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Radio interview
Alan Keyes on Kresta in the Afternoon (Catholic radio)
September 9, 2004

AL KRESTA, HOST: Alan, nice to talk to you again.


KRESTA: I was surprised when you ended up deciding to run. What was the decision-making process? What happened?

KEYES: Well I was actually surprised at the whole thing.

KRESTA: [laughs]

KEYES: That the Republicans approached me was a surprise. My initial reaction, as I've often said, was negative--but I think in the conversations that I've had, they convinced me to take a look at Barack Obama, and the situation struck me as one, first, that they were making an authentic decision. They had looked over what they had available, and felt that it was inadequate to the challenge that was being posed, because the Democrats had built this guy up into a figure that, though it is fictional, nonetheless they were trying to create an aura of inevitability of his victory. And I think had succeeded in gulling a lot people around the country, including a lot of Republicans, into having an entirely false impression of who he was. They wanted something that would stop that momentum, I think, that would be bringing into the race a national base.

But most important to me was the fact that this is somebody who represents a complete rejection of the fundamental principles on which the country is founded, and on which Lincoln had made the basis for our understanding of what America is all about. And it's a travesty that somebody like this would waltz into the Senate unopposed.

KRESTA: Let me come back to this "complete rejection of the principles upon which this country is based." But before we go there, with regard to the charge of carpet bagging, what do you say?

KEYES: Well, it's not carpet bagging if they ask you, and they did.

KRESTA: [laughs]

KEYES: I mean, it's not as if I had some agenda of ambition, like Hillary Clinton or something, where I was trying to use the state for my purposes. Coming into Illinois had never occurred to me, to be quite honest about it. I have friends here, I have come into the state to help the pro-life movement, to help folks who are working on crisis pregnancy center work, the Illinois family people and things like this, because we have common interests and common issues--but aside from that work, which I do with people from all around the country, I'd never really given though to involving myself in any way in Illinois politics, beyond supporting good people who might run for office.

So the whole notion of it really came from the folks in the Illinois state party who approached me and essentially put me on the spot, saying that, "Look, you've said all this time that people have to be willing to lay themselves on the line, in order to promote the things that are critical to the country. We have a race here where those issues are at stake and we would like your help." And at that point, I felt I had a moral obligation both to consider it and finally to accept it, even though it's a difficult challenge and, everybody says, against the odds. But the closer I've looked at it, the less that appears to be true because the whole notion of Barack Obama as some kind of articulate moderate I think is a fiction.

KRESTA: Well, let's go there. You mentioned that Barack Obama represents a complete rejection of the principles upon which this country was founded. Can you be specific?

KEYES: Of course. Let's take the vote that really caught my attention and forced me to really sit down and say who is this person. He had voted in the Illinois state legislature on a bill called the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, and this is to address a situation that occurs here in the hospitals of Illinois where a child is born alive in the course of a botched abortion, where they've tried to kill the child and it hasn't succeeded, and the baby comes out of the womb alive. And Jill Stanek, a nurse who had been in this situation, reported it to the state legislature...

KRESTA: She was on this program, by the way...

KEYES: They were just taking the babies and putting them in the soiled linen closet or laying them aside to die. And this is not a case of abortion even. What you're really dealing with here is infanticide, where you have a child living and separate from the mother, able to live and breathe and survive on its own, where the question is, what are you going to do for this child? Are you going to do what you would do for any other baby or not? And what they decide is, not. The rationale seems to be, well, since the mother wanted it dead, she'll have it dead.

And that, in and of itself, is a gross violation of the most fundamental principle, in an area where, unlike the child in the womb, I don't think anybody can even pretend that there's a dispute of any kind about the fact that this is a life as much entitled to respect as yours or mine, and yet they are kind of casually tossing it away like garbage.

She went to the state legislature. They had a bill that actually got bipartisan support to stop this practice. Such a bill had been introduced into the U.S. Senate and got 98 to 0 support, from even hardcore pro-abortion people--and Barack Obama has voted against this bill not once, not twice, but three times in various forms.

KRESTA: What does he claim is his justification for this?

KEYES: His justification is that it doesn't contain language about the health of the mother.

KRESTA: But the child is born!

KEYES: Of course!

That's the whole point! What has this [health exception] got to do with it?

KRESTA: My word!

KEYES: It is really obviously the most implausible excuse, to adopt this hard-hearted attitude, you could imagine. I looked at that and I said this is not possible. That is a blatant rejection of the simple premise that we're all created equal and entitled to respect for our basic rights, in a situation where you cannot dispute the humanity of that baby.

That's what they try to do when we're dealing with abortion in the womb, but in this case nobody would try to dispute it, and yet they're saying now that as an extension of the abortion thing, we should start killing these infants.

