they were supposed to do. And he kept resisting. He kept fighting. He kept trying to find every excuse. And he had a history of it. He had a record of it. And those officers knew that. So he’s involved. He’s complicit.

frank luntz

Jeremiah, and then I’m going to Patrick for a follow-up.

jeremiah h.

Thanks, Frank. I’m going to show my cards a little bit here. Like Kathryn, I actually am a law enforcement officer. I have to take this from a different perspective. I’m never going to see it through the same lens that many of you here, that maybe not in the same situation I am are. I would watch that frame by frame. As Chauvin came into the picture, that had been going on for a while. I believe it was his decision to remove him from the car because he was complaining of being claustrophobic. Up to that point, everything that would have had been done, I would have done the same thing if I were in that similar circumstance with fighting with him and trying to get him under control. Kicking officers— he was tall enough that he had his feet out the other side of the vehicle, as well. It’s very difficult to put somebody that size in the back of a vehicle to begin with. In a caged vehicle, there’s not a lot of leg room. And if you’re that big, it’s difficult anyway. Once they got him down onto the ground, that’s when the situation, what we would call it, evolved and changed. As he’s down on the ground, you have a lot more control over a subject. You’re handcuffed behind the back. When he rolled him onto his stomach, we call that a position of asphyxiation. That’s not a position that you ever want to leave somebody in regardless, unless it’s a deadly force situation. You just don’t leave somebody in that position for very long, and I mean seconds. So that was bad. What I think happened to Chauvin, in my opinion, is I think he went into the black. I think he completely blacked out and was lost in the moment and did not move. The point that Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, even at the point where he was just relaxed more, he should have rolled them on to his side, even sat him up. In a sitting position with his legs crossed in front of him, that guy’s not getting up and running very far.

frank luntz

OK, I don’t want to get— I’ve let this go on too long. One question, Jeremiah. If that person was white, would that person have been treated any differently?

jeremiah h.

As far as I’m concerned, no, I don’t believe. For me and my fellow officers, we don’t ever go into the situation looking at it like that. It’s very plain and clear to us. You’re either doing something that causes a reaction from us or you’re not. It’s not a race thing. I think if that same exact situation— and that situation probably happens a thousand times a day across the United States with white, Black, Latino, it doesn’t matter— male, female.

frank luntz

Then explain to me why it is that Blacks are the victims of police shootings at a way disproportionate number. Why is the evidence to the contrary? And, Louis, you can shake your head as much as you want.

louis p.

Not true.

frank luntz

Why is the evidence to the contrary?

jeremiah h.

I think those facts are pretty solid. And they lean towards crimes committed. I know the FBI puts their stats out every so often, every year, whatever it is. But if you work in inner city areas, high population inner city areas— Detroit for instance— there are a lot of Caucasian people living in the inner city of Detroit. When I say ‘inner city’, I mean downtown area other than along the riverfront. So when you have crimes that are happening and taking place, the level of death that you have from that will reflect. If you come out to a rural community where I live, we don’t have a lot of people of color.

frank luntz

Why are Black people— Jeremiah, why are Black people getting killed by cops?

jeremiah h.

I mean, it’s tough to say. I don’t have the stats in front of me.

frank luntz

Just say it.

jeremiah h.

I’m sure the—

frank luntz

Jeremiah, so you don’t have an answer for that? You’re a cop, and you don’t have an answer for why Blacks are getting killed by cops?

louis p.

I have one.

jeremiah h.

No, no. I don’t think that’s the correct way to pose the question.

frank luntz

I am posing it.

jeremiah h.

I understand you’re posing it. But I don’t know if it’s the—

james f.

Incorrect question.

jeremiah h.

That is the way that everyone wants to pose it. But it’s difficult for a law enforcement officer to answer, well, X people get killed more often than not. I mean, I have the same resistance from white people that I do Black people. I’ve never had to, thank God, on the job use deadly force on anybody. So I can’t answer that question.

frank luntz

Louis, why are so many Black people so afraid of the cops?

louis p.

First off, OK, if you look at the facts, there’s more whites killed by cops than Blacks. Now, as a percentage, that may not be true. But the pure numbers are whites get shot more than Blacks. And you can sit there and argue the facts. But those are the facts. Look them up. The FBI puts it out. And from 2015 to 2019, actually it’s almost double the number. So let’s not put the—

frank luntz

Hold on, Louis. And what percentage of the population is white versus Black? You say—

louis p.

Well, Blacks are 13% to 14% of the population. And whites are just under 50%.

frank luntz

OK, so that’s not double. That just proved the point, Louis.

louis p.

No, my point is, Frank— my point is that everyone wants— you can make numbers and statistics look any way you want. The pure and simple number is the number of people that get shot by cops are higher for whites than Blacks. Now, there are more inner city, probably, shootings as a percentage of Blacks because they’re probably in a lower income because of the— my feeling is because of how they might have been put into a situation. And they haven’t been able to come out of it. OK, but at the end of the day, you look at Chicago. No one cares about Black-on-Black killings, OK? It’s always about the cop, the white cop against the Black. And let me tell you something. There are Black cops that shoot Black people. There are white cops that shoot white people. This is not a race issue. I grew up in a military family. And I grew up in an age that you respected your elders and authority, all right? And you said ‘yes, sir,’ ‘no, sir.’ And when you don’t, the consequences could be severe.

martha z.

Well, and— [INTERPOSING VOICES] Frank, one point about the num— oh, sorry.

frank luntz

Martha, go ahead.

martha z.

Now, one point about the numbers. It’s true that the population of Blacks is 13% to 14%. But where most of these shootings are happening are in urban areas, where the population is 50% or more in many cases. So as you know, you’ve got to look at where they’re happening. But I do think, for me, George Floyd was a tragedy. And the worst thing about it, I think, was the fact that the three minutes that he went on keeping the knee on the neck after he wasn’t moving. For me that was the hardest part because it seemed personal as opposed to— in the case of Chauvin and Floyd, it seemed personal rather than just police work.

frank luntz

Why is the Black population so afraid of the police? Martha—

ann u.

Can I—

larry s.

The media.

ann u.

Can I answer that, please?

frank luntz

Go ahead.

ann u.

All right, because I— [DOG BARKING] —was a cop in New York City. And we would have political agitators like Al Sharpton come into the neighborhoods. [DOG BARKING] We would have no problems. But then after he leaves—

frank luntz

OK, hold on. If you’re going to have a dog screaming in the background, you do something with the dog. And, Martha, I’m going to go back to you because it just won’t look right. It won’t sound right. I’ll come back. Ann, I’ll come right back to you. But if the dog is barking that loud, that’s a problem. Martha, go ahead.

martha z.

No, I think that there’s going to be a big challenge as far as the fear that Black people have. And I know it’s true. I have enough friends that have told me enough times that they’re afraid, especially Black men, are afraid of the police. But the big surprise was talking to people that I know that— I don’t want to get pulled over either. I’m afraid when the police pull me over, too. I don’t want to be— it’s different, I know, because I’m a middle-aged white woman, OK? But I don’t think anybody wants to be pulled over by the police or have interaction with the police. But I do think that it is true that Black people, especially Black men, are afraid of the police. And we need to work on that.

frank luntz

Evelyn, you’re from Texas. Why is the Black community so afraid of the cops?

evelyn f.

