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Fareed Zakaria GPS

On The Front Lines In Ukraine; Israeli Airstrikes Continue To Pound Gaza; The War In Ukraine Grinds On; Would Trump End U.S. Support For Ukraine?; Interview With Former Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 10, 2023 - 10:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.


ZAKARIA: Today on the program, we'll get the latest live on the Israel-Hamas war.

Plus, the world watching as two major wars are fought, one in the Middle East, and the other in Europe. In each war one side is heavily funded by Uncle Sam. And it is Ukraine's fight against Russia that is about to run out of American funding.

What does the GOP have to do with it? I will talk to AIE's Kori Schake and Anne Applebaum of "The Atlantic."

Also French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy on antisemitism rearing its very ugly head again.

And former Harvard president Drew Faust on racism in America.


ZAKARIA: But first here's "My Take."

When one thinks of America's greatest strengths, the kind of assets the world looks at with admiration and envy, American's elite universities would long have been at the top of that list. But the American public has been losing faith in these universities for good reason.

Three university presidents came under fire this week for their vague and indecisive answers when asked for the calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their institution's codes of conduct. But to understand their performance, we have to understand the broad shift that has taken place at elite universities which have gone from being centers of excellence to institutions pushing political agendas.

People sense the transformation. As Paul Tough has pointed out, the share of young adults who said a college degree was very important fell from 74 percent in 2013 to just 41 percent in 2019. In 2018, 61 percent of those polls said higher education was headed in the wrong direction and only 38 percent felt it was on the right track. In 2016 70 percent of America's high school graduates were headed for college. Now that number is 62 percent.

This souring on higher education makes America an outlier among all advanced nations. American universities have been neglecting a call focused on excellence in order to pursue a variety of agendas, many of them clustered around diversity and inclusion. It started with the best of intentions. Colleges wanted to make sure young people of all backgrounds had access to higher education and felt comfortable on campus.

But those good intentions have morphed into a dogmatic ideology and turned these universities into places where the pervasive goals of political and social engineering, not academic merit. As the evidence produced for the recent Supreme Court case on Affirmative Action showed, universities have systematically downplayed merit-based criteria for admissions in favor of racial quotas.

Some universities' response to this ruling seems to be that they will go further down this path eliminating the requirement for any standardized test like the SAT. That move would allow them to then take students with little reference to objective criteria. Of course, those who would suffer most would be bright students from poor backgrounds who normally use tests like the SAT to demonstrate their qualifications.

In the humanities hiring for new academic positions now appears to center on the race and gender of the applicant as well as the subject matter which needs to be about marginalized groups. A white man studying the American presidency does not have a prayer of getting tenure at a major history department in America today. Great inflation in the humanities is rampant. At Yale, the median grade is now an A.

New subjects crop up that are really political agendas not academic fields. You can now major in diversity, equity and inclusion at some colleges.


The ever-growing bureaucracy devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion naturally recommends that more time and energy be spent on these issues. The most obvious lack of diversity at universities, political diversity, which clearly affects their ability to analyze many issues, is never addresses, showing that these goals are not centrally related to achieving or sustaining or building excellence.

Out of this culture of diversity has grown the collection of ideas and practices that we have now all heard of, safe spaces, trigger warnings, microaggressions. As the authors Johnathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff have discussed, many of these colleges have instituted speech codes that make it a violation of university rules to say things that some groups might find offensive.

Universities advise students not to speak, act, even dress in ways that might cause offense to some minority groups. With this culture of virtue signaling growing, the George Floyd protests erupted and many universities latched on and issued statements effectively aligning their institutions with these protests. By my memory, few took such steps even after 9/11 or during the Iraq war.

In this context, it is understandable that Jewish groups would wonder why do safe spaces, microaggressions and hate speech not apply to us? If universities can take positions against free speech to make some groups feel safe, why not us? Having coddled so many student groups for so long, university administrators found themselves squirming, unable to explain why certain groups, Jews, Asians, don't seem to count in these conversations.

Having gone so far down the ideology path, these universities and these presidents could not make the case clearly that at the center of a university is the free expression of ideas. And that while harassment and intimidation would not be tolerated, offensive speech would and should be protected. As CNN's Van Jones has eloquently said, the point of college is to keep you physically safe but intellectually unsafe, to force you to confront ideas that you vehemently disagree with.

