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Is There A Case Against 'Woke' Language?; Governor Newsom To Shut Walgreens Out Of California State Business Following Abortion Pill Decision; America Faces Deadly Fentanyl Epidemic; Group Of New York City Teens Allegedly Ransack Restaurant; Virtual "Body Doubling" Gains Popularity As More People Work From Home. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired March 07, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: The word "woke" is certainly getting a workout these days, particularly in some of the language that we use. And while Republicans like Florida's Ron DeSantis are waging war on woke, is there an argument that the push for more inclusive language could be going too far?
I have my panel standing by to weigh in. They are very excited about this. But first, I want to bring in George Packer of "The Atlantic," who has a fascinating article called "The Moral Cause Against Equity Language." George, thank you so much for being here.
I read your article with great interest. Basically you -- explain this. Some of these words -- let me just start with some of the words to show people what is changing. So, you look at the Sierra Club language guide, and the Sierra Club language guide has a lot of words that they think need to be retired.
So, here are just a few examples. "Empower" should be switched to "elevate voices." "Stand in solidarity" should be switched to "rise in solidarity" because not everybody can stand. "Depressing" should be switched to "disheartening" or "sad." You can explain why.
"You guys" should be switched to "all of you" because, obviously, "you guys" is gendered. And then -- I mean, do you say "waiter" or "waitress" a "server?" I think we've been calling people "servers" for a long time.
But I was also interested in they want to retire "urban," "vibrant," "hardworking," and "brown bag." Why?
GEORGE PACKER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: I think they find those words to have some sort of subtle bias or some subtle racism in them. And honestly, I can't explain it any better than that.
A lot of the selections is mystery. A lot of them seem to have been decided by a committee that was looking for any reason to get rid of any word that could cause any hurt to anyone. And that's sort of the purpose of these equity language guides. And a lot of American institutions, mostly nonprofits and universities, have started adopting them or even writing them. Stanford wrote on, and then withdrew it after it was subject to a lot of criticism.
The purpose of them is to get rid of any trace of exclusion or bias or hierarchy from language because those qualities hurt and we produce oppression and bigotry, et cetera. So, it's an attempt to purify language by getting rid of words that could have traces of those qualities that any decent person would be against.
The problem is when you get rid of those words and substitute what are inevitably euphemisms, jargon, abstractions, mush, you stop being able to name the thing and to see the thing and to speak of the thing and write of the thing.
And so, it all disappears in this fog, we no longer really know what we are talking about, and we have this illusion that we have made the world slightly better when, in fact, I think, we have made it slightly worse.
CAMEROTA: One of the things I was interested in reading in your article is that these -- these are not -- obviously, all language changes. Language evolves. The dictionary adds new words every year.
And some words are retired. But your point was that happens organically. You know, younger -- the younger generation starts using new words and it all happens organically. This is not, you say, an organic process.
PACKER: Right. This is not the way language changes when lots of people begin to use new words. This is handed down from above by small groups of so-called experts who supposedly represent communities. But we don't know who they are. We don't know how they make decisions.
And it's a kind of fait accompli, like it's a diktat (ph) that gets passed down. And for that reason, I think it is sort of alienating to a lot of people who find that a word they've used all their lives and have heard all their lives is suddenly banned.
It reminds me a little of the workers in Orwell's 1984 assembling the dictionary of Newspeak, which is a process of destroying words in order to make unorthodox thought impossible.
These equity language guides are a little like that. They are not totalitarian. But they do have this purpose and effect of making it impossible to have a thought that you can consider to be a bad thought.
But I don't think they are getting rid of that thoughts. What they are getting rid of is our ability to talk about bad things in a way that makes sense and that we can communicate in ordinary speech.
CAMEROTA: I mean, no disrespect to the Sierra Club, but does it matter what the Sierra Club's language guide says? You know, how widespread is that?
PACKER: That's a good question. You know, I could be accused of making far too much of guides that are really internal matters for the American Cancer Society or the University of Washington.
