tv [untitled] CSPAN June 7, 2009 2:00pm-2:30pm EDT
there were only 100 of us so i did know him. he did know me. only six women. and every single guy became draft eligible the day we graduated from law school, and so they spent two years in anxiety trying to understand what they were going to do, where were they going to go, were they going to be drafted, going to vietnam, were they going to resist or do legal services for the poor, practice for the rich so there was a tumultuous time inside the law school. i never practiced law. i was an activist for the national lawyers guild and students for the democratic society but i did law and i continue to do law and teach law even though i didn't practice law. >> host: as a leader of the weather underground you sent or wrote many of the communiques that were sent out, and in this book, sing a battle song, one of
the communiques was from december 6, 1970, new morning. what was the impact and importance of new moring? >> guest: new morning we wrote from being fugitives from the underground, so to speak. as a cautionary tale, really, to try to draw activists back from what we saw as a possible role into terrorism, and to engage in symbolic actions, to resist the government primarily by words and by actions that would be understood by everybody, to be engaged in an educational and teach-in kind of way, and to encourage mass activity and popular activity and local organizing. so we were trying to remedy some of our worst mistakes from a rhetorical point of view where
the government and us escalated and we were trying to speak about the tragedy of the towns where friends were killed, killed themselves, and to pull back from the brink. so new morning got published in "the new york times," it was our attempt to speak out broadly to the movement and say, really, we need one integrated, connected, social movement for justice and peace. >> host: you say you were trying to pull back. it was after that you planned it the bomb inside the capitol and the pentagon. >> guest: well, i didn't but the organization took credit for it. yes. pulled back because those were symbolic actions. those were designed to be in the middle of the night to be understood around the world, which they were instantly. they didn't need a communique to say what or why, and to hurt no one. so, i'm not going to defend them and some levels in today's world it's indefensible but they were
not terrorist actions. >> and finally, before we go back to your called and your questions, what do you do today? what is your day job? >> guest: i teach at northwestern law school. there's an irony. i had the great benefit of teaching human rights and children's rights law there now for almost 18 years. i direct the children and family justice center, which is an organization, a clinical program there, so law students and social work students work with our lawyers, we have a team of lawyers who represent kids in court every day. kids charged with crimes, pushed out of school, around zero tolerance policies and immigrant kids seeking asylum. >> host: what's your relationship to bill ayers? >> guest: i ran into them 30 years ago and he is my best friend and i adore him.
he make me laugh. >> is it fair to say he is your husband? >> guest: don't go that far. >> guest: it's fair to say we're married. >> host: okay, bill ayers and bernadine dohrn, our guests on in-depth. sean, in vancouver, washington, go ahead with you question. >> your book, the power elite have never seemed so purl and full of themselves, we have risk san tellly calling for the tea parties. melanie cline said something like the bush administration tried to privatize schools and privatize social security and having failed to do so just up and privatized the treasury itself using the t.a.r.p. program. so it's kind of a bleak time. i don't mean to be a downer but i was wondering if you could comment at all on -- there's that famous line about propaganda, that the mark of
successful prom began days when you can convince the people their own destruction is entertainment of the highest order. i'm hitting on tom franks' work when you turn a class conscious prolit tearat where people act against their own self-interest. can you elaborate on that? >> guest: i will start for one minute. he said very eloquently everything i agree with. over the last 25-30 year since reagan, we have hat the agreedest wealth tran fer of any period of any country in human history. the three-quarters of the wealth has gone to the top 10% of the u.s. population and it's a remarkable theft and we were alive during it. i think the level of poverty in the richest country in human history surprises our closest friends and allies.
