Criminalizing Free Speech on Campus | Connecting the Dots with Dr Wilmer Leon (2024)

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Announcer (00:06):

Connecting the dots with Dr. Wilmer Leon, where the analysis of politics, culture, and history converge.

Wilmer Leon (00:15):

Welcome to the Connecting the Dots podcast with Dr. Wilmer Leon. I'm Wilmer Leon. Here's the point. We have a tendency to view current events as though they happen in a vacuum, failing to understand the broader historical context in which they occur. During each episode, my guests and I have probing, provocative, and in-depth discussions that connect the dots between these events and their broader historic contexts. This enables you to better understand and analyze the events that are impacting the global village in which we live on today's episode. The issue before us is the broader impact of the student protests in support of Palestine are having not only on their respective universities, but now across the country and across the globe. And for this to discuss this, my guest is a dear family friend, a student of political history. He as such, he's played a role in shaping history as we know it, and he worked with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton and others associated with the formation of the Black Panther Party for self-defense at College Merit College in Oakland, California. Later, he's worked as a political advisor and activist. He worked with a wide variety of black leaders in the Democratic Party throughout the state of California, as well as in Washington dc. He's the author of In Pursuit of America's Promise, memoirs of a Black Panther. He is Virtual Toussaint Murrell. Virtual, welcome to the show.

Virtual Murrell (01:57):

Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Leon. I'm happy to be here. Happy to be invited by you, my dear friend.

Wilmer Leon (02:03):

Thank you, sir. Thank you for joining us. What brings us really to this discussion, student protestors at Columbia University, they took over a building near the campus South Lawn, raising the prospect of further turmoil at the Ivy League institution. The university started suspending students who refuse to leave their pro-Palestinian encampment that is on campus grounds. This, while police recently clashed with students at the University of Texas at Austin and arrested dozens of students as they dismantled their encampment to protest Israel's war on Gaza, and these protests at Austin came as Columbia also began suspending students. These are just a few examples of the protests that are taking place at colleges and universities. The country, a top official from Morehouse College, said recently that the school is standing by its decision to have President Joe Biden serve as the 2024 commencement speaker. Despite backlash from students and faculty over biden's support for this war, virtual your thoughts, you and your understanding of student protests. You go back a few years, talk about some of the similarities and differences that you see playing themselves out on our TV and telephone screens today.

Virtual Murrell (03:35):

Upon reflection, Wilmer, I can say to you that student protest is important. Students are a valuable commodity. They speak with honesty, with a strong sense of morality, and they're bright and they are our future. We look at the students and say, why? Look what they're doing. They're preventing students from going to class. They are projecting antisemitism. I don't see that. I see students less confusing to the American people and the world than the politicians. The politicians, the elected leadership that we have here, they are the ones that seem confused. Little consistency on our policies of foreign policy in the Middle East has given rise to the students to make their moral claim. The similarity between the students today and the student activists and those who protested the war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia are similar in that regard.

We were protesting the war in Vietnam. That was an undeclared war. We were protesting the rights, the lack of rights for African-Americans in the United States defending democracy abroad in Vietnam for the fear of the red scare as they used to call it. But I'm amazed, I think I'm amazed at how soon we forget those of us who were activists in the sixties and the seventies, how soon we forget when we reach w Heights of academia, the political structure as we engage we to forget the moral voice of reasoning from our students, and they're pure. Are they making mistakes? Yes, of course. What is the mistake? I think the mistake, I'm not sure if it's the students making the mistakes or is this the delivery of the press, the media and how they describe the protest. Today, the media plays a major role in how we view any issue, foreign or domestic. No matter how it's presented, it is the role of the media to present it fair and just representation of the issue. I'm not so sure that's how it's been represented today. And so that's where I am.

Wilmer Leon (06:49):

Do you see, particularly as it's played itself out at Columbia University, do you see the government's response, and I'll use that term very broadly as an attack on academia, because we're seeing this play itself out on a number of campuses. Teachers, many faculty are siding with students. Those faculty members are being threatened. Even those that are trying to stay above the fray are being attacked. The presidents of these universities are being attacked. Do you see this protest as an excuse by many in administration to attack academia?

Virtual Murrell (07:41):

Yes, of course. The faculty present their case. They teach us. They give us what we need to know to prepare us for the next world, the next life in terms of after we leave college. But I'm more concerned, I'm less concerned about the academics because academic freedoms will survive and it must survive because without academic freedom, there's no free speech. I'm more concerned that the administration of the various colleges and universities are ill-prepared to respond and deal with student protests. They don't know what to do. I would've thought after the years and years of protest of the past that someone would've done an analysis or study and put together a program, how it could be resolved in a more amicable way. For an example, why didn't someone call Dr. Wilmer? Why didn't someone call you? Why didn't someone call me? Why didn't someone call Bobby Seale? So there are instruments and vehicles that they could use to seek advice, but they talk to each other.

