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Interview with Dr. Marvin Olasky

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Olasky, Marvin N. ; McKiernan, Stephen


Dr. Marvin Olasky is an editor, an author of more than 20 books and a distinguished chair in Journalism and Public Policy at Patrick Henry College. He received his Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from Yale University and his Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan. Olasky left his position of provost of the King's College to focus on his position of editor-in-chief of WORLD Magazine.




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McKiernan Interviews
Interview with: Marvin Olasky
Interviewed by: Stephen McKiernan
Transcriber: REV
Date of interview: 23 November 2010
(Start of Interview)

SM (00:00:04):
Testing one, two.

MO (00:00:08):
Yeah. A company is putting out his first in comic book perform, and then they will all be accumulated next spring. So.

SM (00:00:17):

MO (00:00:17):
Some kind of fun writing fiction.

SM (00:00:20):
My first question is how did you become who you are? You are a fry edge boomer, which is those boomers born in those first 10 years, between (19)46 and (19)56. So how did you become who you are? And secondly, when you look at who you are, you went to Yale and graduated in (19)71, and then you went to Michigan and got a PhD there in American Studies. So what were your experiences like at those two universities, the college environment?

MO (00:00:52):
Well, first I became who I am because my parents at a certain time in 1946 decided to get married, and they had a son in 1947, and they had a second son in 1950. Mainly me, I owe it all to them. Those are a lot of questions you have asked. Kind of a multiple warhead question. Which one do you want me to start with?

SM (00:01:18):
I would start with that first one, how you became who you are first and the influences you had in your very early life with your parents and so forth.

MO (00:01:36):
Influences in very early life. Well, there is a lot there too. Growing up in the (19)50s, I think there was a certain amount of fear in the air concerning the possibility of nuclear warfare. Growing up as a kid in suburban Boston, there were lots of cultural influences. I think my grandparents were real pioneers. They managed to make their way out of the Russian Empire and get all the way to Massachusetts, usually by the way of Germany, in one case by London and Ellis Island and then Boston. So they had a pioneering spirit, and I think they wanted to assure as best they could, that their children would not have the same difficulties that they did. And so there was a certain protectiveness on the part of the grandparents towards their kids. That is my parent. On my father's side, my grandfather Lewis, who in my family would call Lewis the pioneer with my kids, I call them, that was a devout Jew. He would be praying a lot and my father had the forms, but not the belief. He was a very smart kid who graduated at the top of his Marden high school class in 1936, and he was accepted to Harvard at a time when I think there was a quota on Jewish student. He learned in the 1930s, he majored in anthropology. He learned that various tribes all made up their own creation myths and their concepts of God. He learned that there was no reason beyond tribal identity to choose one over another. He came to believe in religious evolution with cultures over time, moving from primitive belief to rationalistic understandings. So he began to think that the most important part of Judaism was not theology. There was no reason to think that writings from so long ago were grinding on us. Writing emphasized culture, which reflected the history of the people. And this actually is very common in the 1930s, whether in a very painful form like the Nazis or the fascist Italy. They emphasized, here is the genius of our particular tribe. And that was a murderous form. My father had a benevolent form of the same thing. Namely, there are tribes. The Judaism is a tribe, here are particular customs to follow, but there were no particular beliefs there. And then on my mother's side, her parents, as far as I know, were not particularly religious. They were entrepreneurs. Her father went to the streets of Boston with a horse and wagon, collect and used mattresses and then stuffing them. And that over time became a furniture store that made him fairly prosperous, but there was no particular belief there. And so, I think my older brother and myself in the 1950s were raised with a certain set of rituals, but no real belief behind them. And both of us in time noticed that. And that led me, I think probably with my brother's urging in some ways, or I think he was three years older or so, he came to these ideas. I think I started reading some books like Sigmund Freud, the Future of Illusion. This is about when I am 14 years old, or HG Wells book, the history of the world. And I became a pretty straightforward materialist. And then in my teenage play, an atheist. So that came out of, I think, living in an atmosphere in the 1950s and the early 1960s when there was a certain set of rituals, but there really was not belief, at least in my parents. There was a fearful time in certain ways. Again, nuclear warfare as a prospect. And the question was, well, what is there really? And if the answer was there is not really anything there, then that led into a search for alternative.

SM (00:08:27):
Was McCarthyism part of this too? This fear?

MO (00:08:30):

SM (00:08:31):
Was McCarthy is not part of this fear?

MO (00:08:34):
No, not that I ever recognized, no. My parents were not particularly active, politically active. That was just a world that was really foreign to me. And then I am just thinking that there was a thing of just the other influences. There was a series of books, about hundred, over a hundred non-fiction books published by Random House in the 1950s and the 1960s called Landmark Books.

SM (00:09:29):
Oh, yeah. I had a lot of them.

MO (00:09:32):
And so I just read and read and read. This probably started when I was in probably the fifth grade, sixth grade. I read a lot of these about Christopher Columbus and Captain John Smith and Paul Revere and the Minuteman and Lee and Grant Appomattox. And I think the story of my grandparents pioneering, and I never knew very much about it, mean they spoke Yiddish, I did not. There was not a whole lot of communication, but I had a sense that they were particularly Lewis the Pioneer, a heroic person leaving his home. And somehow, he was actually drafted into the Russian Army in just about, I think 1912 or so, perhaps 1910. He deserted and somehow made his way across Russia, across Europe, and eventually came to the United States. And so, I did not know much about that, but I had the sense of being a pioneer. And so I basically was learning American history from the Landmark books, and I really bonded with it. So I think there was a certain love of America, or Love of the West, or love of pioneering. And then there were, I think this [inaudible], some of the television shows of the time. I was looking back recently and trying to remember what I was watching, and there were two that had an influence on me. I think The Rifleman was a popular show in the late (19)50s. And the Lucas McCain, who was the character in the show, was really, I mean, he got into gun sites, but I suppose was some sort of compassionate and conservative also. He gave ex-con an job on his ranch. I was looking back recently at some of the episode, I mean just this plot descriptions, there was one of his old enemies who had changed to become a doctor. He could not believe it at first, but then this Palmer adversary helped him in a gunfight. So it was a Western that many of the Westerns at the time. The writers were trying to make certain political and cultural points in them. And so it was an interesting western. It was to shoot them up, but also with the idea of helping people defending the rights of immigrants. Lucas McCain helps the man from China open a laundry, helps the family from Argentina buy a ranch. And they were very well directed. The creator and initial screenwriter and director of the series with Sam Peckinpah, who went on to direct some very good Western movies in the 1960s. So anyway, I think there were television shows that had a cultural impact. And then there was another one called Have Gun Will Travel.

SM (00:13:24):
Paladin, yeah.

MO (00:13:27):
Which there was an actor, Richard Boone, who played Paladin and Paladin, again, a gun fighter who had come to the rescue of those in need. So, he was also a chess player. I grew up playing chess, and he was smart. He was a high IQ gunslinger. So, there was this idea of being a hero in some ways and fighting for those who needed help fighting for the oppressed. So I suspect that had some influence on me too, in a way. Baseball had a lot of influence to me. I was a mediocre player, mediocre is probably over exaggerating my perilous, a pretty bad player. But I became a fan of Boston Red Sox and started to follow them. And baseball is just an interesting combination of the one and the many in it has had individual community. Everyone gets a ton of that. You are also part of a team. And so stuck in some ways also that an influence on me. Maybe that is deeper down, but if you ask about some of the influences.

SM (00:14:55):
Yeah, those are excellent examples. Well said. You went to Yale from (19)67 to (19)71, and of course you went to Michigan too for your PhD. The first question I had here is what were your college years like at Yale? Because everybody knows there were a lot of protests there. I know that John Hersey wrote a book, I think in (19)69, A letter to the alumni, explaining what happened there. And I know that I think the Black Panthers were involved in something at that time over there.

MO (00:15:27):
Oh, yeah.

SM (00:15:27):
With Bobby Seal. Your thoughts about your college years at Yale?

MO (00:15:34):

SM (00:15:34):
Any influence on you there.

MO (00:15:37):
For sure, and very strange times now. I came into Yale in my own mind, an atheist and critical of lots of things. Some of the things at Yale, I would like to say this was all intellectual in a way. But I suspect I had a full of covetousness and I went to Yale. And I entered in the fall of (19)68- so hold on just one moment, please.

SM (00:16:24):

MO (00:16:50):
And so, I am there with my two polyester sweaters, and I met one roommate, one of my roommates had his, had brought his own dresser, just to hold all of his luxurious woolen sweaters. So there may have been some covetousness there in my part. Had another roommate who was the son of a Virginia banker, and he brought with him a great [inaudible]. Excuse me, I am just going to be heading down an elevator if I lose you for a moment. I do not think I will. But if I do, just call me right back.

SM (00:17:30):

MO (00:17:31):
No. Cause now I am trying to walk a little.

SM (00:17:35):

MO (00:17:37):
And he sat for hours in the corner of a living room next to a high intensity lamp. But he focused away from himself, so he was invisible, and everyone else had to squint. I just remember the interesting characters, and that probably had an influence on me. But then also the- Hold on a moment. I am on the, let me just see. I do not think this is going to work. It will be harder to hear, because I will just walk around inside.

SM (00:18:26):

MO (00:18:32):
No, and I am not blaming the professors because again, I came already predisposed to some of these things. But what I learned in history classes is that America, also known as Amerikkka, the way it was often spelt a deeply embedded class system within which, let us say expensive sweaters or stereos, could be seen as stolen. So in a sense, my covetousness could be made broader or bigger. And instead of having to look at myself and in my own sin, I will use that word, I could say, well, I am right. And we have a class system in America, and therefore, if I am going to be on the side of the pool in the oppressed, I should be out to attack the capitalist. And those folks, Amerikkka industrial machine, theoretically manufactured deaths in Napalm's, Vietnam, the excess of the machine, threatened to turn all of us into machines. So there was all that aspect to it. Essentially, I had a hole in my soul. I needed a good preacher. But Yale provided Williams Sloan Coffin.

SM (00:20:24):
Oh, yes.

