tv Democracy Now PBS May 4, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
[captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! we are in a climate of rising xenophobia against immigrants and refugees coming from president trump on downward and it is a real issue and we have to struggle against it. this is not a new moment in american history. american history has mostly been seen a phobic and racist against foreigners and we have overcome that in the past. hopefully, we can win again today. amy: as president trump continues to attack refugees and asylum seekers, we spend the hour with two of the nation's most celebrated writers, both refugees themselves. the pulitizer prize winning vietnamese-american novelist
viet thanh nguyen and the chilean-american writer ariel dorfman who has been described , as one of the greatest latin american novelists. >> i lived this because i myself am an exile from chile thanks to the coup of 1973 and thanks to u.s. intervention there. but i'm also a writer. when i hear the hateful rhetoric and i see the immigrants who try to come to this country and move across the world for a better life, i don't really think about that border. i think about how i can smuggle them across that border, smuggle them into our hearts, into where mines. amy: today, ariel dorfman and viet thanh nguyen for the hour. all that and more coming up. welcome to democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the white house is struggling to explain president trump's shifting accounts of his relationship with stephanie clifford, also known as stormy
daniels. the adult film star who claimed she had a sexual affair with donald trump in 2006 and then was hushed. trumpet knowledge for the first time thursday he reimbursed his lawyer for a $130,000 hush money payment made to daniels on the eve of the 2016 election. his admission came after another one of his lawyers, rudy giuliani, made the revelation during an interview wednesday evening on fox news. at the white house, press secretary sarah huckabee sanders struggled thursday when asked about trump's earlier claims he had no knowledge of the payments. >> this was information the president did not know at the time, but eventually learned. the president continues to deny the underlying claim and i've given the best information i had at the time and i would refer you back to the comment that you yourself just mentioned a few minutes ago about the timeline for mayor giuliani. amy: giuliani's admission caught
many white house officials and trump allies offguard. on fox news, host neil caputo, a longtime advocate for the trump administration, appeared to turn on trump and giuliani on thursday. >> how can you drain the swamp if you are the one who keeps muddying the waters? you didn't know about the $130,000 payment to a porn star until you did. you said nothing about how your former lawyer handled it until it knowledge and today that you were the guy behind the retainer payment that took care of this. you insist that money from the campaign or campaign contributions played no role in this transaction. of that, you are sure. not only 24 hours ago, sir, you could not recall any of this and you seem very sure. i'm not saying you are a liar, i'm just having a devil of a time figuring out which news is fake. amy: that is neil caputo of fox news. legal analysts say the $130,000
payment likely constituted a campaign contribution. president donald trump and vice president mike pence are headed to dallas, texas, today, where they're set to address an annual convention of the national rifle association. the secret service has banned firearms, knives, and other weapons from today's event, which comes on the heels of high-profile mass shootings , including last october's massacre in las vegas -- the worst in modern u.s. history -- and the marjory stoneman douglas high school massacre in florida, which sparked a national movement of students protesting for gun control laws. last year, trump became the first u.s. president since ronald reagan to address the nra. in the arabian peninsula, u.s. army green berets secretly deployed to yemen last december and are helping the saudi-led coalition seek out and destroy ballistic missiles held by houthi rebels. that's according to a next was a on the front page of the "new york times" today, which reports the operation contradicts pentagon claims the the u.s. was limiting
its involvement in yemen to refueling, logistics, and intelligence sharing with saudi arabia and its allies. more than 15,000 people have been killed since the saudi-led coalition intervened in yemen in march 2015. u.s.-backed saudi-led airstrikes have devastated yemen's health, water, and sanitation systems, sparking a massive cholera outbreak and pushing millions of yemenis to the brink of starvation. in, antigovernment rebels have in aated an area russian-brokered deal that will grant them safe passage to another rebel-held portion of syria. in the gaza strip, israeli forces opened fire with tear gas and live rounds today, as palestinians continued mass protests against israel's occupation. at least three people were injured by live fire. the latest crackdown came after a palestinian teen shot by an israeli sniper on april 27th died from his wounds on
medics say 19-year-old anas abu thursday. aser is the 49th palestinian killed by israeli fire since mass protests began in late march. at least two journalists are among the dead -- more than 1000 protesters have been injured. palestinian medics told al jazeera at least 24 people have had their limbs amputated after they were hit by a new kind of ammunition -- so-called "butterfly bullets," which explode on impact, shattering bones and shredding internal organs. "the new york times" reports that president trump has ordered the pentagon to prepare a plan to reduce the number of u.s. troops stationed in south korea. the report came as the u.s. and north korea are making plans for an unprecedented summit between trump and north korean leader kim jong-un, to be held in may or june. this week, reports emerged that three u.s. citizens imprisoned in north korea have been relocated to a hotel in pyongyang ahead of their imminent release. president trump's lawyer, rudy giuliani, had said the trio were to have been released yesterday.