Wilmer Leon (09:10):

They talk to each other and well,

Virtual Murrell (09:13):

One more thing. As a result of talking to each other, they reinvent a wheel that is rusty and doomed to fail,

Wilmer Leon (09:24):

As we have seen it fail in the past. One of the things that, one of the reasons why they haven't called the folks that you mentioned or others, they're not interested in that level or that particular area of analysis. And also what I see here is the Israeli lobby playing such an important, a powerful role in that they won't tolerate any level of dissent in regards to the Zionist genocidal policies that are playing itself out in that settler colonial state. They won't tolerate any level of dissent, which is I believe what we're seeing, which is why so many, for example, look at what transpired at UCLA, the valedictorian and Asian American woman, a Muslim who is pro-Palestinian. She's the valedictorian of her class, 3.98 GPA on a 4.0 scale. First, they don't allow her to deliver her address. Then they decide to cancel graduation, and the excuse that they use is, oh, we received so many threats to her life that for her safety, we're doing this. That's not what happened. What happened is the wealthy benefactors that are in line with the interests of Zionism, they are pulling their money and they're threatening from pulling their funding from the institution. That's why the institution changed and canceled graduation because they're more concerned about the funding than they are concerned about academic freedom.

Virtual Murrell (11:23):

My question is whether or not academic freedom can be bought,

Wilmer Leon (11:29):

I think it can be stifled.

Virtual Murrell (11:32):

And so if it can be stifled, who suffers from it?

Wilmer Leon (11:37):

We all do. The entire country does. If not the world,

Virtual Murrell (11:41):

I think it's a cowardly act.

Wilmer Leon (11:43):

You are correct

Virtual Murrell (11:44):

For mature adults in academia and in government to blame students and not accept their role as part and parcel of the problem that allow for students to protest this undeclared war that allow us without question unfailingly to support one side or the other for financial reasons. It is a problem, it's a moral issue. And all wars to some degree. There's a moral question. If they would've asked me how to resolve this problem, I could not have fixed it, but I could have recommended a better solution than what I'm observing today. And I don't understand why they don't call the students in on all sides and get them all the benefit of understanding.

It's not about you. It's not about any particular group. It's about the ability to protest, it's ability to raise the level of debate college if for no other reason should be about to discuss ideas and conflict. That's what I thought it was for as the process of learning, of being educated. I asked a person recently, a young person, nah, about 19 years old, what are you doing? Are you supporting the protests? They said, yes, but I'm not on the streets, but I am supporting it. Do you know how many students may feel that way across this country for fear of retribution? In some respects, others are saying, I don't want to disappoint my parents for paying for my education, so I will quietly protest.

If you recall, during the Vietnam conflict, it was the students that led us out of Vietnam, Kent State, Jackson State, the deaths on Kent State's campus and on this campus of Jackson State, which is an HBCU school, and no one ever mentions when all of these issues of protesting come down. It's Jackson State and Southern, I mean, I'm sorry, it's not Jackson State, it's Kent State and Southern University. But the two dominant ones of that period in 1970 was Kent State with the National Guard because they protested the invasion, America's invasion into Southeast Asia. You remember seeing visually the students running across the open field, the grass, the hilly grass on campus there with the National Guard chasing them and firing rifles. How can that happen in America, land of the free home of the brave, the Democratic society, an example for the world of how democracy is to work. I rest

Wilmer Leon (15:16):

Well, a couple of things. One, there's a lot of discussion in the halls of Congress. The speaker of the house was at Columbia and he was talking about Jewish students feeling threatened Jewish students being attacked. And to your point earlier you said you haven't seen it. You haven't seen it because no evidence to support it has been presented. This is, and I'm not saying that there aren't students walking across campus that someone may make a comment to them or something innocuous, but from what I have been able to discern, 85% of that stuff isn't really happening. It's being blown out of proportion. There's no evidence to support this position that Jewish students are being threatened. In fact, when you look at the organizations that are participating in the demonstration, Jewish Voices for Peace, not in our name. When you look at some of the folks that showed up at Columbia University like Naomi Klein, there are a lot of American Jews that are in support of this protest, not against the protest. So those in the media as you referenced, who are in some binary type of thinking, them versus us, it's not nearly that complex. I mean,

Virtual Murrell (16:54):

I think it's rather odd that the House of Representatives cannot come together to create policy for the American people, yet they can form a bipartisan relationship to deal with indefensible students. Students that don't have the only armor that they have to defend themselves is they were the armor of morality. It exposes this government and the Congress both sides of the aisle for their intractable positions. And in doing so, we stand behind some of us, the courageous efforts of the students to bring together an understanding of what's going on. We were lied to about Vietnam, and students believe they're being lied to about what's going on in Gaza. They believe that some even believe that the Gaza Strip is designed and set up for future development. Ocean front properties.

Wilmer Leon (18:22):

Well, thank you. Jails,

Virtual Murrell (18:24):

Commercial Kushner. So the question is who is to control it? Well, I won't get into that. That's not really my feel. I'm suggesting, and I should not have necessarily said that's what I've heard. But most of us speak on rumors. So I thought I would share one.

Wilmer Leon (18:40):

No, that's not a rumor. Jared Kushner was very, very clear. Donald son-in-law was very, very clear. I heard him say it that this is great beachfront property and we can't wait to develop this. That's not a rumor.

