Video Video Audio Transcripts Pictures
Radio interview
Alan Keyes on American Family Radio
September 8, 2004
Today's Issues with Marvin Sanders and Ed Vitagliano

AMERICAN FAMILY RADIO HOST: Ambassador Keyes, welcome to the program.

ALAN KEYES, ILLINOIS U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you very much. Glad to be with you.

AFR: How should we refer to you now? You were an ambassador. You are now a senatorial candidate, a longtime veteran of the culture wars, and now running for the Senate against Barack Obama in the State of Illinois. Should we call you "O Great One," Ambassador?

KEYES: [laughs] I think Alan is good.

AFR: Alan is good. OK. Alan, we invited you on a number of weeks ago to discuss the Sudan, and I would like to at least begin by focusing on the Sudan and asking you some questions with respect to what's happening there and what your long-term position is on the Sudan, if that's all right with you.

KEYES: Sure.

AFR: What's the difference between what's going on in the Sudan now and what's been going on for ten years? Or is there a difference?

KEYES: You know, I'm not sure there is. I mean, I think that there is a difference in that now we're seeing the kind of violence that is based on people who are, a lot of them, within the same religious purview but of different races. You have actually seen the persecution of black Africans in the Sudan for a long time. That has included, of course, Christians, among others. So, I think this is in a way an extension of the terrible violence that has characterized the Sudan, and that has in fact been ignored by the world.

Finally, you have voices that in the past were silent, including voices in the black liberal leadership, finally beginning to speak out, after many years in which they have, sadly, ignored what has been taking place, until millions of lives have been lost, asking now that the world be mobilized. I think we can, of course, join in that call because it is something that essentially needs to be done--but at the same time, I think we need to look at that past record and realize that there has been a lot of neglect. And while people were trying to do something about what's happening in the past, and trying to work to improve that government, others have been ignoring the situation. And while Christians were at stake, I think you could say pretty fairly, there seemed to be an unwillingness to speak out.

FRED JACKSON, CO-HOST: Ambassador Keyes, Fred Jackson here. I'm not sure if you were listening a few moments ago when we talked a bit about the decision by the federal judge in Nebraska today also striking down the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. Abortion has always been a key issue in your campaign. I'd like your reaction to that.

KEYES: Well, unfortunately, from the federal bench this is not unexpected--though, in this particular case, again you're seeing a judge exercising what is essentially an arbitrary judgment. It goes flying in the face of the Congress, even though the Supreme Court itself has said in the past that the legislatures have infinitely more resources than the courts for doing the kinds of inquiries that can establish factual situations. And the Congress did such an inquiry with respect to the partial birth abortion procedure and the whole issue of the health of the mother, and reached the conclusion that the health of the mother was not at stake.

And so, the judge is setting himself up as an individual--despite what the Supreme Court has said to be the limited resources of the courts in this regard--to dismiss the judgment of the Congress, and arbitrarily rule on what is clearly, I think, an ideological basis, because the federal courts seem to be committed to this whole abortion holocaust.

JACKSON: So, this is not on the basis of law. This is ideology. This is just basically power politics. You know, I think Christians are so frustrated. I mean, we're talking about what is essentially infanticide. What can Christians do? It seems as if we are powerless to stop these federal judges from making these asinine decisions, so what can we do? What can we the people do?

KEYES: I think we are not helpless, but we need to act through our representatives to begin to put restraints and constraints on these judges--starting, of course, with limits on their jurisdiction so that certain kinds of cases will not be abused by them, and moving forward to do things like pass the necessary amendments to the Constitution to protect marriage, to establish the personhood of the child in the womb so that it cannot be questioned by these judges on the federal bench.

That requires political mobilization. And that means that if we really care about these things, Christians need to examine their conscience and get moving to achieve the necessary result, to act on their Christian faith in their vocation as citizens, and apply that faith with particular respect to these issues.

And give priority to them, because I think one of the key arguments that's made these days is that everybody says, well, talk about money and jobs and material things, and what you're going to do for people, and how you're going to appeal to selfish interest. Christians who let themselves get manipulated in politics by such appeals are forgetting that our standard is different. We seek the kingdom first. We understand the moral priority, and the fact that if you are acting in a way that's not consistent with decent conscience, then any material success in the world is just throwing your soul away.