I think that these guides, which themselves are inspired by just a couple of handbooks that have been published by activist organizations, end up influencing common writing and common speech. They influence what journalists write and say. They influence what people mainly in -- let's be honest, educated professional circles feel that it's okay to say.
So, eventually, it does spread to the larger society and people suddenly become aware, oh, yesterday, you could say "marginalized." In fact, "marginalized" is a bit of a mushy word. Today, according to one of these guides, "marginalized" is actually not a good word and you should be careful about how you use it.
So, there's a sense that you are always a step behind, you are going to be ambushed tomorrow by the next edition, and you have to catch up and study it. It's almost -- in the way they present it to their staffs, it's almost like a religious manual that you have to pay careful attention to and give a lot of reflection to in order to know exactly how you can write and talk.
CAMEROTA: Hmm. George Packer, thank you very much for this really provocative article. Great to talk to you about it. Thanks for being here.
PACKER: You are welcome.
CAMEROTA: I want to bring in the panel now. We have "Rolling Stone" columnist Jay Michaelson with us. He's also a rabbi and the author of "God vs. Gay: The Religious Case for Equality." And one of my favorite Republicans --
CAMEROTA: So, I have to -- that's what I'm sticking with, Margaret Hoover.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, PBS HOST: I'm going to change my Twitter handle.
CAMEROTA: I mean, I see you --
HOOVER: Alisyn Camerota is here.
CAMEROTA: That's right.
CAMEROTA: Also, political commentator and millennial expert Evan Siegfried and the always compelling Natasha Alford. Okay, great to have all of you. That was fascinating, I think, because I think that he's right. People do feel as though they get in trouble. That's part of the problem. If you want to change your language, change your language. But the feeling is of a finger wagging, how dare you not know that "marginalized" is no longer used? Do you feel that way ever, Natasha?
NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that there's a difference between poor execution and the principle and intent behind what we are trying to do. I agree, who is the Sierra Club to sort of dictate our language? But I don't think that is actually happening.
And so, I wonder, you know, how many of these groups that are making attempt, maybe they are influenced by some extreme consultant group that they have hired, actually are speaking for the communities that feel they are affected.
So -- but what I don't like is when people use their poor execution of a few to then throw the baby out with the bathwater and say, oh, just throw away all of this effort to try to be inclusive, to try to be thoughtful. You know, it is really -- excuse me -- used as an excuse to not engage by people who are unwilling to change.
JAY MICHAELSON, RABBI, AUTHOR, COLUMNIST FOR ROLLING STONE: Can I (INAUDIBLE) a little bit because I, for lack of a more diplomatic term, kind of hated the article precisely because it conflated the two points, which I think you just made, right?
So, you know, you said at the top, right, there is a finger wagging and there's a sense like you suck if you didn't use the right word. But that's not what this article is attacking. It's attacking an attempt to make it not suck, right? It's like, hey, we are trying to help you, we are the Sierra Club, because you might not be up on the ways in which your language can harm others.
And no one is saying like we are reinventing language. Only George Packer was saying that. The guide does not say that. It says, here are ways to use language that is a little less harmful.
CAMEROTA: But, I mean, is "hardworking" and "vibrant" harmful?
MICHAELSON: So, I'm not -- you know, I think we can like -- I did not love all of the words that were in the cancel list, but again, that is sort of conflating execution with principle.
So, you know, I grew up in the 1980s in Florida. We said "that's so gay" all the time. I was a little closeted gay kid. And I didn't get -- nobody is talking about homosexuality when they say "that's so gay." They just mean to say that it's terrible, it's bad, gay sucks, and you should be ashamed if you're gay, which I was.
So, I experienced that. My mother, who was Jewish, was once told by somebody that she was jewing him down on a price, and he didn't even mean to be offensive. That was just a word. I also grew up using the word "gyp," right, which is about gypsies or the Roma people. I had to learn in my 20s or 30s that that is kind not a cruel thing to say (INAUDIBLE) stigmatizing (INAUDIBLE) group of people.