Virtual Murrell (18:54):

Can't develop it if you can't control it,

Wilmer Leon (18:57):

Control it. Well, and

Virtual Murrell (18:58):

Not only that, going all the way back to ancient times, medieval times war is about the expansion of territory. And at the bottom line of the expansion of territory is economic gain. That may never stop. But let's not lie to the American people.

Wilmer Leon (19:19):

Well, and you raise the question about the irony that they can't find a coalition, a bipartisan coalition to pass a budget. They can't find a bipartisan coalition for voting rights. They can't find a bipartisan commission for hardly anything, but they can come together on this. Well, APAC has come out and said they're spending a hundred million dollars on campaigns for the 2024 election, putting money in the coffers of those that will support their Zionist colony. And there's Zionist interest. So they're spending money on both sides of the aisle.

Virtual Murrell (20:02):

But let's examine that for a moment. It's been declared by the courts that to deny anyone to write checks, to put 'em where to place 'em where they want to is in violation of First Amendment free speech. However, APAC naacp, they all have the right to do so and they all should do so. The question is, where are the stop gaps? Where is the issue? See, I always often, I should say, reflect on the courage of morality. I go back to if we have the principles of the founders of this society, that alone should embolden in you. If that doesn't embolden you, who will defend America's form of democracy? The most ironic government in the world, right? I say ironic because it is all right. It goes back and forth. It shifts. I don't always know where we are. But rather than confuse your viewers, let me just add something to all of this, and that might help to put it in perspective today in 2014, who is America?

I'm sorry, in 2024, who is America? Who is America? What does America stands for in 2024? Are there the same government with the same principles? We stood on pre World War ii, post-War, war ii, Korea, who are we? Are we the same government, the same people that went through the civil rights period where we established the civil rights law, the Voting Rights Act? Who are we or are we in constant flux in trying to capture and define who we are as a nation? There's a battle brewing and it's been going on since the foundation or who we are. Alexis Ville questioned who we were. I'm questioning who we are. We all need to question who we are and whoever we are, we need to stand up for it. Whoever you believe and I believe that we are, then you need to stand on that principle of courage.

Wilmer Leon (22:44):

And I want to add to that, who are we in a changing world? Because where we were in 1940, where we were in 1960, we after post World War ii, we were the unitary imperial hegemon. We ran the world. Now we're moving from a unipolar to a multipolar world. China is ascending. Russia is ascending with the creation of the bricks, which is Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa. And now the Saudis want to join bricks of Venezuelans, a whole lot of folks. So the global dynamic is shifting and the United States can no longer tell the world jump and the rest of the world asks how high. So in that shift in the global landscape, who are we? What are we about and what are we going to do? Because China is ascending economically, and our response to the ascension of China seems to be militarism, not economics. So that I think also has to be added to the question that you've posed.

Virtual Murrell (24:13):

The world in terms of power and economics evolves. And so America,

Wilmer Leon (24:25):

Every empire fails

Virtual Murrell (24:27):


Wilmer Leon (24:28):

Every empire fails

Virtual Murrell (24:30):

Like Russia, like China, imperialist, Japan, Africa, the Sangha, Maori kingdoms and so on. They all fail. They all fail, but they don't fail externally. They fail internally. Confusion, frustration, egomaniacal leadership, tyrannical leadership, they fail. The course of America is on. Today is a threat. We're not threatened by the external forces. We're threatened by the internal forces of indecisiveness and being on the wrong side of just, or what is just when do we fall on the right side of just the right side of just must be demanded by the population, by the people? Cause we are the people. What does the constant say? Constitu say we the people, not we have the people and we the other half it says we the people. The more we recognize that as we the people, we are the government. That's why the students are extremely important to my framework, to my frame of thinking. I love the challenge that they're presenting to this government. And all the government can say is send in the police, arrest them, arrest the outside agitators. They want to blame everyone but themselves. But the government itself,

Wilmer Leon (26:23):

President Biden in part of his 2024 messaging, which is incredibly lacking, but that's a whole nother conversation. One of the things that he talks about in reference to Donald Trump is that democracy is under attack. That if you vote for Donald Trump, you're voting for the cheapening, the lessening, the attack on democracy. The first amendment of the Constitution reads as follows, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people to peaceably, to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Virtual Murrell (27:17):

That part is not the Constitution, that part is the moral document of the United States as the Declaration of Independence. The part the last. Right,

Wilmer Leon (27:28):


Virtual Murrell (27:29):

And what does that mean?

Wilmer Leon (27:31):

Well explain what you mean by that. So people don't think that I'm confusing constitute the First Amendment and the Declaration of Independence. Declar, explain what you

Virtual Murrell (27:39):

Mean by that. The Declaration of Independence says to the American people that you have the right to redress your grievance. And in the course of human events, let me just paraphrase. When things aren't going right, you have the right to rebel. You have the right to address your government about your issues. You have that right to peacefully assemble. You have that right

Wilmer Leon (28:04):

And to pick up arms if it gets to that point.