We know that because Christ told it to us, and so we have a set of priorities that should be reflected in everything we do, including our citizenship.

If we act, we can elect people to the Congress, to the Senate, and those people can take actions to curtail the courts and to do what's necessary constitutionally to protect these important moral values that are now being destroyed--through abortion, through the assault on the traditional family.

But it's going to require mobilization. It's going to require that people get up, register to vote, and vote for the people who are taking the positions that are consistent with our Christian conscience.

AFR: I'd like to get back to the Sudan with one more question, if I may. In July, the House and Senate passed a resolution calling on the U.S. to declare the massacre in Sudan a genocide. The Bush administration has avoided using that word for, I'm assuming, diplomatic reasons. Having never been in diplomatic circles, I'm not sure what those reasons are. Could you explain the problem with calling it genocide, from a diplomat's perspective?

KEYES: You may be talking to the wrong diplomat, because I don't understand the problem [in calling it genocide]. I think that we have been witnessing a terrible genocidal holocaust in the Sudan that has been progressive. We are seeing, unfortunately, after a hiatus and acceleration of this now that is leading folks to take action. I would agree with the Congress. I think that it's time that we took action, that we especially mobilize--and I don't think this is something, by the way, that America needs to do or should do on its own. It's an outrage to the decent conscience of humanity, and we should call on others, particularly countries in the region, to organize what's necessary in order to deal with it.

I think this is a case of neighborhood housekeeping, where countries in the region need to bear primary responsibility, supported by decent voices in the international community who can lend their aid and support, so that people will not see this as some kind of invasion from outside, but will see it as people in the region doing what is necessary to maintain minimal standards of decent conscience in the way that people in the region behave. And I think we should move in this direction, we should put together the necessary elements in the United Nations community.

This is one of those cases where the regional organizations that are part of the international system can get a push from action we could take the leadership on the Security Council, for instance, and move this thing forward--and I think it ought to be done.

AFR: Ambassador Keyes, you've been a man that is always able to make headlines, and you've been doing that since announcing your candidacy for the Senate seat there in Illinois. One of the things that's made headlines--when you put your name in a search engine, this comes up very quickly, and that is your proposed exempting blacks for a generation or two from paying federal income taxes. Reparations. That created quite a stir. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?

KEYES: Oh, sure. It's actually a proposal I've been making for several years. Unfortunately, until now, actually, I haven't had such a knack for making headlines, because the news media ignored a lot of the things I've said. [laughs]

AFR: [laughs]

KEYES: I have listened to, particularly, liberals in the black community make an argument that amounted to extortion for many years--saying that money should be taken out of the pockets of people, and they should be put into some foundation or into somebody else's pocket. And that was going to be reparations for the injustices of slavery, and all of this.

I find those arguments quite ridiculous, because I think that it's not possible for us to make reparations for injustices done in the past.

I think Lincoln was right. The Civil War was, itself, a judgment from God about slavery, and people paid the price in treasure and blood and lives--and nothing we do is going to have any effect on that. That balance has been addressed, I think, in the course of American history already.

But there was real material damage that was done and left by slavery, as a legacy to black Americans. We said we were addressing it--we, being Americans--over the course of our history. We had forty acres and a mule. We had other things that culminated in the Great Society programs.

Sadly, the Great Society programs that were justified with a lot of liberal rhetoric about how we were to be responding to the legacy of injustice, and all of this, they ended up, because of the socialist approaches, the government domination, the bureaucratic approaches, the welfare handouts and dependency, they have actually done more harm than good.

And that, I think, has been well established, not only in the book I wrote some years ago, but others have pointed this out. The welfare system that broke up families, drove fathers out of the home, discouraged work, had all kinds of demoralizing and disastrous effects on the moral foundations of the black community.

The proposal I've made over the years has been, if you really want to repair the damage, the best thing is to let people do it themselves--not take away their incentive to work, not destroy the family structure, but do it in such a way that you will get the advantage when you work, get the advantage when you move forward to prepare yourself to run a business and so forth.

And so, I have, you know, made a proposal that we remove the burden of the federal income tax from people who are the descendants of slaves, for a certain period of time--and that that would give the breathing room, if you like, for people to take on the task of healing the wounds without having domination from some government bureaucracy or other socialist scheme, putting the burden on people, themselves, to do the work that's necessary, and do it in such a way that they get control of their own money that they earn, rather than taking it out of somebody else's pocket.