tony kim, kim hak-song, and kim dong-chul were convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to long prison terms -- it's believed north korea is preparing to return them to the u.s. as a goodwill gesture. the u.s. justice department charged a former volkswagen ceo with criminal conspiracy thursday over his role in rigging diesel engines to circumvent air pollution standards. a federal grand jury indictment unsealed in detroit says ceo martin winterkorn knew in 2014 that his company's cars contained software that lowered carbon dioxide emissions under testing conditions, even though the cars' emissions rose dramatically under real-world conditions. volkswagen has admitted to rigging some 11 million vehicles worldwide. the auto maker has already paid $26 billion in fines and civil damages, and faces a $10 billion lawsuit by shareholders. in arizona, tens of thousands of
public school employees have ended a week-long strike after republican governor doug ducey signed a budget bill that will grant teachers and school staffers a 20% raise by 2020. the bill will also raise spending on education by another $138 million. the teachers had been demanding the restoration of $1 billion in funding cuts to arizona's public schools since the 2008 recession. "the new york times" reports teacher pay in arizona is so low that administrators have in recent years recruited teachers from the philippines to work in public schools under the u.s. j-1 visa program. the winner of the national teacher of the year award held a silent protest thursday against the trump administration's policies, as she was honored by the president in a white house ceremony. mandy manning wore six politically-themed buttons as she accepted her award from trump, while billionaire
education secretary betsy devos looked on. manning's buttons featured artwork from the 2017 women's march, a rainbow flag, and the slogan, "trans equality now!" she later presented trump with a stack of letters from her students, teenage refugees at joel e. ferris high school in spokane, washington. after her protest, manning told "usa today," "i am here for refugee and immigrant students, for the kids in the gay-straight alliance, and for all the girls i've coached over the years." hawaii's kilauea volcano erupted thursday, spewing lava into a residential neighborhood and triggering dozens of earthquakes. the eruption on hawaii's big island caused levels of the dangerous gas sulphur dioxide to spike, prompting a mandatory evacuation for at least 1700 people. in india, the death toll from heavy rainfall and a major dust
storm has risen to 127, as officials blamed "heat wave" conditions for extreme weather that came weeks ahead of the normal monsoon season. the deaths came days after an unprecedented heat wave in neighboring pakistan saw temperatures in parts of the country climb above 50 degrees celsius monday -- or 122 degrees fahrenheit -- an all-time record for pakistan. the extreme weather came as oxfam reported wealthy countries have contributed only about half of a $100 billion target pledged under the paris climate accord to help poorer nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a warming planet. activists with black lives matter have called a nationwide protest today against waffle house restaurants, after a viral video showed the violent arrest of an african-american patron by a pair of white police officers in alabama. the incident occurred april 22nd at a waffle house in suburban mobile, where employees called police after 25-year-old african
american woman chikesia clemons objected to a fifty-cent charge for plastic utensils. in cell phone video shot by clemons' friend, the officers are seen pinning clemons to the ground and exposing her breasts, as one of them says, "i'll break your arm, that's what i'm about to do." >> i will break your arm. that's what i'm about to do. >> you have to break my arm? amy: protesters are demanding that charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest mons be dropped. they're also demanding discipline for employees who were part of the incident, access to police video, and a statement from waffle house denouncing how clemons was arrested. protesters say they'll spend just $2 to purchase sodas so they can occupy seats at waffle house restaurants nationwide during peak business hours today. meanwhile, the white house said this week it's working to set up a meeting between president trump and james shaw jr., a