Virtual Murrell (28:06):

But remember one thing, the Constitution is always quoted, but really, if ever do we hear about the Declaration of Independence,

Wilmer Leon (28:16):

You're a dot. You're connecting a dot on connecting the dots. Because your point is that part of the First Amendment came out of the Declaration of Independence, correct? You are absolutely right. So as Joe Biden wants to continually refer to January 6th and the uprising on January 6th as a threat to democracy, and we must vote Democrat and vote for Joe Biden because he's going to protect our democracy. He is undermining the democracy by championing, agreeing with and facilitating the attack on these students.

Virtual Murrell (29:02):

Let's say this, as I said a moment ago, the students aren't the problem.

Wilmer Leon (29:08):


Virtual Murrell (29:09):

It's the government. It's the government. It's not Joe Biden, it's not Donald Trump. It's all of those who stand in the way of the students to identify the problem. And if it's not resolved because somebody or some bodies want to be the leader of America, that's a different issue. Completely different issue. I saw a note earlier this young lady said it's about Trump invited and it was troubling and it was troubling when the comment was made. To me, if an African-American voter has to decide between Trump and Biden, then that person isn't black. Who the hell can identify who is and who isn't black? That's not black. That's troubling. Joe Biden thinks he can. It's troubling. But lemme say this, let me say this. I don't want to jump on Joe Biden without jumping on Trump. Okay, now let me say this. The value value of the President of the United States is not a free economy per se. It's not small or big business. It is defending the rights of the American people, the Constitution. Well, we are witnessing a political entity who decided, who decided that they were going to stand in the way and block then President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court runs America, not the United States Congress. The Supreme Court runs America. We are witnessing it today, we're witnessing on abortion. We're witnessing on when they took out the section from the Justice Department to oversee voting rights act. We're witnessing. That's policy. You can call it law, but law is policy and policy is law. And so I will not and cannot forget that the most valuable thing the United States President can ever do is to nominate members of the United States Supreme Court and the federal judiciary as well. It is critical. Poverty is poverty. We're going to get out of it. One thing about African-Americans, we've hung our head high. We do not hang our head low. We've been to the lowest, now we're going to the high. We'll be fine. We'll be fine. We understand that in order to survive in this country and thrive, we must be able to get an education.

We must be able to fight to address our grievances with the court. And then we must have the right to vote. The right to vote also means you must have the right not to vote, but not to vote. Not because, oh, my person ain't going to win. Not for that reason, because for the ultimate, oh, then so much. Well, so-and-so won by one vote. Yes, that was important, but it's not as critical as understanding that you do have that power and that power needs to be harnessed and organized. Don't you remember Wilmer when in the sixties we didn't, in the South, they didn't have the right to vote. We got the right to vote and they begin to represent black Americans throughout the south. And that just exploded throughout America.

Wilmer Leon (33:25):

That happened after the Civil War in the south. That's why we had reconstruction. And that's why reconstruction was violently brought to an end.

Virtual Murrell (33:35):

Well, no reconstruction one was brought to an end. We are in reconstruction two today.

Wilmer Leon (33:42):

Oh, well yeah, I was talking about post civil War.

Virtual Murrell (33:44):

Yes, I get it, I get it. But you raised the correct point. And that is white primaries, Plessy versus Ferguson poll. Taxes, taxes, poll, tax. They're all coming back in a more sophisticated stealth form. Gerrymandering voting is one for an example. So we must spend time. I said this to some students recently, I figured out at least for myself, that the issues we deal with in America, African-Americans, our differences, our issues a little bit different from other ethnic groups. First of all, we're not people of color sharing the same experience. We're a black with a unique experience. That unique experience was the experience of inhumanity, of enslavement. No other group can claim that. And I don't want to claim it as a virtue. I'm claiming it as a historical fact. Now we understand what it's like to go through all these changes in the world, but we must stop being on the defensive end of it when something happens, we follow.

I'll give you a key example. Oh, the small business administration, the courts have ruled against minorities in the eight A program, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Well, okay, fine, they never really supported in the first place, but that isn't the problem. The problem is we react to it and say what we must do. So we're on the defensive, we're always punting. We're never carrying the ball across the goal. It is time. We advance the proposition of not being on the defensive but carrying the ball and moving forward. And rather than relate to that issue on small business, let's raise the banner, raise the bar and score if that makes any sense to you.

Wilmer Leon (35:52):

Oh, that makes perfect sense to me. I think an apt description of what you've just laid out or articulated is we spend too much time going along to get along and we don't spend enough time championing, articulating and ensuring that our interests are at the forefront and being addressed because there are interests. And we keep being told, not now, not now be patient. Yours will come by and by vote for the Democrats or vote for whoever. They'll take care of it. And we want, in fact, there is an interesting piece to this point. I'm glad you made that point about the point about Joe Biden saying in the 2020 campaign, if you vote for Donald Trump, then you ain't black. There is a piece, fewer black voters plan to vote in 2024. Post Ipsos poll finds 1300 black adults finds that a poll of more than 1300 black adults finds 62% of black Americans say they're absolutely certain to vote.