I think it comes together to provide the kind of answer that, if we had adopted it 30 years ago, instead of all this socialist mess, we wouldn't have spent trillions of dollars down a rat hole that actually produced a worse situation for the community.

We also, by the way, wouldn't have been spending money trying to repair every damage in the world, because the system they did establish with minority status and all of this in a lot of areas--actually, people fresh off the boat, who had never been subject to any historical abuse in America, were taking advantage of the situation in order to get a help, and so forth, and I don't think America owes [unintelligible] for all of this.

AFR: We have to take a break, and we will continue this discussion when we come back from the break. Ed and Fred, gentlemen, when we come back, I would like to ask Ambassador Keyes a little bit about the well-publicized exchanged between the two candidates in Illinois over whether Jesus would vote in the election or not, and the fact that his opponent wants to give Ambassador Keyes a spanking. We'll ask him about that when we come back.


AFR: Welcome back. Our guest in the program today is Ambassador Alan Keyes, candidate for the Senate in the State of Illinois. Fred, before we proceed, you had a quick follow-up question.

JACKSON: Quick follow-up on the reparations question, Ambassador Keyes. I'm just wondering, and I'm sure some people are wondering, if there is a means test in there--the question being, would somebody like Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey, would they never pay taxes again under your plan?

And the other side of it--many folks, whether they're black or white, are below the level where they pay income tax, so if you're not paying income tax now, it would not help you anyway. So, could you address if there is a means test?

KEYES: No, there would be no means test, because part of what the black community was deprived of was what one would have to call "factors of wealth." And those factors of wealth are terribly important in the development of a community's overall strength. They account for the role that you play in investment, in banking, and in other things. And so, we would want to leave those factors of wealth in operation, the ones that would be more than likely to provide the same kind of resources for future development in the black American community, because there was no opportunity, either during the centuries of slavery or during the period of discrimination, to develop those wealth factors and to have them operate within the community--because, of course, people didn't have the right to accumulate wealth, to pass it on from one generation to the next, by and large, and so forth.

The other question, of course---there would be no means test. There would also, I think, be an important result for people who are not now paying income tax. Why don't you pay income tax? Because you're not working at that level. The biggest problem . . .

[audio difficulties]

. . . the people who would working in such a way that, of course, as they built up their base, and once this was removed, they would be paying the taxes.

Final point, though, that I need to point out, and that everybody seems to forget. A major plank in my overall platform is the abolition of the income tax for everybody. I think it's a bad tax. So, this would essentially amount to a test case, and while we were working on abolishing the whole tax, I think we would see the enormous strides made by folks in the black community, and that would provide an incentive to everybody else to go down this path, which I think would lead to an explosion of growth for the whole country.

AFR: Ambassador Keyes, you--perhaps the statement was taken out of context, and perhaps in context, it might have been a little less inflammatory in some people's eyes. But you made the comment, apparently, that Jesus Christ would certainly not vote for your opponent.

KEYES: I have a question to raise, though. Why would that comment be inflammatory?

AFR: Not to me. I'm thinking that the way people have reacted to it, I mean.

KEYES: Oh, some people.

AFR: Yeah.

KEYES: I think, I have to say, these are people who don't understand what it means to be a Christian. They're really surprised that Christ plays any role in your thinking. And yet, from a Christian point of view, Christ always plays a role in our thinking.

The whole point of life, in point of fact, is to ask ourselves what Jesus would want of us, what He would do, or what His example tells us how, in point of fact, we can walk in His footsteps as human beings, as He exemplified the standards for our humanity.

So, it's a natural question, from a Christian point of view--and it was asked to me as such. And I said, well, in applying the standards of conscience, my conscience is shaped by my faith. My faith is shaped by my discipleship with Christ. And so, the natural question for me is, "What would Christ do?" It's a natural question for all Christians.

Barack Obama is somebody who--and this is a little-known fact about him that we are now going to get out there, because people need to know it--he voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

You all probably know what that is. It means that when a baby is born alive as a result of a botched abortion--and you have to picture this--the nurse is standing there, holding a living infant baby. This baby is living and breathing on its own, and the only thing that is required is a decision: are you going to care for it the way you would care for any other child, or not?