I think more because of what the media has portrayed, not that some of it isn’t true, because it is. But it’s also very twisted these days, as we have seen. And it’s also biased. It’s also one-sided. And when that’s all you see and that’s all you hear, then that’s how you think.

frank luntz

How many of you blame the media for the fear that the Black community have towards the police? Larry, Louis— 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9— jeez— 10 of you. OK, Larry, then Kathryn, then Nancy, tell me why. And then I’ll have Patrick follow.

larry s.

Well, one of the oldest rules with media— if it bleeds, it leads. So they have every incentive to fuel the fire to try and get Black people as upset as humanly possible, to make them believe that they will be shot on sight by a cop for no apparent reason. And a lot of them believe it. And that’s why they’re resisting arrest. That’s why they’re running away. And that’s why there are problems. If somebody running one of the news outlets would ever stop to think about what he’s doing and the effect he’s having, as opposed to trying to push his political agenda, a lot of this wouldn’t happen.

frank luntz

Kathryn.

larry s.

Unfortunately they’ve given up all of their journalistic integrity.

kathryn a.

Yeah, the media is clearly with the Democrats and their narratives. So it’s about the narrative in that this is a racist society and that Blacks are in a far worse situation of getting shot by cops. And I think there’s just so much more trouble with that. And it’s just not true. And so unfortunately that’s all they spew. It fits the Democrat narrative because they’re doing whatever they can do to cling on to the Black vote because they’re losing it slowly but surely. And that’s the number one reason I can think of.

frank luntz

Nancy and then Ann.

nancy p.

It’s 100% media and political agenda. I work from home. I watch different news channels throughout the day to see what’s covered. And there’s only one channel that really talk about what’s going on. It’s fair and balanced. But you look at it, and none of them will cover how many police officers were shot this week. None of them will cover that. But anybody has an issue with any African-American out there, that has it there. But let’s try and cover all of the issues, not just pinpointing that one, because there’s a lot more issues that are out there that can be talked about and need to be known about.

frank luntz

Ann, you’re up.

ann u.

All right, a lot of these neighborhoods that I worked in, the political agitators made a field day of coming in there to stir up trouble. They get their 15 minutes of fame. And they end up getting money donations into their organizations. And it’s all about the Benjamins. It’s about the media selling their news stories and their papers. And it’s about the agitators collecting more money in their bank account. And if you take that out of the equation, we would have far less problems. We don’t put our uniforms on every day thinking, hey, I’m going to go beat up a Black guy, or I’m going to shoot a Black guy. No, that’s not what we do. I almost got stabbed by a Black guy. And he’s alive today because I didn’t shoot him. That’s not what we do. We go out there to serve. No matter what your color is or your flavor of the month, we’re there to protect you.

frank luntz

Patrick, you want to throw in a couple of questions here?

patrick healy

Great. Thanks, Frank. Thanks, everybody. Just to start with a show of hands, a question regarding the police. How many of you before George Floyd’s death— raise your hands— how many of you believed that the police officers in America did their best to treat everyone— white, Black, Hispanic, Asian, everybody— the same, professionally and fairly the same? OK, it looks like everybody. After George Floyd’s death, I’d like to see a show of hands, did any of you feel differently about that, in terms of how police officers treated people by race? Would anyone feel differently, if you’d raise your hand.

frank luntz

Not one of you. Actually, hold on. Kathryn is the only one.

patrick healy

Maybe. Kathryn, yeah, what do you think about it?

kathryn a.

I think that was just a unique situation. I mean, that’s unfortunate. But again, the media just ran with the story for weeks and weeks and weeks. And that is not representative of 99.9% of the cops in America. And that is unfair to spread that lie to every community and put fear in Black people, put fear in white people and Hispanic people and things like that. So I think of it as a unique situation. Did I feel differently after I saw it? No, but I know that that was an improper police procedure. Like I said, that would have never happened in Arizona. But it would have been handled differently.

patrick healy

Diana, do you want to speak to that, too?

diana p.

Yeah, I think people who become police officers do that because I feel like it’s a calling for them. I mean, personally I could never do the job. And I don’t think that a police officer goes out every day, like one of the other panelists said, to go, I’m going to go kill a Black person today. Or I’m going to go kill a Hispanic person or a white person. I’m just going to go kill a person today. I don’t think that they ever go into their days thinking about that. Maybe more often they might go into their day thinking, oh, am I going to be alive at the end of this day? I mean, I can’t imagine. I had an opportunity to take a class from a police officer. It was actually a basic gun class from a police officer. And the stories that he shared, I mean, it’s stunning what our police officers go through on a daily basis. And I really wish that Americans would respect our police officers. I wish our media would respect our police officers. And I, too, believe it’s the media that really is pushing the hate and the divisiveness that we see in our country today. I don’t think it’s everyday Americans, like all of us here. I really don’t.

patrick healy

Martha, do you want to speak to it? And then I’ll pass back to Frank.

martha z.

Yeah, and we talk about the media. And we talk about the mainstream media. But the one thing we haven’t touched on that has caused divisiveness is social media. I mean—

diana p.

Yeah.

martha z.

—prior to social media, you were able to have clearer lines about what’s right and what’s wrong. And now you can find 200 people that will agree with you on anything on social media— any kind of behavior, any kind of way. And I think that it divides us. It puts us in silos. The one big change I’ve made in the last year is I do a lot less social media. I only do what I have to do related to work. And I don’t trust anything that I see on social media unless I’ve checked it out.

diana p.

I think people find it much easier to be mean, so to speak, on social media. I mean, I think people feel freer to say what they want to say on social media. And they don’t care who it hurts.

martha z.

That’s right.

frank luntz

OK, I’ll take it back. You’ve all heard the phrase “white privilege.”

diana p.

Ugh.

frank luntz

OK, clearly I see that reaction. Go ahead. White privilege— comments.

louis p.

Yeah. I was raised in a blue collar family, military family. My father was a sergeant in the Marines. No one ever gave— my mom worked three jobs. My dad worked. He was a union carpenter. No one ever gave us anything. We worked hard. And you know what? My parents instilled, you work hard, and you will get somewhere. No one’s ever just handed it to me. In fact, I think nowadays— and I went through it in corporate America— I think nowadays white older men are the most discriminated people in this country. And the media plays it up that it’s white privilege. And I’m so sick and tired of hearing about white privilege. No, I didn’t create slavery. I didn’t create— you know, when we grew up, I grew up through the era of Martin Luther King—

diana p.

Yes.

louis p.

—and segregation. Now the media and the Democrats want segregation again. What good is that going to do? No, there’s no— white privilege, to me, is a bunch of bull.

frank luntz

James, white privilege?

james f.

