tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN June 17, 2016 11:00am-1:01pm EDT
which he would place women. not the children, but as the third category, which is a citizen. he used the woman as an example of a citizen in the family. because she was under the authority of the husband. but the relationship was more of a relationship of mutuality, as opposed to a type of dictatorship. the children were in a situation of oo a benevolent despotism.
people exist as citizens, they exist as subjects of benevolent dictators and then he looks at the third category which is the slave that has no rights or authority in their own lives. they're simply dictated. it's a type of dictatorship that they're under. in our culture, we in many ways reflect what epstein calls congruence theory. because one of the things that strikes many immigrants that come to this country, particularly friends of mine that have come from the muslim world. they're always struck by the idea of giving children a lot of choices. for instance, i have arab friends, that cannot believe that american parents will ask their children what they want for dinner.
in many, many culture, the children are subjects. they simply get dinner and they have to eat it here as, here, what would you like would you like for dinner, dear. interestingly enough, according to epstein and congruence theory, that is necessary for a democracy to thrive and survive. why? because what he says is that governments will only work to the degree with which the system of government permeates the social institutions of the society. if you had dictatorships, you need dictatorial parents, if you have dictatorships, you need dictatorial doctors. you go to a doctor, you're not going to have a conversation with him about what you think the best approach to the problem is because you've googled it. it's not going to happen in a lot of places in the world, they're going to get upset about it.
and the same with a teachers, i have a friend, i'll veil the country with charity, but he was in a muslim country and he told me when he was a young boy. the teacher was telling him the pig is haram and he raised his hand and why is the pig haram. the teacher asked him to put out his hand and he whacked him. and he told me he learned never to ask a question from that day forward. that is -- that makes perfect sense according to epstein for a society to have a dictatorship or a tyrannical government. you have to replicate that behavior in all the social institutions so that the people in turn, internalize these ways of being. if you want to see one of the most extraordinary talks you'll ever see, i would watch james
baldwin's debate with william buckley. at, at the oxford union. one of the things james baldwin says is very early on, a black child learns what it means to be black in america. but he says what also happens is that white people learn what it means to be white in america. that a lot of us are unaware of how we internalize social systems that dictate to us ways of being. and what he argues in that debate and why it's so important is that white people are as much of a victim of racism and black people are. he got the longest-standing
ovation after that address. so epstein's argument is very relevant to our situation now in the muslim world. which has social institutions that are unfortunately very tyrannical. people unfortunately associate that with islam. and think somehow this must be islam. because they're all muslims and all those governments are horrible. they tend to forget that for instance in west africa senegal is a democratic government. senegal is an incredibly liberal society with their religious conservatism. a wonderfully functioning society, just recently they refused a visa from egypt because the shaq al hazar gave a stamp of approval for the cc coup and they said we're a democratic society and we don't want a religious leader that
sanctioned a coup because it threatens the security of our government. so there's an example of a muslim state that's democratic but doesn't focus as a despotic state, but they don't know about it. malaysia is another example of an incredibly multicultural society that has islam as the religion, despite the fact it has hindus, it has buddhists, it has the orang osley, the original aboriginal people who live in the jungle. they're in malaysia this is a multicultural society. or turkey, despite the
tensions going on right now. turkey has been a decsociety for long time. iran --. there are certain things in their constitution that would cause people pause. but lest we forget, iran today compared to the american experience 200 years ago is an extremely progressive society. and soy think one of the things that we tend do do as americans is project on the world our view of the world. when we were christian we had a civilizing enterprise of process prosletyzing. we have the american university in beirut and protestants opened their centers. now that we're a capitalistic society, we go around with liberal democracy as the idea that we want to convert everybody to this.
very often we fail, i think because of our ethnotricity. they were are the ways that they view the world. many women in the eastern province of saudi arabia do not want to be liberated from the hijab. there are people in critical theory would say that's double consciousness. we need to liberate them from their backward thinking. this is the type of patronizing attitude that a lot of people in the west have about our people. we have to recreate the world in our own image. i was just in japan and i was stunned at the incredible deference that japanese culture has to foreigners and to other people. i was in tokyo walking around the city for five days, i did not hear a horn honk once.
and when i asked one of the japanese, don't people use horns here. he said no, it's considered very rude. man, i wish we would learn about that in san francisco. right? because i have, i have what they call a vasovagal response for the doctors in the room. i go through the roof if somebody honks the horn. my kidneys go through the roof. so i appreciated the quietness. and everybody was so, like i held an elevator for people on a few occasions and they run and say so sorry to keep you waiting you know and they're like bowing, i'm like wow. what happens when you do something for them. a wonderful culture that i think has retained some of the beautiful things of traditional society. and in many ways we in the west
has lost some of those things because of the negative aspects. the muslim world is profoundly theo-centric. we have words like good-bye which used to mean god be with you. we don't really have the type of words in our culture that are informed from a religious perspective. my father constantly used godspeed. whenever he would say good-bye. because that was something that was said when he was a young man in this country. godspeed, go with god. the arabs or muslims say go with god. one of the things that's interesting about, we called this rocket the challenger. muslims will never do that. i mean calling a rocket the challenger? is for a muslim, insanity. they write things like, may god be with us.
when you get on an airplane, it says -- they put god's name and asking for a safe journey. not like challenger, like who are you challenging? because so the muslim world is profoundly theo-centric. and islam must still being part of the solution for any of the problems facing the slam work. in now foreseeable future can islam be relegated than it has in europe. to a large extent to the united states as well. islam is still center to the islam ethos.
for that reenz -- reason high teacher -- and it took five years to get to marrakech. people think these things happen overnight. it began with a meeting five years ago. about citizenship. and the reason that he did this was he was so troubled about the debates about jizia. those who don't no about the islamic tradition, jizzia that idea that we -- in a muslim majority state or a state being ruled by muslims, non-muslims go under a status. it's the grist of a lot of islamphobic websites out there. i saw a bumper sticker a few weeks ago that said [ speaking foreign language ] in arabic, i'm a disbeliever and proud. which is again a kind of in your
face statement about how, people think muslims view the other. one in english we have other and brother, but in arabic you have other and brother. in arabic you have brother and other. in arabic, you say achar, which is other. and the word brother is ach, embedded in the word other. i think that's a very interesting thing. we have to see the brother in other, but we also have to recognize the other in brother. this is something a lot of people have a difficult time doing. he had a series of meetings to talk about the problem of the ninth chapter, the last chapter revealed in the koran.
