Or read the transcript below:
Transcript by J. C. Hendershot
Interview with Deneen Borelli by Roger Aronoff
The “Take AIM” show on BlogTalkRadio, March 29, 2012.
ROGER ARONOFF: Good morning, and welcome to Take AIM, Accuracy in Media’s talk show on BlogTalkRadio. AIM is America’s original media watchdog, and every week we point out biased coverage and bring you the stories the mainstream media ignore. I’m Roger Aronoff, the Editor of Accuracy in Media and of The AIM Report, which you can subscribe to by visiting our website at aim.org, where you can also sign up to receive our daily E-mail so you can keep track of what the media are up to. Our guest today is Deneen Borelli, author of the new book Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. In her book, Deneen exposes the Left’s attempt to silence black conservatives who are battling against the Obama administration’s goal of expanding the government and Americans’ dependence on the welfare state. Deneen and other like-minded conservatives aim to empower Americans by stopping the vicious cycle of government dependency that deprives citizens of their rights to freedom and prosperity. Not only is she an author, but she’s a Fellow at Project 21, a network of black conservatives, which is an initiative of the National Center for Public Policy Research, based here in Washington, D.C. She’s also a Fellow with FreedomWorks, and a contributor to Fox News. She’s appeared many times on Fox, on the Glenn Beck show. She’s appeared on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC, and C-SPAN, and her commentaries are picked up all over the country, by the LA Times and many other papers around the country. She’s a frequent speaker at political rallies and events, including the FreedomWorks 9/12 March on D.C., which had a crowd estimated at over 800,000 people. Deneen, good morning! Welcome to Take AIM! We’re very glad to have you with us today!
DENEEN BORELLI: Roger, I want to thank you so much for the opportunity. Thank you for all that you do—and thank you for that great introduction!
ARONOFF: Great! I’m going to go even a little further, expand it a little more, because I think it’s so interesting. Deneen Borelli has served on the Board of Trustees with the Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York. She served as Manager of Media Relations with the Congress On Racial Equality, CORE, and in that capacity she was the executive producer and co-host of The CORE Hour, a weekly Internet radio talk show. Prior to that, she worked at Philip Morris for twenty years in various capacities, having worked her way up from secretary. She has a BA in Managerial Marketing from Pace University in New York, and has even worked as a runway fashion model—and when you see the book cover, you’ll know why! I recommend it to everyone. You can go to deneenborelli.com—her website, for the rest of her bio. I’m sure you can get the book there, too. Why don’t we start out—tell us about your political journey. When and how did you become—or discover that you were—a conservative? What does that mean to you?
BORELLI: Really, it’s based on my personal experiences. I grew up in a household that was Democratic. My parents voted Democrat. I pretty much mimicked what they did. I didn’t know anything about doing research, about learning where a politician stood, and how their policies would affect people today and in the future. But as I got older and I started reading different things, and experiencing different things, I realized that there was another aspect of this. One thing I always try to encourage people—especially our youth—is to read and learn and understand outside of what you are surrounded by. One thing I realized, especially within the black community, is that there is a monopoly on the message. The monopoly is generally from the black establishment—I’m talking about Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, different black publications. They’re all saying pretty much the same thing, and it’s not really a message of liberty, it’s not really a message of personal responsibility. Sadly, we have this message of victimization, and times that blacks need special treatment when, in fact, that’s all a lie. That is why I can speak from experience, to say that it’s a lie. So I implore anyone—but especially our young black youth, and anyone in the black community—to, please, do your research. Don’t just follow the crowd! Learn on your own, and then make an informed decision. That is really how I got to the point where I am today.
ARONOFF: Tell us about Project 21, the organization you’re affiliated with.
BORELLI: Project 21 is a black conservative public policy group. It’s based in Washington, D.C. We write commentaries. We do radio on great programs, such as yours. We do television interviews, public speaking. We communicate the importance of personal responsibility and limited government. We especially want that message to be communicated to the black community, especially based on what I just said—there’s such a monopoly on the message within the black community. I’ve been involved with the organization for about six years now. A lot of people know about it, a lot of people are still finding out about Project 21, but it’s really a great group, it’s a very informative group. The website is project21.org.