In the State of Illinois right now, hospitals are putting babies like this in the soiled linen closet, are setting them aside to die. This is unconscionable.

And a nurse who got involved in such a situation went to the legislature, a move has been made to pass a bill to protect the life of these children. A similar bill in the United States Senate passed 98-0. Even hardcore, pro-abortion people voted for it, because this procedure is an attack on an infant. Nobody disputes--you know, they try to argue that the babe in the womb is somehow less human. Nobody disputes the humanity of this infant.

This is a direct assault on the sacred principle of life in the most open and flagrant possible way, and Barack Obama has voted against stopping this procedure, not once, not twice, but three times.

And so, I put it to people, I put it to anybody out there: do you really think that Jesus Christ would vote for this? Do you really think that this is what He would want representing Him?

We're supposed to represent Him, and the people we vote for are supposed to represent us.

AFR: Comment on your opponent's response to that.

KEYES: I actually haven't heard his response.

AFR: Well, in the context in which I heard it, they said that he responded basically by saying that you needed to be spanked or needed a spanking.

KEYES: [laughs]

No, actually, I have to be fair to him. The spanking statement had come before that comment--though I think it's pretty obvious that it's a, what would we say these days? An inappropriate remark. But we will leave that aside.

AFR: Yeah. Well, let's move on. There are several questions that need to be asked. I want to give our listeners an opportunity to join our conversation, so let's go ahead and open the phone lines now.

[call-in instructions]

AFR: Ambassador Keyes, I've heard in published reports that when Hillary Clinton ran for the Senate in New York, and basically moved there from out of state and was going to represent a state, that you criticized her for that. But now you who live in Maryland you are running for the Senate in Illinois. How would you respond to criticisms that what's good for the goose is not good for the gander? You know, you criticized Hillary, but now you're doing the same thing.

KEYES: I'm not doing the same thing.

AFR: And can you adequately represent the folks on the Great Lakes when you know perhaps more about the Bay in Baltimore?

KEYES: Well, I'm not doing the same thing. Hillary used New York as a tool of her ambition. She plotted and planned that move for a long time, chose the state, moved in to drum up support for herself, even used the influence of her position as First Lady, and so forth, to drum up that support because she had something she wanted. She made the state's interest subservient to her ambition.

The people here in the State of Illinois asked me to do this--I had no thought of doing this until they approached me about it--because they felt a strong need to have someone who was able to come in, articulate a position that would oppose somebody like Barack Obama, who, on every issue, particularly the issues of moral concern, stands against the great moral principles that this country is founded on.

So, we had a pure exercise of state sovereignty. It was in no way undermining the independent position of the people of the state. They saw a need. They thought I could fill the need. I came and examined the situation, and I thought I had a moral obligation not to let somebody who rejects the principles of the Declaration that were so important to Abraham Lincoln, just waltz into a seat in the United States Senate, representing the Land of Lincoln. I think that would be a betrayal, not only of the state, but of the great principles of our country.

And there are a lot of people here, by the way, and they constitute the strong base of support that has been mobilizing on behalf of my candidacy, who understand that being a representative is not just about geography. It's about heart, it's about values, it's about the kinds of things that you share with people across the geographic boundaries because they believe as you believe, and, at the end of the day, are part of a kingdom of both faith and values that needs to be reflected.

I far better represent the heat of the people of Illinois than somebody who's going to let babies die in hospitals in heinous ways, than somebody who's going to support abortion, than somebody who's going to support the destruction of marriage through gay marriage.

There are a lot of people in this state who think that that assault on the moral foundations of our country has to stop, and they've asked me to come in because I was already their campaigner.

AFR: One quick question, and please a quick answer from--question from Fred Jackson.

JACKSON: Ambassador Keyes, I'm reading a headline here, I guess from the Baltimore Times, that says, "Keyes gets praise from GOP but no money." The story goes on to quote Virginia Senator George Allen who is chairman of the Republican Senatorial Committee, which apparently is in charge of giving out money to Senate candidates. And he was less than confirming and positive when asked about if the party is putting money into your campaign there in Illinois. Can you tell us, are you getting money from the GOP?