29-year-old resident of nashville, tennessee, who's been credited with saving many lives, after he wrestled an assault rifle from a gunman as a mass shooting at a waffle house last month, also on april 22. the white house's overture came after trump came under criticism for remaining silent over the heroic actions of shaw, who's african american. a gofundme site was set up for shaw, who was also injured by the gunman. he gave all of the money to the families of the victims of the shooting. in charlottesville, virginia, a jury has found 34-year-old georgia resident alex michael ramos guilty of malicious wounding, over his role in the parking lot beating of deandre harris, a 20-year-old african american who was brutally assaulted by white supremacists at a far right protest in charlottesville, virginia last august. photos and video show at least six white supremacists punching, kicking, and beating paris with large metal poles. ramos is the fourth person
convicted for the assault. he faced up to 20 years in prison, but a jury sentenced him to a six-year term with no fine. even though he was badly beaten, harris was arrested on a felony charge of "unlawful wounding" after the assault. in march, he was acquitted of charges. meanwhile, propublica reports that an active duty u.s. marine was among the far-right protesters in charlottesville last summer. the news site published a selfie photograph of 18-year-old vasillios pistolis in his marine uniform, revealing he is a member of the neo-nazi group atmowaffen. after the charlottesville protests, pistolis bragged about assaulting transgender activist emily gorcenski, who came out to confront the unite the right rally. the state of georgia is set to execute condemned prisoner robert earl butts, jr. tonight. earlier this week, georgia's parole board issued a 90-day stay to examine his case, but then 18 hours later the board
lifted its own stay. butts will become the 1,475th person to be executed in the united states since 1976. new york mayor bill de blasio is backing a plan that would see the city become the first in the u.s. to open supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users. the plan is aimed at ending an mostlyc of overdoses, from opioids, which saw more than 1400 deaths in new york city last year alone. cities in canada and europe say they've succeeded in cutting overdose deaths while combating hiv, hepatitis, and other viruses by setting up safe injection programs. news from capitol hill. chaplain patrick conway has rescinded his resignation two weeks after house speaker paul ryan demanded he resign. house speaker paul ryan said thursday that jesuit priest patrick conroy can keep his job as house chaplain. according to "the washington
post" ryan forced conroy into retirement over a prayer he delivered on the house floor last november. conroy's prayer came as the house was debating a republican tax bill that overwhelmingly favored wealthy americans. play sot >> made their efforts guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all americans. amy: and in georgia, a federal court has filed an indictment for seven catholic plowshares activists who were arrested for protesting last month at kings bay naval base, the largest nuclear submarine base in the world. the activists entered the base on the 50th anniversary of martin luther king's assassination, april 4th. they were armed with just hammers, crime tape, and baby bottles containing their own blood. the activists said they were following the prophet isaiah's command to "beat swords into plowshares." in a statement from georgia's camden county jail, plowshares "theist clare grady wrote,
ultimate logic of trident is om explosive power is only part of what we want to make visible. the explosive power of this weapon is only part of what we want to make visible. we see that nuclear weapons kill every day by their mere existence. we see the billions of dollars it takes to build and maintain the trident system as stolen resources, which are desperately needed for human needs." those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. migrants from central america remained camped out at the u.s.-mexican border attempting to seek asylum in the united states. they were all part of a month-long caravan that brought refugees fleeing violence in honduras, el salvador and guatemala to the u.s. border. organizers say 158 members of the caravan have already crossed the border where their asylum requests will be processed. but experts predict most of the asylum applications will be rejected.
