How will historians look back at 2020? “I think it’s a decisive moment and I don’t think we know yet how it’s going to work out,” says former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“Once you start tearing down statues, somebody hates the next statue, the statue after that,” adds Gingrich, author of “Trump and the American Future: Solving the Great Problems of Our Time.” “And then you end up with a statue that was built by freed slaves as a tribute to the man who freed them, Abraham Lincoln, is now inadequate, according to people who don’t have a clue what the Civil War was like, what Lincoln did, or how gigantic the change was. So you basically have barbarians.”
So how can conservatives reach black Americans? Listen to the interview on the podcast, or read the lightly edited transcript, pasted below:
We also cover these stories:
- Seattle police are disbanding the CHOP zone.
- President Donald Trump tweets about The New York Times article that says Russia is paying bounties for dead Americans in Afghanistan.
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks out against China’s new crackdown on Hong Kong.
“The Daily Signal Podcast” is available on Ricochet, Apple Podcasts, Pippa, Google Play, and Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at [email protected] Enjoy the show!
Katrina Trinko: Joining us today is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, author of the new book “Trump and the American Future: Solving the Great Problems of Our Time.” Speaker Gingrich, thanks for joining us.
Newt Gingrich: I’m delighted to be with you. And I’m a great fan of [The Heritage Foundation] and have worked closely with Heritage for its entire career, actually, going back into the 1970s.
Trinko: Terrific. So in the introduction to your book, you mentioned that the COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps the most important collective experience since World War II. How do you think coronavirus is changing American’s views and perspectives?
Gingrich: Well, I think we’re still in turmoil about it, but I think that clearly, if you think about an event which brings everybody into the same situation, then you have to say that this has been a remarkable moment because every single American has experienced it.
Now, I think that you’re going to have a couple of different reactions. Some people think that it’s made them more anti-government and you see a pretty strong backlash growing about the idea of various public health people telling you what you can do and when you can do it and so forth. But at the same time, I think … other people are much more willing to let government define their lives.
So I don’t think the national conversation is still going on. And I think it partly will depend on how this comes out in the next six months or a year. We’re only in the middle of the first wave of this. We’re going to get better at it very fast.
And a friend of mine was pointing out to me last night, after all, the most dangerous pandemic of the last 200 years, 1918, 1919 Spanish flu came and went. I mean, it was there and then it wasn’t there. It was just over. So it’ll be interesting.
You can’t be sure what people will look back on. I do think, on a global basis, it has done a lot to make the Chinese less acceptable. And I see a lot of things beginning to happen that are very interesting. And I think that you’re likely to have, worldwide, you’re likely to have a backlash against China and the belief that the Chinese just plain lied.
Trinko: Let’s talk about China, which of course, you also touch on that in your book. China failed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 globally after it originated in Wuhan, but instead of taking a back view, it seems that China is becoming more aggressive. We’ve seen it crack down on Hong Kong. What do you think is going to happen to China in the future as a global player?
Gingrich: Well, I mean, their goal is to be the dominant power in the world. And they’re pretty clear about that because they were, prior to 1800, they were no doubt the richest civilization on the planet.
So from their perspective, I think they look at this as what they called it, the century of humiliation when the Western dominated, and now they’ve seen themselves reverting to who they once were.
The challenge they’ve got is that people increasingly are tired of them. They picked a fight recently with India, killed at least 20 Indian soldiers. They ran the Vietnamese patrol boat in the South China Sea. They recently collided with a Japanese naval vessel. As you point out, they’re cracking down on Hong Kong with the whole world watching. They have somewhere between 1 [million] and 2 million Uighurs in Western China who are in concentration camps. And they’re methodically trying to destroy the culture of Tibet.
So people look at all that and they think, “That’s not necessarily a world that I like or a world that I’m very comfortable with.” And I think that, as a result, it has made it more difficult for the Chinese to go out and do the things they’d like to do.
I think people are more … skeptical today than when they were in December. And you see it all over the planet—you see it in Canada, you see it in Britain, but you also see it in parts of South Asia.