the idea that those who disbelieve in god and his messenger, that they have, pay a jizia. it says [ foreign language ] until they pay a tribute with their hands and their. [ foreign word [. there's a lot of debate about what that means. some say it means humble. some say it means humiliated. you will find debates about this. the sheikh looked at our tradition and he said that the first relationship that the prophet had with the other in medina was full enfranchisement. the jewish community. in some ways it's the first written constitution, even though the athenian, even the spartans, they had constitutions, but they were not written. this is case where a prophet had a constitution written down and
in it the jews are given full enfranchisement in the state to practice their religion and to have mutual defense. they're entitled to their religious and have their own religious courts. it was a full enfranchisement, they were not seen as less than muslims in that state. most muslims think this was abrogated. but fred donner shows in his book on islam, mohammed and the believers that there were jews on until the ninth century. even the most famous biography says that omar expelled the jus from medina that did not have the medina charter. it was maintained even after the the prophet's death. which means it was not abrogated.
what the sheik argued in the marrakech declaration and the essay he wrote to substantiate it, as a jurist, he argues that citizenship is an islamic concept and the prophet muhammad did enfranchise the jews and this should be the model for muslim states today. the oic acknowledged this. two points and i'll finish. the ottomans already booabolish jizzia in the 1930's. and they did it with the scholars at that time, it was agreed upon that this was no longer an appropriate relationship to have with minority communities in the muslim state. this is all sheik abdullah is trying to do, substantiate within our tradition the normative practice of
citizenship in the modern world. it makes the most sense. why do you have to go back 1,400 years? because muslims believe that islam is a revelation. if you do not convince them from their revelation, many of them will not accept the un charter. it's as simple as that. they'll just say we're not obliged to follow it. isis is a good example now of people that are reviving medieval attitudes -- in some way i take offense of calling it medieval because i've spent a good deal of my life reading medieval writers and i'm struck how enlightened they were. when we talk about dead white men, most of them spent a good time of their lives in jail. many were killed by the state. we tend to forget about that. the only good indian is a dead
indian. that power structures tend to incorporate their dissidents after they're dead because they're not a threat to the power structures anymore. i have a defense for dead white men, because i think a lot of them had a lot of interesting things to say. i don't think they were all white, either st. augustine was from north africa lest we forget. if you do not substantiate this in our tradition, many muslims will simply not accept it. how do we change the scenario? the only way we can change the situation that we're in today is education. it's not for nothing we're here in a great institution of education and we can civilly sit and discuss things. our society is based on persuasion. one of the things that is threatened in our modern society is argument. argument is not a negative term in scholastic tradition.
argumentation is the basis by which we speak with one another and attempt to convince one or the other of the merits of our argument. and what happens when you lose argumentation is prejudice takes over and we simply are not willing to sit down and -- with an interlocuter and discuss things or convince or convince them hence the need for subjects like logic and rhetoric which taught people how to argument intelligently. and we have demagogues emerging and this are harbingers of a threatening future if we allow these things to be lost. our early period -- i don't like to project on to the past the sensibilities of the present. they were men of their time. they had the prejudices of their time, not all of them but many of them. they were also great men and women -- we should never forget
the great women of that time. certainly john adams' wife was a brilliant woman, abigail, if you read how she raised her son, great and brilliant american president, you recognize the incredible merit of that woman. but it's just important not to always project on to the past. they were men of their time and had their faults. but they had things to tell us today. and i think we ignore them with great danger and peril. so having said that, i'm -- i'll just end with one thing. is religious liberty incompatible with islam? the only real answer to that is whose islam? i think for many people in the muslim community in the past and present in some ways religious liberty as it's defined in the
modern world is incompatible with their version of islam. the islam i embraced which i believe is normative islam, i do not believe religious liberty is incompatible with islam. i think i could make a powerful argument. i think i could do it from the koran and i'll leave you with three verses, the koran says -- [ speaking in a foreign language ] had god wanted, everyone would have believed in the world. in other words he gave you free will. and then it says [ speaking foreign language ] are you going to coerce people into believing? because all you do when you coerce people into believing is create religion filled with hypocrites. the other verse, that was in unis verse 99. the other verse is bakara second chapter, 256. the koran says -- [ speaking in
a foreign language ] there's no coercion in religion. falsehoods could she in clear contradistinction to truth. and then finally chapter 18 it says [ speaking in a foreign language ] this, let him believe and whoever wants to reject it, let him reject it. most of us love chocolate, i just bought some japanese chocolate for my family. and people are usually happy with chocolate. but nobody likes chocolate when it's shoved down their throats. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you so much, sheikh hamza. i think a lot of questions were raised, in many cases questions
about muslims as majority in living in majority country. muslim majority countries. what i'd like to do in our discussion is talk about muslims as minorities. in the context of the united states. and within the united states, especially within the context of what we're seeing politically, how can you reflect, could you reflect on the place for muslims here in the united states, as a minority community. >> well first of all, we have to remember that muslims have been here from the start. there's substantial historical evidence that's proven that at certain periods, about one-fifth of the slaves that were brought here were muslims. we have handwritten korans from slaves. we have arabic letters from slaves.
prince ibrahim is another example of that. that the film was made -- i think you were involved with that with michael wolf, unity productions. so we also have the earliest example of a white convert to islam as george bethune english. who got his master's degree, which was the highest degree at the time, at harvard. harvard was teaching arabic alongside hebrew. if you get the first edition of noah webster's 1828 dictionary, hence we get the word webster's dictionary that was the first american dictionary. he wanted to prove that english was from arabic. and from hebrew. but he ended up feeling there
were more semitic roots in arabic. so it's filled would arabic typography. he's got earth, baby, he shows all these arabic words. they were teaching arabic in the united states in the 18th and 19th century. muslims have been here and they're here. and you know, notwithstanding some major events, where you would have incarceration, like what happened to the japanese. which have never been declared unconstitutional. it has to going to the supreme court. that's never happened. fema does have internment camps for a national emergency or something like that. so i would hate, you know, god forbid if there was some kind of nuclear dirty bomb or something like that, who knows, you know. i don't know.