MO (00:20:25):
Who was preaching, and [inaudible] about the Vietnam War. I mean, actually went several times and listened to him. And it would have been great if I had heard some message about my own, the hole in my soul and my need to change. But instead, I could see myself as good and the system as oppressive. I took a course offered by Charlie Wright. Charlie Wright had a number one bestseller, the Greening of America.

SM (00:20:58):
Oh, yes.

MO (00:20:59):
And in that book its told, it was my generation that would solve all the nation's problems. So, it always allowed me to look at someone else as the problem, or some system as the problem. Again, I do not at all blame Yale for some of my political weirdness, but I did not get their answers that would have been useful to me. I will give you just some other, well, Charlie Rock's class, it was kind of bizarre. You could do whatever you wanted as long as it showed some dislike for America. I think I received an honors in that class for cutting out pictures from old Red Sox's yearbooks and interspersing them with comments about baseball racism. There was a required art class in the art museum, and my artistic ability was even worse than my ability in baseball. So one of my roommates that year had a black cat. So I carried the black cat and let the cat out of the back onto the museum floor explaining that I had just created a work of art, showing how the Black Panthers were freeing themselves from the bag, the container in which America society placed members of their race. And I received an honors for that effort, even though the cat ran away.

SM (00:23:13):
Oh my God.

MO (00:23:13):
And hid among some expensive canvases that prompted a frenzy search. But nevertheless, got my honors. That was just a weird time where, as long as you, this was before political correctness was a term, but as long as you wrote things like that you could do well, and this was also period, the understanding was yes, humanity in some way had a change. And so how would that happen? There was a Yale professor named Jose Delgado, who was doing experiments in electrical stimulation of the brain. So he was putting tiny sensors into monkey brains to control their behavior. And the idea as well, maybe you could do this for people. And there were lots of cults and so forth. So there was salvation through science, salvation through engineering, salvation through various eastern religions, salvation through drugs. And I, instead of embracing drugs, recent religions, I began to look for salvation through Marxism. Actually, see if I have this, oh, Che Guevara was, he died in 1967. So, I am coming to Yale in (19)68, and this was the beginning of the Che Guevara cult. And Guevara talked about how we have to make sacrifices. We may find ourselves at the edge of destruction, but we will at the end, have created a communist society or ideal. So I could see what I called sin, but not my own. And it was caused by alienation derived from the division of labor, the existence of capitalists and so forth. So yeah, I kept moving further and further and further to the left. And I started running some columns in the Yale Daily News going around New Haven and exploring things. And my answer for everything was, go left young man. So...

SM (00:26:05):
Did you...

MO (00:26:07):
... Had a rather blinker view of the world. And again, not blaming Yale, but that is what I picked up there. And it pushed me further and faster in a direction I was probably heading otherwise. Now, why did I go all the way to communism? And others did not. Number one, their heads may have been screwed on straighter than mine was. In my own mind, the justification was, well, I am willing to be bold, and they are timid, which was very nicely self-congratulatory. There may be a little bit of truth to that, and that probably because my social antenna were not as well tuned as they should have been, I would sometimes actually read things and believe them and try to act on them rather than just dismissing that and something, well, "That is fine for those folks to do, but I am not going to do it." So this came in a sense, in my own thinking, probably there was a merger of, well, my grandparents were heroic. I mean, they set off across the ocean and they did all this, and I am going to be heroic also and do something striking and unusual. And the two, in a sense, the two political parties at Yale were liberals and radical. Conservatives were fairly non-existent. And the only ones I ever encountered were there was a party of the right, which essentially believed in wearing suits some smoking cigars. That is all I saw of them. So that did not appeal to me at all. But as far as the folks who were appealing liberalism, radicalism, and I did not think liberalism worked very well in my understanding of what I thought was my wisdom. And so I just kept becoming more and more radical and thought, "Yeah, I am being bold and courageous." So that was my justification.

SM (00:28:38):
When you went off to Michigan and you picked majored in American Studies, why did you pick American Studies? And was Michigan any different in your doctoral program than Yale?

MO (00:28:50):
I picked American Studies originally because I had some advanced placement credits from high school. I had the option of graduating from Yale in three years rather than four. And even though I look back and wonder why I was in such a hurry to leave a place with lots of libraries and time to do what you wanted to do and so forth, I was in a hurry. And American Studies was the major I could take that the requirements were such that I could take care of all that in three years. I think originally, I was thinking of majoring in history, but that would have taken four years. And I found I enjoyed it because it is a mix of history and literature and film and so forth. And I was interested in writing, and I have been a reporter for a while in Boston and out in Oregon, this is also part of my pioneer stuff. I mean, the day after I graduated from college, I started bicycle across the country and bicycle from Boston to Oregon.

SM (00:30:00):

MO (00:30:00):
So, yeah, that was it and...

MO (00:30:03):

SM (00:30:03):

MO (00:30:03):
So yeah, that was it and then continued around the world. After working in Oregon for a while, I took a Soviet freighter across Pacific, and then Trans-Siberian Railroad and stuff like that. I was interested in traveling and seeing things and probably doing something in journalism down the road. Michigan had a program in American culture that was appealing. They offered a very good fellowship, and so I took it. Now, why Michigan? Curiously enough, I had never been there. I had just been told, cool place. A professor in the American studies program named Robert Skalar, S-K-A-L-A-R, who was a Marxist or a radical or something and would be very sympathetic. Why do not you just apply there and see if they will give you some money, so you can afford to go there? And when they did, I went. As it turned out, Skalar was on leave my first year. After my first year, my beliefs were changing. So, I was no longer interested in taking classes with Skalar, but that was the one professor I had heard of. I mean, actually I applied there while in Europe and had just heard, why not? Why not do that? I applied to a couple other places too. Michigan offered the best fellowship. And, yeah, it seemed interesting. Before I traveled across the country, I had never been west of the Hudson River except for one short plane trip to Chicago. So, I did not know anything about the Midwest. I mean, I had bicycled through it. It seemed like an interesting place. And Ann Arbor would have the reputation of a hip community, so that is why there. And again, America Studies was just accidental originally.

SM (00:32:18):
Was that-

MO (00:32:18):
To Michigan in many ways, but I am glad it worked out that way.

SM (00:32:21):
Was that the place where you started reading the Bible and became a Christian, or-

MO (00:32:27):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So that was the place where, yeah, I went through a big transformation. It was also the place where I met my wife with whom I have been married now for 34 and a half years. So yeah, I am very glad to have gone to Michigan

SM (00:32:46):
As a student of the (19)60s and the mid-(19)70s, how do boomer students differ from... You not only were, you went to school with the boomers and you have been a professor teaching the generation Xers and the millennials, and as I say here, how do the boomer students differ from generation Xers or millennial students of today? And what would be some of the strengths and weaknesses of the boomer generation of 74 million? If have any thoughts on that.

MO (00:33:19):
Yeah, hold yeah, hold on for just one moment, please.

SM (00:33:21):

MO (00:33:21):
Good question. I do not know of any other generation in American history that has been so prematurely honored. In other words, when Sean Charlie Reich was wearing the greeting of America, he apparently wrote a lot of it sitting in a couple of dining halls of Yale, listening to students. And he wrote that this was the most wonderful generation as opposed to... He wrote about consciousness one, the old consciousness of small business and consciousness two was the consciousness of big organizations. And then consciousness three was going to be a new benevolent, wonderful processes that would bring peace and good times to America and the whole world. And the exemplars of consciousness three were these college students. So typically, you have had students going to college with the idea, at least in theory of learning from professors, doing lots of other things as well, but the draw was supposedly learning from professors, and it was all reversed. The world turned upside down and professors were supposed to be learning from students. So that is what this generation grew up with basically in college. And because it is so big bigger than before and after, in a sense that leadership, for better or worse for the whole culture, has remained with this generation as it has gone through the route within the body of the snake moving down. So, whatever this generation has found most interesting is what has led the culture in many ways and so it is no surprise. But right now we're seeing you saw in this past year such an attention paid to healthcare, because this is something that this generation cares most deeply about. So, there is that solid system, that self-infatuation. Being told early on, "You are the best and the brightest," and then just by the power of numbers being always the center of attention for advertisers and propaganda and others.

SM (00:36:21):
When did the (19)60s begin and when did it end in your opinion? And was there a watershed moment?

MO (00:36:32):
Yeah, probably began with the assassination of President Kennedy. Probably ended in some ways... I am shortening the decade a little bit. In some ways it may have ended with the shootings at Kent State or may have continued all the way to the end of the Vietnam War-

SM (00:37:10):

MO (00:37:11):
... The impeachment of Nixon, the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. I can see either way, going from 1960 to 1970, from 1963 to 1975. And I think of the Kent State shooting because that is when it became obvious to lots of people that this was not play. Three days before there had been big demonstrations in New Haven over the trial of Black Panther leader, Bobby Seale. The Chicago Seven, Abby Hoffman, and all had come to New Haven and were poor ratings. There were probably about thousand [inaudible 00:38:11] around the country who came there. There were rumors of gun shipments being stolen. There were several thousand National Guard troops dispensed to New Haven with live ammunition. And people were walking up to the National Guard soldiers and taunting them and at night there was some rock throwing and so forth and providentially, the National Guard soldiers did not fire in response, but it could have happened. I do not think there was a sense of reality that in fact people could be dead. Three days later that changed. I mean, it is interesting that the war demonstrations fell off sharply when two things happened. I mean, number one, there was instead of men generally being draft able, there was the draft lottery. And so, two-thirds of men were safe at that point, and the draft was sprawling off at that point anyway. And then second, you had people trot dead in a demonstration. So instead of just being able to play, it was serious, and instead of your own life being on the line through the draft, suddenly lots of people were protected and it became less of an urgent matter. So, I can see that aspect of the (19)60s dying then. And then of course, the other big thing in the (19)60s is you have the civil rights movement, in many ways culminating in Martin Luther King Jr's speech at the Washington monument, I mean the Lincoln Memorial. But then morphing into something very different and instead of peace often bringing violence. So, you have the race riots in (19)65, and then big time in (19)68. So, the civil rights era that had the moral superiority of the civil rights movement with sit-ins and peaceful not violent. Yeah, that died and there was talk of, from Stokely Carmichael and others, a violent activity. This was not connected with the civil rights movement, but the riots did break out that basically ended the good spirit of things. And then you moved from a situation where African Americans were discriminated against quickly to a situation where at least in terms of university placement and so forth, and some jobs with affirmative action, they actually had benefits. And so, the good feeling that grew out among a lot of white folks of wanted to help the underdog, got dissipated. So that is why I think you could look upon 1970 or so at the end of the decade. But on the other hand, since the Vietnam War continued and there were actually a lot more Americans, and I suspect a lot more Vietnamese, dying during the first Nixon term than during Johnson's years in office, that you could say which led to a lot of education kept going. And culturally, you start to see lots of changes in music and drug use and so forth and so that might continue all the way up to 1975.