we have one out of five children being born into poverty in the united states today, and of course none of the dat da is equal. much of the population has suffered more from the theft and it's one of three for african-americans. and many people transcend being born into poverty but in the richest country how can we tolerate that? so 57% of our u.s. budget is the military and disinvested in schools, health care, you know, safety communities, transport that makes sense and saving the planet. the good news is, i think, from your call, that the american people, the vast majority of the american people reject a continuation of that, and really said, my interests lie even though it involves voting for a candidate i couldn't have
imagined voting for just a few years ago, it -- re need to throw the bums out from the bush administration. >> host: anything to add? >> guest: i say it's boast the best of times and the worst of times to quote a famous novel. but the fact is, it is a very bleak time, and all the reverends you made and the elaboration that bernadine gave is true. the last point is worth underlining. we saw the rejection of that by the electorate. we saw a rejection of the politics of 9/11. the politics of fear and loathing and endless war, paranoia and scapegoating, and an embrace of the notion of, yes, we can. the question is, yes, we can what? and that depends on us. the idea we're living only in a bleak time would be wrong. this is a time of rising
expectations, of imaginative horizons open and crisis that are real, not just financial but economic and not just economic but the global -- it's a global environmental crisis that's catastrophic and it's upon us. the role of the united states in the world continuing militarism. it's upon us. so it's an amazing moment to be alive and a hopeful, exciting moment to be alive because we need to find a way to negotiate through the bleakness and the brightness of this important moment in history. >> host: bernadine dohrn in race course against white supremacy, there's a chapter called the modern slaveship and you walk through visiting chases mother -- biological mother in prison. the boys grew up visiting prisons, chase was an expert pro, recognizable and treated affectionately by the most miserable of prison guards. he talk malik the ropes.
don't bring anything that is contraband. empty your pockets, take off your shoes, don't get annoyed. be prepared to wait. why do you have a chapter about visiting prisons in this book called race course? >> guest: well, there's almost no example that is more clearcut about why we still have a problem with racism and the structures of white supremacy in the united states than the prison gulag we can no longer sustain. 2.3 million of our sisters and brothers incarcerated overwhelmingly for nonviolent offenses no evidence whatsoever that this kind of caging of young black and latino men makes us safer. really no evidence. and all kinds of other ways to sanction law-breaking. and to happen people recover
from the worst think they ever did. no other country does what we do, and as every governor can now testify, we can't sustain this. what it costs to look people up, costs to have them come back out with no skills, no prospects for housing no prospects for jobs, no prospects to vote, really stripped of their opportunity to recover from whatever happened, it's just a failing system. front end, back end, and from the public's point of view. so governors are trying to close prison and the small towns and prison guard jobs make us -- long-ed into a system where people had an interest in perpetuating it, even though if you step back you say this can't be. we have to get rid of it. so, when you go in -- and our kids -- the fact we had this odd family where we visited prisons,
it's not that odd if you had 2.2 million people in prison, then that means at any given day you have eight, ten million kids, of people who are incarcerated and a much larger number of people who are relatives and family and friends. so a huge sector of the american population, half a million people a year coming out of prison. half a million people a year. and i don't know how many of your audience has been in a prison recently but if you haven't been, you should be. we're never more than ten mimes airplane from a massive prison because that's what we have built in this country. so i think it's both an example of racial discrimination for the same offense with the same background and the same record can blacks and whites are treated differently, and you can document it in the justice. every stage. it's like we have two systems of justice, so, i think that's why i wrote about it but our family
has this, as you shrine, the odd history of the kids thinking it was -- you go up visiting prisons, and trying to have a conversation in a visiting room where everybody is crying and shouting and holding hands and there's nothing to do but go put quarters in a machine and eat junk food. >> host: washington times had this editorial. it's about both of your recent books. his new book, their new book, publishedly third world press is race course against white supremacy. the publishers description on amazon.com summarizes the thesis that white supremacy has been the dominant political system in the u.s. since its earliest days and it is still very much with us. even though mr. obama enjoys approval ratings around 60%, mr. ayers insists that racism it the dominant cultural factor in america today.
it's very hard not to drag the chains of that history into the present he said last week to though washington times. his goal seems to be to keep america's minorities angry which keeps america divided. >> guest: no goal to keep anybody angry but i think we should be angry about the reality that bernadine described. we have something like 5 million americans who have lost their citizenship because of felony convictions. can't vote. that's odd if you think about it. i think some day we will reject that notion that because you're convicted of a felony you can't vote. the number of african-american men who were disenfranchised in florida would have made the difference in the 2000 election. so disenfranchisement is a serious problem and it's race related. if you look at capital punishment and the death machine. troy davison in georgia is facing imminent death for a crime that is very doubtful he
committed, and again, the rest of the world looks at us and says, really? this is civilization? this is a high form of democracy? and the death penalty is race-based, it's race correlated. you can actually take a map of lynchings all over the united states at the tunnel of the last century and overlay it with deaths today and they correlate closely. so we shouldn't fool ourselves and blind ourselves to the reality of what we're looking at. that's not an attempt to make anybody angry except angry at injustice. similarly with the schools which it what i write about. the fact is that as i said earlier we have in chicago and illinois some systems that fund very generously for kids. we have some systems that starve the kids. and those can be correlated along racial lines. that's not any attempt to stir up a fantasy. that's an attempt to shine a
light on something real. >> guest: and to get white people to do something. we wrote this book to say this issue of inequality in the search for kind of unity and longing for unity has animated us now for 40 years, and i feel like the, of racism is not an issue for black people or latino people or arab people alone. it's our -- we have to own the issue. the people who have benefited or have allowed ourselves to not have to look at inequality. so i give you just the most -- to me the most obvious and silly example is this response by newt gingrich and company to the nomination of judge sotomayor. he thinks somehow that 200 years of having white male judges means that it's been without gender and without race?