so it's very troubling prospect. but i think muslims are here in large numbers. it's a highly educated as you know community. and there's also a lot of really hardworking decent muslims that are here like many other communities. one of the things about the united states is historically most communities have been forced to duke it out other than the anglo-saxon community. the irish community fought hard, there's a very interesting book when the irish became white. which is about irish catholics, people thing kennedy was the first irish president, it was actually andrew jackson but he was ulster irish, protestant. they weren't considered irish. irish catholics had a hard time in this country. they duked it out on the streets. they created world class teaching institutions and now, you know, one out of every four
americans haso some kind of irih roots and st. patrick's day parade is the biggest event in new york and boston. good things happen when people work hard enough and are willing to take the blows. >> in regards to the question of religious liberty and religious freedom, there's an intramuslim debate that's taking place about the extent to which religious freedoms and liberties should be granted, especially when it comes to for instance, attacking islam. we see sort of the violence that erupts when cartoons are drawn in the imagine of the prophet. and there's this intramuslim debate about that. what are your thoughts? >> first of all, that the idea of justice is prohibited. no muslim is allowed to take
extrajudicial action. there are blasphemy laws -- there still are in some european countries. they don't implement them anymore. the last person to be killed for blasphemy was in scotland in the late 17th century. so it wasn't like, europe didn't have these things, also. the muslim tradition is a premodern tradition, it has many of the sensibilities of the premodern world view. in today's current situation, i think muslims first of all need to get used to being offended. the koran has many verses about being offended. be patient about what they say. [ speaking in a foreign language ] you're going to hear from the people that were given the book before you, meaning the jews and
christians and the polytheists. much odious or noxious statements and it says to be patient and not -- don't get angry. and so there's a lot of things about just not getting angry. the prophet once heard someone call him -- the opposite of muhammad it means blameworthy. he said isn't it interesting how god has removed their -- my name from their tongues when they want to curse me. he said they're talking about something that and my name is muhammad. they're not talking about me. and so those cartoon -- anybody who says those cartoon was the prophet muhammad as far as i'm concerned is not a muslim. it's a beautiful picture, it says this is not a pipe. it shows a picture of a pipe. because we forget the imagine is not the thing. if you make an imagine of something it's not that thing. those crucifixes, it's not jesus
on the cross. you know, and so any image that's made -- especially if it's a caricature it's certainly not our prophet. muslims have to ask themselves have you contributed to the drawing itself? has your behavior contributed to the perception of this religion? so when muslims do heinous things, unfortunately, islam gets blamed. with christianity, that's not the case because we're in a society where christians are fully enfranchised. i know some people would debate the war on christmas and things like that. but christians are enfranchised. when one christian does a crazy thing, all the christians aren't blamed for t. unfortunately, we're not in a situation where muslims are fully enfranchised in this country. when one muslim does a crazy thing islam is blamed for it. a lot of these people clearly have mental illness. the man who flew the plane into the irs building after writing a
political screed, he was just considered a crazy white guy. but if his name was muhammad, that would have been a terrorist act. it's as simple as that. so, you know, the arabs say your preposition works and mine doesn't. like you have different grammatical rules than i do. >> santa clara university is the oldest institution of higher learning in california. it's grounded in the jesuit tradition of educating citizens and leaders in compassion to build a more just and humane world. can you reflect on your mission at zatuna college especially with the the context, what are your hopes in achieving -- embarking on this initiative? >> the catholic and islamic tradition share a lot of things. a profound dedication to education. but another thing they share is a profound dedication to the
instrumental arts. and by art here i mean power, the ability to do something. historically, the instrumental arts in both our traditions were the language arts and the number arts. the qualitative and quantitative regioni reasoning. in the language arts it was grammar logic and rhetoric. there's a wonderful fresco of a student being led into the other six liberal arts by grammar. and it's personified as a beautiful woman. overlooking them is wisdom. and one of the things we don't real size is that language is incredibly complicated. when we speak -- i was in a hotel recently and we asked for somebody -- somebody asked me what i wanted. i said an omelet with everything except the meat. and so the omelet came with everything -- with nothing but
the meat. and the reason was is the person's english was limited and the concept of an exception using except is a complicated notion in language. to say except meat will confuse somebody who is not a native speaker sometimes if they don't know the language. we don't realize how complicated language language is. st. augustine argues you have to learn the liberal arts in order to read scripture. the liberal arts are no longer taught in the muslim world. people are reading scripture without liberal arts. if you don't know what a conditional sentence is you should not be reading scripture other than a devotional practice. if you think you can derive knowledge from it you're going to get in trouble. there are things in the koran that are highly nuanced. the last book you read is a two volume work.
i showed graham wood who studied arabic at harvard. it's just on the particles and prepositions in arabic and how difficult they are. there are several possibilities, the causative. you know, there's a the that's related to it happens after time has transpired. it's a conjective that happens. in the catholic tradition they used to study the sentences. they studied this in seminaries sometimes for ten years. this is a book of sentences because there is so much sophistication in great writing. especially inspired writing by great theologians. and so we've lost a lot of this and are complex compound sentences are diminishing in our writing.
you can see this very clearly in modern writing. we're losing the sophistication of language. many students are incapable of reading melville. sometimes i wonder if david foster wallace really left the world just because of a kind of despair. because he is a very sophisticated writer that sometimes writes sentences that last for a page, and he was teaching students english literature and he said he would always begin with a crash course on grammar because the students couldn't read. one of the things i have done is just give students the first sentence to the declaration of independence. i've done this in several class classes, and out of 50 students on average, three or four actually get the main clause of that sentence. because they're unable to identify the difference between a subordinate and main clause. we've had a war on grammar for about 50 years. it's literally been a war on grammar. and grammar matters.
let's eat grandma. without that pause we could become canblees it's a matter of life and death. >> we can take some more questions. if you have them, put them on the cards. someone asks continue to express your thoughts on how isis revives medieval traditions? >> they are a real reflection of mudarety. they're closing to maliced or radical marxist tradition. a lot of people are unaware of how profoundly impacted marxist thought -- even in our colleges and universities in the united states, critical theory, which i mean we can trace it right back
to karl marx and karl marx who has undeniably brilliant criticisms about capitalest society but overall the ends justifies the means is a marxist concept, not a religious concept. the idea somehow that you can just enslave people. the prophet said that there is three people that he will be an advocate against on the day of judgment. and one of them was [ speaking in a foreign language ] you know, the one who sells a free person. you know, and omar wrote about taking people as slaves in egypt. he said [ speaking in a foreign language ] when did you -- what right do you have to enslave people that their mothers gave birth to them in freedom? you know, they're free people.
so this idea -- slavery is an anathema to the islamic tradition. there is a component of historical islam of indentured servitude which was a way of reintegrating war refugees and victims into a society. we have in our islamic law the anybody who is in indentured servitude to get money from the public funds to be freed if they so desire. and so this idea of modern chattel slavery has nothing to do with islam at all. so what these people are doing is not medieval in dark ages. it is a gross distortion -- i'm not going to deny that within -- i spent enough time in premodern books to know there are some really weird stuff in premodern tradition. i could take the jewish religion, numbers 31, if you go
into the city kill every male, even the little ones, you know, kill the girls who have known intimately men and take the girls who have not known men for yourselves. that's in the bible. there's things that are in our premodern text. but you'll find in the islamic scripture you will not find -- there's nowhere where there's racism. i would argue that the prophet muhammad is the first human being in human history to declare the equality of human beings. i have never found anybody prior to the prophet muhammad where he said there is no preference of a white over a black or black over a white except in piety. i've never seen that articulated in any other. the koran said we made you peoples and tribes to know one another not hate one another. it's a sound interpretation.