Trinko: To switch course a little bit, in the book “Trump and the American Future,” you discussed a lot of the less radical policy views. Just 20 or so years ago, when you were speaker of the House, Republicans and Democrats were able to agree on things like a balanced budget, other policies. What has happened to the left in the past couple of decades and why?
Gingrich: I think we’ve had three generations of brainwashing going back to Herbert Marcuse at Berkeley in the early 1960s. And I think that they’ve grown bigger and bigger.
If you go back, I’ve recently been studying the period of 1967 to ’72. There were 2,500 bombings in that period. I mean, there was a genuine revolutionary left. They lost the fight, were basically crushed pretty decisively, but they were still there.
So their children and their grandchildren are now the people who are out and who are engaged in the kind of violence that we see—tearing down statues and looting stores—and their No. 1 characteristic is that they are anti-American.
Trinko: Speaking of the statues, we’ve obviously been seeing a time of great turbulence. In addition to the peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd, there’s been rioting, there’s been looting, as you said, statues have been torn down. And of course, it’s not just of Confederate generals. We’ve seen statues of [George] Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, others torn down.
So, you love history, you studied it, you’ve taught it. What do you think this moment means for America? And how will we look back on it?
Gingrich: Well, I think it’s a decisive moment and I don’t think we know yet how it’s going to work out.
Once you start tearing down statues, somebody hates the next statue, the statue after that. And then you end up with a statue that was built by freed slaves as a tribute to the man who freed them, Abraham Lincoln, is now inadequate, according to people who don’t have a clue what the Civil War was like, what Lincoln did, or how gigantic the change was. So you basically have barbarians.
And when the Taliban was destroying two giant Buddhist statues, 120-foot-tall and 170-foot-tall, in Afghanistan in 2001, virtually the entire world condemned them. And I would say the same thing now. These people are barbarians. They should be treated as barbarians, and we should recognize it. They don’t have any right to go out and destroy something randomly based on what the mob feels like doing tonight. I think that makes a big difference.
Trinko: You also write in the book about the importance of conservative outreach to minorities. At a time like now when racial tensions are so high in our country, what message do conservatives have for minorities?
Gingrich: I think that we should, as a general rule, be the party that wants to find success. The Democrats want to focus on white guilt. I think we should focus on black success and we should have a program.
When you see 18 Americans killed in Chicago in one day, you know it should be possible for us to do better than that. And I think that is really important for us to understand that all Americans deserve better than you’re seeing, for example, from what’s happening in Chicago or New York.
Now, New York has had a sudden explosion of additional people being killed. And of course, you have probably the worst mayor in the country, Bill de Blasio. So his reaction to every explosion of killings is to cut a billion dollars out of the police budget and not hire the 1,300 additional police that they were supposed to have to replace people who are retiring. So you’re going to have a smaller, underfunded police department.
And he’s doing this, by the way, in the middle of riots, in the middle of people out … destroying things, and in the middle of a genuine surge of people being killed. So New York is going to revert to the pre-Giuliani period and become a much, much more dangerous place than it has been.
Trinko: In the book, you also write about why you’re optimistic for space in the years ahead, including for space tourism. What do you think we should focus on when it comes to space? And do you really think most Americans would like to go there?
Gingrich: I think probably 30 to 40% of Americans would like to go there, which is close to a hundred million people, big enough to sustain the tourist industry.
And you are going to see, starting, I think, this year, people like Virgin Galactic, which is going to take people up into near space. Pretty pricey, maybe say $250,000. I’m not sure why anyone, unless you’re really rich, I would not recommend it, but it will be quite an experience.
And it’s the beginning. You’re going to see, as you see these reusable rockets such as recently took the astronauts back up to the space station and one was just actually fired yesterday—it goes up, comes back down, and gets to be reused—I think you’re going to see a continuing expansion of our capacity in space.
I think it’s one of the things that [President Donald] Trump has done, which is among the most important things that we’ve seen. I think it’s really, truly, remarkably important for Americans to be [in space], basically a zone of freedom. And the truth is, if we don’t go there, you are in fact going to pretty rapidly have the Chinese there, and they’re not going to produce the kind of rules for space that you and I are going to be very happy with.