No white privilege. I came up the same way he did. I came up in the ‘60s, through Martin Luther King. I’ve seen racism. I’ve seen the white side and the Black side, [INAUDIBLE]. And I’ve seen minorities being discriminated against. But we worked our way. My father was in Air Force. And he retired. We moved to a farm. We worked the farm. I had opportunities that I blew, not because I was white, because I was dumb sometimes. But I believe, in this country, if you are Black, white, Latino, Asian, if you really want to work and earn and be something, be somebody, you have every opportunity as anybody else to achieve anything you want to be and just— you could be a doctor, scientist, astronaut, a president of the United States in this nation. And white privilege is a myth.

frank luntz

Evelyn, white privilege, your reaction.

evelyn f.

Absolutely not. We worked hard. I remember growing up on a farm. And we had three huge gardens that we worked. And it was just all about work, work, work, work to even have enough to eat and have enough milk to drink. We had to take care of the cows and all that. And none of that has changed. I’m not on a farm anymore. But it’s still about making my own way and not depending on the government— God help us— or anyone else to make that way for me. It’s up to me to do what I want to do in life.

frank luntz

Larry— [INTERPOSING VOICES] —reaction to white privilege?

larry s.

It’s total nonsense. I mean, I was born and brought up in a broken home. My father was an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler. So we were always broke. We had utilities turned off. I paid for my student loans years after I graduated. For someone to tell me that I am privileged, that is damn offensive.

frank luntz

Ann, you feel that way?

ann u.

Absolutely. I grew up under busing. And I had to make sure my younger brother and sister got to their bus stop. So I ended up walking two miles to school. So don’t tell me about busing. I lost many jobs because of affirmative action. I got passed over for a promotion because of affirmative action. I was told to my face, no, you have to be either Black or Hispanic, to my face. So don’t tell me about white privilege when I had to work three jobs to put myself through college because I was not the right color to get a grant or a scholarship. No, I worked hard. I climbed the corporate ladder. I walked away from corporate America to become a cop because I felt I needed to serve in any community. And I got put in the worst community possible. And I did my job no matter who was there in front of me. And I treated everyone equally. So don’t tell me about white privilege. I’m responsible for what I do today, not what someone did before me. I take responsibility for myself, not anyone else.

louis p.

Bingo.

frank luntz

Alex, I know you’ve wanted to get in. And then, Josh, I’m going to you. And, Patrick, I’m going to throw it back to you in one second. Alex, go ahead.

alex w.

So no offense to everyone, but I think I’m a unique case where I’m probably the youngest person in here. I’m in college. And I’ve seen firsthand throughout my experience— my firsthand experiences throughout my life where I’ve been, like Ann was saying, where I’ve had scholarship opportunities turned down, where I have to work full time, 60 hours a week, just to pay my student bills because I can’t get any financial aid because my parents are married and I can’t get any financial aid because I’m a white man. And so I’m seeing all this stuff where I’ve had classmates who are of a different skin color with lower grades than me, the same extracurriculars, and lower test scores get into a college that I didn’t in high school. And I mean, it was an African-American male. And I’m a white male. And he got in. I didn’t. I had better test scores and grades. And so that was really eye-opening to me, where I had opportunities taken from me because of the color of my skin. And then I hear people tell me on a daily basis that I’m privileged and that I need to pay reparations and things like that.

frank luntz

Josh, I’m going to make a— this is a very wrong thing for me to do. But I’m going to suggest by looking at you that you’re not Caucasian.

josh m.

No. [LAUGHS] So first off, Alex, I apologize. I was probably one of those minorities that took one your spots at one point.

alex w.

No, you’re Asian. I think you’re good. [LAUGHTER]

josh m.

But no, I don’t think white privilege exists. For me, and this is when people try to tell me about it— and I don’t know everyone’s background here and income levels. But in general, for me and my family, I’m better off than 70% of white people that I know. So if white privilege existed, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do and have the things that I have. And kind of going back to what some people have said about— I think it was Ann— about getting passed over by jobs, so I work in IT project management and managed services. And I had a client recently, it was, like, last week, that said that they specifically wanted minorities and/or minority women over white candidates. And like, uh, we can’t really do that, man. But we’ll try. So there definitely is a bias against white people. And actually, I know some people said they don’t like social media. I happen to enjoy TikTok a lot. Someone on TikTok told me I was Asian by ethnicity but a white apologist because I didn’t agree that there was white privilege on some stupid TikTok dance. So there is definitely a bias out there against white people more so than actual white privilege at this point.

frank luntz

Patrick, I’m going to throw it to you because the other issue— George Floyd. And I’m going to do a commentary because I know some of you are aware of the focus groups that I do. And I don’t mind sharing this with you. This is a very different session of what I normally do. Patrick, you saw how they struggled with George Floyd. There is no struggling on this issue. There is resentment. And the work that I’m trying to achieve, this blending of the American experience, trying to find common ground, phrases like this immediately divide. So I don’t know what you’re going to ask. But this was very enlightening to me just how immediate the response was, how angry people are, how they personalize it for themselves. And this is just something for you to consider. But what’s your question?

patrick healy

Thanks, Frank. And I’ve been struck by all of this, as well. I did note the fact that a number of people thought that, when they thought about George Floyd, they thought about “tragic,” and to a person thought that showed them did something wrong. And candidly, I think there are probably a lot of liberals out there who would think that this group would not think those things, that the people would be at the barricades defending cops and criticizing Floyd. So I found this really interesting. Frank, I think I want to borrow from you, where you were at the beginning, which was to— I’d like to say a phrase. I’m going to say a phrase, and I’d like to get one word or a brief reaction for your feelings about that phrase. And the phrase is Black Lives Matter. So I’d like to go around and just get a brief reaction, your thoughts when you hear that phrase. My screen may be different than Frank’s. But maybe, Ann, could you go first?

ann u.

If Black lives matter so much, why aren’t they out there protesting in front of Planned Parenthood, where the vast majority of abortions are Black children, when it was formed by a person that wanted a genocide— Margaret Sanger? Tell me. No, all lives matter, that all lives in the eyes of God are equal. And that is how I feel as a Christian.

patrick healy

OK, possible short answer. Maybe, Martha, do you want to go next?

martha z.

I think it started out as an organic movement. But it’s now become a corporation, where there are people benefiting from moneys and other things like that. So it’s hard to trust what that really means.

patrick healy

OK, Louis.

louis p.

Yeah, I think they’re a part of Antifa at this stage, backed by Soros. And I believe that all lives matter. When you get mad at that, something’s wrong, because all lives matter. We’re from the same creator. We all bleed red. And we’re all God’s children. But when they do things that shouldn’t be done, then, sorry, not going to get my pity.

patrick healy

OK. If you can keep it tight, that’d be great because I know we don’t have a ton of time. Thanks, Louis. Jeremiah?

jeremiah h.

Misguided.

patrick healy

Thank you. Nancy?

nancy p.

Political.

patrick healy

OK, Josh?

josh m.