What we saw in the House hearing this week was the inevitable result of decades of the politicization of universities. America's top colleges are no longer seen as bastions of excellence but partisan outfits which means they will keep getting buffeted by these political storms as they emerge. They should abandon this long misadventure into politics, retrain their gaze on their core strengths, and rebuild their reputations as centers of research and learning.

Go to for a link to my column this week. And let's get started.

The war in the Middle East continues to grab headlines while it seems that's the war in Ukraine is being sent to the back pages. But my next guest is adamant that the U.S. must not forget its allies in either Europe or the Middle East.

Bernard-Henri Levy, a French philosopher, was in Ukraine over the summer producing his third documentary from the frontlines of the current war. This one is called "Glory to the Heroes." It premiered this weekend in New York, D.C., and L.A. It will follow in other major American cities.

Bernard, pleasure to have you on. There is so much to talk to you about that I don't know if we're going to get to it all. But first tell me, the movie is fantastic. But since then, what are you hearing from the frontlines now? Because you know what people are saying is that it's a stalemate, the Ukrainians have stalled, the Russians have the momentum.

BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, PHILOSOPHER, WRITER AND FILMMAKER: On the ground, I don't think so. Ukrainians are still resisting, still holding the line with an incredible bravery. We are tired in America and in Europe, not in Ukraine. They are not tired. They continue with huge sacrifice, spilling their blood. We pay money, they pay with blood. And they do it. They do it because they defend their country, but also they do it with a feeling that they defend Europe, America, the Western world, freedom.

They feel, really, this is the sentence I heard most on the battlefield in the trenches. We are the sentinels of the free world. I heard this sentence dozens of times.


ZAKARIA: Do they worry about losing -- that the West is losing patience, it's getting tired?

LEVY: They're worried about the maneuvers of Putin since day first. They know that Putin is counting on the victory of Trump. They know that Putin is hoping Europe to be dismantled. They know that Putin is playing the game of the extreme right and the extreme left in some Europe countries, including mine. So they're worried about all of that. They are worried about our naivete. You Americans, us Europeans, in front of the Machiavellism of Putin. Yes. And they're afraid of this terrible trap which Putin is putting under our feet.

ZAKARIA: I want to know from you firsthand because you are witnessing it and living it. Describe for me what is happening in Europe as a consequence of the Israel-Hamas war? Do you see a significant rise of antisemitism?

LEVY: I see it in Europe. I see it also in America. Fareed, let's be honest. We all thought that America was vaccinated against antisemitism, that it was another shelter for Jews. I would not like to be a student or a teacher in some of your high schools or universities. There is a terrible wind and wave of antisemitism going on in America. And the worst among the youth which is really heartbreaking with such a -- for a man like me who defied all his life against racism and antisemitism, it's a sorrow, America.

ZAKARIA: But tell me about, in Europe, do you think the antisemitism, is it all related to this Israel-Hamas war? Do you think it's the ghosts of the '30s rising again?

LEVY: It is the ghost of the '30s, with another incarnation. With another actors, with another sort of actors, of course, and they are on the left. It is the same speech, it is the same way of thinking, which has migrated for a large part, but all from the extreme right to the extreme left. But it is the same way of reflecting as their grandfather of the extreme right into the '30s.

ZAKARIA: What do you hope to do with this movie?

LEVY: Yesterday night there was a premiere in the U.N. and it was a real achievement. A lot of ambassadors or officials of the global south were there, in the audience, in the big room of the United Nations. They saw this firsthand testimony, which I brought to them, and I think that some of them, I hope at least understood that the real imperialism of today is not America, but it's Russia.

ZAKARIA: Bernard-Henri Levy, always. Next on GPS, nine weeks into the war, Israel continues to bombard Gaza

with airstrikes. What is the strategy behind all this violence.

I will talk to the "Haaretz" diplomatic correspondent Amir Tibon next.



ZAKARIA: On Friday, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Israeli airstrikes continued to pound Gaza throughout the weekend and Israel's national security adviser said yesterday it could no longer accept Hezbollah on its northern border. Does Israel plan to expand its war?

I want to bring in Amir Tibon in Israel. He is diplomatic correspondent for the Israeli newspaper "Haaretz." He was also the resident of a kibbutz that was attacked on October 7th.

Amir, welcome. I want to ask you, for those of us looking at this from afar, it does appear that the airstrikes continue at a kind of extraordinary pace. You know, the "Financial Times" has calculated that more of Gaza has been destroyed than Dresden during World War II. Euromed Human Rights monitor says that in the first month Israel has dropped 25,000 tons of fire power which is the equivalent of two nuclear bombs.