ARONOFF: Okay. So your book is called Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. How did you come to write the book? What do you mean by “Government Plantation”?
BORELLI: I write about what people are thinking. Sadly, we have too many Americans who are afraid to be true to what they’re really thinking about President Obama and his failed policies. When you think about when the Tea Party movement came on the scene in 2009, how the liberal Left tried its hardest to demonize and discredit the movement, calling anyone involved with the movement “racist,” “rednecks,” and “extremists”—I’ve been involved with the Tea Party movement since Day One, and I can tell you, I speak at different groups and organizations around the country, and these individuals are concerned about the direction our country is going in, they’re concerned about the massive growth of government. Any time government is too big, that means our liberties are reduced, so what I am imploring people to do—I hope my book will not only inform, but inspire all Americans to not be afraid, to speak out and be concerned about the direction our country is going in. When you think about how the Left has all the bases covered—as I mentioned before, with the name-calling, if you’re a black conservative, such just as I am—and in the first few pages of my book I talk about all the names that I’ve been called—but I think about how our military men and women are so brave, standing on the front lines, defending our freedoms, it’s the least I can do to stand up for liberty, and what we the people need to do to rein in this government-gone-wild. I don’t care about the name-calling—I care more about delivering the message of freedom and liberty, but, also, what Americans can do to hold the line for liberty, as well.
ARONOFF: Why do you think it is that 90+% of blacks, many of whom are socially conservative, still vote Democrat? I mean, you grew up in a household like that—why don’t others take the journey you’ve taken?
BORELLI: I think this really goes back in history. I think the Democrat Party gets way too much credit for the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and, when you think about the last election, 2008, with Obama, a lot of blacks did vote for him simply because of his skin color. But I say Martin Luther King—“content of character,” not skin color. You need to know where a person stands: If they’re going to be the President—or your local Representative—where do they stand on issues? How will those issues affect you today and in the future? But I tell you, with this upcoming election, I think the unemployment, as high as it is across the country—but, also, within the black community, it’s double that among white individuals, it’s 13%, 14% in the black community, and among black teens it’s approaching 40%—these are the numbers and the facts that all Americans need to take into consideration, and especially within the black community. Not skin color—content of character: That’s how people should be voting.
ARONOFF: The issue of affirmative action is back in the news with the case Fisher v. Texas, involving the question of whether race should be a factor in college admissions. What are your thoughts on that? Have we reached a point where affirmative action is no longer necessary? Is it way past that point? What do you think of this?
BORELLI: Sure. I believe that admissions, or job entry, or whatever it is that this woman is trying to pursue, should be based on a person’s merit, be based on what skills they have to bring to the table. Your color has nothing to do with how you can perform a task, how you can pass a course. Your color has absolutely nothing to do in that regard—and that is why I don’t believe that affirmative action is necessary—because, really, it’s based on individual effort and merit, and not a person’s skin color.
ARONOFF: What sort of treatment do you get from, say, establishment blacks? Do you have a lot of them secretly telling you they’re with you, but they’re afraid, or unwilling, to come out publicly, so to speak, like you’ve done? Or are you shunned and disparaged by many of them?
BORELLI: I will say this—and I do mention this in my book, Blacklash—there are a number of black conservatives who are what I call “closet conservatives,” and it’s because they are afraid of being targeted and criticized by their friends, their co-workers. But I have had people contact me on Facebook, E-mail, and Twitter—especially since my book’s come out, but even before then. These individuals are thanking me for what I stand for, and thanking me for writing the book, thanking me for what I do, because they agree with me, and they feel the same way, but, on the other hand, they are afraid of being targeted and criticized. So I always try to follow up with everyone who contacts me, and I tell these individuals—even young people, I had a young lady contact me yesterday, she’s a young girl in college in Louisiana, she said, and this was on Facebook, “Thank you for what you do!”—I try my best to reach out especially to these individuals, to let them know, “You’re not alone. Please speak your mind. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind!” I think it’s just great that I can at least look to our future generation, coming up, who is realizing that it’s individualism, it’s not collectivism. That is an important theme that I like to communicate on a regular basis.