SM (00:42:27):
Yeah. Do you remember where you were when John Kennedy was assassinated? The exact moment that you heard?

MO (00:42:34):
Yeah, I was 13 and playing a board hockey game with my brother. My father came home and gave the news. I mean, this was several hours after it happened. There had not been an announcement of my school, I had walked home, had not been listening to the radio or watching television or anything. So I was a late learner. But I certainly remember that whole weekend with the television broadcast and the funeral and so forth.

SM (00:43:09):
In 1990, I think it was 1994, Newt Gingrich made some pretty strong comments against the (19)60s' generation when he came into power. And of course, he's a boomer himself, but I know George Will has oftentimes in his writings made some strong attacks against the generation. Of course, during the recent campaign, I know even John McCain had made some comments about Hillary Clinton, even though they're close friends because of her (19)60s and so forth. And my question is this, many people on the right have attacked the (19)60s' generation for the breakup of the American family, the drug culture, the divorce rate, the lack of respect for authority, the welfare state, which the idea of a handout society, a lot of the isms that we see today, your thoughts on the right, these are people from the right making strong attacks against the voter generation basically for most of the problems we have in our society today.

MO (00:44:19):
Well, yeah, I think some of those attacks are justified, but the (19)60s came after the (19)50s. It is not as if the (19)60s just grew out of nothing. There were real problems in the (19)50s. While you had a lot of people, as I mentioned at the outset, and my parents were among them, but I think this is more general, a lot of people observing certain rituals going to church, going to synagogue. I am not sure how deep the belief was or how much it affected what people did not on Saturday or Sunday, but throughout the week. So, there were real theological weaknesses. In the 19th and the early 20th century, there were great opportunities for smart and entrepreneurial women in leading a great number of volunteer associations, civil society groups, social service organizations. So there was real outlet for, say, middle class women who wanted to be executives. They were not in the business world, but they were in the social service world, which was very big because the volunteer nonprofit sector, because you did not have government doing so many of these things. And then as governments started growing in the 1930s and this kept going in the 1950s, a lot of those opportunities disappeared. So, there were a lot of bright entrepreneurial women who no longer had those opportunities, but they were not yet welcomed into the world of business or the ranks of the governmental bureaucracy and so forth and so there was a lot of frustration there. Betty Peran wrote out of frustration. So there were problems there. And you go down the line, it's not as if the 1950s were a great decade in the 1960s, a horrible decade. While you certainly see some major cultural shifts, there's a lot of continuity. Now at the same time, yeah, I certainly see my own generation as pacific, tending to be self-gratifying, self-infatuating. So yeah, if I hear negative things said about this generation, I tend to agree with them. But this was part of a long process, not just something that came out of nowhere.

SM (00:47:43):
The generation gap was... Did you have that in your family in any way, particularly in your Yale years, because... So then you changed, of course, when you went to grad school, but was the generation gap, which was so prevalent amongst the boomer generation between parents and kids at that time, number one, was that part of what your experience was like? And number two, a book was written in 1980 called The Wounded Generation, and in there was a panel that met, which included Jim Webb, Bobby Mueller, James Fallows, Phil Caputo. They talked about the Vietnam War and in that discussion, it came up that the stronger generation gap was between those who went to Vietnam and those who did not. So just your thoughts on the concept of the generation gap itself in the boomer generation.

MO (00:48:44):
No, I think as far as the second part, I think that is very true. I mean, a huge gap and probably bigger than the generation gap as such. Yeah, I do not know. Look, historically, there is always a gap of some kind, it is hard for me to measure how good this was compared to others, but certainly the gap between those who went and those who did not was very large.

SM (00:49:17):
How about between you and your parents when you were at Yale?

MO (00:49:23):
Oh, sure. But again, hard for me to measure. And if you read a book like the Education of Henry Adams, there was a gap. Just about every autobiography I have read, there is a gap of some kind. So yeah, it is just hard to measure how large this was or how significant compared to others.

SM (00:49:59):
One of the qualities, and I think you have already made reference to this in your commentary about being self-indulgent, but many of the young people in college camps in the (19)60s felt they were the most unique generation in ,American history when they were young because there was a kind of spirit and a belief, and it may have been naive, but a belief that they were going to be change agents for the betterment of society. That they were going to help end racism, sexism, homophobia, bring peace, save the environment. Some of the older boomers still believe that this was a very important part of the spirit of the times. Your thoughts on this concept of unique generation?

MO (00:50:40):
Oh, yeah. I mean, as I mentioned in terms of the Charles A. Reich book, The Greening of America, that was very much there, and not just among the students at Yale, it was among the professors. And so there was a tendency of professors to, in a sense, kiss up to the students.

SM (00:51:03):
There was another book at that time that was equivalent to Greening of America, and it was the Making of a Counterculture by Theodore Roszak. You ever had a chance to read that?

MO (00:51:12):
Yeah, I remember that vaguely.

SM (00:51:18):
That was-

MO (00:51:19):
And I think that was strong. I mean, there were a lot of different aspects of the counterculture. So, I gravitated in the early (19)70s to the Marxist aspect, which in some ways was more traditional. There was not a lot of drug use, his people would sit around listening to Paul Robeson music and playing chess. So yeah, some of the more colorful aspects in terms I may have missed as I pursued some other parts of it.

SM (00:52:04):
One of the things that you will learn in studying the Free Speech Movement is that Ronald Reagan really came to national prominence, everybody knew his acting, but in terms of politically, he came to prominence in California because he took on two issues. He wanted to bring law and order to the college campuses. He was tired of students protesting, and he was making reference to the Free Speech Movement is (19)64, (19)65, and also People's Park in (19)69, which was more violent. There's no violence in the Free Speech Movement and then the end of the welfare state. Those are two issues that were important in California. And obviously those are two issues, certainly, they kind of brought them to national attention. Your thoughts on the rise of Ronald Reagan, because part of his rise was his attack on the students.

MO (00:52:56):
Well, I remember once in 1972, I hitchhiked from Salem, Oregon down to San Francisco and went to sleep on the interstate highway at one of the bus stops and was awakened at 6:00 AM or something by the sprinklers going off. I remember getting up and condemning Ronald Reagan. So I was blaming him for waking me up wet from the sprinkler. So yeah, there was a tendency to look upon him as the bad guy for anything. Well, the Free Speech Movement, as I understand, it quickly became the Dirty Speech Movement. I do not know how glorious an episode it was, because I do not think there was any lack of opportunity for free speech among students, but anyway. So it was an attempt basically with the aid and comfort of professors to overturn the university system. And in many ways, it may have deserved overturning, but I do not think the results were any improvement.

SM (00:54:47):
Well, I know one of the central thesis was that the university's about ideas, not about corporate takeover of college campuses. And even some of the critics of higher education today say that the corporation has again taken over the university because of the issues of money and fundraising is become so prominent. Some things-

MO (00:55:08):
Hold on a moment please.

SM (00:55:09):
Tape player back out. Forget what I was saying. Oh, it is about the free speech. The university is about ideas, not about corporate takeover. So that was the basic premise of... And free speech and certainly justice and the beginning of rights, student rights and so forth. And of course, I have interviewed a lot of people about the impact and well, the universities have forgotten the entire history of the student movement is because the corporations are again in predominant power again on university campuses. Just your thoughts on that.

MO (00:55:50):
Well, but look there are, certainly in areas of science and engineering and so forth, I mean, I saw this at the University of Texas. There is corporate power there, but there is actually much more governmental power and corporations certainly do not run these universities now. I mean, these universities are run by the left. At the University of Texas, I do not know of any cases where someone on the left has been denied tenure or promotion or law and honor of various kinds, but it happens to conservatives a lot, it happens to Christians a lot. So yeah, there is the tenured left. A lot of folks from this generation, the 1960s, are now running the universities and creating, again, a state where the two political parties are liberal or radical, and usually the dominant political party's radical.

SM (00:57:16):
I know when I interviewed Phyllis Schlafly, and I know David Horowitz, I interviewed him too, and we had them on our campus twice. But Phyllis Schlafly's main quote is this. She said that the troublemakers of the (19)60s are now running the schools, and particularly in certain academic areas and studies departments. And she was referring to women's studies, gay and lesbian studies, Chicano studies, black studies, environmental studies. Basically about those areas, she said they're run by the left.

MO (00:57:52):
Yeah, I think that is largely accurate, at least in my experience from what I saw at the University of Texas, what I have read occasionally from the American Culture Program with the University of Michigan, what I saw during the year at Princeton when I was on leave and so forth. I think that is largely accurate.

SM (00:58:22):
I am going to turn the aside of my case. Hold on one second. You are still going to be at the school though through the end of January. I might come down to New York. I have to take three professors pictures. I may come down and take your pictures sometime early January, if that is okay.

MO (00:58:42):
Okay, sure.

SM (00:58:44):
Looking at the presidents of the boomer regeneration, from Harry Truman, right through to President Obama. You wrote a great book, a really good book on leadership, I like that. And then your three books on compassionate conservatism. I like that book. And the one you wrote in 1992, the Newt Gingrich, we talked about, those are my three favorite books. But when you look at the presidents of the time that the boomers have been alive, I would just like to brief comments on your thoughts on John Kennedy and his new frontier President Johnson and his great society, and Richard Nixon, who, when he came to power, I guess he was going to vietnamize the armies in Vietnam or whatever. And brief comments on all the other presidents from Truman to Obama in terms of leadership quality.