apparently. apparently the fact that she mentions the fact he some is a latino woman means she is a racist but he is not a racist for the silence about being a white man. it's a double-standard and i think women recognize it, peek of color recognize it but that's the effort to stir the pot and divide. >> host: melanie in pullman, washington, go ahead. >> caller: to talk about corporate greed and what happened during katrina. i studied state farm for four years, eight to nine hours a day, reading court documents, absolutely blown away by what i was finding out. so i blog all the insurance journal. i wrote the untouchables, and it's heartbreaking to me to find out that we can have the worst thing happen in this country and in the courts, our judges, the insurance industries, it really
doesn't matter. they raped these poor people and nobody cares. and i'm sorry i'm -- i'm not sorry i'm upset. i am shocked. i'm sickened by it. i have culled over 800 numbers to try to get them to write the untouchables. nobody would do it. i talked to a reporter at the sun herald in mississippi. anita lee. she knows what is going on with storm farm and nobody cares. they can fill up records in the courts it's okay. now they're telling people we're moving because we had to pay you so much movement i'm thinking where are the real reporters in the world? i did a story about darfur and i was shocked the amount of people in this country that don't even know what that means. people starving to death. >> host: caller, let's leave it there, and which one of you would like to answer?
>> guest: you go ahead. >> guest: i mean, some of the injustices you speak to are certainly things on my mind as well, and what to do. i mean, my response always comes back to, the need for all of us, all of us in this room, all of news this country to open our eyes to not abide the idea that everything is going swimmingly and all we have to do is be passive and let it happen. we have to open our eyes and act and then question offers and won did he wonder if what we have done is effective and then act again. >> host: we have a question here in the audience. >> host: my name is eric and i'm from cleveland, ohio. i'm asking the questions on behalf of those of us in the viewing audience who are scientists or have a strong scientific and mathematics background but not so much in education. who are nearing retirement age
and i would like your thoughts about -- we're not ready to just wrap it up and go sailing into the sunset. whatting are your thoughts about various ways that we can make a difference out there? >> guest: well, i think that's such an important question because it speaks 0 for so many and not just a math and science question. it's a question -- i mentioned i'm 65. we're getting getting into our e 60s. in fact i realized we had -- my mother-in-law lived with us for several years and peace -- passed away in my home and my dad lived with souse we had eight years of elder care, and i said we are so got at this, we need to have some old people move in and she said, you're already here. [laughter] >> guest: but i think it's true. i think our generation has a lot of energy and a lot yet to give
and that's been true throughout history that older people have wisdom, have gifts, talents and energy that needs to be shared. the fact that you mentioned math and signs in particular speaks to a screaming need, for example in the chicago public schools. so, i think that we ought to be individually what we can be doing is looking for ngos, not for profits, building organizations, part of a group called art 109. a movement reimagining change and we're always looking for folks who have energy to give and so on. what we try to do in that group is find ways to talk across issues, to really define an agenda for social change, particularly in terms of math and science and your specific situation, i think that we ought to -- you ought to be looking at the chicago public schools, other urban systems, and saying, i want to make a difference. i want to volunteer.
