Chris Hayes - The Two Justice Systems Examined in "A Colony in a Nation" - Extended Interview

Extended - March 30, 2017 - Chris Hayes 03/30/2017 Views: 73,513

MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes compares how the police operate differently in white and black communities and discusses the U.S.'s penal system in "A Colony in a Nation." (6:22)

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-Please welcome Chris Hayes.-(applause and cheering)

-What's going on, Chris?-Not much. How are you?

-Good to see you again, man.-Good to be back here.

Quick. Real quick. From now on,you should be like,

-"Chris Heys!" -(laughter) -I heard that.

-I heard that in the intro,yeah. -That's just your thing.

That's your thing from now on.

I think you could sell thatbetter than I can.

I don't know.I think you could work at it.

I think you could work on it.Welcome to the show.

-Before we get into the book...-Yes.

-...which is amazingand fascinating... -Thanks.

-Michael Flynn. This justbreaks, like, now. -Yeah.

What do you think it means?

He says he'll testifyin exchange for immunity.

Then you go like,"Well, what does he have?"

Yeah. I mean, at one level,right, there's some level

of due diligenceon the part of the lawyer.

If you're gonna send someone outto testify,

particularly in an open hearing,you don't want them

-to perjure themselves.-Yeah.

So, it could just be that,or it could be a lot more.

But every time, that the...

the kind of bonfireor Russian stuff seems

to, like, start to be smolderingdown to the embers,

like, some story comes,and just, like, dumps

a huge pile of wood on it,and here's another one.

It's never-ending. But let'snot make that about this.

I want to talk about the booktoday-- A Colony in a Nation.

You know, when I startedreading, I was like,

"I don't know what to expect.

I don't knowwhere this is going."

But it is a fascinating argumentthat you make here.

Why the title?

You know, the title comesfrom a sort of throw-away line

in a Richard Nixon speechin 1968.

This big law-and-order speech,right?

And at one point, he says,

"You know, black citizens wantthe same as white citizens.

They don't want to bea colony in a nation."

And I kept thinkingabout that phrase

as I was doing reportingin Ferguson

-and in West Baltimore...-Right.

...and just talking to people,over and over,

doing all this reportingin which

people were experiencingtheir own government

like an occupying force,like a colony.

And I think, you know,basically,

the American criminal justiceregime is sort of split

into these two worlds.

There's the colony, where lawenforcement feels external...

-Yes, Yes. -...feels oppressive,feels humiliating.

And then, there's the nationwhere it's the kind

of criminal justice systemwe would expect

in an open society,liberal democracy.

It's a totally different wayto look at it,

because a lot of peoplewould argue that, say,

"Well, black people are treatedunfairly by the system."

And you argue in the bookthat, no, it's working,

because there are twodifferent systems.

-The nation is law and order,with a focus on law. -Right.

But in the colony, wherethe black people are living,

it is more focused on order.

Order is so key to understandingthe appeal of this whole thing.

I mean, when Richard Nixoncomes out in 1968,

he basically says,"Look, the country's on fire.

"Two political assassinations,riots,

-and we have to have frank talkabout order." -Yeah.

But, of course, order is inthe eye of the beholder, right?

Enforcing order is a kind of way

of creating some social system,right?

Law is a much more clear thing,or safety and security.

-Right, right.-And then, you see it in 2016

when this president comesbefore Cleveland and says,

"I'm gonna bea law-and-order president."

And he talks about the borderbeing overrun, right?

It's like, if you live in Ohio,

what do you careabout the border?

If you live in Erie County,Pennsylvania,

why do you careabout the border?

You care becauseit represents disorder.

-It represents an unraveling.-Right.

And the appeal of that politicsis unbelievably powerful.

When you...when you wrote the book,

one thing you didthat was interesting

is you put yourselfin uncomfortable situations,

or, rather, you shared the factthat you were in them.

And as a white male,you talk about stories where...

You were living in Brooklyn,for instance,

and then you would seea black couple that was arguing,

and thenyou thought to yourself,

well, let me call the policeto come and help them solve

this argument,and then you go like,

wait, does it help black people

-Right. -when the police cometo solve the argument?

-Or does it help anyonein that situation? -Yeah.

I mean, when I...when I open the book.

I talk about when's the lasttime you called the cops,

and I relay a storyof a couple arguing.

And at some level, it's,like, I wanted to protect her

and I thought the guywas being abusive,

but he hadn't broken the law.

And then the cop car cameand everyone went home,

and I thought to myselfafterwards, like,

why did I...what did I do there?

What did I do?Did I help them?

I don't know. Right?What I did do

was get rid of a noisydisturbance in my neighborhood.

-Right.-Right? And how much of the way

that we want the cops to operate

and we want the systemto operate

is just to keep thingspeaceful and quiet for us.

That is a weird difference,though, is, like,

as a white person going like,"Oh, man, this is noisy.

"I should call the police,that's what I'll do.

-That's exactly...-"My night is not going well.

Let me involve police."

That is, like, a...that is a very stark difference

-with how black people would...-But of course, right?

-Yes. -And I think, like,I think one of the things

that happens is if you...if you live in the nation,

if you have this experienceof cops, which is... you know,

I say in the book it's like yourcomputer's operating system.

-Yes.-It's just in the background.

-It's humming in the background.-Yeah, it's humming

in the background--you're not, like...

So you think like, "Oh,that's the cop, he, you know,

buys coffeeat the Dunkin' Donuts

in the neighborhood,he... smiles at my kid.

The idea that-thatinviting that into your life

would be a huge disruption

-Right. -and resultin possible humiliation

or danger or something else,it's a hard thing to, like,

just internalize subjectively.

When you... when you look at itas it is applied,

when you look at the colonyand the nation,

it seems easy to understand,

and some people would argueagainst, they'd go:

But the laws aren't different.

-Actually different.-They aren't actually different.

But you arguethat they apply different,

and I think we've seenthe statistics and the results.

I will say this, though--what I found really empathetic

is how you pointed outAmericans enjoy a penal system.

And so you will find black menwho are over-punished,

and then when a white man,like Brock Turner, let's say,

is in a situation, people say:

Why don't you punish himlike the black men?

-Right.-As opposed to saying...

Raise everybody upto a level of due process

-Yeah.-and forgiveness, right?

I mean, we have this wrathfulinstinct in this country.

We are a punishing nation, we'vegot the most punitive system,

we put the most peoplein prison.

And sometimes you see somepeople dangle a path to equality

in which maybe we can justpunish everyone that way, right?

As opposed to thinking about:Wait a second,

what we actually want is a worldin which, like,

we can find forgiveness,redemption, treatment,

-empathy, due process-Yeah.

-Uh-huh. -and good lawyersfor everyone down here as well.

Right? Like, that...leveling everyone up

to a point where we havefewer people in prison,

where we can look at someonenot just as the sum total

of the worst thing they did,that should be the goal.

It's a book worth reading.Congratulations.

I can see why it debutedat number two

on the Bestseller list.

-Thank you for being here,my friend. -Thank you very much.

-Gonna watch the show tonight. -All In with Chris Hayes airs

weekdays at 8:00 p.m. on MSNBC,

and A Colony in a Nation is available now.

Chris Hayes, everybody.

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