i feel that isis in no way represents normative medieval islam. there is a string of radical islam even in the premodern tradition that gets pretty ugly. the idea that women who were taken as concubines could be coerced into islam. why did they want to coerce them? because they couldn't have sexual relations if they weren't islam. those things are relative to the past and should not be revived in the modern world. >> somebody asks, it's been said that muslims and blacks are people that have been oppressed in the united states historically and muslims are attacked today. do you think there are any initiatives in which these two grou groupswork together. >> anybody who can make a statement like that knows
nothing about history in this country. the muslims have no comparison to what the african-american people went through or the native americans or chinese americans. you know, i just -- orjapanese americans. i could go on. you know, we're doing relatively well. let's fake it. you know, i mean, so you get some rude remarks, you know, welcome to america. you know, i mean, i'm sorry. like we've got a frontrunner out there who just as rude as can be and everybody loves him. so, you know, america is like, rude people sometimes i guess. i don't know. i just think it's an odious comparison personally. i really do. what's down the road, i don't know. i'm troubled differently by the rhetoric. i think there's still an incredible number of very decent americans that are troubled by what's happening. and i'm also very wary of polls. i really am.
because, you know, i just -- my own experience -- i've had the brunt of anti-muslim thing, but it's a good thing to experience prejudice sometimes. it gives you empathy. one of the thing the bible says do not vex the stranger or oppress him because you were strangers in the land of egypt. we need to go through what other people go through to be more appreciative. one of the things the immigrant community failed to do is help the african-american muslim community. that was i think an egregious short sightedness. ethically and pragmatically. >> here's a question to you personally. could you share the story of your own personal decision to convert to islam? >> for me, you know, i -- my mother raised me even though my great grandfather built the
greek orthodox church on valencia and i was baptized greek orthodox. my father was irish catholic. but my mother did tell me that religion is largely arbitrary. you tend to have the religion you were born into. and so don't think just because you were born into this religion it's the only truth out there. so she kind of raised us with that idea. and she took us to various religious communities. i went to mosque when i was 12 years old in redwood city. she took us to a mosque to experience, you know, a mosque. i actually did pray with the congregation. so she took me to synagogues, she took us to a hindu temple. so i read the koran when i was 17. and after reading several different scriptures, and the
koran was the one that really resonated with me because one of the things i really liked about the koran was i got all the prophets that i grew up with and, you know, i definitely -- i think the atonement story, i never fully got. you know. but i have incredible respect for christian tradition. i have spent a lot of time in catholic theology. i'm an arm chair catholic theologian i would say. i've read a lot of aquinas, augustine. i mean, i always think that catholics are so bad at marketing. because they really do have an incredible tradition. and in terms of ethics, they are
the most advanced religious ethical tradition i think on the planet right now. i really believe that. they're just so ahead of all the other religions in really deeply dealing from a philosophical perspective a lot of the things we're confronted with. people are -- there's a lot of shallow thinking out there about what's going on. and we're looking at transhumanism which is profoundly troubling. c.s. lewis who was a closet catholic he wrote a book called the apligz bolition of man, whia troubling book. and the book, between two ages, we're moving into a new phase. i don't know if people noticed but a law firm hired the first ai lawyer, so it's happening. and it's happening at a very rapid pace. we're not thinking about the
ethical implications of eliminating diseases. we had aueogenics movement in the 1920's where in this country they sterilized a lot of poor people and african-americans. so it's -- i think we really need ethicists and ethicists that can think met physically and philosophically. the catholic tradition is one of the feel i really feel is deeply rooted in a sound philosophical tradition to be able to grapple with these things in the way they need to be grappled with. >> you had touched on this in your talk, can you provide some examples in history where muslim majority countries did in fact practice religious liberty. >> muslims were historically way ahead -- i'll give you an example -- this is a recent book
that just came out that said when christians first met muslims, the earliest writings on islam. this is an important book by michael philip penn. most western thoughts looks to byzantine. they would attack the muslims and say horrible things about the muslims in the same way we said things about the huns during world war i when they weren't the nazis and the iraqis in kuwait. you know what we said about throwing the babies out -- then we found out it was a pr firm that coached that daughter of the kuwaity ambassador to say that. it never happened. the iraqis didn't pull any babies out. in war the first casualty is the truth they say. and so in reading this book, i was struck by how the sirach
christians loved the muslims because they were liberated under them. they were there's no historical evidence that muslims destroyed any churches in the conquest. he said there's no historical evidence. one of the things we have, it's a very sophisticated, backward approach to a current situation. you look at how it affects the present. there's also a way jurists in slam look at the present and how it informs us, the past of the fact that these great churches existed in iraq 1400 years and christians received them in those places is proof muslims
always honored those. destruction of these churches is completely alien to islamic position. they did not forget for 1400 years and this enlightened group called isis says we're going to implement islam. it's pure nonsense. these great churches that were destroyed, this is one of the great crimes in our history. unfortunately there are a sect of people claiming to be sloms. -- islams. >> lest people forget, muslims immediately rebuilt that church. recently shaikh mohammed paid for the renovation of the -- one of the great churches in jerusalem. so the muslims, they honored the christians. i have -- 200 years ago i have a
book by sa wi in gept, it's sad to hear so many muslims saying i wish i was a christian, because of the perks they got. before the armenian crisis, they were one of the most honored groups in the tradition. the same is true with the jews. what we would call a prime minister today, christians and jews and buddhists from buddhist shrine keepers, great buddhist traditions of central asia, muslims, they had multi-cultural, multi-ethnic civilizations. the idea we're the first multi-ethnic civilization in history is just stupidity. it's just a hall mark of our ignorance. undeniably i would argue america is probably the most progressive
civilization in human history in terms of legislating nondiscriminatory law. i think that would be a fair thing to say. but the muslims for premodern records, nobody compares to the muslims. i say that objectively as a student of the history of that civilization. i don't think any society -- others would also, i think, make that point as well. >> in terms of the context of what we see today, both within many muslim countries, as well as the tensions that exist in the united states and the islamophobia that continues to exist in this country and in many ways is getting worse, what are your thoughts about this context, and are you hopeful for the future?