That's just in the first month. The civilian death count is now 17,000 in Gaza. Is there a strategy behind this or is there going to be -- is this going to continue until, what, the last Hamas militant is killed?

AMIR TIBON, DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, HAARETZ: Fareed, I think this is a response to an unprecedented terror attack that Israel had never experienced before, and frankly, it's hard to think of an equivalent attack in our lifetime. I can look at September 11th perhaps as you know the only comparison I can think of. And obviously, what's happening now in Gaza is an attempt by Israeli to defeat Hamas and make sure that something like October 7th can never happen again.

Now, is that strategy actually successful or not? I think we need a little more time to see what happens with Hamas in Gaza.


We are seeing that in the northern part of Gaza where Israel put most of the effort so far, Hamas is losing many of its capabilities and we're seeing, you know, that the great advance of the IDF over there and we're even pictured in the last 48 hours of fighters who are putting down their arms from Hamas.

We still have a very strong presence of Hamas in the southern part of Gaza, and that's going to be more difficulty. But obviously when Hamas launched this attack on October 7th and decided to go into communities, into civilian, you know, kibbutzim and towns and cities, and murder and kidnap civilians, this was the response that I believe they anticipated would come from Israel. I mean, what Yahyah Sinwar did on that day, he signed the death certificate, you know, of just a disaster for the people of Gaza.

And for me, personally, it's very, very sad and it's a terrible tragedy. But I don't think any country in the world would have accepted what happened to Israel on October 7th and not responded in such a forceful way.

ZAKARIA: Is it possible, though, that the strategy will backfire? I mean, it does feel like it's difficult to see how the two million people of Gaza who are still going to be living right next door to Israel will look upon this and say, you know, we have to come to peace with our neighbors.

TIBON: Honestly, Fareed, I think in the long run, I personally still think that we have to find a formula for us, Israelis, and the Palestinians to live in peace and share this land. But I think right now we're looking at a very, very difficult situation on both sides definitely.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you --

TIBON: In which we have a level of hostility that is unprecedented, even in this very, very long and bloody conflict. And I think right now --


ZAKARIA: So let me ask you about the north before I lose you because I do want to ask you, what do you make of that statement by the national security adviser. Does that mean Israel feels it has to now go into north as well?

TIBON: Fareed, let's separate a statement by, you know, a Netanyahu appointee who said two years ago that Hamas will not attack Israel for 15 years, OK. This is what this guy, our national security adviser said just two years ago. That Hamas has been deterred by Netanyahu and will not attack for 15 years. I don't put any weight into his statements.

But on the issue itself, it's important to understand, there are now tens of thousands of Israelis who have left their homes in northern Israel on the border with Lebanon, and they will not go back home as long as Hezbollah is on the border. That's just a fact of life. And if Hezbollah does not withdraw from the border area, either by the course of some diplomatic action or military action, then these people will not go back home.

And no country can accept the reality in which tens of thousands of people are uprooted like that from their homes and cannot go back. I hope there can be a diplomatic solution and I think there is a great responsibility here for the Biden administration and for other countries that have relationships with Lebanon, France I know is involved in trying to help to solve this diplomatically.

But if it's not solved via diplomatic means, I'm afraid Israel may not have a choice because accepting this reality that these people cannot go back to sleep in their homes knowing Hezbollah is on other side, that is not acceptable.

ZAKARIA: Amir, thank you. Always, always insightful to hear from you. Thank you.

TIBON: Thank you for having me.

ZAKARIA: Next, will Congress continue to back Ukraine? Will Europe? When we come back.



ZAKARIA: On Monday, the White House issued a dire warning on Ukraine. In a letter to Congress, the OMB director said money is swiftly running out and so is time. And on Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that included more aid for Ukraine as they and their counterparts in the House demand significant changes on immigration policy in return.

What will this mean for Ukraine's fight against Russia? And what does it say about the Republican Party?

Joining me are Kori Schake who served in George W. Bush's administration and is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. She has a new article in "Foreign Affairs," "The Case for Conservative Internationalism."

Anne Applebaum is a staff writer at "The Atlantic" and also has a new article which predicts Trump will abandon NATO if re-elected.

Welcome to you both.

Anne, first, I want you to ask you, on ground, how -- what do things look like for Ukraine? I was about to say how bad is it.

