Return to Transcripts main page
Canceling Cancel Culture; Politics Overshadowing Scientific Work; Geophysicist Canceled From MIT Over Personal Politics; New Bill Aims At Racial Disparity In Philly Police Traffic Stops; Border Arrests At All-Time High. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired October 23, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Canceling cancel culture. I'm Michael Smerconish live this week from San Francisco. You know, one of my books came out in 2006. It was called "Muzzled." I just saw that the paperback edition still available at Amazon for a whopping $2.80. The book was about political correctness. You could say I was ahead of the curve in identifying the political resonance of these type of issues.
The Amazon summary calls it, quote, "The antidote to today's poison of political correctness. Smerconish takes on today's oversensitive culture with a collection of entertaining, outlandish anecdotes about PC gone wild -- stories that are hilarious, horrifying and unbelievably true."
Each chapter was a self-contained story. I have to say some of them stand the test of time and others do not. The guy who tried to stop ladies nights at bars because he said they discriminate against men, I said ridiculous then and still believe it. The volunteer military honor guardsman who was told to stop saying God bless you to families as he presented an American flag grave side, wonderful guy, but maybe I was wrong, maybe it was a church-state issue.
When conservatives began rallying to the PC cause, I kind of backed off. It made all these stories seem partisan which was never my motivation. What was then PC has morphed into cancel culture and conservatives, they own this ground. These sort of stories. They get lots of play on "Fox." Why? Because they make for good TV and they fire people up.
But I think it's important that all audiences pay attention to them because I think they have political ramifications. No single story on its own, but collectively, all these attempts to correct and to cancel can add up to an overreach, the sort of issues that piss people off and are easy to remember when they close the voting booth curtain.
Example, last week, I had the Native American second year Yale law student who was browbeaten by administrators after he invited classmates to a party at a, quote-unquote, "trap house" featuring Popeyes chicken. The online reaction here on CNN was nearly 100 percent against him and me for putting him on air. "Racist dog whistles," "You were played like a violin, "You fell for it." In other words, shame on me for not canceling him too.
Here's another of these stories which popped this week. The uproar over the Art Institute of Chicago letting go of all 82 volunteer docents because they lack diversity.
The docents, who were predominantly white female and wealthy and had an average of 15 years of experience, they all received an email from the museum's executive director of learning and engagement, Veronica Stein, which explained, quote, "As a civic institution, we acknowledge our responsibility to rebuild the volunteer educator program in a way that allows community members of all income levels to participate, responds to issues of class and income equity and does not require financial flexibility to participate."
"The Wall Street Journal" quickly pounced, declaring, "The museum appears to be in the grips of a self-defeating overcorrection. It has adopted the language of diversity, inclusion and equity so completely that it was willing to fire the same upper-middle class volunteers that it relies on for charitable donations." In other words, the blue hairs are out as tour guides, notwithstanding that they spend 18 months getting trained and they don't even get paid.
The diversity issue also somewhat bizarrely led to the resignation of the head of the UC Berkeley Atmospheric Center. Physicist David Romps, who was unhappy when a colleague from another university, Dorian Abbot -- you'll meet him in a moment -- was not invited to give a lecture about climate change because he's voiced opposition to diversity, equity and inclusion programs and had been already canceled by the Twitter mob from speaking at MIT.
Of course the biggest recent story in the cancel culture war is the blow-up over Dave Chappelle's Netflix special "The Closer." Chappelle provocatively wrestles with his attitudes about the trans community and others and with people's reactions to him. Is it PC? No, purposely not. His brand is being anti-woke. He clearly is trying to get a reaction, but also for those who stick around to the end, he surprises us with a tender story about a trans friend, a friend who died.
The way he presents it, the Twitter PC mob was partly to blame. Does that absolve him for every phobic joke? Of course not. Does it make you think? I hope so. Should his show be withdrawn? Not in my opinion. To me, that demand speaks to the death of nuance. America needs to have difficult conversations, not extinguish them altogether.
Of Chappelle, Peggy Noonan in "The Wall Street Journal" said this, "In truth some people are probably too big to cancel. Mr. Chappelle is one, J.K. Rowling is another. But standing firm helps those who aren't too big who know, for instance, they'd be sacrificed by their employer in a nanosecond if trouble starts and the Twitter mob comes."
Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm not providing cover for the haters on either side. I think there needs to be middle ground for people somewhere in between the extremes, but that space keeps getting uncomfortably more narrow and don't overlook the political cost to the censors.
The next time the left is going to browbeat a Yale student over a party invite or cancel a speech at MIT or get rid of the pearl-wearing volunteers at a museum or take down a statue of Thomas Jefferson, they might want to think twice because the accumulated weight of all of these stories becomes a great political motivator for the right.
Which leads me to this week's survey question at Smerconish.com. Which political party benefits from all this, from all this "cancel culture" and the disputes? Is it the Republicans or Democrats? Go answer. I'll give you the result later.
Now to the Berkeley story which involves personal politics overshadowing scientific work. The head of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center, David Romps, is stepping down from that position because the university refused his choice of guest speaker on climate science because of the speaker's political views.
In a series of tweets, Romps explained his resignation. He said, quote, "It became unclear to me whether we could invite that scientist ever again, let alone now. Excluding people because of their political and social views diminishes the pool of scientists with which members of BASC can interact and reduces the opportunities for learning and collaboration. More broadly, such exclusion signals that some opinions, even well-intentioned ones, are forbidden, thereby increasing self-censorship, degrading public discourse and contributing to our nation's political balkanization."
The guest? Geophysicist University of Chicago professor Dorian Abbot had previously been disinvited from speaking at MIT following complaints. Last year, Abbot posted several videos on YouTube criticizing the destruction caused by rioting in Chicago in the wake of the George Floyd murder and criticizing academia for equity programs.
Then in August, he co-wrote an opinion piece for "Newsweek" that argued, quote, "The words 'diversity, equity and inclusion' sound just, and are often supported by well-intentioned people, but their effects are the opposite of noble sentiments. Most importantly, 'equity' does not mean fair and equal treatment. DEI seeks to increase the representation of some groups through discrimination against members of other groups." The article proposes an alternative framework in which applicants are evaluated solely based on merit and qualification.
Dorian Abbot joins me now. He's an associate professor at the University of Chicago's Department of Geophysical Sciences. Dr. Abbot, thanks for being here. You say all of that which I'm describing is not a partisan issue, but it sure feels that way. How come?
DORIAN ABBOT, GEOPHYSICIST/ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: Well, it's really -- it's not a right/left issue, it's an authoritarianism versus free society issue. So all Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, who support the free society should be in support of academic freedom and opposed to cancel culture. SMERCONISH: You are a climate scientist. You were invited to give a speech at MIT. You were disinvited, but having nothing to do with your opinions on climate science. How am I doing so far?
ABBOT: Yes, you're doing -- you're doing exactly right. The speech, in particular it was on applying climate science to planets orbiting different stars and seeing which ones could be earth-like and have life on them.
SMERCONISH: So people who are watching this are wondering, well, what did he do? What did he say? Let me put up a slide on the screen that came from one of your YouTube presentations in which you said this, "The way Harvard treats Asian Americans reminds me of Jewish quotas from my grandfather's day and it makes me feel really icky. I can't help thinking of hard-working kids from poor, immigrant families who aren't getting to live out their dreams." Explain.
ABBOT: Yes. I mean, so if you read Arcidiacono's study in the Harvard lawsuit, you'll see that most of the discrimination that's going on is against Asian people and I don't see them as a privileged group, but it makes me very uncomfortable that they're getting the brunt of this.
SMERCONISH: If you'd gotten to MIT, did you intend to get into this subject area?
ABBOT: No, of course not. This was never going to come up during my visit at MIT.
SMERCONISH: From "Newsweek," let me put something else on the screen, "It entails treating people as members of a group rather than as individuals, repeating the mistake that made possible the atrocities of the 20th century," et cetera, et cetera. Explain.
ABBOT: Yes. So viewing human beings as members of a group rather than as individuals worthy of inherent dignity has a very terrible history in this country and in other countries and I don't think we should be repeating that history.
SMERCONISH: What is it that you said in the aftermath that landed you in hot water in some quarters relative to the violence post George Floyd murder?
ABBOT: Yes. So that wasn't -- that never really got me in hot water. I never really have discussed that publicly. So that's not really at issue here. Mostly what this is about is my views that we should support diversity in the right way through promoting education rather than through discriminating, through reducing bias, not through introducing bias.