That's down from 74% in June of 2020. And then they go on and they quote some individuals that they interviewed. And this one young lady says that she's not going to vote for Biden because of the way the economy is going, how inflation is going. The issue on Palestine, Biden has not delivered on the criminal justice police and voting rights reforms that he campaigned on. And other people mentioned the Middle East conflict, I'll read that again. Biden has not delivered on the criminal justice police and voting rights reforms that he campaigned on. What they're saying is, you came to us for our vote. You promised us policy initiatives and you have failed to deliver on those policy initiatives. Now you come back to us, ask us for your vote again. And more people in the community are saying, we're not falling for the banana. And the tailpipe trick again,

Virtual Murrell (38:14):

Let me respond to that. The way a Philip Randolph responded to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president Roosevelt, they were having a discussion about the needs of African Americans and they, Phillip Random. I said, whatcha going do about it? Roosevelt responded and said,

Wilmer Leon (38:40):

Go, make me do it.

Virtual Murrell (38:41):

Make me do it. So we have to, the moral of the story is we have to make them do it.

Wilmer Leon (38:49):


Virtual Murrell (38:50):

Now. And in saying that, I say this, so the front page stories or the talk show hosts are talking about black men not voting and why aren't they voting? You want us to vote, but what do we get for the vote? Oh, you get a Supreme Court justice. Oh, you don't get to tell the banks that control the mortgages that African-Americans are suffering because we don't have home ownership. In Los Angeles in 19 18, 30 6% of the American people owned their own homes. 36% had their own mortgage as far cry from today in 2024. So the question is, you want us with you and I would like to be with you, but make me be with you. Make me be with you. And how do you do that? Well, there's enough on your desk to show you what you haven't done. Now lemme switch over to Trump. Lemme switch over to Trump. This society is prepared to say to us, first of all, lemme say this, you shouldn't need any black votes to beat Trump.

Wilmer Leon (40:16):

We're only 13% of the population.

Virtual Murrell (40:19):

No, not for that reason. No, not for that reason, Leon. It's because there are some white people that say that they support Biden that obviously do not.

Wilmer Leon (40:29):

But that goes to my point. We're only 13%. So if you were able to rally your own, you wouldn't need

Virtual Murrell (40:39):

Us. But I'm going to a different issue. I

Wilmer Leon (40:42):


Virtual Murrell (40:42):

That I'm, I'm saying that there are, they're

Wilmer Leon (40:46):


Virtual Murrell (40:47):

There are a great number of people that are being very stealth in their relationship with questioners questionnaires about how they feel about Trump. Because if I don't understand polls being almost even right now, it makes no sense. So you want to lean on African-Americans, but you don't want to lean on the white middle class. But the white middle class gained more than black supporters gained from any administration, Republican or Democrat. What Trump is saying is this, democracy is fine, but I'm going to redefine it. I'm going to redefine it for the people that support me.

So it's not for the soul of the Democratic party, it's not for the soul of democracy, it's for the soul of your politics. So in the soul and for the soul of your politics, I would encourage and urge the President to demonstrate what African-Americans get for being with. See white folks know what they get for being with Trump. We don't know what we get for being with Biden. For an example, Ginsburg, they want to praise Ginsburg for being this person on the Supreme Court. We know where she was, we know her background. But what we don't say to her is what we don't say. Why didn't she retire from the bench and give Obama a chance to put someone on the bench like Kenji Jackson or others like her? So are we novelists at this game or what am I in my sophom*ore year of college and I don't understand America, what is going on with us? So I'm raising questions I find by raising questions I may get answers.

Wilmer Leon (42:53):

You may get answers. Well, to your point, Trump and a lot of people don't pay attention to this language. I'm drawing a blank on the guy that was his key political advisor in 2020.

Virtual Murrell (43:13):

You talking about Trump or

Wilmer Leon (43:14):

Trump's Trump's key advice? I'm drawing a blank.

Virtual Murrell (43:16):

Steve Bannon, Steve Bannon,

Wilmer Leon (43:17):

Steve Bannon, Steve Bannon talked in terms of deconstructing the administrative state in a lot that has gone over the heads of a lot of people. He said, we are going to deconstruct the administrative state. He's talking about attacking the constitution and folks that has fallen on deaf ears. People seem to forget the fact that that was ever stated. But I want to get back to this piece that's in the Washington Post that we've just been talking about. Again, the title is Fewer Black Voters Plan a Vote in 2024 Post Ipsos Poll finds. Because that story in and of itself speaks about an incredible reality. But there's also another element to how that story is being used, because that story is part of a number of stories that are laying the groundwork to blame African-Americans. If Joe Biden loses, and again, we're here to connect the dots. This story in a vacuum is very telling. And it's true. Joe Biden is losing the African-American base of support. But it's not because we're indifferent. It's not because we're apolitical. It's not because we're disinterested. It's because you haven't given us anything to vote for. And my years in studying political science in virtual, you tell me if I'm right or wrong, people are more inclined to vote for something than they are to vote against something.

Virtual Murrell (45:17):

The question is whether or not you won an enthusiast.