ANNE APPLEBAUM, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: So it's often described as a stalemate but that's actually an incorrect description because a stalemate makes it sound like nothing is happening. The Ukrainians did not have the equipment or the force to break through all of the Russian lines over the summer. They are now defending their territory. They're still trying to make breakthroughs in a few other places. But the situation is incredibly dynamic. So there is a lot of fighting every day. There's a huge amount of ammunition used.

The Russians are still trying to break through in the north. The Ukrainians are trying to break through in the south. So there is a -- they have reached a point where at the moment neither side can -- you know, can advance quickly or rapidly. But, you know, it could still tip very easily either way.

ZAKARIA: But, Anne, what I've heard is that the Ukrainian counteroffensive failed for a number of reasons, some of it was equipment, some of it was, you know, there are feelings that the strategy may have been wrong.


They were trying to do too many things in too many places. And that the Russians are actually doing quite well partly because they have really concentrated mass, they're producing lots of drones and artillery, the Russian troops have been reinforced, and they are defending very secure lines, lots minefields, lots of concrete bunkers.

So, it is a stalemate but not in the way -- in the dynamic sense you mean, but the Russians are -- if anyone has an advantage right now, it is the Russians. Is that consistent with your reporting?

APPLEBAUM: So, the Russians have an advantage in this sense. So, the Russians have devoted 40 percent of their budget to the military. They have switched their economy to a war fighting, you know, war strategy economy.

The Ukrainians are dependent for their military supplies on a large and powerful range of countries around the world who are nevertheless not coordinated and are not helping them in a -- always in a strategic and consistent way. So, in that sense, you do have right now something that looks uneven.

The Russians feel confident, that is partly psychological. You know, they -- you know, they're fine. They're defending their lines. They are trying to move forward. And the Ukrainians have a -- behind them a coalition, whether it's in the U.S. or whether it's in Europe, that appears to be faltering.

So, this war is as much about psychologically who is going to last, who is going to stick it out and, you know, put in the resources to eventually win on the ground, or in some other way and who will not. And right now, the Russians feel more confident, yes.

ZAKARIA: Kori, what does -- what would it mean if Russia were able to not just hold the territory it has, but even chip away at more Ukrainian territory? What would -- what does it mean if Russia were to be seen as in some sense far from being punished or losing because of this aggression, actually to have this aggression ratified?

KORI SCHAKE, DIRECTOR OF FOREIGN AND DEFENSE POLICY STUDIES, AEI: The world is getting more unstable and more dangerous. And if Russia is permitted to succeed in Ukraine, first and foremost, it means more war crimes against Ukrainians, more terrorizing of Ukraine. It will make America's allies in Europe very, worried that the United States, despite the president saying we will do everything we can for as long as it takes, that is not what we're doing and that is visible to America's allies and America's adversaries. It will encourage challengers to the existing order in Europe and in Asia, and that will make it costlier for the United States to keep ourselves secure and prosperous and to keep our friends secure and prosperous.

ZAKARIA: And you have argued, Kori, that the Biden administration's mistake and strategic flaw here is not as some Republicans say, aiding Ukraine, but not giving it more aid, more lethal weaponry and more -- and doing it all more speedily, right? SCHAKE: Absolutely. The slow pace at which we delivered weapons to Ukraine gave the Russians six months to dig in and make these defenses that Ukraine is slowly, methodically working its way through, fighting its way through. And it is disgraceful for us to be behind our hands complaining about Ukrainian strategy when for four percent of last year's defense spending and zero American deaths, Ukraine is fighting a war we feared NATO would have to fight.

We just need to pour more support in as the president has promised. Because not only would it be terrible for Ukraine and corrosive to the international order, it is going to be really bad for President Biden to have made so big of a commitment and then not see it through.

ZAKARIA: Stay with us, both of you. When we come back, I want to talk about something that is at the center of both of the articles you have written, which is what happens if Donald Trump wins, what happens to Ukraine, what happens to this whole pivotal conflict when we come back.



ZAKARIA: And we are back with Kori Schake and Anne Applebaum. Anne, you have an article on basically why Trump will almost certainly abandon Ukraine and -- if he were elected. There are lots of people who feel otherwise, who feel, look, you know, he said things like this when he was campaigning the first time around. He -- you know, it doesn't mean anything. What gives you the sense that Trump really does feel strongly enough here that he would pull the plug on Ukraine and cut a deal with Russia?

APPLEBAUM: So, Trump has told us that. When asked specifically about Ukraine, he said I'll end the war in one day. That can only mean one thing. He would end the war by seeking to concede. Not that that -- not that that would prevent the Ukrainians from fighting.