KEYES: I think, as usual, the media stories are silly and biased. At this stage in the game, in a campaign like my own, the Senatorial committee would never commit itself, because I hadn't put my campaign together, and they haven't the faintest idea what traction I have. George Allen is a good friend of mine, and I'm sure that as the campaign develops, he is unlikely to leave me without support. But that's going to depend on my ability to put together a good effort, which I am concentrating on. And that's what we're going to do.

And people who would like to know more about the campaign can reach us at, K E Y E S 2 0 0 4 .com. It's a website that has my stands on various issues, they can learn about the face of the campaign and other things that have been going on in the state, and they can give their support if they want to see the standard that we, I think, a lot of us around the country hold in common, rallied in Illinois in such a way that a voice will be there in the Senate of the United States to speak for the moral causes that we know are vital to the survival of liberty in our country.

AFR: Let's go to our callers. Folks from Illinois are going to be put at the front of the line, for obvious reasons. Let's go to Kankakee, Illinois. And who's on? Dan is on the line. Dan, welcome to the program.

DAN: Hey, how're you doing? First of all, I'm sorry, Ambassador Keyes, I missed you at the parade. I would have loved to have seen you. Second of all, two years ago, the name was Jill Stanek. She was running for state senate. And that was the hospital abortion thing that she just had to walk away from.

I'm concerned a little bit about the reparations for slavery. How do you know--reading the history of the African slavery movement and all of that, particularly Barack Obama, his tribal history dates back to Kenya, British rule, and his particular tribe was quite profitable and successful during the slave trade, from what I'm reading.

How do you differentiate the people who were basically given the shaft, and how do you know the people who actually benefited, the tribal people in Africa who actually benefited, and then they moved here?

KEYES: I'm not sure why that would be an issue, though. Someone like Barack Obama wouldn't fall under the necessary rubric. He has no slave ancestry.


KEYES: And so, I often tell people we are of the same race, but we're not of the same ethnic group.

RON: Right.

KEYES: And I think it's very interesting, because it may be the first time Americans have focused on this fact.

AFR: The task would be the ability to demonstrate that you have that ancestry.

KEYES: And of course, it might lead--I have suggested to people that this could actually lead to an enormous surge of racial reconciliation as many Americans who didn't know they had them discover slave ancestors.

AFR: Dan, thanks for your call and for your question. We go next to Pearl, Mississippi. Steve, welcome to the program.

STEVE: Good morning. How're you all doing?

AFR: Doing well.

STEVE: Good. First of all, I want to say to Ambassador Keyes, I admire your determination and your stance. I don't know if I could stand being in the spotlight like you are. I admire your determination. Just hang in there.

KEYES: Thank you.

STEVE: The thing I want to ask is, with this situation in the war in Iraq with, you know, 1,000 people being killed now, just for the sake of argument, let's just say that if President Bush does not get reelected and John Kerry gets elected, what will happen then? Do you think the war will still go on? Do you think it will come to an end? What will happen with Iraq?

KEYES: Well, I think one of the main differences between G.W. Bush and John Kerry is that Bush is willing to fight the war against terror, and Kerry would be anxious to surrender in the war.

So, I think his primary agenda would be to find a way to, quote, "extricate" us from the war in Iraq, regardless of the cost--and that would be devastating for the future of the country.

What everybody suggests is that the war in Iraq is not a separate war. It is a front in the war against terrorism, a war we cannot afford to lose or mishandle.

And so, I have watched G.W. Bush, and he has made decisions that require courage, determination, persistence. He has done so not with the wisdom of hindsight, like Mr. Flip-flop, but with the necessary courage to base your decisions on the information you have, and do what is in the best interest of the American people in light of that information. And he stuck to his guns.

We need his leadership in that regard, or we will risk losing this war.

And losing the war, by the way, doesn't mean losing Iraq. It means losing lives in Chicago. It means losing lives in New York and Washington. We have to remember this. This is not a game. And the fact that we've had a lull in the terrorist activity is a tribute to the fact that we have reacted effectively. It is not a recommendation to falter in our determination to defend ourselves.

AFR: Steve, thanks for your call. Let's go next to Blytheville, Arkansas. Sean, welcome.

SEAN: Good morning.

AFR: Good morning.