ARONOFF: It seems to me that one of the biggest areas of failure is our school system, and what that does to so many, particularly black teenagers. Again—within your role of being on the Board of Trustees with the Opportunity Charter School in Harlem—my feeling is, charter schools are almost set up to fail, in the sense that there are so few of them, and, like in that Waiting for Superman documentary, so few people can get in there. School choice—if they gave everyone a voucher, and allowed everyone to become consumers for schools, it could just revolutionize the whole thing. I want to see—what are your thoughts on how the system is set up for black teenagers today? What’s the main thing that could be done to reverse that?
BORELLI: My experience with the Opportunity Charter School has really revealed to me that these kids now have hope. When they showed up on the doorsteps of our schools, the majority of these kids could not read or write, and because of that, they were labeled as “special needs”—when, in fact, they were not special needs children at all. They just could not read or write, and they had been passed along. The parents are elated—they are ecstatic when they are able to get their child in a school that will be accountable, and will be hands-on with their child to educate them based on their individual needs. But that is the problem we’re having, not with all public schools, but with a lot of public schools, especially within urban communities: Kids are passed along, and there’s no accountability. And if you don’t have a good education, a good foundation—what are these kids going to do if they do graduate, or if they fall out of the school system? What is their future? There is no future for them—it doesn’t look like a positive future.
So I do believe more power should be in the hands of the parents, especially when it comes to school choice, because, this way, parents know what is best for their child, for their educational needs; [the schools] will be very accountable, they’ll be hands-on; and the students also know that they have to be accountable, as well. But speaking to some of these students, they know where they came from, and now they know where they are, and I tell you, it’s a difference of night and day. Some of these kids hated going to school—it was a rowdy environment, there were fights, and they didn’t understand the assignments, so there was a lot of anger and frustration. But it’s a difference of night of day, and I’ve seen it up close and personal, so I am totally someone who believes in school choice. I just wish more and more people—even if you don’t have children—would get involved, maybe be a mentor, because there are so many children today who could use leadership and guidance. Things are tough today for everyone, but it’s especially hard for our young people, I believe.
ARONOFF: I want to ask you about a media incident that you were involved with. You spoke at a GE shareholder meeting, which is something that we at AIM have been doing for many years—going to some of these shareholder meetings and raising objections in front of the top brass there. You actually challenged the CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, about stories that he had tried to silence his business network, CNBC, when they were critical of President Obama. What happened when you did that? Tell us a little about that story.
BORELLI: Yeah! Just for the record, my husband Tom and I will be at GE’s meeting—I believe it’s April 25th. We’ll be at their meeting again, challenging these crony capitalist CEOs. But the question for Jeff Immelt—you’re correct, Roger— is, “Are you pressuring, or putting demands, on your anchors to pull back on their criticism of President Obama?” Well, we asked that question, and he kind of danced around it, like most CEOs do—they don’t get challenged on a daily basis, they’re surrounded by a bunch of Yes-Men, and their old [foes] that one day of the year—and my microphone was shut off. So much for the First Amendment, and me communicating, as a shareholder—
BORELLI: —my concern about our company! So, yeah, my microphone was turned off. But, again, Tom and I will be at the meeting this year. Something else we’ve challenged Jeff Immelt on in the past is his support for cap-and-trade at the time, because General Electric really depends on the boot of government. They make windmills, they make solar panels, they’ve got a lot of money, government funding, in contracts and grants. This is the company that is depending on government support, the boot of government—and Jeff Immelt is also on President Obama’s Jobs Panel. So he’s also very chummy with the President, trying to keep his company in the game when it comes to our country’s energy needs.