George Packer can say that that's not organic, but I had to learn that. We used the N-word in my high school class like white people used it all the time. That was considered what you said. And I had to learn that that was not okay. And he can say that's inorganic, but to me, that's how we grow.
HOOVER: But there is a balance, right? There is a balance. That's how we grow. There are all the examples you just cited. And then there's like left-wing activist groups like the Sierra Club which literally is going to be a republican ad for Ron DeSantis or a line in Donald Trump's next political campaign in the next week.
And so, there is a backlash because, of course, these is the expansion of language and the evolving, frankly, evolution of our country's identity and inclusiveness towards everybody that is part of our country.
CAMEROTA: You think it's giving them too much (INAUDIBLE) the right, to the Ron DeSantis's ability to --
HOOVER: And then there is -- then there is an illiberal tendency on the far left to do the thing you said, which is finger wagging, and to dictate what is acceptable and what isn't.
And there is a way to do it. There is a way to expand people's minds to -- and to grow as a country and to grow sort of as a civilization. But maybe it is the way you do it. But also, maybe some of it is just overreach.
EVAN SIEGFRIED, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, PRESIDENT OF SOMM CONSULTING: It is also coming out and it has become such an important issue for people on the far-right. If you look at CPAC this past weekend, it was a very present thing. Woke. We don't even have a definition of what woke is. If we went on the street right now and ask 10 people, we will get 10 different answers.
CAMEROTA: We've tried that on this show and everybody has a different answer.
SIEGFRIED: But also, you know, Republicans on the far-right, the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, the Ron DeSantises, they are going out and saying, sticks and stones may break your bones, but woke language prescriptions, those are the true threat to your individual freedom and your individual liberty. And they are preying on people.
Yes, I think the Sierra Club and other organizations are a little excessive. If I were an employee in that situation, I might say, you know, I don't have to work here. It is my personal choice.
But at the same time, you know, I think that we should be respectful of other people. I have friends who have changed their pronouns and I have gotten it wrong. And they have said, hey, you know, you've got it wrong. And I try -- and I say, what would you like me to call you? It's embarrassing. It's awkward. It's like if I met you at a cocktail party and then two months later bumped into you and forgot your name. We get over. That's just about being mature and not shrinking --
CAMEROTA: I certainly understand that on a one-on-one basis, but in terms of the changing of not calling someone -- even this, I think I sort of understand. We used to call people homeless. And now, there is more of an effort for unhoused people because you don't want to use -- that's an adjective. So, we were using it as a noun. Calling somebody homeless as a noun defines their identity, whereas calling somebody homeless, it is an adjective of where they are at the moment.
CAMEROTA: Yes. But I don't think that people are using that insensitively. I mean, people -- I don't know. What do you think?
HOOVER: They're not intending harm.
HOOVER: Sometimes, it's politicized and there's an intention of harm, but I think most people don't. That's exactly why the politicization of this, the reason this is so palpable on the right, the reason this is (INAUDIBLE) easy, not even lifeline in a Donald Trump rally, is because most people don't mean to harm. Most people's intentions are good. And so, it feels -- it inspires a sense of --
ALFORD: I just think the irony of the right being upset about the way that we use words is that they literally stole a word from the African American community, have completely redefined it, taken away what its original intent was and said this is what it means now. Go ahead.
SIEGFRIED: Sorry. Remember the term "Latinx?" It started to become more and more into the mainstream and it was pushed down. And then polls of Latin American or Latinos found that they did not like that.
And it really backfired in that sense. We've pulled away from that. I think there is some trial and error that has to go on in trying to find the right phrases. But at this point, you know, we don't need to have it so where it gets to be ridiculous, where you say the word "American," it is offensive to people who are not American citizens.
ALFORD: But who gets to say that? I'm Latina. I'm Latina. Right? My mother may not use the word "Latinx," but we are a different generation. And so, there is certain considerations and experiences that I have that make me more open to that word. I don't judge my mother. I don't say that my mother is wrong. We don't argue over it, but we are able to have a conversation.