The idea is fine. The group itself— a bunch of losers.

patrick healy

Kathryn?

kathryn a.

Fraud organization.

patrick healy

Say that first word again?

kathryn a.

Fraud organization.

patrick healy

OK. Wanda?

wanda m.

ISIS statement.

patrick healy

Taylor?

taylor w.

Corrupt, and going the wrong direction for the Black community.

patrick healy

OK, Larry?

larry s.

An organization where the founders are making a ton of money by encouraging violence.

patrick healy

Alex?

alex w.

A tool.

patrick healy

Diana?

diana p.

Hate-filled.

patrick healy

James?

james f.

Marxist hate group.

patrick healy

And Evelyn?

evelyn f.

Well, he took mine. I was going to say Marxist. So I’ll say communist. [LAUGHTER]

james f.

Sorry.

patrick healy

I’m curious, going back to last May, a year ago right around now, in terms of your views about the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd’s death and the protests that started in May. In that moment, were any of you any more or less put off by Black Lives Matter than you were before Floyd’s death? And I ask because there has been polling, public opinion polling, that shows shifts in how people saw Black Lives Matter around that time among people who identified as Republicans. I would just love to hear from a few of you on that. Taylor, do you want to go first?

taylor w.

I would say before George Floyd, I was always kind of not a huge fan of the phrase of the group. And then I feel like— I’m a teacher in Columbus.

My school’s, like, 99% African-Americans. So there was almost, like, a pressure on me that after that if I didn’t show some kind of sympathy towards it, it was almost kind of, like, I was viewed as lesser than. So I would have to have these conversations with my students. And I was so conflicted because I’m just like, OK, we’re focusing in on this. But we don’t even know all the details. But I’m having to have these conversations with my students that are 100% gung ho. And I’m like, I’m so torn. I feel like, to answer your specific question, over the course of this past year, I have grown more and more skeptical and have been very, not paranoid, but just very— skeptical is the best word of just what they really, truly stand for, how they use their funds for corrupt leaders. Their mission is not condemning violence in some areas. But then they’ll condemn it in others. It’s like, you can’t have it both ways. So I feel like, at first, I was kind of skeptical to begin with. And then now I’m to the point where the mention of Black Lives Matter when I read projects from my students— all the time they focus on things to do with race— I’m just like, I’m done. I’m very much over it. It’s very divisive. And it’s very frustrating that they are not being educated because their parents are kind of speaking into them. And this is our next generation. I teach middle school. So in their very formative years, they’re being told this by their parents and their communities. And I’m just like, I can’t say anything because then I’ll be looked at as the bad guy. So for me, I’m in a really weird, awkward situation when it comes to this, especially in my professional life.

patrick healy

Taylor, maybe before we go to Louis, can I just ask, as you were listening and talking to your students about it, did anything that they say hit you in a way that made you, not— it doesn’t sound like you were skeptical of Black Lives Matter. So I’m not saying it changed your mind. But just listening to your students’ experiences, your Black students’ experiences, did that influence your thinking about the group or the idea at all?

taylor w.

I mean, I think, as a teacher, you have to keep an open mind to an extent. You have to be able to at least listen. So I’ve definitely listened to my students because I’m not Black. And I don’t know what they’re going through. And I will never be able to be fully in their shoes. So when I was having these conversations with them, it was— I feel multiple people have said it throughout the night about multiple issues— I feel like they’re being so fed this narrative from the media or social media or from their parents or from the Black community or from x, y, and z, that if I were to ever— that when I did present, ‘well, have you thought about it from this perspective,’ that’s so foreign to them because they’re not being exposed to the other side. And so when I’m there with them, I try to have these very intellectual, hospitable conversations. But for them, it just does not click. So for them, they see me— they don’t see me as, like, a sympathizer with white people or with cops. They see me as, well, we’re going to talk about it with you. But you’ll never fully understand. And yeah.

patrick healy

No, that’s very helpful. Louis?

louis p.

Yeah, I think— well, first off, to Taylor’s point, I don’t think anyone knows how anyone else feels because they can’t walk in their shoes. So Black people can’t walk in my shoes. And I can’t walk in their shoes, OK? We can only imagine what’s gone on. When my grandparents came over, they were discriminated against. They were Italian, OK? And my point about Black Lives Matter is, eh, it was a movement. And I’m OK with peaceful protests because that’s our First Amendment, right? But what happened is it turned into, OK, let’s burn. Let’s loot. And they’re hurting the Black community. They’re going into Black communities, taking over their businesses, burning them down, looting them. And now these business owners that are Black have nowhere to go. So if Black lives really mattered, they would sit back and, hey, let’s have a million protesters peacefully march that Black Lives Matter. But also, when we say all lives matter, let’s not make it just Black lives. We’re all together. So all lives should matter. It doesn’t really matter what color. Again, I keep coming back, we’re all from the same creator. Call him what you want. But at the end of the day, I grew so totally against Black Lives Matter. And I lump them into Antifa at this stage because I am so tired of robbing and looting and burning cities down. And the media is to blame— is partly to blame for allowing it without calling it out, and so are the Democrats. They just hide it all. And it’s like, no, just tell the truth. Tell the truth. That’s all I care about.

patrick healy

Louis, to that— oh, Alex, why don’t you go. And then I’ll throw in a question.

alex w.

Well, so the question that you guys posed was, like, did our opinions really change? But I remember back in 2015 when Freddie Gray died, and I remember— I was in the DC area at the time. And I remember seeing high school kids my age go up to riot in Baltimore and get in fights on the street. And so to think that the events of George Floyd really changed the image of BLM, I guess it became more popular. But that was always their shtick. Like, they were never non-violent. Any time a BLM protest showed up, it was always a riot.

patrick healy

I want to ask about that question to all of you. It is a fact that the Black Lives Matter protests last summer in American cities were overwhelmingly peaceful. Do you disagree? That is a fact. In terms of the 26 million—

martha z.

Look.

patrick healy

—the 26 million people who marched through the summer, there were not 26 million rioters. So do you disagree with that fact? And what evidence is there in terms of numbers and numeric damage can you cite to disagree with that fact?

frank luntz

Evelyn, go ahead.

patrick healy

Evelyn.

frank luntz

Evelyn, go ahead.

evelyn f.

I just want to say, is this a joke? I mean, are you serious? Really? They were peaceful protests? You’ve got to be kidding.

louis p.

Bingo.

patrick healy

Evelyn, tell me what evidence is there that they were not overwhelmingly peaceful?

evelyn f.

Oh, murder, looting, burning buildings down. You know, just that type of stuff. That’s it.

nancy p.

This subject gives me such anxiety just thinking about it because you watched on the news, things were burning, things were looting. People were stealing. I live in New Jersey. I live in a beach town. Last June, over Juneteenth weekend we had every police department in our town because a group of people came into our town, which is a very, very nice town— beach, boardwalk, everything— they were peeing on people’s lawns. They were pooping on people’s lawns. They were publicly drinking. And it lasted for about 24 hours in my quiet, little beach town. And it didn’t need to happen. It could have been peaceful, but it wasn’t.

louis p.