MO (00:59:41):
Truman and Eisenhower, I do not have any personal memory of. Kennedy was in many ways an old-style Democrat, machine politics from Boston, but a strenuous foreign policy. But a strenuous foreign policy, very, very opposed to the Soviet Union, and willing, as he sat in his inaugural desk, wanting to bear any price in order to win the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Economically, he cut taxes. So, these days, I mean, he would be called a conservative Democrat. Lyndon Johnson was, I think, a terrible failure as a president. Domestically, the enormous expansion of the federal government, part of which designed to help the poor, the War on Poverty, Great Society, but actually has been enormously destructive. And you can see this in a whole variety of ways, including... Again, there are a lot of cultural changes involved in this, but certainly some contribution to the disintegration of many families and poor communities. So, a terrible president domestically, and then internationally, trying to fight the Vietnam War as he did, turned out to be a disaster.

SM (01:01:43):

MO (01:01:43):
I do not know. At this point, was back in the (19)60s. In the late (19)60s, I was certainly a dove. I think the hawks at the time made an argument, but at least what I understand is if every escalation is so carefully planned that the adversary has time to get ready for it, you are unlikely to be able to win a war that way. So it just seemed to be trying to fight a war as a politician does not, at least from my very small understanding of military history, seem to be the most effective thing.

SM (01:02:26):
And those two presidents seem to have what they call, as David Halberstam said, the best and the brightest within their administration.

MO (01:02:35):
Yeah. And this certainly showed that someone who ran the Ford Motor Company is not necessarily the best person to run a war. So that is what I think. I mean, I just think of Johnson as a total disaster as a president.

SM (01:03:03):

MO (01:03:03):
Oh, Richard Nixon?

SM (01:03:04):

MO (01:03:07):
I am not a particular fan of his either, and it would take a while to go into that. Gerald Ford, a Michigander, seemed like a nice guy, and probably did the best he could with the very bad hand he was dealt coming in right after Watergate. Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter is the first modern Democratic president, and not exactly having a realistic understanding of the world. And that contributed to the mess in Iran that we're still having difficulties with. Yeah. And then you have Ronald Reagan, who understood the world situation better than any president since John F. Kennedy, let us say. And I used to have a poster on my door at the University of Texas. On one side of it were statements made by leading college professors, leading Sovietologists, experts on the Soviet Union as late as 1988, talking about how strong the Soviet Union was, how it would survive for decades, how it was winning the Cold War against the U.S., and so forth. And then there was Ronald Reagan who was saying against all the advice of the experts and the advice of the experts within his own administration, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." So that is impressive. And his stance took the Soviet Union was not as strong as it looked and could quickly crumble was just seen as totally out to lunch just a few years before the Soviet Union in fact did crumble. And that is the clearest example in my lifetime of a political leader who had a vision that proved to be accurate and feasible much faster than even some of the people on his own team, probably most of the people on his own team would have expected or imagined possible. So that is impressive. And there are a lot of other ups and downs of the administration, but the tax cut seemed to help the economy a lot. So he's the flip side of Lyndon Johnson. Lyndon Johnson a failure both internationally and domestically, and Reagan a success both internationally and domestically.

SM (01:06:21):
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

MO (01:06:24):
George H. W. Bush, the first president that I met, and so have some sense of beyond that mediated by television, but seemed like a very nice guy, a very honorable person, did not have the vision of Reagan. And that got him, that made him a one-term president essentially. Bill Clinton, just, I mean, such a supremely competent politician. Probably no better politician in America. I mean, he is probably the best politician in America since Henry Clay and probably better than Clay, and then Clay ran for the President three times and lost, but very similar in a sense of the person who was good at doing small things to gain popularity and insinuate himself and into the confidence of people. Tell you a Bill Clinton story. Well, so a few Clinton stories, if I may.

SM (01:07:55):
That is okay.

MO (01:07:55):
Because this right... At the end of 1995, and then again at the end of 1997, my family and I were invited guests for the annual New Year's thing down at Hilton Head, Renaissance Weekend. And in (19)95, this was right after the battle with the Republicans about supposedly shutting down the government. In (19)95 he and Hillary came at the last moment. They came on December 31st. Typically, I was told that they would come maybe on December 28th or 7th, go to a variety of panels. They came on December 31st. And December 31st, New Year's Eve, the schedule was that Hillary at 11:00 PM was supposed to introduce Bill, and then he would speak until about 11:50, at which point people could break and go to the champagne and dessert table. Now at dinner, Bill and Hillary were a couple of tables away, but she had her back turned to him a lot. And from one person who was at the table, I mean, she was incredibly frosty towards him. And then at 11 o'clock she stood up just to introduce Bill. But instead of doing that, she started giving a speech about her travels around the world. She took us all the way around the world and then took us all the way around again and kept speaking until about 11:55, maybe 11:50, but giving Bill only time for a few short remarks ending at about 10 seconds to midnight, at which point there was a mad dash for the dessert and champagne table. Now, I find that interesting because later on, reading Ken Starr's chronology, it appears that earlier that day, Bill and Monica had a tryst.

SM (01:10:02):
Oh, wow.

MO (01:10:02):
And I suspect that Hillary, despite her later denials, knew about all this. And thus not only leading her frostiness at dinner, but her extraordinary, taking what was supposed to be a five-minute introduction, turning into a 50-minute speech.

SM (01:10:17):

MO (01:10:17):
For instance, squeezing out Bill. So Bill Clinton had to live. I mean, he messed around a lot. He also had to live with Hillary, which does not justify his messing around at all. But this was the type of... Well, let me just go on. I mean, that was just my early first experience. And my second experience with him, I think, is more telling. I mean, the first one kind of sets it up that here was some of the tensions in his life and the way he lived. But the second one, he did come. He and Hillary came down a few days early. And so he would go into these various sessions. And the way it works, there are lot of these different panels on different subjects. So everyone's involved in a variety of panels, and he just bobs in and bobs out, and wherever he bobs in, whoever's speaking might finish speaking and then the chairman... I saw this several times. The chairman would stop and say, "Now, Mr. President, what do you have to say about this topic?" So, I was on one panel talking about interracial adoption, and Bill comes in and I, of course, finish up what I am saying at that point, and then he says, "And this question, interracial adoption, is the most important question, so important in our national life that I am thinking about it all the time." Okay?

SM (01:11:59):

MO (01:11:59):
Then I heard him say the same thing in relation to several other questions, thinking about it all the time, and this is what he would do. There was-was one session where Bill Nye the Science Guy from CBS was talking about the importance of the U.S. going onto a metric system, and having heard Bill Clinton say all these different things, "I am thinking about this all the time," I expect him to say that then. But he did not that time, so he was not thinking all the time about the U.S. going on a metric system. He is thinking all the time about transracial adoption. So, I went up to him at one point, and this is when I was writing this book on the American leadership tradition that he referred to. And so I mentioned to him that I had been studying the 1830s, 1840s, and finding very interesting. And reading about Henry Clay, and Clinton was a lot like Henry Clay. And I expected him to ask me how, at which point would have talked a little bit about how Clay was. Henry Clay had a reputation as an extreme womanizer with adultery and so forth. But he did not give me that opportunity. He said, "That period, those decades, 1830s, 1840s are so important. I think about them all the time." Anyway.

SM (01:13:21):
Yeah. Wow. Those are quite the stories. How about the last Bush and, of course, President Obama?

MO (01:13:30):
Oh, well, the last Bush, I liked him. I still do. I did some occasional talking with him in Texas about what became known as compassionate conservatism. Yeah. I think he had a personal visceral understanding of it from the way he himself changed from being pretty much at least a borderline alcoholic. And then his life changing. I mean, he understood how other people can change. He understood the way that a long-term alcoholic or an addict or someone else through God's grace can change. And so, he just understood this in a way that other politicians cannot. And then he had this kind of individual history, thinking about going about baseball. The Governor's Mansion in Texas is a nice old building a couple of blocks away from the Capitol, but the dome of the Texas Capitol is even a slightly bigger, I am told, than the U.S. Capitol. But very similar. And so, he showed me up once on his balcony that overlooks the Capitol and talk about how he would sit up there at night and listen to Texas Rangers games on the radio and just sort of look over at the Capitol and listen to baseball and things like that. So there was a certain romantic streak there about... I am not all the time just being a policy wonk. I care about baseball. I found that all very appealing, and his administration was disappointing to me in that compassionate conservatism that was supposed to be a decentralizing policy became looked upon as part of big government. And so it really ruined the brand. But that was the smallest part of his activities. I mean, once 9/11 happened, he became a foreign policy or war president, or any hope of real change in domestic policy really went out the window at that point. It was Iraq and Afghanistan all the time. So that I found disappointing since I was involved in these matters. I mean, you read about it in The Tragedy of American Compassion.

SM (01:16:14):
Yes. Yes.

MO (01:16:14):
Welfare reform and fighting poverty, and really not much got done. And compassionate conservatism got a bad reputation. And the faith-based initiative pretty much fizzled. But that was outside of his control.

SM (01:16:29):
And, of course, President Obama, he has been there two years, but...

MO (01:16:36):
Oh, well, I disagree with a lot of his policies, most of his policies I suspect. But personally, as compared to Bill Clinton, he seems to have a strong marriage and strong family, and I credit him on that. And I really do not like it when conservatives attack him personally or start psychoanalyzing him. I mean, we disagreed politically. But he seems to be within his political mode, which is essentially an attempt to syncretize Marxism and Christianity. I mean, he's consistent and honorable in that, which again, I very much disagreed with back when I was in the Communist Party. I got some training in how to talk to church people trying to syncretize Christianity and Marxism. And I recognize in the types of approaches Obama the has basically that attempt, which I think is trying to meld two beliefs that are diametrically opposed. So, I mean, I see some policy incoherence, and I do not like his approach, his policy aspects, but personally, it is important to have a guy right down in the White House who is honorable, and particularly important, I hope, and useful in the Black community, where over 70 percent of kids are born out of wedlock, to actually be an operating family, and to see a guy who says, being smart is good, it is not being white. It is you. And you can get somewhere. So personally, I applaud his presidency, but politically, public policy, I think he is totally wrong.