I don't think it's about whether I like it. I think it's about the people that it represents. There are people who -- that binary of being the A or the O ending, it does not represent who they are. I can respect who they want to be in the world while at the same time calling myself a Latina but say you want to be referred to as Latinx. I have no problem with that.
I have a documentary called "Afro-Latinx Revolution." I chose the X because I wanted to be inclusive. So, I think there is room. I really think this is about execution. But no one was necessarily pushing this down everyone's throat. I think it was a certain sort of reaction to the fact that people did not want to even have the conversation about why we would change the way that we talk.
CAMEROTA: Jay Michaelson?
MICHAELSON: Again, you know, what were these documents? I actually really do believe these were meant to be helpful documents. We are putting in a whole bunch of made-up stuff that somebody is finger wagging, this person is going to be called offensive, this person is going to be called a bigot. I don't have any data that that what this is about.
I may quibble with some of the words, maybe, but maybe I should get a little bit more educated, and I would appreciate the document actually doing that instead of like resenting it and trying to make it into like a political attack ad.
CAMEROTA: Well, you will be delighted to hear that George Packer has stayed with us, listening to this --
MICHAELSON: Oh, come on. I thought --
MICHAELSON: That is the whole point.
CAMEROTA: This is -- I know. I can't believe that I'm blindsiding you with this. I know. I'm --
MICHAELSON: I loved the article --
CAMEROTA: And so, George, your thoughts on what you have heard from our conversation?
PACKER: I just love the clarity and force of speech with which everyone has torn my piece apart. That's exactly what I want.
MICHAELSON: You are welcome.
PACKER: First of all, I got to defend myself. I am not advocating slurs. I make that quite clear in the piece. Why would I? Any decent person would never use a slur and wouldn't even try to use something that might be inadvertently offensive. You should call people what they want to be called. That's basic courtesy. What I am talking about his public language that is not slurs, but that is creeping toward a kind of euphemistic vagueness that makes it impossible to state the thing clearly. And I think anyone who is interested in social justice should know that in order to change things, you first have to face them squarely.
So, if you cannot use the word "poorer" and instead have to use the worlds "people limited financial resources," have you faced it squarely? Are you getting closer to the problem and to solving the problem or are you trying to make yourself and maybe people who listen to feel as if you're decent people?
To me, it is a bit self-serving to use this language because I don't think it really does much good for the truly afflicted. I think what it does is make us feel as if language itself has changed the world. I think it's almost a pessimism about our ability to change the world materially, and instead we turn to euphemism in order to do it.
So, actually, I'm going to wave the banner of social justice and say, in order to have a more just world, we need to speak the truth clearly and understand it.
CAMEROTA: Well, it's really interesting to get everyone's perspective. And nobody was advocating slurs, obviously. But I really appreciate your perspective, George. It's certainly a thought- provoking topic and has got us all talking. So, thank you very much, again, for being here.
PACKER: It's my pleasure.
CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom taking aim at Walgreens. We will tell you why, next.
CAMEROTA: Governor Gavin Newsom says California is done with Walgreens after the pharmacy chain announced they will not distribute abortion medication in 21 states.
We are back with our panel. Governor Newsom put this out yesterday. California won't be doing business with Walgreens or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women's lives at risk. We are done.
Evan, you don't like this idea.
SIEGFRIED: I don't like it on a couple of levels. First of all, why is Gavin Newsom doing this? He wants to be considered a presidential candidate. And he is doing this because he does not really have a good record to run on as governor of California.
California has lost population for the first time ever. And last year, in 2021, California lost population. West Virginia gained population for the first time in 50 years.
But what did Gavin Newsom leave out about why he's dropping Walgreens? He left out that, last month, a group of 20 attorneys general of states all across the United States sent Walgreens and CVS notes saying, hey, if you are to distribute this abortion bill, you will be in violation of the Comstock Act. And as law enforcement officers, we will go after you legally.