Wilmer Leon (45:20):

Oh wait minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. One more point. Because they did the same thing when Hillary Clinton lost. When Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. They blamed us. Oh, black people in Michigan didn't turn out. Oh, black people in Pennsylvania didn't turn out. They tried and there were a lot of black people in Hillary's campaign that tried to blame the black. It wasn't that we didn't turn out. It was that Hillary Clinton didn't give us any reason

Virtual Murrell (45:46):

To. Well, I think also you must, when you say that, you also got to add that white women supported Trump.

Wilmer Leon (45:54):

That's true too. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. That's true too. In fact, because a lot of those suburban white women that had that traditionally were voting Republican, that during the Obama administration voted for Barack Obama, they reverted back to voting Republican.

Virtual Murrell (46:20):

Well see we went to the apex of politics when Obama was elected president. And so you had a number of Americans, let's say, who would say, how could this have happened? And not only did it happen once, it happened twice, Obama's the only person that receive that won the presidency back to back with 50 plus percent of the vote. If you recall, bill Clinton had less than 48% of the vote the first, the second time. And 43% of the vote the second, the first time. And then we lost reelection with Carter in 1980. And so from 1980, well actually from the election of 80 until Obama's election, no Democrat had ever been elected twice except Obama. Since when? Can you remember the last time a Democrat won was reelected?

Wilmer Leon (47:25):

No, Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson didn't.

Virtual Murrell (47:29):

No. With 50% of the vote is what I'm saying. No, because Kennedy was a two term president, but not with 50% of the vote. And all of a sudden Trump said, I see my opening and I'll just create a controversy. He wasn't born in the United States. He's an illegal president. And that carried him because there are enough white people who wanted to believe that. I can't believe it. How did

Wilmer Leon (47:58):

He become,

Virtual Murrell (47:59):

He's a Muslim president less than 150 years outside from the Emancipation Proclamation and this guy's president of the United States, look what they could do in another a hundred years. So I look at politics as a method of delivering benefits. If you're in Oakland, California where we have history and then we support a mayor and this person, a candidate, and this person becomes the mayor, and we say, well, I'm bringing my winner's ticket to the winner's window. What do I get? I'm cashing in. But there are people that are able to bring the, they're losing tickets to the winner's table and win. There's something wrong with that calculation. But white privilege has always had its advantage. And that's why it's white privilege. They have the advantage that we don't have and will happen that way until we challenge the precepts. Until we find another parent, Mitchell, another Ron Dells another bill Clay, Charlie Wrangle sto. Until we, Barbara Jordan, until we find this old guard, we're not going to be able to compete. Period.

Wilmer Leon (49:28):

It's important I think at this stage of the conversation to delineate or differentiate between direct versus indirect beneficiaries. Politics is the debate over the distribution of limited resources, the allocation and distribution of limited

Virtual Murrell (49:50):

Resources. That is an aspect of politics. Yes.

Wilmer Leon (49:53):

And so Barack Obama wins his first term. What is the first piece of legislation that he signs? This is debatable. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That is a payoff to the women that supported him. He gives us the Dream Act. The Obama administration gives us the Dream Act that's a payoff to the Latino community that voted for him. First American president to come out and support same-sex marriage. What does that do? That's a payoff to the alphabet community, the L-G-B-T-Q community for supporting him. That's politics. That's what's supposed to happen. Your constituents who successfully put you in office, get paid back for supporting and putting you in office. What do we get? Oh, well there are black women that those are direct beneficiaries, but

Virtual Murrell (51:06):

It's never the president's fault because you don't get anything without a demand.

Wilmer Leon (51:14):

Oh wait minute, minute. Hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on. Because you're right. But those are direct beneficiaries of participating in the process. We're told we're supposed to be happy being indirect beneficiaries because there are black people in the L-G-B-T-Q community, there are black women that are going to benefit from the Lily led better Fair Pay Act. There are black people that are going to vote. I mean, so we are supposed to be happy as indirect beneficiaries when real politics, the real winners are direct beneficiaries.

Virtual Murrell (51:55):

You cannot fault when we have representations in the name of the Congressional Black caucus. You can't fault white folks that don't represent our interests.

Wilmer Leon (52:08):


Virtual Murrell (52:08):

Who don't deliver. Look, in 1968, Nixon was president. The Congressional black caucus went to Nixon and they were able to negotiate benefits for the black community. And that happened on and on and on and on until recently until the last 20 years or so. And why is that? And there's a reason for it because in the old days, I say old days among the initial group of congressional black caucus of members, they grew out of black activism. They grew out of the black community. They were with the OEO program. The executive directors of OEO program like Parent Mitchell was executive director. They all, bill Clay came off the city council and alderman in St. Louis. And he was a part of the labor community or interest there. I mean, the point is they came out of activism that taught them through practice what politics was about and how you get what you want to get, what you need to have.