SM (01:18:49):
Yeah. One of the things about President Obama is he tries to separate himself from the (19)60s generation, but his critics say he is the epitome of it. And some of his critics, like Newt Gingrich will say he is even to the Left or the Left and...

MO (01:19:03):

SM (01:19:04):
So, he cannot win know-how, and he is a boomer because he was only two years old, but...

MO (01:19:11):

SM (01:19:11):
Yeah. So-

MO (01:19:14):
So, I mean, he is the epitome of it in terms of policy. But in terms of personal discipline, he is the antithesis.

SM (01:19:22):
On Richard Nixon, I know we cannot talk about him, but would you say that Watergate was a watershed moment in the lives of many boomers because there were a lot of other experiences, the Vietnam War and McNamara and the Gulf of Tonkin. But that watershed experience really showed about not trusting leaders. And how can a guy so smart be so stupid in what he did?

MO (01:19:53):
Yeah. That is a good question. I think that there was already so much distrust of leaders. I do not know if he made it all that much worse. I mean, that was right at the tail of an era where the operative mantra was never trust anyone over 30. It is not as if he created that distrust. In fact, the distrust probably created Watergate in some ways because the country had gone to the Left. Nixon did not think he could get any favorable treatment from the wizards of media or academia, and that seemed to speed the sense that you have to fight back by whatever means necessary. So he in a sense became the mirror image operatively of his opponent. And that is what brought down his presidency.

SM (01:21:12):
In terms of the Eisenhower, I think a lot of boomers do remember him because they were in elementary school, and I remember him as a kind of a grandfather figure, and I felt kind of comfortable because he had been a hero of World War II and he had that smile and he made you feel comfortable. I do not know. Maybe he was not doing what other presidents have done, but there was something about Eisenhower in the (19)50s that fit right.

MO (01:21:40):
I do not know if you are-

SM (01:21:40):

MO (01:21:43):
Yeah. I just do not remember very well. The grandfather figure I remember is when I was 20 years old in 1970. In May of 1970, we had a whole series of long weekends, one being the anti-war demonstrations, and then Bobby Seale demonstrations in New Haven. And then I think the next weekend there was a big anti-war march, a few 100,000 people in Washington. And on Monday after that weekend, the idea was that college kids were supposed to camp the halls of Congress and talk with their representatives. Did not have any success in there really. But towards the end of the day, we were just walking past the office of the Speaker of the House, John McCormick at the time. And McCormack was from Cambridge, which was right next door where I grew up. And so my roommates and I decided just to go in and see. This is about 05:30 or so, see if McCormack would talk with us for a few minutes. And surprisingly enough, he said, "Sure." And so we went in, and I thought I was being very bright, making analogies, since McCormack was of Irish ancestry, making analogies of the Irish revolt against the British to the position of the Vietnamese in regards to the U.S., and so forth. And he kind of laughed it off, but engaged just in a very grandfatherly way. And then he said, and I found out later this is true, he said, "Well, I need to go home to have dinner with my wife. That is what I do every day." And apparently this is true. Whenever he was in Washington, I mean, they would always have dinner together. But for here, let me show you something. And so, he took us into the Chamber of the House of Representatives and pointed us to this chair, this big tall chair that swivels around. He said, "Here. Go sit in my chair. And I am often out at dinner, but please have fun, sit in my chair. And there's the sergeant of arms or whatever who will watch you." And we all did. I mean, we all thought of ourselves as 20 year old mature radicals, but we enjoyed being like McCormack's grandchildren or great-grandchildren, probably at that point, and swiveling in his chair.

SM (01:23:53):
How incredible. Yeah. I remember.

MO (01:23:57):

SM (01:23:57):

MO (01:23:58):
Yeah. So he actually knew how to treat us. I mean, he took us seriously, but not too seriously. He did not kiss up to us. He did not agree with us. He basically knew, I mean, here are kids who think they're very wise in their own eyes, and I will humor them and enjoy them, and then let them fool around in my chair.

SM (01:24:19):
What's interesting is the first lie that I remember as a young person growing up was very clear. It was 1959 when Eisenhower went on television and said that the U2 incident, we were not spying. And Eisenhower lied. And it was well known that he was lying. So the question I had here now is about your books. The two in particular, The Tragedy of American Compassion and Compassionate Conservatism are two very important and influential books that you wrote. What is the basic meaning of those two books, and why are they so influential, not only back when Newt Gingrich was handing them out in Congress, but still today? I have read a lot of literature that they're still talking about it. And so what's the basic premise?

MO (01:25:09):
Well, The Tragedy of American Compassion told the story, essentially tragic story, that with good intentions of helping the poor, government grew and created new programs, and those programs, for reasons that I explained, produced exactly the opposite results. So it's a tragedy because there's an attempt to soar high towards the suns and there's hubris and the wings melt and you plummet to Earth. So, it is a tragedy when attempting to do something that is exciting, to be a pioneer, to do the right thing, you end up actually hurting those you are inclined to help. So, I tend to look upon a lot of poverty fighting by the Left as not... There certainly was a power grabbing aspect of it, but a lot of it was very well-intentioned. It just failed for reasons I saw. And so that is why I think that it had some play, and if it is useful, that is why, because it is not so much attacking or psychoanalyzing or yelling, but trying to tell a story and explain what happened in a way that indicates there were honorable people on both sides.

SM (01:26:44):
What are your thoughts on the new Left? Obviously, a lot of times when people criticize the (19)60s generation, we know that only five to 10 percent may have been the activists of a particular era, and 90 percent we are probably subconsciously affected, but were not out on the streets or on the front lines. What are your thoughts on the new Left in the (19)60s and the liberal activists linked to the following groups? So just your quick comments on these following groups. Do not have to be in any great detail. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee?

MO (01:27:21):
Playing with violence.

SM (01:27:23):
Because that was SNCC.

MO (01:27:25):

SM (01:27:27):
Southern Christian Leadership?

MO (01:27:29):
So, you are saying, what, you are saying, the Student Nonviolent... This is SNCC you are talking about?

SM (01:27:32):

MO (01:27:33):
Right? Yeah. Yeah.

SM (01:27:35):

MO (01:27:36):
Playing with Fire. Playing with fire.

SM (01:27:38):
Southern Christian Leadership Conference?

MO (01:27:43):
Largely Christian.

SM (01:27:45):
Congress of Racial Equality?

MO (01:27:53):
The same two involved with the government.

SM (01:27:57):

MO (01:28:00):
Same. More so than core, I suspect, but similar.

SM (01:28:05):
The National Urban League?

MO (01:28:08):

SM (01:28:09):
Students for Democratic-

MO (01:28:11):
In other words, the problem was instead of helping people to be independent of government, it made people more dependent. It made people dependent on government. And that is not a good situation in which to be.

SM (01:28:25):
Students for Democratic Society?

MO (01:28:31):
Students in essence for non-democratic society.

SM (01:28:36):
Of course, the Weathermen?

MO (01:28:41):
Turned out they really... It was Ronald Reagan who knew which way the wind was blowing. And they did not know.

SM (01:28:49):
The American Indian Movement?

MO (01:28:53):
Never had much involvement with them.

SM (01:28:56):
National Organization for Women?

MO (01:29:03):
Sympathizing with the plight of Betty Friedan. I mean, I sympathize with the plight of Betty Friedan, but they did not help. The organization has not helped women.

SM (01:29:20):
Earth Day?

MO (01:29:28):
Replacing in some ways Arbor Day, and Arbor Day emphasized, let us say, going out and planting a tree, and Earth Day by pushing for more. That is probably accomplished less.

SM (01:29:44):
The Young Lords?

MO (01:29:49):
I had no involvement. Do not really know.

SM (01:29:52):
Black Panthers?

MO (01:29:59):
Yeah. The.

MO (01:30:00):
There was a Black Panther led rally in the Yale hockey rink in 1970, where one of the Black Panther leaders beat a white kid in front of everyone, and the populist cheered.

SM (01:30:36):
Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

MO (01:30:37):
Well, a lot of them had reason to be against the war, but at least from what I understand of John Kerry's testimony, there is a tendency to emphasize the worst and not keep in mind the reasons America went into Vietnam. Again, there is a tragedy. There were initially good intentions of initially good intentions, and then it became a mess.

SM (01:31:21):
Young Americans for Freedom.

MO (01:31:31):
I never had any involvement with them in their peak. So while ideologically I would tend to be in agreement with a lot of what they were saying. I just really did not, I did not know them personally.

SM (01:31:49):
I think you have talked already about this, but the Free Speech Movement, I think you have already...

MO (01:31:56):

SM (01:31:57):
Yeah. Kent State and Colo... I think you have talked about Kent State already. Columbia, (19)68.

MO (01:32:06):
Oh. Then for too many professors lacking any confidence and catering to students unwisely.

SM (01:32:28):
Chicago, (19)68.

MO (01:32:32):
Well, that I just saw on television was not there, so I have just heard different things about it, and so I do not necessarily blame either side there. This was a confrontation waiting to happen.

SM (01:32:50):
And then the Moratorium, (19)69.

MO (01:32:54):
Yeah, this was a... Led to a big demonstration in Washington. I did not go that one, I went to the next one. So again, I am just generally aware of this I do not have any personal involvement.

SM (01:33:06):
When you look at the year that the boomers have been alive, which is 1946 to 2011, the oldest is now 64, and the youngest is 49. So, there are no young squirts anymore in this generation, even in the latter group. In a few words, I know you have already talked a little bit about the (19)50s, but in a few words, could you describe the following periods in America, just from your perspective, the period 1946 to 1960.

MO (01:33:39):
The two were not...

SM (01:33:43):
Well, you know.

MO (01:33:44):
No, they, Cold War, economic growth. Nothing. I have no brilliant observations tonight.

SM (01:33:56):
The year 1961 to 1970.

MO (01:34:06):
Yeah, I think I will skip this because I have already sort talked about that and do not have any pithy observations here.