The executives at Walgreens and their board had a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to protect the company from legal liability. And Gavin Newsom left that out. He has double victimized Walgreens in a shameful vanity play to become presidential contender.
CAMEROTA: Hmm. Do you agree?
HOOVER: Yes, absolutely. There are states where it is not legal to perform abortion now. Do I agree with that? That happens to be the law of the land.
I don't think it should be. I did not want Dobbs to be -- Roe to be overturned Dobbs. I don't agree with that decision. But that is the rule. This company has to abide by the laws in these states. So, Gavin Newsom is a show horse. I mean, he's doing this for attention.
CAMEROTA: So, you don't think this is just political expedience?
HOOVER: A thousand percent political expedience.
MICHAELSON: I don't know of any other governor who are posturing in order to run for president. I just can't possibly --
MICHAELSON: This is what governors do. This is their --
HOOVER: It is literally like a progressive invert of Ron DeSantis.
MICHAELSON: Can we start with this abortion pill, which is even in the -- this is misnomer. This is medication is used to treat miscarriages and also for abortion purposes. Walgreens is not asking women who are asking for this medication, what they are using the medication for. They're just saying, we're not going to do it.
The Republican attorney generals who -- by the way, the Republican Attorney General Association supported January 6th and (INAUDIBLE) have threatened to sue, based on a 19th century antipornography law, the Comstock Act, which hasn't been used in decades, to try to say that this is sort of similar because the Comstock Act also had a line in it about abortion.
But this is not an abortion pill. This is a medication that can be used legally or illegally. Walgreens has arrogated to itself, rather than all of the women and all of these states making the decision how to use this substance. They have taken to, on themselves, that this is always going to be illegal.
That's absurd. There are things which are legal in some purposes and not legal for others. This is a medicine which is needed by thousands of women across the country.
HOOVER: Maybe then legislature should pass laws in order to make these things clear because it is not on the corporations or the company's leadership to take a social stand. They're simply making a pharmaceutical product available or not available based on what the laws are in their states.
MICHAELSON: But that's why the Republican attorney general, who started this fight, sent the wrong letter. That harassment letter going to Walgreens was just harassment. It was political posturing.
They know full well. They know full well that they have not -- they do not have a leg to stand on because this is a medication that can be used legally or legally, and they are wrong. And then Walgreens caved for that pressure, totally agree, and now this fight is happening.
CAMEROTA: What do they mean they're done what Walgreens? Meaning they have to get out of California?
HOOVER: He's reviewing all the relationships that the state has with Walgreens itself in order to punish Walgreens for having sort of made a business decision based on this Republican attorney general.
But we are not talking about these Republican attorney generals. We are talking about the showboating governor of California who wants to win the political news cycle because the issue isn't galvanizing on the progressive left.
ALFORD: But it's also important to note that he was reacting to a state like Kansas where it is legal to have this medicine abortion and the sort of vague promise that, you know, they wouldn't operate in Kansas.
So, it is the idea that you would basically kowtow to these governors or to officials in a state where it's supposed to be legal. That was the reaction from Newsom. It wasn't just about respecting the fact that in certain states, it is not legal. It is the states where people should have access to this medication where Walgreens was sort of implying or indicating that they would be willing to not give the medication.
SIEGFRIED: Why doesn't Gavin Newsom go out, instead of taking the quick 15 seconds of fame or 15 minutes of fame for this particular matter, go out and actually use his political apparatus and his money to try to change the legislators, try to get the Comstock Act repealed in the federal level?
He's not. He is doing this -- it's a P.R. stunt. He has no legs to stand on it, as his record as governor. And that's -- at the end of the day, that's it. And he's making Walgreens a victim because Walgreens didn't want to say, we're going to go into a big, expensive legal fight, which is going to hurt our staff, going to upset our shareholders, many of whom are actually people with retirement funds, so it is not like rich who are going to be truly victimized by this.
MICHAELSON: He should just be more capitalist about this. Isn't he just equaling out the risk for Walgreens? So, Walgreens is facing one particular risk from this Republican attorney general. Now, they're facing two risks.