And so we have been let down in a sense, not by individual members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but we've been let down by those members as a group who are Democrats first and black second and we are fed or they are fed the thought, well if you're not with us on this, we could lose the majority. If you're not winner us on that, we will not regain the majority. So we are always the numbers that make a difference, but what we get for it, I'm waiting to see it materialize. And so I don't want to blame or put at fault the Democrats nor the Republicans. I want to put at fault those who negotiate for black people. In other words, if you have a labor union and virtual morale is your labor representative and I come back and we want a $10 an hour raise and we only get a $6 an hour raise, somebody's going to say we need another representative. We need a different business agent. Because this is not significantly different from what we had before. So we need now listen, the guy who initiated the legislation on the antisemitism was a black guy out in New York.

Wilmer Leon (54:45):

Yes, he's

Virtual Murrell (54:46):

Cause that was his constituency.

Wilmer Leon (54:48):

Yes sir. Was he

Virtual Murrell (54:49):

Wrong to do that? No, because politically he was working for his constituency. I get that. Well what about me?

Wilmer Leon (54:59):

What? Wait a minute, wait a minute. See, because he is wrong. Because you made the point. They're Democrats first and black second. What? I'm drawing a blank on a guy's name from New York, what he

Virtual Murrell (55:15):

Torre Torres Torres,

Wilmer Leon (55:17):

What he fails to appreciate is Palestinians are black.

Virtual Murrell (55:22):

No, he didn't fail. No, no, no. Absolutely not. Yes, yes, yes, yes. No. What he was relating to is how many checks he'd get from the Jewish community. But wait a minute, he didn't.

Wilmer Leon (55:35):

That's my point. He didn't care.

Virtual Murrell (55:37):

That's my point. He didn't care about anything else because the Jewish community controls Manhattan.

Wilmer Leon (55:44):

We're saying the same thing virtually. Okay, alright. We're just coming at it from different sides of the equation. But no, we're saying the same. There's no way in the world that any black man in any position of power or black woman in any position of power should be siding with Zionist. You are supporting genocide.

Virtual Murrell (56:08):


Wilmer Leon (56:09):

Supporting genocide.

Virtual Murrell (56:10):

See, you're going back to an issue, and I'm trying to lay out a distinction.

Wilmer Leon (56:18):

Richie Torres,

Virtual Murrell (56:19):

He is a Democrat. He's not black. And he's not black in his politics. He's a Democrat in his politics. So if that's true, and if you can agree with that, then the conclusion is yes, he supports genocide.

Wilmer Leon (56:37):

That's what I said.

Virtual Murrell (56:39):

No, I'm saying, but that's the rational conclusion.

Wilmer Leon (56:43):

Okay. And Hakeem Jeffries is in the boat. Gregory Meeks is in the boat. Kamala Harris is in the, wait a minute, they all support attacking Haiti. They all support the re invasion of Haiti under the global fragility. But I

Virtual Murrell (56:59):

Have given you a premise. And the premise is that their priority is being a Democrat.

Wilmer Leon (57:09):

I agree with

Virtual Murrell (57:10):

You. Okay. Because that is their priority. Then you can't distinguish them from the overall policy that Democrats support.

Wilmer Leon (57:19):

I agree with you. Wait a minute. And that goes back to a point that you made earlier. That's immoral politics.

Virtual Murrell (57:29):

Yes it is. How do you come out?

Wilmer Leon (57:34):

See, I'm listening to you

Virtual Murrell (57:35):

Support Israel. Good, bad or indifferent, but you can't support Haiti. Thank you. Explain that one to me.

Wilmer Leon (57:44):

It's inexplicable. You can't explain it. You might as well ask me. And I agree with you a thousand percent. I just want to say it this way to make the point. You might as well ask me to explain how one plus one equals seven because I can't, and I've taken a lot of years of math to get a PhD. I can't tell you why one plus one equals seven. And that's exactly what these fools are doing. It is immoral.

Virtual Murrell (58:18):

Yes it is. Yes it is. And you and most of the people that I know were raised with a great sense of moral values, period. That's the way we were raised.

Wilmer Leon (58:30):

Right. You know this, my father used to say to me all the time, son, the one thing about right, it's always right. And the one thing about wrong, it's always wrong,

Virtual Murrell (58:45):

But the politicians

Wilmer Leon (58:46):

So do right.

Virtual Murrell (58:47):

But the politicians will have you to believe that power determines right. The power determines wrong and they often do that. But it has nothing to do with what's morally correct.

Wilmer Leon (58:58):

That is Amen my brother nothing. Amen. So let me ask you this in just a couple minutes we have left. Is this an opportunity with the black vote trending? And as we sit here now, we're still months away from the election so things can change. But as we sit here now and the black vote is trending away from Biden, and Biden can't win without us because right now, as we sit here today, his approval rating is according to real clear politics, 39.7%. His disapproval rating is 56.4. When you ask the public, is the country heading in the right direction or the wrong direction? 24.3% of those poll believe it is 65.3. I'm sorry, 65.3 believe that it's not. And in battleground states, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada, Trump is, Biden is losing to Trump in some of those states outside the margin of error. So with all of that being laid out, is this the opportunity for us to say to Democrats, we want our peace, we want it now, and you can't win without us

Virtual Murrell (01:00:36):

Response. My response would be this. Number one, a poll taken in May of 2024 in elections in November is way too early to make final determinations.