SM (01:34:12):
Yeah, it is all those different eras through... I think you talked about the president, so... In the (19)60s and (19)70s, students protested against the Vietnam War, but they were also against the IBM mentality that universities were like factories producing mines that where they tried to get people to think alike based on the needs of society, like a production line. The Free Speech Movement was a front-runner of many protests later on in the (19)60s and early (19)70s where they wanted the universities to be about ideas, not corporate takeover. Yet today, some top educators say we have returned to this mentality when corporate takeover takes precedence over ideas. If you could, and I am particularly... I know I asked this before, but the area of fundraising has become so prominent in universities today that the... I have read a lot of articles, there's a fear that fundraising has gone to not only that the president of universities are, that is their number one job, but there is a fear that ideas will stop in universities if, for example: speakers, whether it be conservative or liberal, come to a university and thus there may be a potential loss of revenue because these speakers have come to the school. Just your thoughts on that, my comment there.

MO (01:35:42):
Oh, I mean that may be, I tend to see the, as we have talked about, I tend to see the left political emphasis to be greater having. So I mean that indeed is a problem, but not the most serious problem.

SM (01:36:05):
Well, I remember when Michelle Malkin went to Berkeley and the students were not allowing her to... did not want her to speak. And to me that is ridiculous. I do not care if it is conservative or liberal, everybody has a right to give their ideas, especially if they are invited.

MO (01:36:25):
I agree. I once was charged with introducing Wade Connolly, the...

SM (01:36:29):
Oh, we had him on our campus.

MO (01:36:36):
And yeah, the left students came with... They had a big bass drum that they kept beating and he eventually gave up. I mean, they would not allow them to speak at all. So yes, this is why at least this epitome of the free speech movement is not for free speech at all.

SM (01:36:56):
Wow. Yeah, many members of the boomer generation wanted to change the world for the better. We talked about this, but how would you grade them overall on the scale of 1 to 10, in terms of their ability to change the world we live in?

MO (01:37:14):
Well, I mean, every generation changes the world in some ways. I spoke the idea was to change the world and make it a more wonderful place, and I would probably give about a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10.

SM (01:37:27):
How would you rate their leadership on a scale of one to ten? We have had two boomer presidents now, President Clinton, and actually President Obama, pshaw, he is two years old, so. How would you rate their leadership on a scale of one to ten as a boomer generation?

MO (01:37:46):
Oh, that is hard. There is so many different leaders. There are the two presidents, I would rate them differently. That is too causes of question for me.

SM (01:37:58):
Okay. And how would you rate them in the area of compassion, as a generation of compassion?

MO (01:38:08):
Oh about... Well, again I would not generalize. I would say that some of them, I would rate some of them a 10, I would rate some of them a 1. Overall to make a generalization, I would tell you about an 8 in talking. About a 3 in doing.

SM (01:38:30):
Oh, wow. Do you believe today's universities are afraid of the return of activism? You are working in a college environment right now that has a basic philosophy, but you were also at the University of Texas Austin.

MO (01:38:43):

SM (01:38:45):
Do you feel that universities are afraid of that word, that volunteerism is the okay word on campuses today? And the reason why they're afraid of the term activism as a return to the (19)60s kind of?

MO (01:39:00):
Yeah, but I do not see any huge worries about that because the (19)60s have not happened again. I mean, the reaction to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been so small compared to that to Vietnam. And part may be because we do not have to draft anymore, and part there may be other reasons, but I do not see any huge fear in part of university administrators.

SM (01:39:28):
And could you discuss in your own words how you defined the culture wars or what happened in the (19)60s and (19)70s is still alive today in our body politic and in everyday interactions between people who disagree on tactics, solutions, belief systems between each other?

MO (01:39:48):
Well, I mean, the basic cultural divide is between people who essentially, as fallen sinners as all of us are, try to live or aspire to live in accord with biblical principles and those who have become self-proclaim gods. [inaudible] So, I mean, that is the basic cultural divide and there are lots of ripples from that all over the place. But that is the, basically, "Who do we worship God or a man?"

SM (01:40:33):
I have just a list of names here of people. You can just give quick comments on them. These are personalities from the (19)60s and (19)70s. The first one is Eugene McCarthy.

MO (01:40:49):
Again, did not know him personally, but he showed courage and seemed to be a personally virtuous individual as far as I know.

SM (01:41:05):
Bobby Kennedy.

MO (01:41:14):
Certainly a person who thought things through carefully, who thought things through with political care and caution. And I tend to think of him to some extent like John Kennedy, a representative of the older Democratic Party, that while I might disagree about some things. I mean, they had a lot of personal reasons to be associated with it. I mean, said personal, I mean a lot of decency associated with it. There were all sorts of different things about personal lives and so forth, but from what I know he did care about his family, he did care about this country, and was willing to be... Well gave his life campaigning. So basically, I think positively about him.

SM (01:42:27):
Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X.

MO (01:42:32):
Well, I tend to think positive about Martin Luther King Jr. I mean, again, there are all sorts of questions about his dissertation, his sexual life, his this, his that. But I think he was a positive force in American life, particularly in his emphasis on non-violent. Malcolm X, hard to know because he seemed to be in a period of change at the time he was gunned down. Hard to know what would have happened. Certainly his early writing and the autobiography of Malcolm X was filled with hatred. Again, the earlier part of it, and who knows what would have happened to him. But his legacy, I do not think was positive in the way that I still tend to think positively of towards Martin Luther King Jr.

SM (01:43:20):
How about Bayard Rustin?

MO (01:43:25):
He was more of an ideological leader, a theorist. It's been so long since I read it in college, so I will defer on that.

SM (01:43:40):
Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden.

MO (01:43:45):
Oh, Jane Fonda certainly very cute and crute in other movies. Pretty good actress. At the time I applauded her, so I am no better than she. But certainly going to North Vietnam, and as I understand it, posing with anti-aircraft gun that shot down American flyers and so forth, not a good thing to do. Tom Hayden, very consistent through his career of trying to push forward radical ideas and sometimes in one way, sometimes through California politics. So, I think he has been largely a destructive force, and he does not have the virtue of being cute and a good actress like his wife.

SM (01:44:51):
David Harris.

MO (01:44:54):
Oh, that is the name I remember so vaguely mean.

SM (01:44:58):
Joann Baez's husband.

MO (01:45:03):
Yeah, I do not remember much about him.

SM (01:45:04):
William Buckley and Barry Goldwater.

MO (01:45:12):
Well, Buckley did a lot to revive the Conservative movement and in largely a positive way. I mean, he turned to be a fusionist, he wanted to bring together libertarians and traditionalists. Wanted to bring together Christians and non-Christians. I think he was a positive force in American life and fun to listen to, and a good writer. And there are not all that many good writers, so I tend to esteem them. Barry Goldwater. Well, the world is the theater of God and the way God brings in particular actors fits the time. I mean he briefly had a starring role, and I think overall acquitted himself recently in that role. So I just tend to think of him... He was an astounding American character from the 1960s who was quintessentially American and regardless of any... I could tell you a lot, but kind of delightful as an American character,

SM (01:46:36):
Benjamin Spock and Timothy Leary.
MO (01:46:42):
I remember Timothy Leary turned, what is it? Turn on, tune in, drop out? A destructive presence in American life. And I never took LSD, that is one of the things I missed, I am glad I did not. Cause apparently it had some very bad effects on some people whose lives were ruined in the process. So, a very destructive. Benjamin Spock, I mean who knows whether his baby book was useful or not. I guess a lot of parents found it useful. There's a lot of controversy about whether the way kids were raised, Spock kids. Later on, his anti-war stuff I do not think was particularly helpful.

SM (01:47:25):
How about Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman?

MO (01:47:29):
Well, Abbie Hoffman, I remember from the Bobby Seale demonstrations and that he got up and he was chanting, the president of Yale was named Kingman Brewster, and he got up and was chanting always, "Fuck Kingman Brewer. Fuck Kingman Brewer." And I do not know whether he was deliberately mispronouncing the name as an insult. Seems kind of a strange insult or whether he was so ill-informed what was going on that he actually did not even get the name. That to me as a reporter, if you do not even get the name, that tends to, leaves me to look less favorably on anything else. So he was kind of... again there's a very opposite person from Barry Goldwater, but one of these, a uniquely character who was amusing and had a passing role in the theater. And at this point I look back and I see him as being very destructive, but this is part of the panorama of American life. And so I just think back at him with amusement, but also certain disdain.

SM (01:48:45):
How about George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey?

MO (01:48:49):
George McGovern I rode around with when I was a reporter in Bend, Oregon, early in his campaign before he got any chance at all. I mean, I was reporting and wrote a profile on him. Seemed like a very nice guy personally. Later on, after he was in the Senate, I read that he owned for a while a hotel or an inn of some kind in Connecticut and learn something about a business and about the difficulty of managing a business, and said he wished he had known some of that when he was in the Senate. So yeah, I think of McGovern as the person who turned the Democratic Party from something that had good points to it, to something that is culturally and internationally very unhelpful. Yeah, nice guy. Personally, I wish he should have been the manager or owner of an inn before he went to the Senate.

SM (01:49:48):
How about Humphrey?

MO (01:49:57):
Again here, here is a guy who had a lot of benevolent impulses, certainly his... In 1948 I think he was mayor of Minneapolis and standing up against the state's rioters and the Democratic Party, Strom Thurmond at the time, and others. I think he was useful in promoting racial integration at that point. Certainly, a happy warrior, was not real nasty on the campaign trail. Kind of a bridge between the old Democratic Party and the McGovern Democratic Party in a way. So, I do not know, this is interesting. I mean, I have not thought about these people for a long time, but it is hard for me to think ill of some of them, unless they were really diametrically tearing down some good institutions, unless they were very deliberately attacking God. It is hard for me to think negatively of them because I think back to them though as well, this is part of the... These are interesting characters

SM (01:51:09):
That gets into Robert McNamara and Henry Kissinger.

MO (01:51:14):
Yeah, well, Kissinger I have a hard time distinguishing from Dr. Strangelove. So kind of a mad genius in his way. The advice he gave concerning Vietnam, I do not think was all that good, and in other areas as well. McNamara, seems to me in fighting war it's good to take into account the experience of those who had their boots on the ground.

SM (01:51:52):
How about Ed Musky and Spiro Agnew?