That clearly, it seems to me, crosses the line completely, and puts us in the position where, you get a majority on your side, you could aim that murderous principle at any group you wanted, so long as you've got enough people lined up to support you. And frankly I've been fighting against this all my life, for obvious reasons.

KRESTA: Sure. So Barack Obama rejects the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. What else does he do by rejecting the principles upon which this nation was founded?

KEYES: We are in a situation now, obviously, where the crisis of the family is coming to a head. The issue of whether traditional marriage is going to survive is now on the table. It will probably be decided one way or another over the next couple of years.

This is somebody who declares himself to be 100% for the gay rights agenda, then, when he's talking in the black churches in Chicago, where obviously people feel strongly about traditional marriage, he'll say, well, marriage is a religious institution, and he'll imply somehow that this means that you shouldn't have gay marriage, but then he will vote against everything that needs to be done to defend the family. The Defense of Marriage Act, the Federal Marriage Amendment--he has even stated publicly that he will work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

So, he's not only talking out of both sides of his mouth, but he is in fact revealing the true agenda that he has, which is to cooperate with the forces that are destroying marriage.

I obviously believe that this is one of those issues [dealing with] the fundamental principle that's involved in the Declaration, because, after all, if we're all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, the statement means nothing if there is no Creator and if we don't have to respect His authority. So when you are looking at an issue like marriage and you are saying we must act as if there is no Creator and as if His Will did not shape the character of the family, we are rejecting the premise of our fundamental principle, which is that He does exist and that His Authority means something.

KRESTA: Whatever happens in the Senate election, the outcome will send only the sixth black senator in U.S. history. Is that significant?

KEYES: Actually, the only thing that I think is significant is that because we are both of the same race people are forced to look beyond race.

KRESTA: Mmm-hmm.

KEYES: And one of the things that's been noticed, for instance, is that--just as among white folks--there are different ethnicities in the black community. Barack Obama and I are of the same race but we are not of the same ethnic background. He is literally an African American, no hyphen. I am a black American. I look back to the slave heritage. He does not.

And that has come out on various issues, mainly because of my own background and thinking, but I think that it tends to wake people up to the complexity and diversity of the black community--and I think that's very healthy. It also, of course, is going to be something that puts before the black community a choice that can no longer be made in some way that's biased by a racial argument. People just have to look at the folks involved and decide what they really believe.

KRESTA: On the other side of the break, Alan, I want to ask you about reparations. A lot of people, a lot of conservatives are surprised that you believe in some sort of reparations policy, and I want to find out what you mean by that.

My guest, Alan Keyes, has been drafted to run against Barack Obama for one of the U.S. Senate seats in Illinois. We're going to continue the conversation.


KRESTA: I want to ask you about reparations. I think in the past when asked about reparations you've said, well, we've had reparations, it was called the Civil War and blood was shed. Have you changed your position?

KEYES: Well, no, actually I have written articles and talked about this before, and have always made the same point.

I don't think there can in fact be reparations for the injustice that was done in slavery. I think Lincoln was right, that the judgment about that was in fact involved in the Civil War, his famous second inaugural address that is so beautiful, regarding that the "judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." He presented the Civil War as, in essence, a judgment from God about the evil of slavery. And I think that's correct.

The issue that's involved in true reparations--and when I have written about this, I've put the liberal proposals in quotes because I think what they were doing was a form of extortion, just trying to go to court to get some money out of people's pockets so they could put it in something they controlled, and so forth, and pretend that this was going to be requital for injustice, when in fact injustice can't be requited in that way, by one generation trying to do something about a sin committed by a previous one, when in point of fact that sin has already been requited by the previous generation.

But there was material damage done by slavery--material damage to folks who were at that time enslaved, material damage done that has been passed on as a legacy to their descendants--and that really has never been disputed in American history. Forty acres and a mule, all the way through affirmative action and the Great Society program--all were justified on the basis of this argument, that there is a legacy of material damage that had to be addressed.

KRESTA: Mmm-hmmm. That's right. We have to level the playing field...

KEYES: Yes, all that.

And yet, when you look at what was actually done--especially these government-dominated programs with the welfare and dependency and all that--they made matters worse. The effort that was made under those programs in this socialist fashion, as I and others have argued repeatedly, has actually produced more devastation in the community that was supposed to be benefited by it than--I argued this in my book Masters of the Dream--more devastation than slavery itself. And this is horrific in terms of the family structure, in terms of what has happened to the upbringing of children, in terms of the destruction of the moral foundations of the community.

KRESTA: What do you propose, then?

KEYES: What I have proposed is something that--in the old Roman Empire, when a community has been damaged, either by the fault or neglect of the state, they would remit tribute for a certain period of years so that you didn't have to support the government of the empire through your tribute, and that would give the community time to recover. This is what should have been done all along. You basically look at folks who have been damaged and say, look, we'll relieve you of the burden of paying for the public weal at the national level while you are working to repair the damage that has been done, and that way you're not taking money out of somebody else's pocket, you're giving people a chance to improve their life, but they can only take advantage of that chance if they are working, if they are willing to prepare themselves to invest and do the things that are necessary in order that this would mean something--right?--in terms of the advantage.