So what evidence—

taylor w.

I’d like to weigh in. I feel like, to answer your specific question, Patrick, I think overwhelmingly when you look at 26 million people, yes, probably statistically they were a majority peaceful. But what we saw and what the majority of people were led to believe was that it wasn’t. I know my family owns restaurants in downtown Cincinnati. And the fact that even if they were peaceful, the fact that they had to close down every other day for weeks on end, not because of COVID but because of fears of getting their windows knocked in or because of something Over-The-Rhine because there was such violent crime in the area, having to be so incredibly paranoid about the structural integrity of this 175-year-old building, that if something were to break, nothing could be fixed. So I feel like when you see it, it makes you think, like, oh, that’s all there is. I’m sure statistically yes, the overwhelming majority probably was peaceful because there wasn’t everywhere. But I think, to a lot of our points, what we’ve seen for the last year or two, three, five, six years is that the media has very clearly shown that there’s large groups of people that think this. And if they don’t participate, they at least sympathize with the people that are doing the damage and the looting and the murdering and the defecating on lawns. I feel like even when you sympathize with that, I feel like that is still a problem.

frank luntz

Kathryn, from Arizona— Kathryn and then Martha.

kathryn a.

Yeah, I didn’t see anything peaceful about the protests. I mean, obviously I wasn’t part of the 26 million group or whatever across the country. But there was nothing peaceful at all about those protests. I mean, violence was insurrected everywhere. They made such a big deal about the politicians dead, about January 6. No, what happened all summer, all last year, that should have been called out. If there’s going to be a commission to investigate anything, it should have been all of that.

frank luntz

Martha, then Jeremiah. Then I’ll give it back to Patrick.

martha z.

I think it’s true that what we saw over and over again was that in the early-day part, the protests were peaceful. It looked like regular folks. It looked like people that were coming together because they were concerned about what happened. As the day wore on, you would start to see people come in, almost like— I mean, it’s the middle of the summer in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s 95 degrees. And people are coming in all dressed in Black with almost, like, riot gear on. And these weren’t the police. And the crowds would change as the day went on. So the violence happened as the day went on. Now, you can say they were infiltrators, Antifa, whatever you want to call it. But there was a major change in who was at these rallies from the early part of the day as it became nighttime.

frank luntz

Jeremiah.

jeremiah h.

Yeah, I agree with Martha on that. And I think this is where Patrick— and this is not a knock on you at all. But this is where the media is able to have that platform to glorify— I think somebody said it earlier, if it bleeds, it leads. I agree with that. In the city of Detroit, we didn’t have those problems. So if you were to just take a Detroit resident, and Chief Craig would tell you the same thing, we didn’t have any of those problems all summer. There were not storefronts being boarded up. There were not trash cans burning in the streets, although those people were protesting. And if you were to get inside of these groups and talk to them, they didn’t have radical, off-the-wall commentary. Their concerns were genuine. And you empathize with them. And somebody else said, you can’t walk in their shoes. I’m not Black obviously. But what Martha said, I think, is pretty accurate. Depending on where you lived, at night with these infiltrations, Antifa, the radical groups would come in. They get the story. They become the story. For people like us that look at it, and we don’t agree maybe with the messaging, we then somehow see it as, this is what those movements were versus how the media portrayed it as 26 million people, it was overwhelmingly peaceful. Yeah, well, I mean, you could say that with any statistic. And if you want that to be your number and be the lead, that will be your lead.

patrick healy

So we’re now seeing a real violent crime spike in a lot of cities, a rise in murders. I mean, it’s happening now and in recent months, I think, more than a mass crime spike and wave and arrests last summer during the protests. How afraid are you about violent crime today? How much does that concern you?

Anyone want to go first on that? Louis.

louis p.

Yeah—

martha z.

I—

louis p.

—here in—

patrick healy

Then Martha.

louis p.

—Arizona, I keep saying we’re the Wild West. But I do remember when Fashion Square was taken over by the looters and everything else. And then we got word that Antifa and Black Lives Matter were going to march on Scottsdale Quarter and Kierland. And I got to tell you, you know what? A lot of people, citizens, went there with their arms to protect it, OK? And it’s a shame they never came because, you know what? I think they realized that Arizona is a little different, just like, maybe, Texas or something else. So I believe totally that if they’re going to try and do something, it’s going to be in the urban areas. And when you say “defund the police,” like you do in other areas— Minneapolis and all these other things, New York— that’s where the crime is rising. Look at the blue states versus the red states. It’s mind boggling that people can’t see that it’s all about the blue states and the red states and how they deal with crime and how they deal with police.

patrick healy

Martha, do you want to go next? And then Alex.

martha z.

Yeah, so I live in a fairly rural area. So I’m not as worried about crime. But my daughter lives near downtown Atlanta. And she and her husband have what they call a bug-out bag so that if things get too hot or if they get too bad, they’ll throw the bag in their car. And they’ll come up and stay with us. And that’s terrifying for me as a parent. There were 14 shootings over this weekend in Atlanta. I mean, I’m a native Atlantan, which is very unusual, OK? And we’re the city too busy to hate, until this summer. And you know, people are terrified, if they go into Atlanta, to leave their car or any of that kind of stuff. But that’s going to change.

But I will tell you, as a parent who’s got kids that live in urban areas that are afraid, it’s pretty scary.

patrick healy

Alex.

alex w.

So this doesn’t relate to this question. It’s to the previous, so just bear with me. So you wanted numbers. And so I referenced the study that you looked up from the— let’s see. It’s the ACLED, where they said 93% were peaceful. Is that correct? I don’t want to misinterpret what you were saying.

patrick healy

It was—

frank luntz

Hold on, hold on. We’re not going to do this. No, this is moderator prerogative. This is not a debate. I’m trying to understand opinion. I’m not trying to have an argument here. So—

alex w.

No, it’s not an argument. I just want to— I don’t want to—

frank luntz

Alex, you got 10 seconds to make your point. Go ahead.

alex w.

All right.

frank luntz

Go.

alex w.

Over 20 deaths, $2 billion in damages, since, the study said, about 7,000 events. That means that there were almost 550 riots. And the fact that there were 550 riots should be a headline in and of itself. There you go.

frank luntz

OK. Actually you did very well on that. [LAUGHTER]

patrick healy

Frank, do you want to jump back?

frank luntz

Yes, because I got a question that normally I would ask at the end. But I’m starting to cough. So I don’t know whether I’ll make it or not. This is for all of you. And this is two or three sentences each. Are you afraid in America to voice your point of view about issues of race? I watch you carefully. I see you, because you’re all in front of me on a screen. And I notice those times when you respond immediately and those times when you’re slow about it. Are you afraid to tell me your real thoughts about race in this country?

ann u.

No.

louis p.

No.

diana p.

No.

kathryn a.

No. [INTERPOSING VOICES]

frank luntz

I’m surprised. Ann, tell me why not.

ann u.