Now, from the management of Walgreens making a purely capitalistic decision, I could go to my board, I could go to the shareholders and say, look, we got lawsuits on both sides, we are going to lose all of California's business, but then we got this lawsuit, maybe we should just give women the medication that they should have.
ALFORD: May I add that more than 50% of abortions are medicine abortions. So, this is the frontlines of the fight. So, they're going to have to make decision. And it's not just Walgreens, CVS. Everybody has to figure out where are they going to stand on it.
CAMEROTA: All right, panel, thank you very much for all of those perspectives. Stay with me. What can we do to keep fentanyl out of the hands of vulnerable Americans, especially young people? We're going to talk about that, next.
CAMEROTA: As we just watched tonight in CNN's town hall, the fentanyl epidemic is affecting every community in the U.S. It's the deadliest drug epidemic in American history. The CDC says fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. One dose, often taken unknowingly, can kill you.
We are back with the panel. So, friends, does anybody have an idea for how to keep fentanyl out of the hands of young people? I mean, this feels so out of control because young people who -- I mean, you heard it tonight. They think that they are taking a Percocet. They don't know what they are taking. They've ordered something online and it doesn't say that it's fentanyl. And one time, kills them. That is not the drug war of our youth.
SIEGFRIED: Certainly, we have to crack down or have social media better content moderation because dealers are able to get on Snapchat and other social media platforms and directly get it to younger Americans.
And that's a real problem. Remember, just the tip of a pencil, the size of a tip of a pencil of fentanyl can kill you. That is terrifying to me. And this can get into regular drugs. Somebody might be thinking they are taking oxy or maybe even hit of Adderall, and that's it.
CAMEROTA: That is what's happening. In fact, if I put up this graphic, it just shows how much fentanyl has outpaced every other dangerous drug. So, the green line that you are seeing there that starts heading upwards in 2013, that is above, at this point, meth, above cocaine, above heroin in terms of the deaths that it's causing. And you can see it is precipitously rising there.
MICHAELSON: It is just heartbreaking watching the town hall which in the audience were numerous parents who had lost their children to this. And what struck me watching it was just a sense of humility, that we need to really need to re-examine some of our assumptions and kind of check our priors.
There was a moment where Senator Lindsey Graham was on there kind of making a strong case for intervening in Mexico and taking aggressive action. And that might not be where I would go to ideologically, but I was really thinking about. It this is such a tragedy that I think we need all the tools in the tool box.
But then there was a moment where he was asked about what is called harm reduction, which is we know that people are using these substances, what can we do to make it safer? That is something that liberals tend to like, conservatives tend to not like because it -- maybe encourages the use of the drug. But again, it is just, for me, I was struck by, really, a lot of humility.
There was a doctor at the end who really said, this has been tested in Europe. Harm reduction works. If we can distribute Narcan, if we can make it more available and make it commonplace, to use the example in the town hall, it's a little bit like condoms. We are a little embarrassed talking about condoms at one time, and then they are just ubiquitous and it's not a big deal.
HOOVER: As a measure -- piggybacking on that, Jay, as a measure of how serious a crisis it actually is, you talk about harm reduction and conservatives not really embracing it, well, Governor Greg Abbott now said he is willing to consider and embrace legalizing test trips. That's harm reduction, right?
These are these tests trips which, as the official said in the Anderson Cooper special, if you are going to take an illicit drug and you crush it up and you use this test trip in a certain way, you can determine whether it has fentanyl in it. That has actually been passed in other states. The governor of Pennsylvania signed that bill a few months ago.
CAMEROTA: It will save lives.
HOOVER: It would save lives. And it's this question -- it's sort of like the debate -- not the kind of the debate I was thinking, the needle exchange debate during the HIV crisis. It is a real recognition when you have across the political spectrum, conservatives and Republicans, looking at harm reduction because that's how serious this crisis is.