>> i think islamophobia is a problem globally. i think it's a problem in muslim countries. there's a lot of fear that the rulers have of kind of awakening islam, because islam has a profound justice-based element in its tradition. but as far as i'm concerned, i think, you know, overall the muslims are doing relatively well in this country. i think we have dropped the ball. i think we dropped it after 9/11. i made arguments for preempting -- you were in that meeting we had 15, 16 years ago write made arguments about having, getting national organization and start dealing with anti-muslim rhetoric that's coming in the coming years. nobody listened to me at that time. cassandra was cursed with seeing the future and not being
listened to. it's kind of a bummer but that's the way things -- so in terms of what i see, i see if donald trump gets elected it would be problematic for muslims. if hillary clinton guess elected houma abedin may be chief of staff at some appoint. i wouldn't say i'm hopeful. i know enough about history to know how bad it can get. but our religion is a religion of optimism. we're challenged to be optimistic. so i'm probably an optimist trapped in a pessimist's body. so let's hope for the best and expect the worst. >> as you know, we're taping this on c-span, so our time is
quite fixed, so i'll stop there. please join me in thanking our speaker. [ applause ] >> announcer: live at 1:15 eastern on c-span 2, conservative authors, policy specialist and business women talk about public policy a group called the network of enlightened women is hosting the conference. after the surrender appomattox, the united states faced more than a decade of challenges during reconstruction. policies instituted at that time had a lasting impact on american history. this saturday starting at 1:00 p.m. eastern, american history tv on c-span3 is live from gettysburg college in gettysburg, pennsylvania, for the annual civil war institute summer conference as authors,
historians and professors examine topics that confronted our newly unified country such as freed people's refugees camps with abygail cooper, assistant professor of history at brandeis university. andrew slap associate professor of history at east tennessee state. post civil war career of ulysses s. grant with brooks simpson professor of history at arizona state university. also hear conversations on the return of the confederate veteran and origins of the lost cause. the annual civil war institute summer conference live all day saturday beginning at 1:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3's american history tv. for the complete american history tv weekend schedule, go to c-span.org. >> announcer: hiroshima atomic bomb survivor talks about her
experience after the hiroshima bombing and how that influenced her life at work over the last 71 years. later specialists discuss nuclear security challenges facing the next president. these were part of a conference hosted last week by the arms control association. >> good morning. welcome to the annual meeting. i'm darryl kimball. we're dedicated to reducing and eliminating the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons, nuclear, chemical, biological and certain sequentialal weapons. we're very pleased to see many of you here today, members, friends, supporters, reporters also with support and cricks of
our members are what makes our work possible. thank you very much for what you to do for us. we could not be here without you. i want to thank those of your watching on c-span following arms control annual meeting for the next few hours. you can find out more about the arms control association, news, analysis we provide, weapons related security challenges and effective arms control solutions through our website arms control.org. you can also access information and analysis including monthly journal arms control today on our new app, for smart phones, tablet computers, our latest in arms control information technology. the arms control app can be downloaded for use on apple,
android, and amazon devices. if you don't know about that, hear at the meeting and need technical assistance, we have folks outside who can help download arms control app. encourage those watching to engage twitter, arms control 2016. you see available through the arms control app, we have organized a very substantive high-level program today that's going to cover a range of nuclear weapons related security challenges facing united states and the world. in about an hour discuss major nonproliferation challenges they think will face the next
president of the united states beginning in 2017. we're honored to have as our keynote deputy strategic communications for president barack obama benjamin rhodes who will join us from noon to 1:00 to talk about president's ongoing efforts for role, risk of nuclear weapons, preventing spread of nuclear weapons. he's also going to take questions from this audience so that should be very interesting at the noonhour. in the afternoon, enormous budgetary cost of proposed plan to upgrade systems and that panel is going to discuss possible options and issues and choices for the next president and congress regarding those costs while still addressing key u.s. defense requirements. but first this morning, we're going to begin with our opening
keynote speaker and the awarding of the 2015 arms control person of the year award. we're going to be hearing in a few minutes from the remarkable and at the school the morning u.s. air force detonated an atomic bomb on her city. in recognition of her efforts and all those of the survivors of the hiroshima and nagasaki bombings to ensure no such horrors happen again she was nominated for our arms control person of the year award last year. so to introduce her and present her with the awards is the vice chairman of the arms control association board of directors paul f. walker. paul is a significant figure in
his own right. he was recognized in 2013 as recipient of the prestigious livelihood reward for decades of service to eliminate threats posed by chemical weapons. after paul's introduction of setsuko, we will hear from her and she will take your questions for the next 45 or 50 minutes or so. paul, if i could invite you up to the podium and setsuko, if you could come up also, that would be great. >> good morning, erveds. everybody. nice to be here. nice to see so many friendly and recognizable faces in the audience. nice to see that we have such a good turnout today as well. as daryl said, my name is paul walker. i work with green cross international, founded by a fellow you recognize named mikhael gorbachev. he's been chairman of our group for 23, 24 years now.
i'm really delighted to be here as vice chair of the board of arms control association and i have the really very enjoyable task of presenting the 2015 arms control person of the year award to setsuko thurlow. let me say a few words about the award and how we make this determination. i know many of you here know this already and voted over the years for the annual awardees. let me go over it a bit. every year since 2007, the staff nominated several individuals and institutions that have advanced effective arms control, nonproliferation, disarm solutions, awareness of mass casualty weapons. each of the nominees provided leadership to reduce weapons related security threats. you can see previous winners here since 2007 in your program.
setsuko thurlow received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the 2015 arms control person of the year. setsuko thurlow was nominated for the unyielding dedication to sharing firsthand accounts of the catastrophic and inhumane effects of nuclear weapons, which reinforces and maintain pressure for effective action, eliminate and outlaw nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons testing. by sharing the firsthand experiences of the atomic bombings, thurlow who now resides in toronto, and many other bomb survivors like her play a critical role in raising awareness of nuclear weapons use and prodding government to take action to end the nuclear weapon threat. very fitting that 70 years after the atomic bombings of
hiroshima and nagasaki our only voters chose to honor those who experienced horror. i can't imagine as a 13-year-old, myself, experiencing a nuclear weapon explosion overhead. and who have worked so hard and tirelessly to ensure nuclear weapons are never used again as the 2015 arms control person of the year. setsuko and the diminishing number of survivors are an inspiration to those who seek a safer world and the reminder of why the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons is so important, to quote our esteemed director of the association, daryl kimball. with that, setsuko, with the award here, if you would come up, i will present you on behalf of the arms control association. many of you, i'm sure, with this award, we are delighted and pleased to have you with us here today. here you go. [ applause ] >> congratulations. thank you. thank you. [ applause ]
>> so, setsuko, i will let you now make your presentation. we will try to leave time. we have until about 10:00. we will try to leave time for questions and answers and i'll try to triage or manage or q & a after your presentation. the podium is yours. >> thank you very much, paul. i feel so humbled and pleased to receive this beautiful. i'm very happy to be here this
morning and to meet with you and to receive this honor and to have the chance to talk something about, a little bit about my experiences and thoughts and feelings about nuclear weapons. i just made the last minute change in my plan. i'm just speaking from the heart. i just put the paper away. really, it was a total shock, surprise, to learn that i was going to receive the award from this organization. especially when i learned that people around the world voted for me. well, i didn't realize i had so many friends around the world. but, well, i thought it was a
miracle that i received it. not only i, but my fellow colleagues, the members of the association in japan. they are together remembered and honored with me. on their behalf as well, let me give you my heartfelt thank you. thank you. now, i use a word miracle lightly, but really, 71 years ago, i did experience a miracle and here i am, in your company today. so, i thought, i will share my personal experience with you. i know many of you are experts
arms control specialists, and i'm sure you are quite well informed and knowledgeable of all kinds of human conditions, including the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapon. but, i thought i would offer my personal and firsthand experience. in 1945, i was a 13-year-old grade eight student in the school. on that very day, i was at the army headquarter, a group of about 30 girls had been recruited and trained to do the decoding work of the top secret information. can you imagine, a 13-year-old girl doing such important things? that shows how desperate japan was.