SMERCONISH: There's a response to each one of the views that you've espoused, both here and in your writings and in your YouTube postings, and I want you to be confronted on all of them, but the attraction of having you on the program for me today is to underscore the point that I don't think there should be a bleed between the two. That if you're someone with impeccable credentials, as I understand you are in the realm of climate science at the University of Chicago, you should not be precluded from going to MIT or going to Berkeley and thank God Princeton has decided or already has hosted you. Am I right?
ABBOT: Yes, that's correct and I think there's really two issues here. There's my positions on diversity, equity and inclusion, which I think everyone should feel free to disagree with and they should promote their own opinions through essays and through public speaking, and then there's the fact that I'm being prevented from pursuing my scientific career for advancing these opinions.
And what's really important is I'm a tenured professor at the University of Chicago, so I can survive this, but all of the young people in the field see this and they understand that they can't speak openly about these subjects and we all lose because of that.
SMERCONISH: Final question, big picture, why should the nation care about this? Why should the nation care about you? What are the ramifications that you think make this everyone's business?
ABBOT: The nation shouldn't care about me. The nation should care about all of us being able to express our opinions openly and in particular that we have academic freedom because that's going to help in the search for truth and in ultimately developing new scientific techniques and new theories that will improve society.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Abbot, thanks for being here.
ABBOT: OK. Thank you very much.
SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish, go to my Facebook page. I will read some throughout the course of the program. What do we have, Catherine? From Twitter, "Depends on how you view cancel culture, positively or negatively, as most of it is driven by the left." I agree with Dr. Abbot when he says it's really not a partisan issue; right? And that one side or the other may win a particular battle, but I think that we're all losers.
We're not talking hate speech; right? Hate speech needs to be done away with, but like Potter Stewart, we know it when we see it. There are a lot of other things that are getting looped into that category that I think need to be part of our discourse.
In any event, I want to know what you think about the political ramifications of that which I've described. Go to Smerconish.com and tell me who's winning politically? Which political party benefits from "cancel culture" disputes? Is it the Republicans or the Democrats?
Up ahead, America already suffering a severe supply chain shortage. Could vaccine mandates and workers who choose to opt out and quit inadvertently make that situation even worse?
Also, drivers of color much more likely to get pulled over for minor traffic violations, but in my hometown, the city of Philadelphia, city council has just passed a bill changing what you can get stopped for. Could this prove to be a model for other cities?
SMERCONISH: Turns out that all these COVID vaccine mandates -- which, by the way, I'm all in favor of -- could have a huge economic downside. Against the backdrop of a tight labor market, the mandate could lead to mass layoffs and worsen already catastrophic supply chain disruptions. A record 100 cargo vessels and about 200,000 shipping containers are stuck floating off the Los Angeles coastline, delaying delivery of everything from factory parts to sneakers to toys.
What happens if the workers in that supply chain refuse the vaccine and are laid off? This week, Eric Hoplin, the president and CEO of the National Association of Wholesaler Distributors which represents nearly 6 million workers, including grocers, lumber, florists, beer/wine distributors among others, sent a letter to the president. In the letter, he asks President Biden to delay the December 8 vaccination deadline for all employees of federal contractors.
Eric Hoplin joins me now. So, Eric, you represent 35,000 enterprises in all 50 states. What is your concern?
ERIC HOPLIN, PRESIDENT & CEO, NAT'L ASSOC. OF WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTORS: Well, Michael, thanks for having me. Good morning and concern is the right issue because what we're dealing with here are two really important issues. Of course, the wholesale distribution industry joins all Americans in urging them to get vaccinated.
We want to vaccinate the country to save lives and to move past this pandemic and get the economy moving again. At the same time, as you just mentioned, there's critical issues that are happening throughout the supply chain and unfortunately, these two issues are converging at this moment.
As you noted, the president's executive order for any company that does business with the federal government as a contractor has mandated that every single employee be vaccinated by December 8th or we have to terminate them. So the federal government is forcing these companies to terminate, you know, thousands of of employees across the country on December 8th and so because we already have a critical shortage of folks that are working through the supply chain, you know, that order would only exacerbate the issue.
SMERCONISH: OK. You are here to say, "Houston, we have a problem." People are already seeing grocery shelves that are empty and you're here to say that your organization is totally supportive of vaccination, a lot of your members have taken heroic measures, trips to Vegas, $1,000 incentives, to get people vaccinated and you want the president to know it's not working and December 8 looms. So what needs to be done?