ALFORD: That shift the mindset because this is a public health issue. This is not an issue to shame people. This is not an issue where victims deserve their punishment. It is something that I wish that we had in the 1980s when crack hit communities and we learned those lessons. We criminalized victims. We threw them away in jail. It disrupted families. It disrupted communities. We have a chance to do something different.
But I think it is because victims are children. We see ourselves in them. We see them as family members, that people can finally find that empathy. I think we should not politicize this. This is absolutely about saving lives. And when you approach that as a public health issue, that changes the way that you approach policy.
CAMEROTA: A little more drug news, just in to CNN, CNN projects that voters in Oklahoma will reject a ballot measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state for adults 21 and older. Marijuana legislation, as you may know, has been a mixed bag nationwide during the midterms.
Voters in five states considered legalizing recreational marijuana. It failed in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota, while voters in Maryland and Missouri passed similar ballot measures.
Okay, up next, police say that a group of teenagers wearing masks and hoodies ransacked a New York restaurant, causing thousands of dollars in damage. It was all caught on camera. What is the solution here?
CAMEROTA: Here is some startling video. Police say this group of teenagers --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
-- right here in Queens, New York ransacked this restaurant, as you can see, flipping tables, breaking plates and damaging windows. The restaurant says nobody was hurt in this attack but they did sustain $20,000 worth of damage. The NYPD is now saying this group is now wanted for criminal mischief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Okay, we are back with the panel. So, so this is -- when people state street crime is up, let me just show you some stats before we all talk about it. From 2021 to 2022 in New York City, street crime like robbery and burglary, felony assault, up something like 25%, 23%, just in the past year. It has gone down a little bit. So, if we look at where we are now, year over year, it is down 2%, 3%, but still on balance, it is up.
Congressman, what is happening there?
MONDAIRE JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I've been reading up on this story. It seems so random. I want to know if these guys knew someone who works at or owns the restaurant. There is no excuse for it. There should be accountability. There should be consequences for people who do stuff like this.
CAMEROTA: Of course. But do you think that it is the -- is there -- are they prosecuting less street crime? I mean, that is the argument.
The DAs are saying that they are not going to go after lower level crimes like turnstile jumpers and public urination, and that is leading to somehow more street crime.
JONES: That is often said. We don't have evidence to support it. Look, accountability and consequences need to be something that is -- are imposed in a variety of different circumstances, including what we just saw on film, and that is something that prosecutors should look into. That is my perspective on it.
MICHAELSON: So, I don't know in terms of solution. We don't know a lot about the motives of these particular criminals. I do know, politically, Democrats need to figure out a way to talk about this issue in a way that is not Republican light. I mean, arguably, the way that Mayor Eric Adams has talked about crime reinforced some right- wing narratives about New York City crime that hurt some Democrats.
So, there has to be sort of more fact-based, evidence-based and really serious conversation around uprooting some of the deep causes that lead to this kind of behavior. Sometimes, there is a tendency among progressives to see the moral grounds of the right. They are the ones who talk about ethics and morality, speaking as the rabbi at the table. That is a profound mistake.
I think, again, we don't know anything really about this particular attack, but there needs to be a real way to talk about root causes and changing the conditions that cause the changing of economic conditions and the social condition and cultural conditions that have caused all of these statistics to be so fortunate.
ALFORD: And people have to understand that we can talk about root causes and also talk about accountability. When people say solve the root causes, they're not saying that you don't hold people accountable, but Republicans have effectively made that Democrats' message, right?
They warped the message to say that Democrats are soft on crime. But what does that really mean? Locking people up, throwing them away, not giving proportional sentences. That is not going to stop the crime that you see. It is not going to stop teams who maybe gather and ransack a store.
It is just important that we not get caught up in basically republican talking points and Democrats, as you said, have to figure out what is their message going to be because that is what people are voting on when they go to polls.
SIEGFRIED: I think it is important to note that this is a very complex issue that has complex solutions. It is not as Republicans have pointed out, oh, we just need to do this one thing and take a tougher stance on it and we will stop this.