i met the girls in front of the station at 8:00, no, before 8:00. 8:00 at the military headquarter, which was 1.8 kilometers from ground zero. i was on the second floor and started the morning assembly and the major gave us a pep talk. this is the day you start proving your patriotism for emperor, that kind of thing. we said, yes, sir, we will do our best. when we said that, i saw the bluish white flash in the window. then i had the sensation of floating up in the air. when i regained consciousness in the total silence and darkness, i instantly tried to move my body. i couldn't move it.
i knew i was faced with death. then, i started hearing whispering voices of the girls around me. god help me. mother, help me. i'm here. so, i knew i was surrounded by them although i couldn't see anybody in the darkness. then, suddenly, the strong male voice, don't give up, i'm trying to free you. he kept shaking my left shoulder from behind. he pushed me. keep kicking, keep pushing and you see the sun come through the opening. get out that way. crawl, as quickly as possible. by the time i came out of the building, it was on fire. that meant about 30 other girls who were with me in the same place were burned to death. but two other girls managed to come out. three of us looked around. although that happened in the
morning, it was very dark, twilight. i started seeing some moving dark object approaching me. they happened to be the streams of human beings slowly shuffling from the center part of the city to where i was. they didn't look like human beings. their hair was standing straight up, burned black, bleeding. parts of the bodies were missing. the skin and flesh were hanging from the bones. and some carrying their own eyeballs, hanging from the eye socket. and they collapsed on to the
ground, their stomach burst and their intestine stretching out. and the so this -- soldier said, you girls join that procession and escape to the nearby hill. that's what we did, by carefully stepping over the dead bodies, injured bodies. it was a strange situation. nobody was running and screaming for help. they just didn't have that kind of strength left. simply whispering. water, please. water, please. everybody was asking for water. we girls were relatively lightly injured. by the time we got to the hillside, we went to the nearby stream and washed off the blood
and dirt and we took off the gloves and soaked them in the stream and dashed back and put them to hold them over the mouth of the dying people. you see, the place we escaped to had the military training ground, huge place, about the size of two football fields. the place was packed with dead and dying people. we wanted to help but everybody wanted the water. no cups and no buckets to carry the water. that's why we resorted to the rather primitive way of the rescue operation. it was all we could do. i looked around and see if there were any doctors and nurses. i saw none of them in that huge place. that meant tens of thousands of people in that place without
medication. no medical attention, medication, ointment, nothing was provided for them. just few drops of water. that was a level of so-called rescue operation. now, we kept ourselves busy all day doing that. of course, all the doctors and nurses were killed, too. just a small percentage of the medical professionals survived, but they were serving people somewhere else, not where i was. so when the darkness fell, with three girls together with hundreds of other people who escaped to the place, we just sat on the hillside. and all night, we watched the entire city burn.
feeling numb from the massive scale of death and suffering we had witnessed. i was not responding appropriately, emotionally. something happened to my psyche. they talk about psychic closing off or psychic numbing. in an ultimate situation like that is correct the cessation of the emotion takes place automatically. it was a good thing. i'm glad of that explanation. because if we responded emotionally to every horrific sight i witnessed, i couldn't have survived.
that's the end of that very day. other people can tell about being near the rivers and the rivers full of floating dead bodies and so on but i didn't see the river that day. but, i will tell you about the few people in my family, my friends, how they lost their lives. that will give you just how the bomb affected human beings. i talked about three girls who were with me, but the rest of the students were at the city center. the city was trying to establish the filings to be prepared for the raid.
so all the grade seven and grade eight students from all the high schools were recruited, brought to the center of the city and they were providing the manual labor. now, they were in the center, right below the detonation of the bomb. so they are the ones who simply vaporized, melted and carbonized. my sister-in-law was there with a student. she was one of the teachers supervising the students. we tried to locate her corpse, but we have never done so. on paper she is still missing. but, together, with thousands of other students. oh, i understand, there were several thousand students, 8,000 or so. simply disappeared from the face of the earth.
the temperature of the heat, i understand, was about 4,000 degrees celsius. another story i can tell is about my sister and her 4-year-old child who came back to the city the night before to visit us. during the morning, they were walking over the bridge to the medical clinic and both of them were burned beyond recognition. by the time i saw them the next day, their bodies were swollen twice or three times larger than normal and they kept begging for water. when they died, the soldier dug up the hole and threw the body,
poured the gasoline, threw the lighted match and they kept turning the body. the brain is not quite burned yet. there i was, a 13-year-old girl standing emotionlessly just watching it. that memory troubled me for many years. what kind of human being am i? my dear sister being treated like animal or insect or whatever. there was no human dignity associated with that kind of cremation. the fact that i didn't even shed tears troubled me for many years. i felt guilty. later years, when i went to the university, i started learning
how human beings behave in ultimate conditions. the doctor's death and life, was a big help. i could forgive myself after learning how our psyche automatically functions in a situation like that. you know, it's the image of this 4-year-old child, which is burned to my retina. it's always there. that image just guide me and it's the driving force for my activism. because he came to present all the innocent children of the world without understanding what was happening to them. so he is a special being. special memory. if he is alive, he is 75 today.
it's a shocking thought. regardless of passage of time, he is still a 4-year-old child guiding me. it was interesting, mr. obama made a lot of reference about innocent children, how we need to protect each one of them. and i was weeping, i couldn't help it. now, let me tell you another example of how atomic bomb affected human beings. we rejoice to hear my favorite uncle and aunt survived. they are okay. they didn't have any visible sign of injury. then, several days later, we started hearing different story. they got sick, very sick. so after my sister and my nephew
died, my parents went over to my uncle's place, started looking after them. their body started showing purple spots all over the body. according to my mother, who cared for them until their death, their internal organs seemed to be rotting, dissolving, coming out as a thick, black liquid until death. the entire innards from their body came out.
that was a way of dying. radiation worked in many mysterious and random ways. some people were killed immediately, some a week later, a month later, a year later. and the horrible thing is, 71 years later, people are still dying from the effect of the radiation. now, the struggle. survivors struggle was unexplainable in the aftermath, you know? surviving in unprecedented -- catastrophic horror.
and the unprecedented social, political chaos due to japan's defeat and occupation forces, strict control over us. if i start giving the detailed story of that, that will take the whole morning, so maybe i'll stop. but struggle in the aftermath was very difficult. now, i finished university in japan. upon my graduation, i was offered a scholarship, so i came to your country. i came to virginia, very close to this city. and that was 1954. united states tested the biggest
hydrogen bomb at the beginning in the south pacific that time and creating the kind of situation that hiroshima and nagasaki experienced. the entire japan was up in arms with fury. not only hiroshima and nagasaki, now the pacific. well, united states continued with the testing and actually using them. that's when entire japan became truly aware of the nature of nuclear weapon development. anyway, at that time, i left japan. arrived in virginia in august and i was interviewed by the press. i gave my honest opinion. i was fresh out of college and naive, i believed in honesty and
i told them what i thought. the united states nuclear policy was bad, they have to stop. look at all the killings and damage to the environment in the pacific, that has to stop and all these kind of things. next day, i started receiving hate letter. how dare you! what you are? who is giving the scholarship? go home. go back to japan. a few days after my arrival, i encountered this situation. i was horrified. it was quite a traumatic experience. what am i going to do? i can't -- i just arrived, i can't go back. i can't put the zipper over my mouth and pretend i never know anything about hiroshima bombing. would i be able to survive in north america?