I have been— [INTERPOSING VOICES]

larry s.

—talk about it.

ann u.

I have been very vocal in my opinion about the breakdown of race relations inside the United States, especially with critical race theory being taught in our schools. And I have been an activist dealing with our school board, with our elected officials. And I am not afraid to speak my mind.

martha z.

You know—

frank luntz

Larry.

martha z.

—I think one of the things that people get wrong about the South all the time is that we actually— most Southerners have actually interacted and lived together more, especially since the civil rights movement, than any other place in the country. The most segregated city I’ve ever been to in my life is Boston, OK? And I went through— I remember colored water fountains. I remember desegregation and busing. So I don’t have any trouble talking about how I feel about race. I’m more concerned about making sure I don’t misspeak and not just here but anywhere because of the cancel culture and if you say one wrong word, people try to tell you what you really meant. And I know what I mean when I say what I say. So I’m not afraid to speak my mind about race. I’ve been doing it all my life. But I do think that we’re in a place right now where people are being measured in a way they haven’t been in a long time.

frank luntz

Wanda, are you nervous about speaking about race?

wanda m.

I guess I’m in the minority here. Yes, I am. I feel like if you have an unpopular opinion on Black Lives Matter or whatever, that you’re discriminated against, no matter what color you are. And I found that a lot of my liberal friends, they’re ready to pounce on anything you say that they can turn around, whether it’s about Black Lives Matter or LGBT. You know, it doesn’t matter. So yes, I’m very careful what I say and who I say it to. And it shouldn’t be that way. But that’s the feeling I get.

frank luntz

Josh, you’re one of the younger— Josh, how old are you?

josh m.

38. I’m Asian, man. We all look young. We look young until we’re, like— [LAUGHTER]

frank luntz

By the way, just for the record, Josh, I’m going to put you in every single focus group because you’re the comic relief. [LAUGHTER] Are you ever afraid to talk about issues of race?

josh m.

No, because I’m not white. So I’ll say whatever. I’m also not trying to get into Harvard, so they won’t hold it against me that I’m Asian. No, I’m never going to be, like, a dick about it. But I’ll always speak what I think.

frank luntz

What about the crimes against the Asian community?

josh m.

Well, I think that, again, it’s probably a pretty small part of the population that is actually committing these crimes. And I think one of the things that’s overlooked and that the media doesn’t really cover a whole lot is that most of them are Black people that are doing it. And they’re all in pretty liberal cities, which, again, just part of it just being larger urban areas, just more people. But a lot of it’s in San Francisco, New York. And so it’s elderly Asian folks. And that’s definitely not right.

frank luntz

But you’re blaming the Black community, not the White community.

josh m.

Correct.

frank luntz

That’s a big deal. You sure you want to say that? [LAUGHTER]

josh m.

Yeah.

alex w.

There you go.

louis p.

Good job. Frank, can I just interject?

frank luntz

Like you aren’t?

louis p.

Yeah. One thing I would say is— and I keep saying this to people— my parents were probably more racist. They were— and I’m 60, all right? My generation then saw a lot of change. And yes, there was probably— there is racism in my generation. My kids’ generation don’t see color. They don’t see gender. They really don’t. And my grandkids— I have one grandson. And I will tell you this, Frank. I highly doubt that they will ever see any type of— or very, very small; obviously you can’t say none— racism, sexism, or whatever because I just think that we all learn from each generation. And we get better at it. And that includes Blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, whatever. It includes us all.

martha z.

Well, look. I think it’s fair to say that most white people think we’ve gone farther than we actually have. And most Black people think we haven’t gone as far as we actually have. And somewhere in the middle is the truth. And my kids always say to me, are you going to strike up a conversation with strangers when we go out today? And I always say yes, because that’s what I do. I go out, and I meet people wherever. I strike up conversations with people in lines, wherever. But when you do that, you really expand your circle of people that you talk to. And it’s not just the same five people that live around you.

patrick healy

Can I just jump in to ask the whole group about Martha’s point there? How many of you agree with Martha’s statement— could see a show of hands— that most white people think that white people have come farther than they have, and most Black people think that we haven’t gotten far enough— come far enough? So 1, 2, 3—

frank luntz

Almost everybody.

patrick healy

Yeah, almost everybody. Kathryn, can you say why do you think that is, and then maybe, Larry, why you don’t?

kathryn a.

I mean, I have Black friends. And I have friends of all color, creed, and race and everything. So my Black friends would probably disagree with that, the latter part of that statement. But I think she does make an excellent point, in that white people are like, we’re not racist. We have friends of every race, color, and creed. We treat everybody kindly and the same. We don’t care. So what’s the big deal? Whereas Black people or Hispanics or Asian or whomever, if they’re in a situation where they’re discriminated against and it’s something we just aren’t aware of, being white, I guess— I can’t help that I’m white by the way. I’m not [LAUGHS] going to apologize for it. So I would say white people are thinking we’re doing pretty good because we get along with everybody. But maybe Black people are still having some issues.

patrick healy

And, Kathryn, just so I understand, you think that’s really not— they may think that way, but that’s actually the reality.

kathryn a.

Right.

patrick healy

Yeah.

kathryn a.

I mean, I don’t know. But I know my Black friends don’t feel that way. But I can’t— obviously they don’t know the whole Black community. None of us do.

patrick healy

Sure. Larry, how do you see that?

larry s.

This is the Great Society. We’ve been giving out subsidies, different government programs, all these giveaways, so many of them targeted specifically to the Black community right up to today, where we’ve got affirmative action. We’re bending over backwards to try and make things as equal as possible. And they just try to keep on coming up with excuses as to why they’re being held back, with many of them being fictitious.

patrick healy

OK. Frank, do you want to— or I can keep going.

frank luntz

Keep going. I’ll jump in there in two minutes.

patrick healy

OK. Just a show of hands, I would like to know just how many of you believe that discrimination against minority groups is a serious problem in society today.

Anybody? OK, no one believes that. And there’s a great deal of talk now about racial diversity in the workplace. And certainly affirmative action programs have been around for decades. But a lot of companies and workplaces are putting more emphasis on racial diversity. And that’s been one of the outgrowths of some of the protest movements from last summer. Do you generally see racial diversity in the workplace as— I was going to ask— as a good thing, a bad thing, or it doesn’t matter?

ann u.

Bad.

patrick healy

I’d just love to hear a few voices on that.

nancy p.

I think it should be the—

ann u.

Bad.

nancy p.

I think it should be the qualified person. I’m sorry.

frank luntz

Patrick? Patrick, you want to do it this way. Hold on, because—

patrick healy

Sorry, I asked the question. [LAUGHS] [INTERPOSING VOICES] Frank’s the expert.

frank luntz

Hold on. But this what I want to do. And, Louis, you get credit for this. I want you all to stick your fist out towards the camera. Stick your fist out towards the camera. Put your thumb horizontal. Start horizontal. Make sure I can see your thumb. Kathryn, I can’t see your thumb. Look at your screen. Everyone, look at your screen. Now vote. Diversity programs at work— up or down. Vote.

diana p.