Wilmer Leon (01:00:46):

Well that's why I said

Virtual Murrell (01:00:48):

Me. Ask me.

Wilmer Leon (01:00:49):

That's why I prefaced my point. My question with that point,

Virtual Murrell (01:00:53):

Ask me in September.

Wilmer Leon (01:00:56):

No, no, no. As we sit here now,

Virtual Murrell (01:00:57):

Lemme finish what I'm saying. Lemme finish what I'm saying. Alright. I will be more able to read this selection after Labor day of this year. Now in terms of, is this the time for black people to plant their flag? No, it's not the time because we don't have a plan.

Wilmer Leon (01:01:17):


Virtual Murrell (01:01:19):

It's like Ossie Davis used to say when they put together a congressional black caucus, it's not the man,

Wilmer Leon (01:01:25):

It's the plan. It's the plan.

Virtual Murrell (01:01:27):

And so to do anything without a plan, it's almost political suicide. So we do need a plan. And until that happens, when we go to the polls, people will be urged to support the incumbent because the incumbent comes closest to us upon our wishlist than does is opponent. That part I absolutely agree with, concur with the problem is we cannot continue to go on and on and on and accept a sedative and fall asleep for four years. We need a plan and someone is going to come along. The modern day, black Moses is going to put together and put together a plan for black America to advance and further than we have. We haven't made any advancement in the last, you can say that the election of Obama was an advancement. You can say that Kamala Harris' Vice President is an advance. Yes. You can say that.

Those are individual advancements. And when they leave, will there be another one? One day? Yeah, maybe one day. What we haven't done is to institutionalize our concerns and put together a short term agenda to make those dreams come real, become true. And you can't do it by having a list of 20 items. Just give me two or three items that we want to work on and let's make that happen. And when we make that happen, then I think we're moving closer to having what I think we need to have to make a difference. And that's leverage. Without leverage, we have no power. We have no influence without the lever. And understanding that leverage.

Wilmer Leon (01:03:19):

And to your point as we get out, to your point about Kamala, and to your point about Barack Obama, those are achievements to your point for the individuals, the question to the audience is how has your quality of life improved? How has your circ*mstance improved with an African-American president with an African-American Vice President, as the rate of homelessness increases in this country as unemployment increases contrary to the data that they want to use increases in this country.

Virtual Murrell (01:03:59):

I know you have to cut off, but let me ask you this. After Jackie Robinson, there was Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Larry Doy, so from Roberto Clementine and so forth and so on, after Obama, there's who?

Wilmer Leon (01:04:12):

And when you lay out Jackie, who, wait a minute, wait a minute. And with the point of Jackie Robinson, when you talk about Hank Aaron, and when you talk about Dolby and the rest of them, they decimated the Negro Leagues in order to get those

Virtual Murrell (01:04:29):

Individuals. But you're missing what I

Wilmer Leon (01:04:31):

Just, no, I'm not missing your point. Virtual. They adding another point.

Virtual Murrell (01:04:35):

I know, but the only reason I'm short circling the conversation cause I know you got to get off.

Wilmer Leon (01:04:40):

But no, there's nobody, to your point.

Virtual Murrell (01:04:43):

Yeah, that's right. There's nobody, there's, but after Jackie, we had some bodies,

Wilmer Leon (01:04:50):

Right? We had a whole bunch of bodies

Virtual Murrell (01:04:52):

Until they figured out there's too many black folks in the major leagues.

Wilmer Leon (01:04:56):

That's a conversation for another day. Yes, it's that's something that's near and dear to my heart.

Virtual Murrell (01:05:01):

Might as well,

Wilmer Leon (01:05:02):

Very dear to my, and a big shout out to the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League in Richmond, Virginia and the Negro Little League World Series.

Virtual Murrell (01:05:10):

I'm going to give a shout out to McClymonds High School that sent to America, bill Russell, Frank Veder, PE Peon, and Kurt Flood and so on

Wilmer Leon (01:05:19):

In Pursuit of America's Promise, memoirs of a Black Panther. Virtual Morre is the author, he's been my guest. Virtual. Where do people go to get the book,

Virtual Murrell (01:05:29):

Virtual Just go online and send it to Virtual and you'll get your autograph signed. Copy of the book,

Wilmer Leon (01:05:41):

My brother. Thank you Virtual. Really appreciate it. Thank you so

Virtual Murrell (01:05:44):

Much. And thank you for all that you do to inform your listeners, your viewers of what's going on in America.

Wilmer Leon (01:05:51):

Well, as a brother from Sacramento, California that spent an awful lot of his formative years in Oakland, I stand on the shoulders of brothers like you. So thank you Virtual. I truly, truly appreciate it. Folks, thank you so much for listening to the Connecting the Dots podcast with me, Dr. Wier Leon. Stay tuned for new episodes every week. This is where the analysis of politics, culture, and history converge because talk without analysis is just chatter and we don't chatter on connecting the dots. See you again next time. Until then, I'm Dr. Wimer Leon. Have a great one. Peace and blessings. I'm out

Announcer (01:06:36):

Connecting the dots with Dr. Wilmer Leon, where the analysis of politics, culture, and history converge.

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