HOPLIN: Yes. Well, first of all, Michael, I want to underscore that point absolutely, is the distribution industry is 100 percent pro vaccine. You'll recall as soon as this was manufactured, it was the distribution industry that moved the vaccine and other life-saving medical supplies and equipment and medicine all over the country to the far reaches of the country.
When the vaccine became available, we partnered with the National Football League teams and the National League of Cities at their vaccination sites to donate more than $1 million of PPE to help run these sites. And in our own facilities at these 32,000 companies across the country, we've been working with our employees to help get them vaccinated, offering incentives, offering time off, bringing nurses into the facilities to offer the vaccine. As you mentioned, one member offered free trips to Vegas. If you get vaccinated, you'd throw in a pool for that.
So we are committed to vaccinating this workforce. We have done everything we can. We've incentivized them in every way we can, but most of those that are remaining tell us that if the government mandates it, fire me. And so we've tried everything we can and so what we're asking is simple, is we want a small delay to help us prepare for implementation and we also are asking the president to amend the order to include a testing option.
So if people just, at the end of the day, are refusing to get vaccinated, we can at least test them because we want to make sure to continue, of course, that our facilities are operating in a safe way, as they have, by the way, through the entire pandemic.
SMERCONISH: Eric, you are hearing from your membership -- quick final point -- that these folks will sooner walk than take the vax.
SMERCONISH: They will lose their job knowingly rather than get vaccinated.
HOPLIN: Absolutely. And so what what's going to happen on December 8th, you think about this just a couple of weeks before Christmas, we're going to be forced to lay off, because the executive order tells us to do this, tens of thousands of Americans and most of them are the folks that can least afford to be laid off right before Christmas.
And on top of that, it's going to exacerbate the problems with the supply chain and so if you're thinking about getting something under your Christmas tree here in a couple of months when the supply chain is most robust and busy throughout the year, to add these challenges now, we think is a problem and so we've called on the administration to amend the executive order.
SMERCONISH: I didn't recognize the looming trouble. I'm so glad that you came here and put it on everybody's radar screen, so thank you very much for that.
HOPLIN: You're welcome. Thanks so much for having me.
SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on my social media pages. What do we have, Catherine? This comes from Twitter I think, "Just wait till trucking companies mandate it. Think it's bad now? Buckle up." Yes, Rottweiler Life is Fun. Is it? OK.
I didn't fully recognize -- and here's another ramification as I understand it now. Those mandates for federal contractors, presumably some of those companies may just decide, hey, the federal business is not worth it. I'm going to keep my workforce. I'm going to cut loose the relationship that I have with the federal government. Either way, we're going to suffer.
Again, I'm all for the vaccine, I'm all for everybody getting vaccinated. So, too, is Eric Hoplin who you just heard from. He wanted to put on our radar screen that it's just not happening and won't happen in time for December 8 and I'm glad he did.
Please make sure that you're going to my website throughout the course of the program. This tethers to the commentary I delivered at the outset. Which political parties benefit from the so-called "cancel culture" disputes? You think the Rs or the Ds are getting a leg up on that?
Up ahead, minor traffic violations are used by police and have a disproportionate impact on folks of color. In my hometown of Philadelphia -- listen to this -- a new law aims to curb that practice. I'm going to talk to the councilman behind the so-called Driving Equity Bill.
And a caravan of thousands from Haiti, Central and South America has gathered near the Mexican border where there's already been a record 1.6 million arrests in the past year. Can anything be done to solve this crisis?
SMERCONISH: Philadelphia is aiming to become the first major U.S. city to stop the practice of police pulling over drivers for low level offenses which occur disproportionately often when the drivers are people of color. The so-called Driving Equality bill was passed by the city council by a vote of 14-2. It details which secondary offenses can no longer be the primary reason for pulling over a vehicle. And will instead be resolved with mail-in citations.
They include missing registration card, location of temporary registration, license plate placement single broken bulb or light, other obstruction to a mirror, et cetera, minor bumper damage, lack of infection or emission sticker.
The legislation comes in the wake of several national cases of high- profile deaths of Black drivers following such routine traffic stops. Think Sandra Bland in Texas or Daunte Wright in Minnesota, Walter Scott in South Carolina.