well, i spent a week without going to the classroom. i just had to be alone and do my soul searching. it was a painful and lonely time. a new country, i hardly knew anybody. then this question i faced. but, i'm happy to say that i came out of that trauma more determined and a stronger conviction. if i don't speak up, who will? i actually experienced it. it's my moral responsibility to share my experience, to warn the world. this is just the beginning of the nuclear arms. i just have to warn the world.
so that was the beginning. all right. i'm reminded of my time. well, i think i explained briefly why i have been doing what i have been doing. so most of my life, adult life, i have been speaking to high schools, universities, women's groups, rotor clubs, anywhere people want to learn what it means to live in nuclear age, from my very perspective. i know the government say one thing, but this is what i feel because i experienced it. i felt it was important. i'm suggested i am to stop.
so -- [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you very much. >> thank you very much, setsuko. it's extremely moving, as always, to hear these stories from hiroshima and nagasaki, as well as from radiation victims, downwinders, atomic veterans, south pacific islanders and victims, many, many, many we know that all can relate to this to some extent, because they have suffered and continue to suffer all the health illnesses from radiation poisoning all over the world. i'll open it up for questions now. i think i'll pose the first
question, i think, to setsuko to get the ball rolling. we have about 25 minutes, i think, to continue discussion. but, first of all, setsuko, give us a sense of how you then came from virginia, where i'm so glad that you were determined to speak truth, as we say, how did you come from virginia to toronto, canada? >> in hiroshima, then got the scholarship to come to virginia. now, that school gave me full scholarship. by that time, i have some sort of idea i wanted to become a social worker because in that chaotic situation, everybody needed a help and my church
minister dedicated his life in supporting those people. i wanted to become a helping person, somebody who can help and contribute to society, to build up the city. and for that, i needed the social work professional trainer. japan's social work training in japan at that time was not quite well established. so i came here to study, directly from japan. >> to the united states or canada? >> united states. then i went to university of toronto and did further study. then i went back to japan and practiced social work and taught social work. then '62, my family, i got married, had two children by that time. so we all came back to toronto in '62. ever since, i have been a permanent resident of canada. and i have done social work all
my life. peace work at the same time. >> absolutely. i give you enormous credit for sticking with it this long, this many years. it's very, very important that you do. no one, practically no one has experienced, obviously, except hibakusha that survived real nuclear weapons. it's not usual for people to really understand what nuclear weapons are all about. with that, let me turn to the audience. i know there are many, many questions. i have many more questions i could pose. i think i would rather turn to you and give you the opportunity to ask questions. right here at the front table. yes. please introduce yourself. because we are on c-span, too, let me emphasize, wait for the microphone. >> alex liebowitz. i was wondering what people thought had happened? obviously japan had experienced
normal bombing from non-nuclear weapons. here is something that is one explosion. did people understand? obviously they didn't know it was a nuclear weapon. what did they think had happened when the blast came? >> well, my immediate reaction was finally, americans got us. well, nobody knew about the new type of weapon. so we thought the usual incendiary bombs. the united states started indiscriminate attack of major cities. by the time we were about 70% of the urban centers in japan would -- were all leveled. and starting with tokyo i think
in one night over 100,000 people were killed. i think hundreds of b-29 flew over them and thousands of tons of incendiary bombs. in hiroshima, only one did the trick, and most of the city disappeared. but no, we have no idea. it took some time before we knew clearly what it was. the government reported new type of bomb was used. that's all we knew. >> yes. right in the middle. >> i'm from italy. it would be many, many questions to ask, but i'll just stick to maybe one. first of all, you said that it was -- you started your presentation indicating that it
was a miracle that you are alive. i think that all of us around here, after all, we are alive and it is a miracle, since there were so many occasions where almost on the border of a nuclear war. therefore, it is a common situation. but since you are hibakusha category, which unfortunately would inevitably disappear, i think it's very important to maintain momentum of awareness of public opinion on that. and i think that one of the major events was president obama's visit to hiroshima. how do you want be -- what is the best way to perpetuate the testimony and the awareness and
the education of people in your view to maintain the momentum of awareness? thank you. >> you mention mr. obama, president obama's visit to hiroshima. and that brought 600 reporters to the city, and i think all around the world that was reported. well, he has that kind of power, influence. even i in toronto on that day, i had eight interviews. can you imagine? eight tv stations coming to my place asking what i thought about it. wow! what power president have. well, maybe he can do something
like this, create the opportunity so he can mobilize but not just him but all of us who know something about the issue. i think we can intensify our efforts to make this issue credible and visible. i don't think we are doing enough. and i think -- i don't feel that the government is encouraging the people to learn what it's like to live in the nuclear age. government isn't. whatever they may think the ministry or department of education area, they should be doing better job. but i know in japan and in canada and some of the united states, i don't think school system is doing a good job either. i think more budget could be
directed to those educational institutions and intensify the teaching. and of course the churches and the families, homes. the children's parents grew up without knowing about it so they are hesitant. they avoid children questioning the parents. and the children learn not to raise such questions because parents are horrified when they raise such questions. rather sad symbiotic kind of relationship. but anyway, everybody, education system, religious system, even government -- i shouldn't say even government. the government can look at the reality and improve the situation.
now, about the survivors. as you say, the number is dwindling. they have been leaving us with their dream of abolition in their lifetime unfulfilled. it's very sad. well, i really take my hat off for the way they have dedicated their lives traveling near and far. but we at the same time very disappointed. don't quite feel rewarded. the public attention to us is limited. and when i first came to the united states people kept
adjust -- justifying hiroshima, the use of bombs. i'm afraid to say even today majority of people maintain that mentality. so that's limited progress we made in the knowledge. i hope i'm wrong. i like to hear other people's opinion on this. >> yes. right here. then i'll come over here. then i'll go in the back. >> i know that you spoke at the vienna conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and you were recently at the open-ended working group in geneva on the elimination of nuclear weapons, the ban and stigmatization. i'd like you to speak a little bit about the humanitarian initiative in relation to the npt.