He has also made a number of comments over the years -- actually, over the decades about his lack of interest in European allies, about his scorn -- of his scorn and disgust for NATO. He once said I don't give a shit about NATO to John Bolton, his national security adviser. And during his first term there were enough people around including Bolton, including Mike Pence, including others who persuaded him nevertheless to stay in.


In his second term, those people will not be there. And what I think most Americans don't know -- in fact, what most people don't know about NATO is that although it is a treaty, it's a treaty in which the United States and its allies agree to help one another in case one or the other is attacked, you know, it doesn't have any clear obligations. And it's also much more -- the psychology of the NATO treaty is more important than the law.

So, as soon as Trump says, I'm not going to defend anybody, I'm not going to help Ukraine, I'm not going to participate in this NATO support for Ukraine, then immediately the whole idea of collective defense disappears. And it would clearly be one of the first things he did when he becomes president.

ZAKARIA: And, Anne, it is also happening at a time when there is -- I wouldn't exaggerate it but there is some softening of support in Europe, either a kind of war weariness or -- what is going on on that end of the Atlantic?

APPLEBAUM: What is happening in Europe is very similar to what is happening in the United States in that there are small groups of people or particular countries who are blocking aid for Ukraine. It is Hungary in the European Union. It is some, you know, truckers and people in Poland and Slovakia and Hungary who are complaining about, you know, the situation on the border.

You know, there are small groups who are creating difficulties much in the way that there is a small group of Republicans essentially pro- Russian or isolationist Republicans who are also blocking aid. And they are capable of stopping what is still majority support for Ukraine. Majority in Europe, there is a majority in the United States, most people still want Ukraine to win. But we haven't yet -- you know, we haven't yet identified this as an important enough, you know, national cause or international cause. We haven't gone on -- you know, we haven't ourselves gone on to a war footing. And we aren't pushing through the bills and the money that we need.

ZAKARIA: Kori, your article, which I think is very important, kind of makes the Republican case, the conservative case for aiding Ukraine and for mostly abandoning a kind of policy of isolationism that many Republicans seem to be flirting with. Do you think that it is a small minority? What I worry about is it may be small now but it does feel like it has a lot of energy and it is growing.

SCHAKE: Yes, I think that is right. Americans are reluctant internationalists but we are internationalists. And there are a small cadre of Republicans who are opposed to aid to Ukraine in the Congress. The vast majority of Republicans in Congress support aid to Ukraine.

What we're seeing right now is a congressional tussle over knowing that the president needs to pass aid for Ukraine, Republicans wanting to get some other things that they are likewise concerned about, border security, reduction in the national debt, expressing concern about where Ukraine fits in the president's priorities, concern that Russia has a winning strategy, stalling for time, and President Biden does not. And so, they want to see those things addressed and when they are, you will easily have the votes for aid to Ukraine.

ZAKARIA: Do you worry, though, about the things Anne was talking about, there is a kind of anti-NATO, anti-ally tenor to some of the conversations. If you look at the primaries, you know, somebody like Vivek Ramaswamy, it's a -- these are new arguments being made particular on the Republican side, to have, you know, the party of Ronald Reagan be talking about abandoning its democratic allies is very odd. SCHAKE: Yes, it is very odd and it risks squandering Republicans' reputation for being serious about national security policy. But it is not surprising given that Donald Trump while president and since has been arguing against America's allies as the strongest and most cost- effective way of securing our country and their country. These are winnable arguments and these are winnable voters.

The Reagan Institute poll of attitudes even the majority of Trump voters describe themselves as internationalist, not isolationist. These are winnable arguments. We just have to engage in a positive way about things Americans are actually concerned about.

ZAKARIA: Kori Schake, Anne Applebaum, very important discussion. Thank you.

Next on GPS, I'll talk to a former president of Harvard about antisemitism and race in America and about her new book.



ZAKARIA: My next guest has a very impressive resume indeed. She was the first female president of Harvard and is one of the country's leading historians of the Civil War. Now, Drew Gilpin Faust is looking back at her early life and the forces that shaped her. That is in her terrific new book "Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury." We'll get to the book in a moment but I have to start with the testimony this week of university presidents including Harvard at that House hearing.

So, Drew, when you watched those hearings, Claudine Gay, your successor as president of Harvard, while there was one between, what were your thoughts? Give me your -- what did you think watching that?