ARONOFF: Yes. Even with that, there was a recent report that, privately, he’s planning to support Mitt Romney in the fall, if he gets the nomination. Let me get on a couple of important issues of today. First, let’s just touch on the Supreme Court dealing with Obamacare, the “Affordable Care Act,” as it’s known. You write in the book that “Empowering a government bureaucracy to control our health care choices is extremely dangerous, especially for those of us concerned about liberty.” Why is that?
BORELLI: Yes, if you’re concerned about liberty—I mean, let’s face it: Obamacare is about control. It’s an unfunded mandate. Literally what’s going to happen is, you’re going to have some faceless bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor, when, in fact, it should be the individual and the doctor who should be making the best choices and decisions for that individual, for their family. I know from just going to the post office, for example, the government can’t do anything within economic reason, or to be accountable. I think post office, and I think motor vehicles, Amtrak—I mean, why would you want the government to decide your health care needs? I just find that totally outrageous. So I’m so glad this is being held before the Supreme Court, and we will be finding out—I believe at the end of June or July—what the final decisions are. The other thing is, look at the waivers that were issued. That’s another indication of how unpopular Obamacare is, as well.
ARONOFF: I guess, in our remaining minutes, what I want to talk about is this Trayvon Martin case that is dominating the news these days. Besides the issue of rushing to judgement before the facts are in, how is it “racism” when both parties are minorities? At first they were reporting George Zimmerman as being white, then it turned out that his mother is Peruvian. It raises a question—how do we define “racism” today? Does it matter how dark his skin is? Is being Hispanic enough? Half-Hispanic? What’s the current view on how racism is viewed in this country? Why don’t we start with that one—and then I’ve got a couple of follow-ups.
BORELLI: Sure. It’s a very tragic situation. My heart truly goes out to this young man’s parents. But, sadly, we have some individuals who are really trying to gain from this tragedy. You have individuals who have made this a race issue because they say it’s a race issue. Yes, there’s a rush to judgment, and now, this has just really blown out of proportion, especially when you have the New Black Panther Party issuing a bounty. Now we have black members of Congress, with their actions and different promises they have made. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have inserted themselves into this situation, and any time they’re on the scene they gain media attention, no matter what the situation is. The other thing I want to point out is that the tone of this incident has been set at the top, from President Obama, when he made his comment, saying that his child would look like him. There was no reason, in my opinion, to make that kind of statement. As I’ve written in my book, Blacklash, I do believe there is a pattern in Obama’s comments where he has chosen racial tension in our country instead of calming racial tension, and I find that very concerning.
ARONOFF: You bring up Sharpton and Jackson. You distinguish between them in your book by calling Jackson a “corporate shakedown artist,” and Sharpton an “ambulance chaser.” Can you elaborate a little on that?
BORELLI: Sure! I’ve seen Jesse Jackson in action at a shareholder meeting, for example. He was questioning a different merger acquisition at the J. P. Morgan shareholder meeting in 2008. He was asking the CEO how many blacks and browns were involved in the merger acquisition. I stood up behind Jesse Jackson and said, “People should be gaining access to work on this acquisition based on their merit and their experience, not based on their color.” I actually got a round of applause from the people in the audience attending that meeting. When those two are on the scene, they’re very intimidating. They have a history—there’s a pattern of what they do to try to push their agenda. Getting back to Al Sharpton, I call him an “ambulance chaser,” I write about how he ruined many lives of individuals who were involved in the Tawana Brawley situation that happened—and how he has yet to apologize. And, on the flip side, he has a television show. There’s a lack of accountability here. I wrote about that in Blacklash. I hope people will understand what their endgame is—this is just really for their agenda, to monopolize on situations such as the one that’s going on in Florida.
ARONOFF: Our guest, again, is Deneen Borelli, author of Blacklash. You can visit her website, to deneenborelli.com—It’s an excellent book. I recommend it. It’s been great having you on here today!
BORELLI: Thank you so much! I really appreciate your time, and the opportunity. Please, have me back any time!
ARONOFF: Okay! I want to thank everyone for joining us today. Visit us on the website. Deneen, thank you so much for being with us today on Take AIM!
BORELLI: Thank you, Roger.
ARONOFF: You bet! We’ll be back next week. So long!