MO (01:52:00):
Yeah, none of them made a huge impact on me. Spiro Agnew I once I remember talking with a speech writer who had the enjoyable task of throwing out some alliteration. I cannot remember one. I mean talking about the press and so forth. So Spiro Agnew it seems to me like a little kid who was spitting at his opponents all the time, but then not to think all that benevolently of him, and then he seemed somewhat corrupt, as I recall. That must be a Democratic politician. No, I do not know anything about him personally really. I do not remember anything about him personally, but not a person I remember as either particularly heroic or particularly nasty. He represented the Democratic Party at the time, which some good things, some bad things.

SM (01:53:02):
Daniel Ellsberg and Gloria Steinhem.

MO (01:53:10):
Well, Ellsberg I think was one of the heroes for my roommates and myself at the time. Beyond that, he has faded from my memory. Gloria Steinem, I mean, the feminist movement took a wrong turn when it became pro-abortion. And I tend to think of feminists like Susan B. Anthony in the 19th century who I think were doing the right thing and fighting for women's rights in a way that did not kill babies in the process. I mean, Susan B. Anthony was very pro-life. So yeah, I am all in favor of women being able to be in good jobs and to have equal treatment and so forth, but when Gloria Steinhem tries to advance women on the corpses of unborn children, I cannot think very benevolently of her.

SM (01:54:27):
Along this line, where would you put people like Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan and Geraldine Ferraro?

MO (01:54:36):
Again, Betty Friedan, I just remember her original book and I thought her complaint had a lot of merit to it. But all of them, again, this is a great sadness in American life, when they embraced abortion at that point, I just think this is something that is so evil and so much against the good parts of liberalism. I mean, liberalism was always... Hubert Humphrey would say some more nice things [inaudible] he was always talking about how we treat people at the dawn of life, at the end of life. He was a compassionate liberal. I do not think the big government strategies were effective, but I can certainly honor his goals. And in the Democratic Party, led by some of the feminists you just mentioned, turned pro-abortion. I mean, that to me was a killer for the Democratic Party. And if Democrats have managed to resist that, they would have been much more virtuous and also more successful politically over the years.

SM (01:55:45):
The most recent boomers that are very influential certainly are Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. Any thoughts on those two?

MO (01:55:57):
Not particularly. I mean, Condoleezza Rice, I mean very smart and a good musician, and also knowledgeable about football. These are not bad things. And from what I understand, she was a good advisor to President Bush, a good Secretary of State. So I tend to think positively of her. Hillary Clinton, I cannot, again, the abortion part of her agenda and so forth. Therefore, I have a hard time getting mad at her personally. Bill put her through a lot and no, she hasn't been as bad a Secretary of State as a lot of people would have expected.

SM (01:56:53):
Go right ahead.

MO (01:56:55):
No, I mean, she seems to have been a good mother to Chelsea, and I do not know the details of her personal life. I imagine it must have been very, very hard over the years. And whether she should have stayed with Bill or not, that is not a judgment for me to make. So yeah, I just cannot get as mad at Hillary as some people do.

SM (01:57:21):
How about Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh?

MO (01:57:27):
Again, I see all these, I mean, they are just astounding characters. I mean, Newt, actually, I got to know a little bit. I remember in 1995, and again, I am very grateful to him, and that he made The Tragedy of American Compassion well known. So, I am very grateful to him for doing that. And I think he had a genuine concern for poor people and a genuine concern about welfare. I think it was hugely reckless what he did in having his affair, I mean, number one, wrong. Number two, when political leaders have affairs like that, it's not fair to the thousands of people who work for them, and many kids dedicated their lives, because they just have thrown it all the away. I remember sitting in a restaurant late one night, it was almost midnight in Washington near the White House, and I asked Newt, well, how could I pray for him? And he said, he thought for a little, and he says, "Well, the physical things." And I thought he meant by that, well, he was on the go 20 hours a day and with reporters ready to take any slip of the tongue and amplify it. I thought that was what he was talking about mean, but he may have been talking about his adultery at the time. And I had lunch once with his wife, she seemed like a very nice person, but she did not deserve to be treated the way he treated her. So, I tend to, as I think about various people, if they are pro-abortion that gets me angry and if they have not been faithful to their wives, that irritates me. So, in WORLD, back in 2007, actually, we had a good interview with Newt and we had a profile of him that I wrote and we put on the cover basically, "Newt do not run." And I feel the same way now. He just has not proven himself as a trustworthy leader, and in part because of the way he treated his first two wives. I am glad now that he seems to have settle down and if it came to voting for him or Obama, I would vote for him on policy issues.

MO (02:00:02):
I would vote for him on policy issues, but Obama seems to be personally leading a more virtuous life.

SM (02:00:10):
And Rush?

MO (02:00:12):
Rush, I think he performs a useful function in American life. Given the ardent liberalism and sometimes radicalism of the big television networks, with the exception of Fox, and the big newspapers, I am glad that talk radio is there, and Rush has been a pioneer in it. Some of the things he says I do not like, but overall, I think he's performed a positive function in American life.

SM (02:00:51):
Just a few more names, and then, my final two questions. William Fulbright and Gaylord Nelson?

MO (02:00:59):
I do not remember any of them, either. Fulbright, I remember as a smart guy from Arkansas, the Fulbright program and so forth. I just remember him as a very well-spoken person who turned against the Vietnam War, and maybe he was right in doing so at the time. Gaylord Nelson, I just do not remember very well at all. Just a name from Wisconsin, that is about it.

SM (02:01:26):
Yeah, he is the founder of Earth Day. Rachel Carson.

MO (02:01:29):

SM (02:01:30):
Rachel Carson, who wrote "Silent Spring."

MO (02:01:34):
Rachel Carson, I wrote an article a few years ago about the growth of malaria and other diseases in Africa because of the bans on spraying and so forth, and bed nets just do not keep out the mosquitoes all that well. As a result of Rachel Carson and her good intentions, there are a lot of people who have come down with malaria who otherwise would not have. That, to me, is a great tragedy. I just think of her and the association with that. Again, I am sure there are many other things she did, the book and so forth, but thinking about malaria, you have got to kill mosquitoes before they ruin the lives of people. Protecting, preserving human life, to me, is a priority. I am sure there were some good things she accomplished, but perhaps going too far. It is just been destructive of millions of lives.

SM (02:02:50):
Tommy Smith and Stokely Carmichael?

MO (02:02:54):
I just remember Tommy Smith from the 1968 Olympics, that is about it. At the time, I applauded it. Looking back, that is not something I think he should have done. Stokely Carmichael, I think, is very destructive. "Burn, baby burn," that was not helpful to anyone, and particularly the people who did the burning.

SM (02:03:20):
How about John Lewis?

MO (02:03:24):
Very limited memory of him.

SM (02:03:27):
He is the congressman from Georgia.

MO (02:03:30):
Yeah, that is about all I know about him.

SM (02:03:32):
And then, the Black Panthers, which is basically seven different people: Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, H. Rap Brown, Eldridge Cleaver, Dave Hilliard, Elaine Brown, and Kathleen Cleaver.

MO (02:03:51):
I remember at Yale, Bobby Seale came to speak, and I wrote an article about his speech, and just the reaction of Yale students. This was playing, basically, and again, this is why in some ways, when people saw it getting serious, with Penn State and so forth, the playing stopped. This is playing. Here, you basically had bullies, and loud mouths, and criminals essentially, and honoring them. This was playing, and I played, other people played, but it just was not a mature way to respond to them.

SM (02:04:37):
The two well-known Weathermen, Mark Rudd and Bernadine Dohrn.

MO (02:04:45):
Again, largely destructive, and sometimes ending up some of their associates, when bombs blew up in New York and so forth. I just see them as destructive in American life, and in so far as they're still around, and they have not changed their thinking, probably still destructive, although not in as direct way as they aspired to be in the late (19)60s and early (19)70s.

SM (02:05:12):
Of course, Vietnam, Colin Powell and William Westmoreland.

MO (02:05:16):
Again, I never had any personal involvement with them. They both seem to be honorable people. Colin Powell, I wish he had been pro-life. Had he been, I certainly would have wanted to support him for the president. Westmoreland, I do not know, had he had a free hand, it would have turned out better. It seems to me to be a miserable position to be a general, asked to just do a strategy, be micromanaged by Lyndon Johnson.

SM (02:06:06):
Okay, that was my last... the Vietnam Memorial, just your thoughts. My next to last question is the issue of healing. We did take a group of students from Westchester University to Washington DC in 1995. The students, none of them were born at the time of the (19)60s, they had looked at the entire year of 1968, and they wanted to ask Senator Muskie this question. Do you feel that-

MO (02:06:39):
Can you hold on just one moment please?

SM (02:06:40):
Yes, it's okay. The question they asked Senator Muskie in (19)95 was this: due to the divisions that were so strong in the 1960s, particularly in (19)68, with the divisions between Black and White, male and female, gay and straight, those who supported the war or against the war, or supported the troops and were against the troops, do you feel that the boomer generation will go to its graves like the Civil War generation, not healing, still bitter, still divided? That was the question they asked Senator Muskie, and they were hoping he was going to talk about the (19)68 convention, and all the other stuff. I will tell you what he said after I hear your response. Do you think healing is an issue in this country, that people are still bitter about what happened back then? Or, do you think it is not an issue?

MO (02:07:43):
I do not know, I cannot generalize. I think some people are and some people are not. I do not know what the percentages are. I know a lot of my former colleagues at the University of Texas, some of them are still bitter, but whether it is old grievances or new grievances, I do not know.

SM (02:08:17):
Do you think the wall has done a good job? Jan Scruggs wrote the book "To Heal A Nation," and of course, it was geared toward healing the families of those who lost loved ones in the war, and also, all the Vietnam vets who served in that war, to heal them. I think he wanted to go beyond that, to try to heal the nation, as his book said. Do you think the wall has healed the nation in any way?

MO (02:08:41):
I am sorry, the Vietnam Memorial?

SM (02:08:44):
The Vietnam Memorial, yes.

MO (02:08:48):
No, I do not think something like that can heal a nation. That would be an overreach. Does it help individuals? Yeah, I have been there and seen the way people react to it. I think it is actually pretty effective. I would hope there has been healing there, because that is not going on. In other words, the abortion war is still very much with us, so I do not think there is going to be any healing until finally, we come to some reconciliation.