Diversity programs at work. [INTERPOSING VOICES]

frank luntz

Almost all of you are negative. Diana and then Evelyn and then Wanda, why so negative about diversity programs at work? Why not open it up and promote it for everybody?

diana p.

I think when you start talking “diversity,” you’re talking about racism. And we keep saying we have systemic racism. OK, so I agree we have systemic racism in this country. And the reason we have systemic racism in this country is because we’re seeing it again. We’re seeing color. We’re concentrating so much on color that we don’t see anything else. We don’t see what people have to offer regardless of their color. We see color first. And we don’t say, oh, well, you’re an excellent candidate for this job because you could have a master’s degree in telecommunications or whatever, where you might say, OK, we have to put a person of color into a position when maybe they’re really not the most qualified.

frank luntz

Evelyn and then Wanda.

evelyn f.

Having worked for the post office, I saw so much of that, where if you were a Black woman in particular, you were promoted so quickly as opposed to me, just being a woman and being the wrong color. And I saw so much where it wasn’t about qualifications. Diversity to me is racism, because it’s making you aware that there is a difference. And that’s the problem.

frank luntz

Wanda and then Nancy.

wanda m.

I think hiring, promotions, should be based on merit, not the color of your skin. And it goes both ways. A white person shouldn’t get a job because they’re white. They should get it because they’re the best person for the job. Same with Blacks. Same with Asians. It should always be based on merit.

larry s.

A qualified person, if they’re not getting a job because of the color of their skin, is wrong regardless of whether that person is Black or white. It’s wrong.

patrick healy

Gang, can I ask you, though, just historically, do you believe that that’s been true, though, what Wanda was saying and Larry, that historically Black people, Hispanic people, white people all got the job because they were the best, the most qualified for the job?

louis p.

No.

ann u.

Idiocracy versus meritocracy.

louis p.

Definitely not.

patrick healy

Now, I mean, I guess what I’m asking— and it’s sort of a loaded question, I realize. But the degree to which, for a lot of the 20th century, white people got jobs, and, well, it’s true, for most of the 20th century, white people got jobs. And that’s partly why affirmative action happened.

larry s.

You ever hear the old saying ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’?

louis p.

How about age? How about age? Why don’t you factor that in?

diana p.

Yeah.

ann u.

Yeah.

patrick healy

Martha, do you want to—

martha z.

I mean—

louis p.

Age discrimination is just as bad as race discrimination. So I went through age discrimination. I’m sorry, but I did not get a job because I was white. I got a job because I was most qualified. I got health issues because I was older, and they wanted to get rid of me for a younger guy. I’m sorry— not buying it.

patrick healy

Yeah, no, I kind of was talking about the long arc of history. But, Martha, go ahead. And then, Frank, I have one last big question if we have time for it.

martha z.

Well, I mean, I think in the long arc of history, yes, there was obviously discrimination. It wasn’t until 1968 that in Georgia state employment was desegregated. I mean, so there’s a lot of things that happened there. The first job I ever got I got because they were looking for a woman, OK? And I knew I was hired just because I was a woman. But I knew I wasn’t going to keep the job just because I was a woman. I had to be better than the men. This was in the workforce in the early ‘80s. I had to be better than the men to keep the job. And I’ve been successful at it. But I think, a number of years ago I was on the board at the University of Georgia. And the decision came down where you couldn’t take into consideration race. And you couldn’t take into consideration other factors in admissions. And we had to do a wider net at the University of Georgia to be able to get more diverse students. And I think there is a value in diversity in your institutions. I think that that’s true. But you have to be careful that you don’t go as far as— and I’ve forgotten his name, the student in Florida— you don’t go as far as where you say you can’t get help just because you’re a white man. So we’ve got to find that balance between fairness and giving opportunity and reaching beyond your own group to be able to look for people in jobs. I mean, that’s what The New York Times does. That’s what big companies do. But over the summer, recently with big corporations complaining about things, when you look at their actual corporate boards, when you look— they talk a lot about diversity. But they haven’t delivered on diversity. But yet they want to judge and criticize other people about diversity. I think most people honestly are just trying to get through life day to day and that if you will just— most people are nice to each other and that if you just go and look and are honest with people, that you’re going to get treated right because the law is fair. The law is fair. People may not be. The implementation may be wrong sometimes. But the law is fair. And we just have to make sure the law gets implemented.

louis p.

It’s not fair for politicians. They get away with murder, literally.

patrick healy

So just a—

frank luntz

Patrick— [INTERPOSING VOICES]

patrick healy

Yeah, OK. It’s an open-ended question. We don’t have time for everybody to answer, certainly. But if people have thoughts.

George Floyd died about a year ago. Did his death and what followed, the protests, the trial, the discussions about race and racism, did that change anything about America for you or how you saw life in America, people in America, or what’s to come in the near future? Just, it’s an open-ended question. But, Alex, do want to— Alex and then Nancy, I think, or Ann. Alex and then Ann.

alex w.

Yeah, I don’t think it changed how I saw anything. But it’s certainly changed who got elected and who’s sitting in the office right now.

diana p.

Yeah.

alex w.

That’s for sure.

patrick healy

How so, Alex? And then Ann.

alex w.

Well, I mean, you’ve seen many articles since the election about how the Black turnout, clearly mobilized by all these months and months of protesting and civil engagement— I think that that definitely mobilized the African-American demographic and got them to turn out to vote, even if it was for Joe Biden.

patrick healy

Got it. Ann and then Diana.

ann u.

It saddened me because growing up through the civil rights, we, as a nation, have come so far. Never in history have we had so many interracial marriages and children. We have gone from slavery— and our founding fathers put the building blocks in place with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, knowing we had to come down this path. We walked it. We put the laws in place to give an equal chance to everyone to attempt to succeed. And what we have with something like George Floyd and these protests, we have a segment, a very small segment, like 1%, trying to tear our republic down by creating victims and dividing us. And this is what we have to fight. We have to reunite the nation.

patrick healy

Thanks. Diana.

diana p.

I grew up outside of Washington DC. And I lived there during the Martin Luther King riots. So I felt like I was growing up really in the heart of racism in that time. And what I have seen now and what I see in this country— the hate, the divisiveness, the anger between races— I think it is far worse now than it was then. And I remember the fear that I lived with during those riots in DC. And I have felt that fear again, even as an adult. I won’t go downtown Denver at night. I would never go down there by myself. I think that what’s happening in this country, I think we’re going backwards. I don’t see us going forward. And it breaks my heart. I grew up in an Air Force family. So you know, I am a proud, flag-waving American. And I’m happy to admit that out loud. I love this country. And I really hate to see the direction we’re going. We’re not moving forward.

patrick healy

Evelyn, do you want to— oh, sorry. Go ahead, Louis.

louis p.