president trump has repeatedly railed against the asylum seekers. in one recent tweets, he wrote, "getting more dangerous caravans coming." the standoff at the u.s. border comes as a new report shows the number of refugees, especially muslim refugees, has plummeted since president trump's election. between october and the end of march, just 10,500 refugees entered the united states. a year earlier nearly 40,000 refugees entered during that same period. four times more. today we spend the hour with two , of the nation's most celebrated writers, both refugees themselves. viet thanh nguyen was born in vietnam in 1971. after the fall of saigon in 1975, he and his family fled to the united states. he is the author of three books , including "the sympathizer," which won the pulitzer prize. he is also the editor of a new collection titled "the displaced: refugee writers on refugee lives." he teaches at the university of southern california. we are also joined by the
chilean-american writer ariel dorfman, who has been described as one of the greatest latin american novelist. 45 years ago, he fled chile after a u.s.-backed coup displaced president salvador allende. dorfman had served as allende's cultural adviser from 1970 to 1973. allende died in the palace as the pinochet forces rose to power on that other september 11, 1973. living in exile, he became one of gen. augusto pinochet's most vocal critics as well as a celebrated playwright and novelist. dorfman, who teaches at duke university, has just published a ," and adarwin's ghost new collection of essays, "homeland security eight my speech." he also contributed an essay to "the displaced: refugee writers on refugee lives." we will commute both to
democracy now! it is a great honor to have you with us. trump, era of president this president trump and vice president pence had to dallas today to speak at the national rifle association and this caravan that president trump has railed against has made it to the u.s.-mexico border. the participants lawfully applying for asylum one by one. your thoughts. viet: i think they have the right to do that. the united states has been meddling in countries south of the border for a very long time and would rather think about these people as undocumented immigrant's or people trying to invade this country, when questions of immigration are totally related to u.s. foreign policy and drug policy that the united states would rather disavow. protests taking place around these efforts are for people to move. amy: in your book "the
displaced," you right in the introduction, "i was once a refugee although no one would displace me -- mistake me for being a refugee now, because of this, i insist on being called a refugee." talk about that. viet: i think this is a country that values immigrants. likepeople who don't immigrants like the idea of immigrants wanting to come to this country because it confirms the narrative of the american dream. refugees are a very different problem. they don't fit into the narrative of the american dream. they find it easier to call themselves immigrants because when you introduce yourself as a refugee at a cocktail party, you kill the conversation. refugees bring up this idea of migrants at the border, people on boats, many americans do not
relate to that. amy: talk about your own refugee story. viet: i was born in vietnam in 1971 and when 1975 when vietnam fell or was liberated depending on your point of view, my memories really start after we make it to the united states and we were put in one of four refugee camps in our country. my memories begin with being taken away from my parents. camp cover leave the you had to have a sponsor. one sponsor took my parents, one sponsor took my brother, one that experience has been branded on me. amy: how does that affect your life now is a pulitzer prize-winning author, professor at the university of southern california, chair of what is the name of the department? arnoldi am the arol chair of english, which does not mean i'm the chair, thank god.
i'm often called an immigrant writer. it is absolutely wrong. novel, a waree novel, and i insist on that. it is so important for people who have been refugees to assert these kinds of identities so we can talk about the differences and the necessity to empathize with refugees, which is very important for both former refugees and writers to do. amy: you talk about refugees so often being the victims of u.s. policy, u.s. foreign policy. for example, this caravan of immigrants and refugees has come hondurasnder us and -- , guatemala, el salvador. talk about that connection. viet: one of the essays, i wanted it written because we could have this conversation
about the difference between an undocumented immigrant and a refugee. a refugee is a legal classification. when you become officially classified as a refugee, the u.n. says you have certain kinds of rights. of then the interest united states not to call certain people refugees. sometimes, people are moving because of wars of certain kinds. the united states has had a role in those. to call some of these people refugees is an important whytical move to illuminate the united states might have moral, ethical, and lyrical responsibility to them. amy: we are talking to viet thanh nguyen, pulitzer prize-winning author. he edited this book. one of the people who contributed to "the refugees," is our next guest. dr. ariel dorfman. the latest book is called "the displaced."
amy: this is democracy now! i'm amy goodman. ifore we go to ariel dorfman, have to ask you about that song. it features prominently in your earlier book, "the sympathizer." viet: i would often attend vietnamese weddings and vietnamese people are really western music as a import, but they have made it their own. this. up going to you would hear one of those. incorporate a lot of music i heard in the novel.
amy: ariel dorfman, it was great to see you read from your new novel "darwin's ghosts," and we hope to get to that. i want to talk to you about your latest essay in "the displaced." first, tell us your refugee story. ariel: well, it is longer and more complicated because it starts with my grandparents, who had to flee the programs -- pogroms of romania, russia, and the situation in russia, so they can to argentina. been my dad had to leave because the military were persecuting him in 1944. i had to follow him. then mccarthy began to persecute my dad in the united states in 1954, then we went to chile. i thought it would be there forever. in chile, there was a coup, i
for europe, chile then i wanted around the world and ended up in the united states. one of the things that traumatizes me now is that i thought in some sense this could not happen again and i find it happening all over again in some very strange authoritarian way. i've been a refugee several times over. i personally prefer because i'm so elitist at times the term exile because i think it also speaks to the fact that not everybody in the world is a refugee, but everybody is in a style from someplace. i feel an enormous sympathy for those who have lost everything. that i essay contributed, i take it tongue-in-cheek about trump's wall saying, you build your wall , he can't possibly build it, but we are already here.