Trinko: What do you think the consequences would be if China is producing the rules for space?
Gingrich: Well, I think that the country that dominates space has a huge advantage in trying to dominate the entire human race. And so the Chinese clearly want to do that, as we talked about. And I think that if we allowed them to gain dominance in space, it would have enormous implications for military and other capabilities on Earth.
Trinko: In “Trump and the American Future,” you also discussed the Supreme Court a lot, the attacks against Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve had several very important Supreme Court decisions, including a couple on abortion and sexual orientation and gender identity that were very disappointing to conservatives. How do you think conservatives should approach the Supreme Court going forward?
Gingrich: I have to say that the chief justice has been a huge disappointment. I have not understood his rationale. He strikes me—he’s opportunistic. He bounces back and forth in ways that I just can’t figure out what he’s doing. And I think in that sense, we need a couple more people to offset him. I think he’s the most disappointing Republican appointment since David Souter, who turned out to be totally unreliable.
Trinko: So we’re coming up on the Fourth of July this week, obviously. [The] Heritage Foundation, our parent organization, and Heritage Action for America are urging Americans around the 4th to share why they’re a proud American.
Do you think we have a patriotism problem in this nation right now? Do people still realize why America is so great? And if you think we do have a problem there, how do we fix this?
Gingrich: I think we clearly have a problem because you have fewer people today say they’re proud to be an American. Gallup just did a poll on this two weeks ago. The schools don’t teach patriotic history. They teach stuff that’s basically lies. Whereas I said earlier, we’ve had three generations of brainwashing.
You have an active anti-American movement. I would argue that institutionalized anti-Americanism is much more dangerous than institutionalized racism. And these people are deeply opposed to survival of the United States in the form it’s in right now.
So I do think that it’s important. I grew up at a time that I really learned a lot of American history and I really came to believe that we were in fact the foundation of freedom, because we were the first country in history to say that your personal rights come from God. And that was just an enormous revolution.
Trinko: Could you speak a little bit more about what you mean about the institutionalized anti-Americanism?
Gingrich: Sure. If you look at Antifa, it’s clearly committed to destroying America, they say so openly in their material. If you went through colleges and took down the most anti-American comments by professors, you could fill up a series of books with people who dislike America, believe America is evil.
The whole point of The New York Times’ 1619 Project was to convince us that America was founded the day slaves arrived. And it gets to a point where we had a senator, a democratic senator from Virginia, who said America invented slavery, which is a comment so ignorant that, even for a democratic senator, it’s appalling.
… The three people who founded Black Lives Matter are all Marxist, dedicated to destroying America. And they say something, read their material.
What we have, though, is a propaganda media that has replaced the news and the propaganda media is about as left-wing as the rest of the people I’m describing. So they don’t have any interest in going and looking at this.
You have a 16-year-old African American boy who [was] killed in the autonomous zone in Seattle yesterday. Do you see anybody from Black Lives Matter? Do you see any sudden outrage on the national media? No, that was an inappropriate death because when he wasn’t killed by a policeman, therefore, it must not have happened.
You get 18 people killed in Chicago in one day, is that something we should be worried about? Not according to the elite media and not according Black Lives Matter, because they weren’t killed in a politically correct way. So I think you have to be honest about what [you are] watching. And I think it scares people so they try not to think about it.
All these things that have happened since the tragic killing of George Floyd, which was terrible. And anybody who saw the eight and a half minute video has to believe that that policeman was doing something horrible.
That said, all of this spontaneous, nationwide violence had nothing to do with George Floyd. These are people waiting for the right excuse. They were out there with networks of activity.
I do a podcast and we did Andy Ngo, who’s a reporter who spent [time] writing a book on Antifa, he said these networks exist all over the country, and when they get an excuse, they become stunningly destructive. They didn’t emerge because of the destructiveness. They were there. They were ready. They were prepared. The destructiveness just was the most recent excuse.
Trinko: OK. Well, again, the book is called “Trump and the American Future.” Speaker Gingrich, thanks so much for joining us today.