I lived in Buffalo. I still remember the day Martin Luther King was shot. And my parents called us in. We were across the street at the playground of our school. And I believe that at this stage, the goal of the politicians and the media is to divide us. I think by divided— united we stand, divided we fall. And I truly believe that they want us divided. And it’s disgusting, as opposed to, I think the media could help bring us together. Instead, they’re bringing us further apart, or they’re splitting us and dividing us. And so are the politicians. I don’t care whether you’re GOP or a Democrat, OK? There’s a lot of that. So my concern as an American, I am a patriot. I do believe in God. I do believe in our flag. I do believe in our Constitution and our amendments and the Bill of Rights. And I will fight for whatever I can. But I will fight side by side with anybody that believes in that, whether they’re Black, white, green, yellow, orange. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter as long as they are on our side and together we stand. OK, that’s all we need. We all bleed red.

patrick healy

Thanks, Louis. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Yeah, Martha, go ahead.

martha z.

Just a quick statement. I mean, I’m an optimist. So I think we’re resilient as a country. And I’m glad they made the reference to the ‘60s and early ‘70s because you think about— New York was a pit back then. It was violent. We had three major figures in our country assassinated within a five-year period. But we didn’t have social media. So it didn’t feel like it was happening all the time the way it is now. So I’m optimistic. We’re resilient. We’re going to get back together again. We’re going to have a new leader come out of all this. I don’t know who it’s going to be yet. But I’m optimistic about the future.

wanda m.

Can I just say— make a quick point?

patrick healy

Yes, Wanda.

wanda m.

First of all, I don’t believe President Obama would have been elected twice if we were a racist nation. And my second point is, people who constantly talk about racism perpetuate racism.

diana p.

Yes.

larry s.

Martin Luther King Jr. advocated peaceful change. Over the course of this past year, nearly every congressional Democrat was advocating violence. Huge difference between the two periods.

patrick healy

I don’t think that’s true, Larry. But we’ll agree to disagree. Evelyn?

larry s.

Would you like me to send you some clips? [LAUGHTER]

patrick healy

Evelyn?

evelyn f.

My first marriage was— I was married to a Black man. So my daughter is mixed. And we discuss these things quite often because she’s kind of torn between being white— and I shouldn’t say ‘torn between.’ But I know it’s probably put her in a difficult position to be raised by me, but yet she’s got darker skin. And of course we’ve been questioned, is she adopted? No, she’s mine, you know? But these topics have come up. And believe me, I lived with some things when we were married. Oh, my goodness, it was horrendous. And it wasn’t from white people. It was a scary time then. And that’s what I see happening again with what’s happening in our nation now. I see the regression that reminds me of those days. And I had quit feeling that entirely. I mean, it wasn’t near my mind anymore. And then with discussions that I have with her, we’ve both made the comment about going to the grocery store. And if I look at a Black person the wrong way— and it’s not intentional— but how am I supposed to look at a Black person? And she said, Mom, I feel the same way. She said, I’m scared I’m going to look at somebody wrong and not mean anything. I’m just thinking about something else or whatever. And I thought, that is so sad, because she’s lived her whole life— she’ll be 40 this year— lived her whole life without that mess. And now here it is. And it’s just sad. It’s very sad.

diana p.

That’s terrible.

nancy p.

My husband and I, we sit and we talk. And I’m 38. I’ve been married five years. And we have the subject of children. Do we want to bring a child into this world right now? Because it’s so crazy out there, what the future has to hold for them. And that’s scary to sit down and talk about because you don’t know what this future holds right now. So there has to be something out there that brings us together because we are so divided right now. And I’m terrified of bringing a child into this world right now.

jeremiah h.

Patrick, can I add just a 10-second piece here?

patrick healy

Sure thing, Jeremiah.

jeremiah h.

I think it’s generational. It absolutely is generational. As we’ve been sitting here talking about this, I went back. I’m an ‘80s kid. I spent two decades in the Marine Corps. So I was amongst a lot of diverse groups, and even now with my coworkers in law enforcement. I remember Rodney King, Malice Green. I remember those times. Of course there wasn’t social media back then. But you got your news at 6:00 AM, 6:00 PM, midnight, whatever. I think, what Martha’s saying, I can’t agree with any more— to be more of an optimist and take it that way. I have two young kids— 10 and 7. And we’re constantly talking about these things. You know, I follow the same path I was taught, the Martin Luther King part— you judge a person by their character, not the color of their skin.

diana p.

Yes.

jeremiah h.

I think this is a lot of hyperbole that is built around us. I don’t really think it’s as bad as it’s portrayed. I just don’t.

diana p.

I agree.

louis p.

I agree.

frank luntz

As a way to end this, with Patrick on, do you all think you’re going to get a fair hearing? Do you think your voice is going to be accurately represented?

martha z.

Yes.

ann u.

No.

louis p.

No.

larry s.

It’s The New York Times.

louis p.

[LAUGHS]

ann u.

I’ve had too many interviews edited and editorials edited— no.

diana p.

I think it will. I mean, Patrick was— he knew what he was walking into. And he wants to hear conservative voices. So I trust that he’s going to portray our words fairly.

nancy p.

I agree with Diana.

martha z.

He was respectful.

kathryn a.

We’re trusting you, Patrick.

patrick healy

Hey, listen, I really appreciate everything. And I understand the lack of trust. I really understand how divided this country is and how so many people have suffered in so many different ways, especially over the last year. I just am grateful that everybody was as honest and forthright and direct as possible. And I appreciate you letting me in and letting me listen and learn because I did learn things. And I personally see it as kind of a waste of time living on the planet if you’re not going to learn things and talk to people who are different than you. I really do hear what a lot of you were saying about social media and the silos that we live in. And you know, I’m just really grateful that you took the time out of your night to talk to us. So thank you.

frank luntz

And also can we celebrate Jeremiah, who puts his life out on the line? And I gave him a lot of shit at the beginning because that’s my job. But now I want to say, good for you. Thank you very much. We all appreciate it.

nancy p.

Thank you for your service.

diana p.

And Ann, as well, who’s served.

louis p.

Thank you very much.

evelyn f.

And Kathryn’s husband.

diana p.

Yes.

frank luntz

No, you don’t get a chance to say thank you to the spouses. It’s only the person who’s— [LAUGHTER]

ann u.

Hey, they’re the ones at home worrying about us.

nancy p.

100%

kathryn a.

For what it’s worth, he’s the one keeping my great dane at bay so that he doesn’t interfere with this wonderful session.

wanda m.

Yeah.

patrick healy

I thought that was Louis’ dog barking in your screen, Kathryn. So—

louis p.

It was mine. Sorry, that’s Aussie. [LAUGHS] He hears things. And that’s Aussie. [LAUGHTER]

martha z.

I have a Saint Bernard. But she’s in the other room.

louis p.

I tried. [LAUGHS]

nancy p.

I have a lazy bulldog behind me.

patrick healy

Dogs unite us, except Ann— except Ann with that cat. Ann, your cat is so cute.

louis p.

Yeah.

ann u.

Yes, and her name is Puppy. [LAUGHTER]

louis p.

God bless you all.

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