i use it through latin american food. the food is in supermarkets, it is everywhere. there is only one place in the world where every latin american food can be found in one place and that's the united states. instead of celebrating the fact that this country -- if you go you can't find brazilian food next to colombian food next to food from el salvador, but in the united states, you can do that. it turns out this is an enormous strength and wonder of the country. all hean eat his tacos wants, but we are already here and i like the idea of smuggling ourselves across the border, which is a boarder created by a u.s. invasion of mexico. amy: may be a way to convince president trump to try to stop be able to would say, you are keeping all of these refugees in.
ariel: you spoke about "darwin's ghosts," one of the things i'm interested in is finding a way ofwhich you can take voices those who have been invaded by the u.s. and by the western powers. there is an expansion of the west into every country in the world in asia, africa, and latin america, including vietnam. when you think of the fact that many of the people from those countries are the ones that come here to this country because of its attraction, economic and freedoms, in a way what is happening is we have to think of how to those voices, those lives, those dreams come back to haunt us? as a writer, what i like is to take those voices that are not
voiceless, they speak very strongly, the faces of those people, and bring them into the country and put them inside our own dreams and find out what happens. it is as if the fabulous of latin america, which i speak of is magical realism and things like that, all of a sudden services inside an american kid. amy: how does that relate to your novel? ,"'sl: in "darwin's ghosts 14-year-old wakes up and they take a photograph of him, his dad brooks this works of the polaroid factory, and instead of his face being there in the photograph, the face of a native of some sort from across some part of the third world, we don't know where, is plastered onto that face. from that moment onward, he's haunted by that face. amy: and each time they take his picture that day. ariel: that face appears over
and over and over again. you can say that in a sense the past, some terrible crime has been committed against the man in the photograph, that so-called savage. he takes over the life and the face and the identity and forces this young, typical american kid to face what his own country has been doing in these countries. whole third world and it is thrusted straight into the mirror of american life it takes american innocence. done 100 years ago. done in france, done in berlin. you know, in the 19th century, as colonialism rose all over the world and expanded very drastically, not everybody could go and visit these countries and
see these exotic savages, these natives. amy: people can't see those. ariel: i'm using quotation marks on "savages." that is what they were considered. amy: when we were together last night at barnes & noble, just down the street is the museum of natural history, where they --play in a way it's displayed live people. ariel: these people were kidnapped from their native lands in africa and latin america and asia and even the american prairie, indians were brought. byy were displayed in zoos millions of people as if in reality shows. they would throw bananas at them, they would speak about them. many of them were subjected to
experiments by scientists who are trying to find the missing link in the darwinian chain of evolution, thinking that these were inferior form, a of humanity,orm right? this is that we are going to find out that one of those photographs, the man whose photograph is being plastered on the face of this young american kid was in fact a captive in a human zoo in europe and the ancestors of this typical american kid, one grew up from france, one from germany, have directly to do with the capture and the photography of that subject. so, it is the coming to life of that man. what do we do with the past? what do we do with those people who have been hurt by our ancestors?
how do we deal with that? behind that is the whole idea i have about america. america being innocent about its past. , think until americans deal and i feel myself very proudly as an american, i feel all the possibilities, until we deal with what the country has done, we will not be able to go into a truly perfect union because we are denying any racing the past and i think trump is the incarnation and the excrement of that denial of the past. my novel, in this case, very specifically, is trying to take the most innocent kid you can imagine, who everybody can identify, who most americans can identify, and say, here comes this captive, somebody who was taken across the border against and force us to look
into what that life means and also ask how we can forgive ourselves and forgive the past because i don't think it is a question of revenge and anger. there is a gentleness we have to find in our relationship. those people coming across the border, supposedly invading us, are the result of multiple invasions of their lands and very specific forms of drug wars . , whothat is ariel dorfman knows what u.s. intervention and invasions mean, having been forced out of chile as a result that took-backed coup out the president of chile in 1973. ariel dorfman was cultural advisor to the chilean president .