And I should make clear, you're just a professor now. You know, you're not speaking for Harvard and I know you don't want to talk about this. You want to talk about your book. But given that it happened this week, I have to ask you what was your reaction?


DREW GILPIN FAUST, PRESIDENT EMERITA, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: So, I didn't watch. I've read and seen snippets but I haven't seen every bit of it. But I have to think about -- I am six years away almost from having any policy decision making or implementation. And during that time, I've been in the classroom with undergraduates teaching seminars in which they argue, disagree, get new ideas, get excited, discover things. Some of them are going off to be -- some marines, some are journalists, and just the magic of universities and the importance of universities is such a central value for me.

We don't want to destroy these institutions. They're not perfect but I think they try hard. And there is a lot that is going on at universities right at this minute that is wondrous. And I got to see it every day in the classroom.

ZAKARIA: It also feels to me like everyone wants the university to in a sense take their side, which is something that used to not happen. When do you think that shifted?

GILPIN FAUST: Well, the idea that the university taking our side when we were students in 1960 and we were activists, we didn't care whether the university took our side or not. It was, the adults didn't matter. We were going to transcend whatever short comings they had. So, it is a very -- it is a very different world.

And when I was president, there arose maybe midway through my presidency, which was 2007 to 2018, so around the 2011, 2012, there appeared a set of constant demands for speaking out -- universities speaking out. And it comes in part, I think, from the very strong moral sense that a lot of students have today and we want to encourage that. We don't want to entirely deny that a university, especially for the 18 to 21-year-olds, is a place for moral and character development.

So, we've put ourselves in this business of urging students to think deeply about what matters in the world and they are. And then they're asking us to ratify what they believe. Which, as you say, presents a whole set of problems that I think we haven't yet worked out the implications of.

ZAKARIA: So, this is a really terrific book and I cannot urge people more to read it because it is so personal and so beautifully written like everything you write. You described growing up -- again, I was surprised by this -- knowing you through -- really through your extraordinary Civil War scholarship, you grew up a kind of a privileged southern belle.

GILPIN FAUST: Right. I never got the belle part right. But that -- in a privileged family in Virginia, in rural Virginia. With expectations that I would be a belle. My grandmother was certainly a belle. I was not good. I had to find a different line of work from that.

ZAKARIA: You were surprised by the degree to which there was a kind of quiet institutional racism that pervaded the entire landscape. You know, part of the book is the story of your realization of that.

GILPIN FAUST: And I realized that as a pretty small child. But there was a phrase that was coined by a journalist in Richmond who was also a Civil War scholar, Douglas Southall Freeman, who wrote a biography of Lee, and the phrase talked about the Virginia way, and this was in the 1950s. And the Virginia way was really to have a racially segregated society without the confrontational violence that characterized the deep south, without the visible signs saying Black and White. And the notion he had of it was that Black people in Virginia would consent to this more peaceful hierarchy.

And, of course, African Americans were not readily consenting. But there did emerge a kind of veneer of gentility, of calm in Virginia that began to be shattered by the Brown v. Board decision in 1954. And it was that, that led me as a small child, the kind of turmoil that followed that and the voicing of things that have been left unspoken that led me to realize that I was living in an unjust social system and to kind of -- age nine began to perceive these injustices.

So, it is not fair became a kind of refrain for me throughout my childhood and then it took on that element of perceiving racial injustice and then, I think, did fuel my sense that fairness was an important goal throughout my life.

ZAKARIA: And the fairness in your historical work, you try to understand, you empathize with, for example, death on both sides of the Civil War. Is that conscious?


GILPIN FAUST: Well, my first book, my first published work that came out of my dissertation was about people who defended slavery in the south before the Civil War. And I wanted to understand how people get up in the morning and live their lives amongst circumstances that we now see as just unimaginable and terrible. And how do human beings tell themselves that what they're doing is just fine. And that has always fascinated me and I think it pervades so much of my scholarship and how people deal with that.

ZAKARIA: And how did they do it? What would they --

GILPIN FAUST: Well, they use religion. They talked about racial hierarchies. I mean, there was a whole array of intellectual tools that reinforce --

ZAKARIA: They had to convince themselves.

GILPIN FAUST: Yes. Yes. It does give you pause. And that is part of why I wanted to write about it. What are we doing right now that our grandchildren are going to say, how could you possibly have lived with that, how could you possibly have tolerated that?

ZAKARIA: Drew Faust, always a pleasure to hear you and always a pleasure to read you.

GILPIN FAUST: Thank you so much.

ZAKARIA: Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.