In Philadelphia, the statistics are eye-opening. The population is 42 percent Black. But according to police statistics, analyzed by the Defender Association of Philadelphia, 72 percent of the drivers pulled over are Black.
Compared to Whites, Black drivers are 5.2 times as likely to be pulled over. Native-Americans drivers 5.7 times, Latino drivers 1.6 times. While 94 percent of the drivers whose vehicles are searched were people of color, searches of White people stopped vehicles were actually more likely to turn up contraband.
Police can still conduct stops for non-secondary violations. Think speeding. Think blowing through a stop sign. But if the mayor, as expected, signs this into law the police should have more free time to combat crime. According to the Defender Association about 97 percent of police vehicle stops are for these low-level violations. So, eliminating them could lead to an estimated annual reduction of 300,000 police encounters.
Joining me now, the Philadelphia City councilman who initiated the bill, Councilman Isaiah Thomas. Councilman, are those disproportionate figures a reflection of race or socioeconomic factors?
ISAIAH THOMAS, PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCIL: So, Michael, first of all good morning and good morning to your audience. Thank you for having me. We appreciate you talking about this important bill.
I think that one can draw a correlation between socioeconomic status in some of the stops that we're seeing. But let's not misunderstand when someone gets pulled over by law enforcement you can't tell their socioeconomic status.
I myself have been pulled over in the city of Philadelphia more times than the amount of years I've been actually driving. I'm 37 years old. I've been driving over 20 years now. I've been pulled over well over 20 times.
I've never lived in a socioeconomic disadvantaged neighborhood. My father is a retired teacher. We've lived in middle class communities our entire life and I still myself have been an active victim as it relates to driving while Black in the city of Philadelphia.
SMERCONISH: In your own experience, has it not mattered what type of a car you were driving?
THOMAS: I think that the type of car does matter somewhat. A lot of us driving growing up in the city of Philadelphia, being pulled -- being pulled over by police is a rites of passage. We often have that talk with fathers, mentors and other adult figures in our life.
And we are conscious of the cars that we drive because we understand purchasing certain cars puts you in a position where you're more inclined to be pulled over. Riding with the certain people puts you in a position where you're more inclined to be pulled over. SMERCONISH: You referenced your father. I lost mine three years ago. But I remember well, when I was starting to drive, Councilman, he said to me, "Beware of the guy with the broken taillight."
This was his part of a lecture about defensive driving. He didn't mean because the guy might be Black or Hispanic. His thought process was that vehicle is not well cared for and maybe it shows a lack of concern about how to operate something that could cause damage. You would have said what to my old man?
THOMAS: Well, first of all, we're sorry to hear about your father. Your father sounds very similar to my father because my father used to tell me all the time, "I'm not worried about you, I'm worried about the person driving next to you." That is a significant concern.
But what we do want to put ourself in a position to do is reimagine how we govern. Some of those same things that your father as well as my father are concerned about as it relates to the next driver, we still feel like we can have some level of enforcement as it relates to motor vehicles code violations. We have a number of different methods that we want to use to be able to enforce minor traffic violations. And most importantly, we want to put law enforcement in a position that they spend more time focusing on more serious crimes.
Here in the city of Philadelphia, we ask law enforcement to do a lot. And we feel like this bill is a step in the right direction. Not just to improve relations between communities of color and law enforcement, but also to put us in a position where law enforcement focus more time in more serious crime.
SMERCONISH: Maybe the most stunning statistic that I shared when introducing you is that 97 percent of the traffic stops are of the sort that no longer can be a primary basis.
First of all, are law enforcement OK with this? And what are they saying about how they'll then use their time?
THOMAS: So, we are very proud of the fact that this was a collaborative effort. Yes, this was my bill, but this bill came into fruition because of a working group that involved the police department in the city of Philadelphia, the mayor's office, as well as the public defenders, and a number of other different stakeholders.
So, yes, this is something that law enforcement is on board with the city of Philadelphia. And there's also a data component with this legislation as well too. So we can collectively monitor the data and put ourself in a position where as though if we're not getting it right we can offer some level of amendment to the legislation so we can assure them we are getting it right.
So we are very proud of the fact that this was a collaborative effort. And we're excited to continue to work with law enforcement in the city of Philadelphia. SMERCONISH: Final comment, I talked about this on my radio program with you as my guest. And some callers who were in law enforcement said you're taking away our ability to exercise street smarts.