>> well, i have been working on the issue of nuclear disarmament for many years. but for a long time, i felt that so much work was being done, i mean, people put so much emphasis on weapon system and the theory of deterrence and they believe it and all the associated topics. even i went to the peace meetings. they were spending time to discuss, to catch up with government progress in that line.
and i used to feel, my gosh, me when we talk about the nuclear weapon it's what those things did to humanity, what happened to their lives, to their cities. but somehow that kind of attention was lacking. so several years ago when i started hearing about humanitarian impact of nuclear weapon i thought, wow, it's about time we should be looking at this. this is the real basic issue of importance. of course, that doesn't negate the importance of security issues and some people criticize this movement by paying too much attention to humanitarian. i don't think that's what they are saying. but i was delighted. the attention was shifted from
deterrence, really, to the humanitarian consequences. i could -- i was delighted to see the strong sentiment, the mounting interest on the topic around the world. and not only white-haired people, but the younger people. hey, when we grow up, we want our world to be intact, to be there for us to enjoy life. and they are very keenly awake to push this idea. so i was very pleased and i am part of this movement, and another thing which please me
was although nuclear weapon states have the legal obligation to work toward disarmament under article 6, but they haven't. they weren't fulfilling that obligation and not much was happening. it was a huge disappointment when i learned it's been in existence 45 years. what has it produced? and majority of non-nuclear weapon states said, what we have waited for nuclear weapon states to take the lead and work on the disarmament. we are not going to wait anymore. we are going to stand up and join our hands together and work with ngos and civil society. now red cross representing civil society, ngos and 127 i think
nonnuclear weapons states, they are all working together to work for prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapon by creating legally binding instrument. to me, those majority of nonnuclear weapon states so impatient with the lack of progress by the conference of disarmament and nonproliferation treaty and so on, they want to -- okay. if things are not happening there, we have to see what we could do. standing up those so-called
weaker nation but coming together in number and putting heads together and workingy+ç- the most effective measures to achieve elimination, prohibition and so on. i think it seems now the entire world is wake up, and they are ready to work. instead of leaving the fate of the world just to the nine -- well, five nuclear weapon states recognized by the united nations and additional four nuclear weapon states. nine states want to keep what they have and not to use their
obligation that is to -- well, it seems the whole world is waking up to the shared -- to realize the shared responsibility and a lot of young people involved in this movement, that is very good news for me. we can -- we have people to work with and some good ideas are coming out. would you like to say a few words -- well, you people know all about that. >> this is a group of experts, but some of you us know a little more, some a little less in different areas so it's just wonderful to hear your impressions. which are very special, i think, and extremely important today, because we don't hear from hibakusha that much, actually, even in washington, d.c., let
alone in japan, i assume, too. certainly hiroshima and nagasaki, i'm sure. but it's very, very good, i think. we've made a stand and are, as i say, speaking truth to power on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. i point out, too, i think it's 126 countries have signed the humanitarian pledge. 127 now. good. all right. i stand corrected. okay. we have a couple more questions and i think enough time, we'll try to go through -- try to keep the questions brief and we'll try to get through everybody. yes. >> thank you, paul. i'm martin fleck. i work with traditions for social responsibility. and that means i work with our mutual friend, the doctor, who sends his greetings. and actually, you just answered a lot of my questions. traditions for social responsibility is working with the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons.
to promote the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. and i agree with you about the new momentum that's happening, but there's a lot of skepticism here in the united states about the prohibition treaty because none of the nuclear weapon states have -- they're pretty much all opposing it. none of them have supported it, and none of the umbrella, so-called umbrella states under the nuclear umbrella, have supported it. so, ms. thurlow, are you optimistic that we will still achieve such a treaty despite all this opposition? >> i know there seems to be
several different approaches in achieving prohibition and elimination. but as one new york-based lawyer says, as he says, those difference differences can be worked out. so it's a nuclear weapons convention to ban treaty, i think difference can be worked out. let's first prohibit. let's stop the threat and the use of the nuclear weapons. and surely, we can -- we can achieve it. why not? we should seize this opportunity. i think the time is now. i have waited 71 years. if we don't seize this
opportunity, and i know mr. obama talked about maybe this won't happen in my lifetime. he repeated it once in prague and this time in hiroshima, but why? why not? if there's a strong political will, it could happen. it can happen. so yes, i still am hopeful, and i believe it can happen because enough people, not enough, but a lot of people are pushing for it. and if we can get other people to join in the effort and keep pushing, but why not? and why don't we help mr. president, even before he leaves the office, we can't afford to wait generations and generations. and 71 years is much too long to
wait, we wasted. i believe we can. and we should. >> let's take another couple questions quickly. [ applause ] >> i'm cathy robinson with women's action for new directions. mostly, i really want to say thank you so much for being here, and thank you for all of the work that you have done and continue to do. it was phenomenal and amazing that the president went to hiroshima, but the reality is that this president with the complicity of the entire u.s. government and the congress, is aiming at sending a trillion
dollars over the next 30 years to -- for the next generation that needs new weapons. we seem a find a lot more money for the next generation as nuclear weapons and not so much for the next generation of humans in this country. and i wonder if you could just comment on that and how the budget priorities are really driving a dangerous future. >> i hear your profound sense of sadness and even anger. if somebody get me the invitation to speak with the president, that's one of the first things i would talk about. yes. that's great.
that's great. really. i don't know what more to say. i just feel very disturbed by that. and yet, when he turns around, he says beautiful things. well, i was wigging this time in hiroshima he would -- oh, no. i don't know what more to say. you know, i have been a social worker all my life. i work in schools and the counseling of the families and learning disabilities of the children. those schools are falling apart. they don't have enough budget to buy necessary supplies and so on.
why can't we directing your taxpayers' money to the hospitals and schools, to enrich people's day-to-day lives. you said $1 trillion is going to produce the wicked weapons. i don't even call it weapon. it's device of mass murder. somehow, we have to -- we have to ask the president to deprioritize from his sense of responsibility. i really don't know what else countries can say. it's just a crime. depriving humanity in ord er to -- and based on this
activity, from my perspective, i just can't -- but i just share your feelings. >> thank you. i think your response is very appropriate. i think we all deserve setsuko deserves a good round of applause for bringing us back to reality to some extent. [ applause ] >> once again, thank you so much for this. it means a lot to me. next time i go to japan, i will take it with me and share it with the members of the survivors organization. thank you for your support. and recognition of some of the work. >> and thank you, setsuko, for joining this esteemed group of
arms control people of the year. we're very delighted and honored to be able to honor you. i also want to thank kathleen sullivan, who i failed to introduce earlier, who has been setsuko's companion and helped with the presentation. thank you very much, kathleen. appreciate it. so there were several questioners still in the audience. i'm sorry we didn't get to your questions, but setsuko will be around for a while, i think. please corner her in the coffee break and the like and get to know her better. and with that, i will turn the program back over to our esteemed director, daryl kimball.
>> all right, thank you, everyone, for coming back. i want to thank setsuko thurlow so much for those very moving and important remarks that remind us all why we're here, why we do the work that we do to soften threat and prevent the further spread and use of nuclear weapons. and it's also a reminder that we've all been at this task for a long, long time. more than seven decades in the united states under republican and democratic administrations alike have very actively discouraged allies and foes from seeking the means to produce