viet coming your book, "the displaced," your previous books remarkable. there are so many quotes from your books. you write, "to become a refugee is to know inevitably that the past is not only marked by the passage of time, but by loss, the loss of loved ones, countries, identities, selves, we want to give voice to all of those losses that would otherwise remain unheard." , you write,s book "all wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory." explain. viet: i grew up in a vietnamese refugee community in san jose and it was clear that just
because the war was declared over in 1975, it was not over. these people had lost everything. they felt that they had lost their country. i grew up surrounded by people who were constantly telling stories filled with anger and sadness and rage and bitterness and melancholy. for most americans, when they heard the vietnamese refugees speak, all they ever said in english was thank you, for saving us. i know there are vietnamese refugees who will say the united states betrayed us, but they won't say that in public. this was the environment i grew up in and i was someone watching all of these american movies of the vietnam war because i was an american boy and it was clear that hollywood was fighting america's wars all over again. the war was not over for america either. i've spoken to many kinds of american audiences and i've met many americans of the generation and for many of these people, the war remains a
defining moment of their generation. work is about the vietnam war and situating the vietnam war in a much longer history of warfare. beingthe vietnam war as an episode in a long history of american and -- intervention overseas. afghanistan and the rest of what is happening in the middle east are really extensions of those policies. amy: you talk about immigrants being more reassuring than refugees. are the zombies of the world. the undead who rise from dying state to march or swim toward our borders in endless waves. an estimated 60 million such stateless people exist, one in every 122 people alive today, if they formed their own country,
it would be the world's 24th largest, bigger than south africa, spain, iraq, or canada. put: bigger than france to it in another perspective. i call them zombies of the world because many people don't think of refugees as human and they are not often times depicted as human in media reports. we just see images of them suffering on boats, dying, and so on. it is important to show these kinds of images to elicit sympathy and maybe try to change policy, but it reinforces this idea that refugees are less than us, when in reality refugees are just like us until these situations displace them. i think americans have a hard time imagining refugee for -- empathy for refugees because we can't imagine that we could be a country producing refugees -- except we have puerto rico, except we have hurricane
katrina. we don't think of those people as being refugees. amy: you wrote an eloquent piece right after donald trump got elected. it went viral. talk about your concerns at the time and what you feel now. i think many people like me were stunned and shocked and in a state of crisis. it was at one time a call for mobilization and resistance. it was also time to think about what the trump presidency represents. it is impossible to think about that without thinking about president obama. are stunned by president trump and asking how can this happen. trump represents american instincts that have been with us since the founding of this country. this is a country founded on slavery and genocide. that is a part of american character and american history.
president trump rings this to the foreground because he is the president of a new, emergent white identity politics. it simply called itself american before. president obama as a role to play in this because these are the two facets of american character. they have always been with us. the issue is that if we get wrapped up in a domestic discussion about obama versus trump, we forget that obama tends to represent some of the worst instincts of the american character overseas in terms of the continuing exertion of american imperial power. having a president as nice and articulate as president obama did not really change these policies. home, some of his closest immigrant rights allies ended up calling him the deported in chief. he deported millions and millions of immigrants to this
country. viet: despite their rhetoric and praise, yes, they were responsible for various kinds of policies that had negative impacts on minority populations. and those of us who consider ourselves to be progressives and on the side of greater social equality, greater inclusion have to pull everyone responsible regardless of their party affiliations. , you also dorfman wrote a piece after donald trump was elected president. "now, america, you know how chileans felt." we will talk about that in a minute. ♪ [music break]
this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are joined by two remarkable refugees. ariel dorfman, best-selling author, playwright, poet, activist. the new book is "darwin's ghosts," a book of essays before that, "homeland security eight my speech." and we're joined by viet thanh nguyen, the pulitzer prize-winning author of "the sympathizer" now has written a book called "the displaced: refugee writers on refugee lives." ode to joy was carefully chosen for you. viet: this was the song -- ariel: this was the song we would sing in the streets of santiago. people would sing this as the teargas bombs fell on us and they beat us up, they put us in jail, they exiled us, they did
terrible things. about the fact that during 17 years after september 11, 1973, very slowly, the chilean people took over the country and finally got rid of the day hader -- dictator in a nonviolent revolution. we defeated pinochet. pinochet also defeated us because policies continued on and on and his legacy is always there, some memories important to me in that sense, but this is a hymn people would sing in the streets of center iago as they were being -- santiago as they were being beaten by police. it moves me in normal sleep. it took a while for me not to -- in norma sleep. not forme a while tears. i'm very sentimental about these things. amy: you related the cia-backed