I know that street smarts to some are racism to others. But this whole idea that, you know, instinct and intuition are a valuable part of law enforcement. Respond to that thought process.
THOMAS: Well, what I would say is that some of those same instincts that folks are relying on have put us in a position to create more distrust between communities of color and law enforcement. We are seeing record levels of crime not just in Philadelphia but in big cities all across the country. And we have to look at all of ourselves and say something that we're doing isn't right.
I'm 100 percent sure that police did not commit the crimes that we're talking about in large parts. In the city of Philadelphia they're spiking some of the public safety concerns that we see. But at the same time, we have to recognize that something that we're doing is not right.
So, I am excited about this idea of reimagining what it looks like policing the city of Philadelphia. Reimagining what it looks like to govern in the city of Philadelphia. And I'm more than prepared to work with any level of law enforcement to put us in a position where we can effectively get this legislation right.
SMERCONISH: Well -- and I know that part and parcel of your legislation is all of the data will be saved and analyzed. So this is like, you know, a big lab experiment about to unfold in the city of brotherly love. Thank you, Councilman. Appreciate you being here.
THOMAS: Thank you for having me. Thank you to your audience as well.
SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your social media reaction. What do we have, Catherine? From Twitter, I think.
No. What Black folks want is the same treatment their White counterparts get whenever they get pulled over for a broken taillight, expired registration, et cetera, et cetera. A warning.
Well, as I just said to the councilman we're about to find out because now on a very large scale all of those things that we put up on the screen will no longer be a primary basis to pull over a car, broken taillight among them. So, we'll see how it all plays out. And the world will literally be watching.
I want to remind you to answer this week's survey question at Smerconish.com. I delivered a commentary at the outset of the program and I said, you know, "Beware, Democrats, on this issue of cancel culture disputes." Because, I think, Republicans are using them to great advantage. But I want to know what you think. Which political party benefits every time there's another one of these micro aggressions that is in the news?
Still to come, a sorry new record at the border, 1.6 million arrests for unlawful crossings in the past year. Now, tens of thousands have assembled in what's being called the mother of all caravans and they're headed north. Here's what the president's pick to lead customs and border protection told the Senate this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MAGNUS, NOMINEE, COMMISSIONER OF U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: The numbers are very high, and it is something that has to be addressed. Clearly we have a broken system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: An estimated tens of thousands of migrants are assembling in the southern Mexico area in the mother of all caravans that may head north as soon as this weekend. And this follows the news that U.S. border patrol arrests have soared to the highest levels ever recorded.
During the 2021 fiscal year U.S. authorities detained more than 1.6 million migrants along the Mexico border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. Although the illegal crossings began rising last year, they have skyrocketed since President Biden took office.
To give you a sense of the surge, here's the historic trend over the last 60 years. At the CNN town hall this week President Biden said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been there before, and I haven't -- I mean, I know it well. I guess I should go down. But the -- but the whole point of it is I haven't had a whole hell of a lot of time to get down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Joining me now is Brandon Judd. He's the president of the National Border Patrol Council which represents approximately 18,000 border patrol agents and support personnel. Thanks so much for being here.
Let's start with that caravan, what if anything do you know of the caravan to which I just referred?
BRANDON JUDD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: Well, what we know is we have large numbers that are coming up. Now, these people are not just from one specific country. When you look at the numbers that we're dealing with now right now, and you look at it from a historical standpoint, we're dealing with people from countries that we just haven't seen before in the past. Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Senegal, Bangladesh. You know, we're dealing with people -- we're dealing with countries from around the entire world where historically we primarily dealt with people from Mexico or Central America.
So, this caravan is very unique compared to caravans in years past.
SMERCONISH: OK. What accounts for that? You're telling me that there's almost like a magnet approach now of people from all around the globe viewing this as their shot to get into the United States and they're assembling in Mexico or in Central America?
JUDD: Well, the main magnet that we -- that we constantly deal with is the -- is what the dubbed the catch and release program. When people cross the border illegally, if we do not properly enforce the laws, if we release them into the United States pending a future court appearance that is the magnet that draws so many people across our borders illegally. And that's what we're dealing with today.
So, in -- when you look at -- when we hit 45-year lows just two years back, it was simply because we were holding every single person across the border illegally. Or we were having them wait in Mexico pending their asylum or deportation proceeding.