SEAN: Dr. Keyes, my ancestry is of black descent. I have two grandmothers that were black slaves--great-grandmothers. And yet, I showed up just as blue-eyed and blond haired, looking like I come from Scandinavia. Now that I can prove my ancestry was black, and I'm all white, how am I going to qualify for this money you're giving away?

KEYES: No, no. See, but you have misunderstood.

Precisely the point of what I'm saying is that we have obsessed about race in this country for too long. Barack Obama and I are of the same race, but we're not of the same ethnic heritage. You and I are of different races, but we are of the same ethnic heritage, based on what you've said.

I also, by the way, have a grandmother on my father's side who would, as they say, have passed for white. This is not a question of color. It's a question of actual heritage, because the damage that we're talking about isn't a question of color. It's a question of actual heritage.

And that's one of the mistakes that has been made and perpetuated by the liberals that has introduced racial divisiveness where none was necessary. We were trying to address the material damage of a historical and real episode. We were not trying to play racial favorites. That's why they went down the quota road and all this other stuff they have done wrong. And I think that, by addressing the proper issue, we will not only do something to change the material situation, but as I said--I was quite serious a minute ago. It would actually contribute to racial reconciliation as people begin to think in real terms about what we're talking about.

AFR: Sean, thanks for your call. Let's go next to Wichita, Kansas. Denny, welcome to the program.

DENNY: Yes, sir. Glad to get through. I have just a couple of questions for you, Alan. Do you have a chance of winning in Illinois?

KEYES: Well, I think I stand a very good chance. The main reason being that I think that people who are committed on the issues of moral concern, once they rally, are the great majority in the State of Illinois--as they are elsewhere, by the way. It's why Christian people have such an enormous and special responsibility to mobilize.

A lot of what's going wrong in America has gone wrong because Christian believers have not acted according to their Christian conscience.

DENNY: Yeah, I agree.

KEYES: If we do, that alone turns the situation around. And so, I appeal to people to . . .

[break in audio]

DENNY: Against Mondale, I remember that the polls didn't look very good, and yet Reagan won overwhelmingly. I'm thinking that I've just got a feeling that that just might happen this time again. I think that Christians may have, some of them at least, may have learned their lesson and are going to get out and vote this year.

AFR: Let's let Ambassador Keyes comment quickly. We have one more caller I want to get to. Thanks for your call.

KEYES: I actually believe that that caller could be correct. But I think that the key difference is going to be whether or not Christian hearts mobilize. I think that the closeness of the last election had a lot to do with the fact that there was a big decline in the participation of people of Christian conscience in the election.

I think that that can be turned around now, not just because of the issues that are confronting us in other regards, but because we know now that the moral crisis is coming to a head. In the course of the next year or two, issues like marriage and what we're going to do about it could very well be decided for this country once and for all. And if we don't get busy, we're going to see the destruction of fundamental institutions and values.

AFR: We have about thirty seconds for a quick question from Ruth in Brandon, Mississippi. Has to be short, Ruth.

RUTH: OK. I had a question about the abortion issue. How realistic is it to impeach a judge that's been appointed, like Judge Hamilton in California, for the activist decisions he's made on partial birth abortion and things like that?

AFR: Let's let our guest comment. Thanks for your call, Ruth.

KEYES: Again, that depends. Realism in that regard depends entirely on who's sitting in your state legislature, who's sitting in your Congress. That's why I tell people continually that these elections are vital. We live with the results of them because if we don't put good people in there, then when we get to critical points where we could impeach judges who are going off the beam in terms of the Constitution, we don't have the votes because people didn't vote.

So, register to vote. Vote! Get involved. Move your conscience into your citizen vocation, and you will see a changed result for your country.

I think that's a form of love for this country. It's the best form of Christian love that we could show for America, to call it back to the moral values that reflect God's will. And I think that's what, as Christians, we need to do.

And I hope folks will visit my website,, K E Y E S 2 0 0 4 .com, to get further information about how we're trying to mobilize people in Illinois.

AFR: Ambassador Alan Keyes, thank you so much for spending time with us on the program today.

KEYES: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Terms of use

All content at, unless otherwise noted, is available for private use, and for good-faith sharing with others by way of links, e-mail, and printed copies.

Publishers and websites may obtain permission to re-publish content from the site, provided they contact us, and provided they are also willing to give appropriate attribution.