i i'm willing to come down to my neighborhood school and start an afterschool science club. i'm willing to come down and give my effort to that. kids need it. kids are always in need and the beautiful thing about teaching there's always kids and families who recognize your effort for what it is. you don't get famous or rich being a teacher but you get great satisfaction. so, go to the schools. >> host: david in new york city. bernadine dohrn and bill aers are our guests. please go ahead. >> caller: this is david in new york. i was i think a contemporary of dr. ayers at teachers college columbia and we may have that the same professors but i'm not going to bore him with who they are. the comment -- my main comment and then two quick things. is in the early part of the program, the first half hour of dr. ayers you put down the
press, and you made it into a monolith, it seems to me, or maybe i was inferring the wrong -- your wrong interpretation of your comment. but it isn't a monolith, and standardized tests can be very good predictors. they don't tell you why a person has scored high or low, but they are good predictors like the s.a.t., the gre, the various iq tests and mechanical tests, et cetera, so i think you're trying to blame the messenger for the message. a more substantial comment is, the real problem with the public schools -- and i went to a public school -- until graduate school -- is the teachers. the teachers were lousy when i
went there, and i got a pretty good education, and then when i got into college, i learned what real teaching is. and moynihan, senator dan all patrickman moynihan of number, spoke about the dysfunctional family during his tenure at the nixon administration, and he was roundly -- you economy, insulted for it, and it's gotten worse. it's gotten much worse since the late 60ss and i think that's the problem is the family, the difference funkal family. the -- the dysfunctional family the mother with no man around and five kids. >> host: david, leave it on those two points. thank you very much. bernadine dohrn, his second point was about the family, and
your center at northwestern is called? >> guest: children and family justice. yes. children need families, and they need families that are strong and sustained and consistent and where the adults have a life of both work and art and intellectual challenge that is good. i don't think every family need as man but every family needs more than one person. you need a team of people, obviously to raise a single child, and you need a massive effort to invest in our common future, our children. i think one of the things that has kept us paralyzed in the last 30 years has been, you know, teachers blaming parents, and parents blaming teachers. and everybody blaming the kids.
so, i'm wary not because we don't have problems with the family. we do. but we enterand we have problems with teachers and problems with our kids. i don't think it helps us to point fingers in a system like this. every country that is an industrialized country, every country in the world, has building blocks that support families in the raising of children. and to me that family can have many different compositions. it can be two women and children, to men and children, to women two men no children. it conclude any combination. extended family, grandparents, sisters, aunts raising kids. those are family units in my mind. i think -- but every other country does a couple of things. universal health care. that's huge in the raising of kids. as everybody knows. not just children's health but adult health that are raising
the kids. universal halve care. paid parental leave. universal day care. child care. so you have options. you don't have to use it but you have options. and paid family payments for the task of raising the next generation. those are building blocks that would transform every single family in america's lives instantly and we have the wealth to do it. it's much more cost effective than doing it at the back end the way we're doing it now. so, yes, strong families. don't think that african-american family what what wrong with moynihan's accusations seems to be m to be still wrong. we always joke -- close your eyes for a minute and remember your last family funeral or wedding or graduation? dysfunctional family? yes. all of us would nod our heads.
every family here has dysfunction, divorce, death and separation and illness. every family here has drug addiction in the family. every family has school failure in your extended family. so let's get real and not stigmatize one group. the ones who are fine have resources that allow you to go through the crisises and have your kids say -- have a measure offsetable and that's what we want for all kids. >> host: nancy in connecticut. go ahead. nancy? >> caller: i'm 65 and i also protested against the vietnam war, and the iraq war but i have a comment and a question regarding what i believe is a hidden alternative to the draft. scott withers, a former weapons inspokor for the u.n. said the united states was becoming a
military culture so i always won decide if this no child left behind was a strategy to deliberately cause more students to fail so that their only job option would be to join the military? we have army and marine recruiters that go to high school and show videos of actual combat and those virtual reality war games that he candidates play in order to entice them to join the military. so my question is, am i that far off base to suspect a link between our pentagon and a government plan to funnel more failed students into the military. >> host: at the very much in fact in race course, monday dohrn and mr. ayers discuss the issue of the militarization -- what the call the militarization of u.s. schools. if you would like to respond to her comments. >> guest: well, i think -- i'm going link her comments with one that came before her. i think that we need universal service but it doesn't have to be all military. it accountant only a military
option. we need universal service, and to go to another question, we should have it a couple of times in our life so at 18, and at 30 or 40 and then at 6 0. >> guest: every ten years. >> guest: every 20 years. the fact is that giving, taking a year out and doing something that is a range of actions about how to be productive in this society, whether it's green retrofitting of houses or creating of green jobs or doing transportation that works or making bicycles for everybody, whatever it is, i think that we have a huge amount of work to do. much of it is in the human relations, taking care of elderly, taking care of people with disable, taking care of children. i think we should do this regularly. it would be good for everybody, and so not having only the military as a way of showing our ferv