in chile to the election of president trump. ariel: what i said in that "new york times" piece is that america, you were legitimately speaking about how the russians intervened in your elections. it turns out this is policy in the united states has been intervening in elections everywhere, including democratic chile, where they helped to overthrow the government by using some of the exact same tactics. there was no social media, right? but the cia used very similar methods of trying to intervene and to change the way in which people voted, thought, draft, worked -- dreamt, worked, acted. one of the things that this is a great opportunity for america to ask itself, you don't like the
russians intervening in your elections, maybe it's time for you to stop intervening in other people's elections. , russia was invaded by the united states after the revolution of 1918. u.s. troops were on russian soil. they were fighting along with everybody else to destroy the revolution, which in great reasonsis one of the the russian revolution turned so sanguinary itself. i'm just saying, the important thing is that this intervention of the russians in the u.s. elections should not be only a case of lamentation about how terrible this is. it does not stop there. thehave to look inside united states and say, if it is wrong for the russians to intervene in the u.s. election
and it is certainly wrong, it is wrong for any country to intervene in the sovereign affairs of another nation. we should allow other nations to decide their fate. it is important that that happened. then we should find out what our role has been in overthrowing iran. everywhere they have intervened, -- itq, in guatemala ended up with millions of mayan indians being killed. i could go on and on and on about this. is very important that when we look at these situations, we put them in the context of things the united states has done because it would allow the people of the united states to say, we don't like what is being done to us, we should stop doing at the same. going back to my novel, if you don't like an indigenous person taking over your face, you should face the fact of what has been done to indigenous people
all over the world in your own name. .my: that is ariel dorfman his latest book is a novel called "darwin's ghosts." i really do believe our role as journalists is to go to where the silences. viet, when we go there, it is often not silent, it is very noisy. it is just that it does not hit the corporate media radar screen. you have often talked about how au don't like the idea of, as refugee writer, being called the voice of the voiceless. i think people meet it that mean it as a compliment -- mean it as a compliment. but it is not a compliment. those of us writing about minority populations are put in a difficult position. the media, if we become hot, will cast us as the voice for
the voiceless. i know that there have been voices for the voiceless before me and there will be those after me and all it really means is that the audience just wants to hear one person speak for an entire community. they don't want to hear the cacophony of voices as the case may be with the vietnamese people. true justice when it comes to speech would be when we don't have voice list people, not when we have more voices for the voiceless. having more voices for the voiceless is a temporary measure, but achieving a situation where everybody has their voice heard would require a radical reorganization of our society. i have always said that i'm not a voice of the voiceless, we are not voiceless, we are not listening. there are millions of wonderful stories out there. if we are privileged enough to have a voice of our own, we try to find a way of creating a certain space for those voices,
so they can be heard. stories,, we tell love we tell stories about everyday people, and we hope that some of the voices will seek through. as activists, all we are trying to do is create a space for those voices can be heard because they exist. often times, in the media of local communities, there is a very vibrant the enemy's language press, vietnamese pop culture, which i tried to empathize in the sympathizer with those songs. corporate america just does not here in vietnamese. ariel: that whole idea of the exotic, that they are different. you go to a vietnamese restaurant to have vietnamese food, but you don't understand that that is related to a whole culture behind that. amy: your life is a lesson to everyone in this country. are, chair of english
comparative literature american studies and ethnicity at the university of southern california. english was not even your first language. viet: it was not. i don't know. i don't know how i learned english. thanks to some incredible teachers when i was four or five or six who taught me english and i just emerged in english. it is a troubled relationship because english, even though not my first language, is basically my native language, and it is a language in which i understand american history and american and where understand people who say go back to her you came from and i can't go back to where i came from [laughter] english is a powerful tool, but it is also a sign of my colonization, as well. amy: last night, i heard you in conversation speaking with our guest from yesterday, the great writer from india. this is the first time the two
of you are meeting. this is the first time viet thanh nguyen and ariel dorfman our meeting. we have been talking on email. those virtual meetings have constituted so much of our lives. from virtual to virtuous. and you contributed an essay in "the displaced: refugee writers on refugee lives." ariel: it is a wonderful book, the book that he is brought together. some of those voices i had no idea they had existed. he did not take the most famous, let's say, refugees. he took some people who are prominent and he took others who are very unknown to the mainstream and that indicates he ishat viet is doing is doing what he says should be done. he's not just speaking it. it is not rhetoric. amy: from burma to syria to thailand to bosnia.