The moment you cut that magnet off people stop coming. But if -- but if there is a reward for violating our laws then the message is clearly sent around the world that if you cross our borders illegally, you will be released into the United States. And that's what's happening today.
SMERCONISH: Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full? Here's what I'm referring to. I just shared data about how the number of those detained, 1.7 million, is the highest ever recorded. Maybe that means, hey, we're doing a great job enforcing border security better than ever before.
JUDD: No and I wish that was the case. But if you look at the number of people that have been able to enter the country illegally and evade apprehension, we also have the highest numbers ever.
All you have to do is look at the month of September. We had 42,000 people that entered the country illegally and were able to evade apprehension. So, we never took them into custody. It's not even like we had the chance to release them.
So, the total number people that are crossing the border illegally is up exponentially. And if you look at -- if you compare it calendar year to calendar year, we're going to shatter every single record. So, no, we're doing a good job of catching some people but a large segment of the people that are crossing the border illegally are able to evade apprehension. We're just not doing what we need.
SMERCONISH: OK. Quick final important question, are there significant tangible differences between the approach under President Trump and President Biden? Or is it a matter of perception on those people who are coming into this country are seeking to that it's going to be an easier attempt to make?
JUDD: No, there is an absolute tangible difference between this administration and the last administration.
SMERCONISH: What is it? What is it?
JUDD: This administration abolished every single immigration policy that President Trump put in place, such as the Remain in Mexico program. Once that was abolished that was an invitation for everybody to start crossing our borders illegally. That was the main issue that we're dealing with.
You must hold people in custody pending their asylum or deportation proceeding. If you do not do that, they will continue to come.
SMERCONISH: Brandon Judd, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.
JUDD: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Checking in on your social media reaction, Twitter, Facebook, comments. Some from YouTube.
How about enforcing the law? It seemed to work when Trump was in office.
Well, I just -- Signifyin Jive, you just heard me ask the question of my request which is, "Is it a perception or a reality issue?" And he said it's a reality issue. And it's a reality issue that has caused these changes. And, therefore, people -- I thought the most interesting thing that he had to say is, these are not people coming from just those countries that Vice President Kamala Harris was charged with addressing the root cause, right? Instead, it has become a global magnet. People are viewing this as their chance to get into the USA without playing by the rules.
Still to come, more your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments. And we'll give you the result of the survey question this week at Smerconish.com, the subject to my opening commentary. Which political party benefits from "cancel culture" disputes? Is it the Republicans or the Democrats?
SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey at Smerconish.com. I delivered a commentary at the outset of the program, talked about the world of political correctness and cancel culture, described recent events, and then asked, which political party benefits from all of these disputes? The Republicans or the Democrats?
Here come the results, 89 percent say the GOP. That is the correct answer, with close to 13,000 people taking the time to vote. I'll leave the survey question up. Keep voting.
Here's some of the social media reaction that came in during the course of the program.
Republicans benefit the most from the cancel culture narrative. They are hoping it riles up their base enough that they vote in droves at election time.
Matt, that's the point. I think the effectiveness of these disputes -- you hear the story about the docents in Chicago, and you think it's just some kind of a novelty story to fill time. No, it stirs passion. So, too, the canceled University of Chicago climate scientist that I had as my guest who can't go to MIT not because of something he said pertaining to climate science but because of a thoughtful comment he made about equity and diversity. You can disagree with him about that, but to cancel him -- wrong answer.
Here's another one that came up this week. What do we have?
I'm an employer that just passed a vaccine mandate, deadline of October 15.
Lots of anger and noise about quitting, but when the jobs and livelihoods are on the line very few actually walk. In my case, I had 100 percent compliance in the end.
Look, I thought that was really significant to hear from my guest who represents 35,000 enterprises in 50 different states, I think six million employees, all in the supply chain saying, that this December 8 deadline that is looming, that work force is saying they will quit rather than be subject to a vax mandate.
I'm all for the vax mandates. But I think we need to pay attention to that because if we already have empty shelves, imagine what it could be like going into the holiday season which is why I wanted to shine a light on that. It seems to me the easy fix is, OK, if you're not going to get the vax by December 8, you must be subject to testing. So, I think the administration needs to tighten up the regulation in that regard, or the situation is going to get a heck of a lot worse.
I'm out of time. I'll see you next week. Thanks for watching.