SM (02:09:35):
That is Roe v Wade, the Roe v Wade decision.

MO (02:09:39):
Yeah, exactly. In a sense, that is a gift from the Supreme Court that keeps on giving in a very negative way. As far as the Vietnam War, that is long ago at this point. It depends. I have seen reconciliation between, for example, Japanese Christians and Christians who dropped bombs on them, similar in Vietnam. I think the reconciliation tends to come when people realize that we're all sinners. We have all, in various ways, hated, and done destructive things. We cannot compliment ourselves, and lord it over anyone else. That generally comes with, at least in this country, most often a Christian understanding. I have seen that reconciliation between former enemies through Christ. I have not seen it very often through politics, or anything else.

SM (02:11:08):
Yes, Senator Muskie's response was that he did not even mention 1968, or any of the problems in America in the (19)60s. He said, "We have not healed since the Civil War over the area of race." He talked about racism in our society that was ongoing. That is the way he responded. The issue of trust is also a quality that is often given, a lack of trust is often given to many people in the boomer generation, for good reason, because they saw so many leaders lie to them. Do you think it is good to be a generation that is labeled as not a trusting generation? Is that good or bad?

MO (02:11:58):
I do not think it much matters.

SM (02:12:03):
Do you believe, like a lot of people who are majors in political science in college, that the first thing they learn in political science is, the stronger democracy is the democracy where the citizens are constantly not trusting their government and their leaders, because that is what a democracy is about? It keeps people on their toes.

MO (02:12:30):
Certainly, there is an old hymn, "Do not put your trust in princes," and so forth. A certain amount of distrust is very healthy. Does it come to the point where one assumes that everyone is always lying all the time? You cannot live in a society that way. Distrust of people in power is very useful, but the assumption that they are all out to get you, that they're all thieves, where does useful distrust end and paranoia begin? That is a difficult charting sometimes. It seems to be useful that people are distrustful of politicians, because then, you're going to be in favor of decentralized government, less centralized power, that is very helpful. Taken to an extreme, you have a society that just tears itself apart.

SM (02:13:42):
What do you think the lasting legacy will be? Usually, the best history books, or books in sociology, political books are written 50 years after something ends, whether it be a war or talking about a generation. What do you think historians and writers will say about this boomer generation once the last boomer has passed? What do you think their evaluation will be of it? Of course, it is hard to say it now, because the boomers are just entering old age, and they have still got 20 years of life, most of them.

MO (02:14:20):
Yeah, that is a good question. I am just trying to think, if I were around in 50 years, and trying to write a history of this period, this has been an extraordinarily blessed generation. Only a small percentage have had to face war, or natural disaster, or hunger, or any of the things that were the common lot of mankind since the beginning, or close to the beginning. It's been a very blessed generation, and what have we done with those blessings? I think some people have acquitted themselves well, and others not. I do not know if there will be a lot of generalization. It strikes me that I would hope that future historians will look back at abortion the way historians today tend to look back at slavery, as something abhorrent. In so far as this generation has really pushed abortion in lots of ways, I think that would be certainly an indictment of this generation. We saw lots of positive as well. I suspect people looking back will see that we were very occupied with some bread, and lots of circuses. Hard to say.

SM (02:17:05):
I am going to end everything here, but if you would listen to what I have to say here, and did not just respond to it, it deals with the issue of poverty that you have talked about in several of your books. I am just going to read something I have written here, and your thoughts. "An activist is often defined as a person who believes in what is in it for us, not what is in it for me. As Dr. King used to often say, "It is about we, not me," so, activists should fit your definition of compassion." But, in "Compassionate Conservatism," you put political labels on a quality that both liberals and conservatives should have. I know you say compassionate conservatism, but maybe compassionate liberalism, too. We all want to end poverty, but when we have a society that oftentimes emphasizes what is in it for me, do you fear that our society cares more about personal survival over group survival? I conclude by saying, "In short, understanding our past is important, as you state in your books. But, we oftentimes accept that we will always have poor people. Is not this part of the problem? Why must we always indoctrinate our youth that there has always been poor people, and there always will. How about believing that one day, there will be no poor people?" Am I being realistic or utopian? When you talk about compassionate conservatism, I think it's very important to have it, but I also believe in compassionate liberalism, and something that crosses over to all of our society. I have always thought, as a young man who was in sociology classes in my early years, professors saying, "We always have poor people. History has always shown us we are going to pay poor people." Why cannot we believe one day there will not be any? That is part of compassion and conservatism, that everybody... I do not believe in handouts, either, but everybody will be able to live a productive life, and everybody will have a legacy. I believe we are brought onto this planet, because I am a deeply religious person, too, that if we are born on this planet, we all have a right to have a legacy on this planet. Just your final thoughts.

MO (02:19:43):
No, I agree. I think the critical few words you just said were, "I do not believe in handouts." Where programs go wrong is when they become handout programs, and that is been the problem with a lot of governmental programs. Not all, but a lot of them. You can actually make things worse in the process of wanting to make things better. I think we should aspire to a time when there's no poverty. There will be some people who are poor by choice. I do not think we have to force-feed people. There are going to be some people who believe, like Buddhist monks, it is good to be poor, and you will have that. As far as people who are working, who are striving, who are aspiring, I do not think any of them should be poor, and I do not think any of them have to be poor. This is a rich enough society where that should not be necessary at all. But if you start having handouts, then you're actually likely to have most of those people remain poor, and probably their children will grow up poor also, because their children will not see where it is to work. That is a problem. You can do great harm if you try to do good in an unwise way. I agree with you, we should certainly aspire to a society where there will not be any poor.

SM (02:21:27):
I remember during the Clinton Administration, when somebody was working at a McDonald's in one of the inner cities, I remember Bill Clinton had just given a great speech, and he is a pretty compassionate guy. Increasing jobs was part of it, but a lot of criticism that these are just not very good jobs, they did not pay a lot. I can remember one person saying, "Well, geez, I have been working at McDonald's, and now I can make a little bit more by going on welfare rather than going to work at McDonald's," that it would be about the same amount of money.

MO (02:22:06):

SM (02:22:06):
That is a terrible attitude to have, because that takes the work ethic out, and that means that is a handout. "I will not work because I do not have an incentive."

MO (02:22:19):
The government program that I am very comfortable with is EITC, earned income tax credit, and so forth, because that actually is designed to make working at McDonald's better than anything you're going to get from the government. You need something like that. The problem is, when you set up a program to try to help people who desperately need help, because we really do not want government officials to be sometimes arbitrarily deciding who gets help and who does not, we have to extend it across the board. The people then who do not really need the help, it actually leads them not to work. Governmental programs are a very blunt instrument. They're hard to do right, and we have seen them do wrong. That is my basic critique of them. Programs that are much more flexible tend to be much better, and we do not associate government bureaucracy with flexibility.

SM (02:23:34):
Do you think that most of these programs that are really hurting the poor have really come through the time that boomers have evolved as adults?

MO (02:23:47):
Yeah, they started in the (19)60s, and you cannot blame the boomer generation for that at that point, they were not in. Certainly the way it's continued, it is hard for someone whose needs have always been satisfied, and not more than needs, whose wants, whose desires have been satisfied, to say no to other people, even when it might be important to say no at times. I have had people who had poverty programs, church programs, who grew up poor themselves. They have a much easier time saying no than upper middle class folks, because they themselves have seen the destructiveness of what happens when you just start passing out stuff. You know this, this has been going on for a long time, but you have certainly helped me go down memory lane.

SM (02:24:45):
Thank you very much, I am done. I do not know if you have any final comments, but I think you have said it all. I truly appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview.

MO (02:24:58):
You are welcome. You say you type up these transcripts, or you have them typed up?

SM (02:25:02):
No, I am going to do them myself. Peter Golm and others, some other people who have written books, have had horror stories about people who have been transcribing for them. I am going to be transcribing all of them myself over a six-month period. Everybody will see their transcript, too, and when they see their transcript, it is the final "Okay" to be able to publish it within this book.

MO (02:25:27):
Oh, good.

SM (02:25:27):
I will be keeping in touch with you. I am going to come into New York sometime in early January to take your picture. I will just let you know that. I want to wish you happy holidays.

MO (02:25:40):
You too. This is a great project you are involved in, and I hope you are enjoying it. You sound like you are having fun with it.

SM (02:25:46):
I am. I am learning a lot, but I want to make sure that students learn from this as well. My whole life is devoted to students in higher ed, so I want to make sure I have a product that students can read, so that they can understand. You cannot live in the shoes of someone, but do not judge people by what other people say about them. Just listen to them, and learn.

MO (02:26:10):

SM (02:26:11):

MO (02:26:12):
Okay, thanks.

SM (02:26:13):
Thanks. Have a great day.

MO (02:26:15):
Thank you.

SM (02:26:15):

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview



Stephen McKiernan


Marvin N. Olasky

Biographical Text

Dr. Marvin Olasky is an editor, an author of more than 20 books and a distinguished chair in Journalism and Public Policy at Patrick Henry College. He received his Bachelor's degree in American Studies from Yale University and his Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan. Olasky left his position of provost of the King's College to focus on his position of editor-in-chief of WORLD Magazine.





Digital Publisher

Binghamton University Libraries

Digital Format


Material Type



2 Microcassettes

Interview Format


Subject LCSH

Editors; Authors, American; College teachers; Patrick Henry College (Purcellville, Va.); Olasky, Marvin N.--Interviews

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Baby boom generation; VIetnam War; John F Kennedy; Ronald Reagan; NAACP; Students \nfor Democratic Society; Black Panthers; Vietnam Veterans; Free speech movement; Activism; Kent State


mckiernanphotos - Olasky - Marvin, Dr.jpg

Item Information

About this Collection

Collection Description

Stephen McKiernan's collection of interviews includes more than two hundred interviews with prominent figures of the 1960s, which were collected between the mid-1990s and 2010s. The collection provides narratives of people who were actively involved in or witnessed events in the 1960s, an era which spurred profound cultural and… More

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“Interview with Dr. Marvin Olasky,” Digital Collections, accessed April 23, 2024,