do you each have a question for each other? viet: it is interesting to me to interview people like ariel dorfman, it is very inspirational. people have been carrying this on for years. i asked last night, is it exhausting to be a writer who is constantly engaged and committed? she said, no, it is exhilarating. i hope that was a great answer. do you find it exhausting or exhilarating? ariel: i find it exhilarating, but i'm a bit tired. i'm a bit older. i'm considerably older than you are and i've been doing this a very long time. i feel that my time has come now to read the novels. i'm very interested in love stories now because i think it is important that we understand how that love and a woman, empowering women in the stories, i feel like that is my major
concern now. trump has forced me to write about the unique situation of belonging in two cultures in that sense. i find it gives me hope to find a space where the pain that i have endured and that other seven dort in my community, which is an enormous community, all the refugees of the world, all the dead of history i feel as if for my brothers and sisters in that sense. to have done that gives a certain meaning to my life. and maybe i can turn that into a question in relation to yourself because you are very modest. ishink what is interesting how you have turned that english -- let me ask you this, how is your english different from the typical american english that we read? how are you changing the language itself, which is, after
all what we live for? you are very playful, which i love, you know? we already had this conversation when we were editing the book. is what you are writing changing the language? you came here and the language in some way, american english, english in general, will never be the same because of what you are writing? writers who come here as refugees feel the same way. we understand that language is what is used to exclude us, demonize us, to prepare us to be killed. and it is a way to humanize us and to resist at the same time. i always so they burden as an asian-american, i'm not expected to speaking wish or speak it well. there is always a huge opportunity for me to disprove that and to prove that i could be better at english than people
who were born here and claim american identity. that does lead to a relationship that is playful because i want to look at the language from the inside and the outside. that way to possibly do something different with the language so that other people who are completely native and it may not see and that is really what happens in "the sympathizer," weren't for the language through its paces and try to push it to its extremes. in terms of writing op-eds, i think simply being present there in these organs of mainstream iss media writing in english in itself, i hope, a kind of statement, especially with a name like mine, which i've always refused to change. when my parents became citizens, they changed their names. troy?mind it was, [laughter] for whatever reason, i resisted, i could not ever
change my name. tot was my second connection vietnam, but also my statement of defiance. ariel: did managers ever try to say, this is too strange? they always say, this is a little bit romantic, it is a little bit exaggerated. i am latin american. i want that invade the language. amy: we are going to have to leave it there, but we are going to continue the conversation at democracynow.org. viet thanh nguyen won the pulitzer prize for his book "the sympathizer." is also the author of "nothing ever dies." his latest book is called "the displaced." and ariel dorfman, his new book, "darwin's ghosts," and his essay book, "homeland security ate my speech." i will be speaking in catonsville, maryland on the 50th anniversary of the catonsville 9 protesting the
>> colameco: right, the two restaurants today -- both east village, one of 'em's a remake, opened as goat town maybe 6, 7, years ago, closed, reopened after a demolition and a redo as a really great casual restaurant that's kind of an homage to new york pizza. they got round pies, square pies -- they're great. chef's from staten island, worked all over the states, worked all over new york. food's great. i love this place, super affordable, super approachable, delicious. the second place is brand-spanking-new. they've been open 3 weeks. i guess we're the first people in there. two chefs i've known for years, they worked for adam stillman at quality meats. quality italian -- husband-and-wife team. but to find this restaurant's kinda hard 'cause they don't have an address, a phone number, or a sign. you walk into a bar off of avenue a. go all the way to the back of the bar, through some curtains. press a buzzer. and if you're lucky, they've got a seat for you. they've only got 18 seats. it's called dinnertable, and it's amazing. everything from scratch, a young couple living their dream. that's today's show. and it's gonna be fun. i'm mike colamec i