The advantage would be that for those who are working, obviously that's going to mean control of some extra income. For those who are even wealthy, it's going to mean they become factors of wealth who can invest, establish financial institutions, do other things that the community needs with less of a burden on the profitability of their enterprises.

Enterprises owned by black folks, without set-aside programs and bureaucracy, would become attractive for investment by other people because there you'd have a better chance of a profit margin because you didn't have the added burden of the tax. And for people who are too poor right now to pay taxes, they would become an attractive labor pool, where, instead of having to pay the gross, you pay the net, and get them to do the same work because you don't have to pay the government that difference.

This would be a program that would energize the community, and it has another benefit for me. I think it would become a demonstration project for what I believe needs to be done for the whole country, which is to get rid of the income tax.

KRESTA: Well, hold on, we'll come to that and a national sales tax in just a minute here. But I want to make sure that I understand. What is the social benefit of giving income tax freedoms to Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, or Oprah Winfrey?

KEYES: Well that's what I call factors of wealth. We forget that if you haven't had a chance in the course of your life to earn from your labor and talent, to accumulate wealth, to pass it on to a new generation, then you don't become people who can establish banks, you don't have within your community the factors of wealth creation and promotion that naturally exists in communities where people can make money, save it, and invest it over time. And this is one of the great disadvantages of the centuries of slavery and so forth. So I don't think we should begrudge a period of time during which the natural factors of wealth in the black American community would see it to their advantage to reinvest in the community and to create those institutions, which I think are sadly lacking, that then allow the community as a whole to be more competitive in the economic structure.

KRESTA: It's widely reported that you'd like to see the income tax replaced by a national sales tax. Is that true?

KEYES: Yes, that's absolutely true.

KRESTA: How does one get from here to there?

KEYES: Well, actually, you simply repeal the 16th Amendment, return to the original Constitution of the United States and to the system of taxation that the Founders intended us to have at the federal level. That's a system where the government doesn't get control of your dollars until after you've decided what to do with it. You decide to spend it, to save it, to invest it, and only then, as the dollar operates in the marketplace, does the government take its share--because obviously government has to be funded. But that means also the cost of government doing business will be built into the cost of the goods. It won't be hidden away, as it is now, in a debilitating form that drains from the economy productivity and energy. Instead, it will be visible and when they're overtaxing us, we'll be able to see the impact, know exactly where it comes from, and know who to blame and what to do to relieve it, the same way we do when somebody overcharges for goods.

KRESTA: Where do you begin? What percentage is the national sales tax?

KEYES: Well, I think that is going to be a matter of choice. People always ask that as if you could do it in the abstract, and you couldn't, because it's going to depend on the size and dynamism of the economy at the time that you are actually putting in place the national sales tax. The amount of money you need to generate to fund the government is going to be a reflection of the amount of transactions that are going on in the economy. That's going to depend on the health of the economy at the time.

The usual speculations are somewhere between 15 and 20% to replace, completely, what's now paid in income tax--and remember, though, that would be the rate of taxation. The incidence of taxation would be entirely under the control of individuals because of being taxed "will-you, nill-you," you will be taxed depending on your pattern of spending. And so if you feel like . . . [tape interrupted] . . . you can actually give yourself a tax cut any time you want to, instead of waiting for some politician to decide that he'll do it so he can farm your vote.

KRESTA: Does an outspoken Catholic like yourself have any advantage in Chicago, electorally speaking?

KEYES: I don't know. I think that remains to be tested. I would think and hope that on the issues of great moral concern, which I think are going to be so fundamental to this election, yes, it's going to be an advantage because people of Catholic conscience--not only Catholic conscience, people of Christian conscience--I don't see how they could vote for Barack Obama.

I have said this publicly, and of course nobody understands--"Oh, how can you say that?"--and I'm thinking, any Christian person would say that. That's our standard.

KRESTA: Christ wouldn't vote for Barack Obama.

KEYES: He would not.

KRESTA: Right. OK.

KEYES: There's no possible way. And that's a simple matter of logic.

KRESTA: Alan, we've got about thirty seconds. That's all we've got, about thirty seconds.

KEYES: Oh, I just want to give, before we go, my website, And on any and all of these issues they'll be able to follow up, get information, can make a contribution, can find out what I'm doing, read speeches that I've given. They're live streaming some video, they're recording and streaming others so people can get a full taste of what I'm saying and doing and can also decide whether they want to help.

KRESTA: Alan, great talking with you. Thank you so much.

KEYES: My pleasure.

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