But at the same time, I grew up in New York City in the 1980s. I remember that. Republicans are representing what is happening in cities across this country as some sort of worse than the 1980s. In no way is this worse than the 1980s.
At the same time, I think there's a perception, particularly in New York City and other cities such as San Francisco, that quality of life is also dropping. So simultaneously, the public trust is completely eroded.
Part of that is because with homelessness going up and other issues such as, you know, where we try and actually have services for this, yes Republicans are trying to cut those services. As a Republican, I'm actually against that. What we need to actually do is make them effective.
Let's not forget that there is the nimby faction, the not in my backyard, and they are absolutely a real plague on solving these issues. In my own district, there is a transitional housing project that was announced last week. And over the weekend, the city council member, she came out and said she wanted them to cut the number of beds in half because she felt it was inappropriate. My district is one of the most liberal districts in the entire country.
CAMEROTA: Really interesting. Friends, thank you so much. Meanwhile, so many Americans are now working from home. It is giving rise to a trend called body doubling. We are going to tell you what it means. It is so that you can feel like you are not working alone. That is next.
CAMEROTA: All right, which one of you, guys, wants to tackle this? Okay, I will call on you. Some TikTok users are streaming video of themselves working by themselves at home. These videos are dull as dirt, but thousands of people are eating this up.
Allie Campbell is one of the young women livestreaming herself to her nearly 90,000 followers. She calls the practice body doubling, meaning parallel working, so people working from home feel less alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLIE CAMPBELL, TIKTOK USER: Body doubling is just working in the presence of another human being. The other person doesn't even necessarily need to be working. However, my theory is that body doubling is especially helpful in the co-working sessions because it makes something magic happen with like our mirror neurons (ph).
So, while it would be as effective to just have somebody in the house sitting around as we are doing whatever we need to do, it like ups the effectiveness even more when we are watching somebody do something productive or when we know that we need to do the same. We want to mirror that, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Okay. You know what other way you can feel less alone? Go back in the office!
Get out of your house and go back to the office. That is another suggestion.
MICHAELSON: I like the science. I am in.
ALFORD: I like neuron (ph).
MICHAELSON: Yeah, that's great.
ALFORD: That was great.
CAMEROTA: The science of mirroring part of our brain?
JONES: Whatever that is.
SIEGFRIED: It feels like we just watched a TED Talk from a combination of Elizabeth Holmes and George Santos.
I mean, if you're lonely and you still want to work from home, get a dog. My dog is now probably upset that he's being replaced by somebody like this. This is just -- it is outrageous.
CAMEROTA: And now, I have to bring in our guest.
MICHAELSON: Three or four years ago, there was a whole wave of study with me videos versus like people diligently studying in libraries and beautiful cafes, and there are ambient sound streams that you can get so you have the sound of the cafe. So, that was helping people.
JONES: I want to take this seriously. People do get lonely and I think anything that helps them get through the day -- you know, there are people who need white noise to go to sleep. I don't, but I respect that some people need that. And so --
ALFORD: To be fair -- to support you, Mondaire, and your thoughtful --
CAMEROTA: Your body doubling him.
CAMEROTA: You're actually theory doubling him.
ALFORD: Being compassionate, I was a part of a writers' group. It was a virtual writers' group. And we do not talk to each other. In fact, we turn to our cameras off, which was also kind of like why are we doing this. But the idea that someone was on the other and doing something was actually really good motivation and good accountability.
CAMEROTA: That is even weirder.
ALFORD: Is it?
ALFORD: But it worked, though.
CAMEROTA: The lack of the camera.
ALFORD: Yeah, the lack of the camera. It is like don't look at me. But we got a lot done. So, whatever works for you. I'm just glad people are reaching out because on a serios note, people are feeling depressed, they are feeling isolated. I love action.
JONES: And if you have something (INAUDIBLE) to do, knowing that other people are doing it, is motivation.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Misery loves company. That is great. Thank you all very much. I certainly appreciate all of your company. Thank you for being. And thank you for watching. Our coverage continues now.